Robert Dillon: Seven Days in League

THURSDAY

WESTS Tigers beat the Cows 20-12 at Leichhardt Oval to uphold a remarkable statistic.

In seven games at Balmain’s spiritual home, Cows champion Johnathan Thurston has never posted a solitary win.

Indeed he is yet to beat the Tigers in Sydney, full-stop, having also lost three times at ANZ Stadium (including the 2005 grand final) and three times at Campbelltown.

All of which raises an obvious question: why the bloody hell didn’t NSW host their State of Origin games at Leichhardt, and switch to orange-and-black jerseys?

It might have given them a fighting chance over the past decade or so.

Meanwhile, Knights Hall of Famer Tony Butterfield files his weekly “Up Front” column for the Newcastle Herald and spends the first few hundred words reflecting on the Jets’ loss in the A-League soccer grand final.

It’s a good read. Maybe we should sign Butts up as a dual-code analyst, working 12 months of the year.

Just joking, Lowey.

FRIDAY

IT’S a hyphen-athon as the Knights host the Panthers at McDonald Jones Stadium, or should that be McDonald-Jones Stadium?

Not surprisingly, the Chocolate Soldiers get the chocolates, given their double-bunger brigade outnumbers the Knights three-to-one: Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Corey Harawira-Naera versus Shaun Kenny-Dowall.

It’s one of those nights that journalists dread, although at least Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski is not refereeing.

SATURDAY

RATHER than running around with Cronulla’s feeder team, Newtown, in the NSW Cup match against Mounties at Aubrey Keech Reserve, Trent Hodkinson is pictured enjoying a day out with his wife at Scone races.

Half his luck.

Hodko started the year at the Knights, played a couple of games for Cronulla and is now on his way back to his original club, Manly.

He celebrates his new deal by donning a Manly-esque maroon jacket and presumably having a flutter with some of the not-so-small fortune the Knights have paid him to play for other clubs.

Meanwhile, there is more drama for Cameron Smith as Melbourne beat the Gold Coast at Suncorp.

Last week Smithy was left in a world of pain after Dragons forward Jeremy Latimore lashed out and collected him flush on the little head.

Today he’s responsible for an awkward incident that leaves former teammate Kevin Proctor with a groin strain.

It’s immediately labelled a chicken-wing tackle, but after viewing repeated replays, I’m more inclined to classify it as a grade-three drumstick.

Foxtel commentator Corey Parker notes that Melbourne’s right-edge pairing of Will Chambers and Suliasi Vunivalu lose their cool with each other and trade a few “explicitives”, whatever that means.

SUNDAY

PAUL McGregor gets the Dally M weirdo of the week award after the Dragons suffer a boilover loss to the Bunnies.

Dragons lock Jack de Belin plays only 28 minutes and McGregor explains afterwards that he carried an injury into the game.

“Jack was one of them guys that didn't train all week and played pretty much no minutes,” McGregor says. “We used two interchanges on it. It's a bit of a lesson there.”

Asked about the exact nature of the injury, McGregor refuses to elaborate.

“I can’t tell you that ... it’s on his body,” he says.

Some coaches just take it all too seriously.

MONDAY 

KNIGHTS veteran Chris Heighington is given the day off as his teammates endure a tough ballwork/conditioning session.

“Just giving the old fella a rest,” he explains to the media.

Fair enough. It’s always a wise policy to treat a worn-out old fella with tender, loving care.

Meanwhile, Gold Coast coach Garth Brennan speaks out in support of embattled Bryce Cartwright, who is under fire after a Melbourne try by Cameron Munster.

Some are saying Cartwright should be credited with a missed tackle. Others argue the enigmatic back-rower did not even make an effort to miss the tackle. “If you keep kicking a dog when he’s down he’s just going to cower, not grow in confidence,” Brenno says. “Everyone just needs to lay off him.”

I guess it depends how much mongrel is in the dog.

TUESDAY

TIGERS centre Mahe Fonua goes from hero to zero when he is dumped to reserve grade for Thursday’s clash with Penrith.

Just days after starring in the win against North Queensland, Fonua sleeps in and is late for a training session, which costs him his spot in first grade.

At least he’s not in as much strife as Parramatta forward Kenny Edwards, who is facing the sack after allegedly getting busted driving while disqualified and trying to do a runner from a police breathalyser.

Typical of the Eels’ season, he is soon rounded up after making half a break.

WEDNESDAY

THOSE dirty, rotten Cane Toads are in a state of disarray after Cameron Smith’s retirement from representative football.

After 42 Origin games and 12 series wins, who is going to fill the void?

Who will be Queensland’s hooker this year? Who will skipper them, and who will be the goalkicker?

It’s enough to cause mass panic among the XXXX-heads north of the border.

More importantly, as one wise reader points out, with Smithy out of the equation, who is going to referee the series opener at the MCG on June 6?

HALF HIS LUCK: Trent Hodkinson and his wife Chantelle at Scone races on Saturday. Sure beats playing for Newtown against Mounties. Picture: Darren Pateman

HALF HIS LUCK: Trent Hodkinson and his wife Chantelle at Scone races on Saturday. Sure beats playing for Newtown against Mounties. Picture: Darren Pateman