Rule changes, cannonballs and misses: early-season NRL trends emerge


Some new and recurring trends have emerged after the first two rounds of the NRL season and stamping out the wave of cannonball tackles should be high on the head office agenda.

The NRL warned clubs last week that it was cracking down on the dangerous practice of defenders diving into an attacking player’s legs after being held back by other tacklers, but it appears more needs to be done in this area.

The new rule which penalizes teams instead of only resulting in a restart in the 40m area has made a slight difference, with teams showing signs of rusting after troubled pre-seasons while on the lighter side the teams must also refresh their post-trial celebrations judged on the evidence presented in the first 16 games.

Some will be trends throughout the season, others will be dead ends.

Here are some early season trends for the 2022 premiership.

Cannonball tackles a scourge of the game

No one disputes the danger of these tackles – it’s the rugby league equivalent of a punch. Throwing into a ball carrier’s legs from behind when they are not ready for contact can have serious consequences.

The NRL contacted all clubs last week to let them know such tackles will not be tolerated, giving them footage of what constitutes a cannonball after Storm striker Trent Loiero was fined after the first round for an incident on Tigers opponent Luciano Leilua, who said his knee was clicking for days after.

Eels striker Ray Stone produced a similar tackle at the end of the nailbite against Cronulla on Nicho Hynes, but was only given a level one dangerous contact charge and will escape suspension, picking up a a $1,000 fine with an early guilty plea.

The NRL has done well to reduce the number of shoulder charges, dangerous throws and fights in recent years by handing out tougher penalties. The same must happen for Cannonball as fines are clearly not enough to deter defenders from this dirty tactic.

Make it an automatic grouping of sins like the punching rule. It will help get rid of it.

New rule making just enough difference

The new rule that requires teams to take a penalty rather than a six again for indiscretions in the opponent’s own 40-yard area makes just enough of a difference.

Many rule changes over the past few seasons have transformed the fabric of the sport, but this change has made enough of a difference without causing confusion, probably because it’s a way of bringing the sport back to what it used to be.

Some teams are still pushing the envelope to see how much the referees will tolerate, but for the most part they seem to be self-regulating rather than what we saw last year when defenders lay on a tackled player for ages or were rushing out of the line early. because they didn’t particularly care if they gave a set restart.

The return of the penalty in the 40-yard area also led to a roaring crowd returning for a penalty as home teams try to drive the ball down, a rugby league sound that needs to be in any capsule time for the future. generations.

Teig Wilton celebrates his winning try. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Late tackles after kicks must be eradicated

Mitch Moses was right to report to Teig Wilton after the Sharks forward’s mid-air tackle on Parramatta’s half-back after he kicked the ball down the field on Saturday night at Shark Park.

Wilton is not a dirty player but it was a dirty game. He will be banned from a game under the new game review process, the Sharks will not risk the extra game by challenging him.

Tevita Pangai jnr almost added to his roster with a late tackle on Adam Reynolds after a spot kick on Sunday night but luckily he didn’t land the kick with much force.

Tigers skipper James Tamou hit young Roosters cannon Sam Walker with a similar tackle in pre-season and also cut a week.

They have the potential to be wrong, just ask poor old Tony Caine, whose promising career all but ended in 2007 when a late accusation by Steve Price caused horrific damage to his leg.

Fall for these recent incidents until the rust of the start of the season, but if they continue to happen, the NRL will not only have to warn the clubs, but in fact punish the perpetrators heavily.

“If you want to roll the dice and take risks with this type of tackle, you have to accept that there will be consequences if it goes wrong,” NRL chief football officer Graham Annesley said on Monday.

“We don’t really ask players to do anything other than apply the same level of judgment and caution that they do when tackling a ball receiver that they should when approaching a kicker. ball,” he added in reference to the rule that protects someone catching a bomb, especially if they are in the air.

Defending players not contesting bombs

This one has been a growing trend for a few years now. Some defensive players are so determined to run to a spot and turn around to hinder a kick chaser that they neglect the basic act of catching the ball.

Jackson Hastings, five-eighth for the Wests Tigers, could have easily prevented Tyson Frizell’s spectacular try on Sunday by looking where the ball was and catching it or kicking it over the dead ball line. He just made it into the Tigers’ top 10 silly efforts at Newcastle, brought to light by Tyrone Peachey’s sin.

Tip-on timing out of sync

A smooth back line move where the ball is sent through the hands to the winger is a thing of beauty, a joy forever. My buddy John Keats said that.

But there were a few instances in Round 2 where the hot potato was dropped cold or propelled forward, notably by South Sydney’s normally well-oiled left edge attacking machine.

Edge best place to attack

Teams that have a weak link in their defensive line between their half and their back rower don’t last long. The start of the season is the best time to attack this area – the Roosters in particular found Manly missing Friday night at SCG.

Sam Walker and Luke Keary found willing runners in Sitili Tupouniua and Nat Butcher for tries, exposing defenders three and four inches from the Sea Eagles.

Defense on the goal line too far apart

What happened to bunching up on the goal line, compressing the defense so attacking teams had to kick the ball around a team?

The Dragons all but offered six points to Penrith on Friday at Kogarah when Jack de Belin spaced himself too wide in defense under the goal posts, leaving a big gap and an impossible task for young full-back Tyrell Sloan, who faced the giant of Panthers Spencer Leniu rushing to the line.

Even with two defenders bunched up, it would have taken a monumental effort to fend off Leniu, but Sloan looked like a matador blinded by a charging bull after de Belin ignored the ball runner and floated towards the decoy runner.

Post-trial celebrations get dangerous

Jarome Luai will hurt a teammate’s neck soon enough with the way he runs and jumps over any Panther who has scored a try. The “Luai Leap” is spreading like wildfire across the league and it looks great when it goes off, but there is a high degree of difficulty.

The other post-trial trend with the potential to leave someone in the ER is the no-look roll that many players do as soon as possible after landing. Touch judges, fans, cameramen and photographers must take cover as the Steeden cruises through the air at high knots speed.

Rabbitohs center Jaxson Paulo clearly wasn’t thinking too clearly when he scored wide to create a six-point deficit with just five minutes left against Melbourne, wasting precious seconds before Latrell’s touchline conversion Mitchell, which he missed after rushing.




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