QUICK WRAP: Dolphins at Knights
17 March 2023 - Redcliffe play Newcastle in round 3 of the NRLM season in the early Friday slot at Newcastle International Sports Centre
Was the game worth watching?
Yes. It was a see-sawing affair only put to bed in the final quarter of the game by Redcliffe. While errors and defence were issues, especially the latter for both teams, the game didn’t seem to bog down.
Of course, with Kayo failing during the half time break and not coming back until 15 minutes into the second half, you may need to watch it back (I won’t be, I saw enough).
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Did the Dolphins look like the better team?
The Dolphins have a funny way about them. It was evident against the Roosters and it was evident again tonight against the Knights. They don’t look like the stronger team for huge parts of the game. Out of the 240 minutes of NRL football played so far, the Dolphins might have been the better looking team for less than 80 of them.
Nonetheless, they manage to maintain possession and play a relatively simple style, earning the right to shift the ball. With a bit of effort in defence, fewer errors, a bit of cohesion and nothing too complicated structurally, they never seem to find themselves in trouble and, ultimately, end up subtly in front and then winning the game.
Were they the better team?
Yes, mostly because they scored more tries. The stats lean very heavily in the Dolphins’ favour, although the yardage battle was closer than I credited and I don’t think the Dolphins were particularly efficient. Looks like Redcliffe will lean heavily on maintaining possession and working from there.
Did you notice?
The first ever NRL Dolphins hattrick belongs to Tesi Niu. A great piece of pub trivia.
Who would’ve thought it? Not me.
My disdain for Niu is well established at this point. Jason Oliver from Rugby League Writers (to which you should be subscribed) has a more tempered view.
It’s clear that the Wayne Bennett career redemption party is in full swing. Isaako and Niu were both discarded by the lesser coaching staff at the Broncos as irretrievable wrecks. Bennett has rebuilt them into functional first grade footballers. I’m going to need to see a lot more from Niu before I re-evaluate, especially without Dom Young feeding him errors to score on and I’m still not convinced he’s got the power to be an outside back, but I’m opening the door ever so slightly to the possibility.
No player ever loses a game for their team but if they did, Dom Young was it today for the Knights. I keep thinking that the Dolphins won’t get that kind of luck every week but so far, they do. More importantly, when the chances come, they capitalise (see: Lemuelu setting up for Tabuai-Fidow in 57th minute).
I probably wouldn’t read too much into the boxscore for the halves. O’Sullivan and Katoa look fine out there. Sometimes it’s ok to go with the eye test. Nikorima had some lively moments, backing up his QCup form after playing fullback for the Capras last weekend.
The Knights had some success by picking out Hastings on the right and then shifting quickly back to the left. That seemed to discombobulate the Dolphins defence on more than one occassion.
While the Facebook groups may love Tyson Gamble, no one at Brisbane is missing a guy whose main moment, other than an absolutely sublime try off a Hastings kick exposing a huge hole in the Phins’ defence, was getting a head to the balls and having a turning circle of the USS Wyoming.
Kaufusi is another having a Bennett-led renaissance, although he has to get his attempted homicides timed better. Fortunately, the Knights never had the possession or field position to really apply any pressure in the final ten minutes. Having said that, the Bradman Best no try was a bit too easy but wouldn’t have mattered in the long run.
36 is a lot of points to score, even if we account for some kind refereeing decisions.
The Broncos are going to end the Dolphins run next week at Suncorp.
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