Week 1: NRL finals frustration

John Erichsen Roar Guru

By , John Erichsen is a Roar Guru

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    The dust has barely settled on an exciting first weekend on the NRL final series and there is much to be talked about, or in the case of Manly and Cronulla, whined about.

    Rather than debating the bunker rulings or referees’ decisions, my thoughts are to share a few areas of this great game which frustrate the daylights out of me.
    They are not in any particular order-

    1. Sin-bin use for professional fouls
    Or rather, the lack thereof. How under-used is this consequence? Within 20 metres of the try line, any penalty by a defender, except for accidental offside, should be deemed a professional foul to slow down the play the ball and the offender should go for ten.

    How many teams would be content to be penalised in the play the ball area if they lost a player for ten as a consequence? Cronulla, and every team does this, were most willing to give away a penalty close to the line against the Cowboys, knowing they would have time to reset their defence.

    This should not be a tactic in our game if we want to consider it “the greatest game of all”.

    2. Forward passes
    It is apparent to me that the current interpretation that the ball can float forward if it leaves the hands backwards is impossible to consistently get right. It’s too open to pure speculation. If this wasn’t the case, most of the 30+ forward passes from the dummy half or ball player to a close running forward would be able to be called.

    They aren’t being called but we all know they’re forward. Some aren’t even close to flat. Can we fix this, please?

    3. Play the ball
    A focus has been given to hands on the ball, which is great. Now, can we fix up another couple of things in this part of the game?

    Firstly, a player with both knees on the ground and held by one or more defenders should be called “held”. Just play the damn ball. Walking off the mark can join crawling off the mark as a policed offence.

    Some players would make very few metres at all if they weren’t free to gain an extra metre or two every time they were tackled by trying to step around, past or through a tackler. It should be easy to fix – just blow the whistle a couple of times.

    Secondly, defenders not letting go when player is called held. This has become laughable. Defenders continue to wrestle and will often drag the attacker to the ground after the whole world has heard the “held” call. It isn’t good enough. Book ’em Danno!

    Well, penalise them, at least.

    4. Scrums
    What an absolute joke. If this is the best we can do with scrums, we don’t deserve them to be part of the game. Scrums were supposed to offer backlines a set play with the forward packs out of the way. Clearly, they don’t and for a couple of reasons.

    One is that few forwards are actually in the scrum. Defending sides load scrums with backs and have forwards defending one and two passes wide. The other reason is that most players have left the scrum well before the ball has, and nobody seems to be bothered to do anything about it.

    And if I see another one pulled up to be re-fed, give me strength. Why re-feed? Didn’t the half direct the ball far enough to his lock’s foot to be acceptable?

    I can’t wait now until the second weekend of finals football to see what other little gems can be uncovered to do my head in a little more.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend of football, but the frustration from the above areas in the game have me in need of a physio to repair the damage from all my head-shaking.