First tackle: Robbo's Roosters have more than bunker trouble
Roosters coach Trent Robinson was not happy with the way Latrell Mitchell's season-ending hit on Joseph Manu was handled by the bunker and onfield officials, unleashing a post-game spray which, among other things, suggested that they should have acted sooner.
"I think everybody saw the incident, I'm just baffled that he was down for how long and then it took Joey to stand up and go and stick up for himself with a depressed fracture of the cheekbone, and then they still didn't want to do anything about it," Robinson said.
"Henry Perenara's sitting in the bunker, didn't stop play, didn't do anything about it then Ashley (Klein) asked them to play on and then the players went at it again, and then he just missed it completely.
"Perenara, who's supposed to know some footy sitting up in the box, and then doesn't do anything about it for maybe 30, 40, 50 seconds, doesn't do a thing about it."
What Robinson seems to have overlooked was that the Roosters had regained the ball and were attacking the Rabbitohs' line. Having scored the last try to narrow the score to 24-12, I'm sure the Roosters were keen to see what would eventuate from the play.
The other point made was that, once reviewed, the hit should have resulted in Mitchell being sent off, not to the sin bin for 10 minutes. Everyone agrees with that point, and it resulted in Perenara being dropped from further bunker duties on the weekend.
So in one crazy act of aggression, Mitchell has ended Manu's season, his own season and taken two of the game's most lethal attacking weapons out of the upcoming finals. It can be argued that both the Roosters and Rabbitohs now have next to no chance of upsetting the Panthers or Storm for the title.
As concerning as the loss of Manu is for the Roosters, the way they were torn apart across the park on the night should really be ringing the alarm bells at Bondi Junction. What Robinson's rant overshadowed was a terrible performance by his Roosters.
The Rabbitohs lethal left edge may have contributed the first try of the night, but the next two came right up the middle as prop Mark Nicholls cut through a soft belly, admittedly missing Jared Waerea-Hargreaves. The Bunnies will need to produce some new tricks with Mitchell gone for the big games. Alex Johnston is a capable replacement at fullback, but in moving him you lose Alex Johnston the winger. I'm sure super coach Wayne Bennett is currently working on the answers.
Second tackle: NRL just about unwatchable at times
The Bulldogs were attempting to pull off the upset of the year against the Sea Eagle at Redcliffe on Sunday, and they were doing unexpectedly well to go to the break leading 12-10 on the back of a 100% completion rate.
Then, to start the second half, the Sea Eagles were given enough set restarts to have a total of 26 back-to-back tackles on the Bulldogs line, including one where Tom Trbojevic ran behind a clearly obstructing Kieran Foran, and was allowed to play on.
The desperate Bulldogs defence held out for as long as they could before Trbojevic split them down the middle. Even then, Jack Hetherington rolled the Sea Eagles superstar on his back and he appeared to lose control of the ball as he transferred it across his body to find the turf. It surprised no Bulldogs fan that the bunker overlooked the need for him to regain control of the ball and confirmed the four-pointer. Carry on, just business as usual when you're one of the bottom-feeding clubs.
The Sea Eagles rolled on from there with another two tries to Trbojevic as the Bulldogs struggled with less than 40% of possession and their own ineptitude with the ball. Clearly better team won, so what is the problem?
Roosters coach Trent Robinson was fined for deriding the match officials. He would have found a lot more support from fans of all clubs if he hadn't implied that the poor calls were a conspiracy against his Roosters. The whole game is broken and just about unwatchable, unless you're cheering for one of the teams expected to win each week.
Third tackle: The dumbest play of the year?
If ever you were going to ask teammates to drop off a tackle so that you could have a crack at stripping the ball one-on-one, it would not be against a rampaging Tevita Pangai Junior five metres out from your own try line. It was unbelievable that with five minutes remaining in the first half, and the Tigers surprising everyone to be locked at 6-6 with the Panthers, hooker Jacob Liddle did exactly that.
The result was as inevitable as it was appalling with the 117kg big unit, guest starring with the Panthers on his way to the Bulldogs, swatting the 91kg Liddle away to score next to the posts. Liddle's teammates were left staring and pointing at him, making it abundantly clear who was to blame for the costly four-pointer.
The Panthers went on with it after the break to win 30-16, but that mad moment from Liddle must have been deflating for players and coaching staff alike.
Fourth tackle: Contrasting styles, hairstyles
The big clash of the weekend between the Storm and Eels didn't disappoint, with Parramatta putting up a much-improved and admirable performance to end Melbourne's record-equaling winning run.
Key to both team's efforts were their fullbacks, the Eels' Clint Gutherson and Ryan Papenhuyzen for the Storm. Their differences highlighted by polar opposite hairstyles, with Gutho sporting a shaved back-and-sides that Johnny Unitas would be proud of while Pap's free flowing mullet has taken on the appearance of a lion's mane.
On the night the military look upset the king of the jungle, even though Gutherson limped from the field with 15 minutes remaining. The Storm were completely knocked off their game by the enthusiastic Eels, who kept finding ways around the Melbourne defence all night.
When they had the ball the Storm forced passes, messed up decoy runs, kicked poorly and generally played un-Melbourne-like footy. The Eels' 22-10 victory was their second win over the Storm this season, making them the only team not to drop two points to the competition leaders.
Fifth and last: Raider returns home to mixed reviews
It has been a strange couple of weeks for Canberra forward Corey Horsburgh. After spending a couple of painful weeks doing his very best while on loan to the hapless Bulldogs, the big front rower with a huge heart and a shock of red hair returned to his beloved Raiders as they battled to keep their slim playoff hopes alive against the Warriors. To say he had a mixed afternoon would be an understatement, with several errors leaving many wondering whether his time at the Dogs had been detrimental to his playing ability.
But, with minutes remaining and the scores locked at 16-16, the Raiders were well within field goal range and looked to be setting themselves for the match-winning one pointer. From dummy half just inside the Warriors' half the ball went one pass right to the short side before being fired back across behind the ruck to Horsburgh, who was probably expected to take advantage of a lax defensive line, to hit it straight up the middle towards the posts. Instead he looked up and shuffled it left where the ball eventually found Jordan Rapana, who scooted around the end of the defensive line to score out wide.
The try put the Raiders ahead and they finished off the game with another try. They now sit in ninth position, behind the Sharks on for and against, with the Roosters ahead of them next week.
Handover: Katoa flying for Sharks
We saw a great Sharks try in the first half of their vital game against the Broncos. On the end of a backline sweep to the right near halfway, winger Sione Katoa, who had already crossed for a brilliant diving try, took off downfield. As he approached the fullback he stepped off his right and began a meandering cross field run looking for either a way through the scrambling cover defence or a support player.
He saw Connor Tracey streaming through in support, but Katoa's next task would not be straightforward. Not only did he have to time the pass perfectly for the flying Tracey, but he had to evade the Broncos defenders between them. He did so with a perfect low torpedo pass under the outstretched arm of the nearest Bronco defender to hit Tracey right on the shirt front. Tracey stumbled as he took the pass and slid over for the try.
Despite a gutsy performance that would have pleased coach Kevin Walters, the Broncos were ultimately outplayed by the desperate Sharks. The win keeps Cronulla in eighth position just ahead of the Raiders, with both clubs facing tough opposition next week in the Storm and Roosters respectively.