This is a Big Game. Well, not a big game in the sense of being packed with Big Names, because 85 Bulldogs players are currently out injured, and the Roosters have six boys who are off because they’re busy getting ready for State of Origin. Instead we have lots of little baby Roosters (chicks?) having their first go at first-grade, and lots of Bulldogs I’ve never heard of. Also not really in the sense of a big crowd. I can see two little boys who are supporting the dogs, the regulars over in the chookpen, and … well yes. Let’s not talk about that.
What we do have though is the long-awaited return of Sonny Bill Feelings. I can’t wait to see whether he storms onto the field and single-handedly crushes all the inexperienced chickens for a thousand one-man tries, or whether he comes out wearing his Sonny-Bill-Feelings-sadface and spends eighty minutes rocking and crying on the sideline.
And it should be a big game in terms of grudge, if nothing else. We all remember the dogs-chooks ‘bred not bought’ fiasco, and even though former Bulldogs Braith Anasta and Big Willie aren’t playing tonight, I still think there’ll be some tension on the field. I settle in and send up a little prayer for some grudge-match biff. If they all play nice, I will be so disappointed.
The boys kick off and get started, and within 90 seconds the Bulldogs have christened the game and given away a penalty with a forward pass to the always-concerned Andrew Ryan. He always looks so very, very sad. It troubles me.
A little comic relief comes from the sidelines in the form of the Roosters Origin recruits sitting in the stands in what certainly look like some snappy little rental suits. Braith Anasta looks like nothing so much as a Hammerhead shark wearing a suit. Willie Mason looks like a schoolboy on human growth hormone and he turns and waves to the camera like a moron who’s never been on television before. OH HAI MUM! Anthony Tupou and Craig Fitzgibbon have that vague air of confusion about them that they always have when they’re together. It’s very endearing.
Roosters scrum feed, Roosters lose the ball. Bulldogs lose the ball. James Aubusson crushes Nick Youngquest in a monster of a tackle as he catches a long kick from Amos Roberts. It’s fantastic. Especially fantastic because I suspect Nick Youngquest may be a total douchebag and I like watching him suffer. More of that please!
More penalties. More intense tackling. Oh yeah, that’s the good stuff.
Someone single-handedly tackles the voluminous Jarrad Hickey and I’m a little amazed. That must be like felling a redwood, or moving a mountain. Sonny Bill loses the ball and Laurie ‘Jolie Laide’ Daley announces that whichever team plays the simplest tonight will win. I think whoever can actually hold the ball in their actual hands will win. It’s not even raining so bitches have no excuses. Maybe they need to use something on their palms before they play. Do they do that already? When I learned pole dancing we used hairspray and it works a treat. What was my point again?
Clearly the bulldogs care not for Laurie’s advice, because when they’re awarded another set of six they do not elect to ‘play simple’. Instead, they go absolutely insane. Hickey attempts to cross the line for a try but is held up and ends up smashed against the goal post vertically. The ball then heads back to Ben Roberts who spins erratically in a tackle and manages to kick the ball BACKWARDS. Awesome. Well done guys.
That reminds me – not only are Ben Roberts and Amos Roberts both playing tonight for different teams – we also have both Aubussons and both Paeas playing in the Roosters team tonight. I have trouble telling the Aubussons apart normally because they have similar haircuts (and I’m an idiot) so god knows what will happen tonight. At least Mickey and Lopini Paea have the decency to have radically different heads. God. Way to make my job difficult NRL.
When a knock on gives the Roosters a penalty, Reni Maitua cracks it, throws down the ball and stares daggers at the world in general. It is honestly terrifying. I feel like his piercing reptile eyes are burning through my skin.
When the Bulldogs regain possession Sonny Bill Feelings makes a beautiful break towards the right of the field and – facing five chickens in defence – offloads to our beloved Hazem El Masri on the right wing for a try. Aw Sonny Bill! Looks like a little boy somewhere has been taking his meds! Good for you bb.
The always serene Hazem converts for a 6-0 lead but SBFeelings isn’t having any of it. He stalks off downfield flushed-cheeked and enraged, arm veins protruding, grass plastered to his forehead, and my pants explode.
And while I will admit that the brooding thing is kinda hot, but would it kill you to crack a smile? Maybe I was wrong about those meds after all.
The chicklets counter with J Aub putting up a bomb from 30 metres out. Soliola rushes towards Douchequest and Heka Nanai in the race for the ball and there is a bit of confusion about what happens now so I will give you my version, which is obviously the right one. Douchequest leaps for the ball, misses with his hands, and kinda forearm butts it in a knock on. At this point Nanai is standing in front of him, doing nothing. Soliola is leaping over Nanai, arms outstretched, towards the ball. He knocks it sideways in the in goal and an Aubusson of some description collects it for a try.
Sadly the video ref calls Soliola’s bat a second knock on and denies the try, and I have to live with it. Bah.
More penalties, many bombs from the Bulldogs towards the chicks’ line, lovely takes from little Shaun Kenny-Dowall on the right and leaping Sam Perrett on the left. Voss is being a battler as usual and recycles the phrase “that is a good skill”. It wasn’t good commentary last week, and it won’t fly this week mister. Peter Sterling is still ranting about the Soliola/Aubusson no-try debacle. IT’S BEEN TEN MINUTES STERLO. EVEN I’M OVER IT NOW.
Sterlo wins me back though by being delightfully biased and yelling “there’s still time for the Roosters to win!” and suggesting that no-look passes are very “in vogue” today. Oh, Sterlo. Always up with the latest fashionz.
Forward passes, knock-ons, dropped balls. Amos Roberts falls over three or four times while collecting the ball. And seriously? Not a trace of rain in the sky. I am baffled.
J Aub offloads to Soliola and onto little Sam Perrett who makes a valiant dive for the corner, for what turns out to not quite be a try. Gold star for effort though kiddies. This brings on another period of borderline brilliance and borderline idiocy, as Setaimata Sa makes a lovely break through the line for a long run, then loses the ball only a metre from the tryline for no apparent reason to the defence. It’s collected by Douchequest, who runs what I think is giant figure eight horizontally on the field before handing it to Arana Taumata, who outruns Amos Roberts for a 70 metre try. Great name.
Hazem misses the conversion and it’s 10-0.
On the return, the chicklets grab the ball and are led upfield by wily Sam Perrett. Amos Roberts takes the ball over to the left and Sa sends an unexpected grubber into the corner for Brent Grose to ground for a try. Try! Excitement! Whole length of the field on only one tackle! And Sa can kick? Sa can kick! See Sa kick!
Related note to parents everywhere: Please stop naming your sons Brent.
Amos is flummoxed by the angle and misses the conversion. 10-4.
SBFeelings loses the ball. We see Big David Shillington flash some butt cheek for I think the third time so far. Bulldog Jarrad-with-an-A Hickey is taken off-field with a corked thigh. Poor guy. As injuries go, chicks don’t really go for the ‘corked thigh’, you know?
Mark O’Meley knocks on a ball with his crotch.
Back on the field, Amos Roberts falls over again. J Aub does good things in defence. More fumbles. Cryin Andrew Ryan threatens near the tryline. Amos makes a lovely run, and Perrett runs on, and Aubusson’s kick falls dead from El Masri. Paddo boy Anthony Cherrington makes another lovely break, and Amos drops another grubber kick for Sam Perrett to leap on in goal.
You adorable cheeky bastard.
Truthfully, I feel that this shouldn’t have been a try. It’s just a feeling. But then when I watch the replay I have to admit he was in field, and he did have his hand on the ball when it hit the ground. So why does it feel like he wasn’t actually in control of the ball? Whatever. It doesn’t matter anyway because the video ref awards it on benefit of the doubt.
Also I’m kinda fine with that. Mainly, because I think he disallowed a good try earlier, and secondly because I am all for the benefit of the doubt rule. I like it. I think it’s nice. It’s like saying to the players: you tried really hard, and you did well, and I’m going to reward you with points. I believe in you. I BELIEVE IN YOU. Maybe if people were more supportive in general in the NRL, delicate little flowers like SBFeelings wouldn’t feel so alone and act out as a result. And if the I-BELIEVE-IN-YOU cultural revolution has to start with the video ref, then so be it.
From little things, big things grooooooooooow.
No conversion, and the score is 10-8 to the doggies.
At some point Nanai becomes concussed. Oh well. Just send him over to the sidelines to sit with corked-thigh Jarrad-with-an-A Hickey. Jarrad is, in fact, on the sidelines at this point riding the exercise bike, and I swear to you all I see fat rolls. I do believe we have another dark horse in the race for Fattest Man in League 2008. Oh yeah. Hickey’s comin for you Danny Wicks!
My boy J Aub yells ‘same again’ and drops another low kick for a Shaun Kenny-Dowall try. Predictable, but oh so satisfying. Amos remains defeated by the uprights and fails to convert.
12-8 to the chicklets!
SBFeelings has been a bit absent for awhile and I wonder if he’s off having a tear in the loos. J Aub accidentally headbutts Brad Morrin and draws blood. The penalties continue to rain down from heaven. In the next Roosters set Jake Friend comes perilously close to the tryline. Who the hell is Jake Friend? Where did he come from? A cross-field kick from teh Roosters finds SBFeelings in the in-goal area. Oh, there you are Sonny! Unfortunately though SBFeelings then has a moment of complete cock-eyed optimism and attempts to singlehandedly kick and chase out of goal. As you might have guessed, it doesn’t end well. Back to the loos with you Sonny.
Lil Amos grabs the ball and charges for the try line with three doggies dragging from his shirt. He deposits the ball on the tryline for what he thinks is no try and shakes his head at the COULDA-WOULDA-SHOULDA of it all. Sa makes me fall in love by tripping and falling right in front of Amos with his crazy masking tape headband on. Bless.
And I CAN’T BELIEVE IT. The video ref is starting the I-BELIEVE-IN-YOU revolution RIGHT NOW. He cares not that Roberts doesn’t think he scored a try – HE’S GIVING HIM ONE ANYWAY. You deserve it Amos baby! BECAUSE YOU’RE WORTH IT. This is insane. Amos is cackling with laughter and can’t believe it either. He shakes his head and converts for 16-10.
Is this the longest recap in history? It feels long.
More misdirected kicks, including one into a dog’s head. Tackles aplenty. Penalties ahoy. AND AN INTERCEPT!
Sa yoinks a Taumata pass from the air and storms off downfield in his crazy headband, fending off Maitua with a palm to his face and bellyflopping in goal for a 90 metre try. Sa can run? Sa can run! See Sa run! The Origin boys in the crowd jump and cheer with joy. Tupou is on some kind of two minute time-delay and as everyone is sitting down he finally stands up to see what all the fuss is about. Oh, Anthony.
Roberts nails the conversion for 24-10. 24-10! That’ll teach you all to tip the Bulldogs, and yes, I am looking at you Brad Fittler. Especially you.
Tupou is still grinning.
The doggies counter with a sneaky little pass via SBFeelings to Winetana for a try.
Time’s a-tickin, and on the buzzer the dogs are refused a try by the video ref for a push on Soliola. Ooooh, that lovin attitude didn’t last too long.
That means a fulltime win to the chicklets over the puppies. J Aub is robbed of man of the match in favour of the oft-falling Amos Roberts, but I make my peace with it when I realise they probably only did it as an excuse to ask Amos about the Unexpected Try. I would do the same thing, that whole thing was amazing.