First tackle: 80 minutes is too long
The rugby league boards of Parramatta and Canberra need to unite behind a petition to the NRL to have all future games reduced to no more than 70 minutes. Both clubs could be threatening the top four this season if it wasn't for those pesky extra 10 minutes.
On the weekend both teams enjoyed healthy leads before capitulating late in the second half. The Raiders in particular have made a habit of it over the past two years and it is proving detrimental to coach Ricky Stuart's health.
All the physical preparation in the world doesn't seem to help when these players see an opponent coming home strongly. It has to be a mental thing, a resignation that it is happening again and 'we don't know how to stop it'. Fans of both sides are understandably frustrated and crying out for answers.
Second tackle: Woods change for the good
Aaron Woods was lured to the Bulldogs last year with a healthy contract, at a time when the Tigers were in turmoil. The reality is the Bulldogs were in no financial position to sign him, and fans were dismayed that coach Des Hasler had determined a lumbering prop was the answer to their problems, which seemed to centre mostly on their ineffective attack. The need to cut club captain James Graham loose to accommodate Woods only made him a greater target for disgruntled fans.
The 2018 NRL season statistics show Woods was doing his job for the Bulldogs, but of course he was never going to be the miracle answer to their long list of problems. With Hasler long gone and decision makers Raelene Castle and Ray Dib not far behind him, the new club management started looking at Woods as part of the answer to their ongoing salary cap issues. Fans hating him, club looking to offload him - it is little wonder Woods was happy to pack his bags once Cronulla came calling. It has been reported that Woods even agreed to a pay cut in order to make sure the deal went through.
The Sharks started Woods on the bench against the Warriors in New Zealand on Friday. During his time on the field, he did his job. He ran the hard yards up the middle, slipped in the occasion offload and tackled anything that ran his way. He started this new chapter with a win for a team which will be playing finals at the end of the year. With any luck he will look back on his six months at the Bulldogs as a minor glitch in a thoroughly respectable rugby league career.
Third tackle: Post-Origin hangover in Penrith
It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Penrith, sun shining, temperature hovering around 20 degrees. Perfect conditions for the Panther's clash with the Sea Eagles, but you wouldn't have thought so from the number of errors made by both sides.
Balls dropped cold, passes into the grandstands, sloppy play-the-balls, all contributing to diabolical completion rates for both sides. At halftime both teams had made nine errors with the Panthers completing 14 of 23 sets and the Sea Eagles completing only 11 of 21. By the end of the game the Sea Eagles had improved their completion rate to 27 of 38, while the Panthers completed 25 of 38.
On top of the dismal completion rate, the Panthers missed a total of 39 tackles. It wasn't a good look for the home team, who have genuine premiership aspirations. For the Sea Eagles it was a welcome turn around in fortune, one which may have contributed to the naming of Daly Cherry-Evans as Queensland halfback.
Fourth tackle: Horrible miss Mitchell
Latrell Mitchell has improved his all round game this season, culminating is his selection for, and dominance in, the State of Origin series. He has worked hard on his defence, his running, his positional play, even his goal kicking, which is up around the 80 percent success rate.
On Friday night in the Roosters' clash with the Storm, the scores were locked at 8 late in the game. A penalty was awarded to the Roosters right in front of the posts and the scoreboard attendant at Adelaide oval prepared to move the "home" team up to 10 points.
Mitchell moved in casually and completely shanked the ball into the right-hand upright and back into play. It proved to be a very costly miss, with Storm captain Cameron Smith kicking a late field goal to win the game 9-8.
Fifth and last: Too many strangers on the bus?
Robbie Farah fittingly made his return appearance for Wests Tigers on Sunday afternoon at Leichhardt Oval. The ground, which he had called home from his junior days, was filled to the brim with fans keen to see the new-look Tigers in action. At the back was Moses Mbye making his debut after switching over from the Bulldogs and back in the No. 6 jersey was Josh Reynolds making one of only a few appearances since joining the club at the beginning of the year.
Reynolds scored an exciting try in the first half, but the Tigers at times looked like a group of players who had only just met. The timing just wasn't there, mistakes flowed and the well-drilled Titans took advantage.
It was a mistake by new recruit Mbye with 11 minutes to go which wrapped up the two points for the Titans. With a fresh set if six tackles deep inside Titans territory, Mybe fired a pass into a charging Kevin Naiqama. Anthony Don scooped up the loose ball and ran 80 metres to score a try taking the score to 24-12 and the game out of the Tigers' reach.
It has been a mixed season for the Tigers, winning five of their first six games, followed by only two of their next 10. The loss of Benji Marshall to injury has been a turning point, one which the club hoped they could overcome with some astute recruitment. Farah and Mbye might help put their season back on track, but it is going to take a bit of time for them to fit in. It is down to coach Ivan Cleary to work on combining the new pieces of the Tigers puzzle into an effective unit.
Handover: JT magic still there, but not enough
Ten minutes into the Cowboys' clash with the Rabbitohs and Johnathan Thurston was involved in a simple run-around move. With nothing much on, he summed up the situation and put in a cross field chip which hit Antonio Winterstein on the chest before he dived over to score untouched.
Eight minutes later Gavin Cooper was on the end of a precision Thurston grubber kick for another Cowboys try. The old Cowboy still has the touch, but as the game progressed the magic began to fade. His kicks weren't as accurate, his runs lacked sting and his passing game less convincing.
The Rabbitohs were able to notch another victory, adding to the Cowboys misery. It looks like being a very sad ending for what has been an incredible rugby league career for Thurston