MATT Duffie is used to his tries counting for nothing.
The 20-year-old former high school basketball champion has scored two doubles in his previous 14 first grade appearances before the Monday Night Football appointment with Canterbury. But as Duffie found his feet in first grade last year, his club had already had the rug pulled from under it because of salary cap abuse.
On Monday night, in the season’s umpteenth form reversal, competition points were definitely on the line as Duffie’s Melbourne Storm toppled the undefeated competition leaders 30-16 at AAMI Park.
“Just getting a win when there are competition points at stake is just so much more enjoyable – it’s awesome,” the Christchurch-born winger, back from a shoulder injury, told NRL.com.
“I guess for the other guys, they would have been feeling that they weren’t earning competition points because they’d been doing it for years and years. Me, I was just happy to be in front of 10,000 people every week. I was just loving it.
“Obviously it feels way better now. But it feels like it’s going to be a long season – last year I went in halfway through.”
The MNF result means after just four rounds, no side in the NRL is undefeated and none is without a win. “It’s an amazing competition,” former Kiwis international Richie Barnett said on breakfast radio on Monday.
Gold Coast had to wait until golden point time to break their duck for 2011, Greg Bird’s field goal giving his side a 23-22 success over the Raiders in Canberra Stadium on Saturday. ‘Fish Eats Sharks To Break Duck’ was the zoological headline the next afternoon at Owen Delany Park in Taupo, where Glen ‘Fish’ Fisiiahi got a brace of his own in the Warriors’ much-needed 18-10 win over Cronulla.
“The vibe between the brothers now, it’s pretty good,” said cheery Fisiiahi, dropped after a forgettable showing in round one against Parramatta.
And between the Dogs at the top and the Warriors plus Titans at the bottom, things were as confounding as ever.
Manly piled on 16 points in the twinkling of an eye to alarm South Sydney coach John Lang, who relied on a missed Dale Cherry-Evans conversion attempt on the bell to win 32-30 at BlueTongue Stadium on Friday night.
North of the border, Penrith coach Matthew Elliott used Scottish slang when asked if he was happy with his side’s performance in losing 18-10 to Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium. “We’re not a bunch of numpties, even though it’s been written widely that we are,” Elliott said. “You guys don’t know, we do.”
According to an online dictionary, a numpty is “a reckless, absent-minded or unwise person”.
That won Elliott NRL.com’s Quote Of The Week Award, which he inherits from fellow clipboard carrier Brian Smith whose “bent over” line following the loss to Manly amused thousands. Smith’s Sydney Roosters accounted for injury-strewn Wests Tigers 24-6 on Sunday at the Sydney Football Stadium.
The previous evening at Parramatta Stadium, winger Luke Burt posted the club tryscoring record and kicked a match-winning conversion in the heart-stopping 22-20 win over North Queensland. The same margin applied at AusGrid Stadium on Sunday when St George Illawarra beat now privately-owned Newcastle 20-18.
And when round four was all done and dusted, Storm captain Cameron Smith reflected: “A lot of the things we trialed last year (when no points were on offer), some came off and some didn’t but we’ve taken them into this year. It’s a huge positive. We’ve got a very regimented style of footy but sometimes if we’ve got an opportunity, we can throw it in there.”
Matt Duffie is one of those ‘it’s. And this time it counts.
NRL.COM QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“We’re not a bunch of numpties, even though it’s been written widely that we are" - Penrith coach Matthew Elliott