Voss: Modern day rivalry for the ages

There has been no better rugby league rivalry than the Cowboys and Broncos since the early 1960s, will the real Penrith Panthers please stand up, has golden point had its day, which club has the best bench and 'Sockgate'.

Has there ever been a better rivalry than what the Cowboys and Broncos have going?

I can't find anything to match it searching the record books all the way back to 1908.

The closeness of the games and the grandstand finishes have been simply astonishing.

That we'll have to wait until Round 26 for the next instalment in Townsville is probably the biggest downside of the draw this season.

I will, however, push the case of the rivalry between St George and Western Suburbs from 1961, '62 and '63. Obviously I can't vouch for their quality or tension first hand, but I can quote the facts.

In those three years the Dragons and the Magpies clashed 11 times. In all three seasons they met in the grand final. In seven of the 11 battles, the match would be decided by five points or less (a converted try in those days).

I know I would have loved to have been around to call a few of those.

What a sensational sport we follow.

Did we see the real Panthers in Round 2?

There is a word for what happened eight days before Penrith's thumping 36-2 win over the Wests Tigers. 

Aberration.

Forget Round 1 ever existed. The only place it will impact the Panthers is in their overall points differential after conceding seven tries to the Dragons, but I reckon that performance will be long forgotten by the time we get to the pointy end of the season.

I'll make this declaration about the Panthers, and I don't make it lightly.

I believe there is more talent and natural football ability, player for player, in the Panthers squad than any other in the competition.

Now, talent alone doesn't win competitions, but if you can mix it with desire, a decent defence and the right attitude, they will quickly become a heavyweight in the NRL. 

Their tussle with the Roosters on Saturday night is just about the match of the round.

Has golden point reached its used by date?

I had been a fan since it was brought in back in 2003, and as a commentator I've always loved it. I've had the opportunity to call so many incredible extra-time finishes.

However, putting my commentary role aside, and again taking the position of just a rugby league fan, I think it's time for it to go during regular season matches.

A draw in 80 minutes is a result. Let the teams again split the points.

I'm not a fence sitter. Mine is a 'no' vote to golden point.

However, I will be satisfied to go with a majority decision if put to the game's stakeholders. And why couldn't that happen? Let every football club member, player, coach and referee have a vote on whether to keep it. The golden vote!

That can end the debate once and for all.

Can the Warriors win in New Zealand away from Mount Smart Stadium?

Maybe… then again, maybe not.

The record book proves over many years that while the Warriors may have the majority of crowd support at venues away from their Auckland base, for whatever reason they struggle to win.

In the last four seasons alone they have lost matches at Eden Park, Wellington, Hamilton, New Plymouth and Christchurch. They even got smashed by the Dragons last year in a pre-season trial in Nelson. 

However, they did record a 24-20 victory in their most recent meeting with the Bulldogs at Wellington's 'Cake Tin' in 2016, so perhaps that will give them reason to be confident on Friday night in Dunedin.

The trend though is worth noting for tipsters.

I've called matches previously at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin and I regard it as just about the perfect indoor rugby league venue. If only such a stadium could be built in Sydney. 

It's well worth taking a look at on the Fox League coverage on Friday evening if you haven't seen it before.

Which team has the best bench?

On what I saw last weekend, it would have to be Cronulla.

The Sharks boast impact and experience. The performances of Chris Heighington, Jayson Bukuya and Jeremy Latimore were game changing against the Raiders. Even Joseph Paulo came on later and laid on a try from a kick.

Those four are all capable of playing long minutes. And it rams home the point, in case anyone was in any doubt, that it's a 17 man game these days. The Raiders got nowhere near the impact from their bench.

What was doing with 'Sockgate'?

I can't let the column go this week without a quick word of warning to Mitchell Moses.

It was certainly an odd one to see the bottom of the socks that had been savaged by a pair of scissors.

I wonder if Mitchell is aware of how such wardrobe incidents are treated in the USA. In the NFL they regularly dish out fines for what they call "Uniform Violations".

I found a case from the 2012 season where the San Francisco 49er's Frank Gore was fined $10,500 for wearing his socks low!

Just sayin'.

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I have the pleasure of calling three games this weekend for Fox League, starting with the Bulldogs v Warriors match first up on Friday night. I'm looking forward to being in Townsville on Saturday night for the Cowboys and the Sea Eagles.

And I can't wait to get back to Cronulla on Sunday night for the Sharks v Dragons derby.

Giddy Up! 

Twitter: @AndrewVossy