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Bellamy's Storm beat Bennett's Broncos, but it was no grudge match. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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When animals become ill or injured, they are often humanely put out of their misery. Sometimes rugby league matches should meet the same fate.

In an error-ridden contest at ANZ Stadium in front of a poor crowd, the Roosters held onto an early lead for 75 minutes and kept the hapless Bulldogs scoreless.

There have historically been excellent low-scoring affairs where the defence has dominated, with both teams completing well and putting immense pressure on each other with their respective kicking games.

This, sadly, was not one of those matches. Latrell Mitchell scored in the fifth minute after a penalty for an incorrect play-the-ball against Aaron Woods.

I wrote a few weeks back that Woods’ sloppiness would hurt the Bulldogs at some point, yet I also recognised that the failure to award another penalty for the same offence throughout the remainder of the match is a continuation of inconsistent refereeing of the highest (or lowest) order.

The try was converted and the Roosters took the early lead, a lead they would never give up and one the Bulldogs rarely looked like diminishing.

With a massive advantage in possession and field position, particularly in the second half, the Dogs reverted to the Des Hasler playbook and ran forward after forward, one out, and the Roosters’ organised defence rose to the challenge.

Aaron Woods

(Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Moreover, the last tackle-kicking options were utterly appalling, with a bomb from 40 metres out proving the kick of choice. Grubbers were ineffective and attacking players were rarely present to even make a contest of the situation.

The impotent backline attack was underwhelming and offered no promise, with most of the possession shifted wide resulting in a couple of twins running sideways or dropped ball.

The Roosters were more than guilty in that area themselves, with 28 handling errors made between both sides throughout the course of the game. A very disappointed crowd shuffled through the gates at night’s end.

All credit to the chooks, however: they were far more dangerous in attack and defended gamely on their line.

I’m still waiting for the second set to begin; the first set was a dud.

The same cannot be said of the second match played this weekend, as the two form teams in the competition faced off at Mount Smart Stadium.

With the Dragons under a cloud of illness and the Warriors without talisman Shaun Johnson, it was a tough contest to line up, and the 80 minutes of action lived up to the hype of two teams who have hardly missed a beat in 2018.

The Warriors took the early initiative and went to the break with a 10-0 lead. Expectedly, the Dragons came home strongly and won the second half by two, yet the Warriors held on for a 20-12 victory that will add further belief to their squad and continue the momentum they have built early in the season.

The frightful thing for much of the competition was the outstanding performance of Issac Luke, who dominated through the middle and capped off a brilliant game with a try in the second half.

It was the best performance Luke has produced for some time, and with the depth and power across the Warriors squad when all fit and healthy, the impressive spine they possess must surely see them as a potential premiership winner.

The contest reeked of a finals clash, with both teams looking like top-four combatants, and every time the Dragons threw something at the Warriors, the home side responded.

Stephen Kearney might have something special on his hands with this team, and the Dragons also look like they will take some beating. It might be a fair prediction to suggest that they may ruffle each other’s feathers much later in the year when the stakes are far higher.

Dragons

(Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

The media-hyped grudge match/job interview between the master coach and the supposed ‘apprentice’ seeking to assume his throne at the Broncos played out in an expected manner.

Craig Bellamy has an astonishing record against Wayne Bennett, and despite a gallant Broncos team, the visitors had the northerner’s measure for much of the contest.

Despite scoring early, the remainder of the first half was ugly for Brisbane, and Melbourne were clinical in establishing a 14-point lead by half-time with tries to Slater (2) and Addo-Carr silencing the crowd.

The Broncos were better in the second period, yet the brilliance of Anthony Milford is still moderated by errors, as his crucial misread of a Storm grubber kick allowed Suliasi Vunivalu to score the matchwinning try with 12 minutes remaining on the clock.

The match was entertaining and befitting of two professional and polished teams, and it was only tarnished by some silly media throughout the week attempting to personalise the clash as a ‘mine’s bigger than yours’ moment between two of the game’s greatest coaches.

In the end it was a quality encounter where the football outshone any backroom coaching deals that may be unfolding in the boardrooms of NRL clubs.

Stuart Thomas
Stuart Thomas

Stuart Thomas is a sports writer and educator who made the jump from Roar Guru to Expert in 2017. An ex-trainee professional golfer, his sporting passions are broad with particular interests in football, AFL and rugby league. His love of sport is only matched by his passion for gardening and self-sustainability. Follow him on Twitter @stuartthomas72.

State of Origin 2 is here, with the Blues looking to wrap the 2018 series up and the Maroons hoping to keep it alive and force a decider. Follow along with our NSW vs QLD Origin 2 live scores and blog.

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The Crowd Says (126)

  • April 21st 2018 @ 8:17am
    souvalis said | April 21st 2018 @ 8:17am | ! Report

    Yeah but the only thing cloudy is intention..it could’ve been interpreted as a grubber gone wrong by the bunker..other than that blame the rule not the messengers…more concern for the Broncos would be the impending losses in the front row of Lodge,downright ugly,and the hooker downright shame..

    • April 21st 2018 @ 10:22am
      Albo said | April 21st 2018 @ 10:22am | ! Report

      100 % souvalis ! I used to think that Jamie Buhrer was the unluckiest player for continual injuries, but I think McCullough is fast coming for his title. The Broncos will surely struggle again without him in the weeks ahead.

      • Roar Guru

        April 21st 2018 @ 12:22pm
        Con Scortis said | April 21st 2018 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

        Maybe a “grubber gone wrong”. According to some of the comments this week, Slater is a “grub gone wrong”. Agree about McCullogh – he also looks like a nice bloke, so it’s a shame it keeps happening to him.

  • April 21st 2018 @ 8:30am
    Geoff from Bruce Stadium said | April 21st 2018 @ 8:30am | ! Report

    Isn’t it amazing what confidence and a bit of success can do for a team in any sport. Last year the Warriors were a rabble and people were predicting Kearney to get the chop within the first 6 weeks and this year they are sitting near the top of the table. At the other end of the spectrum the wheels have fallen off the Eels and they don’t look like scoring a try. The Warriors deserve credit for their recruitment – particularly with Blake Green who has provided the maturity and stability they have lacked in the past. We should also recognise the contributions of Tohu Harris and Adam Blair up front. Interesting that the Warriors have continued to perform in the absence of Shaun Johnson.

    • April 21st 2018 @ 8:42am
      Peter Phelps said | April 21st 2018 @ 8:42am | ! Report

      The Warriors always had that potential just lacked that organisation and self belief. I am still not sure about Kearney.

      • Roar Guru

        April 21st 2018 @ 8:47am
        Emcie said | April 21st 2018 @ 8:47am | ! Report

        It’ll be interesting to see how long they can keep it going for, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team able to keep up that level of enthusiasm for an entire season. There’s a reason the traditionally successful teams tend to start slower and build over the season

    • Roar Rookie

      April 21st 2018 @ 9:27am
      Joe said | April 21st 2018 @ 9:27am | ! Report

      Very true. Especially the effect of Johnson. In years past it was pretty much no Johnson, no Warriors. It is no longer a one man team. They are playing great footy as well and their back 3 are one of the best in the comp. Throw in the form of Isaac Luke and this Warriors team is the real deal.

  • April 21st 2018 @ 8:48am
    Paul said | April 21st 2018 @ 8:48am | ! Report

    It’ll be interesting to see how the Dragons rebound next week against the Roosters. A short week, plus the trip back won’t help but they should still be good enough to get the bikkies. I’m not sad they lost because it will take the pressure off trying to defend an unbeaten record. They can now focus on simply wining games.

    • Roar Guru

      April 21st 2018 @ 8:51am
      Emcie said | April 21st 2018 @ 8:51am | ! Report

      Roosters won this week so they’ll be down next week, its the rules of the season

      • Roar Guru

        April 21st 2018 @ 8:58am
        Nat said | April 21st 2018 @ 8:58am | ! Report

        Yep. In my tips I wrote that I backed the Roosters due to their last 4 W/L/W/L. Titans Manly Souths and Storm were following the same trend. If we cannot rely on the team, follow the trend I say. Except the Tigers, Bums on the Bus.

    • Roar Guru

      April 21st 2018 @ 9:03am
      The Barry said | April 21st 2018 @ 9:03am | ! Report

      I don’t know Paul…a round 7 loss…this is usually the time the wheels start getting a bit wobbly for the Drags…🤣

      • Roar Guru

        April 21st 2018 @ 9:09am
        Scott Pryde said | April 21st 2018 @ 9:09am | ! Report

        On your bike Baz.

      • April 21st 2018 @ 9:14am
        Paul said | April 21st 2018 @ 9:14am | ! Report

        Nah TB, we’ll be okay for another 3 weeks or so, then we’ll have to see whether the wheels need a bit of adjusting.

        The nice thing is Klmmer and co are starting to come good, as are De Balin, Vaughan, etc. There should be some good healthy competition for SOO spots.

      • April 21st 2018 @ 10:57am
        Albo said | April 21st 2018 @ 10:57am | ! Report

        What must be concerning last night ( and also in recent weeks when still winning) for the Dragons fans must be the failure to post points when having so much possession. They had 60% of ball against the Warriors who had lost one of their key players ( Harris) before halftime and had numerical benefit via the sin binning of Blake Green, yet failed to score apart from a Hunt burst at some lazy defence and a charge over late from Simms from close range. It may have been different if Lafai hadn’t butchered two tries for Macdonald or Widdop had got one or two of his grubber kicks right, but they seem to have lost that “clinical” tag they were showing early on.

      • Roar Guru

        April 21st 2018 @ 11:02am
        Renegade said | April 21st 2018 @ 11:02am | ! Report

        Haha Now is generally when the “it’s different this year” comments start coming out of red v members 😂

  • Roar Guru

    April 21st 2018 @ 8:57am
    Scott Pryde said | April 21st 2018 @ 8:57am | ! Report

    Amazingly, I’ve had a couple of days off and for the first time this season have been able to watch all 240 minutes of Thursday and Friday night footy live, instead of madly scrambling for replays on Sunday morning before I write my talking points.

    I’d have to say the Bulldogs-Roosters game is the worst I’ve seen this season. It’s going to take some beating for the spoon if you were to rank every game this season from best to worst.

    The Dragons played alright, but no excuses when you have so much possession and can’t score points. Full credit to the Warriors, whose on-line defence was some of the best I’ve seen from that club in… well, ever. They are the real deal this season, there is absolutely no doubt about it. Finally, the attitude and commitment is there.

    I’d also make a point that the Dragons will struggle to back up for ANZAC Day. Flying back from Auckland on a five-day turnaround against the Roosters who get to take a bus home and get an extra 24 hours recovery…. Yeah, because the draw is fair, isn’t it?

    Storm and Broncos was a quality match. I have no idea how Slater’s try can be ruled that way (and it seems most agree judging by the comments), but besides that, I thought that was one of Melbourne’s better performances this season.

    Broncos showed some improvement as well, but as some have pointed out, they still have a heap of work to do. McCullough’s elbow injury is a major concern as well – before the season started, I rated him in my top 20 players in the game, purely because of the way Brisbane seemed to fall in a heap (especially in defence) when he was injured last year. There is no Ben Hunt to be the replacement this year for the Broncs and I reckon if McCullough is out for any length of time, they are going to fall right down the ladder and struggle to make the top eight come September. Also important to note the supposed back-up option Jake Turpin is out with an ankle injury at the moment, so that won’t make life any easier for Wayne.

    • Roar Guru

      April 21st 2018 @ 9:11am
      Emcie said | April 21st 2018 @ 9:11am | ! Report

      Damnit Scott, stop looking for excuses to rule Brisbane out of the eight! It’s also a lil bit funny hearing a Sydney team complain about travel…

      McCollough is a definate concern though

      • Roar Guru

        April 21st 2018 @ 9:17am
        Scott Pryde said | April 21st 2018 @ 9:17am | ! Report

        Hey now Emcie, I didn’t rule them out. Just that they are going to struggle if they can’t have McCullough back on the park sooner rather than later.

        And look, you’re right about the travel thing, but I don’t understand why the draw couldn’t have been worked out so that we didn’t have 24 hours less and a four hour flight than the Roosters. The Roosters always seem to get the best of the draw, don’t they?

        • Roar Guru

          April 21st 2018 @ 9:34am
          Emcie said | April 21st 2018 @ 9:34am | ! Report

          The Broncs injury list is getting a bit concerning, not sure how big an injury a hyperextended elboy is to be honest.

          A wednesday game was always going to be hard to fit into the schedule, but St George have it pretty easy for the rest of the year (travel wise) while other teams have to catch a plane every second week

  • Roar Rookie

    April 21st 2018 @ 8:57am
    Joe said | April 21st 2018 @ 8:57am | ! Report

    I wasn’t too bothered with the low scoring game on Thursday and still enjoyed it. I thought both teams attack wasn’t top notch but their defense, in particular the Roosters on line defense was outstanding. The Friday games though were both outstanding games with four very good teams playing. Warriors and Dragons look to be there at the pointy end of the season. I don’t think the Dragons lost too many fans with their performance which was still top notch. They just came up against a very committed Warriors side and Isaac Luke in red hot form. Best game he’s ever played in Warriors colors which I’ve already said twice this season so he’s going from strength to strength. Broncos and Storm played a thriller with the Broncos coming back at the Storm in a see-sawing match that was only put to be in the last 7 mins. Was just a great game to watch. Bring on the rest of the weekend games!

  • April 21st 2018 @ 9:29am
    bear54 said | April 21st 2018 @ 9:29am | ! Report

    I really enjoyed the Thursday night game. Most point to the scoreboard to prove Canterbury’s lack of attacking flair but they had (by my count) four tries held up while Sydney had one plus another disallowed. By my account the Dogs crossed the line more often than their opponent yet they’re being singled out for the poorer performance? I agree Foran and Marshall-King aren’t getting the job done but its early days in their partnership so they’ll improve with time. Early days for the Bulldog faithful and if Dean Pay keeps backing his team they’ll get the results eventually.

    On the Slater try, had the officials said NO TRY everyone, including Billy, would have shrugged their shoulders, accepted the decision and got on with the game. I very much doubt there would have been any conjecture here at The Roar? But because they gave the green light it’s opened a pandoras box of players trying to kick dropped balls, hours of video referee consternation and more after game debate. They had an easy solution and while strictly speaking the gave the correct decision ultimately it was the wrong call.

    • Roar Guru

      April 22nd 2018 @ 6:35am
      The Barry said | April 22nd 2018 @ 6:35am | ! Report

      Hi bear…with most of those held ups the dogs never looked like getting the ball down, they were one out hit ups in the middle of the ruck. With the amount of ball and territory they had and how buggered the Roosters were they should have done better.

      But I’m happy to hear maybe they weren’t as bad as I thought.

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