NRL Round 5 Hits and Misses: Paulo's hit was all shoulder (charge)

The footy continued over the weekend, with Junior Paulo in trouble for a big hit, Selwyn Cobbo putting in a super effort, Damien Cook back to his best and more captain's challenge controversy.

We take a look back at some of the biggest hits and misses of the weekend.


Paulo's effort was all shoulder (charge)

There has been plenty said and written about the sin-binning of Parramatta's Junior Paulo for his hit on Titans' AJ Brimson. Brimson ran at Paulo who lowered his body slightly and made shoulder-to-shoulder contact, which was so forceful that Brimson's head snapped forward into some incidental minor contact.

Paulo was penalised and sent to the bin for the head contact, sparking the controversy and leading to queries over whether or not Brimson should have subsequently been sent for a HIA.

The trouble with this incident arises from the bunker's "contact with the head" call. If they had called it a dangerous shoulder tackle without any attempt to wrap the arms, they would have come out of it with more credibility. Whether such a hit deserves a trip to the sin bin is the burning question. It certainly has resulted in suspensions in the not-so-distant past.

Cobbo charge full of spirit

With 17 minutes to go in the first half of the Broncos-Roosters game, Selwyn Cobbo made a desperation run from his own dead ball line that would have made every man or woman who ever pulled on a Brisbane jersey extremely proud.

The 19-year-old winger chased back on a Roosters attacking grubber kick and took it on the chest as it threatened to pull up in the in-goal area. His arcing run skirted the dead ball line as the Roosters chasers closed in. He out-paced the first before shaking off the timid grip of Luke Keary, but he still had the entirety of the in-goal area to navigate to avoiding a goal line drop-out.

In front of him lay three converging Roosters and the heavily-padded goal post. He powered towards the inside of the post and burst through a tackle and into the field of play. If coach Kevin Walters wanted to instill more pride in the Broncos jersey, he should point to Cobbo's run as the perfect example of exactly what that looks like during a game.

Classic Cookie tears Dragons apart

Damien Cook ran onto a Jai Arrow offload inside his own half after six minutes against the Dragons. The Rabbitohs hooker took off on a sweet-stepping, weaving run at blistering pace. He spun out of an attempted tackle before floating a pass out to Campbell Graham, who beat one before slipping an inside ball to Latrell Mitchell who dragged a couple of Dragons with him over the try line.

It was a great try for Souths with two of their New South Wales representatives stepping up to show their class. Dragons coach Anthony Griffin spoke before the game of wanting an improved defensive effort from his players. He wouldn't have been happy seeing Cook split them right down the middle.


Captain's challenge controversy.

Apart from Paulo's sin-bin and a lopsided 10-1 penalty count against them, the Eels also had reason to complain about a captain's challenge that shouldn't have been awarded according to Graeme Annesley.

The NRL's head of football last week addressed the trend of players deliberately giving away penalties to stop play, so they could make a captain's challenge about something that had just been missed by officials. Previously players had risked a possible sin-bin if the challenge wasn't ruled in their favour, but Annesley said players should be binned regardless and that challenges weren't allowed once a referee had ruled "play-on".

But the Titans successfully got away with that exact move on Saturday night, with hooker Erin Clark intentionally holding down the ball carrier after a tackle to give away a penalty, then immediately challenging the decision as an Eels knock-on had been missed by the referee in the lead-up. The bunker spotted the knock-on and awarded possession to the Titans.

Debate raged on social media afterwards about whether those kinds of intentional penalties are against the "spirit of the game" or just a smart tactical gamble (after all, the correct decision was reached in the end). But it's beside the point when the NRL's head of football had announced such a move was not allowed only days earlier.

To be fair, refereeing in the NRL is a tough gig -- not only do they cop criticism from at least one fan base every week, but it's a sport where the actual rules are frequently changed, often multiple times a season -- so we'll put this one down to a lack of communication between head office and match officials. The presence of the captain's challenge was always going to create situations like these, but the important thing for the league is that they are applied consistently from one game to the next going forward.

Gaping defensive hole sees Warriors over

It was a terrible start to the second half by the Cowboys in their loss to the Warriors in Redcliffe. Winger Murray Tualagi dropped the kick off and just a couple of tackles later Kodi Nikorima picked the ball up at dummy-half three metres from the line, dummied to the right before stepping to the left where he found a gap wider than the Sydney Heads.

Cowboys fullback Scott Drinkwater, who was defending that space, took the dummy like a tired two-year old, racing away to cover that side of the field. Nikorima could not believe his eyes as he jogged through and around to score under the posts. The conversion levelled the scores at 12. It proved costly as the Warriors went on to win the game 25-24 in golden point extra time thanks to a Shaun Johnson field goal.