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It seems like only yesterday that I was delivering spittle-filled testimonials to the speed, skill and intensity of the average game in the NRL.

Two rounds of pulsating, dramatic rugby league had me settled into the couch by Thursday morning, delivery menus surrounding my inert mass, ready to consume the thrills of round three

As with everything in life, an upward trajectory cannot continue forever. Eventually bodies feel the effects of gravity and crash to earth. The recent weekend’s round of matches were, to put it kindly, underwhelming.

The feel of round three was akin to bad heavyweight boxing bouts (pretty much any contest after 1980), where Bums of the Month are made to look invincible thanks to the ineptitude of their opponents.

In some cases, those beaten opponents were superior competitors expected to win, adding to our false impression of the victor as a contender (who can forget James ‘Buster’ Douglas beating an uninterested Mike Tyson before quickly sinking back into mediocrity).

It all started on Friday night when a professional St George outfit put to the sword a Tigers team that clearly had not come to play.

On certain occasions Tim Sheens’ men simply aren’t interested in working hard enough against a disciplined opposition to remain competitive, the reason why I was always deeply skeptical of their ‘premiership favourite’ tag. Are the Saints that good? No. They were on the rebound after a bad loss and played up to their eventual fifth or sixth ranking.

On Saturday the Storm continued to show class against inferior opposition. No meaningful questions have been asked yet of this team, although they are a clearly an elite team and will cruise to a top-four finish.

The Titans were pathetic, and maybe John Cartwright can no longer motivate this club as he once did. The main attraction of sport is the lure of the uncertain ending. Clearly the people of the Gold Coast didn’t feel much uncertainty about this one. Yawn.

North Queensland then proceeded to take apart a team without a coach. No one is listening to Steve Kearney, and the Cowboys looked like the 1982 Invincibles as a result. Some of the Parramatta players’ attempts at defence were unspeakable.

This game didn’t prove a thing, except that the Cowboys can score points against feeble or complacent opposition.

I’m glad I’m not a Warriors fan. While this game was one of the few entertaining games of the round, I’m thinking it might be time for Warriors players to be tasered at halftime for every unforced error committed.

This team cannot possibly contend at its current error rate. It is an open question as to whether or not they can find the necessary discipline to beat the top teams.

Canterbury clearly have talent, but once again they have been made to look a little better than they may be.

Roosters-Raiders? Channel Nine should have televised the Toyota Cup in prime time instead, where the standard of play and determination on show would have undoubtedly been superior. Despite now winning two of three, very few Roosters fans are interested, judging by their disgraceful, shameful crowds.

They have some talented players but again, are one of many teams who cannot consistently deliver.

Then we had the best of the Sunday games, Panthers-Rabbits, with Souths joining North Queensland in the we-looked-great-against-reserve-grade-opposition club. Penrith are not yet a complete first grade NRL team.

Despite the referees allowing play-the-balls to proceed at a glacial pace, Penrith offered little resistance, once again appearing uninterested. It appears that the team able to muster a respectable level of desire for more than one week in a row will finish in the top half of the competition – a low bar, indeed.

And now, with the coup de grace, we had the Perth – sorry, Cronulla – Sharks v Manly game. I was stunned to wake up to articles by seasoned reporters gushing over the ‘arrival’ of Cronulla in the wake of their victory on Monday night. Really? Manly could not have cared less about this one.

The players, while never explicitly stating the fact, know that they will win enough games to finish in a position to once again contend for the title. A rain-soaked affair against a mediocre opponent clearly didn’t tickle their fancies.

Cronulla have some interesting pieces (this chap Bukuya looks the goods) but I will be dumbfounded if they qualify for the eight. They win the Buster Douglas Overhyped Victory Award for this week.

May round four bring a renewed sense of interest and vigour on the part of the gladiators currently roaming the NRL.

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The Crowd Says (90)

  • Roar Guru

    March 21st 2012 @ 3:24am
    MG Burbank said | March 21st 2012 @ 3:24am | ! Report

    Correction: I said that Channel Nine should have shown the Toyota Cup game of Roosters-Raiders. Foxtel covered that game.

  • March 21st 2012 @ 3:54am
    Canuckben said | March 21st 2012 @ 3:54am | ! Report

    Dear MG Burbank, I have calmed down sinece I posted a reply to your last article and would like to apologise for the way I ranted. Your article pushed a tender button and I reacted. A good friend of mine who is a mediator said to me after I recounted our “interaction” that my reaction says more about me than it does you. Not sure exactly what he meant but keep up the great wrtiting. I continue to follow my beloved game from afar vicariously through you.


  • Roar Guru

    March 21st 2012 @ 4:03am
    MG Burbank said | March 21st 2012 @ 4:03am | ! Report

    I understand, Canuck- you love your Sharks, and I don’t blame you- Ettingshausen and Gavin Miller were good-looking men, the type to whom I know you’re partial.
    As for our interaction, I also must take my share of the responsibility. Someone once told me that one’s intent does not always match the impact of that intent. When I called you an ‘imbecile’, the intent was to awaken your awareness of your own limitations in order for you to grow and become a more well-rounded, knowledgable individual. Clearly that was not the impact and for that I apologize.

    • March 21st 2012 @ 6:58pm
      Jeff McGinn said | March 21st 2012 @ 6:58pm | ! Report

      I cannot believe that someone intelligent enough to write a terrible account of the weekends game , as this one was, , would stoop so low as the character assassination of a fellow ‘roarer’ with the sole intent to crucify his personality, merely because he disagreed with your ‘reasonably wayward assessment’ of the weekend.

      Your response was that of an overeducated spoilt moron! ooops I guess that I may be next.. go for it!.

      • Roar Guru

        March 22nd 2012 @ 4:39am
        MG Burbank said | March 22nd 2012 @ 4:39am | ! Report

        I will go for it, Jeff. And I don’t need your permission.

        I’m not sure who said my assessment was ‘reasonably wayward’. But I can tell you that part of what makes the comments section fun is the argument and banter. I’m thinking you must be having a laugh when you said my intent was to ‘crucify his personality’, whoever this fellow roarer may be. Can I really do that, by leaving a couple of harshly worded comments? Wow. I didn’t realize I had that power. Thank you for making me aware of it- I can now abuse it to an even greater degree in the future.

        • March 22nd 2012 @ 11:12am
          Jeff McGinn said | March 22nd 2012 @ 11:12am | ! Report


          • March 22nd 2012 @ 2:31pm
            Jeff McGinn said | March 22nd 2012 @ 2:31pm | ! Report

            It’s called “Cyber Bullying”…

            • Roar Guru

              March 25th 2012 @ 11:46am
              MG Burbank said | March 25th 2012 @ 11:46am | ! Report

              And loving it.

  • March 21st 2012 @ 4:19am
    JVGO said | March 21st 2012 @ 4:19am | ! Report

    So MG, you are a Manly fan. Every victory over Manly by anybody matters and is worthy of celebration I’m afraid.

    PS You forgot to mention the broncos game, but that would be demanding attention to detail.

  • Roar Guru

    March 21st 2012 @ 7:57am
    MG Burbank said | March 21st 2012 @ 7:57am | ! Report

    Wrong on every count, unfortunately. I’m not a Manly fan and over an entire season, one can find dozens of games where a side going nowhere beats an elite team; in the final analysis, it means nothing. Talk to me at the end of the season- if the Sharks are a contender and Manly are not, I’ll concede your point.

    I didn’t realize I had to mention all 8 games- clearly for someone as literal as you, 7 out of 8 was insufficient. Okay, let’s talk about that game: not bad, one team clearly superior across the 80 minutes. Satisfied?

    • March 21st 2012 @ 1:37pm
      JVGO said | March 21st 2012 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

      That wasn’t so difficult was it?

  • March 21st 2012 @ 8:33am
    Sammy Grazer said | March 21st 2012 @ 8:33am | ! Report

    Welcome to the NBA-like mide season slump. This will continue until until the last of the Origin games. Sure there will be great games in between, but only from those top 10 teams.

    • Roar Guru

      March 21st 2012 @ 11:38am
      MG Burbank said | March 21st 2012 @ 11:38am | ! Report

      Yep, this is the downside of having a 26-round regular season. Too many rounds for sure with 50% of teams qualifying for the playoffs- like the NBA indeed.

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