NRL Six Again: Now we're milking penalty tries?

First tackle: Milking a penalty try

There has been growing concern from both fans and commentators about the number of players taking advantage of the head contact crackdown by playing dead after feeling the faintest of touches. Tigers fullback Daine Laurie did it almost mockingly in the first half against the Panthers. Following a tackle on his own 20 metre line, Laurie lay flat on the ground as though he had fallen from a plane without a parachute. As soon as the referee intervened, he sprung to his feet with a massive grin on his face.

He received a penalty and thankfully no one was sent to the sin bin. Later in the game, the ploy would reap even greater rewards for the Tigers.

Tigers half Luke Brooks put up a kick near the Panthers' line and centre Adam Doueihi tapped down the high ball to Luciano Leilua, who headed for the line. Panthers winger Robert Jennings came across in a desperate effort to stop him from scoring a try. As Leilua dived over, Jennings swung his arm at the ball and dislodged it. In doing so, his arm made contact with Leilua's chin.

Leilua lay on the ground mysteriously holding the top of his head, making sure the replay was properly scrutinised. He did not drop the ball due to any loss of consciousness, he did not drop the ball because of any contact to his head forceful or otherwise. He dropped the ball because Jennings knocked it from his grasp. It was a victory for overreacting and another stain on the crackdown.

Second tackle: Dumbest play of the year

What on earth was Jamayne Isaako thinking in the shadows of halftime of Thursday's game between the Broncos and Dragons? The Dragons quickly packed a scrum 30 metres out from the Broncos line to stop the clock with only 15 seconds remaining, with the scores locked at 18.

Corey Norman stood on the 40 metre line, with many suspecting he would take a shot at field goal. Instead, on receiving the ball from Ben Hunt, he darted to the right before putting a kick across his body towards the posts for a pursuing Matt Dufty.

Isaako had the jump on the play and easily lead Dufty into the in goal area in pursuit. Inexplicably Isaako began to shadow the ball hoping it would run over the dead ball line by itself. He was instinctively trying to avoid a goal line drop out when there was absolutely no time left to take one anyway.

Like a thief in the night, Dufty threw himself past the legs of Isaako to ground the ball. It allowed the Dragons to take a 24-18 lead at the break, a lead they would not relinquish as they ran away to a convincing 52-24 victory.

Third tackle: How good is Leichhardt Oval?

The Tigers hosted the unbeaten Panthers at their spiritual home on the shores of the Parramatta River, just around from Iron Cove. The sold out signs went up early in the week as fans sensed an opportunity to see their beloved Tigers topple the undefeated ladder leaders and their evil coach Ivan Cleary. The Panthers, missing seven players to State of Origin duty, were ripe for the picking and the thousands cramming themselves onto the eastern side hill around the Wayne Pearce scoreboard, were set to enjoy themselves.

From very early on it became very apparent that Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai are everything to the Panthers attack. Matt Burton and Tyrone May just couldn't work the same magic and were often sloppy in their execution. When you consider that Luai and Cleary are first and second on the try assist tally for the year, it was no surprise that the Panthers could only cross the strip once.

And didn't the packed Latchem Robinson Stand enjoy the evening, turning to face Ivan Cleary to express their feelings for him through the glass-fronted coaches box. The noise of the crowd amplified by the confines, as the Tigers enjoyed a moment of revenge over the coach who had abandoned them mid-contract.

The "TIGERS TIGERS" chant replaced by "Cleary's a w-----!" as the home side notched a well deserved 26-6 victory.

Fourth tackle: Apples, trees

Preston Campbell's "little boy" made his debut for the Titans against the Storm on the Sunshine Coast. Officially listed at generous 80kg, the slightly built Jayden Campbell stepped into the fullback role for Origin player AJ Brimson. Campbell at 21 years looked cool and composed from the start and was welcomed to first grade early with a double hit to the head from Storm half Jerome Hughes and front-rower Nelson Asofa-Solomona.

Showing his father's elusive quick stepping, he wrong-footed Hughes who threw out an arm and hooked the youngster around the chin. As he headed towards the ground in the tackle, Asofa-Solomona came in with an arm to the chops as well. In an apparent softening of the crackdown, the double hit was only worthy of a penalty, although Asofa-Solomona was later charged.

Campbell was straight to his feet and keen to continue his debut. Aside from a couple of handling errors it was a solid start to his NRL career, running 164 metres and breaking five tackles on the night.

On Sunday at Newcastle we saw the debut of another former player's son. Five minutes before halftime, with the Knights well on the way to disappointing a large home ground, Jack Johns rose from the bench to make his first NRL appearance. It was the only moment of joy for the Knights faithful, as they generously applauded Johns, son of former Knight Matthew, fittingly on the club's Old Boys day.

Johns became the first son of an old boy to make the grade at the club, and father Matt was reportedly too emotional to deliver a prepared speech as he proudly handed him his jersey.

Fifth and last: Dufty embarrasses Dragons

Matt Dufty continues to embarrass the decision makers at the Dragons with his on field performances. With the club deciding not to re-sign the nippy fullback, he spent Thursday night's game against the Broncos proving that he is easily one of their best. He scored two tries and had five try assists in a man-of-the-match performance. He revealed after the game that the club's decision had upset him.

"Obviously I love the Dragons, I grew up in the St George area, played all my juniors here, I debuted here, I love playing at the Dragons," Dufty said.

"It was obviously very heartbreaking; it was a hard pill to swallow but that's footy sometimes. We're all adults and all professionals."

Professional sport is a business, with no room for sentiment, but in the space of twelve months the Dragons have allowed two of their best in Cameron McInnes and Matt Dufty to leave.

Handover: Wouldn't have bruised a peach

I think we saw the softest forceful contact penalty and sin binning of the whole crackdown late in Parramatta's 40-4 win over the Knights. Eels hooker Reed Mahoney turned to pass the ball 10 metres out from the Knights' line and prop Sauaso Sue did the right thing, bending his back to avoid a high shot. Reed bumped into his shoulder and bounced off.

Sue may have hit the Eels' hookers exposed ribs or the contact might have winded him, whatever it was, Mahoney lay flat on the ground until it was reviewed.

Sue was put on report and sent to the sin bin with the referee insisting the hit was in the back, forceful and had caused a dangerous whiplash effect.

Mahoney injured his shoulder shortly after trying to tackle a Knights player by throwing out his arm. He left the field not far behind Sue.