Hits and Misses: Matterson to blame for Eels' bench troubles

This week we take a look at how the Broncos and Dolphins have defied all NRL logic, try to work out what Brad Arthur is doing with the Eels bench, and take note that the Bulldogs did not 'throw caution to the wind' during their brilliant defeat of the Storm in Melbourne.

Read on as we take a look back at some of the biggest hits and misses of the weekend.


You would have laughed in their face

Imagine if someone had told you, before the season started, that after two rounds only two teams would have two wins under their belts and that those two teams would be the Broncos and Dolphins. Cue LOLs.

The Broncos faced the Panthers and Cowboys, so, according to the average pundit, there was no way they were going to win both of those games. And the Dolphins? Well, they were going to be lucky to win a game all year. The competition debutants were set to be completed humiliated first up by the Roosters, before the Raiders would prove too good in the second round.

There's a long season ahead of course, but credit is due to the players and coaching staff of both clubs. Perhaps it's no coincidence that they are caught in a battle for fans and sponsors in a shared geographical area. That rivalry comes to a head on Friday week when they meet at Suncorp Stadium. We can't wait.


Matterson partly to blame for Arthur's ridiculous bench use

Brad Arthur and his Eels coaching staff must be quietly fuming at star forward Ryan Matterson, who last year opted to take a four-week ban over paying a $4,000 judiciary fine. It is hard to believe that he was even allowed to make that decision, based on how tough the start of the season was always going to be for the Eels.

They have lost their first two games and this week face the Sea Eagles at Brookvale, before Matterson can return to take on the Panthers at home. To compound matters, Arthur clearly doesn't trust his back-up forwards, leaving one of them dressed and waiting on the bench for the whole of both losses.

Arthur claimed after the Sharks game that he needed star props Junior Paulo and Reagan Campbell-Gillard out in the middle when the game was on the line. Problem is, in today's fast-paced, high-intensity game, you just can't run your big men into the ground without a reasonable rotation plan. It was a really poor approach from Arthur, for which Matterson can take a large slice of blame.


Bulldogs are definitely not throwing caution to the wind

The Bulldogs shocked the Storm in the first half of their clash in Melbourne. Running hard and wide, spreading the ball and offloading effectively. The Storm had no answers to the onslaught as they missed over 30 tackles in conceding 16 unanswered points. A disallowed try just before the break would have made the scoreline even uglier.

After the game, coach Cameron Ciraldo was asked whether the decision to "throw caution to the wind" in attack was made specifically for the Storm clash. Ciraldo wasn't impressed by the question.

"I don't think we threw caution to the wind, I thought we played a style of footy we've been training for all pre-season," Ciraldo glared.

"We've got good players with some strike players, very skillful players and that's the way we're going to play. We're not going to play conservative footy, we're going to play to our strengths and play a real Bulldogs style of footy."

The Bulldogs' style of footy was certainly impressive, and should see them head into their clash against Wests Tigers at Belmore this week as firm favourites.


Awful Sunday for both Ponga and the Tigers

It took just a minute and 20 seconds for Kalyn Ponga to get his head in the wrong place, collecting the shoulder of charging Tigers forward Asu Kepaoa in the opening exchanges. Ponga hit the Leichhardt Oval turf to the instant concern of everyone on the field and to gasps from the full crowd.

The star five-eighth was clear enough of mind to know that he was in a bit of trouble, trying his very best to regain his feet to prove that he was okay to continue. But the Knights trainer was already with him, supporting and calming him down as he wobbled about searching for some focus.

Ponga was taken from the field, the severity of the impact and his obvious distress in the aftermath guaranteeing his afternoon was over. Just twelve minutes later Knights hooker Jayden Brailey collected a hip when making a tackle. He too took some time to stand and was clearly unstable, it was also the end of his day.

Losing two key players early, more injuries through the game, a sin binning and a send off with 15 minutes to go, it was a testimony to their effort and to the Tigers' ineptitude that the Knights were able to hang on for victory.

It was a spiteful game, with plenty of ill-feeling, and Jackson Hastings was in the middle of it all. Still the Knights halfback had the last laugh, leaving coach Tim Sheens to work miracles if his Tigers are to even looking like claiming two points, outside of the bye.


Tenacious Dolphins topple Raiders in the wet

Beautiful one day, perfect the next is how the Queensland travel propaganda sums up the weather north of the Tweed River. So it was a bit surprising that the Dolphins' hopes of winning back-to-back games to open their first season were dampened by a tropical downpour which continued through most of the match.

Falling behind 12-0, it looked as though the slog would be too much for them, but they stuck to the grind against the Raiders. They edged back to 12-6 before halftime, where a calm and composed Wayne Bennett issued his instructions for the second half.

They had a bit of luck in levelling the scores with 18 minutes remaining, as Tom Gilbert's arms were all over Raiders fullback Sebastian Kris as they contested a grubber kick. Gilbert was awarded the try which when converted saw both teams on 12.

The Dolphins took their first lead of the evening when Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow ran from dummy-half from five metres out. He was tackled by Hudson Young, who was never onside at marker and was subsequently sent to the sin bin for a professional foul in a try-scoring situation.

The scores were levelled again after another head-scratcher from the bunker. Corey Harawira-Naera unexpectedly dropped the ball onto his boot while running full pace at Sean O'Sullivan. O'Sullivan turned his back to the collision and was incredibly penalised for a high hit and sent to the sin bin for the remainder of the game.

The Dolphins didn't despair and made their way downfield with a kick spilled by Raiders winger Albert Hopoate. Young five-eighth Isaiya Katoa double pumped at the line to send Tabuai-Fidow over for his second try of the game, one which rocked the entire Moreton Bay Peninsula. The Dolphins had done it again - what a game, what a result.


Sensational Moses chase holds off Sharks only momentarily

There was a period 10 minutes into the second half when the Eels received several favourable calls from the referee and camped themselves deep in attack. The Sharks repelled raid after raid until Ronaldo Mulitalo intercepted a loose Clint Gutherson pass. He flew downfield and looked gone, but Mitchell Moses flew at a slightly faster speed, pulling down the Sharks winger with a brilliant bootlace tackle.

Unfortunately for the Eels, Mulitalo calmly regained his feet and played the ball to Siosifa Talakai, who ran 10 metres into the scrambling defence before finding Will Kennedy. The Sharks fullback stormed onto the ball, weaving right and left before diving under the posts for his third try of the night. The conversion took the Sharks to a 24-20 lead and they were as good as home from there.