I usually watch a replay of the game before posting my comments on the match, I decided to forgo the replay in a attempt to maintain my sanity.
Not to discount the Knights effort (I thought they had a good match) but we were dreadful. I think it would be a shorter list mentioning who had a good game against those who didn’t.
Nathan Cleary was off his attacking game. Some of those 5th tackle options were questionable at best and plain bonkers at it’s worst. You would think that with Newcastle having a fairly young squad, kicking a grubber into goal and having them turn the ball out in goal would have been a better strategy than running the ball and dying with it short of the line.
Jarome Luai wasn’t much better with handling errors and discipline. he seemed to lack direction a fair few times and again the 5th tackle options were dreadful.
Soni Luke, while being a bot of a X-Factor out there made some real silly decisions, turned what could have been some scoring opportunities to another turn over.
Liam Martin looked very rusty and lagging behind the rest of the pack, which turned out to be a aggravation of his Hamstring injury… probably looking around another month of the sidelines. I was surprised with his late inclusion. I would have though as we had discussed in this very thread they may give him another week off. Turns out this time the armchair coaches were right.
Onto the positives…
The forward pack deserve a lot of credit for that win. They were gutsy in attack and turned the screws on the Knights in the second half. Only allowing them to score a single point in the dying moments of the game. They got us some prime field position and really put us in a position to win that one, especially in Golden Point. I thought all the forwards had a stellar match and a special mention to Mitch Kenny, who was moved to work in the forwards when Matt Eisenhuth came off in the 20th minute. Then shifted back to Hooker when Soni Luke came off. Played the entire 81 minutes and put in until the final whistle.
The Bench was invaluable this week. I thought we were starting to look a bit flat in go forward late in the second half, but bringing on Scott Sorenson and Spenser Leniu just after the 30 minute mark gave us the push to dominate the final 10 minutes grinding Newcastle to halt (they didn’t score a single tray after that moment). Scotty almost got the scores near level with a kick chase, just narrowly missing out.
Also big shout out to Jaeman Salmon. Newcastles line was holding in the second half, and while we stopped the Knights from scoring our attack was still off, we were getting up in the redzone but not getting over the line. Salmon really stepped up and was there to cart it up in attack, which resulted in a 4 pointer to level the game.
While I was critical of him earlier, Nathan Cleary demonstrated why it pays to keep a cool head and stick to the plan. Two clutch field goals to put the Knights away… in a game that we had NO right to win based on our overall performance.
On the officiating of the game… it was enough to tear my hair out. It was poor, but not to a point where it benefited any side… “consistently inconsistent”. Just a few point on it though.
The Leniu sin bin ‘attempt’ was an absolute bone head call. I tried as hard as I could to see what the ref he saw and didn’t see anything that would warrant a penalty, yet alone a sin binning. It’s worrying to think that if we did not use a Captains Challenge on that decision (or already expend it), he would be sitting in the sheds in a
The Luai Hair Pull by Tyson Frizell. while I agree with Newcastle Coach Adam O’Brien that it was a poor decision. The replay clearly shows that he was attempting to reach for the jersey, I do not agree with his response to it… “I should get all my players to grow their hair out so we can take advantage”. Well there a few things to consider here.
As mentioned in this weeks Referees Media Briefing, the angle the referee had to make a decision it looks like his hair is pulled, Luai’s head pulls back and you can see some hair in his hands. Without further context, I think most people would have given a penalty… which brings me to the next point.
The Captains Challenge system exists for a reason… and this would have been one of those times to bring it up. A penalty was called, and he had a right to ask for it to be reviewed. He didn’t even need to ask the captain, HE WAS THE CAPTAIN. If that was reviewed and all angles were viewed (and not just the limited context the referee had), I am certain that it would have been overturned, it was a unfortunate accident at most.
Carrying on about it post game helps nobody, certainly not your side AFTER you already lost. To that point the officiating was not the reason they lost. Taking the foot off the pedal post half time and 1/4 goal kicking from Miller lost that one.
Cleary high shot. I have no idea what happened here. He was hit high and late. Absurd comments by Andrew Johns made this incident sound much tamer than it was.
“I still thought it was a shame Cleary went down after getting tapped on the chest/chin by Lachlan Fitzgibbon after kicking the field goal to lock the scores in regular time.”
Andrew Johns - Sunday Footy Show
Regardless… the show was high and late, and should have been ruled as such… The referee called time off and send the play for review to the video referee where it was cleared and a field goal was awarded and they moved on as (and I am speculating) that it little effect to the result.
So let me ask this… what if he missed? Would there be a penalty awarded then? and if so, then why should it matter in either case… it’s not LESS of a penalty because he kicked it. In my opinion it should have been awarded. But in the grand scheme of things it’s a moot point as Cleary slotted over the winner in Golden Point. But in a nutshell “CONSISTENCY!”
UPDATE NRL Referee Head Graham Annesley had confirmed that the referees would be justified awarding the Panthers a 3-Point field goal.