First tackle: Torpedo tackle has to go
With ten minutes to go in the first half of the Sea Eagles clash with the Tigers, we saw Manly forward Josh Aloiai go third man into a tackle on young Tigers forward Alex Seyfarth, as he stood stubbornly. Third man in at the legs isn't necessarily a bad thing and it happens a lot when a player is battling to stay upright. If the tackler goes low and drags the ankles together it is effective, if he drives into the back of the knees, folding the legs, that does the trick as well. What Aloiai did was bordering on a deliberate attempt to maim a player.
He lined up the stationary Seyfarth and drove his shoulder into the side of the knee on the weight-bearing leg. There was only one possible outcome, with the degree of ligament destruction the only thing in question. Seyfarth sat on the ground in pain yelling abuse at Aloiai. He was taken from the field with MCL damage.
It's a tough enough game and a young player like Seyfarth is doing his best to forge a career, one that could be cut short by injury at any time. To have an opponent take out a knee, a player's most precious joint, is just unacceptable. The 1-2 week ban Aloiai faces is nowhere near enough of a deterrent.
Second tackle: Rapana hit saves Raiders after pointless first half
To honour the start of Olympic football action, the Eels and Raiders put on a scoreless first half on the Gold Coast. A combination of rugged defence, errors and spluttering attacks didn't exactly make for an entertaining start to the game, but the second half was definitely an improvement.
It took less than five minutes after the break to crack the scoring duck. Raiders forward Corey Harawira-Naera ran a direct line off a well-timed pass to cut through the defence of Eels half Jake Arthur. The Raiders took a 12-0 lead following a Jordan Rapana try, before the Eels struck back through Dylan Brown.
The game was far from over. The Raiders took a shot at field goal which missed and gave the Eels seven tackles to work their way downfield. On the last, another bomb was put up and despite Dylan Brown appearing to be a metre offside and within the ten metres when the ball came down, the bunker reviewed Sivo's dive into the corner and ruled a try. Clint Gutherson missed the sideline conversion, setting up a thrilling finish.
With seconds remaining Sivo dived into the corner again and it took a desperation flying body check from Rapana to put him over the touch in goal line. Clint Gutherson wasn't happy with Rapana's effort and argued the point with the referee all the way off the field. It wasn't a shoulder charge, as the shoulder made no contact, there were no knees involved and he didn't lead with the feet, Rapana just threw his whole body into the effort to stop Sivo and it won his team the game.
Third tackle: How many points is that breeze worth?
In the old days commentators used to attribute strong breezes a points value. The theory was that if Team A was running into a 12-point wind, they needed to only keep the margin to 12 or less, before storming to victory with the wind at their backs in the second half.
Up on the Sunshine Coast there was a gale blowing down the field as the Roosters lined up against the Knights. It was behind Newcastle in the first half and kept them in the game, with the Roosters managing just a 10-8 lead at the break.
How much was the breeze worth? Well the Roosters scored 18 unanswered points after the break, so I guess it was an 18-point breeze, that the Knights couldn't fully capitalize on in the first half.
Fourth tackle: Mitchell Magic
The Rabbitohs did it easy against the Warriors, but there was a moment of Latrell Mitchell magic well worth highlighting. Leading 16-6 with 13 minutes remaining in the first half, the Rabbitohs were hard on the attack five metres out from the Warriors line.
Damien Cook skipped out of dummy-half to find Mitchell, who looked intent on crashing through the Warriors defence. As he hit the line he thrust his ball carrying left arm through the defence, hooked it around the back of one of the Warriors and flicked a perfectly placed pass onto the chest of Cameron Murray who was able to walk across the line untouched to score under the posts.
It was an incredible piece of play from Mitchell who carved up the Warriors all afternoon. With Cook, Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker all on song, the Bunnies ran away to notch 60 points against the woeful Warriors.
Fifth and last: Bulldogs wingers still struggle with numbers
Even if you struggle with the difficult mathematical discipline of counting, then surely you can be expected to recognise the facial features of the player playing opposite you. If that too is beyond you, then as a winger surely it is as simple as looking for the opposition player positioning himself closest to the sideline.
Trent Barrett took the reins of the Bulldogs with the reputation of being an attacking guru, so perhaps such complex defensive concepts are not his area of expertise. Someone at the club must take the wingers aside and suggest to them that their number one job in defence is to stop the opposite winger from scoring tries.
Jayden Okunbor started well, shoving Sione Katoa over the sideline short of the line, but not long after he charged off his line directly opposite no one. A cut out pass genius of the calibre of Sharks five eighth Shaun Johnson will always take full advantage of such lapses. And he did, with the recently re-signed Okunbor topping the thin air tackle count on the day.
Handover: Battle for Top 8 is on in earnest
The weekend's results have seen the Sea Eagles skip clear in sixth place on the NRL ladder, three wins ahead of the Sharks, Dragons and Raiders and seemingly assured of a finals berth. The final two places in the finals are not so set with five teams within two points of each other and a further two teams four points away.
The Dragons are clinging onto eighth place, ahead of the Raiders on for and against, but the two clubs are moving in the opposite directions at a rapid pace. The Dragons have lost the last two games since their infamous BBQ incident, while the Raiders are on a desperately needed three-game winning streak. They are in a three-way battle with the Sharks for the remaining two places.
The Titans, Knights, Tigers and Cowboys all appear too inconsistent to make a charge at the Top 8, but if any of them do manage to string together some wins, they will make the run home interesting.