First tackle: Strange evening on the Gold Coast
The Bulldogs' clash with the Rabbitohs at Cbus Super Stadium on Sunday evening was certainly entertaining. There were surprises around every corner, not least of all Lachlan Lewis' decision to hip throw Corey Walker as they left the field for halftime.
It took nine minutes of the game before the Bulldogs had their first incursion into the Rabbitohs half. What ensued would have to go down as the most ridiculous set of six tackles ever seen, encapsulating the frustrations of Bulldogs fans everywhere.
There were one-out hit ups, several players falling to the ground to avoid obstruction penalties, five-eighth Lewis pushing Corey Wadell put of the way as he tried to run across field, a cut-out pass that went to ground and just when you thought you'd seen everything, Lewis finished the set by kicking the ball out on the full. Before everyone had finished shaking their heads, the Rabbitohs had crossed for two tries and the game looked set to be a one-sided thumping befitting the teams' positions on the ladder.
Then out of nowhere, a concussion to Bulldogs hooker Sione Katoa and the introduction of youngster Bailey Biondi-Odo saw the Bulldogs became a whole new team, scoring two sharp tries and sending the Rabbitohs into a spiral of errors. It was a miraculous turnaround and saw them walk from the field at halftime with a 12-10 lead.
Everyone from fans, coaches and players were happy, but not Lewis who was caught up in a verbal exchange with Cody Walker. Lewis, not impressed with what Walker was saying, decided to grab and throw him to the ground. An all in push and shove ensued and the referee had no choice but to give Lewis the first ten minutes of the second half in the sin bin.
The Rabbitohs lapped up the one-man advantage, scoring eight points while Lewis was in the bin. Katoa had returned after the break as well and the Bulldogs looked disjointed and full of errors once again, with the starting hooker himself giving away a penalty and knocking the ball on in that time.
The Rabbitohs made the most of the Bulldogs second half errors and back-to-back tackle resets to run out 32-24 winners. The margin would not be missed by Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett as he reminds Lewis of his costly, if not hilarious, brain snap.
Second tackle: Stop looking for things that aren't there
Sometimes you just have to shake your head at the over-involvement of match officials. Eleven minutes into the Raiders clash with the Sharks on the Gold Coast, some clever lead-up work from the Green Machine saw Jordan Rapana cross out wide. Racing across his try line was Sharks five eighth Braydon Trindall, in a desperate and fruitless attempt to stop the try.
Trindall came in low as Rapana placed the ball and may or may not have brushed Rapana's face with his hand or arm - it was so incidental and the replays inconclusive. The referee awarded the try and wasn't happy to stop there, sending it to the bunker for a potential 8-pointer.
Despite the contact not being dangerous, forceful, deliberate, avoidable or even noticeable, the bunker decided it was worth an extra two points. Thankfully it made no difference to the result, with the Raiders racing away late to win 34-18.
Third tackle: Lifting trip to the bin
Just as head contact sin bins appear to be yesterday's news, Titans forward Kevin Proctor found a new way to raise the referee's ten fingers. Proctor was part of a three-man tackle struggling to ground Parramatta forward Isaiah Papali'i. Proctor lifted his leg putting him in a dangerous position. That incurred a report and a 10 minute stint in the sin bin.
Proctor walked the lonely walk into the sheds and the Eels took full advantage of the 12-man Titans, crossing for three tries during that ten minutes, to build a 20-0 lead.
Later in the same game Eels forward Ryan Matterson splattered the nose of Titans fullback AJ Brimson with a lazy, high forearm. Matterson was placed on report, but was allowed to stay on the field. It is fairly clear that using the sin bin for high shots is no longer the flavour of the month.
Fourth tackle: Roasted chooks find their feet eventually
It was 28 degrees in Townsville as the Roosters lined up for their 3pm kick-off against the Cowboys. Back in locked down Sydney the thermometer was struggling to hit 15. Whether it was the heat or the effort that went into their mid-week relocation to the Sunshine Coast, the Roosters were slow out of the blocks as the locals crossed for two early tries.
Once acclimatised, the Roosters struck back, aiming their attack down the left side, where former Broncos half Tom Dearden was defending. The Cowboys had real issues numbering up and The Roosters scored the next three tries of the half to take a 14-12 lead to the break.
The visitors scored the first try of the second half, but Sam Walker's goal kicking was horrible and kept the Cowboys in the game. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, fresh from his Origin debut, then carved the Roosters up, setting up a Reece Robson try which once converted locked the scores at 18.
It made for one of the most entertaining games of the year, but the Cowboys couldn't maintain the effort and faded away late, allowing the Roosters to score the final three tries to wrap it up, 34-18.
Fifth and last: Jersey clash a sign of the times
Melbourne Storm ran onto Cbus Super Stadium for their game against the Knights decked out in their indigenous strip. The mainly white jersey was adorned with purple and yellow splashes of indigenous art. It is a stylish design, honouring the first people of this vast land.
The problem was, the Knights ran onto the field wearing their mostly white away jersey. Despite being relocated to the Gold Coast, Melbourne were the home team and have first choice of which jersey they'll be wearing. Apparently the Knights were informed of the choice and were supposed to wear their blue home jerseys. Somewhere in the confusion of relocating the whole tram to Queensland, they turned up with the wrong set.
From the long camera shot the only difference was the Storm's purple shorts and socks. There were a couple incidents during the game where the players appeared to confuse opponents for teammates. It didn't seem to worry the Storm too much as they raced away to another big score, thumping the Knights 48-4.
Handover: Human missile strikes again
When you're putting in a clearing kick from within your own half against the Panthers, you just have to know that a human missile wearing No.11 Is heading your way. Viliame Kikau is a charge-down specialist, he's enormous, he's deceptively fast and as he approaches, your field of view closes in awfully quickly.
Warriors half Chad Townsend, returning from injury, wound up early for a big clearing kick on his own 30 metre line. Problem was, his wind-up took a fraction too long and the ball rebounded of the charging Panthers second rower, who regathered to score the first try of the game.
It wasn't the worst thing to happen to the Warriors in the first half as they lost Tohu Harris to a season ending ACL injury, captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to the HIA and Wayde Egan to a season ending shoulder injury. What little hope they had of beating the Panthers was gone before oranges.