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2019.09.29, Sunday
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2018.07.28, Saturday

Robert Dillon: Seven Days in League

THURSDAY OH NO: The front page the Newcastle Herald was initially planning to publish after Origin II, before the footballing gods intervened.

SEVEN DAYS, most people understand, is a column written tongue-in-cheek. Anattempt to find a few light-hearted skerricksamongthe winner-takes-all, blood-and-thunderintensity of modern-day rugby league.

This columnist would like to think that occasionally, perhaps once or twice a season, someof my loyal readers (Mum, Dad, the Maitland Maniac) stumbleupon a one-liner they find mildly amusing.

Today does not appear to be one such day.

Today the phone is running hot as I field a barrage of calls from elderly, private-school alumni wearing tweed jackets and RM Williams boots.

The cause of their angstis last week’s column.

In particular the entry under Wednesday, which accuses Merewether-Carlton rugby union players of being “soft” for not wallowing in a Townson Oval quagmire that has been overrun by water buffalo.

They have also been offended bymy observationthat rugby union is not so much the game they play in heaven, but rather “the game they play in skirts”.

They seem to have taken it all literally, and rather personally.

This makes me feel terrible. How could I have been so insensitive?

With a heavy heart, I start pondering a retraction, and an apology, followed by my resignation.

Then I remember that rugby union is the sport in which Alan Jones was regarded as a super coach, David Campese played 100 Tests without making a tackle, and Matt Dunning was considered an elite athlete.

I snap to my senses. Maybe it’s time to launch a Seven Days in Unioncolumn so I can take the piss out of the rah-rahs every day of the week.

Meanwhile, a reader points out that the rival publication who have left the Knights off the competition ladder for the past two weeks has ramped up themind games.

Newcastle, courtesy of last week’s convincing win against the bye, have leapfrogged above the Tigers.

Yet in the points table published, the Knights are 15th… and 17th.

Is any further evidence needed that this is a conspiracy?

FRIDAYDEVASTATED Blues forwardWade Graham is beating himself up after NSW’s Origin II second-half collapse.

“I f—ing let in the tackle that let them back in it,”Graham tellsThe Sydney Morning Herald.

“I feel like I’ve let down the entire state. That missed tackle.

“You have to nail it and I didn’t nail it and I’ve let the whole team down.”

It’s time to let Graham in on a secret that might provide him with a measure of solace.

It wasn’t really his fault. The blame for defeat belongs entirely to the Newcastle Herald, in particular editor Heath Harrison.

Ten minutes into the second half, with NSW 10 points in front, Heath makes a fateful decision.

He sends a photo and proposed headline to artist Tracy Peters, who designs a front page celebrating a famous NSW victory: “OH YEAH! BLUE HEAVEN AS NSW END THE MAROON ERA”.

At that instant, the Blues are struck by an ancientcurse. The footballing gods will never tolerate such impertinence.

It is provenfact that any time journalists take a punt on a sporting event’s outcome, and startwriting headlines or intros in advance, disaster will strike.

The game will turn on its head, and a matchwinning try or goal in the dying seconds will punish the perpetrator.

For ignoringa time-honoured superstition, Heath paysthe ultimate price. Wade Graham and the Blues are the collateral damage.

SATURDAYIN A reminder of how overrated Johnathan Thurston is, the Cows eke out a 14-12 victory over the Pennies.

A few hours later, the Roosters beat the Storm in a golden-point thriller at Adelaide Oval, but it is surely a moral victory for Melbourne, who are without Origin stars Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Will Chambers.

Not that you would have noticed.

The Storm are so impressive, in particular rookie half Brodie Croft and hooker Brandon Smith, that coach Bellamy faces tough selection decisions next week.

Maybe the Queensland quartet will have to come back though reserve grade. Alternatively, it might be a good time for them to retire, effective immediately.

SUNDAYST GEORGE Illawarra spring a cunning ambush on the Knights at Kogarah Oval.

Aware that Newcastle have been in frontat half-time in seven games this season and won only one of them, the Dragons strategically concede a 28-10 lead at the interval.

Hence the Knights are right where the Dragons want them, and the home side produce a Winx-like finish to win 32-28.

MONDAYNEWS from Brisbane catches my attention, where apparently Queensland coppershave organised a public competition to name a new police dog.

One of the favourite names tossed up is “Gagai”, after the two-try hero of Origin II.

Sounds like a fitting honour to me. Only thing is I’d suggest the great Dane is more of a greyhound than a German shepherd.

TUESDAYHALFBACKLuke Brooks provides an insight into the Wests Tigers’ mindset as they prepare forSunday’s clash with Newcastle.

“We’ve got a bye the weekend after, so it could be a four-point game,’’ Brooks declares. No point arguingwith that logic.

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