I can’t wait to get out on the hill tonight at Brookvale Oval and watch Manly v Melbourne, 1 v 2. These big games are what make sport so enjoyable. The anticipation, the build-up, the speculation, the theatre, the drama; as a sport lover and self-confessed Rugby League tragic, it doesn’t get any better. To me these heavyweight battles aren’t just defined by 80 minutes on the field; that is the pay-off, but the story arc of weeks and weeks of building tension and intrigue is what makes these games extra special.
Both these teams have been through a lot, their stories have been well documented. Neither side was expected to hit the lofty heights they have reached this season. It was meant to be a re-building phase, a ‘transitional period'. Melbourne have lost half a roster and were expected to struggle, while Manly were seen as a solid team with a rookie halfback. One look at their coaches and we should have known better.
These two coaches are the most competitive and driven men you are likely to meet, their preparation is meticulous, the attention to detail, paramount. Nothing but the best is expected from these great leaders of men. Both have legitimate claims for the Dally M Coach of the Year award, what they are doing with their respective clubs is awe-inspiring.
These two clubs have a tremendous history together, a love-hate relationship that has been forged over years of striving to be the best. Their battles have been ferocious and on the field there isn’t much love lost between the two sides, but deep in the psyche of both clubs is a high level of respect. They are tough, uncompromising football teams that demand perfection and respect.
So strap yourselves in for one hell of a football contest. If you can’t be on the hill living and breathing the heavy hits and intense rivalry, make sure you watch the game on television. It is sure to be compulsive viewing!
A lot has been written about the incident involving the Rabbitohs and Cowboys in golden point and how the game finished with a penalty after James Segeyaro had caught Issac Luke in a high tackle. In turn we received a host of wild theories about what should happen in the event of a draw in normal time. From the purists who think both teams have fought hard and deserve a point each, to the revolutionists among us who have proposed everything from players dropping off the field every minute to pot shots at goal almost like a penalty shoot-out in soccer.
I’ve said it before in this column: I love the drama and excitement of golden point. But I agree that there is something very anticlimactic about a penalty in front of the posts ending a game that has seen two sets of gladiators battling it out tooth and nail for over 80 minutes.
One theory which has been proposed is that only a try should end the extra-time period, meaning you can kick a field goal or penalty goal, but if the other team scores a try – you lose. Makes sense right?
There is one massive problem with this theory – it is completely flawed! Under this model, one team could kick three penalty goals in extra time, concede a try and lose – even though they have actually scored more points. I think in looking for an answer we are over-complicating things.
If there was ever a change to golden point, my vote would be to play the 10 minutes in a traditional extra-time format. If the teams are still locked together after that, they deserve a point each. It stops a penalty-goal ending the contest as no matter what happens, or how many points are scored, you know there are 10 minutes and you have to play to that final whistle.
The game should continue to be played the same way and under the same rules that it was played for the first 80 minutes. A straight extra-time period ticks all the boxes.
From Heroes to Legends
The year 2011 will see the end of the careers of some of the most iconic players in our great code. Players who have become our sporting heroes both on and off the field over the past decade will hang up their boots for the last time at the end of the season.
The last two rounds of the Telstra Premiership is your opportunity to farewell some of these great players, and acknowledge the contribution they have made to our game. NRL.com is asking you to send in your tributes.
DID YOU KNOW?
With the support of more than $4.6 million in education grants each year from the NRL and clubs, 80 per cent of NRL players have completed or are currently engaged in further education or workplace training.
MATCH CENTRE – ROUND 25
Get all the team lists, head-to-head stats and our match previews in the match centre. Plus live stats and scores, match highlights and much much more.
Updated Team Lists - all the latest team news.
Ins and Outs –We look at who has returned for Round 24 and who is out injured.
Casualty Ward – When players were injured and when they are due back.
THIS WEEK ON NRL.com
Official View: Referees co-coach says the decision to award the Rabbitohs a crucial penalty in extra-time against the Cowboys was the right decision.
NRL Mailbox: What is the Academic team of the year?
Rookies creating Warriors dynasty: A new administration and the invention of the Toyota Cup have been hailed the major turning points in New Zealand that has transformed the Warriors into a genuine rugby league powerhouse.
Dally M contenders: We look at all the players in the running for an award at Rugby League's night of night's.
Stats Insider: The players leading the way in all the key stats.
Sterling Gold: Both Alan Tongue and the Titans' Preston Campbell have not only been tremendous competitors but also underlined the fact that you don't have to be 100 kilos and six-foot to play our game.
Inside Word: Trent Barrett wants retiring captains and former skippers like Darren Lockyer, Andrew Ryan, Preston Campbell and Alan Tongue to stay in the game as ambassadors.
Next Gen: Toyota Cup Commentator Matt Russell looks at each club's contenders for the Team of the Year.
On the Road: Did star Broncos centre Justin Hodges want to play on a cold wet night in Newcastle before he re-injured his hamstring?
Coach's Box: Graham Murray has his money on Jonathan Thurston to take out a record-equaling third the Dally M Medal.
In Touch: Leila McKinnon says the NRL should look at harnessing the power of mums for player discipline after Issac Luke's brought him back down to earth this weekend.
VIDEO ON NRL.COM
FROM THE CLUBS
There is heaps of great content being produced by your favourite club each and every week. Both in print and video, the NRL club network is keeping you up to date with your favourite players. Here is a snapshot of what is making news at some of the clubs. Make sure you check out your club's website by clicking on their logo in the toolbar above.
Roosters: Q & A with Jason Taylor.
Dragons: Hornby intent on fresh start.
Wests Tigers: Todd Payten names his best centres.
Broncos: Hodgo ready to rumble for finals.
Bulldogs: Bobcat ticket offer.
Knights: Adam Macdougall confirms retirement.
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