First tackle: Storm brewing over HIA calls
Melbourne Storm seem to be a magnet when it comes to rule bending allegations, but the latest suggestion could be the most serious of them all, because it concerns player welfare.
Early on Friday night Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen collided heavily with Josh Morris in the Storm in-goal area, while bravely doing enough in cover to prevent a Roosters try. Papenhuyzen was down for a short while after appearing to land limply. He then regained his feet to leave the field for an HIA. Five minutes later we heard from the commentary team that he had passed and was clear to return to the field, where he went on to play a key role in the Storm's victory.
Later prop Jesse Bromwich reeled out of a tackle and remained dazed on the ground before also leaving for a HIA, which he too passed.
These cases wouldn't necessarily raise suspicion, if not for the fact that we see players in almost every game ruled out following similar incidents. Commentators have come to recognise a head knock as being the likely end of a player's game, it is pretty standard procedure.
Late in the game we saw Harry Grant put his head in the wrong spot when making a tackle and he too hit the ground and appeared dazed. Cameras zoomed in to show him squeezing his eyes tightly shut before blinking as the trainer attended to him, as though his vision wasn't quite right. Grant didn't have to pass his HIA, because like Cameron Munster earlier in the second half, he was inexplicably not given one.
It would be unfair to suggest anything untoward is taking place at the Storm, particularly when it concerns something this serious. The NRL is investigating the Munster and Grant cases, as to whether the signs evident should have seen one player, or both, given a mandatory HIA. It is impossible for the NRL to rule on whether Papenhuyzen and Bromwich should have passed theirs.
Second tackle: Poor timing should have been penalised
We saw a horrible bunker decision midway through the first half of Newcastle's home clash with Cronulla. The Sharks put up a bomb which came down 10 metres short of the Knights' line. Sharks lock Toby Rudolf came streaming through and jumped for the ball, colliding with and taking out fullback Kalyn Ponga, with the ball bouncing into the arms of Jesse Ramien who put it down under the posts.
The referee sent it to the bunker as no try, indicating that Ponga was taken out of play. The bunker official looked at it several times and decided that because he only had eyes for the ball, Rudolph was fairly contesting for it and the try should be awarded.
The problem was, Rudolf's charge and leap was so poorly timed, he went nowhere near catching the ball and his only contribution to the play was making sure Ponga had no chance of catching it either. It could have proven costly, but for a late Ponga try which saw the Knights deservedly victorious.
Third tackle: Play to the whistle!
At the end of the Rabbitohs' clash with the Tigers we almost saw the perfect example of why you should always play to the whistle.
In golden point extra-time with the scores level at 14, Rabbitohs prop Tom Burgess ran through a gaping hole up the middle of the Tigers' defence, from 30 metres out. Burgess crashed over near the goal post padding with Luciano Leilua in close attendance. The ball bounced clear and as the Rabbitohs players celebrated victory, Tigers half Luke Brooks scooped it up and ran the length of the field untouched to score his own match-winning try.
The referee let the whole thing unfold, awarded the Tigers a try as the last act and then sent it all to the bunker to work out. It took several frame by frame replays to determine that Burgess had indeed grounded the ball by the thinnest of fingertip skin.
I'm sure Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett will be having a quiet word to his players about killing the ball in that situation, before celebrating.
Fourth tackle: Tommy Turbo simply amazing
How much difference could the return from injury of Tom Trbojevic possibly make to this season's often horrible Sea Eagles? Manly limped across the line last week against the Warriors thanks to a last minute field goal from Daly Cherry-Evans. The victory, however ugly, would have given them a lift, but this week they were up against the high-flying Titans who absolutely demolished the Knights last week.
Of course the Sea Eagles had Trbojevic back, but it had been many months since he last laced up a boot. He would surely need to ease his way back into first grade. Sure, he's a great player, but the Titans have some great players as well. At the end of the 80 minutes both teams walked off the field in Mudgee, the Sea Eagles having won 36-0 and absolutely no one left with any doubt as to who was most responsible for the incredible result.
Trbojevic ran for 189 metres, broke four tackles, scored one try, made two lines breaks, had two line break assists and two try assists in his 72 minutes on the field. He carved the Titans defence up and left them to ponder their place in the premiership pecking order.
Fifth and last: Walters fires up and his Broncos respond
You don't have to be a Broncos fan and let's face it, most of us aren't, to appreciate the passionate pre-game spray coach Kevin Walters gave his players in preparation for their clash with Penrith Panthers.
Walters was a player during the Broncos glory days and part of the reason he was hired is that the current crop of players were thought to have lost the necessary passion for the jersey. The dressing room cameras showed Walters yelling, gesticulating, red in the face with the passion he hoped would rub off on his charges. And it worked.
It looked good early as the Broncos stepped up their intensity in defence and with the ball. Walters would not have been disappointed with the effort shown. It was enough of an improvement to see the home side lead 12-10 at halftime of a game no one really expected them to have a chance of winning.
Although ultimately fruitless, it was a much better performance from the Broncos, something to give them confidence and make their fans hopeful of better things to come.
Handover: Eels magic in Raiders thumping
We saw one of the tries of the year, so far, in Parramatta's win over the Raiders. Eels five-eighth Mitchell Moses handled the ball three times in a movement which started in Parramatta's half, stretched to the left, wound back to the right with a big looping pass from Moses, before Shaun Lane was sent on a ten metre run to the line with a clever inside ball, again from Moses.
It was a perfect example of keeping the ball alive and providing support to the ball carrier. It was part of a much-improved performance from the Eels after their upset loss last week to the Dragons. The Raiders looked lost at times as they struggled to match the intensity of the Eels, who ran away with it in the second half.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said after the game that several of his players were just pulling on the jersey thinking that made them first grade players. He'll need to turn them around quickly.