• Owen Craigie gives a reviews the past week in rugby (NITV)Source: NITV
Former rugby league star and Over the Black Dot co-host Owen Craigie says NRL teams need to love the challenge of decisive field goals, the Roosters now have no excuses, and Newcastle is buzzing, so don’t jump off the Knights.
Owen Craigie

27 Mar 2018 - 2:32 PM  UPDATED 27 Mar 2018 - 2:44 PM

How good’s the start to this season of rugby league been? It’s the most even competition I can remember seeing.

You look at people on paper and you go, ‘Wow, you’re gonna put 20 or 30 points on them’, and then something like the Roosters and the Tigers in round one happens. It’s very, very unpredictable. The competition’s gonna swing every week.

There were a couple more games on the weekend involving golden point or near-golden point scenarios too.


Even if you disagree with the Refs, you've just got to roll with it

It’s very debatable sometimes how calls are made, but it is what it is in that situation. Some teams fall off, some teams love that extra point challenge.

The Warriors, they absolutely love it. They came from something like 19-8 down with 17 minutes to go and they came back to win 20-19. It just goes to show, you’ve got to complete your sets and grind away, because otherwise teams will come back to bite you in the bum before you know it.

In the Broncos-Tigers game on Friday night, there was another incident there, but some teams shine and others don’t. It just defines what team really wants it the most.

And whether you agree with the decisions or not, the referees are always going to cop it, no matter if it’s a big win or if they’ve just won, no matter what the result, is the refs are always going to get a caning.

Some have thick skin, some haven’t, but at the end of the day, they can only control what’s in front of them and ref on a game that they’re involved in and what’s happening on the field.

Nine times out 10, things aren’t going to go exactly your team’s way. We spoke about it last year: some teams score a try and you go ‘How the hell did that happen?’, and then another team scores and you go ‘Why didn’t they allow that?’.

Refs are always going to get a caning, you’ve just got to roll with it.


Unpredictable 2018

This season’s games though are very unpredictable.

Yesterday’s game, the Knights and Roosters, just showed me that the Roosters are justified favourite for this year’s competition.

I know it’s early days - round three - but in saying that, the way that they absolutely annihilated the Knights, and the Knights have been in good form, just made Newcastle look like a reserve-grade team.

We’ve still got a long way to go, but it just goes to show what those players can do.

If they can do it week in and week out, they’ve definitely got the competition wrapped up. For sure.

The way their outside backs are making good yardages and scoring tries and busting the lines; everything you need to do, the Roosters are doing it really well.

Their halves in Cooper Cronk and Luke Keary are just unbelievable - they’re just working. It’s game three and they look like they’ve played together for the last 10 years.

From what I saw on Sunday, the Roosters have no excuses anymore. They’ve got no excuses whatsoever and considering they’ve played well and a lot of their star players didn’t really get out of first gear, like James Tedesco and a few others.

If I was playing in that team I’d be very confident of just about winning nine times out of 10 every weekend.

But there’s no way in the world anyone should jump off the Knights.


The Knights needed that loss

Don’t jump off the Knights, no way in the world.

When we won the comp in ‘97, I think we came from 12th or 13th position to come and win the comp.

When they won it in 2001, they were outside the eight. So don’t jump off the Knights just yet.

They needed that loss on Sunday to come back down to reality and give them a sense of what really needs to be done now. Get them off their high wave and get back down to the nitty gritty and start knuckling in again.

It’s been a great start though. The town, the region, the city – it’s on a buzz. They don’t really care if Newcastle win up here; as long as they’re competitive, going on to win is a bonus.

The biggest thing from Sunday that they need to take away is that they learn from the loss.

And for Mitchell Pearce, he’s a great player. He went back to his old town and it’s very hard to go back to your old team and play well against them.

But his time will come, his day will come and it’s a long season. We’ve still got 21 rounds to go.

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