Josh Reynolds undoubtedly did the wrong thing by his teammates last Friday night in Brisbane by acting like a goose but he was also let down by the Canterbury’s leaders.
Reynolds, who has been encouraged at club and Origin level this year to sail close to the wind, went over the top against the Broncos. He was rightfully penalised for lashing out with his boots after being tackled by Sam Thaiday, he should have at least been sin-binned for his trip on Ben Barba and after his high tackle, the referees should have sent him straight off instead of signalling 10 minutes in the sin bin (yes, it didn’t affect the time he missed because there were only a few minutes left but it still sends a stronger message).
Somewhere between brain snap #1 and the final act of foul play, he should have been told to pull his head in by captain Michael Ennis, another renowned niggler, or the message should have come down from supercoach Hasler to show some discipline or he would send him to the sheds before the refs next had the chance to do so.
The upshot is he’s facing three weeks, the Bulldogs have lost their fourth match on the trot and are rapidly fading from the finals equation.
1. Manly (last week 1): Manly are still the team to beat. Souths dominated them on Friday night at the SCG but don’t be fooled into thinking the Rabbitohs are the benchmark just yet. Manly have consistently been the better team throughout the season.
2. South Sydney (2): But in saying that, the Bunnies were very impressive in toppling Manly 23-4, Sam Burgess was unstoppable through the middle and on the edges of the ruck. Only Sonny Bill Williams can match him as far as class in the finesse and grunt work that comes with being a modern-day forward in the NRL.
3. Roosters (3): You can’t blame them for not getting up for Monday night’s tussle with the Titans in the freezing rain in front of a quarter-full Allianz Stadium. But they did whatever was necessary and got the win.
4. Panthers (4): Supercoach Cleary’s side only broke the line three times against the Dragons in Wollongong but they made only four errors. They’ve reeled in the attacking flair in recent weeks as they’ve lost players to injury but they’re still racking up the wins.
5. Warriors (5): They were lucky to get away with the win over the Sharks but after racking up the half-century the previous weekend against another cellar dweller in Canberra, a touch of complacency can be overlooked just this once.
6. Cowboys (7): Supercoach Green is officially hardcore. Refusing to take Johnathan Thurston off during the 58-point annihilation of the Tigers because it would look soft is a risky strategy but it tells the other NRL teams that North Queensland aren’t mucking around as the business end of the season nears.
7. Storm (6): Winger Sisa Waqa scored four tries on the end of the Melbourne backline in the last-ditch loss in Newcastle. He’s off to Canberra next year. They need that sort of strike power but unfortunately he needs classy players inside him.
8. Eels (9): That’s two weeks in a row where Parramatta would have lost if not for Jarryd Hayne’s individual brilliance – polishing off Canberra after doing the same to Cronulla. Perhaps it’s time for the likes of Will Hopoate and Chris Sandow to shoulder more of the attacking burden.
9. Broncos (11): All five running forwards in the starting side, plus bench prop Ben Hannant, made more than 100 metres against the Bulldogs. Only one Canterbury forward, Tony Williams, did the same. End result, Broncos 41, Bulldogs 10.
10. Dragons (10): Josh Dugan is still relatively new to the centre position but one thing supercoach McGregor needs to instil in him is the will to go looking for the ball when it’s not coming your way. He was too quiet against Penrith and St George Illawarra can’t afford that from their best strike weapon.
11. Bulldogs (8): In freefall after four straight losses. They looked like over-achieving this year and giving the premiership a fair shake. Now it looks like they will miss the finals and be left thinking what might have been on their earlier-than-expected Mad Monday. Parramatta should towel them up this Friday.
12. Knights (15): It’s way too late to save their season but as far as consolation wins go, that after-the-siren victory at home over Melbourne after trailing by 10 with three minutes left is one of the best of all time. Travis Waddell, who stole the ball from Billy Slater to score the crucial second-last try, is a talented player and it’s a bit of a mystery why he hasn’t played more first grade during his stints at Canberra and Newcastle.
13. Titans (13): Incoming supercoach Henry needs to have a look at the roster. In particular, the majority of the first-grade forwards are getting a bit long in the tooth. An injection of some fresh blood is needed.
14. Sharks (14): If bench hooker Pat Politoni is ever entrusted with playing first grade again, he needs to be told – if you make a break when the team trails by four with a few minutes left and you have the fullback to beat with a teammate looming in support, pass it to him. Michael Gordon would have scored under the posts on Sunday in Auckland to register a boilover win but Politoni panicked as Warriors fullback Sam Tomkins backed off to put him in two minds.
15. Tigers (12): They melted in the tropical heat of Townsville. It’s a tough place to win at the best of times, let alone when most of your first-choice starting 13 is unavailable.
16. Raiders (16): They’ve forgotten how to win. Can’t blame them, they’ve won just once since beating the Cowboys in May. Despite their apparent ineptitude, they’re worth a sneaky investment this weekend against the Dragons, a team they have a mystical stranglehold on.
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