Watching Thursday Night’s game and seeing the lowly Brisbane Broncos push the premiership favourites in the Penrith Panthers to the 75th minute convinced me that Rugby League is going to be just fine.
You wouldn’t believe it, given the ridiculous hoopla posted across social media, but blow outs have been as much a part of Rugby League as penalties, scrums and referees “costing” teams the game despite them losing by 30 points, since its inception as a code.
Across the opening rounds we’ve seen some absolute trouncings, and I very much agree with comments that the gulf between the top and bottom sides has never been greater.
Must be V’landys Ball.
No, I don’t think the new rules have helped with this situation, but I also don’t believe they’re in any way solely responsible for the raft of floggings either.
Without turning this into a hit piece, I believe the mismanagement at the clubs such as the Bulldogs, Sea Eagles and Broncos is far more to blame than the fact the game is quicker.
Again, and I want to stress this, the quicker game is certainly making the gulf look a little larger. Bad teams can’t wrestle (literally) back momentum. Sides can no longer give away penalties, take a breather and set their line.
With that said, as shown on Thursday Night, the Broncos seemed to be adapting. It took them three or four weeks more than some of the better sides but you’ll see all of the clubs catch up.
Using the Broncos as an example, they’ve been a relative mess for three seasons now. The second the media circus came to town via the Bennett/Seibold swap, the club has never been the same.
They were unable to secure superstar in waiting David Fifita’s future. He seems to be handling the change of rules a little better down the highway.
It’s no coincidence that the Titans, a better run side currently than the Broncos, have adapted to the new rules a little quicker.
Just last weekend we saw the formerly winless Cowboys beat the Tigers on an emotional Sunday afternoon.
A week prior those very same Cowboys were getting blown off the park by the Sharks.
You can’t tell me that the Cowboys mastered the new rules across seven days. It’s almost as though the Sharks just got it together on that afternoon while the basket case Tigers played like park footballers in the first half.
Watch ZT’s own Dan Nichols review Round 6 via Rugby League Outlaws. Turns out he was spot on!
With all due respect to this current Bulldogs outfit, I don’t think it matters if it’s 2021 or 1985. The current lineup is not quite up to standard.
They’ve got two superstars headed their way in 2022 in Burton and Addo-Carr. They’ll be fine.
Manly have found themselves with a large cap hit across three players. Two who have been underperforming and one who has been injured without stepping onto the field until this weekend.
Last week they beat the Warriors when the two fit players were best on ground. Jurbo was a monster for 80 minutes, while DCE kicked the clutch field goal on the last play of the game.
Tommy Turbo’s return just shows the Sea Eagles will be fine.
It’s no coincidence that the majority of blow outs are coming in games that feature top quality sides such as the Storm, Panthers, Roosters or Bunnies when they’re playing the sides in rebuilds.
Some will point to the big win by the Panthers over the Raiders last weekend.
I’m going to blow your minds with the following statement: Penrith are a pretty handy football side.
The Titans smashed a well undermanned Newcastle side. That’s a write off. With the Sharks and Knights about to kick off as I submit this, the Knights remain undermanned and the Sharks have had a huge week off field. The result will have little to do with the new rules.
Half the games last weekend were blow outs. All can be explained.
In Round 6 we saw a team who has won twice in a year push a team who has lost twice in the same amount of time to end very end. With a bit of luck we’re talking about the upset here right now.
The Broncos are the first team to put 12 on the Panthers in 2021 #NRLBroncosPanthers
— ParraEelsFacts (@ParraEelsFacts) April 15, 2021
One thing I did notice across the early rounds is the way the draw has seen the top sides play the lesser sides.
Of course that’s going to happen in any competition, however there are rounds upcoming where sides play those expected to finish around them far more regularly.
What I’m saying is, don’t let a few big results early on egg the doomsayers on.
I’ve seen some “fans” state they’re “done with the NRL” following the blow out results. They missed a beauty on Thursday in the Broncs/Panthers clash and my guess is they’ll miss more than a few ripper games across the upcoming weekend.
If in ten weeks we have an average winning margin of 20+ then we can sit down and talk. But right now the hysteria is way over the top.