The Bulldogs and 'Wrestlemania'
The Bulldogs have a grand history with wrestling - the British Bulldogs that is - from my memory (which is fading as I age) the only British Bulldog in the Canterbury Bulldogs side is James Graham.by NRL
The Bulldogs have a grand history with wrestling - the British Bulldogs that is - from my memory (which is fading as I age) the only British Bulldog in the Canterbury Bulldogs side is James Graham.
I don't remember Des Hasler playing either "Dave Boy Smith" or "The Dynamite Kid", and I am certain they are the only Bulldogs to ever appear in Wrestlemania. Somehow, Paul Kent seems to have missed those little details - but hey who cares right?
The last two weeks Paul Kent's agenda against the Bulldogs "wrestling" has been so transparent that it would be better off if Kent would just admit he absolutely loathes the Bulldogs. Funny I didn't read those articles earlier in the season or in the many years before; they just seemed to have strategically been timed and dusted off for the Bulldogs two biggest games of the season. Why?
Well I am not buying it Mr Kent - your article prior to the Souths v Bulldogs game based on your "Bulldogs = Wrestlers" tip sheet, which suggested that the Souths v Canterbury semi-final would degenerate into a Bulldogs wrestling lesson, with dropkicks, handfuls of shorts, small packages and a sneaky figure four leg lock thrown in - was so far from what transpired it wasn't funny.
Souths wrestled well and wrestled better, far better than the Masters of Wrestling that the Bulldogs had been portrayed as all week. Souths were great at slowing down the play the ball, and when they had the ball, constantly made enormous metres through ultra-fast play the balls because the so called Masters of Wrestling - the Bulldogs, couldn't slow the play the ball down. Considering Michael Maguire is a Bellamy disciple, I am not surprised at how good Souths were at slowing down the ruck - numbers in the tackle, a few arm bars and hands on the ball - and good luck to them too.
If I do have a second favourite team - it's definitely the Rabbitohs, I grew up in the area and even had my head slammed on the hallowed Redfern Oval Turf in the junior leagues. It was great to see the Rabbitohs back and their fans enjoy a long overdue serious Grand Final push. Yet they were team doing the wrestling on Saturday night - Souths dominated almost everything - field position, metres, quick play the balls, the wrestle, but the simplified game plan wasn't enough to beat a strong well drilled defence, it's the problem they had against the Bulldogs and the Storm.
If Souths actually tried to pass the ball around and let their forwards and backs play a less structured and controlled game, and their skilful wide players such as Merritt and Farrell actually touched the ball, they could well have given the Bulldogs a touch up. The Bulldogs beat them with skill (not wrestling skill) - numerous line breaks created by quick hands and passing and overlaps and sweeping fast backline movements something Adam Reynolds had no chance of stopping.
Yet somehow that visual evidence didn't seem to deter Paul Kent, so this week we got another article about the two best wrestling teams being in the Grand Final.
Kent may have had a point IF, he also pointed out that whether you love or loathe the Bulldogs, it is as clear to absolutely anyone watching the game with any objectivity at all, they are the ONLY team in the competition that has forwards that are allowed to offload and pass the ball with regularity. They spread the ball wide regularly, they have forwards passing before or through the line, offloading and have sweeping backline movements putting their fast backs into space. We can also add that they score the most long distance tries by far - in fact, some of the breaks they made against Souths on Saturday night were through brilliant old style type of football, offloads, backing up and deep speedy backline movements. Apparently that's boring and its killing rugby league or more likely it's killing Paul Kent because it's the Bulldogs actually playing that way.
Further as for his comment about the Storm - yes they are the true "Masters of the Wrestle" - in fact they could well be the rugby league equivalent of the famous Stu Hart wrestling school - training super technical wrestlers for years. However, the real reason why Melbourne is always up there, is simply the Storm are the best at all the little nitty gritty details and hustle plays that make the differences in winning games.
The Storm are relentless - they play a fast game - which requires them to be super fit, and to consistently get back quickly and prepare for the next play, they are determined and consistent - they turn up every week, they run thankless decoys at full speed - knowing they aren't getting the ball, they back up the ball carrier - always, they defend as if it's a Grand Final nearly every week, they are a machine and they come at you not just week to week but year after year. That's why they are in the Grand Final - not due to just wrestling.
Wrestling alone can't account for a team making 5 GFs in 7 years, 1 GF qualifier, and in probably their greatest season in 2010, with no points to play for, other than professional pride ALL SEASON - they finished 5th! Other teams are flat out turning up every week - the club should be commended on their success.
The fact is simply that the two best and most consistent teams all season, have made the Grand Final.
As for my agenda, it is transparent, I support the Bulldogs, I love my footy, but that doesn't stop me from being objective about the game and talking about issues. Have the Bulldogs improved their wrestling? Of course, they were always one of the worst teams at slowing down the play the ball- they had to improve - but they are not the best because they wrestle. Maybe it's because they have had the guts to play a style of football that other teams are still too scared to attempt let alone play every week.
Maybe Paul Kent should write an article about how the real thing killing Rugby League as a spectacle is the style of play of most of the teams - over-structured, risk free, resulting in one out running, inside balls to one running decoy with everyone standing around watching, over reliance on quick dummy half scoots, bombs and kicks. To let the players play, would invite risk and many coaches don't want that.
I don't like the wrestling, never have, it has changed the game in many ways and not just by slowing down the play the ball. Let's hope though at the very least in attack, teams are watching the Bulldogs play, and seeing that you can use skills and passing to break down a well-structured defence. Let's hope other teams copy that formula, but in the No Risk League (NRL) that is wishful thinking.
The last team to play some magical attacking football was the 2009 Parramatta side, who beat teams mainly through old style passing and backing up and always keeping yourself alive in attack (sprinkled with some magical Hayne dust) - sadly it didn't seem to inspire too many other teams, who thought it was too risky to play that way (it was not). Let's hope they discover some inspiration in the Bulldogs passing style of footy and most teams in 2013 bring a new style of play.
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