BY CURTIS WOODWARD
FABRIC OF THE GAME SLIPPING THROUGH OUR HANDS
Parramatta giant Kane Evans shot out of the defensive line late in Sunday’s win over St George Illawarra at Kogarah and put a great shot on Dragons forward Blake Lawrie. Evans, much taller than Lawrie, got him perfectly, hitting the Saints prop with his chest and sternum. Amazingly, Evans was penalised by the on-field referees. If that wasn’t bad enough, Ashley Klein got a tip from upstairs and the next thing we know, Evans was sin binned. What a terrible, terrible, terrible decision.
RAIDERS BUILDING ON INCREDIBLE MOMENTUM
There’s something magical happening in Canberra and it only appears to be getting better for the Raiders. Not only are they winning games of footy, they are winning hearts and minds right across the NRL – whether it’s Sia Soliola leading a viking clap after a big win on the road against the Panthers, the great deeds they do for charity and fans, the English connection, Jack Wighton’s shift to five-eigth or Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad’s journey from nobody to somebody.
MORE ON THE RAIDERS…
For those playing along at home, The81stMinute’s Arthur Beetson Medal went behind closed doors at the completion of round 18. At that stage, Canberra had four players sitting inside the top 11. Amazing.
TITANS FALL FURTHER INTO THE ABYSS
Nobody expected the Gold Coast to beat the Roosters on Sunday at the Sydney Cricket Ground. But the 58-6 hiding they received was an laughable. The club recently attempted to put their big boy shorts on declared coach Garth Brennan was the problem and they sacked him. There was no responsibility put on the playing group. You would have expected some kind of rebound after Brennan’s axing but we haven’t. Some of these players are kidding themselves.
EMBARRASSING TREND IN NRL CONTINUES
Is it any wonder that the three best teams in the competition are also the best at managing their roster? The Roosters cop plenty for their ‘salary cap sombrero’ but the Bondi franchise is sensational at refreshing and shaping their list. Coach Trent Robinson cares deeply about developing a roster with true depth because he knows there will be injuries throughout the season. Instead of being happy with Mitchell Pearce, the club went out and got Cooper Cronk. The Melbourne Storm keep producing superstars while Ricky Stuart’s Canberra has pillaged (…or raider-ed) the United Kingdom to come up with a winning side. Other clubs, however, need to give themselves a triple uppercut. Penrith, for example, re-signed Waqa Blake and Reagan Campbell-Gillard to long-term deals at the back end of 2018. Blake has since been released to play for Parramatta while RCG is expected to follow his former teammate down the M4.
WILL BROWN SURVIVE LONG ENOUGH TO SEE KNIGHT SUCCESS?
Nathan Brown has a great ability to rebuild a football club but will he survive long enough in Newcastle to enjoy their success? Brown has brought in stars Mitchell Pearce, David Klemmer and a host of others. He also has a guy by the name of Kalyn Ponga. Yet the Knights are on the slide and currently sit 11th after a 30-6 loss to Manly. Brown has done a great job at the Knights but he may not be the right guy to take them to the next level.