Week 2, and already in trying to do my tips, I couldn't find a certain winner. All eight games seemed to be evenly matched, whether it was a weaker team getting the home ground advantage or just two teams on an even keel. Or, perhaps more likely, I just haven't got a clue when it comes to rugby league after 40+ years of watching and trying.
- It was a game of dropped ball and strange options, but the Roosters vs Bulldogs game was a beauty, entertaining right to the very end. Still couldn't draw a crowd, which one can only assume will be a continuing problem with the Thursday night game, whoever is playing. The Bulldogs like last week had no passing or kicking game. The spine of hooker/halves/fullback is just not up to it. They are in real trouble. Josh Jackson was forced into the centres because of an injury and was a real liability. It didn't help the Bulldogs cause. The Roosters will be pleased with their victory over a team that should be a hell of a lot better than they are performing. They again tried to surrender a huge lead in the second half but again managed to hold on. the 28-24 win makes them 2-0, a much better feeling than the Dogs 0-2.
- I didn't see the Warriors vs Storm game, played in atrocious conditions, though by tipping the Warriors I guess I put too much weight on their back. The 26-10 victory highlighted once again the excellent defense of the Storm team, and leaving opposition teams the job of having to try and find a way to penetrate it if they are to compete with them this season.
- While everyone sprouted praise and amazement at yet another golden point game between the Broncos and the Cowboys, I was more interested in the refereeing decisions that allowed it to come to pass. For awhile it looked as though the Cowboys were copping revenge for last week with a penalty count at 5-1 and the leniency tending towards the Broncos. Then it looked as though it was time to even up that count (even wife Helen said this exact thing - "so do they just try and even up the penalties at the end of the match?"). The blatant forward pass that led to a Broncos try overshadowed two others I saw that were not even mentioned, simply because no try came from them. And if JT had kicked that field goal at the end of regular time with the two man screen set up to block the Broncos chasers, would it have been disallowed? In the end, I enjoyed the game but have trouble barracking for either team. A draw would have sufficed for me.
- It had been almost 12 months since their last win, but after their impressive showing against the Warriors last week... surely this was the week for the Newcastle Knights. Well, it was, and it was a happy team, support crew and supporters who cheered them on at Newcastle to their 34-26 victory. Still, the Titans were cruelled by injury, spending almost half the game with only one man on the interchange bench and an inability to hold onto the ball at crucial times. Still, given the increasing drama around him, will the injury to Jarryd Hayne actually be a blessing?
- After three tries in the first 12 minutes to lead 12-0, could anyone have predicted the collapse of the Sea Eagles? Losing to the Rabbitohs 38-18 after that start was just... awful. Truly terrible. And now two losses at home to start the season, where on earth do they go from here? An 8-3 penalty count against them again, and a 56-44 possession count against them. Souths made a remarkable turnaround from last week's thrashing which was almost as remarkable as how bad manly was.
- For the first half of their match against Cronulla, the Raiders again seemed to be on the wrong side of every penalty and decision. This was evened up quickly in about three minutes before half time, but by then the damage appeared to be done. Cronulla just run roughshod over the Raiders in the second half as the game fell into their hands. Metres run, line breaks and offloads were all decisively in the Sharks favour. Again, after last week, who saw this coming?
- It's good to know what happened to the Tigers and the Panthers last week. Obviously the Panthers just thought they had to turn up to beat the Dragons, and the Tigers really were just motivated to beat Robbie Farah. So, this week the Panthers knew they had to play, and the Tigers had no motivation whatsoever. What a rubbish effort from them. If Brooks and Moses are trying to sell themselves around for next season they are going the wrong way about it. The good news for the Tigers is that at least Bryce Cartwright looks to be out for a while with injury.
- With Russell Packer doing a Martin Bella (look up 1994 Grand Final for reference), meaning the Dragons were on the back foot from the first minute, it seemed an unfair advantage by the end of the game. However, an enthusiastic young Eels team took their chances and ended up dominating in a 34-16 victory that halts the progress made by the Dragons in the first round, Somehow the Eels get a third away game in succession next week as well as a five day turnaround. That seems a tad unfair.