Monday Morning Halfback: Winning hard
Just how hard is it to win a game in the NRL Telstra Premiership? It is something we often take for granted when discussing our code and the closeness of the teams in our great competition. There are no gimmes.
After three rounds, every team in the competition has registered a win. It's the first time that has happened since 1973.
Manly headed to Townsville to take on the might of the Cowboys and were given little chance of doing anything after capitulating badly to the Rabbitohs in Round 2. In fact, only one NRL.com expert tipster picked the Sea Eagles – and Justin Hodges was roundly ridiculed all week in our offices for tipping the Manly outfit - it looked like madness.
But just how important is Matt Scott and Jason Taumalolo to the North Queensland franchise? Or Lachlan Coote for that matter. They were sadly missed by a Cowboys team that had more than enough ball to win several games. The North Queensland outfit had 51 tackles inside Manly 20 metre zone and after 80 minutes came away with a solitary try for their efforts.
The Cowboys threw everything at Manly, but without one of the game's great props – out for the season with an ACL – and without Dally M medallist Taumalolo, the Cowboys lacked that killer ingredient to put the Sea Eagles away.
Take nothing away from Manly, who defended like their lives depended on it. It was the sort of defence that their mid-90s golden era was built around. But the Cowboys were definitely missing a cog and that is all it took for Manly to come away with two very well-earned two competition points, their first win of the season.
It was a similar story as the Eels struggled against the Titans. Parramatta raced to a lead even without star half Corey Norman and all signs pointed to a comfortable victory, but the Gold Coast outfit – minus Jarryd Hayne – showed commitment and dedication to a task and refused to go away. They are not a team of superstars, but they could just be a superstar team as they ground the Eels out and eventually came away with the valuable points.
After three rounds, we know there are no guarantees. Two competition points will be earned every week, there are no easy games.
Coaches and players know it – so too do NRL tipsters.
Fourth generation royalty
Gold Coast winger Max King created a unique piece of history when he became just the second fourth-generation NRL player – making his first-grade debut in the Titans gutsy win over the Eels.
His great grandad Cec King played for the Rabbitohs between 1945-46. His grandad Johnny King played 12 seasons with St George between 1960-71 racking up over 140 tries, and 15 appearances for the Kangaroos. His dad David played two seasons with the Gold Coast between 1991-92 before having a decent career in the English Super League.
"I was kicking off adrenalin, this is just my dream come true," Max told titans.com.au in the sheds after the game.
"My family have been there through the whole ups and downs of my rugby league career. For them to be here and see me fulfil my childhood dream is awesome."
Farah joins elite company
Robbie Farah finally notched game number 250 and became just the 108th player to achieve the milestone.
It was also the first time he had won a milestone match after losing his debut game against Manly 38-30, and then losing every subsequent milestone; his 50th, 100th, 150th and 200th all ended in losses.
Farah's move to the Rabbitohs has been more than well documented, but it was a nice touch to see some Wests Tigers fans make the trip to Newcastle to show their support to a former club captain and premiership winning player who had racked up 247 games at the Tigers.
It didn't go unnoticed.
Also to the small group of Tigers fans that made the trip up the freeway to be there today. Thank you so much, it was a beautiful gesture! pic.twitter.com/0CfaTGdQiU— robbie farah (@robbiefarah) March 18, 2017
Mannering the best ever Warrior?
Stacey Jones told NRL.com that Simon Mannering is the greatest player the Warriors club has ever had. Who are we to argue?
Jones was speaking as Mannering had equalled his appearance record for the New Zealand franchise. Mannering's longevity and durability sure does make amazing reading, he has appeared in 261 of a possible 287 games since his debut in Round 16, 2005 and also played 41 tests for New Zealand. Playing in the forwards, that is an incredible achievement. Off the field, you'd struggle to find a better bloke.
England join Pacific extravaganza
England will play a test match against Samoa as part of an exciting international triple-header at Campbelltown Sports Stadium on May 6.
It is set to be a great day of footy and an important build up to the 2017 Rugby League World Cup at the end of the season.
PNG v Cook Islands | Fiji v Tonga | England v Samoa.
Kurt Gidley became the first player to wear a camera during a competition game when Warrington took on Leigh in the English Super League. While there were some technical difficulties, it did prove a fascinating, if not motion-sickness inducing experience.
Like spider-cam there is a time and a place for such camera angles – and it will be interesting to watch the evolution of this technology and how it is used in the future.
Bunker critics get it wrong
It seems there is still some confusion over how the NRL bunker works. There is a misconception that the bunker is only looking at the images that are broadcast in the telecast. This couldn't be further from the truth.
When the Storm were denied a try to Will Chambers, viewers and commentators were upset when another angle was shown after the decision was made, which made it look like the bunker had missed the camera angle.
This is simply not the case, and most probably a by-product of the old video review system which had been in place since 1999.
The bunker has over 30 screens and they are independent of the broadcasters. The ability to control the footage and be able to use split screen technology was one of the main reasons the bunker was brought in.
Despite commentators insisting in the live coverage on both Channel Nine and Fox League that a side-on angle indicated a fair try, Archer confirmed this was not the case.
"I have had the opportunity to fully review the decision," Archer said on Friday.
"Further review of the live decision of no try by the Bunker confirmed that Chambers' hand had come away from the ball, whilst the ball is on the ground, prior to the ball touching the tryline.
"Split screen technology allowed the review officials to pinpoint the moment the player lost possession. At the same point, the end-on camera showed that the ball was short of the line.
"That is a knock-on, and any subsequent promotion of the ball using the forearm was irrelevant as the knock-on had already occurred."
While you can indeed ground the ball in the in-goal with your arm, you can't roll the ball along the ground to the try-line. On any other part of the field it is a knock-on and that is exactly why it was ruled no-try.