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Don’t act surprised, we all saw this coming

A plethora of beltings, shellackings, whuppins, floggings, pastings, dustings, smashings, hammerings, spiflocatings and obliteratings. Apologies to the English language – here’s your talking points.

Relax yourselves

Massacres all up and down the joint this weekend but let’s not get carried away like some others calling for root and branch knee-jerk actions across the NRL system and rugby league itself.

This is just what happens when good teams with something to play for come up against busted-arse stragglers who lost any meaningful purpose weeks ago.

Remember from last week’s NRL talking points: “…as more and more teams fall away, tire out, lose interest, send players away for early surgery or put the cue in the rack to save energy for finals, it’s likely we’ll see losing teams get properly worked over in the last three weeks of the regular season.”

Record scores, lamentable defence which a team comprised of The Roar writers and readers would score against, more injuries, late withdrawals and dozens of players who look like they’d rather be anywhere else on the planet. It hasn’t been a great advertisement for the game over the final month of the regular season.

I’ve written for a while the NRL season is too long, taking too heavy a toll and asking too much of the players. After two COVID-19-impacted seasons you can empathise with players out of contention who just want to get to the end.

The door to the top four is ever so slightly ajar for Parramatta

Congratulations to Penrith, who secured the minor premiership and the J.J. Giltinan Shield beating Souths 26-22 on Thursday. Big things were expected of South Sydney but they’ve wobbled at the first tough hurdle and forget about the double chance – they need a win against one of North Queensland or the Roosters to be certain of finals.

Melbourne’s feast on Brisbane, North Queensland’s belting of the Warriors and Cronulla’s walkover against Manly made the double chance tough for anyone else, but a sliver of hope remains for Parramatta.

If the Roosters beat Melbourne and the Eels beat Brisbane this week, Brad Arthur’s men will play Melbourne at CommBank Stadium in the last round for fourth place.

The Raiders thank the lord for missed conversions

Another hugely unconvincing win against a lower table opponent, but Canberra stays alive if only barely. If Anthony Milford is able to convert more than one of Newcastle’s five first-half tries, we might talking about something completely different.

The Green Machine host a decrepit Manly this coming Saturday. The Sea Eagles are in disarray, beaten 40-6 by Cronulla. But Manly have beaten Canberra 21 of the last 30 times they’ve played, stretching back to 2003 and including a 25-6 win earlier before Manly’s injuries bit hard.

Surely Canberra won’t blow it and they keep their unlikely finals dream alive? Surely?

’Fans’ overstep the mark, again

The sudden and heartbreaking death of North Queensland premiership coach Paul Green sparked many necessary but tough discussions about mental health in the NRL and for men in general, centred around having the strength to speak up if you’re not right and having the strength to listen and care for your mates.

So shame on those cowards who sent death threats to South Sydney winger Jaxson Paulo on social media after an error at the worst time against Penrith. And those who irrationally teed off on players, coaches and referees as Round 23’s beltings unfolded.

Not even a week had passed since those tough mental health discussions and we were into it again. We need to be more aware and we need to do better so lessons aren’t forgotten.

Maroons coach Paul Green looks on

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Quick hits

– The beltings weren’t confined to the men’s comp – Newcastle’s NRLW side flogged perennial favourites Brisbane 32-14 in a great game, which wasn’t shown on Fox League. Also wins for the Roosters 38-12 over Parramatta and St George-Illawarra 26-12 over the Gold Coast.

– 16,768 turned out to support Newcastle who are 2-10 at home this year. The locals have still been turning out despite the dross on offer.

– Tigers captain James Tamou will cop a good whack after being sent off for comments at referee Ben Cummins, as well he should. Any suspension more than two weeks will likely end his NRL career. He apologised and fronted up, but the game can’t have it.

– Got a quick hit of your own? Whack it in the comments.

To the next

2022’s penultimate regular-season fixtures give us a few games which impact the finals jostling.

Thursday night is critical for the Broncos and Eels, who face off in Brisbane.

Friday’s early game is New Zealand heading to Penrith, but all eyes will be on the late game in Melbourne as the Roosters come to town to face the Storm in a must-win for the Chooks.

Saturday’s offerings are Canberra hosting Manly, Cronulla welcome the Bulldogs, then South Sydney and North Queensland play at Homebush.

Sunday might be for fans only with the Tigers and Dragons, then the Gold Coast and Newcastle wrap things up.

Did we learn anything from Round 23, Roarers?

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