Tim Connell: Seven Days in League

IN SIRO'S FOOTSTEPS: The black tape round the melon look was back in vogue at the inaugural City Country women's game at North Sydney Oval. Picture: NSW Rugby League
IN SIRO'S FOOTSTEPS: The black tape round the melon look was back in vogue at the inaugural City Country women's game at North Sydney Oval. Picture: NSW Rugby League

THURSDAY

IT’S the NRL’s Indigenous Round, so tonight’s Bulldogs-Cowboys clash starts with dancing, a smoking ceremony and the players in jerseys with dot-painting motifs.

The stirring display unfolds in an ANZ Stadium as empty as a Wayne Bennett interview transcript, and it’s hard not to think how much better the AFL would have done this with a bumper crowd in Melbourne or Adelaide, at least until they started booing Eddie Betts.

The Bulldogs are as bereft of ideas as fans tonight, yielding to the Thurston-less visitors in a showing consistent with how meh they’ve been this year.

Seven Days puts the dog out for a leak and remembers we have two unopened letters, penned in the familiar, deranged hand of the Maitland Maniac.

FRIDAY

Rugby league, old mate, this is more like it. 

The Sharks edge the Dragons in a classic Shire Derby, at a Kogarah refreshingly more densely populated than the Pilbara.

The visitors trail at halftime but, after a dressing-down from Shane “your local real estate principal” Flanagan, get home on the back of two Sosaia Feki tries as dubious as a White House press briefing.

Back at moonbase ANZ, Robbie Farah ticks every box on his Revenge Against The Tigers checklist except “be in a top-eight team” and “in front of Jason Taylor” as the Rabbitohs run riot.

Those letters from the Maniac are on our desk. What to do; just open them?

SATURDAY

Honestly. If we told you Penrith, trailing 28-6 at the break, would hit the lead with a quarter of the game left and record a famous win, would your head not explode at least a little bit?

Their opposition is the not exactly bankable Warriors, but still. It’s the Panthers’ second-biggest comeback after their 32-31 miracle against the Tigers in 2000.

OK, what about this. What if Seven Days told you the Titans, the Titans, after losing three players to injury including Jarryd Hayne, and trailing the Melbourne Storm by eight points with 10 minutes to play, would run out winners?

If you contrived those scenarios in Rugby League Live, your PlayStation would catch fire. It’s madness.

The lunacy spreads to Brisbane’s win over Manly, as Daly Cherry-Evans does little to grow his fan club north of the border by diving to rule out a Broncos try.

Tom Trbojevic is hurt in a crunching David Mead tackle and we all learn a bit about the mid-air tackle rule: if the ball bounces, you’re fair game!

Even on social media, it seems, as the official Broncos Twitter account lauds the incident “a great play… #TrueStrength”. It’s deleted after a #MildBacklash.

Later, Luke Brooks is accosted outside a Balmain pub and, if you accept his version, you’ve kind of got to feel for the Tigers half.

Instead of being feted in the inner west as the last of the Big Four, Brooks cops big four-letter words from a patron who allegedly causes drinks to be spilt and jumps out of a cab for round two.

The Tigers’ new signing Russell Packer seems less likely to be approached outside a nightspot.

SUNDAY

Look, the Eels suck, and Seven Days doesn’t want to talk about it. But seriously Parra, thanks for wrecking the weekend and probably being the reason Mitchell Pearce is picked for Origin by Loz, a man whose reserves of faith must rival the disciples of Jonestown.

In brighter news, the Knights spring an upset over Canberra on Mother’s Day in a boost for those who took mum to McDonald Jones Stadium as their Plan B.

Today the Raiders don’t bring to mind the viking clap so much as vikings with the clap, and they’re put to the sword by a Knights outfit that seems to draw strength from its defence.

Whispers of Dane Gagai leaving for Souths remove some of the gloss. Who’d be Nathan Brown?

The Knights spring an upset over Canberra on Mother’s Day, in a boost for those who took mum to McDonald Jones Stadium as their Plan B.

MONDAY

Des Hasler overrules God. Will Hopoate has to play on Sundays.

“We don’t live in a perfect world,” the Bulldogs fullback says, an epiphany perhaps hastened by the new contract on his horizon.

And sadly, it looks done. Dane Gagai is Ga-gone. Also sadly, Seven Days opens those letters from the Maitland Maniac.

Riffing on one of his favourite themes, the Maniac’s more lucid missive predicts the “unfit” Knights will be “smashed by Canberra!” That letter didn’t age well.

TUESDAY

A day after Des’s victory over God, Mitchell Moses parts the red tape and finally joins the Eels. And for heaven’s sake, Seven Days can’t cop another sermon on the mount from Leichhardt.

Fair enough, Moses had a contract and Ivan Cleary didn’t owe him a release, but surely the football gods owe Parra one of these.

Remember when Jamie Lyon walked out to find himself in the bush with $125,000 for an off season and one game, and found himself in time to sign with Manly? Kieran Foran found himself in Belmore, via Auckland. Jarryd Hayne – the NFL, Fijian rugby, the Titans!

WEDNESDAY

“We could go and give him Nobbys beach,” Knights chief executive Matt Gidley says of Gagai, “but that would prevent us bringing other players in to build the team.” 

Sounds like he’s definitely going, then. The Knights will probably also miss out on Bulldogs skipper James Graham, which is a shame. Anyone who reels off an Office quote is all right by Seven Days. Shoot.