Angry Birds And Raving Rabbits – A Review Of NRL Round 2
Round 2 started off with a series of upsets on Friday night and the trend continued with five away teams securing wins and a massive upset in The Shire. With only two rounds played it is without a doubt the closest competition ever with a majority of the sixteen teams capable of securing this year’s premiership. Once again, we have a full wrap up of the weekends past NRL action.
ROOSTERS 16 – SEA EAGLES 27
The ‘Battle of the Birds’ saw T-Rex out muscle SKD for an early try in the third minute that set an ominous tone for the Roosters, who had been boosted by the return of Todd Carney from injury. The Roosters quickly remedied the scoreboard with tries to Mitchell Aubusson and Shaun Kenny-Dowall, only to go into the break trailing by two points after Anthony Watmough barged over late in the half. Coming into the second half it was anyone’s game and a committed Todd Carney made his mark by scoring in the 43rd minute and putting the Roosters in the lead at 16-12. From here on out, mistakes and ill discipline dashed any hope the Roosters had of grabbing their second win this season. Manly stepped it up a notch and ran in two tries and a popped over a field goal, which gave them a lead they would not relinquish. Standout performances like this week’s from rookie halfback Daly Cherry-Evans could be key to the Sea Eagles’ chances this year. The tri-colours are forming an alarming trend of finding themselves on the wrong end of the penalty count and it needs to be addressed immediately. Coming up against a motivated Bulldogs team on a roll next week, the Roosters will need to stand up in defence.
Next Round – BULLDOGS vs. ROOSTERS (Sunday 27/03-2:00PM ANZ Stadium)
RABBITOHS 19 – BULLDOGS 28
The Bulldogs came from behind and took the Bunnies with true doggie style. For the second week in a row, the Rabbitohs took the lead in the final quarter with a clever field goal by Chris Sandow, and led 19-18 only to be beaten in the dying minutes by two quick tries to the Bulldogs. This was a closely contested match for 70 minutes but a professional foul and subsequent sin binning of Rabbitohs fullback Rhys Wesser allowed the Bulldogs back into the game. In a post match interview, coach John Lang stated that only parts of the team are firing at the moment and that for his team to be successful all players will need to come together and support each other. Greg Inglis was outclassed by an exceptional performance from Jamal Idris, who at some points in the game made Inglis look pedestrian. The Bulldogs find themselves with two wins from two to start the season and appear to have the composure to continue winning. Considering they were missing some key players in Stagg and Morris this outcome could’ve been a lot worse. The Bunnies have the team and the support but certain players are not performing and it is worrying to think that a large chunk of the salary cap is being spent on a player who has played ordinary in the opening two rounds. Next Friday’s match against the Eels is a must-win for the Rabbitohs, not only to secure their first points of the season but also to sedate their fans.
Next Round – EELS vs. RABBITOHS (FRIDAY 25/03-7:30PM ANZ Stadium)
EELS 6 – PANTHERS 20
In a stop-start, penalty-riddled match, round one specials the Eels, who were short-priced favourites to win, went down to a re-invigorated Panthers side. The ‘Battle of the West’, normally an exciting and flamboyant display of skill, was anything but on Friday night. The Panthers form reversal in a short five day turnaround was methodical and they managed to put first points on the board. The solidarity shown in defence by the Panthers frustrated a boring Eels team with no urgency and no desire for the try line. The Panthers controlled the match for the full 80 minutes allowing just the one try in the 71st minute to Eels hooker Matt Keating. With Simmons, Coote and Gordon all crossing the chalk the Panthers never looked threatened and produced an upset no one was expecting. With no injuries of note out of the match it seems as though the mountain cats have marked their territory and put their season back on track while the Eels fans are asking: “What happened to the electricity?”
RAIDERS 4 – BRONCOS 20
Canberra Stadium is always hard to win at. If the weather doesn’t get you, a committed Green Machine will, and usually by a large margin. However, this wasn’t to be the case on Friday night in the nation’s capital. The Broncos managed to grab first points with a slicing run from fullback Josh Hoffman. Raiders winger Blake Ferguson, recruited from the Sharks last season, performed a perfect take-off and landing most pilots would envy to get the Raiders on the board. But they were unable to cross the line at all for the rest of the match and Matt Orford failed to impress or make any impact. The Broncos posted their first win for 2011 scoring two unanswered tries in the second half. Broncos prop Scott Anderson dropped out pre-game but with no major injuries from this game next week’s line-ups will be unaffected.
STORM 40 – TITANS 12
Mark this match as one of note as a compliant Melbourne Storm proved that they are a force to be reckoned with this year by demolishing a disorganised Titans outfit. The outcome was never in doubt with Melbourne pouring on five tries in the first half and dominating the run of play. Leading 28-0 at the start of the second half, it was all over but Melbourne continued the onslaught and posted another two tries. The Titans were lucky to get on the board with two late tries in the 76th minute to Luke Capewell and in the 80th minute to William Zillman, but the final score of 40-12 clearly reflected the clinical performance displayed by a solid Melbourne outfit. A possible injury to Sika Manu is worrying for Storm fans, whose depth may find them short of personnel if tested. The Titans have cause for concern with two losses and will welcome the return of key players Anthony Laffranchi and Nathan Friend.
TIGERS 20 – WARRIORS 12
The Tigers out-growled the Warriors in a very close game that went to the break locked at 6-6. Krisnan Inu, snubbed last week in favour of youngster Glen Fisiiahi, broke the line in the 49th minute and put the Warriors in front. In the final quarter of the game the Tigers razzle-dazzled their way to a comeback that saw them score three tries in the final 20 minutes with Ayshford, Farah and Lawrence all crossing. Tigers’ fans should be concerned with Marshall’s kicking game as it has not produced results so far. The Warriors seem to be re-structuring on the go and will need to work on a viable and consistent game plan.
COWBOYS 22 – KNIGHTS 34
The Knights continued their march into the 2011 season with a convincing win over the Cowboys. Piling on three first half tries they took charge of the game and never let go. Key players Gidley, De Gois and Costigan did not play due to injury, which left Jarrod Mullen to run the show and he did so with State of Origin-like precision. If he can continue with this form he is going to give Mitchell Pearce a run for his money for the NSW halfback spot. The Cowboys managed a second half surge that got them over the line a few more times to make the final score somewhat less embarrassing.
SHARKS 16 – DRAGONS 10
This local derby has always been a close contest and on Monday night it was played practically underwater after a massive downpour that clearly dampened the Dragons’ fire. Sharkies centre Ben Pomeroy crossed early in difficult conditions and surprisingly the Sharks continued the effort and went into the break up 12 points to nil. In what was unfamiliar territory, the Sharks must have been pinching themselves going into the second half with a real possibility of winning the match. This possibility was further bolstered when Ben Pomeroy crossed the chalk again in the 50th minute. Given that the Dragons first try from star winger Jason Nightingale came late in the game it was always going to be hard to mount a comeback in the atrocious conditions but Kyle Stanley raised a little hope for the Red V’s fans, scoring a much-needed try in the 78th minute that was converted by Jamie Soward. But with only a minute left on the clock, time had run out for last year’s premiers. Could this be the start of something great for The Shire and will this only be a small stumble for the world beating Dragons? Only time will tell…