Writing Off The Round (not the team)
Last week I read an article written by Dave Gallop where it said he had spoken with all the coaches and they all said “this is the toughest season yet”. Well of course they all said that…they all have no idea how each team will perform against each other. Nobody knows what teams look like until at least Round 5 when we have a clear idea of what the table looks like. Round 1 is a write off round in my opinion (Editors Note – “yeah because Souths lost”). Nothing that happens in Round 1 is indicative of the rest of the season. Teams are just getting to know each other and it shows on the field. I can point out multiple occasions in matches where teams look lost, tired or just plain confused on the field.
Sure its easy to say that Parramatta, South Sydney and Canberra are all going to be terrible this year but where is the proof of that? It can’t be because they lost their first game because all of those teams only lost by less than 2 tries.
It is perfectly fine to say that the Warriors, Sharks and Newcastle may struggle this year but again what proof do we have of that? Two of these teams lost in golden point and the other fought back well to lose in the dying minutes.
Even the winners might be re-thinking certain things…if you watched the highlight reels you’d probably think the Titans are the team to beat because they put 18 points on the Cowboys. But the Cowboys made 28 errors, had a 46% completion rate (yuck) and made 100 more tackles than the Titans. That victory doesn’t show that the Titans are the team to beat, it shows you that the Cowboys were an easy beat.The same could be said about Melbourne’s efforts against Canberra. Melbourne were very lucky that Billy Slater helped them salvage the 2 points. They were totally unprepared for Canberra and the weather didn’t help matters either. You’ll see a different Melbourne side next Sunday against South Sydney (*gulp*).
Don’t misunderstand me – I am not saying that Round 1 is useless or anything like that because two points is two points no matter what round you earn it. I’m saying that nobody ever won the grand final based on how well they went in Round 1. If anything, it is normally the polar opposite. To give you an even better idea – last year in Round 1 the following teams lost: Brisbane, Warriors, Manly and the West Tigers. All of those teams played finals footy in 2011. Actually they were part of the final 6 left over and the Warriors only won 3 of their first 5 matches.
The big difference between Round 1 this year and last year was the scorelines. Most of the wins came after grinding away at the opposition’s defense or cashing in your luck. Thus we end up with 2 games settled by a field goal and 4 by a converted try. Which probably makes people think that David Gallop was right with his prediction of this ‘being the hardest season to pick’ malarky. I personally think its more about some teams being underdone (like Manly who have been globetrotting and barely played a full game together), torrential rainfall in NSW and QLD and the fact that we started the season earlier than previous years.
None of that stuff matters now because Round 1 is over. It was the perfect time for teams to find out where the kinks in the lineups are. Its perfect to give life to those structured plays you’ve been training for in the pre season. Its the best round to try something different and see if it works. Think about the 2010 Roosters squad who started Todd Carney at fullback in Round 1. It was different and it didn’t work…20 something weeks later they where playing in the Grand Final. Again it’s really not the time to make full blown assumptions of where your team are no matter what the outcome was.
If your team lost this weekend then use that experience to know that something is going to change. Either players will return from injury or suspension and this will be the catalyst for change. Maybe things won’t get better right away but good things will happen eventually which will turn the season around.
If your team won this round then ask yourself if that performance could be enough for them to make the finals. I’m betting it wasnt considering how close every game was. After Monday nights match I messaged my buddy and he said something I totally agree with…”we dont want to rely on late comebacks like that every week” which is so very true. Playing games where you are trying to recover in the dying seconds is always exciting for the fans but must be super painful for the players and coaches.
All I take away from the Round 1 matches is the fact that there is still 25 games more to do better things with. You should do the same.
Now..I dont want it to be all doom and gloom here On The Try Line though. Don’t think I didn’t notice Shaun Johnson’s fantastic try, Minichello’s try in the dying seconds (how could I not?) or Manly’s Team try. Plus who could miss James Graham quietly performing 51 tackles in 66 minutes of playing time? And who didnt see Shaun Fensom miss 1 tackle but make 62 others. These are just a few of the reasons I’m so happy that rugby league is back.
Of course I loved Round 1 but no more will it define the rest of the season. I understand how easy it can be for a rugby league fan, especially if you’ve been supporting a lackluster club for your whole life, to throw in the towel after the first loss and say “here we go again”. But I want you all to know that losing the Round 1 game means nothing in the long run. Like I said before we are at the furthest point from September right now so there is room to improve. Don’t write off your team, I’d suggest just writing off the round. Be patient and when the next Round comes along you’ll be happier knowing you haven’t given up on them completely. Trust me…its my motto for 2012 and it should be yours no matter if your team is cheering or sulkling On The Try Line.
Posted on March 7, 2012, in All Out Attack, On The Line Defence and tagged David Gallop, James Graham, Jamie Soward, Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, NRL, Shaun Fensom, Shaun Johnson. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.