Sports – Page 188 – Michmutters

NRL news 2022: Andrew Johns calls for end to dangerous tackles

Rugby league legend Andrew Johns has called for the NRL to eradicate dangerous tackles, such as cannonball and hip drop tackles, after two separate incidents sparked heated debate over the weekend.

Canberra Raiders prop Joe Tapine was sin-binned for an alleged punch during Saturday afternoon’s 36-24 victory over the Gold Coast Titans at Cbus Super Stadium.

The 28-year-old was seemingly retaliating after a “cannonball” tackle from Titans hooker Aaron Booth, who had come in around the legs.

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“Joe Tapine must have felt like what he thought was a cannonball (tackle) as Aaron Booth comes in right at the knees,” Fox League commentator Matt Russell said at the time.

“You’ve got to be above the knees — quads or higher.”

Johns also sympathized with Tapine, pleading for the NRL to stamp out crusher tackles and similar offenses.

“When there’s a two-man tackle and there’s no momentum, we have to eradicate the third person coming in,” he told Channel 9’s Sunday Footy Show.

“I can’t blame him for reacting like this.

“If there’s two men in the tackle and they can’t get the player down, then one has to change his technique and go down.

“That third man should not be allowed to come in. It’s dangerous.

“They’re worried about the third man destroying their knees and ankles.”

Later on Saturday, Wests Tigers lock Jackson Hastings was left limping from the field after Brisbane Broncos rival Pat Carrigan performed a hip drop tackle at Suncorp Stadium.

Carrigan, who put his body weight on Hastings’ back ankle, was referred directly to the NRL judiciary after the ugly incident, which left him with a broken fibula.

“I thought the tackle was a pretty ordinary tackle,” Tigers interim coach Brett Kimmorley told reporters in the post-match press conference.

“It is something that has crept into the game a little bit and it needs to be looked after, because it’s a horrendous tackle and the outcome can be really bad.”

However, former Broncos captain Gorden Tallis believed the incident was an accident.

“I didn’t think that tackle was as bad as some I have seen this year,” he told Triple M.

“Are they referring it to the judiciary because they don’t know what to do any more? If Patrick Carrigan does that to me and I am out for the year I am going to be disappointed but I think it’s an accident.

“I didn’t think that tackle was as bad as some I have seen this year. Are they referring it to the judiciary because they don’t know what to do any more? If Patrick Carrigan does that to me and I am out for the year I am going to be disappointed but I think it’s an accident.

“I don’t think it is a fashionable hip drops where you jam your hips and I thought watching it he would have been unlucky to get a week or two.”

Speaking after the 32-18 defeat, Carrigan reiterated that he did not intend to harm Hastings.

“I hope he is alright,” he said.

“It wasn’t intentional. I felt like I hit him a bit higher. I don’t know if I winded him, but I heard him wince and then he fell backwards.

“At the end of the day, I don’t want to see anyone get injured, so I hope he’s alright. It is what it is.”

Broncos coach Kevin Walters said: “I don’t know if he snapped his ankle, but it was a heat of the battle thing. Knowing Pat Carrigan and a person of his character, I wouldn’t think it was intentional.”



Jake Stringer fires as Essendon Bombers prove too strong for struggling North Melbourne Kangaroos

Jy Simpkin (40 disposals), Jaidyn Stephenson (32) and Luke Davies-Uniacke (23) worked hard in a losing cause.

Essendon were best served by Zach Merrett (37 disposals, eight clearances), Mason Redman (32 disposals) and Nick Hind (22), while tall swing-man James Stewart played forward and kicked three goals – his first scores in two years.

Peter Wright, Kyle Langford and Harrison Jones kicked two goals apiece.

The only sour note for the Bombers was Jye Caldwell’s calf injury.

Already hit hard by COVID-19, North Melbourne lost Lachie Young and Jack Mahony as late withdrawals before the bounce.


The pair joined teammates Aidan Corr, Paul Curtis and Aaron Hall on the sidelines through virus protocols.

Essendon also suffered a late blow when Dylan Shiel was ruled out with a hamstring issue.

Stringer’s big day began with six disposals, three tackles and three goals in the first quarter.

He would have had a fourth major for the term if a quick snap had not brushed a North defender’s finger on the goal line – a fact confirmed by one of three score reviews before quarter-time.

The Bombers led by 15 points at quarter-time, doubled the advantage during the second term and remained in control on the scoreboard throughout the second half.

ESSENDON 5.1 9.5 13.6 17.12 (114)
NORTH MELB 2.4 5.6 7.9 9.12 (66)

Essendon: Stringer 5, Stewart 3, Langford 2, Wright 2, Jones 2, Redman, Guelfi, Merrett.
North Melb: Zurhaar 4, Anderson, Coleman-Jones, Scott, Goldstein, Turner.
Essendon: Merrett, Redman, Stringer, Zerk-Thatcher Laverde, Langford.
North Melb: Zurhaar, Simpkin, Stephenson, Horne-Francis, McDonald.
Essendon: Caldwell (calf).
CROWD 29,549 at Marvel Stadium.


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Essendon has recorded an eighth straight win over North Melbourne, with a 48-point victory at Marvel Stadium.

The Bombers led from start to finish with Jake Stringer the hero with a season-high five goals in the 17.12 (114) to 9.12 (66) win.

North Melbourne struggled to find avenues to goal on Sunday as the Bombers easily rebounded from defence.

The only sour note for Essendon’s win was a calf injury to Jye Caldwell, who was subbed out in the third term.

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Both teams were forced to make crucial pre-game changes.

Bombers midfielder Dylan Shiel was a late withdrawal due to a hamstring injury, with Archie Perkins replacing him. Jye Menzie made her debut as the medi sub.

The Kangaroos were hit by Covid, with Jack Mahony and Lachie Young withdrawn and replaced by Kayne Turner and Phoenix Spicer.

The Bombers were on the board first through Jake Stringer after the forward found himself at the back of the pack.

Stringer competed in the air and landed quickly on his feet as the ball bounced toward goal.

Despite Aidan Bonar’s best efforts to knock the ball through, he slapped it onto Stringer’s boot.

After a quick score review, it was confirmed Essendon had the first for the day.

But the Roos had all the run for the next five minutes as Bailey Scott slotted his first and Nick Larkey missed a great chance to get himself on the scoreboard.

Stringer almost had his second with a snap from the goal square but it was ruled touched. A minute later, he found himself one-out with Roo Jaidyn Stephenson and he took full advantage.

Stringer converted his set shot from 40m to register his 300th career goal.

He added his third goal for the day from the resulting center clearance after a brilliant pick up by Matt Guelfi.

“If you leave Jake Stringer with a bit of space inside forward 50, he will make you pay every time,” commentator Jordan Lewis said.

“(Hugh) Greenwood is accountable at some point, but who picks him up from there?” Fox Footy’s Jonathan Brown questioned.

Cam Zurhaar had the immediate response for North Melbourne after Jack Ziebell drew a free kick.

Zurhaar took full advantage as the ball got to the back and the Roos closed the margin to five points.

Ben Rutten’s decision to shift James Stewart forward to taken advantage of the height difference with Bonar paid off when the swingman pulled down a big contested grab.

He calmly went back to slot his first for the year.

“There’s just too much space there. It was a really dangerous kick … but (North were) disorganized inside the defensive 50,” Lewis said.

Some great desperation from Nick Hind denied the Roos their third goal of the day as the Bombers enjoyed a 15-point buffer at the first change.

Stringer had a hand in Essendon’s sixth goal when he tried to crash through the contest and propelled the footy forward.

Stewart got on the end of it for his second for the day.

“He’s a raging bull at the moment. Like a front rower in rugby crashing through,” Brown praised.

“He’s the hottest player on the ground,” Lewis added.

Will Snelling paid a heavy price for his movement on the mark when called to stand, and was hit by a 50m penalty.

“The rules are rules. That’s a 50-meter penalty every time,” Brown said.

Kayne Turner made no mistake with the set shot as the margin closed to just eight points.

Harry Jones pushed the lead back out as North became “a little messy” with ball in hand, but it was a lapse in concentration that really hurt the Roos.

With Archie Perkins just out of range at 55m out, no one went to Mason Redman as he charged past the mark.

The handball was given and Redman easily slotted the goal on the run.

“You have to go and man him up – that’s just a lapse in concentration,” Lewis said.

“He was celebrating early … as soon as it left his boot, the finger was up,” Brown added, laughing.

Perkins blew a gold opportunity to cement their dominance as North Melbourne were struggling to find a way out of the defensive 50.

But when Sam Durham put the foot down and sped down the wing, Kyle Langford slotted the goal to push the Bombers out to a 30-point lead minutes out from half time.

Despite finding plenty of footy in the third, the Roos just couldn’t make it count on the scoreboard.

Phoenix Spicer and Nick Larkey couldn’t convert their chances but down the other end, the Bombers were able to hit targets.

Zach Merrett and Matt Guelfi added their first goals for the day as debutant Jye Menzies entered the game.

Jye Caldwell was subbed off with a calf injury and went straight down to the rooms, but the change did little to slow Essendon’s momentum.

When Peter Wright kicked his second goal for the night, he edged closer to his first-ever 50-goal season.

The big man now sits at 47 for the year in just his second season at the club.

By three quarter time, the Bombers had pushed the lead out to 33 points.

The final quarter simply belonged to the Bombers as they racked up their highest score in season 2022.

Essendon kicked four goals to two, including three straight to really blow the margin out.

By full time, it was Essendon 48-point winners with Jake Stringer kicking a season-high five goals.

THE 3-2-1…


Essendon’s defense was savaged early in 2022 when described as “witches hats”. But against the Roos on Sunday, it was the Bombers’ back line that kept them in the contest.

Without Dylan Shiel, who was a late withdrawal from the clash, the Bombers were belted in the center clearance count.

Despite not getting first hands on it and starting on the back foot, Essendon’s back six stood tall and continually turned defense into attack.

But three quarter time, seven of Essendon’s 13 goals came directly from defence.

“They don’t rush Essendon, they just built up the play and then go once they get forward of centre,” Fox Footy’s Jonathan Brown praised.

“They’ve scored three goals from defensive 50 today (to half time). They’ve moved the ball really well end to end.

“It’s been a real strength of theirs in the last seven weeks Essendon.”

While Brown said the transition strength was out of necessity due to the lost clearance count, he said he found the movement “sensational”.

By three quarter time, Essendon had scored 7.0 from defensive half compared to North’s 0.1.

Fox Footy’s Jordan Lewis praised Essendon’s taken ability to score from the back half without “a lot of risk”.

“They’ve been able to transition far too easily. They’ve got a good understanding of when to go quick and when to slow it down,” he praised.


Nick Larkey is North Melbourne’s most successful forward in 2022, with a team high 29 goals heading into Sunday’s clash at Marvel Stadium.

But the big forward just couldn’t get his hands on it against the Bombers with Fox Footy’s Jonathan Brown questioning who was to blame.

Too often Larkey was caught in a one on two, or the ball delivery wasn’t where he needed it to be.

“How many kicks do you see go to Larkey and they’ve gone to the top of his head?” Jordan Lewis questioned.

But Brown said the responsibility didn’t always lie solely with the kicker.

“I wonder if he’s getting out of the blocks too quickly? His timing of him (could be off), ”Brown replied.

By three quarter time, Larkey had just three disposals.

“He’s just maybe starting his lead a bit early. Get a bit desperate and want to get involved in the game,” Brown said.

“But you can rush the kicker and then the ball goes over your head too often.”

Statistics showed the Roos went to Larkey 13 times in the first three terms – compared to the next best Cam Zurhaar with just three targets.

“The amount of ball that go over his head, he’s got to ask himself the question – why is that happening?” Brown said.

“Don’t just put it on the kicker. He needs to understand where he’s positioned, how he’s contributing to that.”

Lewis agreed Larkey was getting caught too high up trying to get his hands on the footy early.

“I just reckon the North Melbourne forwards are getting too high, especially Larkey, He needs to be that deeper option.”

It should be noted opponent Brandon Zerk-Thatcher had a brilliant day, with a one-one-one diving spoil on Larkey the highlight of the contest.

Larkey finished his day with seven touches, four marks and 0.3 from his shots.


Jake Stringer essentially put North Melbourne away by quarter time.

The dangerous Bomber had three goals in the opening term, including two in the spare of two minutes.

But it was his ability to get to the footy and loom large that made him most dangerous.

With Dylan Shiel a late out, Stringer spent more time in the middle, opposed to Roo Hugh Greenwood.

But when he’d sneak forward, it was then up to Luke McDonald to make that transition.

And it was during that handover that Stringer took advantage.

“It’s hard when Stringer is up and about. We know he was at the end of last year – he’s got that look about him today,” Jonathan Brown praised.

“He just puts himself in really dangerous positions and makes the defender really jumpy.

“He’s been the hottest player when the ball has gone inside forward 50.”

Brown praised Stringer’s “really dynamic” approach to the footy against the Roos.

“He’s looked really dangerous form the get-go,” Brown said.

“He’s had that look today that he’ll break the game wide open.

“I’ve liked his energy, his enthusiasm for the contest.

“Six tackles as well shows where his mindset has been at today.”

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The six things we learned from Round 20

20 rounds have been won and run with just three weeks left until finals kick off.

With the finish line nearing, here’s what we learned from the weekend’s ladder-shaping results.

Carlton’s inconsistency looks set to cost them a flag tilt

Carlton’s loss to Adelaide has probably cost them a top-four place.

With 12 wins to their name, the Blues would probably need to win all three of their remaining games to have a chance of earning a double-chance finish.

That’s easier said than done, particularly with Brisbane (away), Melbourne and Collingwood to come.

While we’re still expecting the Blues to play in September, from here it looks likely that they’ll have to do it the hard way and run the gauntlet, a journey only the Bulldogs in 2016 successfully navigated.

It’s a tough pill to swallow for the Blues, as it is losses to St Kilda, Richmond and Adelaide (teams they’re higher on the ladder than) since the bye which looks set to cost them.

They without a doubt have enough A-grade talent to compete with any team, but it looks like 2022 won’t be their year considering where they’ll have to come from.

While they can still turn things around and secure themselves a top-four finish, on current form, they’d have to find something out of the ordinary to get there.

Let’s see if that can start next Sunday against the Lions.

Geelong’s bottom half has never been stronger

Geelong’s long been a perennial contender with such a bevy of stars in their line-up, but they look an even better side in 2022 getting an even contribution across their entire squad.

While the A-grade talent is still performing to a high level, improvement from the likes of Brad Close, Tom Atkins, Jack Henry, Tyson Stengle, Sam De Koning and Zach Guthrie among others is helping propel the side to new heights.

With Chris Scott’s system and structure stacking up, Geelong no longer needs to rely on monster games from their biggest names to get them over the line against quality outfits, something that couldn’t be said in previous years.

With three rounds remaining and a minor premiership at their mercy, the Cats have never been primed more to win it all since 2011, a remarkable thought considering how often they’ve found themselves near the top of the ladder in the last decade.

While their stars will no doubt steal headlines, if the script goes to plan in September, the difference will be how even this side has become.

Away from home win could kickstart Melbourne’s run

Just as we were beginning to question Melbourne’s credentials, they come out and flex with a 46-point win away from home against Fremantle, proving that their best is near on impossible to stop.

While they’ve gone 4-5 from their last nine games, premierships aren’t won in July and the Demons will be hoping their form builds now through September.

With three rounds left and a top-two spot still looking like their destiny, Friday’s win could well be the turning point that sees Simon Goodwin’s side charge from here and go back-to-back in 2022.

We’ve seen in recent years how important the last month of the home and away season is for reigning premieres, and the Demons may have timed their run perfectly.

Look out if they can keep this going across the next seven weeks.

The Magpies are in it to win it with top-four push

Collingwood fans have been expecting a loss to come for some time now, but with 10 wins in a row, they genuinely find themselves as contenders.

It’s something that feels strange to even ponder given where they’ve come from, but there’s no arguing against the ladder and their win-loss record is as good as any bar Geelong.

While there’s still a long way to go for Craig McRae’s side, the return of Jordan De Goey and the pending comeback of Brodie Grundy will have this playing group brimming with even more confidence.

Some may point to the fact that the Pies’ recent run has come against non-finals opponents but taking a closer look at their results you can see that their game plan stacks up against any.

Of fellow top-eight sides, the Pies have beaten Melbourne, Fremantle, Carlton and St Kilda, while they only narrowly lost games to Geelong and Brisbane.

Considering that’s who’ll they’ll be playing in September, who’s saying this side can’t make a tilt at a premiership? Particularly if they make the top four.

They probably need at least one or two more wins from their last three games to get there, and while they don’t have the easiest run home, it’d take a brave punter to bet against Fly’s Magpies at the moment.

Brisbane’s MCG hoodoo is real

This was the game Brisbane would’ve had circled on their calendar to try and prove the naysayers wrong, but in defeat, only more doubt has been cast over their credentials.

Up by 42 points midway through the second term, it looked like Brisbane would finally put their MCG hoodoo to bed and win at the venue for the first time since 2014, but alas, they again failed to get the job done.

In fairness, Richmond is a far better side than their ladder position and record suggest, but there’s no excuse for coughing up a lead like that when you consider yourself to contend.

If they are to win it all they’ll have to do it at the MCG and with where they’re headed, they could find themselves at the home of football in week one or two of the finals series.

There’d be no better time to snap the hoodoo in September, but there’s got to be genuine concerns at Brisbane whether they can do it on the biggest stage.

It’s another hurdle that this side has failed to jump.

It’s a big week for Fremantle

Just as they looked destined to finish the season strong, Fremantle had had three poor weeks to almost cost them a top-four spot.

With losses to Sydney and Melbourne plus a draw with Richmond, the Dockers sit half a game or a game and a half outside the double chance slots with just three weeks left.

To finish inside the top four Justin Longmuir’s side will probably have to be flawless from here, and that starts with a huge game against the Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night.

Win that, and they’ll go in favorites against the Eagles and Giants in the last fortnight with 15 wins well and truly within their reach.

Lose, and they’ll almost certainly be consigned to an elimination final finish which would be disappointing considering how well they were traveling just one month ago.

It’s a huge clash for both teams, the AFL world will be anticipating that result with bated breath.



Saints, Blues face tough AFL runs home

Agitated St Kilda coach Brett Ratten is demanding critics show his AFL side more respect after the Saints moved into pole position in the race for eighth spot.

And if the Saints end up playing finals this year, they’ll have earned it.

Ratten’s men have ticked boxes against lowly Hawthorn and West Coast over the past fortnight, leapfrogging the Western Bulldogs and Richmond into the top eight.

But they now face Geelong, Brisbane and Sydney – three of the competition’s top five – in a run home that could scarcely be any more difficult.

As many as three wins could be required for St Kilda (11-8), who sit just two points clear of Richmond with an inferior percentage, four points clear of the Bulldogs and eight clear of Gold Coast.

“We know we haven’t played our best footy through the year but (that’s the same as) other clubs too,” Ratten said after the Saints silenced many doubters with a nervy 12-point win over the Hawks on Saturday.

“We’ve won 11 games and we’ve put ourselves in a position to maybe play finals, maybe not.

“I don’t know what the future holds for us but I just think (critics) always look at it from a more glass half-empty view than maybe thinking a bit more about some of the positives that this club brings.”

Not unlike St Kilda, Carlton suddenly look a little shaky, having dropped a game they would have expected to win away to lowly Adelaide.

The Blues (12-7) face Brisbane, Melbourne and Collingwood – three of the top four – in the run home but have an extra win in the bank.

“We’re in with a shot,” Carlton coach Michael Voss said.

“We’re going to go full roar at it so we’re looking forward to those contests.

“We’re going to first unpack this (Adelaide loss) and get to work on our game.”

Richmond lead the chasing pack in ninth position after an epic comeback win over Brisbane, erasing a seven-goal deficit to prevail by seven points on Sunday.

“We’ve been through some tough weeks, but what this means, we can only wait and see,” Tigers coach Damien Hardwick said.

“This AFL season is an absolute beauty. I don’t think I’ve seen one quite like it with how even it is.

“There’s a couple of sides at the top that might feel like they’re a little bit above the others.

“There’s some really, really capable sides and some good sides are going to miss out on finals positions this year.”

At the top of the ladder, Geelong will be expected to extend their 10-match winning streak to 13 with games against St Kilda, Gold Coast and West Coast heading into the finals, while reigning premiers Melbourne are back in form after a strong victory over sixth-placed Fremantle.

Sydney are looming large in fourth spot, above Brisbane on percentage, after four straight wins.