First tackle: Radley not sent despite determined effort
Having come to accept that the head shot crackdown is in the players' best interests and hoping against all hope that the players adjust soon so that we end up nearer to normal, all anyone really wants now is some consistency. Thirteen minutes into the Roosters clash with the Broncos, Victor Radley came through on kicker Albert Kelly in a timely hit, with both arms wrapping in a perfect kick pressure tackle. It wasn't late and I have seen a thousand others more worthy of sanction.
After several replays from all angles, at all speeds, it still looked good. The bunker and referee decided otherwise, calling Radley out to place him on report and send him to the sin bin, citing high and forceful contact. It was forceful alright, that's what every tackle needs to be.
Radley's time in the bin wasn't over though, in the second half he made a conventional front-on tackle, with replays showing his shoulder had made contact with the face. Unlike Warriors forward Jazz Tevaga, who just a day earlier had been placed on report twice without going to the sin bin at all, Radley would spend a total of 20 minute in the bin for his sins.
To finish off his night, Radley was placed on report a further two times. Whilst keen to defend his first effort, its hard to see how he couldn't learn his lesson after two trips to the bin. He now faces a 4-6 week ban after being charged twice by the review committee.
Second tackle: Joey takes himself out of the game
In all the fuss over protecting players from head knocks, it took Wests Tigers centre Joey Leilua to defy the crackdown and come up with a new way to rattle his own marbles. With 20 minutes remaining in the Tigers' clash with the Warriors and the scores locked at 18, a midfield bomb came down on the Warriors' 20-metre line. Young gun Reece Walsh, playing fullback for the Warriors, leapt high in the air to take it with Leilua closing, intent on inflicting some pain on the 18-year-old.
Walsh went straight to ground so effectively that Leilua's driving shoulder collected nothing but fresh air. Leilua's lower torso caught Walsh, slingshotting his head into the turf. He initially shook off his on-field assessment but was shortly after taken from the field to fail his HIA. The bunker must have missed the incident, otherwise Leilua might have been sent to the sin bin for the careless attack on his own melon.
Third tackle: Diving the ugly consequence of crackdown
Local Bulldogs fans and those travelling up to the Gold Coast would not have been happy halfway through the first half when Dallin Watene-Zelezniak crashed over for a try that would have seen Canterbury trailing 6-4 with a kick to come.
The referee asked the bunker to take a look and replays showed a Bulldogs decoy runner, ten metres away from Watene-Zelezniak, run into Jarrod Wallace who almost did a back somersault to convince the audience that he was impeded. Of course his performance didn't convince anyone that he would have played any part whatsoever in stopping the try, but logic plays no part in today's NRL.
In the second half we saw Wallace reprise his dramatic skills, falling to the ground clutching what one assumed was a shattered face after incidental contact by Dylan Napa. Napa was placed on report and sent to the sin bin, while Wallace scored a try in the next set of six. Wallace's work had arguably accounted for 12 points, in a game ultimately decided by 10.
Sadly, the rewards for sensational overreacting, what league fans have for years derisively called diving in the round ball game, are too high for there to be an end to them any time soon.
Fourth tackle: Effort needed for full 80 minutes
With eight minutes remaining in the first half of what was supposed to be the clash of the year between the Panthers and Rabbitohs, Nathan Cleary put up a big bomb which came down two metres from the Rabbitohs' line. Matt Burton ran through, jumped over Rabbitohs winger Josh Mansour to grab the ball and score the Panthers' fourth try.
Standing nearby with a disgusted look on his face, holding his hands out in disbelief, was fullback Latrell Mitchell. He made no play at the ball and didn't lay a hand on Burton despite being near enough to do both. He has proven time and again how destructive he can be with the ball -- his running and passing games are up there with the best in the game -- but his all-round play in the fullback position still appears to need a bit of attitudinal adjustment.
Mitchell needs to grab a tape of the Sea Eagles' victory over the Eels. If he can lift his contribution anywhere near that of Tom Trbojevic, just in terms of effort alone, he will be on his way to being a champion fullback. Trbojevic is an absolute workaholic, who does things on the field that you just don't expect from a fullback. On several occasions, with his forwards struggling to catch their breath, he ran the ball right up the middle with as much impact as any prop. His goal line defence is at times also amazing. He stopped several tries and on another occasion rushed forward from the back to plug an obvious gap in the Manly defensive line, only to back out as the ball passed to sprint to gather the grubber kick that he anticipated. Playing fullback is not all about being flashy with the ball.
Fifth and last: Norman's shocker lets Dragons down
I'm not exactly sure what the Dragons are paying Corey Norman, rumours have his salary nudging the $900k mark, but whatever it works out per week, he needs to hand some back after his efforts with the boot on Friday night. He missed two of the three shots at goal he took, with his only success from directly in front. The other two came off his boot like a cement encrusted house brick.
With the scores level towards the end of regular time, he had two opportunities to kick a winning field goal, but shanked both attempts horribly. It looked like he not only had someone else's wrong-sized boots on, but was wearing them on the wrong feet.
To top off his horror night, the Dragons worked their way into field goal position early in golden point extra time and Norman called for the ball, ran down the blind side and put in an ineffective grubber kick. If he was so rightfully worried about his awful kicking yips, he should have arranged for Ben Hunt or Jack Bird to be in position to take a shot. It was a terrible effort from one of the senior players who should have been leading the team at the end of such a closely fought local derby.
Handover: The silliest play of the weekend
It had to be one of the silliest moves of the season. With eight minutes remaining in the first half of the thrilling clash between the Eels and Sea Eagles, as Tom Trbojevic raced towards the 20 metre line to take a quick tap restart, the Eels players who had chased through on the kick, which went dead, were hurrying back to get onside to help defend the ensuing seven tackle set. For reasons best and only known to Manly's Sean Keppie, he decided to grab the collar of Eels hooker Reed Mahoney.
Mahoney was pulled to the ground, the referee saw it and stopped play, allowing all the Eels to form a defensive line. Keppie, was lucky that the only punishment the referee deemed necessary was to put the brakes on Trbojevic.