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Away teams win three out of four

A great quartet of games chocked with everything a sports fan could want. Enough introduction – let’s rip into your talking points.

Went to a fight and a rugby league final broke out

What a game between the Roosters and Rabbitohs. A record seven sinbins (four of which was from two players), five HIAs (three failed), barely any tackles below the neck and genuine aggro between two teams who don’t like each other.

With so much going on the oddest thing was the amount of tries (five out of eight) scored by the team who had the numerical disadvantage, especially the Bunnies getting over when they only had 11.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 11: Latrell Mitchell of the Rabbitohs is tackled during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Sydney Roosters and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Allianz Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

The Roosters had their backs to the wall from the beginning when Victor Radley couldn’t help himself, got binned for a punch and it got worse from there. If they’d somehow managed to jag a win they’d be in all sorts from injuries and pending suspensions, not that South Sydney won’t have those concerns as they front up to Cronulla.

Amongst all the headshots, it was again Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker who stood tall and steered their side through the tempest (shoutout to Campbell Graham as well).

With those two firing, Souths are capable of anything.

I noticed lots of people bagging Ash Klein and the bunker for ‘losing control of the game’ on Sunday. Garbage. Let’s be 100 per cent clear – the lack of discipline and lack of football played was entirely the responsibility of the players. The only thing that could have been done better was sending Tom Burgess for his high hit which ended James Tedesco’s afternoon.

Everyone’s laying down for penalties

It came to a head with Michael Chammas trying to provoke Roosters coach Trent Robinson about players staying down to milk penalties, but forget about Sunday – the weekend had already been riddled with flops, dives, fake injuries and suuuuuper slow play the balls to try to hoodwink the ref or bunker into a favourable decision.

Melbourne and Canberra both put on Logie-worthy performances every few tackles, Parramatta and Penrith players took their sweet time playing the ball. Any game you watched, it was there. Every team does it Your team does it. And every team will continue to do it because there’s so much at stake.

Finals mode Penrith is here

It was fancied the Eels could make something of themselves against the Panthers but finals play is a completely different beast.

As explained in previous weekly talking points, the Panthers spent the last six weeks of the regular season tuning players up and getting the club ready for games that actually matter, and we all saw the results on Friday night.

The Panthers model is pretty simple – grind your enemy into a paste via relentless possession, building pressure through field position and then following through with an even more relentless defence. Nathan Cleary pinned the Eels in their own half and while Parramatta did what they could, they couldn’t carry their effort past the 50th minute.

Will anyone else be able to do any better for any longer? Right now it doesn’t look like it.

What a weekend for the big boppers

When the stakes get high the big fellas stay big, and this weekend was no exception. Jason Taumalolo was incredible against Cronulla while Toby Rudolf was immense for the Sharks. Canberra’s Joe Tapine was magnificent and Josh Papalii turned the clock back against Melbourne, who rode with a rampant Nelson Asofa-Solomona.

Tom Burgess was also great for the Bunnies in Sunday’s streetlight although will probably get suspended, and Jared Wearea-Hargreaves and Matthew Lodge were good as well for the vanquished Roosters.

Junior Paulo and Regan Campbell-Gillard held their own for the most against James Fisher-Harris and Moses Leota, although the Panthers front row won out in the end.

Quick hits

– Why is it only when we get to finals that grounds start playing inane music at every single stoppage? Leave that to the AFL.
– Expert commentary award for 2022 goes to Shane Flanagan, whose in-depth analysis of the Melbourne v Canberra elimination game included the gem “wins like this are so important at this time of year”.
– The Storm’s exit was the first time they’ve been out in week one since 2014.
– Keeping with stats and records, this is the first time since 2001 the Roosters and Storm didn’t progress past week one.
– Looking at the atmosphere and big crowd at the new Sydney Football Stadium makes it even more confounding as to why the NRL kept the top four finals in substandard facilities in Penrith and Cronulla.
– Got a quick hit of your own? Whack it in the comments.

To the next

Only two games, you all know what they are.

Friday night it’s Canberra heading to Commbank Stadium with a heart full of belief to face Parramatta, who would more than fancy their chances even though they couldn’t maintain the rage at Penrith.

Saturday night it’s Cronulla hosting South Sydney, with the Sharks trying to avoid a straight sets exit. After long, brushing contests it’s a big week in recovery for both clubs to get right for this one…

What did you make of week one’s finals, Roarers?

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