NRL Round 13 Six Again: Much ado about what Cleary felt

First tackle: Much ado about what Cleary "felt"

Penrith Panthers NRL coach Ivan Cleary was hit with one of those pesky questions on Saturday night, one that he really shouldn't have answered. A journalist asked him about a couple of decisions that went against his team in the second half, both of which seemed a bit off. Cleary, almost reluctantly, softly and off the cuff replied.

"It felt like they were being managed back into the game,'' Cleary said. "That's all I can say. There were some really, really strange calls."

He meant nothing sinister, you could tell by the tone of his voice that the emphasis was on "felt". He didn't say that the referee helped the Raiders stay in the game, he said that's what it felt like, as the calls mounted up against the Panthers.

I'm not sure whether ARLC Chairman Peter V'landys watched the media conference or just read the quotes, but he was furious.

"I think his comments were deplorable," V'landys told AAP.

"You can't question people's integrity, no matter what. What he did yesterday is one of the most disappointing things I have seen while chairman.

"This was straight to the integrity of the referee. To say he managed it to bring the other team in is deplorable. If anyone thinks the NRL is going to tolerate their employees being abused like that, they've got something coming.

"The [comments] are so ridiculously stupid. Under no circumstances is the NRL going to tolerate abuse towards referees and especially their integrity.

"To do that as an elite coach gives me no words."

Cleary might be better off leaving his feelings out of future answers, he'll certainly be hit with a fine to remind him. All he really did was voice something that every fan of the game has "felt" at some point. That it "feels like" the referees often try to level things up, particularly if one side has been hit hard in the first half.

No one is necessarily questioning the integrity of the referees, it might be a sub-conscious thing on their behalf, or it might well be the fans' imaginations. Just don't let Mr. V'landys hear you voice any such perception.

Second tackle: Would you buy a used car from that man?

I have a feeling that buying a used car from Jarryd Maxwell would be a terrible experience. You could take a look the car he was selling and with your own eyes see that it was up on blocks, only to have him say; "The wheels are on, I need your decision."

Just before halftime in Newcastle's hammering of the Tigers, Knights prop Jacob Saifiti charged at the line from five metres out. He was upended in the tackle, but jumped to his feet claiming a try. Replays seemed to show that he initially grounded the ball short of the line before lifting his arm and improving its position - a classic double movement. The decision was sent to the bunker, where Maxwell soon determined that it was all momentum and a try had been scored.

If it quacks like a duck and waddles like a duck, Maxwell could very well tell you it's a giraffe.

Third tackle: Classic Fergo

In appalling conditions, with rain teeming down throughout the game and a sheet of water covering the field, Blake Ferguson did something that had coach Brad Arthur and Eels fans screaming.

With the scores locked at 12 and only 18 minutes remaining in the game, winger Ferguson fielded a goal line drop out dangerously near the sideline. Instead of running the ball infield to safely start the set of six, Ferguson decided that a 20-metre floating pass to a prop forward would be a much better idea.

Junior Paulo, seeing the floater drop in front of him, tried to trap it with his foot, but was let down badly by his soccer skills. The Sharks poured through to pounce on the ball. They kicked early in the tackle count and had the better of the territory and possession for the next five minutes. Fortunately for Fergo they were unable to convert the pressure into points.

Fourth tackle: Lewis has two shots at a high shot

Bulldogs half Lachlan Lewis is facing a one-match ban for a shot on Melbourne's Cameron Munster, which also saw him sin-binned. A close look at the hit will show the forearm of Lewis making such solid contact with the chest of Munster that the Storm five-eighth's feet slide out from under him. The arm of Lewis then proceeds on its natural trajectory to Munster's chin. With Munster's head snapping back as he headed backwards towards the turf the incident looked bad, but technically Lewis did little wrong.

When he returned from his 10 minutes in the bin, he threw out his arm and clocked Josh Addo-Carr cleanly across the mouth and nose. It was much worse, but didn't look as bad, and Lewis only received a fine for it.

A one-match suspension for the two efforts combined is probably about right.

Fifth and last: What was going on there?

There was a perplexing passage of play during the Roosters' victory over the Dragons on Thursday night. With five minutes remaining and the Roosters leading 20-10, Luke Keary lined up a shot at field goal. What difference would an 11-point lead make? Was Keary ensuring that the Dragons would have to convert two tries to win?

The Dragons defence, acting on pure instinct, charged at Keary and managed to get a slight touch on the ball which looked like missing anyway. The result was a goal line drop out which led to a match-sealing Roosters try.

If the Dragons had put pressure on Keary without touching the ball, the worst that could have happened was they'd be 11 points down and trying a short kick off to regain possession. If the attempt had missed the Dragons would have had a seven tackle set to start their pursuit of the two tries they needed anyway. They did score one of those tries and ultimately ran out of time, but it would have made for a more interesting finish without that final Roosters four-pointer.

Handover: It's just not cricket

The end of the Warriors gutsy win over the Sea Eagles was greeted with a chorus of Lottoland boos as Kodi Nikorima took the ball on the last tackle with eight seconds remaining and ran backwards from his own 20 metre line.

With his Warriors only leading by four points he didn't want to risk kicking or being tackled, which would give the Sea Eagles one last opportunity with the ball. He ended up near his own dead ball line as the fulltime siren sounded.

The crowd, already frustrated by their team's efforts, voiced their disapproval. Nikorima did nothing illegal and it was actually the smart play, but it just didn't sit well. No doubt the same fans would boo the quarterback taking a knee at the end of an NFL game, too.