From the Couch – Rd 20

From the Couch – Round 20 by Nick Tedeschi @ makingthenut.com

Remembering The 1990s: It is impossible to remember an entire decade in just a few words. So here are 11 random moments that come to mind from a great era of Rugby League.

The Last Playoff (aka The Great Screwjob): Playoffs were great and should never have been eliminated – midweek football should always be encouraged. The last one though was destroyed though by one of the great screwjob finishes of all time, one Dusty Rhodes would have been proud of. Wests led Canterbury 19-14 as time was close to expiring. Jonathan Davies made a break and looked certain to score when Wests fans ran onto the field. Bill Harrigan called fulltime in the chaos.

The Try-less Final: Finals don’t come much more exciting than when the final score is 3-2 and not a single try was scored. That is what happened in 1992 when St George eliminated Newcastle in an epic at the SFS, a Peter Coyne field goal all that separated the two teams.

Ewan McGrady: No player epitomised the early 1990s more than Ewan McGrady, a mercurial talent who debuted in 1990, won the Rothmans Medal in 1991 and played just five more first grade games after the 1992 season. He was so painfully shy he didn’t attend the award ceremony and Peter Moore had to organise a police search and rescue to get him there.

The Terry Lamb Field Goal: There has arguably been no more famous field goal than the one slotted by Terry Lamb when Canterbury trailed Newcastle 12-10. Lamb turned around with a fist pump. But the Bulldogs lost 12-11.

Oudenryn v Offiah: Martin Offiah was regarded as the fastest man in Rugby League. That was put to the Test when Great Britain toured Australia. During a midweek affair Offiah was set up in a match race against Eels speedster Lee Oudenryn. Offiah got off to a bad start and never looked likely. That, of course, may have been the plan as urban myth has it that the British team loaded up on Oudenryn at 6/4.

The Daily Telegraph – April 1, 1995: No front page stands out to me more than the one that stunned the Rugby League world on April 1, 1995 that signalled the first serious shots in the Super League War. The Tele declared that a host of the game’s biggest players including Alan Langer, Terry Lamb and Laurie Daley had signed with Super League. It set in motion the three most surreal years the game has known.

The Optus TV: In a sport that has had many lows in the halftime entertainment stakes, the failure of the Optus Television to launch and then collapse in a piddling mess takes the cake. It also seemed to foretell the future of Optus as a pay television provider and later, Optus as a soccer World Cup broadcaster.

The David Fairleigh Plunge: Betting rorts are as old as Rugby League itself. So it was for the 1995 Rothmans Medal with unheralded Bears backrower backed from 33/1 to 5/2 before winning the award. The result was leaked and every smart punter in Australia knew the winner.

The World Club Challenge: When it came to ill-conceived ideas, this one took the cake. Super League twice suspended its regular season to stage a battle between Australian and English clubs. It was a debacle from the get-go. Wigan were the only English team to win more than one of their six games. Australian teams posted 50 or more 17 times with the 70-point mark hit on three occasions. Ken Nagas scored six tries against Halifax. It was a debacle.

The Paul Carige Game: There has never been a worse individual performance in a big game than Eels winger Paul Carige turned out in the 1998 preliminary final against Canterbury. The Bulldogs overcame an 18-2 deficit in the final 11 minutes to win in extra-time. Carige could not have been worse with some shocking errors and bone-headed plays that essentially ended his promising career.

Greg Smith: He claimed to be a former NFL player. The internet was only in its infancy and Warren Ryan almost certainly didn’t know how to use it so he was taken at face value. He played a single first grade game for Newcastle and was totally out of his depth, shown up by Daryl Halligan time and time again.

2018 Field Goal Update – 27: Field goals have stalled and we are all the worse for it.

Fun Fact #1: Phil Rothfield and Ray Hadley were both kicked off the Immortals judging panel.

Fun Fact #2: Brisbane had the best record in the 1990s winning 70.95% of games.

Fun Fact #3: Four teams won less than 30% of their games in the 1990s: South Sydney, South Queensland, North Queensland and Gold Coast.

Betting Market of the Week: After Henry Perenara’s latest blunder when awarding the Titans a try as video referee, his punishment will be:

$4.00: Demotion to a Grand Final appointment
$3.50: Demotion to becoming referees boss
$5.00: Demotion to having Matt Cecchin as his pocket referee
$8.00: Demotion to becoming NRL CEP

Rumour Mill: The NRL’s investigation into betting allegations from 2008 is expected to claim a number of scalps at NRL HQ – as always, the cover-up will do more damage than the initial crime. Todd Carney has allegedly already found trouble at Hull KR and if proven true, will be sacked. Wayne Bennett has been linked with a move to the Titans in 2020. Canterbury have come into the mix for the signature of Corey Oates. Daniel Tupou is set to sign with the Dragons. Newcastle have been linked to Wigan halfback George Williams. Kirisome Auva’a is set to sign with Canberra. Top referee Matt Cecchin is rumoured to be walking away from refereeing, frustrated at the way he has been marginalised by leadership.

Key Stat for a Player Who Should Not Be Playing First Grade: Brad Parker’s first grade win rate is 25%.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 20: Manly – Penrith, 24 – 28. Comebacks like that don’t happen every week.

The Coaching Crosshairs: Trent Barrett’s time at Manly has just five games remaining. While it is expected Barrett will quit Manly to take up at Penrith, if that rumour does not prove true, the Sea Eagles will cut him. It is clear Barrett lacks the support at Manly to make a go of it. The club is a disaster and he now seems to have lost the support of key players. No decent coach in their right mind would want the Manly job while Barrett has done enough to get another crack.

Moronic Coaching Decision of the Week: Shane Flanagan has to have rocks in his head to come out and think he could get away with slamming The Bunker after the favour his team was done a week back. His credibility now is exactly zero. Coaches have a responsibility to the game not to act like total self-interested gits. Nobody should ever believe a word Flanagan says when he talks about what is best for the game because it is clear he is only interested in the short-term goings on at Cronulla.

Beard Watch: There is little doubt that in some circles 2018 will be remembered as the Year of the Moustache Revival. We have seen some absolute crackers. Add to that list Kayne Lawton. The Warriors third-string rake has an absolute beauty that could have had him front and centre of a VB ad in 1977.

Correspondence Corner: Mav63, nailed it.

Watch It: In honour of Retro Round, we go back to the 1990s and look at some of the forgotten tries of one of Rugby League’s greatest decades. Watch it here.

 

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