Hits and Misses: Hip drop madness strikes again

This week we look at an incredible sequence of events involving Reed Mahoney, a brilliant Indigenous try from the Rabbitohs, the fall of last year's Dally M Coach of the Year, and another brain explosion from Victor the Inflictor.

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


Fans' patience is at breaking point

Each week we are thrown more reasons to shake our heads at what this once great game has become. In the Bulldogs' miraculous win over the always-fading Titans we saw two incidents within five minutes involving Reed Mahoney that had fans and commentators holding their necks, aching from the vigorous shaking.

Firstly the Bulldogs' hooker was penalised and placed on report for what was speculated to be a hip drop tackle. The action was so far removed from what has been defined as a hip drop, that the referee saved himself from complete embarrassment by not using the sin bin.

There has been no further action taken against Mahoney, because he simply did absolutely nothing against the rules. You can't keep penalising defenders every time a player is hurt or pretends to be hurt in a tackle.

"I didn't think it was (a hip-drop)," Mahoney said after the game.

"I definitely didn't agree with him but it's something they're trying to stamp out so I understand that. There probably does need to be a bit more clarity.

"I didn't think it was as bad as what it looked but I guess we've got to review it and have a look at it."

Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo also expressed frustration with the call.

"That is not a hip-drop tackle," he said. "That's a smaller guy trying to tackle a big man.

"I agree with the hip-drop tackle, trying to eradicate it from the game but that is not one."

The next incident involved a fairly blatant forearm from Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, as Mahoney fronted up to tackle the Maroons representative forward.

There is nothing wrong with an attacking player using his hand to fend off would-be tacklers, but a raised forearm directly and forcefully to the face should be treated completely differently.

Of course, the referee and the bunker saw nothing wrong with the incident and play continued until the Titans scored a try. Mahoney was asked to leave the field for a HIA, but returned after being cleared. The Match Review Committee wasn't too disturbed by it either, charging Tino with Grade One Dangerous Contact which incurs a $1800 fine, allowing him to take his place for Queensland in Adelaide next week.


Rabbitohs' try the perfect Indigenous celebration

You won't get a better example of the talents of Indigenous players than the Rabbitohs' second try against the Eels on Friday night.

In the middle of the field Damien Cook fired the ball to Cody Walker on the last tackle, he took a couple of steps to draw the defence, who expected him to kick, before turning it inside to a flying Latrell Mitchell.

Mitchell didn't have it long before giving it back to Walker to beat another defender. Walker scurried away before veering to the left, drawing fullback Clint Gutherson before delivering a perfect pass to the chest of Alex Johnston who dived over in the corner.

It was a magic moment for the Rabbitohs to savour, but it was one of their last for the night. The Eels clicked in the second half and put the surprisingly lethargic Bunnies to bed.


From penthouse to basement; why would you be an NRL coach, seriously?

After an unsuccessful 2021 season, Todd Payten took the North Queensland Cowboys to a third-place finish in 2022. It was lauded as one of the great coaching achievements and Payten deservedly won the Dally M Coach of the Year Award. The Cowboys finished one win away from a Grand Final appearance and many expected them to go even better in 2023. Many were very wrong.

Perhaps lost in the euphoria of Luke Brooks' 200th game blinder and the Tigers' record 66 points at Leichhardt Oval was just how diabolically bad the Cowboys were.

The Cowboys currently sit in 14th position on the ladder, with their league-worst defence leaking 307 points.

It's not possible for Payten to go from Coach of the Year, to being no good. Injuries aside, the players pulling on the Cowboys jersey at the moment, aren't playing for each other or the proud club. There is a total lack of cohesion and straight-out effort that is alarming. If Payten is as good as he is supposed to be, he will turn this around, and soon.


Victor loses control, yet again

With the Dragons surprising 12-0 leaders, Zac Lomax tried in vain to rip the ball from his Roosters opponent, slamming him into the ground in the process. Roosters enforcer Victor Radley didn't enjoy the punishment meted out to his teammate and came rushing in to sort things out. Dragons prop Blake Laurie found himself toe-to-toe with Radley as the push and shove kicked off. Radley leant in and pushed his head into the chin of Laurie in an action previously known to everyone, everywhere, as a head butt.

Lomax was penalised for his initial action, and as the referee sorted out the mess, the bunker watched a few replays to see exactly what had taken place. Fans and commentators alike were fully expecting Radley to be placed on report and sent to the sin bin, as would be the minimum punishment expected for such a crime.

"Leading with your head in the altercation, Victor, it's on report," was all the referee said and Radley played on.

He has since been charged with a Grade 1 Striking offence, which for a lesser man would have meant a fine. Radley's sordid disciplinary record however means he will miss three games with an early guilty plea, increasing to four games if he fights the charge and is found guilty at the judiciary.


Maybe Aitken would be better in the forwards

Trailing the Storm 12-4, with about 15 minutes remaining in the first half, Dolphins centre Euan Aitken managed to butcher two tries within five minutes of each other.

For the first, he received the ball about 10 metres out from the Storm line and only had to draw the winger before sending the ball to Tesi Niu who would have gone over in the corner untouched. Instead he dummied, and ran straight into the relieved defence.

Not long after he received a pass with the line wide open and dropped it cold. It certainly didn't help the Dolphins' cause against the red-hot Storm, their second-half fightback falling eight points short.