All Stars match: The Good, the Bad and the Bizarre
While some casual league fans have questioned the All Stars fixture, last night the Indigenous All Stars showed it still means something to them.
From the opening Indigenous war cry, it’s clear this game means more than just a pre-season trial and has more gravity than the Auckland Nines.
They took that passion onto the field, rushing to 16-0 lead after 12 minutes and the game was over. They eventually won 34-8, their fourth win from seven games. Man of the match Thurston was brilliant, scoring a try, kicking four goals and delivering a pinpoint kick for local hero Dane Gagai.
Gus Gould – a savage Nines critic – suggested the Indigenous All Stars should play more often, Indigenous All Stars should play more often, even playing in the World Cup or Four Nations. While a good idea in theory, it may be hard to implement.
Credit to the Newcastle fans. Officials may have been a bit nervous taking the All Stars away from Queensland, where big crowds are guaranteed, but the Novocastrians repaid the faith on a hot, humid night, with over 20,000 attending. After enduring just one win and a draw in 2016, Newcastle fans deserve to see some decent footy.
Ricky Stuart and Canberra fans would have been stressing after Jarrod Croker injured his knee late in the first half. Luckily, he avoided ligament damage and should only miss four to six weeks. With Canberra favoured to challenge for the title, a bigger injury to Croker would have been a devastating blow.
While critics will say “why risk such an important player in a non-premiership game”, players can be injured anytime, even at training. Hopefully Croker is back on the field as soon as possible.
Another year, another Bunker screw up
The NRL season hasn’t even started and already The Bunker has screwed up! David Mead’s try, which had sketchy evidence, was ruled a try. Why? Because before going to The Bunker, the referee ruled a try. This meant there had to be sufficient evidence to overturn it. For anyone with halfway decent eyesight, Mead appeared to be short of the line. The best side-on camera angle was obscured by the corner post! So the original ruling stood under insufficient evidence.
This exposed one of the major Bunker flaws. If the referee’s going to let the Bunker micro-analyse the try, why give an initial ruling? What’s wrong with saying “sorry mate, I’ve got no idea, let’s go to The Bunker.” That way, The Bunker can make an unbiased decision without needing sufficient/insufficient evidence to influence it. In that case, Mead’s try would have been disallowed. Then again, the same rule exists in cricket’s DRS, where the umpire makes a decision and Shane Watso – sorry, the batsman or fielding team – reviews it and evidence is presented to uphold or overturn the original decision. The DRS isn’t a flawless system and the Indians resisted it for as long as possible, so maybe the NRL can learn from it and let The Bunker team make their own decision free from referee bias.