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Five talking points from Manly Sea Eagles vs Penrith Panthers NRL elimination final

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    The Manly Sea Eagles are the first team eliminated from the NRL finals after they went down to the Penrith Panthers by 12 points in the second elimination final. Here are my talking points from the game.

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    It’s time to scrap the on-field live decision
    When the idea of a referee making an on-field decision to go with sending it to the video referee was first introduced, I was a big fan of it. It seemed like a really good idea – to ensure the referee’s original opinion got considered in the final result on those too close to call 50-50 decisions.

    But I’m not so sure after 2017 because two worrying trends have broken out.

    First up, there have been some baffling on-field calls. It would seem referees are guessing more than just a little bit of the time, and when you slow it down it makes them look terrible.

    Here they are calling a no try when the bloke has planted the ball a metre inside the in goal line. That’s a hypothetical of course, but it does happen.

    The more worrying trend when it comes to these on-field calls, though, is the bunker’s refusal to overrule the referees.

    It’s happening far too often. While last night’s one, to me, seemed fairly obvious that the ball had clipped the finger of Tyrone Peachey before he went over to score that crucial try, it’s not just last night. It’s been all season that the bunker will say, ‘Based on insufficient evidence, we can’t overrule the referee’.

    Now, I have no problems with that, but more often than not there has been evidence to suggest the on-field referee should be overruled on the decision. The last thing we want is teams being robbed of competition points, spots in the finals or their season because a decision wasn’t overruled because the evidence wasn’t quite conclusive.

    There are ways to fix this situation and keep the referee’s control of the game, but the bunker should be looking at these things with a fresh set of eyes. No previous opinions.

    It’s the least that should be happening if we are shelling out millions for the technology.

    NRL video bunker panels

    (The Roar)

    Penrith won’t hold a candle to Brisbane next week
    The Panthers didn’t play a bad game of footy – let’s get that out of the way straight up. This is a side who are youthful, and after being trounced in the forwards last week, they bounced back.

    They held their own against the powerful Manly pack and weathered the storm. In fact you’d have to say the Broncos performance in their loss to the Roosters on Friday was a worse performance.

    But this is going to be a whole different situation when the sides jump on a plane, fly to Brisbane and step onto the famous Lang Park in front of 50,000 rabid Queenslanders.

    That’s a different challenge altogether, and they’re trying to tell me the Panthers will handle it? I strongly doubt it. The Broncos attack has been going gangbusters, the Panthers defence has question marks all over it, and even though they won a lot of games through the second half of the season, Penrith didn’t actually play that much good footy.

    It could be a cakewalk for Wayne Bennett’s men.

    Manly will be a contender in 2018
    Let’s be honest, Manly have come from nowhere in 2018. They weren’t supposed to make the top eight when you looked at their side on paper before the season started.

    There are so many names in the side who simply didn’t appear to be at a first-grade level coming into the season, so full respect to them.

    Absolute credit to the Sea Eagles, though: they have played the season of their life. Despite the final month of the regular season seeing a drop off in form and any chance of a top-four spot dashed, the fact they were in the top four at any point this season was an amazement in itself.

    With the majority of the playing group going around at Brookvale again next year and with Trent Barrett more than proving himself in the head coaches spot, plus this memory to fuel their fire, the chance they won’t be in the eight next year appears slim.

    Mark them down for at least the eight. This is a team who could challenge for the premiership in 2018 if the Trbojevic brothers, Apisai Koroisau, Daly Cherry-Evans and Blake Green keep form.

    Jake Trbojevic Manly Sea Eagles NRL Rugby League 2017

    (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

    Dylan Walker needs to keep his emotions in check
    One of the running battles of not only last night but the entire season was Dylan Walker keeping his emotions in check.

    You get the feeling watching him play that he is a pretty fiery character. Last night he was involved in constant niggle with the Panthers, while the most memorable were his battles against the Canberra Raiders earlier in the season.

    There’s no question Walker is an enormously talented player, but it’s no good having that talent if you’re going to lose the plot every week.

    Keep calm and he could become the best centre in the NRL. He proved it at times last night, with his running and creativity being on display for all to see.

    Panthers youngsters’ will learn plenty from this finals campaign
    The Panthers really couldn’t have asked for a better scenario to unleash their young brigade in. When you think about the future of the club, you think Nathan Cleary, Dylan Edwards and you probably throw Tyrone May into that equation.

    While the off-field situation and drama surrounding Matt Moylan isn’t ideal, the experience the trio of youngsters are getting will be invaluable come future finals campaigns.

    Missing the top eight does nothing for experience under pressure, but high-pressure games with tense finishes do. No matter your opinion of the controversy in the last minutes, it’s undeniable that Cleary, Edwards and May carried themselves extremely well throughout the game.

    Cleary in particular led from the front with his kicking game. Edwards was strong in defence and running the ball, while May’s natural running game continues to shine through.

    The Panthers probably aren’t a one-year project – far from it – but somewhere in the future they will be able to recount their first finals experience of a match against Manly and a trip to Brisbane as a guide for how to handle the pressure in September.

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

    Scott Pryde
    Scott Pryde

    One of the mainstays of The Roar, Scott Pryde has written over 1,800 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 (75)

    • September 10th 2017 @ 7:47am
      Soda said | September 10th 2017 @ 7:47am | ! Report

      Big time agree with scrapping the on field live decisions. All it does is paint the video ref in a corner when a truly contentious decision needs to be made. As in last nights example with peachy. If I was a sea eagle I would feel very frustrated by that call. most howlers come with the refs on field decision. It’s all lacks accountability with the contentious calls as bunker has the cop out that they don’t have sufficient evidence to overrule and the onfield ref has the cop out that he wasnt sure in the first place. ideally the bunker has the rules and the vision at their disposal yet the Nrl doesn’t trust them to make the tough calls that the refs couldn’t.

    • September 10th 2017 @ 7:48am
      Womblat said | September 10th 2017 @ 7:48am | ! Report

      Big point on Dylan Walker. All he did was galvanise the Panthers against him and his whole team. And not just Penrith. I think the crowd and the video ref didn’t appreciate his bully-boy antics, and I bet there were Manly players who didn’t either. His may have been the most influential detrimental performance by a single player in a final since Steve Mavin or Paul Carige. But those blokes didn’t actively choose their actions.

      It’s okay to try and lift your team but I can’t think of a bigger reason Manly lost last night.

      • September 10th 2017 @ 9:29am
        Chui said | September 10th 2017 @ 9:29am | ! Report

        Are you saying the video ref’s opinion of a player’s antics influences their interpretation of the rules?

        • September 10th 2017 @ 9:41am
          womblat said | September 10th 2017 @ 9:41am | ! Report

          I’m saying everyone gets affected by antics like that, even on a real subtle level. See how fast they just dismissed his second try? No study, nothing, just nope, no try.

          League is full of 50-50 calls. Very few went Manly’s way last night. Blatant or not, obvious or not, Walker’s antics are partly responsible for that. It’s just an ugly thing that is unattractive on every level.

        • September 10th 2017 @ 9:59am
          Wild Eagle said | September 10th 2017 @ 9:59am | ! Report

          If bully boy antics are against the rules then you would imagine the ref would penalise Walker.

          What evidence has Womblat got that the ref didn’t appreciate Walkers tactics? The only possible evidence would be that he denied him a fair try.

          If this is found to be true then we might just have a legal challenge on the way from Manly and a compensation claim lodged. What is your evidence Womblat?

        • September 10th 2017 @ 10:02am
          Albo said | September 10th 2017 @ 10:02am | ! Report

          I don’t think so, as the video referee obviously got every call correct last night. I think what Womblat is saying is that if a player continually Talks the Talk, he better make sure he can also Walk the Walk. Otherwise he is just adding incentive to the opposition team to try their hardest to prove he is nothing more than a niggling “crawler” .

          • September 10th 2017 @ 10:31am
            Wild Eagle said | September 10th 2017 @ 10:31am | ! Report

            Your point about Walker is obvious, of course he needs to walk the walk nobody could argue that.

            Plenty say the video ref didn’t get the Walker no try right and I agree. I have read what Womblat said and I am asking him and now you why would it matter what the video ref thought of Walkers tactics. He is the last person who needs to worry about Walker.

            Womblat is just making up a story that is obvious to anyone.

            I don’t like Walkers niggling but only a fool would say that it didn’t help Manly to a top eight spot via a very unlikely win in Canberra with exactly the same tactics.

            • September 10th 2017 @ 1:00pm
              Womblat said | September 10th 2017 @ 1:00pm | ! Report

              Why would one need to make up a story that is obvious?

              Manly had Canberra dead to rights in the game you are referring to but Walker’s niggling galvanised Canberra back into it (just like he did to Penrith last night) and Manly only got away with it on the death. Thanks for proving my point.

              Manly had two tries disallowed last night. Uate’s was the right call but Walker’s was 50-50, and it was made in double quick time. Then Peachey’s try, 50-50 at best, was given against them after a long consideration and several views, and even you were dubious about it. Aren’t you curious why?

              Like a niggly blogger, some people just put you offside from the get go, they put an image in your mind like a dark cloud and it hangs around. And if they are part of a team, the whole team suffers under that same cloud. Like a rotten cop, the whole uniform is stained. It’s psychology 101 and only a fool thinks it doesn’t exist in League. It’s not as blatant as false penalties or clear evidence. But it’s subtle, powerful and influential. Ask Manly.

              • September 10th 2017 @ 3:18pm
                Wild Eagle said | September 10th 2017 @ 3:18pm | ! Report

                Yes I am curious as to why Walkers try was disallowed. But you don’t provide any answers on anything because it is just your opinion and nothing else.

                Dylan Walker has just been announced as one of the centres of the year on ABC radio and Is part of a team who made the 8 against all predictions .

                Any judge of NRL could see that Walker helped to distract the Raiders and help us to a win.

                Is Walker the only sledger who has cost teams victories thru the Bunker? Ennis seemed to transform the Sharks into a team of pests who somehow won last year GF.

                See your imaginings don’t stack up with the history of sledging.

                Fulton was deeply unpopular as a player with the refs but won 3 grand finals.

                You seem to forget Neville Glover and his affect on finals football.

                I don’t like Walkers sledging personally but to say that proves it gives you a less chance of winning is daft. Sometimes it might and on others they will help you win.

                I recall Manly winning some games in finals with Terry Hill and co against the Sharks and sledging their way to wins. I’ve never known a Sharks team like this one who sledge and carry on.. Can you not remember them winning the GF last year?

              • September 10th 2017 @ 8:20pm
                Womblat said | September 10th 2017 @ 8:20pm | ! Report

                And all I’m hearing is your opinion and nothing else. This being an opinion site, that seems appropriate. And yours is not more important, correct or reliable than mine. Democracy’s great, isn’t it.

                I never disputed Walker’s ability, he’s not all that but he’s pretty awesome. But his distasteful tactics are shocking and have worked against Manly. When Walker started on the Raiders Manly were up 20-6 and it was soon 20 all. Last week against Penrith he sledged hell out of them at 28-0 up, real gutsy. When Walker started on the Panthers in this game they were well on the back foot. Flat track bully personified.

                I never saw Ennis walk over and abuse a bench. Fulton may have been a pain but as a player he left Walker for dead. Wally was a king sledger but there’s a difference between gamesmanship and thuggery. You speak to any top ref in the country today and they’ll tell you JT is the biggest handful to deal with, but at least he respects his opponents. Walker’s behaviour drips with disdain.

                Keep Walker. You sound like you want and deserve him. Don’t hold your breath on those 50-50’s though. While he’s around doing his thing you won’t get them.

              • September 10th 2017 @ 9:57pm
                Wild Eagle said | September 10th 2017 @ 9:57pm | ! Report

                When you are talking to all the top refs in the country ask them why the bunker would be influenced by Walkers legal antics on the field, which are entirely unrelated to him being ruled offside, when making a decision. The reply would be fascinating.

                Your hate for Walker is no big deal to me as I’ve upset plenty in the last couple of years who have declared Manly were likely wooden spooners and heading down the gurgler.

                Everyone was blamed for this looming disaster from Bozo down to all the players except a few.

                I didn’t recieve one .sensible response to the question as to how they were so sure we were stuffed when I was sure we were on the up.

                Walker is just one of a huge number at Manly who have been slammed but so what?

                According to your logic Walker has hampered our progress this year and you are welcome to your entirely valid opinion.

              • September 11th 2017 @ 9:51am
                Wild Eagle said | September 11th 2017 @ 9:51am | ! Report

                ” Top refs in the country find Thurston the biggest handful to deal with” quote from Womblat.

                So according to you when the bunker goes against Manly it is all because of Walker yet when Thurston is livid because he gets dud decisions in big matches it is nothing to do with his attitude to the refs.

                Either way it is just an opinion with exactly zero evidence.

                I could argue that the bunker goes against Manly because he is a Penrith fan but without one piece of evidence it is just another dull conspiracy theory.
                All opinions aren’t equal but are allowed to be expressed.

              • September 12th 2017 @ 1:57pm
                Richard POWELL said | September 12th 2017 @ 1:57pm | ! Report

                I agree.

                Manly, Trent Barrett, Dylan Walker, Cherry Evans et al have been a dark cloud hovering over the referees all year with their continual whingeing and blaming refs for their inept play. After a while the refs psychologically and unintentionally turn off them. no wonder the 50 – 50’s pass them by

              • September 12th 2017 @ 2:04pm
                steve said | September 12th 2017 @ 2:04pm | ! Report

                its obviuos that the walker try was either seen from a good angle by the touchy or bunker to be off side as you only need to get the right angle view to tell or to map out on the ground the positions of players which is easy to tell so therefore a quick decisions and the Peachy try as we have all seen is hard to tell and therefore needed a longer time to replay the footage and even then it was hard.

            • September 10th 2017 @ 9:41pm
              Albo said | September 10th 2017 @ 9:41pm | ! Report

              Wild Eagle, perhaps I should have qualified my response. In no way do I think that Walker’s niggling tactics have any impact on the officials decision making. I just think they are counter productive to his team in relation to the firing up of their opposition teams, which was obvious last night with Penrith really fired up to prove him wrong.

          • Roar Guru

            September 10th 2017 @ 1:23pm
            Scott Pryde said | September 10th 2017 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

            Albo, Wild Eagle,

            I thought Walker ‘walked the walked’ so to speak – pardon the pun – pretty well last night, and has done so all season. He is incredibly talented, but needs to get his emotions/sledging – that side of his game in order.

            • September 10th 2017 @ 3:23pm
              Wild Eagle said | September 10th 2017 @ 3:23pm | ! Report

              He scored two legitimate tries but they allowed only one and did pretty well.

              I would be happy if he dropped the sledging and improved his skill level.

              The Oz cricket team had huge success with sledgers in the team but I would prefer if they didn’t over do it myself.

      • Roar Guru

        September 10th 2017 @ 9:58am
        Con Scortis said | September 10th 2017 @ 9:58am | ! Report

        I think Jayden Brailey and the Sharks would agree.

      • September 10th 2017 @ 10:12am
        danwain said | September 10th 2017 @ 10:12am | ! Report

        Look I agree that his actions were stupid, but to suggest that had a bearing on the decisions made against Manly is a bit on the nose

      • Roar Guru

        September 10th 2017 @ 1:22pm
        Scott Pryde said | September 10th 2017 @ 1:22pm | ! Report

        Walker’s antics had no influence on two blokes sitting in a bunker…

        But it certainly did on Penrith.

    • Roar Guru

      September 10th 2017 @ 8:07am
      The Barry said | September 10th 2017 @ 8:07am | ! Report

      I don’t see what difference scrapping the on field call would make.

      So the ref sends the Peachey try upstairs and says “I had no view, no idea if it’s a try or not”

      The replays in the bunker are just as inconclusive. There’s no way anyone can watch that and definitively say one way or the other. I think the ball may have brushed Peachey’s finger but I couldn’t be any further from definite on it. I suspect anyone who says “he 100% did/didn’t touch it” of having agendas. It was as 50/50 as a decision could be.

      So even without an on field decision, whichever way the video ref goes there is going to be controversy and a set of fans who are up in arms. There would be no difference in the reaction.

      The issue here isn’t on field decisions or technology or the rules or an NRL decision it’s the inability / unwillingness of fans to accept the referees decision.

      The sooner we collectively realise that there are decisions in the game where there is no right or wrong the better the game will be for it.

      I think the on field referees need to make the initial decision. The alternative of going to video referees in the first instance is a very slippery slope.

      • September 10th 2017 @ 8:41am
        Kaela said | September 10th 2017 @ 8:41am | ! Report

        Looked to me like his knee came through and from all but one angle that’s what looked like happened. In the one angle the commentators were talking about, the knee coming through was obscured by the hand, making it look like his finger brushed it. It definitely wasn’t clear that he had knoced it on. Either way, in the end, they would have won by 6 points regardless.

      • September 10th 2017 @ 8:44am
        souvalis said | September 10th 2017 @ 8:44am | ! Report

        Why not just change the bunkers directive to finding any clear footage to disallow the try i.e. doubt goes in favor of the attacking side.

        • Roar Guru

          September 10th 2017 @ 9:03am
          The Barry said | September 10th 2017 @ 9:03am | ! Report

          Didn’t there used to be a benefit of the doubt rule for referrals?

          With ones like that last night there’s never going to be a decent answer that appeases everyone – unless we get rid of the knock on rule altogether!!

          Theres literally no way of knowing whether Peachey touched it or not and whatever system is in place there would be fans howling after the decision whichever way it went.

        • September 10th 2017 @ 9:12am
          Paul Chapman said | September 10th 2017 @ 9:12am | ! Report

          Soulavis, we have been there with the “Benefit of the Doubt” it didn’t work either.

      • September 10th 2017 @ 9:21am
        Wild Eagle said | September 10th 2017 @ 9:21am | ! Report

        I respect your well thought out views Barry but I have another angle. I saw the Peachy thing as 50 – 50 after the game and my view was coloured during the game when I heard Fittler or someone say they saw it touch the finger. Maybe he did but I couldn’t tell.

        If the ref then says to the bunker either nothing or I have no idea then the bunker is free to give a 50-50 call to either team which is the only way it can be done. By the ref being obliged to make up fairy stories Manly miss the chance to get the rub of the Green which they clearly were due.

        The controversy can never be avoided on 50 /50,s but the refs fairy tale has turned it into a 100-0 situation.

        • Roar Guru

          September 10th 2017 @ 10:56am
          The Barry said | September 10th 2017 @ 10:56am | ! Report

          But it may well be that the ref had a better view than all the camera angles available, was 95% sure and just went upstairs to check. Maybe he was 50/50 but still had a better view.

          We’re really supposing that the ref had no idea.

          But regardless of the process, the camera angles didn’t definitively show whether Peachey touched it or not so any decision based on the technology at present will be flawed. The TV evidence to call it a try or a no try just doesn’t exist. We’d still have 50% of the fans blowing up about the decision whichever way it went.

          I know blokes like you and eJ and others are passionate Manly fans and are hurting this morning and I think credit to you guys for a pretty reasoned response but there’s plenty out there blowing up deluxe.

          • September 10th 2017 @ 11:53am
            Wild Eagle said | September 10th 2017 @ 11:53am | ! Report

            Fair point Barry but if the ref had no idea he is obliged to toss a coin and pretend he has an idea which stops the Eagles getting a 50% chance of a try. I believe the ref had no idea and it was way too close to make a call at high speed.

            What is annoying me more now is the Walker try which they have just discussed on the footy show. The only possible way they could take this try off Walker is if the Bunker has some special angle which shows something which none of us have seen.

            Why can’t someone from the NRL put it to bed and produce this mystery angle which defies physics.?

            Anyone who argues that refs at times are not the deciding factor in many close games are just not in touch with reality.

            Funnily enough I had another look at the Uate no try on TV and I have seen the same thing given this year. Barrett had steam coming out of his ears and he is justified.

      • Roar Guru

        September 10th 2017 @ 1:25pm
        Scott Pryde said | September 10th 2017 @ 1:25pm | ! Report

        Yeah, fair enough TB,

        Point taken, but I mean, I just think it backs the bunker into a corner. I think on principle alone, the bunker probably would have gone no try last night – but because they had the referee’s decision sitting there as a try, it gave them an out.

        I don’t know. I just think there has to be a better system than the one we have currently, where a referee’s guess can influence the final decision. I’m not a referee basher, because I get how hard it is, but I don’t think the system we have stacks up.

    • September 10th 2017 @ 8:10am
      Tom G said | September 10th 2017 @ 8:10am | ! Report

      Totally agree with all points.

    • September 10th 2017 @ 8:16am
      Oingo Boingo said | September 10th 2017 @ 8:16am | ! Report

      Geez Scott , I’d hate you to be responsible for putting a rope around someone’s neck .
      There was absolutely zero evidence that Peachy touches that ball . no camera angle conclusively indicated it came into contact with his hand .
      Beyond reasonable doubt ? No.
      If the bunker overrules the decision we have the exact opposite complaint.
      I give Penrith a chance in Brissy , they played with good discipline for most of the game last night , and if they play the same way at Suncorp they’ll be in with a chance .

      • Roar Guru

        September 10th 2017 @ 1:27pm
        Scott Pryde said | September 10th 2017 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

        Agree, but if there’s no on-field call, then we can’t really complain about it being sent back as a no try. In my opinion, if, after things have been slown down Oingo we still don’t really have an answer and there is reasonable doubt about a try being scored, then it should be a no try.

        It’s like in cricket. Umpires are always told if there’s doubt on an LBW – it’s not out.

    • Roar Guru

      September 10th 2017 @ 8:20am
      The Barry said | September 10th 2017 @ 8:20am | ! Report

      Manly were a little flat at times last night. There were several parts of the game where they were standing flat footed and hardly making any metres. I think Penrith had more energy overall.

      I think a lot of Manly players will learn from the semi final experience. Turbo wasn’t bad at all but he didn’t have his best game last night. On reflection I think it shows how high the expectations have risen for him. Second year of first grade, first semi finals series. He’ll be better for it. I don’t think Jurbo would have played semis previously – certainly his first as skipper. Sironen, Winterstein, Kelly playing for the first time. More experienced guys like Taupau – he would be in his first series as a starting player – he may have played a bit part off the bench for the Dogs.

      They’ve done remarkably well this year. They’ve also played about 1.5M under the cap because of Stewart and Matai’s retirements, which is incredible.

      They were on the wrong end of a couple of 50/50 calls last night but they had plenty of opportunities to win the game. I thought Penrith were better overall and deserved the win. Hard to see them going too much further though, although the Broncos are not without their own issues.

      • Roar Guru

        September 10th 2017 @ 8:49am
        eagleJack said | September 10th 2017 @ 8:49am | ! Report

        Agree with all your points here TB (except Jurbo being skipper 🙂 ). First finals series for a lot of the squad and they will be better for the run.

        • Roar Guru

          September 10th 2017 @ 9:05am
          The Barry said | September 10th 2017 @ 9:05am | ! Report

          Brain fart on Jurbo…my only defence is that he takes charge and plays like he’s the skipper…?

      • Roar Guru

        September 10th 2017 @ 1:29pm
        Scott Pryde said | September 10th 2017 @ 1:29pm | ! Report


        I think my last point about Penrith learning from the experience could definitely be applied to Manly as well – Penrith will just get more out of it with a trip to Brisvegas.

        It’s been a really strong season for Manly. No one (myself included) expected them to make the eight I think it’s fair to say.

        As I said at the end of my blog last night though, Manly were their own worst enemy. 13 errors and those two in the last five minutes when they still could have found a way to score were absolutely crucial.

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