First tackle: Tedesco a bargain buy
James Tedesco has reportedly signed a five-year contract renewal with the Roosters worth $[AU]6 million. Tedesco is currently considered the best player in the world. He has played a major role in the club's back-to-back premierships and is the reigning Dally M medallist. It would seem a bargain to secure such a talent for $1.2 million a season. With Manly's Daly Cherry-Evans reportedly on $1.3 million a season and Cowboys lock Jason Taumalolo on a $10 million, 10-year deal.
This NRL season has taken a beating financially thanks to the coronavirus and the future of the salary cap remains uncertain. Is it astute of Tedesco to assure his long term future, or has he given away too much of his future earning potential? Time will tell, but I think it could be one of those deals where both parties have walked away happy.
It's a different game, different market and completely different economics, but when you compare Tedesco's deal to the one recently inked by Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, you realise that NRL stars are certainly not overpaid for their efforts. Over the next ten years Mahomes will take home around $[AU]700 million. If you were to compare the two players on their pure athletic abilities, game specific skill-sets and influence on their team's success, there wouldn't be much difference really.
Second tackle: Tigers madness ends finals hopes
In two minutes of craziness the Tigers threw away any chance they had of limping into the finals. Ten minutes into the second half, with the Tigers trailling 20-12 and on the attack against the Rabbitohs, a cut-out pass was intercepted by Dane Gagai. Tigers forward Alex Twal helped end the play by dragging Cody Walker to the ground; he entangled himself in Walker's legs and held on way too long, giving away a penalty and incurring a 10-minute stint in the sin bin. Even his own teammates could be seen remonstrating with Twal over the blatant stupidity of the play.
Just two minutes later Luke Brooks tried to get the ball off Gagai after receiving a penalty. Gagai responded by giving the ball to his face. Brooks replied with a shove, followed by that rarest of rugby league beasts, a punch to Gagai's head. When the dust had settled, Brooks was sent to join Twal in the bin, and was followed by Gagai. With a minute left in the bin for Twal, the Rabbitohs crossed for their fourth try of the night. The conversion took them to a 26-12 lead. The Tigers scored 12 more points to finish just two points short of another incredible fightback.
Third tackle: Bulldogs discard shines
Manly's fourth try in the 25th minute of their victory over the Bulldogs summed up all that is wrong with the Belmore-based club. Not only was it a thorough display of their lack of commitment in defence, but it was scored by Morgan Harper, a young player they released to Manly mid-season.
The talent retention and recruitment department of the Bulldogs club has been appalling over the past 10 years. Here was a discarded centre tearing them up, while they themselves played two wingers, with questionable defensive abilities, out of position in their centres. Each week the Bulldogs coaching staff appear to draw names out of a hat to pick a backline. Their big signing for next year is Blake Green, another player they discarded when he was young and coming through the ranks, back in 2011. Green will also be coming back from an ACL reconstruction.
Fourth tackle: Excruciating finish for some
Anyone taking the Panthers to beat the Eels 1-12 in their multis would have been encouraged by a gutsy early effort from the Eels. They were really under pressure all night as the Panthers had all the ball and threw everything at them. The Eels defended gallantly and were right in the game at only 6-2 at halftime. Fifteen minutes into the second half the Panthers scored their second try to take a 12-2 lead.
It looked like the Eels would go on to lose 12-2, as time ran out. Frustratingly, as well as they defended, when given opportunities with the ball, Parramatta had nothing to really challenge the brilliant Panthers.
With 30 seconds remaining anyone with money on the Panthers to win by 1-12 was screaming for the Eels to make just two more tackles. But Penrith five-eighth Jarome Luai took the ball eight metres out, skipped about, straightened and powered his way towards Eels fullback Clint Gutherson under the posts.
At any other point in the match Gutherson would have embraced Luai and done his best to hold the ball up off the ground or perhaps reefed it from his grasp. But with the result gone, Gutherson bounced off with nothing, the try scored, the Panthers winning and moving into the 13+ bracket.
Fifth and last: Stupid Cowboys move
When you are running in the bottom half of the competition and come up against Melbourne Storm, you need everything to go your way, pretty much for most of the game, to have any chance of victory.
The Cowboys got off to a good start against the Storm scoring the first try through Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow after only four minutes. In the next set of six Cowboys hothead Josh McGuire took a hit up and wasn't happy with the speed with which he was allowed to play the ball. He turned to the referee and hit him with a withering verbal barrage.
Referees have a tough enough job without copping abuse from players. So McGuire was rightly given 10 minutes in the sin bin to rediscover his manners. While he was in there, the Storm crossed for two tries and were well on their way to another convincing victory.
Handover: Sharks bite seals Top 8
With their season on the line the Warriors took on the Sharks at Kogarah. A win would put the Warriors within two points of the Sharks with two games to go. The Tigers and Sea Eagles watched on in interest as their hopes relied on a Warriors win and it was a game worthy of its do-or-die status.
The Sharks skipped away to a 12-0 first half lead, but the Warriors weren't done, crossing for a try just before the break to trail by six points.
In the second half they levelled the scores at 12 before benefiting from a string of penalties including a strange one for a Shark not retiring to an onside position before becoming involved in the play. They kicked a penalty goal after a high shot to put them 14-12 up with 18 minutes remaining.
But the Sharks pack, most of whom would not look out of place on front door duty at Northies, weren't done. They made some key charges, including one by Toby Rudolf from 10 metres out to score, putting the Sharks back in front where they would remain. With the win they not only ensured their own spot in the finals but ended the hopes of the Tigers, Sea Eagles and Warriors.