NOTHING LIKE FINALS FOOTBALL
There were some quality games in the first week of the finals across both codes making for a very entertaining weekend. While champion teams like Richmond and The Roosters put on clinical displays, St-George-Illawarra were without a doubt the standout team. The Dragons won three of their last nine games and were booed by fans after their 38-0 loss to the Bulldogs and many pundits were predicting a massacre at Suncorp Stadium. After copping the brunt of his teams criticism Ben Hunt played out of his skin in the 48-18 win against his former club.
WARRIORS AND BRONCOS FIRST UP WINNERS IN WNRL
Round 1 of the Women’s NRL kicked off at the weekend with the New Zealand Warriors and Brisbane Broncos securing first up wins in the new NRL women’s competition. In the first game the warriors put on a bruising defensive effort to over come their more fancied rivals from Bondi winning 10-4. North of the border the Broncos showed great attacking flair in defeating St George-Illawarra scoring six tries to one. With only four teams contesting the inaugural competition there were plenty of critics, however the opening weekend was full of quality football and one the NRL can build up from here.
SHOULD MEDIA STAY AWAY ON MAD MONDAY
Last week The Daily Telegraph posted pictures of Canterbury Bulldogs players during Mad Monday celebrations which has brought up the question, should they be anywhere near players during these celebrations? It’s understandable that it can be a long and tough season for players and they may need to let off steam at seasons end but there is the need to be careful, not only from roaming paparazzi but also from anyone who is looking for their 15 minutes.
WALLABIES RETAIN MANDELA SHIELD
After two devastating losses to the world champion All-Blacks, The Wallabies were able to put that behind them as they defeated South Africa on Saturday night. In a error-riddled game, Matt Toomua was a shining light for the Wallabies scoring 15 of the 23 points while Taniela Tupou proved to be a powerhouse when he came on to field. While it wasn’t the prettiest of victories, knowing that they won without stars Israel Folau and David Pocock is sure give the Wallabies some confidence for the rest of the Rugby Championship.
VIKINGS DISMANTLE RAYS
After losing a high scoring affair to Queensland Country in the first round of the National Rugby Championship, the Canberra Vikings smashed the Sydney Rays 54-17 for their first win of the season. The Rays preparation leading into the match was less than ideal with the Sydney team only having two training sessions beforehand and then having to call in two players who hadn’t trained with the side after losing Rob Simmons and Conor Vest. The Rays weren’t the only ones missing players with four Vikings players being called up to the Wallabies squad for the Brisbane test, even with this being the case the Vikings were clinical in their performance as they march towards another NRC final appearance.
WOODLEY RETAINS UFC TITLE
British fighter Darren Till was looking to become the second British fighter to be UFC champion, unfortunately for Till reigning champion Tyron Woodley had other plans stopping the Liverpool native in the main event of UFC 228. In the past Woodley had been accused of fighting safely and boring but he showed how devastating he can be and Till was on the receiving end. Woodley has defended his belt on three occasions and facing Interim Welterweight champion Colby Covington seems like the next logical step. Till has expressed his desire to stay at Welterweight however he has struggled to make 170lbs (77kg) in the past and a move to the Middleweight division would be easier for him.
PLAY OF THE WEEKEND
Even though Woodley’s submission win was a highlight from the weekend, my pick for play of the weekend is Wallaby centre Reece Hodge’s booming 54 metre penalty goal just before half time. Hodge kicked the penalty, which bridged the gap to one point going into half time.