By JIMMY SMITH
THIS was the first round in NRL history where fans were ordered to stay away from the ground. Everyone complied. Some got creative, like the fella over the hill at Leichhardt Oval who went to Bunnings on Saturday morning and got some scaffold for the games on the weekend. The entrée was the Roosters V Sea Eagles which was a treat. His main meal was a flogging dished out to his beloved Tigers. Far less palatable.
This is the way I saw round two in the NRL season 2020; a season like no other.
Strange Days Indeed, Most Peculiar Momma: the Dragons and the Panthers played arguably the craziest game of the last fiv years before the away side prevailed at Netstrata Jubilee Oval on Friday, 32 to 28. At half time, with an even share of luck, the Panthers should have led 30-nil. Instead, with 10 minutes to play the Dragons led by 10. In the end the Panthers got home on the back of some Brent Naden efforts and Nathan Cleary elegance. If Penrith had lost it would have been tragic. Alright, in these times that description seems out of place. I’ll try again. If Penrith had lost it would have been disappointing!
Social Distancing From A Distance: I know they had just played 80 minutes against another 17 grown adults but when Tui Kamikamica, Suliasi Vunivalu, Marion Seve and Justin Olam got together for their group prayer, did they have to bond each other with open arms?? I know if one had COVID-19 already they probably all had it but I just don’t think the message is getting through. Players shook hands and hugged openly after the match. All except one; Cameron Smith. A fist bump sufficed for the Storm captain who wanted the competition suspended the week before.
Lesson On The Couch: Son and heir Austin is a rugby league tragic. Has been for years. He is nine. Lessons on league/life are often handed down from generation to generation on a couch on a Saturday afternoon. He got two for one on Saturday night. Lesson One: Luke Keary will for the rest of his life keep the ball pinned to his chest when scoring a try. Surely?
Lesson Two: never, ever give up on a chase. The great Tom Trbojevic didn’t (where is that tweet from about three years ago when I suggested Tom will be Manly’s second Immortal??!!) and as a result he saved a try. And the match. Actually, he saved the match for Manly on numerous occasions. What a joy he is to watch – my favourite player in the NRL.
Knight’s Big Day: It is amazing what you hear around footy dressing rooms. At Leichhardt Oval today – calling for NRL Nation the Tigers v Knights game – Knights Coach Adam O’Brien bumped into Tigers coach Michael Maguire on the way to the press conference. “That game was like an Under 20’s match,” said O’Brien to his opposite. Never in one statement can a game, a competition and 34 players be derided so swiftly. The Tigers had plenty of luck in getting to 24. The Knights. With the help of a sure-footed goal kicker (what is it with Kalyn Ponga’s approach to the ball??!!) and the same luck the Tigers enjoyed the visitors would have sailed past the half century. Knights fans you have a very good football team in 2020; let’s hope we get to see them play out the season.