Hits and Misses: Players continue to wreak havoc with their bumpers

This week we take a look at the ongoing concern over attacking players using forearms and elbows, review some brilliant tries, and wonder what happened to Ricky Stuart's Raiders on the big occasion of Jarrod Croker's 300th game.

Read on as we take a look back at some of the biggest hits and misses of the weekend.


JWH continues to take advantage of 'Tino's Law'

On the back of Tino Fa'asuamaleaui and his head-cracking forearm, it was no surprise to see another exponent of bumper weaponization trying his luck and getting away with it in a big game.

Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (JWH) has been running into defenders with his bumpers up for years. On Saturday night, as his Roosters were being dominated by the Panthers, he ran the ball up the middle and caught Panthers prop Moses Leota in the forehead with a clearly raised elbow. Leota reeled out of the contact and had to leave the field with blood streaming from a gash above his eye. The bunker had a look at the incident and declared play-on, no penalty, no report, presumably clearing JWH under what we will now refer to as 'Tino's Law'.

The Panthers forwards weren't as forgiving as the match officials and continued to line up JWH for special attention. Spencer Leniu was soon involved in a push and shove with JWH which escalated when the Roosters veteran squirted water from a drink bottle at him, before throwing the bottle itself. Leniu, who has signed with the Roosters from next year, was incensed. The two shaped up, each with one fist shoving jersey into the other's jaw, the second fist cocked and ready to fire. When the opposing groups were finally separated, Leniu still had eyes like dinner plates, and was ranting and hurling obscenities.

The referee sent them both to the sin bin for what was left of the game, carefully ensuring that the fuming Panther had enough of a head start to keep the two separated. Both were later charged for the incident, and both face fines.

The whole ugly incident could possibly have been avoided if JWH had faced some form of punishment for his continued use of elbows and forearms to the heads of defenders.


Eels flyer takes a crack as well

Eels winger Maika Sivo tried his luck with 'Tino's Law' early in the first half against the Bulldogs on Monday. Running the ball out from deep inside his own territory, he was tackled low by one defender while opposite winger Jacob Kiraz came over the top to wrap up the ball.

Sivo thrust the forearm carrying the ball forcefully into the throat and chin of Kiraz. No action was taken immediately, but he was placed on report at the next break in play. A penalty 10 metres out from the Eels' line might have been more attractive to the Bulldogs. The Match Review boffins are yet to decide whether 'Tino's Law' applies in this particular case.


Sea Eagles preview play, still fool Dolphins

The Sea Eagles scored some exciting tries in their first-half demolition of the Dolphins at Brookvale on Friday night, but none better than Reuben Garrick's effort eight minutes before the break.

On the last tackle, Manly ran the ball with Daly Cherry-Evans straightening and turning it inside to a charging Tom Trbojevic who ran right up the middle of the ruck. The Dolphins should have seen it coming as Cherry-Evans and Trbojevic had already tried the play at least once. Part of the move was to have Lachlan Croker in close support and Trbojevic managed to slip a short ball to him, just as the defence closed him down.

Croker was soon chased down, but as the defender grabbed at him he managed to drop the ball onto his boot 30 metres out from the Dolphins line. The perfectly weighted dribbler pulled up in the in-goal area and as Dolphins winger Tesi Niu watched on incredulously, Garrick charged through to dive on it. With the conversion the Sea Eagles stretched their impressive early lead to 28-6.


Ricky quiet on man-management skills after embarrassing loss

Just one week after labeling the media 'muppets' for daring to question his decision to rest Jarrod Croker from a game they barely won by a point against the Tigers, Raiders coach Ricky Stuart was a bit less animated. With the Raiders putting on a fitting off-field tribute for Croker's 300th game, it was a pity Ricky's players didn't feel the need to get behind the veteran.

It was an emotional night as the locals packed GIO Stadium to applaud Croker as he ran out leading his son who was wearing matching headgear. The pair ran through a banner commemorating the occasion before Croker handed the boy to his wife and assumed his position for kick-off.

Three minutes into the game the entire crowd stood and applauded the Raiders No.3, as play paused coincidentally for a Warriors goal line drop-out. Not long after Croker had his first touch of the ball, almost scything through the defence near halfway. The crowd roared again, as they would every time the club stalwart was involved in the play.

The Raiders scored the first try of the match through Jack Wighton, and led 8-6 at halftime thanks to a Croker penalty goal, but after the break it all went the Warriors' way. They scored five of the six second-half tries to run away with an important victory, ruining the night for Croker, Stuart and the Raiders.


Clash of the Queensland fullbacks worth the price of admission

The Knights faced the Broncos on Saturday night in a big test of their Top 8 credentials, and just to spice things up we were presented with forgotten superstar Kalyn Ponga looking to prove a point against his Origin replacement Reece Walsh.

Walsh and the Broncos ultimately finished in front, but there came a perfect moment when Ponga took the opportunity to show the world that he still has it over his younger rival.

Ponga somehow squeezed his way through the Broncos defensive line near halfway and set sail for the only man in his path, Walsh. Several Knights players loomed in support, but the cover defence threatened to shut them down if Ponga slowed enough for them to catch up. Instead he feigned to head left while swerving right at full pace. Walsh, his weight momentarily on the wrong foot, was left to dive across the accelerating Ponga, barely slapping a hand on him.

It looked simple enough from Ponga, and made Walsh look kind of helpless, but the skill and strength involved cannot be overstated. The two stars were involved in everything all night, in what was a very entertaining game.


TBJ puts forward his vote for Blues halfback

I'm not sure how well Tevita Pangai Junior knows Mitchell Moses, or what he feels about who should replace Nathan Cleary in the Blues side, but the Bulldogs prop did everything he could to make the Eels halfback look like a clear choice for Brad Fittler and the selectors.

Twice in the first half he charged out of the defensive line like a runaway shopping trolley, allowing Moses to step his way through the yawning gap left behind. Both times the Eels scored tries, leaving Pangai holding his head in frustration.

Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo wasn't willing to see if he would learn his lesson ahead of a third time, hooking the Blues forward immediately after the second try.


Up there Ca-Xavier!

Is there a winger in rugby league that can soar higher for a bomb than Melbourne's Xavier Coates? Well over 6ft tall, Coates has a natural advantage under the high ball, but he also uses the AFL-style back climb on defending players. That move involves jumping onto the upper back of an opponent then extending his reach by leveraging from the knees, which are the contact point.

He scored one of his two tries from the play on Sunday afternoon, as the Storm washed the Sharks from AAMI Park. Coates was later rewarded for his efforts this season, named in the Queensland Origin team as a replacement for injured winger Selwyn Cobbo.