First tackle: Penrith's Origin stars were brilliant
What a difference it makes having your stars back up two nights after State of Origin. The Panthers made the difficult and frosty journey to Canberra on Friday night to take on the Raiders and all four of their Origin players laced up their boots.
Reagan Campbell-Gillard led the way with the most running metres for Penrith, and Tyrone Peachey scored two of their three tries. Blues halves James Maloney and Nathan Cleary also continued their great form, with Maloney kicking five goals from six attempts, while Cleary slotted over the match-winning field goal.
The Panthers maintain their position at the top of the ladder, behind the Dragons on for and against only. It was a gutsy display from a group of players who carried the confidence they gained from toppling the Maroons into their club football.
Second tackle: Woods career up in the hair
Aaron Woods has had an unspectacular season for the Bulldogs since leaving the Tigers and cutting off his long locks. Rightly or wrongly he is perceived by many fans to be the representation of all that has gone wrong at the club. Rumours continue to circulate that the Bulldogs are keen to see him move on, possibly before the June 30 transfer deadline.
Woods was one of several long-term Blues players to lose his jersey as new coach Brad Fittler ran a broom through the team. Simply, his form for the Bulldogs did not justify any incumbency claims he might have had. The outstanding win by the Blues in Origin I has just about ended the representative hopes of Woods, at least in the short term.
He had an opportunity to prove his critics wrong on Monday against the much-loved prop he replaced, James Graham. With 14 minutes remaining in the match and the scores locked at 16-16, Woods thought it was the perfect moment to put a late shot on Graham, right in front of his own posts. The penalty was gratefully accepted by Gareth Widdop who slotted over the deciding goal.
Third tackle: Munster hits the deck
With four minutes remaining in the first half of the game between the Broncos and Storm, Melbourne five-eighth Cameron Munster hit the ground like he had been taken out by a sniper. Munster had darted behind Ryan Hoffman, coming dangerously close to being penalised for obstruction. To avoid the penalty he simply dived to the turf and lay there waiting for a Broncos defender to arrive.
I was not aware that the voluntary tackle rule had been changed to allow players to do this in order to avoid obstruction penalties. Either defenders were obstructed or they weren't, players can't be allowed to fall to the ground to indicate to the referees that they haven't gained an advantage.
The voluntary tackle rule exists to prevent a player with the ball from avoiding the consequences of a legitimate tackle. If the consequences are to be an obstruction penalty, he should not be allowed to avoid that by falling over.
Fourth tackle: Hayne plane in search for missing Cowboys
Jarryd Hayne returned for the struggling Eels and played a big part in the Cowboy's tenth loss of the season. Hayne scored two tries and set up another in the comfortable 20-14 victory in Darwin. The Eels were well in control of the match before allowing the Cowboys to score ten points in the last two minutes of the game.
These two clubs would have to be the most mystifying in recent NRL history. If you are struggling to work out how the Eels could go from finishing fourth in 2017 to holding up the bottom of the ladder half-way through 2018, where do you even begin with the Cowboys? They were just one win away from being 2017 premiers -- and without their two best players. Since the return of Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott they have plummeted out of finals contention.
Fifth and last: Bunnies helped over the line
Talk about a team benefitting from the ill-discipline of the opposition. The Rabbitohs took on the Titans opting to rest their four State of Origin stars and it very nearly backfired. The Titans played with a lot of heart, but lost the game on the back of a 12-4 penalty count, which included two ten minute trips to the sin bin for the same player -- Keegan Hipgrave.
Hipgrave showed his frustration at being so ill-disciplined by kicking a chair upon entering the sheds for his second stint. Titans coach Garth Brennan refused to comment when asked about his team's terrible discipline. It was a very lucky escape for the Rabbitohs.
Handover: Get out of the way
After a spate of dummy-halves deliberately throwing the ball into opposition players in the ruck, the NRL notified everyone that referees would be instructed to use their discretion in such cases.
With 20 minutes remaining in the game between the Dragons and the Bulldogs, Cameron McInnes picked the ball up and passed it into Josh Jackson who was upright on his knees, directly in the path of the pass and making absolutely no attempt to get out of the way. The referees decided it was a penalty to the Bulldogs in the first display of their new discretionary powers.
Dragons coach Paul McGregor summed it up best after the game: "Well if you are kneeling or standing in the ruck and the ball hits you on the way to a person who has to kick the ball, then it's a penalty to US!"
Sometimes a duck is a duck, no matter what the latest directive from the referees coach says.