The weekly life of a rugby league fan can now be broken down into two parts.

Enjoying brilliant football in between banging your head on the table trying to understand officiating decisions.

Much, much more on the latter later, but amongst the refereeing chaos, there was actually some amazing footy being produced.

That Cowboys and Dolphins game won't attract the love it deserves, while the Roosters sent a frightening message. Melbourne and Cronulla kept up their top of the table run as they head into a clash this Saturday night.

Here are 20 thoughts from Round 9:

1. The NRL has declared open season on tripping. Tyrell Sloan denied the Sharks a certain try by tripping Sione Katoa on Sunday afternoon. His punishment? On report and a fine. Katoa was smart enough to play the ball quickly which spared the officials blushes. The trip use to be an automatic send off. Now it's a token fine. With the game on the line, as if you wouldn't throw a leg out to stop a try. All for a small fine.

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2. The Titans have only themselves to blame for the constant David Fifita speculation. Every year a new clause in his contract is uncovered, allowing the second row superstar to upgrade terms or look around. If I'm the Titans, I'm not fighting to keep Fifita. Cut the cord and sign a halfback.

NRL Rd 18 - Titans v Broncos
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JULY 16: David Fifita of the Titans is tackled during the round 18 NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and the Brisbane Broncos at Cbus Super Stadium, on July 16, 2022, in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

3. Cronulla are absolutely flying right now. They lead the comp on the back of just the one loss thus far in 2024. Still no one is taking the club seriously, for obvious reasons. Over the next month they play the Storm, Roosters, Penrith and the Eels. The next month will show what this side is really about. They also play Brisbane in the fifth week, Yikes!

4. What number did everyone have in this week's hip drop lottery? We saw Tago sin-binned for his hip drop (correct call) and copped a week. Meanwhile Aidan Sezer had to practically be called back by the referee as he was resigned to the fact he was heading to the bin. He'll serve a month. Priors came into the suspension but have nothing to do with the missed sin-bin. I'm tearing up my ticket, along with tearing my hair out in frustration.

5. Shane Flanagan was 100 per cent spot on with regards to his assessment of Zac Lomax. Lomax was in Origin form on the wing and was proving to be a game winner for the Red V. Since his shift back into the centres, not so much. Rookie Kayal Iro took care of him on Sunday afternoon.

NRL Rd 16 - Dragons v Raiders
WOLLONGONG, AUSTRALIA - JULY 03: Zac Lomax of the Dragons celebrates winning the round 16 NRL match between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Canberra Raiders at WIN Stadium, on July 03, 2022, in Wollongong, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

6. I'm seeing a lot of pushback online from NSW fans at suggestions of new players being picked. To that I ask fans to refer to the past two series. You've got to make changes to reverse the results. I'll post my Origin side in the next two weeks but the likes of Jarome Luai, Junior Paulo and a few others need to be looking over their shoulders big time.

7. Speaking of Origin, Angus Crichton is bashing the door down in demanding selection. In the pre-season he would have been 10th or 11th in line. Right now I can't see a way you can possibly not name him, especially with Cameron Murray going down injured.

8. Souths fans, how many of you walked under ladders in the off-season? The Bunnies are having lots of luck right now; all of it bad! I've not seen an injury toll like this for a long time.

9. I'd like to see the stats on captains challenges. Saturday afternoon saw a series of overturns but the amount of wasted challenges is now piling up. The Sharks are allergic to getting a challenge right and they're far from the only ones. So many players and insisting on challenging, only to be proven wrong with one replay.

10. Controversial opinion time; if a blocker is in your way, you should be able to launch him into row C. We're seeing too many penalties when players, actually attempting to make a catch on a high ball, are run off the ball or blocked off by players simply standing there. If you run past them and a gentle breeze eventuates, the blockers are going down and milking penalties.

11. The game's big men need to stop taking the Reed Mahoney bait. He's emulating a fellow former Bulldogs number nine by starting scraps and laughing while opponents are being sin-binned.

Reed Mahoney during the round two NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and Canterbury Bulldogs at AAMI Park on March 11, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Grimes/Zero Digital Sports)

12. I feel like I'm complaining a lot this week but so be it. Jesse Arthars had to leave the game with a broken jaw but as he passed his HIA, he could not be replaced. A second player would have to have failed a HIA for the sub to be activated (also ridiculous) regardless, but we're very much at risk of seeing players failing these tests on purpose. The rules need to be changed ... yesterday!

13. Anyone shocked to hear Tevita Pangai Jr quit boxing despite being like, totally committed and serious about it!? I wish we had a sarcasm font here. Call me a conspiracy theorist but there's no way TPJ didn't "retire" to exit a contract with the Dogs that no one was happy with. My money is that if TPJ had exploited this loophole, while playing well, that the Dogs would be up in arms as he is set to return to the game.

14. While I'm in full negativity mode, former chairman Lee Hagipantelis ending a million dollar sponsorship with the Tigers is exactly why you can't let your sponsors run the club.

15. Ryan Papenhuyzen is the most unlucky man in the game. Another freak injury will rob him of game time.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Ryan Papenhuyzen of the Storm runs the ball during the NRL Preliminary Final match between the Melbourne Storm and the Penrith Panthers at Suncorp Stadium on September 25, 2021 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images, Image supplied by Kayo)

16. The difference between the Titans and Bunnies (both on one win) could not be more massive. The Titans could have won their last four games. Meanwhile the Bunnies last four games were absolute pastings. Just wanted to point that out to my red and green wearing mates.

17. James Graham is a magnificent commentator. Just needed to balance some of the negativity here. He was incredible in his debut this past weekend and I hope it's a full time gig.

18. Starting to see players stay down and wait for bunkers intervention for penalties. Oh o!

19. I don't have the energy to fully breakdown why the Warriors weren't given a penalty try despite an act of foul play denying them a try on Saturday. It's just the way it is ... which is a problem.

20. The NRL sent a dangerous precedent by fining Phil Gould over throwaway comments. I do understand why he was fined. He's an employee of the NRL and no other company would tolerate being called stupid. That said, he called the NRL stupid. Hardly an earth shattering statement. I, as a non NRL employee am happy to label the fine stupid!