Hits and Misses: Disgraceful efforts are an insult to NRL fans

This week we take a look at a few teams who simply don't care about their fans, we visit Brooky for a belter of a game, wonder how the Bunnies sprouted webbed feet in Auckland, and admire the incredible Panthers.

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


Pitiful performances an insult to the fans

Sure it's just sport, and these men are only footballers, men who pull on shorts in the middle of winter and run around a park chasing an inflated lump of rubber. These are not surgeons, engineers, builders, electricians, school teachers, police officers, or anything approaching that level of importance. Their role in society is to entertain the masses, for which they are paid more than any of those professions.

Yet, despite the healthy remuneration, they can turn up to work and put in the kind of dismal performances we saw this weekend from the Dragons, Tigers and Bulldogs players. If anyone in any other profession put in such an insipid effort, there would be serious consequences and they wouldn't be employed for long.

It's why the fans, who hand over the money that ultimately pays these footballers, are so broken when they see their team crushed in such a manner. The players are slapping their fans in the face. By completely capitulating they are saying to the fans that they really don't care about their emotional and financial investment in the team.

The highest levels of most sports are inevitably fully professional. It might be romantic to lament the long-lost days when rugby league players earned their livings elsewhere and played footy for the love of the game and the pride in their jerseys. Most players from the teams mentioned should feel embarrassed to show their faces in public after the weekend, the saddest part is, they won't.


Brooky belter showcases league at its best

Forget the weekend's blow-outs, the Sunday game between the Roosters and Sea Eagles is what rugby league is all about. Players from both sides were out on their feet at the end of 80 minutes as the Roosters threw everything they had into wave after wave of attack trying to bridge a two-point deficit. The Sea Eagles held on in front of a full crowd, cheering in appreciation of their efforts.

Fittingly the victory had been set up through two tries to Daly Cherry-Evans, topped off by a Trbojevic try, a Ben Trbojevic try. Brother Jake, on his return from injury, was one of Manly's best players on the night as well. The struggling Roosters put in one of their best efforts of late to contribute to the exciting game, which ebbed and flowed as each team took turns at scoring tries. Both sets of fans could be proud of the effort their teams put in.


Bunnies play like ducks in Auckland deluge

It was a tough night for footy in Auckland, with rain belting down and the thermometer struggling to nudge five degrees, but early on both teams looked as comfortable as ducks on a pond. The Warriors finished their eleventh-straight complete set with a try in the corner to Marcelo Montoya to take a 6-0 lead halfway through the first half. Shortly after they received their sixth penalty, with the Rabbitohs still waiting for their first. Souths were left with no possession, and tackling their hearts out deep in their own half. When they finally saw Ashley Klein's arm pointed in their direction, they worked their way into Warriors' territory and put Alex Johnson over in the corner.

From there the visitors took control, scoring the next four tries to run away with victory in the slop. It was a welcomed two points for the Rabbitohs who had been in a slump, losing four of their last five games. For the Warriors it was the perfect chance to push ahead of one of their nearest rivals for a Top 8 spot. With the Rabbitohs missing some key players, a healthy home crowd and the soggy conditions, the Warriors really should have done better.


All Melbourne's way, until it wasn't

Early in the blockbuster between the Storm and Panthers, there appeared to be little point in watching if you were a Penrith fan. After Melbourne's second try, the result looked like it was pretty much in the bag. Everything to that juncture had gone in the Storm's favour, including the very dubious decision to award the four-pointer to Nelson Asofa-Solomona after 24 minutes.

Asofa-Solomona charged onto the ball near the Panthers try line, but was brought down just short. Even if you allowed for his momentum taking him across the line, there was still a very obvious bobble of the ball as he progressed. It seemed straight forward to all watching that the try would be disallowed. Then from the bunker came a voice, a voice once again telling us that our own eyes had deceived us, that Asofa-Solomona had in fact maintained contact with the ball the whole time.

A penalty goal not long after took the Storm to a 14-0 lead with time running out in the first half. The reigning premiers didn't panic, they simply continued to play their grinding style of football and went on to score the next six tries, unanswered. The performance, without Nathan Cleary, would have sent shivers down the spines of the other clubs hoping to claim the premiership this year.


What a crazy turn-around

The Cowboys' demolition of Wests Tigers on Saturday night was the ultimate example of how crazy this season has been. In Round 12 at Leichhardt Oval the Tigers tore the then struggling Cowboys apart, smashing them 66-18.

The following week the Cowboys lost to the Eels, before shocking the rugby league world with a season-turning 45-20 home win over Melbourne Storm. That victory was followed by a 27-23 win over the Panthers and a 31-6 humbling of the Bunnies.

From being all but written off, the Cowboys are back to looking like the 2022 version of the club. They are now knocking on the door of the Top 8, but still face a tough run home before they can play finals football again.


Play to the whistle lads!

During Canberra's win over Gold Coast, we saw a perfect example of the old adage of playing to the whistle. The Titans were on the attack and swept the ball wide to winger Alofiana Khan-Pereira who dived over in the corner. The Raiders' cover defender hit him so well that he dropped the ball just inside the in-goal area as he tried desperately to plant it.

With several players standing around wondering what had happened, Raiders centre Matthew Timoko calmly picked up the ball and took off downfield. He managed to run all the way to score what was a vital try in the four-point victory.