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Voss: How do we stop players diving?

Which club is under the most pressure, how do we deal with mid-air tackles, how do we stop players from diving, and who will be the top try scorer in 2017?

Has there ever been so much pressure on so many teams heading into a round at this stage of the season?


And take your pick from this lot as to why I have reached that verdict.

All eyes have to be on the Warriors after the biggest collapse in the club's history against the Panthers. They say they won't let one bad half define their season. So prove it against the Dragons on Friday night.

Meanwhile, there are no alarm bells ringing at St George Illawarra yet, however if they lose to the Warriors it will mean a fourth straight loss.

What about the Wests Tigers? They were awful against Souths. Based on that one performance they won't win again this year. And a repeat dose will see the Broncos put 50 on them on Friday night.

It's not often Melbourne feel this sort of heat but I couldn't imagine it's been much fun around Craig Bellamy this week after scoring 36 points and still getting beaten by the Titans.

Surely they will be primed for a big one against Souths in Perth.

Then there's Manly needing to overcome the loss of Tom Trbojevic. Parramatta just got pumped conceding 48 points and have to do without Corey Norman. And Canberra has lost three straight.

What's wrong with the Raiders?

The question has to be asked of the team that came within one win of the grand final last year.

A win-loss record of 4-6 doesn't read all that flash through 10 rounds, however to be fair they have suffered two losses in golden point. But perhaps in hindsight we should have read a little more into their opening home game loss this season against the Sharks where they were thumped 42-16. They aren't what they were.

Just a few observations from the commentary box. Josh Hodgson has been nowhere near as dominant in 2017. Alarmingly, three times he was caught at dummy-half without passing inside the attacking 20-metre zone in the first half against the Knights.

Joey Leilua isn't producing the numbers he did last year in terms of offloads and tackle busts.

And the Raiders often let themselves down in football thinking. A case in point was last Sunday where in the final five minutes and only trailing by eight points, no one looked to pack a scrum quickly to stop the clock. 25 seconds lost.

It's a big couple of weeks for Canberra with the Eels away on Saturday night, and at home to the Roosters before State of Origin I.

How do we deal with mid-air tackles?

I'm certainly not happy that there has been an injury to Tom Trbojevic as a result of a hit while both his feet were off the ground, but I'm glad it has started a debate.

My opinion on this issue has never changed, and I have never supported the blanket rule of automatic penalty against the attacking side only for mid-air tackles.

Why can't we just leave it to the officials to decide what is or isn't dangerous when a player looking to catch the ball off the ground, be it in attack, defence, or from a bounce, is tackled?

I'd reckon more than half the penalties we blow on the attacking side in this situation aren't really dangerous at all. If the intention was to actually look after player welfare, then the scope for mid-air tackle penalties needs to be broader.

But let the referees be the judge. 

How do we prevent players diving?

I am totally on the same page with Wayne Bennett on this one. By taking no action against Paul Gallen for the Sharks against the Tigers in Round 9, we opened the door for Daly Cherry-Evans to do what he did against Brisbane on Saturday.

I think it's an embarrassing look for the game, and it plays the NRL Bunker for fools if we are going to allow it.

Aaron Woods' contact with Gallen three weeks ago didn't stop him from making a tackle on James Tedesco. His dive to the ground did.

Likewise, Sam Thaiday didn't deny Cherry-Evans the chance to play a part in preventing a Broncos try in the corner. But DCE falling over certainly did.

There is not a fan following the game that I've come across that hasn't called what they have seen in both cases. Gamesmanship? Sure. But poor look? Absolutely.

Perhaps we could start by fining or charging the 'divers' post-match even if the Bunker is reluctant to rule against them at the time.

Please don't let this creep into the game. It's a joke in soccer. Let's leave it there.

Who will be the leading try scorer in 2017?

Have you looked at the top try scorer's list lately?

It'd be a tough job framing a betting market right now.

In case you've missed it, after Round 10, we have five players level with a tally of eight tries. There's Canberra's Jordan Rapana alongside the Broncos' James Roberts, the Warriors' David Fusitu'a, the Storm's Suliasi Vunivalu and the Cowboys' Coen Hess.

Then you'll find another 15 players within two tries of the top. Among that list are the likes of Semi Radradra, Alex Johnston, Josh 'The Fox' Addo-Carr and Akuila Uate.

There are a few former season leading try scorers scattered through that mix. And given we've just come off a round where 400 points were scored, look for plenty of activity at the top of the current list.

For what it's worth, I'll back Vunivalu!

Will Perth be any closer to having it's own team after this Sunday night?

Well, I hope so and I can't wait to get across there to call the Souths v Melbourne tussle for Fox League.

I've covered enough football now in Perth and seen enough first hand of what they are trying to do at junior levels to believe we need to embrace expansion of the NRL again in the west.

The case has to be even stronger with the uncertainty surrounding the future of the Western Force in Super Rugby.

Give them their road map to entry to the NRL maybe for 2020 or 2021, and in the meantime up the number of competition games played there to build anticipation. I wish them well.

Giddy Up!

Twitter: @AndrewVossy

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