Sterling Gold: The game-changing moments
Talk about turning points.
Whilst every decision made and every action undertaken on every single play in a match all add up to determine the final result, there are standout incidents that are much bigger than others; incidents that lead to the scoring of points or change the momentum of the contest at that particular moment.
Along with the scoreboard, momentum is one of the most powerful forces that affect a game of rugby league and thus one of the hardest things to alter. It is something that players have to contend with both physically and mentally.
In the last two rounds we have seen a number of absolutely profound occurrences that epitomise the term "turning point".
The most obvious was last weekend's Canberra scrum debacle which enabled the Gold Coast to turn certain defeat into an unlikely victory.
With exactly 56 seconds left to play Raider's half Matt Orford fed a scrum close to his own line with his side leading 22 points to 16. A successful scrum win would have seen the home side grab their second victory of the season.
Unfortunately for the experienced number seven and his teammates, Orford knocked-on at the scrum-base to give the Titans their own feed and a shot at sending the game into golden point.
Three tackles later the Queenslanders did exactly that with a flurry of ball movement finally landing in the arms of Anthony Laffranchi who scored adjacent to the posts. After a further error from Blake Ferguson in extra-time a Greg Bird field-goal decided the contest.
Whilst you have to feel gutted for Matt Orford, it was a very poor mistake.
His only priority had to be securing possession with simply dropping on the ball being the safest option.
Instead in his effort to pick up and get into a position to possibly pass, he actually overran the football. When the ball got tangled in legs this made the pick up much more difficult and led to the critical error.
Obviously the Ferguson dropped ball moments later was also pivotal, but to be honest Canberra should already have been celebrating a narrow win.
The following Monday night Melbourne inflicted the Bulldogs their first defeat of the season with a comfortable 30-16 score-line.
The Storm were again superb on home turf but a controversial 'no try' ruling by the video referee against the 'Dogs in the 29th minute certainly helped their cause.
Trailing 8-4 at the time, Canterbury put together a second-man play from 10 metres out which put centre Tim Lafai into space to score.
After being sent upstairs it was ruled that decoy runner Corey Payne had illegally interfered with Cooper Cronk denying him a chance to properly defend.
It was a bad call because Cronk actually angled in at the Payne run and substantially contributed to initialising contact. The decoy runner ran a good line and couldn't disappear when Cooper moved his way. It was only a small movement but enough to indicate a definite decision made by the Storm half and that alone should have been good enough to score a green light.
Worse was to follow with Melbourne making their way downfield in the next set of six for Billy Slater to soar high in pursuit of a last-tackle kick and knock it back for Kevin Proctor to regather and score.
With the Cameron Smith conversion successful, Canterbury had gone from possibly leading 10-8 to trailing 14-4. A converted try to Dane Nielsen five minutes later and the game was all but over.
This weekend I felt the Roosters were also the recipient of a dusty call which had an immediate impact on their chances against the Warriors at Mt Smart.
Early in the second half with his team behind 10-6, Braith Anasta went wide to Justin Carney down the left flank from inside the Roosters' own half.
The tri-colours skipper, just 25 metres from his own line, threw a long cut-out pass to put Carney away with Bill Tupou and Lewis Brown in hot pursuit.
The Roosters may not have scored but at the very least would have been in great field position with another five tackles still up their sleeve.
I understand forward pass calls are completely subjective but in my opinion this one was clearly good.
Not only were his hands directed backwards but if you have a look at where his body finishes with momentum after delivering the ball he is still in front of Carney when the ball arrives.
However a scrum was awarded to the Warriors and just three plays later Lance Hohaia slid through some poor defence to extend the lead from 4 to 10.
Finally, in one of the more unbelievable passages of play, the Dragons' Darius Boyd produced an amazing intercept to deny Canterbury a foothold back in the game last Sunday afternoon.
Taking advantage of a clever Corey Payne off-load, five-eighth Kris Keating burst into open space with five unmarked players in support and only Boyd to beat.
With only one avenue of play open to him, the Dragons custodian played at the football to try and stop Keating setting up the Bulldogs' second try in as many minutes. Not only did he play at the ball but grabbed it out of thin air to race 60 metres to score.
If Canterbury had taken advantage of this opportunity they would have fought back to trail 15-13 with all the momentum and still a quarter of the game to go. The freakish effort by Boyd meant St George Illawarra now led 21-6 and everyone knew it was the end of the section.
In highlighting these incidents I'm in no way implying that any of the beaten teams were robbed or hard done by in the overall context of their matches. In fact in all four games I'm of the belief that the better side ultimately prevailed (including the Gold Coast).
What they do highlight is how decisions, made on and off the field, are incredibly crucial and why they attract so much scrutiny.
They also reinforce the fact that sides are going to face many types of adversity through the course of a match and that how teams handle such obstacles will determine the degree of success they achieve in a season. Turning points are also character tests.