Hits and Misses: Horsburgh auditions for NFL right guard, Walsh throws away certain try

This week we take a look at a strange move by Corey Horsburgh, a bad miss by Reece Walsh, the ferocious Panthers, brilliance from Jamayne Isaako and the tiresome six again calls which are still ruining rugby league.

Read on as we take a look back at some of the biggest hits and misses of the weekend.


Horsburgh auditions for NFL right guard, Walsh throws a try away

An interesting move from Canberra's Corey Horsburgh early in their clash with the Broncos. Play was halted on the Broncos 30-metre line on the last tackle for Canberra, as the referee responded to a call from the bunker doctor to send Kurt Capewell from the field for a HIA.

Play resumed with Canberra playing the ball and there was Horsburgh, standing right next to the ruck, ready to obstruct the marker's charge to pressure the kicker. The old rule stated that both teams need to be 10 metres back from the ruck, but that has been relaxed for the attacking team over the years. Still, players loitering around the play-the-ball in order to block the defence has never been allowed. What made this example so blatant was the three-minute stoppage in play which gave Horsburgh plenty of time to be onside. Good luck to him for getting away with it, I guess.

More alarming for the Broncos was Reece Walsh's decision to throw a flick pass as he came down on the try line with five minutes remaining in the first half. Canberra were ahead 14-4 at the time with the Broncos hard on attack. Walsh put on some clever footwork, surged at three defenders and as he came down he flicked a pass that went behind winger Selwyn Cobbo and over the sideline.

Replays confirmed that the arm Walsh threw the pass with, hit the turf well over the chalk. Considering the Broncos lost by six points to the fired up Green Machine, it proved very costly.


Deadly Panthers continue to improve

The Panthers are looking more and more ominous every round as they piece together their new lineup and scrape away some of the early season rust. They opened up the throttle in the second half last round against the Raiders and kept it going in the first half at home against the Sea Eagles on Saturday night.

Fullback Dylan Edwards notched a hat trick before the break and the backline looked dangerous every time they spread the ball. Nathan Cleary was really enjoying the way the Sea Eagles' defence was holding off and sliding, it only added to the plentiful time he always seems to have with ball in hand.

Edwards crossed again in the second half as the Panthers cruised to a 48-12 victory. It was the Panthers fullback's first four-try performance, as he raised his hand yet again for Origin selection in a position where New South Wales has so much talent.


Six again calls still irksome

Six again calls continue their insidious influence over the flow and nature of games. Just when you hoped it might have become a moderate and mostly unnoticeable part of a more entertaining game, you see a passage of play where a try becomes inevitable because of the referee's arbitrary enforcement of otherwise minor infringements.

There were several games over the weekend, including the Knights victory over the Warriors, where the referees decided to take us back to unlimited tackle rugby league. Set restart after set restart until the defence finally cracked and conceded a try.

The scrambling desperation of a committed defence is ruled to be less attractive than the scoring of tries, and so, the referees reward the attacking sides with all the possession they need to break through. Rugby league's administrators pat themselves on the back for making the game faster and more attractive, but just as T20 isn't real cricket, the modern game is moving further and further from real rugby league.


Isaako try awarded straight 10s from the judges

Dolphins winger Jamayne Isaako is clearly a class act, scoring the first two tries against the Cowboys on Friday night. His first was your standard, outpace the cover defence, dive in the corner, ball in one hand, effort we see from wingers every week.

His second required an aerial display that a two-metre springboard diver would be proud of. A perfectly placed kick to his corner from Isaiya Katoa saw him rise above his opposition winger before performing a half twist in a pike position to land simultaneously with ball and feet next to each other just centimetres away from the touch-in-goal line. It was an incredible display of athleticism from Isaako.

He wasn't finished for the night either, crossing for his hat trick ten minutes before halftime, after beating several Cowboys defenders with some clever footwork. In combination with fullback Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and fellow winger Edrick Lee, Isaako forms a potent back three for the high flying Dolphins.


Referee chooses obscure rule over common sense

Another head scratcher on Thursday night with referee Ashley Klein showing off his knowledge of the rules with a penalty against Jahrome Hughes for deliberately knocking the ball forward.

The Roosters kicked off following the first Storm try of the night and the ball rocketed off the slick surface heading over the head of Hughes who was backed up on his dead ball line. Desperate to keep the ball in play he jumped up and swatted it forward.

The very first replay showed that Hughes' foot was on the dead ball line as he made his leap towards the ball. Surely the moment his hand touched the ball it was dead, regardless of which way it travelled or Hughes' intentions. Instead of a goal-line drop out, the referee chose to penalise Hughes. The penalty allowed the Roosters to kick to a 8-6 lead halfway through the first half. Fortunately it played no part in determining the result of the game.


'Dogs off to a flyer before hitting the wall

What an incredible start to the Good Friday clash between the Bulldogs and Rabbitohs at Homebush. Receiving the kick-off Souths held the ball for the first two and a half minutes of the game thanks to a high tackle penalty at the end of their first set of tackles and a dropped bomb at the end of their second set. At the beginning of their third, George Burgess dropped the ball five metres out from the Bulldogs line.

From the ensuing scrum in centre field, the ball was passed to Jacob Kiraz on the right with just Jake Averillo outside him. Kiraz looked set for a typical winger's charge into the two Souths defenders on that side of the field, but instead ran a diagonal line at the outside defender, before putting Averillo clear with a perfect pass. Averillo streaked away from the pursuing defence to score under the posts.

Not long after Josh Addo-Carr twisted his leg in the shifting turf while trying to make a tackle. He left the field with a bad ankle injury and despite a gallant effort at times, it was all downhill from there for the Bulldogs, as the Rabbitohs ran away with a 50-16 victiory.