It’s open season again on the referees

A capacity crowd in Auckland, the six-time rort continues to be rorted and Latrell Mitchell reminds us all how much a difference a superstar makes. Here are your NRL Round 16 talking points!

The Raiders get sprayed, literally and figuratively

With the game at their mercy, a gust of wind behind them and their Dragons opponent on the ropes… Canberra’s second half produced nine errors, a penalty that didn’t find a touch, balls hit at dead and absolutely no game intelligence as they went down 12-ten.

But even with all of this, have they been unfairly deprived of a chance to create equality?

When Peter V’landys introduced the rule of six again, it quickly became a garden of Eden for wrestling rorters, floppers and ruck sleepers, and it still is today.

Ben Hunt’s cynical exploitation of the rule in the dying seconds, coming in late on a tackle to deliberately slow play, again laid bare that six-time loophole that everyone but the NRL saw coming.

This question is more than just a discussion topic and is explored in more depth elsewhere. We are waiting to see what Graham Annesley’s explanation is. I think he will probably blame referee Peter Gough for not calling a penalty.

Finally, New Zealand is home

After 1038 days, what a show at the sold-out Mount Smart Stadium as the Warriors got to race in front of their own home crowd.

(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

And after an early tussle, what a great way to end the day with a 22-2 win over the Wests Tigers to the delight of the 26,009 in the stands.

It was just awesome.

Robbo needs to work on his praise

Roosters manager Trent Robinson did not water down his thoughts on Gerard Sutton’s officiating performance at Penrith on Friday.

“It wasn’t a good enough performance from him,” Robinson said after the game.

“It was not going to happen under the colors of the Roosters. It’s not a bias, it’s a fact, that you’re not going to have those opportunities.

“Obviously there were problems with our team and not with the other team.”

Robinson was steaming on an 8-3 penalty count, which included hooker Sam Verrills getting pinged for tipping Panther Scott Sorensen beyond the horizontal – even though the contact was on his knees and Verrills was almost lying on the ground doing the tackle.

Later in the match, Angus Crichton was knocked out after a longer than usual advantage for Penrith.

It can expect to be a little lighter in the pockets after that, you’d expect. Did he have a case? Maybe, but that wasn’t the way to put it.

If he is to avoid a financial blow in the future, Robinson can learn from that icon of post-match referee bashing, Canberra manager Ricky Stuart. After that finish against the Dragons, the Raiders legend kept it succinct and safe.

“I only needed to see it once,” Stuart said. “Tomorrow I will get an apology or a justification for the absence of a penalty.

“We set ourselves up to win this game. It was hard in the first half, but we let ourselves down in the second half, we got lost.

“When you’re in a high-performing business, there’s always going to be pressure, and when there’s pressure, you need courage. And it took courage for this decision on the last game of the day.

A master at work.

You weren’t dreaming – the lights were off

Wondering why Saturday night’s Souths and Parramatta game looked a little darker than usual at Homebush? Fans in the stands posted numerous pictures of lights not working and stadium management made some sort of explanation after the game.

I hope it’s just a one-night thing, because there’s a lot of money invested in rebuilding the stadium!

Quick shots

– It’s not for everyone, but I like good wet and rainy football. I applaud everyone who has had the courage to be in the ‘coastal’ climate that Sydney and Wollongong have set up for their games.

– The atmosphere in Townsville for North Queensland’s win over Brisbane was great – after the COVID impacted seasons this new stadium is rocking.

– There had been a bit of uncertainty about South Sydney over the past few weeks, but their performance toppling Parramatta 30-12 was emphatic as full-back Latrell Mitchell returned from a serious hamstring injury.

– They’ve conceded seven tries and 34 points in the final 12 minutes of their last two games, but at least the Sea Eagles got the points against an Origin-impacted Melbourne.

– The Dragons’ gutsy victory over Canberra rewarded them with replacing Manly in eighth place.

– What a start for Canterbury full-back Declan Casey – three errors in horrendous conditions, then taken off in the medicab after being knocked down next year by Andrew Fifita’s shoulder. I hope he’s okay, because it looked terrible.

– Knights winger Edrick Lee has become the first Newcastle player to score five tries in a game as his side play through the Gold Coast defence.

– Kudos to all for doing their part for the Mark Hughes Foundation round, with the final amount raised to be confirmed shortly.


The bad news? Round 17 is a split round with only four games played. The good news? This is the last time this season that State of Origin fades away.

Thursday Cronulla host Melbourne, Friday it’s Newcastle v South Sydney, Saturday it’s Wests Tigers and Parramatta and Sunday it’s Brisbane who host St George Illawarra.

Not much import for the final standings, but worth seeing how Melbourne and Parramatta bounce back from poor outings this weekend.

What did you think of Round 16, Roarers?

Sports Grp2

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