The NRL’s three most embattled coaches left standing – Anthony Griffin, Justin Holbrook and Adam O’Brien – will sleep a little easier this week.
Because the two clubs that parted company with their coaches last week – the Warriors and Tigers – hardly achieved the quick fix they so desperately wanted.
There’s a myth in sport that sacking a coach will quickly change a club’s fortunes… as these clubs have shown.
Days after punting Michael Maguire, the Tigers were thrashed 30-4 by a Manly team missing its two best players, Tommy Turbo and Daly Cherry-Evans.
The Warriors put up a bit of a fight after ending things with Nathan Brown but were ultimately outclassed 38-16 by Cronulla.
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The Dragons, Titans and Knights have been massive disappointments this season and all three clubs’ fans are crying for blood.
But the experience of recent weeks should show them that a team is only as good as its roster – and changing coaches doesn’t always achieve a change of fortune.
Dragons cleanout needed
You have to feel for poor Dragons fans after another woeful performance from their team in Townsville.
Ben Hunt – backing up from Origin duty 48 hours earlier – was the only Dragon to make any impression whatsoever against the well-drilled Cowboys defence.
Twelve Cowboys players ran for over 100 meters in the game – in contrast not a single Dragons forward reached three figures.
Botched Lomax flick pass backfires
Zac Lomax – considered one of their better players in recent seasons, made five individual errors – and plenty of other Dragons also looked embarrassingly off the pace.
The young Cowboys schooled an aging Dragons side – and reinforced the message that the Dragons need a massive cleanout.
Sadly, it’s a message the coach and officials don’t seem to grasp.
Dogs spring biggest upset of season
What an amazing effort by the Bulldogs yesterday – not just beating the Eels but spanking their backsides in the most surprising scoreline of 2022 to date.
The Bulldogs showed that if you believe, if you turn up with the right attitude and if you give it your best shot, anything is possible.
Winger Josh Addo-Carr showed his class and experience with three wonderful tries while hooker Jeremy Marshall-King and fullback Jake Averillo were also outstanding.
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The Eels have been through some lean times in the last few decades but I can’t remember a worse Parramatta performance.
They turned up expecting to win, were rattled early by the aggressive Bulldogs defense and never recovered.
Disappointment for Freddy
On Sunday afternoon, Brad Fittler thought he had struck gold.
Manly juggernaut Haumole Olakau’atu was simply awesome against the Tigers at Campbelltown on Saturday afternoon and should have played himself into a Blues jumper for Origin II.
Olakau’atu is one of the few young Blues-eligible forwards with the energy and enthusiasm to counter the Maroons’ new sensations Reuben Cotter and Patrick Carrigan – as he showed by single-handedly destroying the Tigers.
The 23-year-old back-rower scored a powerhouse try, ran for 163 meters and came up with some bone-rattling tackles.
The Blues’ forwards lacked mongrel last Wednesday and Olakau’atu would have added a lot of spark to fix the mess that was Origin I.
But when asked about the prospect of playing for the Blues, Olakau’atu declared he wants to play for Tonga, the country of his heritage, against the Kiwis in a couple of weeks.
It’s a shame for the Blues – but a huge boost for Tonga’s hopes of upsetting old rivals, the Kiwis.
Woeful Tigers…yet again
Manly love coming up against a team that won’t tackle – and the Wests Tigers gave them one of their easiest wins of the season on Sunday at Campbelltown.
Just days after sacking Michael Maguire, the Tigers had their pants pulled down 30-4 in yet another embarrassing performance.
At halftime, the Tigers held Manly to 6-4 and had a gale at their backs.
Naden feels off for spear tackle
But their second half performance was a bitter disappointment to caretaker coach Brett Kimmorley – especially as Manly were without their two best players, Daly Cherry-Evans and Tommy Turbo.
Luke Brooks missed eight tackles, Brent Naden missed six and got himself sent off and fullback Daine Laurie missed five.
The Tigers played just dumb football and will continue killing coaches until they undergo a thorough cleanout.
Roosters facing finals hoodoo
The Roosters gave a good showing against the Storm at the SCG on Saturday night and could easily have won the game had a few balls stuck.
But the worry for the Roosters is that while they are well in finals contention, their record against the ‘big two’ is dreadful.
Trent Robinson’s men have lost their last 10 games against Penrith or Melbourne and it’s something the team will have to address before the finals.
The Roosters could do some damage at the pointy end of the season – but only if they end their hoodoo against the Panthers and Storm as both are certain to be there in September.
Broncos step up
The Cowboys may be the surprise packet of 2022, but the Broncos aren’t far behind.
Kevin Walters coached his seventh straight win against another of the season’s improvers, the Raiders, on Saturday night.
And the Broncos showed plenty of character to come up with their 24-18 win, overcoming injuries to three of their biggest stars.
General Adam Reynolds, metre-eater Payne Haas and center Herbie Farnworth all suffered serious injuries during the game but the Broncos were men on a mission and scored a vital win against a fellow finals contender.
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Johnston fires again
You can’t but help marvel the class of Rabbitohs winger Alex Johnston, who just became the 15th man to score 150 tries against the Titans last Saturday afternoon.
There are few better finishers in the modern game than the Bunnies flyer, who had a day out against the hapless Titans.
The wing star bagged three tries, giving him back-to-back hat tricks for the first time in his career after his trio against the Tigers in his previous outing.
titans not far off
The Titans have now lost nine out of ten games after crashing and burning against Souths – but you get the impression a win isn’t far off.
Only Johnston’s remarkable finishing and some costly lapses proved to be the difference in the 30-16 loss and there were some bright spots for the Titans.
Utility back Greg Marzhew was superb, scoring a tank-like solo try and running for 272 meters.
Tino Fa’asuamaleaui carried on where he left off on Origin night, grinding out 177 meters and Moe Fotuaika wasn’t far behind with 137.
The Cowboys sorely missed the class of in-form outside backs Jayden Campbell and AJ Brimson and have a long injury list that only adds to their woes.
Robson leading Cowboys Express
You can mark down Cowboys hooker Reece Robson as one of the big improvers of the 2022 season.
Like many of his team-mates, Robson was nothing special last season as the Cowboys finished well down the ladder.
But this year, he has developed into a key man in the Cowboys Express that is heading relentlessly towards the top four in the finals.
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Despite the absence of State of Origin forwards Jeremiah Nanai and Reuben Cotter and the early loss of boom forward Heilum Luki – that’s half their pack missing – the Cowboys effortlessly dismissed a dismal Dragons side 31-12 at QCB Stadium on Friday night.
Robson, a quiet achiever on most nights, was a standout in the big win.
He ran for over 100 meters against his former club, scored a try and had a hand in several others.
Todd Payten is bringing out the best in a lot of players at Townsville this season – and Robson is right up there in terms of improvement.
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