First tackle: The six again rule is killing the contest
The use of the six again call for both ruck and offside infringements has given the referees far too much control over the momentum of games. The NRL may be noticeably quicker, but it is not necessarily better with teams being blown out of the water trying to defend multiple sets of tackles.
When the calls go one way, attacking teams gain way too much of an advantage. Defences find it impossible to defend back-to-back-to-back sets of six. In doing their best they leave themselves exhausted and unable to fight back. They make tired mistakes when they have the ball and the possession stats tilt even further in favour of their opponents.
There were a few examples over the weekend, but the most obvious was the Knights receiving four six again calls and three penalties, with the score blowing out to 30-10, before the Bulldogs received their first favourable intervention. For the first hour of the game the Knights were neither offside or infringed in the ruck. The Bulldogs, who were always going to struggle to win that game, were left with no chance at all. They made plenty of errors, but they were out on their feet and the Knights ended up walking through them.
Kicking off after conceding a try used to give the team a chance at a territorial advantage. Now the team on top receives the kick off, rarely makes it to a fifth tackle kick because it receives tackle restarts and the defending team is on its line again, exhausted and facing another try. Maybe the team conceding the try should take a tap restart at halfway, at least they'd have their hands on the ball for a while.
Momentum swings used to come from big hits, big runs, clever kicks and line breaks. Now they depend more on the discretion of the whistle blowers. If you're enjoying soft tries and and big wins, there are bound to be plenty more this season.
Second tackle: Broncos show some pride for Walters
The Broncos played with all the pride that Kevin Walters would have promised the board during his head coach interview.
With the Broncos leading 10-0 with 14 minutes left in the first half, rampaging Parramatta winger Maika Sivo looked certain to crash over in the corner, until he was bundled through the corner post by Xavier Coates and Jamayne Isaako.
Sivo has made a career out of scoring tries around, through or over the top of unfortunate opposition players. The commitment and effort from the two Broncos players summed up exactly what Walters was expected to bring to the club.
A similar moment in the second half saw three defenders charge across to hit Blake Ferguson in the corner. Ferguson was good enough to plant the ball, despite the effort, scoring a vital try.
With all the ball in the second half, the Eels finished over the top, but Walters would have seen plenty to be happy about. On the way to the wooden spoon last year, there were times when the Broncos players just gave up. This season is set to be different.
Third tackle: New sheriff in town confuses Cowboys
Todd Payten has a long year ahead of him if the Cowboys performance against the Panthers is any indication. They stuck with Penrith for large parts of the game, but with the ball they were disjointed and rudderless.
Cowboys leader Michael Morgan really needs to contribute much more. Valentine Holmes was quiet on the wing and man mountain Jason Taumalolo spent over half an hour on the bench, something that Payten made a strange effort to explain after the game.
"I don't care the type of flak I'm going to cop about that," Payten said. "But I've said it several times. Jase is contracted here for seven years.
"If we cook him, 65-75 minutes a game, in three to four years, what value are we going to get out of him? This is a long-term decision about Jase's health and my ambition to hold onto the job, I guess."
He went on to say that Taumalolo was taking fatigued short-cuts in defence and he didn't want his younger players thinking that was acceptable. It was a very strange start to the season from Payten, laying down the law by ripping into his best player. Knowing the professionalism of Taumalolo, the public admonishment shouldn't blow up in Payten's face, but it was a risky move.
Fourth tackle: Right runs riot for Chooks
The Roosters right edge attack is lethal and it was their fourth try of the game against the Sea Eagles that best illustrated it. Luke Keary slipped the ball to James Tedesco who turned on the pace to create space for Joseph Manu who straightened up before passing to Brett Morris. The old flyer did brilliantly to weave in and away and score in the corner.
The same combination was responsible for over 40 tries last year. Opposing defences struggle with the pace with which they swing into action. Ball in hand there is no more dangerous back than Tedesco. He has a perfectly timed pass to back a massive step off both feet. Given room to move, he and the weapons around him are very tough to stop.
Ten minutes later they were at it again, quick hands this time leaving Morris with three defenders to beat, which he did with an outstretched arm. Tedesco and Morris both finished the day with hat-tricks as the Eagles were hung out to dry.
Fifth and last: Rusty old Green Machine
There were a lot of cobwebs to be swept off teams resuming after an offseason punctuated by only one trial game. The crispness of runs, the timing of passes, the combinations in attack, the communication in defence, a lot of teams will be happy to have that first run out of the way.
Possibly the dustiest looking side was the Canberra Raiders at home in front of their beloved Viking clapping crowd against the Tigers. Nothing they tried in the first half looked smooth, everything was disjointed. Passes went to ground, runners dropped the ball cold, passes went forward - they spent a large part of the first half attacking the Tigers line, before finally crossing through a grubber kick in the 37th minute.
They eventually overcame a fatigued Tigers outfit, thanks to another mountain of possession. Coach Ricky Stuart will be happy to start the season with a win, but will be looking for better things next week against the Sharks.
Handover: Mattingly cuts all the rage
Ryan Papenhuyzen played another starring role in the Storm's season-opening victory over the Rabbitohs, but the performance of his barber left a lot to be desired. Papenhuyzen has maintained the look he first sported last season, a look which is being unfavourably compared to a Simpson's episode where Monty Burns tells softball ring-in and baseball legend Don Mattingly to "trim those sideburns".
Papenhuyzen is not the only one sporting the look, with Knights forward David Klemmer, Manly centre Mose Suli and Panther half Nathan Cleary among the other players with well and truly trimmed sideburns.