Andrew Voss on the Sia Soliola case, Ricky Stuart's post-match comments and why the Cowboys can still – maybe – win the premiership without Johnathan Thurston.
How do we fix up the send off 'mess?'
I don't know if a review can be done between now and the end of the season, nor would any major change be fair, but the system is a mess, and last weekend's controversy was inevitable.
I have written previously over many seasons my concerns at a system that appears to attach possible injury to potential penalty.
For mine, Josh Papalii's blatant shoulder charge on Josh Dugan the previous week was as bad if not worse in terms of recklessness than Sia Soliola's tackle on Billy Slater.
Both tackles saw players fail to return to the field.
It only takes fractions in terms of force and point of contact on whether we end up with a player concussed. Should that really impact on possible penalty or suspension?
What I do know is that we need an urgent review on use of the sin bin. How does what Adam Blair did in the Broncos/Bulldogs match warrant 10 minutes where other incidents of serious foul play just get placed on report?
And is there anyone out there satisfied in how we are only fining players now for blatant tripping of opponents?
There are just so many issues. The system is flawed.
Did Ricky Stuart have a case in his latest post match rant?
If such outbursts are about timing; absolutely not.
The broad point of accountability is fair enough. Referees, players, coaches, commentators… we all have to be open for analysis of performance and accountability.
But what cost the Raiders against Melbourne didn't appear in my opinion to have much to do with any particular referee's mistake.
For starters, the Raiders had a completion rate of 68 per cent. Not too many sides will beat the Storm on that.
How about we then go to the absence of Origin and Kangaroos forward Josh Papalii. Who is to blame for him not being there for his team for such a big match?
Now the Raiders have lost both Jordan Rapana and Sia Soliola also to suspension for the coming weeks.
There is no question Canberra has had some bad luck this season highlighted by three golden point losses. However I, like many others, thought they would challenge for the premiership. They have been disappointing.
Which is the most likely game to go to golden point this weekend?
Roosters v Cowboys.
That's based on these numbers. It's the battle of second versus fifth with the two teams separated by just two competition points.
In attack through 20 rounds, the Roosters have scored 389 points to the Cowboys' 379. In defence, it's the Roosters conceding 312 to the Cowboys 311.
You can even throw in the fact that both have their captains sidelined by injury, as well as their first-choice goalkickers.
This match should be a cracker!
Can the Cowboys still win the competition without JT?
My answer just over a month ago was no chance.
Now it's maybe they can.
Michael Morgan has lifted his game to career-best form. Where previously he has been criticised for drifting in and out of games; with the No.7 on his back he has taken ownership of the team. But he has had the support of some pretty well-credentialed mates.
The likes of Jake Granville, Lachlan Coote, Gavin Cooper and Jason Taumalolo are all star players who have stepped up in JT's absence.
The addition of Te Maire Martin is a winner too. With the greatest of respect, previous replacements in the halves at the Cowboys haven't posed the attacking threat that Martin does. Three games into his time at the Cowboys and I'm seeing a potential match-winner.
They have possibly the toughest draw of any side between now and the playoffs. For the Cowboys, semi-final-type football starts this Saturday night. If they get through the next month winning three of four, they will deserve to be one of the premiership favourites.
Are the Dragons back?
If my answer was a definite yes, there is a chance the 'evidence was contaminated' based on last Sunday's crazy game in Wollongong.
A 30-nil first half was mighty impressive. To then be looking at a 30-22 scoreline just 14 minutes later, the jury was brought back hurriedly from their lunch break.
The Dragons play the Knights, Rabbitohs and Titans the next three weeks. The Broncos are the only current top eight side they play between here and the finals.
A playoff spot is theirs to lose. I'm going to back them to come through.
Will we see any 'miracle' runs to the finals?
I did an interview on New Zealand radio this week where the hosts worked out a way that the Warriors could still finish third!
It's all mathematics and a series of amazing results for the four teams sitting six points adrift of the top eight on 18 points.
And what a miracle it would be for any of the four to suddenly go on a six-game winning streak given that the Raiders, Bulldogs and Titans' best this year is three in a row, while the Warriors haven't done better than back-to-back victories.
I wish them well.
I'm off to ANZ Stadium on Friday night for Fox League to cover the Eels, Broncos clash, and will back up on Saturday in Newcastle for the Knights against the Dragons.