My faith in the youth of this nation has been confirmed. Give young people a chance and they’ll deliver in spades and surprise the doubters. Split rounds give the young guns of the NRL an opportunity to show their wares. Generation Next have confidence levels constantly in overdrive, they stepped up to the plate and broadcast their arrival to the big time with a boombox, for the Millennials that’s like an MP3 player on steroids! The split round provided a throng of thrillers. We started with the Rabbitohs coming from behind to topple the Titans. Saturday truly was super with the Storm pipping the Cowboys in golden point and the Sharks snatched a late win over the Tigers. On Sunday the Eels dominated the disappointing Dragons.
The Water Cooler – Five Talking Points
It has been a rocky road for the Rabbitohs this season, a horror show playing out before Michael Maguire’s eyes. Sam Burgess pulled out late and the Titans flew out to a 14-0 lead, Souths season flat lining before their eyes. One of the Rabbitohs had to pull a bunny out of their hat. Enter Angus Crichton. The raw boned hard running backrower burst through the Titans line time and time again. Crichton has a knack for finding the line and hits holes at high speed at the right angle. His hat-trick was just reward for his inspirational performance. This Bunny has power, pins his ears back when the chance presents itself and bounces defenders away like a bowling ball. Crichton has been one of the Bunnies best this year and has future Origin star written all over him.
Brodie Croft: Womb Raider
Barely out of nappies and in his second match in the NRL, Brodie Croft showed all the coolness of a 300 game veteran to snap the match winning golden point field goal. The set before, not in position to take the shot he showed perfect poise to pop a short kick into the in goal stopping the ball on a dime to get the repeat set that led to the two points grabbing pot shot. Croft ran the show, organising with the authority, respect and rule of a three tour military General. The Junior Kangaroo captain’s vision and game management was immaculate and showed speed and guile, breaking the line and setting up tries. Cooper Cronk may be exiting the Storm but the Purple Pride won’t be pressing the panic button, in Croft they’ll trust.
Young Guns Go For It
The stars of the future shone in the split round. Opportunity on the big stage knocked, the youngsters grabbed the chance and went Wham! whacking the door down with a wallop. Brandon Smith and Curtis Scott were brilliant for the Storm, Scott scoring a double and Smith, an Issac Luke doppelganger, showed the form and composure that will ensure the name Smith stays at hooker for the Storm for many years to come. Kyle Laybutt displayed a great array of skills at five-eighth for the Cowboys and will push for selection along with Te Maire Martin when JT abdicates the throne. Wests Tigers pair Esan Marsters and Matt Eisenhuth were super impressive showing strength and skill, Marsters throwing off Eisenhuth’s cousin, Paul Gallen for his try, a superhuman feat! While Kurt Capewell stood tall for the Sharks, his outstanding try scoring double and overall performance helped secure the win in Cronulla’s late show epic.
Top of the Pops
The Storm and the Sharks showed why they met in the Big Show last year and are the best two teams of 2017. Their victories displayed the champion qualities required to overcome any obstacles. They repel whatever is thrown at them. Both won late, the Storm rising twice to corral the Cowboys, coming from behind to gain the ascendancy then holding their nerve to grab the golden two points. Craig Bellamy take a bow, the supreme coach of the NRL not only has the best system in the comp but instils discipline and resilience that flows throughout the club. The Sharks were never as smooth as the forever fluid Storm but proved what winners they are snatching victory from the jaws of defeat with a remarkable late rally. The Sharks just know how to hang tough and grind out a win, summon that extra effort from an empty tank, virtues required to survive September. Cards these two clubs hold in their hand that rules over all others.
Saints Marching out of Step
Are the Dragons just in a rut or did they overachieve the first 3 months? The past two weeks have been diabolical, back to the dire dross the Dragons dished out last season. Passionate Big Red V fans and Mary McGregor will hope it’s just a mini-slump, while teams just outside the Top 8 are rubbing their hands with glee. I can hear the Viking Clap echoing as the Raiders for one smell the blood and sniff hope. The Dragons will hope Tyson Frizell and Josh Dugan’s return after Origin II will add the energy, enthusiasm and class that went missing against the Eels. Gareth Widdop has not been at his best his hot form waning, rhythm off, mirroring that of his teammates. The Saints were sloppy and the only marching they’ll do this week is to the beat of Mary’s drum as he flogs them on the training paddock and in the dreaded video sessions.
The Last Word
Split rounds are not everyone’s cup of tea, to me its tea with salt instead of sugar, but these pups ensured it was exciting and all the games were good quality. Split round and quality don’t always go hand in hand. We can thank the fully sick wicked yoof for all the fresh footy we witnessed this round, is that how the kids talk these days?!? Buggered if I know, where’s my cardigan and mug of cocoa “Midsomer Murders’ is about to start.
The NRL is in good hands, the future is so bright we’re all gonna have to wear shades. This includes Des ‘Too Cool for Puppy School’ Hasler and Wayne ‘The Fly’ Bennett, though Old Benny prefers the symphonies of his childhood friend Ludwig van Beethoven to U2. Ludwig’s deafness might explain how mute Wayne can be in his press conferences.
Attention now quickly turns to Origin II at a sold out ANZ Stadium in Sydney. The crowds have been so ordinary this season the ‘Full House’ sign will need dusting off if the turnstiles turn that much.