Seven talking points from NRL Round 3

Scott Pryde Roar Guru

By Scott Pryde, Scott Pryde is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger

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33 Have your say

    The NRL season is starting to heat up and after three weeks of competition, we are down to just two undefeated teams with the Melbourne Storm and Sydney Roosters hanging at the top. It was another big weekend of action, with a pair of sin-bins and some upsets headlining proceedings.

    Use the sin bin consistently, or get rid of it all together
    It’s hard to know what to make of the Knights and Rabbitohs game, and not just the result. The sin bin was wheeled out twice, with George Burgess sent away to think about his elbowing actions, before Trent Hodkinson was handed the same fate for backchat late in the game.

    Let’s deal with the Hodkinson one first. Newcastle, needing to score urgently lost a scrum against the feed and Hodkinson had no problems telling referee David Munro exactly what he thought with the one-liner “you just cost us the game”.

    Calling a referee something bordering on a cheat without actually using the word is never acceptable but it’s hard to remember many instances of a player being sent off the park for backchat.

    It took some serious thinking to work out the last time a player was sent, and that came during the Good Friday clash in 2015 between the Bulldogs and Rabbitohs, but even then James Graham should have also been in the bin but was allowed to stay.

    Sending Hodkinson on Saturday sets a worrying precedent that is unlikely to be held over the course of the season, and again you have to wonder where the consistency is.

    As for Burgess, it was a lot more clear cut that he should have been sin-binned, with many advocating he should have been sent for an early shower. What Burgess did was completely unacceptable, but then, so was what Sam Thaiday did on Thursday against Melbourne.

    Thaiday was allowed to keep his spot on the field, although since has been fined by the NRL. Burgess though, was sent packing.

    If the sin bin is going to be used, then for the love of footy make it a consistent process.

    Local derby on Sunday at 6:30pm? No, no, no, no, no
    I try to keep my gripes with officials and scheduling out of my articles, but it looks like we are going to kill two birds with one stone.

    What genius decided a Cronulla Sharks versus St George Illawarra Dragons local derby should be played at 6:30pm on a Sunday night?

    Seriously, it doesn’t require much explanation, does it? Even a Saturday night timeslot would have better suited a game like this.

    While we are at it, don’t get me started on the Friday Round 10 clash at 6pm.

    Billy’s back, but the pressure starts next week
    Billy Slater might have made his return in a winning effort on Thursday night, but the pressure for one of the best fullbacks the game has ever produced will really ramp up next week.

    The Storm came out of the win over the Broncos with a few key injuries, including Cameron Munster. That’s a major set back for the club, and will put the pressure on Slater to step up and perform from next week, as well as handing a fulltime role to Ryley Jacks – at least until Munster is fit and ready to go again.

    Jacks has been solid, but playing in a fill-in role is different to becoming a focal part of the side for the next month.

    As for Slater, his return was solid but far from spectacular. He made a couple of errors, and did some things that hurt the Storm’s chances against the Broncos.

    He had some good touches as well, and it’s hard to expect anything more from someone who has been rubbed out of the game for the last 12 months.

    The problem with Munster being out though, is that Slater is now required to play the full 80 minutes and do it well if the Storm are to keep their undefeated start to the season going.

    Marika Koroibete and Billy Slater

    Why can’t the Warriors just be good at playing footy?
    I would hate to be a Warriors supporter. Anyone who does follow the Auckland-based club must have been ripping their hair out on Friday as they crashed and burned at the hands of the Bulldogs.

    Their attack was completely incompetent. Scratch that, it was only marginally better than the Dragons of 2016, and we all know how dreadful that was.

    No matter what they tried – and let’s be honest – it wasn’t a whole lot – they didn’t look like cracking the Bulldogs line and quite rightly lost the game in a canter.

    Shaun Johnson had a few bright spots, but didn’t get involved in the game nearly enough, while the loss of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck clearly hurt the club. Ata Hingano, to this point looks out of his depth and the forwards have been dominated in the last two rounds.

    Simply put, if the Warriors are going to make any sort of run they have a lot to work on.

    Are the Titans better off without Hayne?
    There is no questioning just how brilliant Jarryd Hayne can be. Unfortunately for him and the Titans, ‘can’ is a very key word in that sentence.

    It’s been a much-maligned start to the season for Hayne who has been reportedly dumped from the leadership group and had issues committing to training.

    Things didn’t get any better last week when he injured his ankle and will now miss anywhere from four to six weeks.

    It could carry a silver lining for the Titans though. They looked like a different side without Hayne on the field against the Eels and came away with a win.

    They had to fight hard, but they did it with class and picked up a crucial win.

    The question has to be asked. If they go on a winning streak – say four in a row – does Hayne get his spot back, given the reported off-field issues?

    The answer, for the short term is going to be yes. You don’t have your highest paid player sitting on the sidelines when he is fit, but if the Titans were to start losing when Hayne comes back – well, just watch this space.

    The Eels will struggle if Corey Norman cops a long-term injury
    This one’s probably me shooting myself in the foot a little bit, because all you Eels fans are going to go ‘well, don’t you remember 2016?’

    But no, it’s a serious issue for Parramatta and they proved that against the Titans on Friday.

    Their attack lacked spark and creativity and while their defence can be a whole lot better, their attack didn’t scream top four or even top eight.

    It wasn’t the Eels team we saw in the first two weeks or last year on either side of the park – the one with all the fight and determination in the world – but if Corey Norman is out, it’s hard to see them picking up wins against the best teams or making a deep run in September.

    If Ricky’s mob can get consistent, the Raiders will be premiership favourites
    The Raiders demolished – scratch that – destroyed the Tigers in Canberra on Saturday arfternoon and really looked to hit their stride in attack.

    Jarrod Croker being back on the park certainly had something to do with it, but their attack generally flowed better. Josh Hodgson, along with halves Aiden Sezer and Blake Austin were fantastic while Jordan Rapana had a double on the Raiders lethal right side.

    While the Tigers were shocking and looked lost in defence, the Raiders forwards dominated the game from the half-hour point as the Raiders ran up 40 points in the final 45 minutes of the game.

    Even though they won’t score like that against the best defensive sides, their attack has enough in it for them to get over the line, with a defence that seems to be improving week to week.

    Roarers, what did you make of Round 3? Drop a comment below and let us know.

    Scott Pryde
    Scott Pryde

    One of the mainstays of The Roar, Scott Pryde has written over 1,100 articles covering everything from rugby league to basketball, from tennis to cricket. You can follow him on Twitter @sk_pryde.

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    The Crowd Says (33)

    • March 19th 2017 @ 8:41pm
      Silvertail47 said | March 19th 2017 @ 8:41pm | ! Report

      The refs messed up plenty of times
      High tackles cost more than elbows or punches
      Tigers need halves
      Slamming Sammy is a role model
      Manly proved that the little red engine could

    • Roar Guru

      March 19th 2017 @ 9:16pm
      Magnus M. Østergaard said | March 19th 2017 @ 9:16pm | ! Report

      Evening Scott, nice write up!

      Titans are a better team when they were scrapping away last year as the underdog team and proved it again on Friday night that this is the case. They love a scrap up against the odds. Also, how good in Roberts! Underrated utility, attacking at hooker, defending at fullback, very Granville/Green esque at Wynnum-Manly.

      Cowboys couldn’t break down the Manly wall. They played very well and Cowboys just played like they expected to win, full credit to Manly. Paul Green wont be a happy camper this week.

      People on social media have been complaining that Munro took it personally, I don’t think he did and I 100% support his decisions, players need to be far more respectful when addressing referees. People complain about how much time Smith gets, and thats because he is alwasy calm and respectful, shouldnt be that hard if youve been raised right. I can fully understand referees not giving time to captains coming and yelling their best expletives at them.

      IDK if it will be consistent, but we do know that no one is going to be backchatting Munro anymore. The other referees have to make a stand with him.

      Re the Warriors, they just need their forward pack to stand up!

      • Roar Guru

        March 19th 2017 @ 10:17pm
        Scott Pryde said | March 19th 2017 @ 10:17pm | ! Report

        Evening Vincent. Thanks for that.

        On a sidenote, you getting a little bit concerned about a certain bet that dictates you changing your profile picture to a Dragons logo?

        You are deadset right about the Titans. Hayne is not the best thing that has happened to them on the field. They really scrapped for that win against Parra.

        Cowboys missed Scott and Taumalolo badly I reckon.

        I’m happy to support the referees decision and as a cricket umpire myself, dissent is never okay, but they need to be consistent across the board with whatever route they take.

        • Roar Guru

          March 20th 2017 @ 7:39am
          Magnus M. Østergaard said | March 20th 2017 @ 7:39am | ! Report

          I’m not that concerned because honestly, I enjoyed watching both of the Dragons wins, very impressive performances, and how can you not love JDB. Danger game for them this week if Foran returns and plays well well, if not, Im resigned to a month of the Dragons logo.

          Exactly, I have the same thoughts as TB below, the young boys need to step up, but I really think the key to the team is Roberts, he loves a good scrap. Elgey is a bit of a turnstile in defense and seems to be made of glass, he needs to step up, but he was impressive in patches.

          They certainly lacked a bit of punch up front, but I don’t want to undermine how excellent the Sea Eagles were.

          I agree somewhat with what you are saying, just that I won’t be outraged if a few do go unnoticed by the referee.

          Was also refreshing to see Nathan Browns take on the incident as well, its a team of real personal commitment this year.

          • Roar Guru

            March 20th 2017 @ 11:32am
            Scott Pryde said | March 20th 2017 @ 11:32am | ! Report

            Yeah the Dragons have really surprised me Vincent. Been enjoyable though and I’m certainly not complaining. Based on the Warriors pack so far, they couldn’t beat anyone at the moment.

        • March 20th 2017 @ 11:21am
          NSWelshman said | March 20th 2017 @ 11:21am | ! Report

          Was Manly not missing Taupau, Lussick, AFB & Perrett?? How about people give some credit to Manly & not make out they beat the Cowboys only because they were missing Scott & Taumalolo!

    • Roar Rookie

      March 19th 2017 @ 9:27pm
      Joe said | March 19th 2017 @ 9:27pm | ! Report

      The Sin bin edict for repeated infringement near the line touted at the beginning of the season turned out to be a joke. It looks to be worse this year (according to the penalties statistics) and yet nothing except repeated ‘last chance’ warnings.
      Billy will need to step up next week and I think he will be much better for the run. He looked like he was trying to hard at times but next week should be good. I’d think too he’s been training with Munster at 6 so some time training time with Jacks at 6 might be good for the combination. I think too Cronk had a terrible game this weekend which contributed a lot to the poor Storm attack. Billy v Teddy is going to be good to watch next week.
      Titans were outstanding. What an effort from a team riddled with injuries against the Eels who are competition favorites. That team spirit is what got the Titans to the eight last year. They need Hayne to buy in if he hasn’t done so yet. Also consider Peats the last piece of the spine is still to come. I think they’ll go all right this year.
      Eels looked good for about 15 mins than completely fell to pieces. Those two drops by Radradra were costly although you’d expect that they’d have better defense to overcome the mistake. I think they thought they had it won in the first 20 and dropped off the effort.
      Raiders were outstanding. I had them to be in the four this year and although inconsistent I’ve seen enough not to change my mind.

      • Roar Guru

        March 19th 2017 @ 10:17pm
        Scott Pryde said | March 19th 2017 @ 10:17pm | ! Report

        Absolutely right on your first point Joe.

        Watching Slater next week is going to be intriguing.

      • March 20th 2017 @ 10:03am
        KenW said | March 20th 2017 @ 10:03am | ! Report

        Slater certainly had some zip when he came on. As all have pointed out, he was trying way too hard and didn’t show the sort of sublime touch that he is known for but that will come if he stays healthy.

        I’ll admit that I was sceptical about his comeback, as a player who’s game revolves around acceleration and speed, near enough to 2 seasons out of the game while approaching mid-30’s just seemed too much. That little glimpse though has turned me around, he will still be a force – the only question mark is whether his body will hold up. Big injury layoffs at the back end of a career do seem to lead to other big injury layoffs.

        Yep, the sin bin edict has fallen over already. The only surprise was that even the cynical amongst us would have said the refs would stick with it for 5-6 rounds….

    • March 19th 2017 @ 9:30pm
      danwain said | March 19th 2017 @ 9:30pm | ! Report

      That try to Lewis tonight would have been funny if it wasn’t so predictable, the referees in this game are incompetent and nothing is changing…

      • March 20th 2017 @ 10:32am
        KenW said | March 20th 2017 @ 10:32am | ! Report

        That one seemed pretty clear cut to me. Lewis got fingers to the ball.
        Widdop was still clearly grasping at the ball so Lewis’s touch was a clear knock on into Widdop. Even if it was deemed that Widdop somehow had control of it though, if Lewis knocks it out then it’s still a knock on against Lewis.

        Considering that it went upstairs as ‘No Try’, it’s hard to understand how they came up with enough evidence to overturn the decision.

    • Roar Rookie

      March 19th 2017 @ 9:32pm
      Joe said | March 19th 2017 @ 9:32pm | ! Report

      Just on the bin for backchat, I remember Sandow got sent in an Eels v Storm game a couple of years back for basically the same type of comment where he made reference that maybe the ref had money on the game.

      • March 20th 2017 @ 12:18pm
        KenW said | March 20th 2017 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

        Hodkinson said the ref got it wrong, Sandow said the ref was corrupt. For mine that’s a huge distinction.

        Actually I really don’t see anything too awful in Hodkinson’s comment, it was emotional and childish to say the ref ‘cost you the game’ but he hasn’t impinged on the ref’s integrity, he just looked like a goose.

    • March 19th 2017 @ 9:50pm
      tigranes said | March 19th 2017 @ 9:50pm | ! Report

      Tigers have got huge problems. They were embarassing this afternoon

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