The Canterbury Bulldogs have beaten the Manly Sea Eagles 32-30 in a Golden Point Extra Time game that was soured by poor crowd behaviour by Sea Eagles fans.
With the Bulldogs dominating the first half and the Sea Eagles being slightly unlucky to not convert what possession they had, the Bulldogs looked in control for most of the game. The Sea Eagles came home with a wet sail though, and sensationally leveled things up just before full time.
Controversy struck in Extra Time though when referees blew a penalty against the Sea Eagles for a dangerous tackle on Bulldogs five-eighth Josh Reynolds. Reynolds was lifted past the horizontal 40 meters out from his own line but many contend that Reynolds jumped in the tackle which resulted in his rotation taking him into a dangerous position.
While that may be the case I would point out that one of the Sea Eagles defender had their hand between Reynolds legs, a key indicator in any dangerous tackle move. As soon as a defender looks for that type of leverage they are asking for trouble. In my opinion the penalty was justified.
The penalty was bad enough, but when the Sea Eagles were marched another ten meters for back chatting the referee it gave the Bulldogs an opportunity to go for the long range penalty goal. It was a chance they wouldn’t pass up, as Hodkinson cooly kicked the penalty and the Bulldogs came away with the two points.
There were a number of talking points to come out of this game.
Firstly an injury to Anthony Watmough could rule him out of State Of Origin two. Watmough was hit in a bone crunching tackle by James Graham that resulted in a leg injury. It saw Watmough leave the field and probably gave Laurie Daley a sleepless night.
A lot of people were upset at the refereeing decisions but from a neutrals point of view, I think both sets of fans over played the quality of the refereeing in the match. I don’t think there is any way the referees determined the result of the match and the big moments when called upon, I think they made the right calls. There was a try given to Josh Reynolds in the 58th minute in particular that I thought was the correct decision in the end.
Last but not least, the poor crowd behaviour on the night…
I wrote a few weeks ago about crowd behaviour in the NRL and how the Canterbury Bulldogs continue to have issues with their crowds despite trying to get rid of the few idiots that still attend their games.
Last night players were abused by Manly Sea Eagles fans and there are allegations that things were thrown from the crowd that hit players. Something that is completely unacceptable!
There are people that attend Rugby League games that simply do not know how to control themselves. The National Rugby League needs to do everything it can to stamp this poor crowd behaviour out of the game.
While not receiving the same coverage as other clubs may get, Manly fans are known for their hostile attitudes towards visiting fans. The Sea Eagles are investigating what happened on Friday night but what I would like to see happen is the NRL Integrity Unit take over these type of investigations and level fines at clubs who can not control their crowds.
If there are repeat offenses I want to see clubs docked competition points so that fans KNOW, you have to behave at a football game otherwise you are going to cost you club ON the field as well as off it.
If you are going to a football game with the thought that you’re so pissed off that you will abuse the opposition, their fans, and start to throw things at people, please….stay at home. you are not wanted at ANY sporting event.
I hope we see the Manly Sea Eagles fined over this so that next time they weigh up the fines versus how much it will cost for extra security and will decide to provide an environment that players, opposition fans, and the vast majority of their own well behaved fans can feel comfortable in when they attend a game at Brookvale Oval.
Bulldogs fans got into me a few weeks ago when I said the exact same thing about their club. They were looking for a double standard by me. I don’t care what club it is, if they can not provide a safe environment for a game of football to be played then they have to be punished until they fix these off field issues.
Bulldogs fans need to realize that the safe environment they expect when they attend away games, opposition fans want the same thing when they head to ANZ stadium. As Rugby League fans, we all enjoy the same thing. We all want the same thing. It is a small minority of people that go out of their way to try and make our games of football less fun to attend. Some people cross the line between celebrating their own teams success, lamenting their own teams failure, having some fun at the oppositions expense and going home either way having watched a good game of footy without safety issues.
No player or fan should ever have to worry that some idiot is going to throw something at them. The only way we will ever make crowd behaviour better is if we acknowledge when there are issues and doing everything we can to eliminate those minority of idiots from our games. The easiest way to do that is to start at your own home grounds, no matter what team you support, and regulating your own crowd behaviour. Attend a football game and treat opposition fans the same way you want to be treated at away games yourself.
There are no double standards in wanting a safe environment at NRL matches for fans, families, women and children, as well as players and officials. These crowd behaviour issues need to be sorted out by the NRL and the clubs that have on going problems. The sooner that happens, the better off Rugby League will be.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com