NO Coaching Cliches!
NO Coaching Clichés Round 21 review
NRL Round 21 has left many of us scratching our heads. Upsets and form reversals, massive blowouts and forlorn hopes becoming total despair for the bottom two.
Match 1 Panthers 6 Roosters 42
Friday night’s match at Penrith was one of the games that went as per my personal thoughts. The Roosters are remaining very focused, staying clear of any serious injury concerns and dominating every team from the opening whistle. This makes each match way less energy consuming than the norm. Mental issues and discipline can undo this run with a rude shock but there are certainly no signs of that at present. Their depleted and defeated opponents appear to have finally run out of ideas and energy. Perhaps all of those who know they are not required next season just can’t maintain the necessary focus needed the intensity to compete with top teams. I think the style of footy that gained them some wins earlier on this season was both unsustainable and not good enough when the big boys turn the physical and direct stuff on. Panthers looked like rabble at times as many others have done when the Roosters have come to town.
Match 2 Knights 18 Broncos 18
The Broncos continued their livelier performances after their win over the Cowboys. The shake-up of positions and who is not required for next season may have had a good short term effect. They were easily good enough to beat the Knights but managed a point only. They out enthused a largely unenthusiastic Newcastle team for most of the match. I can’t understand how a team with the players in 1-5 shirts in blue and red could not achieve more in this match and this season. The method of them waiting for their experienced forwards to get on top for their halves and dummy halves to set the 1-5 alight is not working. They are going stale, under-utilised and boring. A continuation of their current form could see the Knights slide out of the top 8 as soon as this week and a pretty tough road home.
Match 3 Warriors 14 Sharks 18
What a match it was in Auckland! The Sharks found a real good start and some big performances from key men Carney and Fifita. I loved the way Sharks coaches and players changed their edge defence up for this match. Most often the Sharks are pretty passive in line speed but not this time; they worked out the Warriors major structure and smashed it. I thought the Warriors failure to cope with this was obvious very early on. Matt Elliott and all at the Warriors have deservedly received tremendous praise in the past couple of months for the turnaround but not this time. Perhaps the coaches have simplified stuff so much that anything that upsets their successful and sole plan of attack is going to meet with errors out of frustration. If so expect Manly to touch them up next weekend as their outside in defence on the ends is formidable. The Warriors need to find a way to counter that or suffer the consequences again.
Match 4 Eels 6 Eagles 40
Parramatta started off finding some ways to open up Manly’s defence without a short kick off this week. Unfortunately their crude attempts at converting those opportunities hurt any chance of scoreboard competitiveness very early on and got worse. Basic skills and awareness as well as the expected combination issues you would expect with so many players new to first grade, as well as new to each other, riddle the performances of this team week by week. Some of the errors repeated over and over must shake the confidence of everyone in the Eels club. Manly meanwhile are gaining momentum and will likely have the opportunity to rest a couple of their long time warriors before the playoffs. The try-scoring performances of ex-Parra juniors Justin Horo and Jorge Taufua must have hurt some long time blue and gold fans also.
Match 5 Cowboys 30 Rabbits 12
The Cowboys reversal of form seemed based on the players doing everything with more purpose and speed than we have seen all season long; too bad for departing Coach Neil Henry. Much will be said about Souths losing John Sutton to injury but I would suggest the very early signs in this game were there – the Cows meant business and found far more quality attacking plays stretching the Rabbits all night long. I thought they increased the power in their forward pack with bench forwards Tariq and Ashton Sims and Jason Taumalolo all very effective. Souths have been cruising along for all of this season after they stung the Roosters in round one. Now, to maintain the lofty position and ultimately to become champions they will have to do what previous champs have inevitably had to do. That includes answering the questions now being asked. Knowing what the issues are and then finding the answers is what Melbourne has always been good at; looks like they did it again in Canberra. It’s ironic that Souths get their first opportunity to right the ship in Melbourne on Friday night. Perhaps Souths week-long preparation in Queensland may have been designed with a longer term benefit with a short term risk involved? Only the future will tell!
Match 6 Raiders 4 Storm 68
Wow who could have picked the margin in Canberra! The Raiders incredible inconsistency over some extended period now was generally associated with away form. So what was this at home? Wouldn’t you love to know what they did in preparation this week! Since last Saturday afternoon in Wollongong until Sunday at 2pm what was it that every individual put into his personal preparation for what was obviously a huge game for them? It was sure obvious that whatever the Storm did after the loss to the Warriors away last Sunday was valuable and effective. A 68-4 loss into a set of matches like this to hold your spot in the 8 is challenging indeed - Roosters (away) Dogs (home) Eagles (home) Warriors (away) Sharks (home).
Match 7 Titans 36 Tigers 6
I guess there was no shock or form reversal in the Titans defeat of the Tigers. The score surprised me a little but the manner in which the Tigers set about their work was no surprise. Benji really only knows one way to play despite the fact that he must know the rest of the crew are trying to play to a more controlled attacking plan. High quality experienced team players control their game to fit with rookie kids to assist their confidence and development. The Tigers face their biggest game of the season at Parra on Friday night. It was hard to gauge where the Titans are at but again more will be revealed in round 22 on Monday night when the Dogs host them.
Plenty happening every week at this time of season.