The Clutch Plays: Round 11

0 Submitted by on Tue, 24 May 2016, 23:58

“Stars shining bright above you
Night breezes seem to whisper “I love you”
Birds singing in the sycamore trees
Dream a little dream of me…”


And so this Doris Day classic would prove the catalyst for Jarryd Hayne’s decision to retire one dream in the pursuit of yet another. More on sports latest human headline shortly. Indeed, round 11 would prove pivotal for both the realisation of some dreams, with both origin teams announced, and the shattering of others as three teams effectively ended their dream of making the top eight. While we’re at it, someone please tell me I was dreaming when I read that Corey Norman was caught with a container of “capsules” whilst visiting the Star Casino with Junior Paulo and James Segeyaro and a couple of, shall we say, shady characters?

The mid season Rabbitohs renaissance continued with a gutsy, if not impressive, win over the Dragons.  The Burgess brothers couldn’t catch a cold let alone a football and it was only the deft kicking game of Adam Reynolds that proved the difference. I can honestly watch the Broncos play the Cowboys every single day of the week, such is the rivalry and quality factor that these two teams possess. The fact that this is the first time since 1928 that the same two teams have played three consecutive games decided by one point speaks volumes for the intense rivalry between last years grand finalists. The fact that these two teams also contain 10 players who will be representing Queensland in origin 1 is even more scary for us hapless NSW Blues supporters..

The Wests Tigers scraped home against a much improved Knights outfit and, in the process, won another game without Robbie Farah (sorry, had to throw that one in). The Warriors were as dreadful as the Raiders were terrific. Unless something changes immediately at the Warriors, their season is as good as over. I’ve been saying since the early rounds that it appears Warriors coach Andrew McFadden has lost the dressing room and the team is playing accordingly.

The Sharks showed a level of composure that hasn’t been evident in prior years, to edge out a defiant Eagles team. These sort of games, where momentum shifts heavily against them, and they find a way to re-group then grind out a victory smells very much of semi final football. The most under-rated team in the competition, the Gold Coast Titans, snatched victory in the dying moments against an improving Panthers team, courtesy of a player I have rated for some time as a future great of the game – Ash Taylor.  So much so, when JT and Cooper Cronk retire, I believe this kid will usurp players like Cherry-Evans, Ben Hunt, Michael Morgan and Moses Mbye for the Queensland halfback position. His combination with Anthony Milford will be up there with the likes of Langer-Lewis and JT-Cronk.

The Bulldogs were methodical as they broke their win/loss pattern against a Roosters team who, along with the Knights and Eels, can kiss this season goodbye. Just like the Bulldogs, the Storm are building their season on impregnable defence and that was, once more, evident against an Eels outfit that played like they know their season is over. And who can blame them? Surely, the focus must now be on revamping their Board of Directors and starting their executive team from scratch??!!

As for Jarryd Hayne, I must admit, at first I was disappointed that he didn’t give his fledgling NFL journey just one more year to prove he can go to that next level and make an impact in one of the toughest arenas in world sport. That’s me being selfish, I guess. When you look at it from his point of view – the fact that the odds were severely against him to even make the 53 man squad, he was on a relatively low income, he is 28 years of age and only has about 5 years to maximise his brand and earnings potential, this being an Olympic year and a great opportunity to strike a Gold medal with his native country, Fiji, who have never won an Olympic medal….surely, the temptation to challenge himself in another sport had to be too good to refuse. The more people tell him he can’t do it, that he is not aerobically fit enough, that he doesn’t understand Sevens Rugby, the more I believe he will succeed. Champions tend to do that to you. Personally, I can’t wait to see a Hayne v SBW Gold medal game in August!

Have I run out of time to discuss the Origin teams? Let’s just say that Daley chose a team you can’t really argue with, Bob Fulton got one Manly player in the team that you can definitely argue with and Queensland…well…they just pick themselves. As has been the case since 1980, NSW have the better looking team on paper but we all know where that piece of paper belongs? How can I allow myself the luxury of feeling confident when you’re up against a spine containing Boyd-JT-Cronk-Smith? God help us…



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