What an Easter feast of rugby league we had, after gorging on eggs Good Friday saw three cracking games with the fast improving Bulldogs nailing the Bunnies, the Roosters outgunned the Knights and the Broncos escaped the clutches of the plucky and desperately unlucky Titans. Saturday saw the Storm outlast the Sea Eagles, the Raiders repel the Warriors and the Dragons march on, holding on against the fast finishing Cowboys. The Sharks continued their rise on Easter Sunday with a comprehensive pasting of the Panthers, while the Eels comeback to slip past the Tigers was a worthy tribute to the weekend we just celebrated.
The Water Cooler – Ten Talking Points
Jumping Josh Reynolds
Josh Reynolds is the soul of the Bulldogs, always at the heart of every big moment and produced another masterclass display of his unique abilities. He spurred the Bulldogs back into the contest typically not giving up on his own grubber and bagged a try. With the game in the balance he dragged a try bound Adam Reynolds down millimetres short. Jumping Josh then blew the game open in a flash at the centre of a three try blitz that melted the Bunnies. A pure footballer unkindly nicknamed ‘Grub’, he’s just passionate, full of beans and misunderstood! Reynolds is the good sort of grub you want on your team.
The M1 derby always brings out the best in the Titans and they threw everything at the Broncos and came within an Easter bunny’s whiskers of claiming the chocolates in a pulsating contest with both sides scoring some beauties! You have to admire the resilience of the Titans, again fighting injuries (is there a curse on this team?!?) and the style of footy they play, it’s pleasing on the eye and nearly upset the Broncos on their own patch. If the Titans can find some luck going their way they can free themselves of the anchor that weighs them to the foot of the table. Finals footy is drifting away but you can guarantee the Titans won’t have given up the dream.
Anthony Don went hands free with a ‘goal assist’ for a sensational try, kicking a pass across to Chris Grevsmuhl with such accuracy and aplomb that Ronaldo would have applauded, but not applauded as strongly as if Ronaldo himself had done it. The play should go viral and have Real Madrid knocking on his door. ‘The Don’ rarely lets the side down and added to his excellent try scoring strike rate bolting 99.94m for a try. Keep these Bradmanesque antics up and they may commission a bust of Don in his home town as Ronaldo’s did, let’s hope it has a closer likeness. Ronaldo’s statue resembles the star striker… after being struck by a meteor.
Jarrod Wallace has been one of the Titans best this season and had a whale of a game against his old team mates. With fellow prop Ryan James going down with injury among others, Wallace rose to the occasion taking hit up after hit up, almost scored a try and tackled any Bronco within range. With Matt Scott out you can bet Wallace is on the QLD Origin radar after his immense performance. Wallace was so inspirational you could have sat him on a horse and painted half his face blue. The Broncos may have taken the two points but they’ll never take his freedom! Like the Scots, Wallace battled hard but went home dejected after copping a beating.
If NSW need an inspiring, hard-working, 80-minute player who gives everything and then some more to skipper the Origin side look no further than Roosters back rower Boyd Cordner. With Paul Gallen’s Blues retirement, Aaron Woods name has been thrown around as the new skipper but being a prop, Woods is not on the field the whole time. Cordner continued his great start to the season and was once again one of the Roosters best against the Knights. Does he ever play a bad game?!? He makes big plays when they’re needed, makes big efforts when they’re needed and for both the Blues and the Chooks, it’s needed!
Junior Paulo laid the foundation with a huge game up the middle but it was the centre pairing of Jarrod Croker and Joey Leilua who essentially won the game for the Raiders. Tight games are won and lost in moments, the Raiders won these moments. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck stepped through half the ‘Green Machine’, hurtling towards the white stripe. Enter Jarrod Croker who showed amazing strength to somehow rolled RTS over millimetres from scoring. Joey Leilua took his moments, turning to beast mode muscling his way over for two massive meat pies! He has quite an appetite for tries. Don’t be surprised to see both these men wearing green of a different shade in the upcoming Test match.
No one gave the North Queenslanders much of a chance without the services of Jonathan Thurston. After a horrific first half and down by 24 at halftime, you could excuse the Cowboys for laying down in the hay for an early nap. Suddenly a switch was flicked. Led by the NRL’s second biggest playmaker John Asiata, James Graham is on top of that dais, the Cowboys turned it on and stampeded all over the Saints. Coen Hess barrelled Dragons out of his way and Kalyn Ponga jinked as the Dragons sunk into quicksand. In the end the Cowboys fell short, the polish and poise of Thurston lacking at the pointy end but JT would have been proud of that comeback.
The Storm may have won the match against arch rival Manly but coach Craig Bellamy will not be happy – yeah I know I’m shocked too. After a brilliant start, it was looking like a walk in the park then the Sea Eagles took flight. The 80th minute couldn’t come quickly enough. Melbourne weathered the storm but only just, possibly the hard slog against the Sharks took its toll. The defence was very un-Storm like and the players will know which part of their game will be highlighted on Craig Bellamy’s ‘Un-Funniest Home Videos’ session at training this week, an enticing extra bonus feature is the coach’s audio commentary, kids – ear muffs!
The Sharks pummelled the Panthers in a devastating defensive display. For the second week in a row the premiers have kept their opposition scoreless and ultimately frustrated them out of the game. Wade Graham led the charge, smashing and smothering anyone who dared cross his path. The Sharks are really finding their rhythm in all facets and getting their teeth stuck into their season. They are full of belief that they can make history and defend their title. League’s Everest hasn’t been scaled for some time now and we’re a long way from the summit but the Sharks are circling.
The preseason premiership favourites are on the slide. There was plenty of growling in the opening stanza but once Cronulla put a gap between them, the Panthers lost their voice. The much vaunted attack just didn’t click, though the Shark net is made of super strong mesh the Panthers will be frustrated they didn’t score a try at home. Entrenched in the bowels of the NRL the Panthers need to string some wins together before the inexperienced side panics. If they hold their nerve there is too much talent in this side not too make a run and explode into the eight.
Another brilliant round of NRL footy comes to the end as does Easter and not a moment too soon. One more choc and Jock would have had to knock at the doc’s! Hope you all had a Happy Easter.