NRL Six Again: Send-off inconsistency infuriating

First tackle: Send-off inconsistencies are infuriating

I think we saw the worst send-off of the entire head contact crackdown on Saturday night as Broncos forward Kobe Hetherington was marched following an unfortunate collision with Canberra's Corey Harawira-Naera.

Harawira-Naera took a hit-up deep in his own territory only to be clipped low by a Broncos defender just before the line. He fell into the shoulder of Hetherington who had no intention to hit him high and absolutely nowhere to go.

The bunker took a couple of looks, under the crackdown it probably deserved a penalty, but the call came back to send him off. The Match Review Committee issued him with a fine, after deciding it wasn't worth a suspension.

In the second half of the Eels clash with the Tigers, Parramatta's Maika Sivo smashed Adam Doueihi's nose across his face with a high swinging forearm. Sivo was sent to the sin bin, placed on report and now faces a one-week suspension.

On top of not being able to tell whether a player is going to the bin, being sent off or nowhere these days, fans still face the infuriating belief that officials are basing their calls on how quickly the tackled player rises to his feet. Shake off a slap across the chops and it's play-on, lie on the ground holding your face like you've been hit with a baseball bat and the officials step in.

Second tackle: Hook knows a thing or two

The news that the Dragons had told Corey Norman there would be no contract for him beyond 2021 filtered through in the lead up to the club's Queen's Birthday clash with the Bulldogs. Not ideal timing, but as coach Anthony Griffin would go on to say, these tough decisions have to be made.

"It's a hard one, every one is a hard one," he said.

"Matt Dufty was a hard decision to make, he's played for this club all his life, but it's what we feel like is in the best interest of the club in the long term so we can build a list that can bring us sustained success.

"They're not easy decisions."

There was mild hysteria last week after Dufty produced an outstanding attacking display against the Broncos, despite being told in the lead-up that he would not be at the club in 2022. Yesterday against the Bulldogs Dufty made some pretty ordinary defensive decisions as the Dragons were upset by the wooden spoon favourites.

Griffin's job relies upon him making the right calls when it comes to his roster. The Dragons need to be successful or he will be out on his ear. Making these calls mid-season makes it tough on the team in the short term, as morale slips and the effort wains. Norman and Dufty should be at their best with their futures on the line, but it doesn't take much of a drop in intensity across the squad for a team to be open to the kind of upset we saw on Monday.

Third tackle: Just another chance to take a dive

There is very little doubt Melbourne Storm players run back towards their winger when a high kick goes up, to give him as much protection as they can from the pursuing opposition players, all teams do it to some extent.

In the first half against the Warriors, Storm centre Reimis Smith clearly looked over his shoulder before changing his line and bracing for impact. Smith was rightly penalised, but the play has become another ugly opportunity for players to hit the turf in order to gain a penalty.

Later in the first half Cameron Munster was penalised for the same offence. Munster ran back in a straight line towards Josh Addo-Carr who was waiting under a high ball. Munster was much more subtle in his intentions than Smith had been, but still the pursuing Warriors player made sure he ran into his back before falling to the ground as though he'd had his legs cut out from under him.

Players have every right to turn and run back towards their own try-line when a kick goes up. We know they are trying to create traffic around the player under the ball to give him some protection, but as long as they don't change direction as Smith did, they should not be penalised.

Fourth tackle: Big Papi is back

Great news for the Raiders and Queensland with the successful return of prop Josh Papalii from his three-week suspension. Papalii was front and centre during the Raiders' much-needed win over the Broncos and will be one of the first selected as the Maroons try to fight back in the Origin series.

The Raiders' fan favourite had 18 runs for 178 metres with 57 of them post contact. He crashed over for a try in the 52nd minute and made 28 tackles in a man-of-the-match performance. Queensland desperately missed his impact in Origin I and will need him firing if they are to have any chance of leveling the series in Brisbane.

Fifth and last: Bozo would have been proud

It was nice to see the entire crowd rise to applaud at Brookvale Oval after 175 seconds had passed in their game against the Cowboys on Friday night to honour club legend Bob Fulton. The pre-arranged gesture was a nod to the fact that Fulton was the club's 175th player.

What a pity the Cowboys had just scored a try and Valentine Holmes was lining up the conversion as the moment arrived.

With Tom Trbojevic sitting out following his monumental State of Origin effort, the Sea Eagles struggled early with the visitors racing to 12-0 within ten minutes. It was eerily reminiscent of Wests Tigers' tribute game at Leichhardt Oval following the death of Tom Raudonikis, where the visiting Cowboys ruined the party with a first half ambush.

Unlike the Tigers, the Sea Eagles didn't wait for the second half to play some football, striking back to lead 22-12 at halftime. It was all maroon and white after the break as Manly proved they could win without Tom Trbojevic, in a fitting tribute to Fulton, who had been one of the game's most lethal attacking weapons himself.

Handover: Origin costs Panthers four points, so far

With Liam Martin the only Panther able to back up following State of Origin, it was always going to be a tough task against the improving Sharks at Kogarah on a frosty Friday night. The Panthers defence lacked cohesion and its attack was flat and uninspired.

It was much the same as the week before when they lost to the Tigers after taking the field missing half their regular squad. They did manage a second-half fightback, only to lose to a Shaun Johnson field goal, but they dearly missed their star players.

One thing that would have pleased Bulldogs fans was the way Matt Burton shone in the halves in a beaten team. He will arrive at Belmore next year with a world of expectation on his shoulders, with hopes he can lift the Dogs off the bottom of the ladder. He needs some work on his passing and kicking games, but he could well be the miracle worker the Bulldogs desperately need.