NRL Round 1 - What did you learn?
It is great to have the Rugby League season back after having to endure the dire super 14 competition over the past month.
I learnt that on Friday night that Greg Inglis is not a one trick pony. Having made the switch over the off season from the wing to 5/8th, he was dynamic and again showed moments of magic that you just canít teach. His team didnít even play to 70% of their ability but still managed to do enough to win, a sign of a team a very good team and one that will be tough to beat again this season. Tigers also showed that they will not be the easy beats many pundits predicted based on their pre season, they were certainly gallant in defeat. I also learnt that the defending champions are in big trouble over the next month and that Hunt is not a halfback, not only losing their opener against the Cowboys, they have lost their main focal point of attack in Lockyer for the next 6 weeks. With Parker and Carroll expected to spend time on the sidelines only compounds matters. They will presents some fade material between now and then.
I learnt on Saturday the Raiders are clear wooden spoon favourites. Although being competitive for the first half, they simply gave up in the second half. Sea Eagles on the back of the short kicking game of Orford showed they are a team with points this season, with the addition of Lyons to the backline. Speaking of points, that is something all OVERS backers will be licking their lips with when it come to the Warriors as they will be racking up the points as well this season, playing a very entertaining and high risk brand of football. They will be a tough team to beat at home. I also learnt that the Eels having lost 14 players who had played first grade football for them at some stage last season are going to struggle in the early part of this season, with uncertainty around the playing future of Hindmarsh and the fact that their new half combination will need time to gel. I also learnt that the Sharks just snapped a 10 game losing streak by keeping the Panthers scoreless, a feat that hasnít occurred since 1999 for the men from the base of the mountain. The Ricky Stuart influence was evident in much of the Sharks play on the night with strong defense and efficient attack, capitalising on the chances they had in difficult conditions.
On Sunday I learnt that a team playing with one man down for effectively an entire game has no chance of winning even when the greatest player of the last 10 years in the opposition was knocked out cold and couldnít take part for 77minutes of the game. The Knights cameback from a 18 point halftime deficit to win by a point. However there were again signs that the defensive woes of the Knights last season hasnít yet been rectified, something again totals backers should be weary of whenever the Knights are involved. I also learnt that the Titans showed a lot of enthusiasm for a team lacking personnel and relying heavily on Prince in attack. However a few injuries to them this season and they will be vying for the spoon, if they arenít already as their bench looks extremely thin. The Dragons finally registered a win in their first game of the season, canít remember the last time that happened. I also learnt that the replacement for Gasnier at 5/8th Richie Williams is one cocky little prick, but does appear to have game.
Finally I learnt MNF is back with a bang, and so are the Bunnies with Russell Crowe and Peter Holmes a Court in charge, well for the moment anyway after playing a solid 80minutes of football against a team lacking any kind of creativity or direction in attack highlighted by the fact they could not even register one linebreak all night. Souths arenít going to win the premiership this season but they will certainly provide stiffer opposition than their teams of the last few years.