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Why Dragons have to cop it sweet

Why Dragons have to cop it sweet

Andrew Voss tackles six big issues heading into Round 7 of the NRL season.

1) Should St George Illawarra be awarded 2 competition points after Melbourne scored their match-winning try after the siren on Monday night?

Sorry Dragons fans… but the answer is no.

That's despite the fact you could put forward a strong argument as to why they should – which is exactly what Dragons CEO Peter Doust did on Tuesday.

But for mine it would just open up a giant can of worms.

What if the potential blunder that decides the game happens two minutes before full-time, or 30 seconds? Do we overturn that result too? An error mid-match can also have a massive bearing on a game.

As for the timekeeping issue itself, it was actually the third time it had happened this year, but the previous two were going to half-time in games in Wellington and Leichhardt.

The only fail-proof method I can see is that the moment the siren goes, regardless of whether the ball is in play… the game is over. That is the rule in soccer. But let's hope we don't get to that.

2) Has the seven-tackle rule for 20-metre restarts been a success?

No. In my opinion, the negatives of its impact far outweigh the positives.

I know one thing: the rule was not brought in to reward a defending side with an extra tackle after a missed field goal attempt by their opponents.

That scenario emerged last Sunday at Eden Park and enabled the Bulldogs one crucial extra play to push up field to set up for a match-winning one-pointer, after Thomas Leuluai had missed his attempt for the home team.

I would be prepared for a compromise on this one if need be. Maybe we should only 'reward' the defending team with the seven-tackle set if the kick from their opponents that goes dead or touch in goal was put in from outside 40 metres.

As it stands now though I would be happy for the rule to go, effective immediately.

3) Should Referee Matt Cecchin have been dropped after Monday night?

No. Definitely not.

To be honest, he's been the 'form' referee this season.

If he was axed, what possible lesson would have been learned in this instance where play continued a second after the siren?

Imagine if every player who made a mistake in a split second was punted from his club side for the next week, regardless of how they had performed throughout the rest of the game and indeed previous rounds?

Commonsense has prevailed. Cecchin will referee at the Tigers v Eels match on Monday.

4) How close is New Zealand from picking its side for the May 2 Test?

Nowhere near as close as Australia.

It is expected the Kangaroos will pick basically their World Cup-winning side from Old Trafford last year. If that is the case, Jarryd Hayne will line up in the centres, despite the push for Justin Hodges. It would again also mean that the backline includes four players who play fullback for their club sides: Hayne, Billy Slater, Greg Inglis and Darius Boyd.

But across the ditch I am hearing of some division. The mail is that even if the likes of Sonny Bill Williams and Steve Matai make themselves available, there is a reluctance to pick them. 

The Kiwis copped quite a bit of backlash over their inclusion of Williams last year and Matai has played ducks and drakes with his availability since he last represented New Zealand in 2010.

The way I see it however is that the Kiwis' biggest dilemma will be if Issac Luke remains sidelined. There is daylight between the Rabbitohs No.9 and New Zealand's next best option with no other Kiwi eligible regular dummy-half in the NRL.

5) What's wrong with the Roosters?

'They're not winning' is my sarcastic answer. But maybe that's just it.

To go three straights weeks conceding no more than 14 points and a total of just 31 points and somehow not win any of the three goes against every 'rule of thumb' in the modern game.

This is an amazing competition. The team on top has a negative points differential. On the other hand, the Roosters have the third-best defensive record and the third-best points differential but are running 11th.

Six rounds into 2014 and there are still 16 contenders for the finals.

For the record, I work with a bloke who tipped eight out of eight last weekend. I am a desperate tipster after another hapless round where I scored just three (21 out of 48 for the season). I am now holding him hostage!

6) Are amazing comebacks the same all over the league world?

Yes they are.

As you're aware, Melbourne, albeit controversially, came from 14 points down with 13 to go against the Dragons. Remember they fought back from 20 points down against Manly in Round 1.

There is just no such thing anymore as defending a lead or "shutting up shop".

And it is evidenced in the British game as well. Last weekend Nathan Brown's St Helens side stormed home from 18 points down with a dramatic last-minute win over Castleford to remain unbeaten this season. Coincidentally the Saints also trailed by 14 with 13 minutes to go.

In the Championship, Leigh went even better than that in their clash with Halifax at one of my favourite grounds in the world of rugby league, The Shay.

The Centurions secured a rousing 36-28 win after trailing by 24 points to nil!

Enjoy your footy this weekend. Happy Easter everyone!

Twitter: @AndrewVoss9
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