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NRL talking points Round 1: Raiders impress, while Manly are in disarray

Jack Wighton was a key man for the Raiders in their NRL semi-final. (AAP Image/ Action Photographics, Jonathan Ng)
Roar Pro
10th March, 2015
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With the NRL season underway, already some teams are looking good for finals football, while others may be either hoping Round 1 was an aberration.

The following was what caught the eye over the weekend.

1. Channel Nine has too much influence
Channel Nine still has too much influence over kick-off times. Every other game kicks off within two to three minutes of the scheduled kick-off.

The 7:45pm AEDT kick-off between the Eels and Sea Eagles didn’t start until close to 8pm. Bear in mind it is a 10pm kick off New Zealand time and it ends up a late night on both sides of the Tasman.

The question is why? Look at the Premier League, or American sports, kick-off is always on time so why does Channel Nine need to be different?

2. Penrith look good
While the Bulldogs staged a comeback that would no doubt have made coach Ivan Cleary nervous, the Panthers looked red hot. The try to Dallin Watene-Zelezniak was something you would expect in September. The quick hands from Matt Moylan and Dean Whare were incredible. With the Titans in town this weekend, they should be two from two come Sunday morning.

3. Canberra better than advertised
The much maligned Ricky Stuart may have put together a competitive Green Machine. There seemed a lot of energy from the Raiders and they could have been out of sight by half-time if they could have finished some opportunities.

Jack Wighton was impressive when not fighting, and despite missing out on targets such as James Tedesco and Josh Hoffman, recruits such as Frank-Paul Nu’uausala, Josh Hodgson anda Sisa Waqa look to be good signings.

4. Cowboys need to move on fast
Not many saw a Roosters 8-4 victory coming. Particularly with the Cowboys having a 76 per cent competition rate to 60 per cent, 29 missed tackles to 30 and running for 1386 metres to 1296. It means the game against the Knights this weekend needs a positive result. Justin O’Neill will especially be wanting to make amends.

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5. Warriors disappointing
Summarising the Warriors as losing a game they led in the last quarter is a line that could have been used for the past 20 years. It’s not a fitness issue, it’s a mental block. Canberra are up next and they will be wanting revenge for the Warriors putting 50 on them last year. Tuimoala Lolohea was the real positive from the weekend, although playing centre will be another challenge for him.

6. Manly making all the wrong headlines
Daly Cherry-Evans is off, Kieran Foran is rumoured to be going and even Matt Ballin may be in his swan song season at the Sea Eagles. Conceding 42 points in the opening game doesn’t bode well. The forward back got beaten up, and with two signings, Feleti Mateo and Willie Mason, both on the wrong side of 30, it’s a serious downgrade from Glenn Stewart and Anthony Watmough.

One prediction, with Cherry-Evans going, Foran will stay. If the Round 13 grace period is still in place, then Foran could renege on his Eels contract he is rumoured to have signed to stay with the Sea Eagles.

Round 1 is in the history books, and Round 2 is just around the corner. It will be interesting to see which teams continue with their excellent starts, which teams bounce back, and which teams are 0-2 after two rounds.