NICK TEDESCHI wraps up the second week of finals in the latest instalment of From the Couch.
From The Couch Dally M Winners
All the winners the ‘team’ at From The Couch believe should claim the Dally M Medal gongs:
Fullback: Tom Trbojevic (Man)
Wingers: Josh Addo-Carr (Mel) and Jason Saab (Man)
Centres: Matt Burton (Pen) and Brian Kelly (GC)
Five-Eighth: Cody Walker (Sou)
Halfback: Nathan Cleary (Pen)
Lock: Isaiah Yeo (Pen)
Second-Rowers: Viliame Kikau (Pen) and Haumole Olakau’atu (Man)
Props: James Fisher-Harris (Pen) and Christian Welch (Mel)
Hooker: Brandon Smith (Mel)
Coach: Trent Robinson (Roo)
Captain: Dale Finucane (Mel)
Rookie: Sam Walker (Roo)
Arthur Does Not Miss
Brad Arthur did not miss during a sullen press conference, essentially questioning the integrity of the officials without saying as much. The highlight was claiming that the officials had been influenced by Ivan Cleary’s whining after the loss to Souths last week. That comment was no doubt aimed at Bunker official Grant Atkins, who was at the centre of another refereeing performance that certainly went Penrith’s away against Souths only a month back.
Farewell Josh Morris
An era ended on Friday night with widely admired centre Josh Morris retiring. Morris enjoyed a 15-year career across four NRL clubs, playing in two Grand Finals with the Bulldogs. He scored a remarkable 158 tries in 324 games. Morris did a remarkable job throughout his career of adapting to circumstances, moving from a tryscoring wizard to a stout defensive centre. It will be a sad year in 2022 without Josh or Brett on the paddock.
End of Season Report Cards
Sydney Roosters – A
Teams with the injury toll – in terms of both quality and quantity – have no right to finish fifth on the ladder and then go on to win a finals match. It was one hell of a season for Trent Robinson’s team in the face of such significant adversity. Luke Keary, Boyd Cordner, Brett Morris, Jake Friend. The list goes on and while so many missed significant time, it’s also incredibly tough when club legends are forced to retire. It was a season that reflected how strong an organisation the Roosters are, how much depth the club has and how good a coach Trent Robinson is. Bonus grade for Robinson’s press conference slaying. A brutal finals exit will leave a bad taste in their mouths but the Roosters got every last drop of blood from the stone.
Parramatta – B
What a strange season it was for the Eels. There were high points. They rolled the Storm twice. Pushed the Panthers twice. Won a final. Were desperately unlucky not to win another. Spent a good deal of the season in the Top 4. But there was also another late-season fadeout. Some horrific losses. Some terribly glaring weaknesses. Brad Arthur finds himself under pressure. Recruitment is a huge issue. Captain Clint Gutherson is no good thing to be back. They won a final and probably finished where they should have but it was a mixed year.
2021 Field Goal Update – 28
No field goals this week. All-time in finals football, Bob Fulton is the all-time leader with 12 ahead of Eric Simms with 10. Jason Taylor and Terry Lamb are the two others to kick more than five.
Fun Fact #1
Two of the four starting hookers this weekend were Ben Marschke and Ray Stone.
Fun Fact #2
Despite being the on-field official in the ugly Latrell Mitchell-Joey Manu Souths-Roosters affair that got out-of-control, among other controversial incidents over the last few seasons, Ashley Klein is seemingly one of the two top referees after receiving an appointment this weekend.
Fun Fact #3
Josh Addo-Carr is the current player with the most finals tries with eight – 15 short of all-time leader Billy Slater.
Betting Market of the Week
If able to bet before every Adam Keighran decision on Friday night:
$5.00: Would make and execute the correct decision
$1.16: Would absolutely make the wrong decision
It was rumoured over the weekend that Cameron Munster could be off to the Bulldogs in 2022 but it was likely distributed from a fake account so not a lot of credence being put in it. Mitchell Pearce is expected to quit the NRL and replace his former teammate James Maloney at Catalans. Aaron Woods has been linked with a move to Manly, as has Luke Garner. Canberra and New Zealand are the two clubs linked to Ash Taylor with the Titans happy to move him on. The Raiders are also likely to sign Tyrone Peachey.
Moronic Coaching Decision of the Week
Brad Arthur may well have been proud of his team’s effort on Saturday night but he should not be proud at all of how he managed his bench at the backend of the game, allowing Ray Stone to stay on the field as he descended into a Paul Carige-esque mess. Stone, the Eels’ third-string makeshift hooker, had done a solid-if-unspectacular job until late in the piece when his game capitulated. He was clearly struggling with even the most basic job of picking the ball up from dummy-half and passing. It was sad to see but there was no need for him to be kept out there with the experienced Will Smith on the bench. Smith, at the very least, offered more creative attack when the Eels desperately needed it. The match ended on another Stone error when he tried to hit Junior Paulo on a crash play with an awful ball that was expected to go out the back. Stone needs to take plenty of blame for the loss but Arthur needs to cop plenty of it too.
The Coaching Crosshairs
Michael Maguire’s time at the Wests Tigers seems all but over with speculation rife that the Tigers will be signing Panthers assistant Cameron Ciraldo once Penrith’s season comes to an end. Ciraldo is arguably the most highly-touted assistant in the game and the Tigers are very much going to swing back to a player’s coach at their next hire. Ciraldo is very short odds to be taking the Tigers job.
The Top 5 and Bottom 5 jerseys worn by clubs this season:
- Manly Heritage – Old school Sea Eagle carrying a football
- Warriors Home – Royal blue with green and red in a classic design
- Melbourne Heritage – The yellow collar and trim pushed this right up
- St George Illawarra Heritage – The red and white hoops looks so good
- Canterbury Home – Classic white jersey with a blue vee
- Souths Anzac – A complete abomination that was predominantly blue
- Canberra Alternate – Why Canberra would wear a blue jersey is madness
- Manly Anzac – Looks like a year 4 student on photoshop designed it
- Parramatta Away – All yellow with a blue stripe looks more suited to the A-League
- Newcastle Away – Newcastle don’t wear white … someone should tell the club that
The brutal semi between Penrith and Parramatta reminded many of some great defensive finals of year’s past including the Sydney Roosters and Manly last year. We have to go back to 1992 though to find the peak defensive final of the modern era when St George downed Newcastle 3-2 on the back of a Peter Coyne field goal in a finals series the Dragons also beat the Steelers 4-0.