1 Poor call overshadows excellent game
I'm not one for hyperbole so I won't call it the worst decision I've ever seen, especially because it seems like there's a terrible call of this magnitude once every 2 or 3 weeks.
Put simply, the sin-binning of Dylan Napa was an embarrassing display of incompetence by the referees which certainly changed the momentum of the game. Instead of the tackle for being lauded as a great hit that went (legally) wrong, dislodging the ball and causing the Roosters to have a great chance to win the game, a penalty is given to the Broncos because Napa 'led with his head' and then to rub salt into the wound, he was sent to the sin-bin for the rest of the match (a little over 5 minutes). The Broncos then enjoyed the benefit of field position for the remainder of the game and scored the match-winning try.
It's a shame, because the individual efforts of James Roberts and Jamayne Isaako were of such a high quality, the match should be remembered for them. Alas, the referees take centre stage again.
2 NRL needs a rule change
There is a ridiculous rule in our game that cunning players are exploiting. If a defender is in an offside position and the ball touches them, it's immediately a penalty to the attacking team. This includes players that are rolling out of a completed tackle and exiting the ruck.
Tonight, 4 metres out from his own line, Anthony Milford fired a pass directly behind him into Dylan Napa, who was doing his best to move into a position where he wasn't impacting the play. There were no intended receivers from the Broncos, the pass was thrown very deliberately at Napa. If it happened to miss Napa, a Broncos fan was more likely to catch the pass than a Broncos player.
Just to square the ledger, Jake Friend did the same thing later in the game.
It's a terrible interpretation of the rule and the rule needs to be changed immediately to get rid of this deliberate penalty milking.
3 McCullough should get first crack at Maroon jumper
Tonight was billed as a showdown between McCullough and Friend for the Maroons' number 9 jersey, but most observant League fans would suggest that McCullough is streets ahead of Friend on current form. Friend is bravely playing through a sternum injury at present and it's showing with his performances.
It's not like he hasn't been trying. Tonight he made 40 tackles, but the Roosters looked far more dangerous around the ruck while he was off the field. McCullough, on the other hand, is an 80 minute hooker with a very low error count (he also made 49 tackles tonight). McCullough did miss a key tackle on Isaac Liu that led directly to a try, but McCullough outpointed his opposite tonight.
4 Mitchell vs Roberts: Both brilliant, both scratchy.
There's a very real possibility that Brad Fittler will select both of these young centres for State of Origin this season and it seemed that both gentlemen were aware of the stakes. There was a lot of spice in this contest, with Latrell Mitchell taking the points early in the encounter, particularly when he beat James Roberts cold on two separate occasions to set up two tries for Luke Keary. Mitchell looked every bit the representative centre.
But then the second half came and Roberts had some footwork of his own, stepping inside Mitchell then drawing the winger to put Isaako in the corner. The real moment was when his team was down by 6 with 10 minutes left to play, Roberts received early ball about 10 metres his own side of halfway and with pure speed burned Cordner, Mitchell and Manu within about 5 metres, before stepping inside Tedesco and out-running Keary to level the scores.
A backline including Addo-Carr and Roberts would be among the quickest ever seen at that level. Throw Mitchell into that equation and the Blues shouldn't struggle for points. It'll be interesting to see what Fittler does.
5 Staggs looks the real deal
In the opening minutes centre Tom Opacic was knocked out cold. His misfortune was an opportunity for Kotoni Staggs, the 19 year old debutant on the bench. With the speed to play in the centres but the strength to play in the back-row, we were unsure how he was going to be used heading into the match, but it became clear that he was the perfect fit for the Broncos in this circumstance.
Staggs was rock solid in defence, always ran with intent, showed composure to throw the last pass for the opening try and then scored a try of his own to cap off a memorable debut for the young man. All signs indicate that we'll see plenty of Staggs in the future.
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