Five games, five moments: Round 11
Raiders 20 def. Bulldogs 12The Moment: What’s the value of a good chase in the modern game? Ask Raiders coach David Furner and he’ll tell you a motza. It certainly paid massive dividends for Reece Robinson and the Green Machine when the winger hunted down teammate Sam Williams’ ambitious 40/20 attempt shortly after halftime. With the Raiders up 10-nil, Bulldogs fullback Ben Barba’s desperation and skill in just managing to defuse Williams’ kick was admirable – he knew another set in prime field position could have had dire consequences for his side. But that transpired anyway, as Robinson won the race for the batted-back ball a few metres out. Barba managed to pounce on Robinson but from the play-the-ball Joe Picker charged over at first receiver for a decisive 16-nil lead. Point of interest: in the past fortnight the Raiders have upped their stats across the board, including good chases. Prior to this round they’d tallied just 109 (behind NRL leaders Melbourne’s 202) to rank the 11th most effective side. See why coaches drum on about those one percenters? They all add up.
See Williams's great chase pay off
Wests Tigers 20 def. Panthers 18The Moment: Benji Marshall’s 85-metre solo try helped the Tigers climb out of the huge hole they’d dug for themselves at Campbelltown Stadium but it was also testament Marshall’s incredible innate focus. Few playmakers would have had the smarts to ensure they were on the spot, out on the flank, to help defuse a cross-field bomb. If you watch the video of Luke Walsh’s towering kick with the Panthers leading 18-10 with just 14 minutes remaining, Marshall is a long way from the action. But he can’t help himself; his football brain tells his legs to get him over there. And look what happens: Panthers winger David Simmons fields the kick and throws the ball over his shoulder. Who’s there? Marshall. He skips downfield, puts a huge right-foot sidestep on Panthers fullback Lachlan Coote then straightens and accelerates, leaving cover defender Adrian Purtell flummoxed. Freak.
Roosters 12 def. v Knights 10The Moment: Just as Benji Marshall stole the warder’s key to get the Tigers out of jail, Roosters No.6 Braith Anasta showed similar insight to rescue the tri-colours. With the Roosters seemingly cruising with a 12-nil advantage, Newcastle’s Shannon McDonnell bridged the gap to 12-6 in the 59th minute. The pint-sized fullback looked certain to bag a crucial second try under the posts just two minutes later, charging through to contest a Beau Henry bomb from 35 metres out. In spectacular style, he leaped high above Roosters’ fullback Anthony Minichiello to seize possession and looked certain to score – but there was Anasta, hanging around his bootlaces. Given Knights winger Peter Mata’utia crossed 10 minutes later we’re happy to argue Anasta’s try-saver was the defining play. (A special ‘moment’ mention to Anthony Minichiello’s milestones – 217 games to join Brad Fittler in third place on the Roosters’ all-time appearances list, as well as his 104th try to join ’70s winger Bill Mullins as the club’s leading tryscorer. Nice one ‘Count’.)
Warriors 12 def. Rabbitohs 6The Moment: Look up ‘enigma’ in the dictionary and the definition will read ‘Krisnan Inu’. The Warrior saved a certain try when he perfectly sized up a danger situation and abandoned marking his opposite James Roberts as the Rabbitohs swept down the left edge from close range in the 18th minute without a point on the scoreboard. Inu plucked Rhys Wesser’s final pass out of the air 10 metres out from the Warriors’ tryline, then sprinted downfield while glancing to his left to monitor the chase of Rabbitoh John Sutton. With Sutton seemingly held at bay, Inu grinned and started to shorten stride, as if to do only enough as was required to reach his objective. Trouble was Roberts, who gave away a good 10 metres start down the other end of the field, was right on his hammer – and nailed Inu just a metre out. From the ensuing tackle Kevin Locke was penalised for an illegal burrow through the bunnies. In summary, it left coach Ivan Cleary happy not to have conceded a try down the other end – but fuming at not taking advantage of the intercept and registering points.
Eels 40 def. Sharks 6The Moment: Parramatta’s sizeable investment in South Sydney halfback Chris Sandow from next year will likely see either current No.7 Jeff Robson or five-eighth Daniel Mortimer cut from the team’s weekly plans. On a night when Mortimer was rested for Casey McGuire, Robson stuck up his hand with three glorious try assists against the woeful Sharks to remind coach Stephen Kearney of his worth going forward. His third was classic playmaker’s vision. With the Eels commanding 22-nil leaders at the 53-minute mark, Robson took the ball at first receiver 25 metres out and cleverly grubbered between defenders Anthony Tupou and Wade Graham. He regathered and in the one motion popped an overhead pass to winger Jordan Atkins who strolled over untouched. With more play like that between now and September the Eels – or perhaps another club – will find it hard not to find a spot for Robson in their squad of 17 in 2012.
• The views in this article are the author’s and not necessarily those of the clubs or the NRL.