NRL play-offs throws up some tight tus­sles

Manukau Courier - - WIN A TRIP TO ITALY -

‘‘The results were al­ways in doubt, the ac­tion some­times bru­tally com­pet­i­tive, won­der­ful skills were shown by all the play­ers.’’

Ar­gentina. But so good are the All Blacks, that a 57-0 record win­ning mar­gin rated only a pass mark from coach Steve Hansen who said his side ‘‘played prob­a­bly as good as we’ve played for a long time’’, while as­sis­tant Ian Fos­ter crit­i­cised mis­takes af­ter the re­sult was be­yond doubt. It is a done deal we will win the cham­pi­onship again.

But more than that, South Africa is rated third in the world, so you could be for­given for won­der­ing what the point ac­tu­ally is. There is a huge gap be­tween us and them. With Eng­land rated num­ber two in the world, the news we will play them - though not un­til next year – is wel­come. Per­haps it is Hansen’s at­ti­tude that keeps the play­ers sharp, who knows, but there are some NRL coaches who would love to har­ness what the All Blacks have.

The fi­nal four NRL sides have been found, with Mel­bourne to face Bris­bane on Fri­day night, and the Roost­ers to take on North Queens­land on Satur­day. While the Roost­ers and Storm had the week­end off, the Cow­boys were dogged to get past the Eels, while Bris­bane beat the Pan­thers. Both those games, and re­mem­ber I loved the All Blacks wip­ing the Boks, had more to of­fer, sim­ply be­cause they were com­pet­i­tive. The results were al­ways in doubt, the ac­tion some­times bru­tally com­pet­i­tive, won­der­ful skills were shown by all the play­ers, and the games were thor­oughly en­gag­ing.

Un­for­tu­nately there will be no fi­nals footy for the Voda­fone War­riors In­Trust Su­per Pre­mier­ship side, beaten in their semi­fi­nal by the Wy­ong Roos 16-12.

They may have been elim­i­nated, but I am proud of how deep into the fi­nals we went, and how com­pet­i­tive we were in the semi, with good tries to Toafo­foa Si­p­ley and Jazz Te­vaga, both con­verted by Ma­son Lino, with all three of those play­ers hav­ing tasted NRL footy this year.

MATT KING/GETTY IM­AGES

Sir Peter Leitch loved the com­pet­i­tive na­ture of the NRL play-off matches over the week­end.

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