As two-time Dally M medalist Cooper Cronk wrote his name into rugby league folklore on September 30, 2018, another was left ruining his.
What is it with Michael Jennings? Either he can’t count or he thinks Semi Radradra is away having his bonce measured for a Toulon beret.
Last Saturday with the Eels down by six, not for the first time this season, the blinkered Jennings butchered a routine two-on-one from close range, with a left-foot step back into the teeth of the scrambling Raiders.
The simple finish would’ve have taken Semi over the line for the first time since his four-try rout of the Dragons in Round 2.
In fact, so bad has the service become, it’s like the French-bound flyer has been stalled by a Manilla Telco since Round 3, when he last broke the line.
With some serious finishers on the Blues’ books, Laurie Daley and Peter Sterling can ill afford Jennings’ poor vision and right-to-left passing gaffes in this year’s Origin.
Storm shoulder Billy’s burden
Billy Slater’s return has caught the eye, his boundless energy complementing the Storm’s mix of old and new. His once precision passing will improve with each outing and it won’t be long before his impressive try tally starts to mount.
The only question I have lies in the mind and shoulder of the Queensland veteran.
Am I alone in blaming Billy’s subconscious for a moment of hesitation on Saturday night – the slightest of delay enough for Penrith’s Te Maire Martin to cross without the usual last-ditch, in-your-face Slater impedance?
Sideways Tigers without bite or kick
All aboard the bandwagon, it’s time to pick on the Tigers!
No, not the ‘Big Four’, how about the small one – Jack Littlejohn. The Tigers’ fill-in has been around enough clubs to know a stuttering attack, so how about some mongrel?
Not the physical type, the stuff off the boot. With no teeth in attack, you’d reckon the Wests Tigers could have at least questioned St George Illawarra with final-play pressure.
The Dragons’ back three handled more trickery in the pre-match warm up than Littlejohn’s dainty little end-over-end last-play options.
Cooper Cronk and Nathan Cleary lead the charge in swirling last play high-balls that often force a repeat set. So come on Tigers, give it a roost!
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Dogs boppers weather the storm
Des Hasler’s Bulldogs showed great heart to outlast the Broncos, but does the result edge them any closer to unearthing their lost creativity?
Canterbury created more chances by simply out-running the Broncos through the middle in the slippery conditions, with 1872 metres to 1496 against. They did the same against Melbourne in similar conditions in Round 1, but on that night fell one try short.
You don’t have to be Paul Kent to understand persuasion through centre field is Canterbury’s modus operandi. Indeed, you don’t need to be Ben Ikin to realise a lack of pace and dummy-half smarts should force Michael Lichaa from the top 17.
In Matt Frawley, the Dogs may have replaced the steadying influence that Trent Hodkinson took to Newcastle. Now with Moses Mbye back from suspension, will Frawley miss the cut or will Hasler reward his big boppers with the spark around the ruck they deserve?
Foran’s blinder the first step to kicking the Warriors where it hurts
Careful what you wish for, the nice guy always cops it.
Initially, my heart was with the once-again gallant and undermanned Titans in their fight to the death at Mt Smart Stadium last Sunday. That was until the Warriors’ post-match press conference, where victorious coach Stephen Kearney praised the club’s latest debutante.
I’ve admired Kearney for more than 20 years, since he skippered the Wests Magpies in his early 20s. Genuine, decent and fit – I can see him and Ruben Wiki wrestling for 18th man duties on game day.
But my heart sank when he said, “Kieran’s one of those guys that can play anywhere, anytime.”
He could have easily continued, “…and probably will.”
It’s a strange situation: the Warriors have offered an olive branch to one of their own at a bargain price in return for one of the best playmakers in the competition.
But unless the Warriors go all the way this season, it seems the only winner will be Kieran Foran, who appears destined to go his own way – to a fourth club in as many years.