1 Costly seven tackle set
There is an argument that the 7th tackle set is a flawed rule, with Phil Gould blasting it as a knee-jerk reaction that should be scrapped immediately. Personally, I don't hate the idea of the rule, just its execution. It was a rule that was brought into the game when playmakers were kicking from their own side of halfway and deliberately kicking it over the heads of fullbacks and past the dead-ball line to nullify their prowess on kick returns. Now we see more kick returns from fullbacks; that's good news.
But when a Lachlan Coote grubber from 15 metres out goes dead (ok....very dead) and the Sea Eagles get a 7 tackle set as a result, the rule is flawed. The Sea Eagles then marched downfield and scored a try (ok..... a very soft try). The 7 tackle set just seems like such a harsh penalty for an attacking kick (or a field goal) that goes slightly wrong. Perhaps a 7 tackle set should only be granted when the kick comes from the other side of halfway?
2 Moses Suli penalised for good sportsmanship.
Speaking of contentious rules; the rule on obstruction is an absolute head-scratcher for a lot of fans. The Cowboys' second try, an almost too easy stroll into the in-goal area for Antonio Winterstein threw some question marks to my brain immediately; how could they create so much space without an obstruction?
According to the letter of the law it appears to be a try. O'Neill hit Suli's outside shoulder, Coote caught the ball outside beyond O'Neill and, according to the video referee, the contact on Suli was 'minimal'.
But then you have the common sense ruling. Suli was not trying to tackle O'Neill, he was trying to get across in cover defence. The contact only appeared 'minimal' because Suli didn't take a dive, as so many players would have in his situation. If he goes to the ground, it's no try and a penalty to the Sea Eagles, with the score 10-8 instead of 16-8.
It's an inconsistent rule applied by inconsistent referees and now we're rewarding players who dive when an opponent touches them off the ball, and punishing players that don't. As a fan of the sport, it's frustrating.
3 Trbojevic brothers too hard to replace.
Matthew Wright tried his best at fullback and Shaun Lane had some good moments at lock, including a couple of nice offloads and a try before a late injury soured his night. But there's just something about those Turbo boys.
Tom hasn't been at his absolute best at fullback, but he has still managed 11 try assists from his 11 NRL games this season, running for 140 metres and busting over 4 tackles a game. Despite those numbers, not even he could have won the game for the Sea Eagles after their forward pack was so comprehensively beaten.
Having Jake Trbojevic there would have helped those forwards out, though! He averages 117 metres and 37 tackles per game, with 92% tackle efficiency. The season of both of these teams are already all but over, but the Sea Eagles need to find a way to win without their dynamic duo.
4 Vintage Taumalolo tears through the Sea Eagles
Much was made of the battle between the in-form Martin Taupau and the 10-year man, Jason Taumalolo. Early points went to Taupau, as the Sea Eagles spent much of the first 10-15 minutes down the Cowboys half, seizing an early lead. A fortuitous try bounced into Taumalolo's hands to put the Cowboys in front, and the big man snapped into gear after that.
He played the full 80 minutes and his footwork always remained sharp. He was forever making half-breaks and looking dangerous, making 237 metres, 4 offloads and 11 tackle breaks. It was a sight to behold for Cowboys fans and one they'll need to see more of if the Cowboys are to be any chance of a miracle spot in the finals this season.
5 Calls for youth vindicated
Cowboys fans have been begging - nay, pleading - with coach Paul Green to bring in some fresh faces. Due to State of Origin, some injuries and suspension, his hand has been forced and the early signs are good.
Enari Tuala is a player that has been receiving some attention for a few months, often being an unused reserve or getting limited minutes from the bench. Tonight he started at right centre. His defence was solid against the more-fancied Brian Kelly this evening and when given the opportunity he ran the ball with pace and purpose. His try from some Kyle Feldt acrobatics was a fair reward for his night's work.
Mitchell Dunn made his debut from the bench tonight and looked a good player as well. Brought on to the right edge to provide some sting in defence and some go-forward, Dunn dived into his work before later showing some silky offload skills to put his team in attacking positions. Dunn is a player that came through the National Youth Competition as an over-sized five-eighth but looks to have found a home in the forward pack. Watch this space.
What were your big talking points from North Queensland's win at Brookvale? Let us know in the comments below.
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