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From The Couch: Round 24

Issac Luke is a Low Down Grub and a Milk Drinker of the Highest Order: You can put Issac Luke on the list of players I have genuine loathing for after his embarrassing acting episode on Friday night that sought to emasculate rugby league with the l
From The Couch: Round 24
by NRL

Issac Luke is a Low Down Grub and a Milk Drinker of the Highest Order: You can put Issac Luke on the list of players I have genuine loathing for after his embarrassing acting episode on Friday night that sought to emasculate rugby league with the lowest act you will ever see on a football field.

It was a low down, filthy, cat of a thing to do and one that Luke will be forever tarred with. Don't mind the fact the game was in extra-time. Don't mind the fact his teammates were telling him to stay down. Don't mind the fact South Sydney are on a finals run. Luke is a sub-human filthmonger who has no pride in the game, no balls in his shorts and no respect for the hard men who have played rugby league.

If I had my way, he would be outed for a year. That would act as a suitable deterrent to filth-peddlers like Luke who seek to tear at the fabric of the game with their sharpened claws while simultaneously pissing on that which exists at the core of the code.

Luke, being the complete moron that he is, admitted he took the dive in a press conference on Sunday. He started out saying he broke his jaw before slyly stating he has been called an actor to outright admitting he stayed down when not hurt from what was nothing more than a glancing blow to his cheek.

Yet the NRL hasn't acted, allowing this blight on the game to flourish. Rugby league is a man's game. Diving is what you get in a pansy sport like soccer. Balmain got away with it when they won the '69 Grand Final. That was against the Bunnies so maybe Luke was seeking retribution to some 40-year old injustice. Perhaps Luke is just a student of history. I doubt it though. I doubt he can spell is own name. The rules were immediately changed then. They need to make it known that any grub like Luke will be suspended for a long time for diving.

You don't want to wish injury upon any player. But if anybody deserves a savage shot to the jaw, the John Sattler mouth, it is Issac Luke. He is a pathetic grub and I don't care how good he is, how sharp he is out of dummy-half. His act on Friday was unforgivable. And his dog act won't ever be forgotten on these pages. Ever.

Farewell, Alan Tongue: Alan Tongue has always been a selfless gentleman, right to the very end. He knew the finish was coming. He no longer had a role. He was starting from the bench, his minutes are diminishing, his tackle numbers were down, his hands were failing him. He could have hung around for the money, could have stayed because he wanted another year or two of footy. But he didn't. He did the right thing by the club, announcing last week that this season would be his last.

It was Tongue to a tee. He has always given to the Raiders, always done right by them. And so it was last week.

When his career wraps up in a fortnight, he won't be remembered as the club's best player. He won't be remembered as their most skilful. He wasn't a figure who was central to any glory period. He wasn't Mal or Ricky or Badge or Laurie or Brad Clyde or David Furner or Brett Mullins. He wasn't one of the 18 Raiders to represent Australia or one of the 26 Raiders to play Origin.

But the 2006 Mal Meninga Medal winner is probably the most popular Canberra Raider to ever pull on the lime green. And rightfully so as he never left anything on the park.

Through 218 games since 2000, Alan Tongue has been a staple, the most solid player during an era that has been nothing like the good ol' days from 1989-97. Tongue got none of that. He was there when the big names had long left town. And he gave his all, week in, week out.

I got to see nearly all of Alan Tongue's career. I moved to Canberra in 2000 and was at more of his home games than most. I doubt there is a player I have seen more of live. I saw him as a bench player who we got a chuckle from in the mould of Alan Rothery and Willie Raston to a classy leader of men who became the top defensive player in the game. By 2006, there was genuine outrage when Tongue was overlooked for rep duty and it didn't abate over the next few years. He was just a machine. They were grand times, watching this popular little ranga with the headgear and the love for tackling and the busted face get everything out of his limited ability.

My lasting memory of Tongue is of a try he scored at the peak of his powers, when he recovered a cheeky little grubber kick he put in to score against the Warriors. It was a smart, sharp play that few could have pulled off.

Alan Tongue personifies all that is great about rugby league. I hope he one day returns to the Raiders to coach them to glory. He is just the kind of example the Raiders need.

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So Long Sugar Shane: So one of this column's favourites, "Sugar" Shane Rodney, is off to England. It is a sad thing to see that the great bull rider go before he has had the chance to fulfil his potential. He could have been a player like David Stagg, like Dallas Johnson, like Corey Parker if injuries and circumstance had not cruelled his NRL career. I fell in love with him in 2003 when he played a key role as a workhorse in Penrith's title run. He was just as good in 2004 and seemed to have the world at his feet but he just couldn't stay healthy. He missed a third of the season in 2005, half the season in 2006, all of 2007 and most of 2008 before signing with Manly, where his game time was limited due to a strong Sea Eagles backrow. When given a chance to go 80 minutes, he let nobody down. He got through 2009 and 2010 unscathed, mostly, but this year he has only just returned.

There is just so much to like about Rodney. His hard running. His work ethic. His penchant for the small things. His attention to detail. His versatility. His goalkicking. It will be sad to see him go after 126 games.

So it is off to Harlequins, where hopefully he will stay injury free. I would enjoy nothing more than seeing him lift a Challenge Cup.

There is one positive to come from his move. At least his next injury won't ruin my fantasy football dreams as they have so often in the past. I have spent more time that I care to admit checking the lineups for the Windsor Wolves every Tuesday waiting, hoping he was about to return.

Good luck Shane. You are a rugby league champion.

30 Years of Raiders Action: This Saturday evening, not only will Alan Tongue retire at Canberra Stadium but the inaugural Raiders team will be presented to what should be a full house.

The Raiders and rugby league have come a long way since 1982. But some things remain the same.

The coach in 1982 was Canberra godfather Don Furner. His son David now pulls the strings. That year the Raiders managed only four wins. This year, they have six. But those four wins were reasons for celebration because the Raiders were well out of their depth in the opening season in the league, a surprise addition ahead of Campbelltown.

Few names are recognisable from that '82 team. There was journeyman David Grant, who arrived after stints with Souths, Easts and Balmain and was the skipper. The big prop died sadly at the age of 38 in 1994, the year of the Raiders last premiership. There was a young Craig Bellamy, who would play 148 games over 11 seasons but reached greater renown as a coach. Chris O'Sullivan played 202 games for the club, including quality performances in both the 1989 and 1990 Grand Finals. Alan Smith, who represented Queensland, was there. So too was Jay Hoffman, dad of former Storm player Ryan. Ashley Gilbert was a good forward who played 127 matches. Angel Marina still calls on ABC Canberra.

The Raiders were a young team in '82 and they didn't achieve much. They lost their first seven games before rolling Newtown 12-11 at Seiffert. Their three other wins would all come at Seiffert, against South Sydney, St George and fellow newcomers Illawarra. They lost by 29 points or more on 14 occasions. Peter McGrath, now involved in rugby union, was the top pointscorer with 41. Chris O'Sullivan was the top tryscorer with 12. An average crowd of 10,852 went to Q-town to watch them play, including club patron Fred Daly, the Labor league lover.

It was always going to be tough. The 13-import rule still in place and the late admission to the league meant the Raiders were made up mainly of local juniors without experience in Sydney. The weather and the distance didn't help lure anyone outside of players who had their cards marked, a situation which led to Jack Gibson saying Canberra "made Sydney a better place".

1982 was a long year for the Raiders. But good would come quickly. The Faders became the Green Machine and by 1987, they were in a Grand Final and by 1989, they had their first premiership. It will be good to see that first Raiders team honoured on Saturday night, the forebears to some great teams.

The Next Billy Slater: Kevin Locke is the next Billy Slater. Readers of this column will be well aware of my affection for the Warriors fullback, particularly after his courageous effort late last year to wrap himself around a goalpost in an effort to score the match-winning try. Since getting a start at fullback midway through this season, he has taken his game to the next level, playing with a supreme confidence and a contagious energy that has him now rated among the elite fullbacks in the in an era of outstanding custodians. And the way he plays the game is extraordinarily similar to the way Billy Slater plays. Locke is a long way off Slater in terms of legacy, longevity and class but he is on the way. His ability to run down Michael Jennings in about four strides was magnificent while his try just before half-time, where he attacked a chip and came out the other side, streaking away, was just brilliant. He is a dynamic, committed, talented fullback and he has a big future in rugby league.

Not the Next Andrew Johns: There is Elvis and then there is a string of horrible impersonators. There is Andrew Johns and then there are a bunch of schmucks who try to play like him. Jarrod Mullen heads that group of fools who try all of Joey's sweet moves yet have none of the requisite qualities to even be a fringe first grader. Perhaps he should concentrate more on making his tackles and hitting a target than on cute outside-of-the-foot kicks and no-look spirals.

King of the Bleeders: Matt Hilder is now officially King of the Bleeders after a vicious bleed against Brisbane, his second in three weeks. He has now surpassed Kevin Campion as the best bleeder of the last decade, willing to spill claret at every possible opportunity. Kudos to him.

Disgraceful Decision: Penalty tries are a rarity so you can understand why Jason Robinson and Gerard Sutton may be a little dusty on the circumstances of one. But to not award David Stagg a penalty try when blatantly tackled before he had the ball two metres from the tryline, unmarked, was a total disgrace. There has never been a more obvious example of a penalty try. It went a long way to costing the Bulldogs victory in the match that finished the season. Robinson and Sutton should both be finished. It was a gutless, pathetic, wrong no-call that has had long lasting ramifications.

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The End of the Road: Canterbury's season is now over. Those of us who call the blue and white home have finally been put out of our misery, shot like a crippled Labrador. The Bulldogs turned in a good effort against Manly, one of their best drives all year. But their execution was poor and they did not cop a bounce. In the end, it was a horrid loss that could have been avoided. Andrew Ryan had a game to forget. Jamal Idris again dogged it. Johnathan Wright couldn't run forward. When the game was there to be won, Ben Barba dropped a sitter. The next set, Steve Matai ran through about eight Bulldogs, who just let him take off after some confusion in a moment of high embarrassment. An injury to Trent Hodkinson didn't help. Blah blah blah.

The nuts of it is that Canterbury were major underachievers. They have been smashed by a coaching controversy, some ordinary recruitment and some major ineptitude from players like Jamal Idris and Frank Pritchard, who were appalling. Jim Dymock has done a reasonable job but a critical loss to the Roosters should mean he doesn't get the gig full-time. Injuries have not helped. So let it all be done with. The Bulldogs blew it. A season lost. Let the epitaph for 2011 read: "insipid at times, moronic at others, so much potential, so little realisation".

That's How You Do It: It was pretty damned amusing when the Bulldogs went up 10-7 just before the break and the camera panned to Jim Dymock, who stood up, threw a water bottle down and yelled "that's how you do it" in his best Frank The Tank impersonation. "That's how you do it, that's how you debate."

Commentary Call of the Week: This week Fox Sports' studio host Ryan Phelan gets the nod with his call during half-time of the Raiders-Titans battle for the wooden spoon: "Well boys, wasn't that rubbish. Let's look ahead to the other games." He couldn't have been more accurate.

The Dumbest Injury of the Century: Clinton Toopi continues to amaze with his ineptitude and with the Titans short on playing staff at present Toopi did nothing to help by not taking the field against the Raiders due to vertigo, picked up from an amusement park ride. Toopi was named but wasn't going to be played, such was the tightness of the Titans roster. Vertigo on a rugby league field may be the worst excuse ever offered. How has getting on The Giant Drop for some Sunday afternoon fun stopped you from playing rugby league? For shame. Just admit you are scared of tackling so we can all move on.

Shocking Goalkickers: Here are the 10 least accurate goalkickers in the NRL this season. They have to have had 20 shots at goal to qualify.

1. Daly Cherry-Evans (25/40, 62.50%)
2. Scott Prince (38/56, 67.86%)
3. Jamie Lyon (38/55, 69.09%)
4. Todd Carney (18/26, 69.23%)
5. Braith Anasta (27/39, 69.23%)
6. Chad Townsend (19/27, 70.37%)
7. Benji Marshall (58/80, 72.50%)
8. Bryson Goodwin (24/33, 72.73%)
9. James Maloney (62/82, 75.61%)
10. Johnathan Thurston (50/66, 75.76%)

The Footy Almanac, Rugby League: I have recently undertaken the role of Rugby League Editor at The Footy Almanac, a website owned and operated by well-known sportswriter John Harms. The site is mainly AFL though it does cover all sports. There will now be a much bigger focus on rugby league. For those familiar with the site's style, it is personal, word-driven and overwhelmingly positive, a literate take on sport. This year, we have a band of writers who will write match reports for each game in the final three rounds and the finals of the league season. Next year, every match will be covered with a book to be written. Please check it out at Footy Almanac and look for the rugby league page. If you like what you see, sign up. And if you are interested in writing, please drop me a line at nicktedeschi@hotmail.com. You support will be greatly appreciated.

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Injury Update: It looks like the career of journeyman winger Bronx Goodwin is over after 29 games after suffering another major knee injury against the Storm.

Greg Bird (Gold Coast): The tough Titans lock broke his hand early against the Raiders but showed tremendous commitment to play out the game. He shouldn't play this week but may have to.

Bronx Goodwin (St George-Illawarra): The Dragons backup winger did a severe knee injury returning from an ACL injury and I doubt we will see him in first grade again.

Matt Hilder (Newcastle): The Knights hooker took his second massive head gash in three weeks and was taken to hospital such was its severity. He is a tough bastard and will be back next week.

Justin Hodges (Brisbane): The Broncos centre has done his hamstring again, going straight from the park clutching his leg. It is looking like his season is over.

Trent Hodkinson (Canterbury): Sustained a bad cork in the second half against Manly and with the season over, he may not be rushed back. Ben Roberts shapes as his replacement if that is the case.

Michael Jennings (Penrith): Went off in the second half with a shoulder injury and knowing his commitment, it looks like his season is over. Expect David Simmons to be permanently left at fullback.

Micheal Luck (New Zealand): The gritty Warriors backrower damaged his AC joint against the Panthers but went back on. He is a tough bastard and won't miss any time. If he does, the Warriors are in strife as their midseason slump coincided with Luck's absence. Luck is their key defensive player.

Robert Lui (Wests Tigers): Got a cork in his quad but is okay and won't miss any time.

Nathan Merritt (South Sydney): Hurt his quad in the warm-up to the Cowboys game and is in doubt for this weekend with the fullback yet to have scans.

Junior Sau (Newcastle): Had a hamstring doubt before the match but lasted only 20 minutes before a high ankle sprain that should rule him out for the rest of the year, meaning Keith Lulia will see out the season.

John Sutton (South Sydney): The Bunnies five-eighth went off with a suspected broken hand and he will miss the rest of the regular season most likely with Greg Inglis the man most likely to move in if Sutton is out.

2011 Willie M Medal: The Willie M Medal remains alive for 2011 despite leader Blake Ferguson picking up two points for a truly inept performance against the Titans. Parramatta's Jarryd Hayne, after "the worst game he has ever played" according to two good judges who saw the game, picked up the three, leaving him five short of Ferguson. It looks like the Raiders winger will have enough in the bank though.

Melbourne v St George-Illawarra
3-Jamie Soward (Dra)
2-Matt Cooper (Dra)
1-Anthony Quinn (Mel)

South Sydney v North Queensland
3-Gavin Cooper (NQ)
2-James Segeyaro (NQ)
1-Luke Burgess (Sou)

Gold Coast v Canberra
3-David Shillington (Can)
2-Blake Ferguson (Can)
1-Jarrod Croker (Can)

Sydney Roosters v Cronulla
3-Nathan Gardner (Cro)
2-Justin Carney (Roo)
1-Nathan Stapleton (Cro)

Penrith v New Zealand
3-Travis Burns (Pen)
2-Manu Vatuvei (NZ)
1-Michael Jennings (Pen)

Manly v Canterbury
3-Jamal Idris (Bul)
2-Andrew Ryan (Bul)
1-Kris Keating (Bul)

Wests Tigers v Parramatta
3-Jarryd Hayne (Par)
2-Matt Utai (Tig)
1-Reni Maitua (Par)

Newcastle v Brisbane
3-Jarrod Mullen (New)
2-Keith Lulia (New)
1-Gerard Beale (Bri)

Leaderboard:
22: Blake Ferguson (Can)
17: Jarryd Hayne (Par)
15: Jarrod Mullen (New)
14: Matt Orford (Can)
12: Preston Campbell (GC), Jamal Idris (Bul), Michael Jennings (Pen), Robert Lui (Tig), Ben Pomeroy (Cro), Matt Utai (Tig)
11: Greg Bird (GC), Krisnan Inu (NZ), Kris Keating (Bul), Steve Michaels (GC), Jamie Soward (Dra), Bodene Thompson (GC)

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Fun Fact : The players who received a Rugby League Week "eight" in round two of 1989: Pat Jarvis (Eas), Neil Baker (Pen), Mark Geyer (Pen), Graham Lyons (Sou), Gary Freeman (Bal), Paul Sironen (Bal), Chris Johns (Bri), Allan Langer (Bri), Kerrod Walters (Bri), Greg Dowling (Bri), Paul Vautin (Man), Glen Nissen (Cant) and Paul Dunn (Cant). Gene Miles was the only player to receive a rare nine.

Fun Fact : The Club Keno Top Tackler in round eight, 1993 was current Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan, who made 41 tackles for Parramatta against Manly. After eight rounds, Gary Larson led the way with 314 ahead of John Cross (280), Flanagan (277), Danny Lee (252), David Fairleigh (252), Neil Piccinelli (251) and Simon Gillies (249).

Round 25 Selection Notes:
Parramatta: Jarryd Hayne remains at five-eighth despite a shocking recent run.

Sydney Roosters: Todd Carney and Nate Myles are still nowhere to be seen.

Manly: Des Hasler has made no changes to the Manly side that downed the Bulldogs on Sunday.

Melbourne: Mo Blair is out with Rory Kostjaysin replacing him at five-eighth. Cooper Cronk is a small chance of returning.

Canterbury: Trent Hodkinson has been named at halfback but is looking most unlikely.

Newcastle: Keith Lulia starts in place of the injured Junior Sau while Marvin Karawana comes in for Matt Hilder. Zane Tetevano comes in for his starting debut.

North Queensland: Neil Henry's good run with selection issues continues.

Cronulla: Chad Townsend has been dropped for Albert Kelly. Stewart Mills is back in first grade, replacing Nathan Stapleton. Ben Pomeroy has been dumped for Colin Best.

Canberra: Jarrad Kennedy should finally make his debut this week. Josh Dugan remains out with David Milne again at fullback.

Penrith: Lachlan Coote returns for the Panthers at fullback with Michael Jennings unsurprisingly out. Nafe Seluini gets a chance to start in place of Kevin Kingston.

St George-Illawarra: Jamie Soward has been given another chance while Brett Morris has been named.

New Zealand: Krisnan Inu returns and may stop the Warriors premiership run in its tracks, Inu replacing Manu Vatuvei, who broke his arm.

Brisbane: Ben Teo comes in for Justin Hodges in the centres with Jharal Yow Yeh another injury enforced omission, replaced by Dale Copley. Ben Hannant returns on the bench.

South Sydney: John Lang hasn't take the high moral ground and dropped Issac Luke. Disappointing. John Sutton has been named but is in doubt with a hand injury.

Wests Tigers: Lote Tuqiri returns for the Tigers with Matt Utai moving to the centres. Good luck with that.

Gold Coast: Greg Bird has been named with a broken hand and Clinton Toopi with vertigo so I expect a number of young Toyota Cup players to be late inclusions.

Power Rankings:
1. Melbourne (19-3) LW:1, R:1-4
2. Brisbane (16-6) LW:2, R:2-14
3. Manly (17-5) LW: 3, R:2-13
4. New Zealand (13-9) LW:4, R:4-14
5. St George-Illawarra (12-9-1) LW:5, R:1-5
6. Wests Tigers (13-9) LW:7, R:3-9
7. South Sydney (11-11) LW:8, R:8-13
8. North Queensland (13-9) LW:6, R:5-16
9. Newcastle (11-11) LW:9, R:5-11
10. Canterbury (10-12) LW:10, R:1-12
11. Sydney Roosters (8-14) LW:11, R:5-16
12. Cronulla (7-15) LW:12, R:7-16
13. Penrith (8-14) LW:13, R:8-16
14. Gold Coast (6-16) LW:16, R:9-16
15. Canberra (6-16) LW:14, R:8-16
16. Parramatta (5-16-1) LW:15, R:8-16
LW: Last Week, R: Range

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Rumour Mill: The latest twist in the Canterbury coaching drama is that Ricky Stuart has been overlooked over his refusal to give up the New South Wales coaching job. Jim Dymock is now the favourite though Justin Morgan is said to have made a rather compelling case. Hopefully Rick Stone is still in the mix. Scott Prince and Greg Bird have fallen out at the Titans. It was assumed the Titans would release Bird but they will let Prince go if he can find a new deal despite the skipper having five years left on his deal. Phil Gould is believed to have struck a deal with Greater Western Sydney about use of the GWS facilities. If this is true, it is a major blow to Gould's credibility. Todd Carney is expected to play in France next year as he escapes the glare of rugby league in Australia. Carney won't be at the Roosters next year but a deal may be done to loan him to Catalans. Tigers halfback Robert Lui has been linked to North Queensland but that seems a poor fit on both ends with Lui, if he does leave the Tigers, more likely to find himself at the Titans or South Sydney.

Betting Market of the Week: This week Issac Luke's training will include:
Heavy tackling and weight training: $6.00
Acting training with Van Darkholme: $2.20
Drinking milk: $1.65
Mending his skirt: $1.33

What I Like About... Daly Cherry-Evans: As regular readers of this column are well aware, we at Making The Nut love a meaningless field goal. And there were few more meaningless than the one Daly Cherry-Evans took against the Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon. The Eagles led 6-4 with two minutes to go before the break and Cherry-Evans rocked back and hit a perfect one-pointer. 7-4. It was magic. This kid has a bright future?

Moniker XIII of the Week: With Alan Tongue, a modern day champion, this week we pick the finest best team of Alans/Allans to play the game.

1. Allan McKean (123 games for St George/Eastern Suburbs)
2. Alan McIndoe (164 games for Illawarra/Penrith)
3. Alan Brady (134 games for Western Suburbs/Canterbury)
4. Allan McMahon (150 games for Balmain/Newtown/Canberra)
5. Alan Ridley (64 games for Western Suburbs)
6. Alan Thompson (261 for Manly)
7. Allan Langer (258 games for Brisbane)
13. Alan Tongue (218 games for Canberra)
12. Allan Thomson (74 games for Manly)
11. Alan Wilson (109 games for Cronulla/North Sydney/St George)
10. Alan Thompson (3 Tests for Australia)
9. Allan Buman (2 Tests for Australia from Western Suburbs, Newcastle)
8. Alan Cann (132 games for Brisbane/Adelaide)

The Alans/Allans: The Alans are a surprisingly strong outfit and certainly a team that skews older than any team we have analysed so far. Langer is one of the great halves and pairs well with Manly legend Thompson (one of three Thompson's in the team!) The three-quarter line has plenty of ability with all four underrated. McKean is a quality kicker at the back. The forward pack is a bit of a query, particularly up front. Tongue is a warrior locking the scrum. Former teammate Rothery was unlucky to just miss out.

Obscure Score of the Week: New Haven Warriors-New Jersey Turnpike Titans, 68-10. The new USARL is eight rounds deep and the New Haven Warriors, who play out of Ken Strong Stadium, are running fourth with a 5-3 record after losing last year's AMNRL Grand Final before the split. The Titans, new to rugby league, started off well with a win but have now lost seven straight and have conceded 60-plus in their last four.

Coaching Stocks:
5: Craig Bellamy: The Storm had a tough test against the Dragons but came through
4.5: Anthony Griffin: Perhaps the Broncos best ever decision was promoting this man
4.5: Des Hasler: Manly just keep on ticking over with their class winning out
4.5: Ivan Cleary: The Warriors are on the verge of a top-four finish as he has them flying
4: Tim Sheens: The playoff beard tactic seems to be working a treat for the Tigers
3.5: Wayne Bennett: I doubt the Dragons' struggles are his fault but spotlight is on him
3.5: John Lang: The veteran coach is every chance to go out with a semi-final showing
2.5: Rick Stone: A disappointing display with their finals hopes on the line v Brisbane
2.5: Neil Henry: Would be bitterly disappointed that the Cows threw it away against Souths
1: Steve Georgallis: The Panthers tried hard but are really wrecked by injury at present
1: Jim Dymock: Had every chance against Manly and looked better but didn't finish chances
-1: John Cartwright: Won a horrible game which may have staved off the wooden spoon
-1: Shane Flanagan: Had the game won but threw it away in the final few minutes
-1.5: Brian Smith: Struggled to down the Sharks as controversy continues to engulf club
-5: Stephen Kearney: Will likely have the wooden spoon in his keeping
-12: David Furner: Another pathetic showing from a Raiders team that doesn't care.

The Life and Times of the Special Needs Penguin: Ben Pomeroy was lucky to get a late recall after being dropped for the Roosters clash and he repaid the faith shown in him by Shane Flanagan by missing three tackles. On the upside, Pomeroy played in possibly the highest numbered three-quarter line of all-time, the Penguin wearing No.21, his centre partner Dean Collis in No.19 and winger John Williams in No.24. With Nathan Stapleton in No.5, they amusingly totalled 69.

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Game of the Year Nomination, Round 24: Melbourne-St George Illawarra, 8-6. South Sydney-North Queensland went very close but got ruled out after the stupid ending. The Storm and the Saints had not met in 16 months and it was a fierce defensive struggle that suggested both sides would be difficult to beat come September. Billy Slater celebrated his 200th game by playing a key role in an exciting affair, making plenty of half-breaks and try saving tackles in a stellar showing. Gareth Widdop stepped in well for the injured Cooper Cronk. Cameron Smith could do no wrong. The Saints tried hard but with Jamie Soward again off and Matt Cooper having a shocker, Melbourne were always going to be too hard to overcome. The fools who called this game boring because of wrestling understand nothing of rugby league.

Fantasy Team of the Week:
1. Kevin Locke (NZ)
2. David Simmons (Pen)
3. Jamie Lyon (Man)
4. Blake Ayshford (Tig)
5. John Williams (Cro)
6. Benji Marshall (Tig)
7. Daly Cherry-Evans (Man)
13. Corey Parker (Bri)
12. Shaun Fensom (Can)
11. Greg Bird (GC)
10. Keith Galloway (Tig)
9. Jake Friend (Roo)
8. Josh McGuire (Bri)

14. Cameron Smith (Mel)
15. Liam Fulton (Tig)
16. Nathan Hindmarsh (Par)
17. Tariq Sims (NQ)

Waiver Wire Advice: Jamie Soward's price just continues to fall and that is because he is playing like an absolute skirt. You don't need him at this time of the year in your fantasy leagues. At $143,100, either dump him or make sure you have another starter. Shaun Johnson is only $170,900 and is a better choice.

Correspondence Corner: MarkMcGrath, I agree that Souths are a club on the improve, culturally. But I get the impression that Russell Crowe thinks he can help anybody and will try to play the saviour. I hope you are right and they avoid players like Carney. But I wouldn't stake my life on it.

Nick, I am hearing more positive reports on the Ricky Stuart front, with the word being the board is looking beyond him. Wok is just a little too belligerent, even for me. I was a little harsh on Frank but he has played like a cat all year and I remain bitter.

Richard Strettell, I used to love Ricky as a player too but now I just cannot stand him. In regards to hating on Kiwi players, that is simply not true. There are some Kiwi players I dislike. Frank Pritchard has become one of those players for me. I have traditionally been a Greg Eastwood fan but this year he has been appalling. I will give him another chance. It is not about liking or disliking certain countries. It is a like or dislike of certain types of players. I like commitment and passion and I don't see that often enough from Pritchard.

Ross Boyce, I will check NearlySport out.

Zig, I probably overreacted to Pritchard. Of course I don't want to see that kind of hit taken out of the game. Jamal Idris is a total impostor. Since signing with the Titans, he has embarrassed the club and should have been dropped a long time ago. I'll get to the X,Y or Z team soon for you pal. Nick Zisti and Anthony Xureb are very excited!

Riggo, I don't try to be objective, have never claimed to be objective and never will be objective. That isn't my schtick. And no, I wasn't serious. I don't think three-year suspensions suggest seriousness.

Dan, Carl Webb was a total fraud and I am glad he is gone.

Mike From Tari, Terry Lamb was an honest, fair and delightful player whose performance in the 1988 decider was that of a champion, I'm sure we can all agree.

Grievous, Carney has had too many chances, no risk.

Beard Watch:It all makes perfect sense to me now. The Tigers are back in form, making a late season charge at the title. And why? Because they have brought in the playoff beard. It has given them strength. They are going to be very difficult to beat from here on in. You don't lose with a playoff beard.

Watch It: There has been one premiership game played in snow, between Canberra and the Wests Tigers in 2000. It is a wonderful trip down memory lane with players getting frostbite, the white ball on the snow and the commentary of Terry Kennedy. Watch the first half here and the second half here.

www.makingthenut.com


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