Rugby League talking points: Drop-goals, London Broncos and Burgess brothers
By Marc Bazeley
Last Updated: 10/06/19 5:04pm
Drop-goal drama in Super League, another win for London Broncos against one of the big guns and news from the NRL on the Burgess siblings all feature in this week's rugby league talking points.
Just the drop
Much like buses, you wait ages for a game to be settled by some late drop-goal drama and then three come along at once.
Peter Mata'utia, Sam Powell, and Morgan Smith were the toast of Castleford, Wigan and London - well, Ealing, at the very least - respectively after Round 17 of the 2019 Super League season thanks to each of them landing a crucial one-pointer for their teams.
Powell's kick from around 45 metres out snatched a 19-18 win for the Warriors away to Hull Kingston Rovers in the closing minutes, while Mata'utia and Smith both held their nerve in golden-point extra-time to win it for their teams.
Full-back Mata'uitia and hooker Powell became the 12th and 13th players to successfully kick drop-goals in Super League this season, with half-back Smith's effort being his second of the year.
They still have some way to go to catch Hull FC's Marc Sneyd and Catalans Dragons' Tony Gigot though as the duo have proven the competition's drop-goal kings so far this season with five apiece.
Although only worth a single point, the ability to kick a drop-goal remains a vital skill, particularly in these situations when the outcome of the game is on the line.
The top-versus-bottom clash at Trailfinders Sports Ground produced a shock result as London Broncos inflicted only the second defeat of the season on St Helens.
The 23-22 triumph was not the first time the Broncos, promoted from the Championship via the Million Pound Game in 2018, have knocked one of Super League's big names off their perch since returning to the top flight.
Leeds Rhinos and Wigan have both fallen victim to the side from the capital, with Wakefield Trinity being beaten twice as well.
Most importantly, the win over Saints took Danny Ward's side level on points with Hull KR in the battle against relegation.
"We always talking about needing 17 blokes working hard for each other and hitting eights and nines out of 10 to compete with some of these teams, so I'm proud of everyone's effort, certainly in defence," Broncos head coach Ward said.
"It was certainly the best win of the season and something to build on going forward."
The golden shot
Five Super League games have now been decided in golden-point extra-time since the system for attempting to settle games drawn after 80 minutes was introduced as one of several changes to the playing rules ahead of the 2019 season.
All five of those matches have been settled by a drop-goal before the 10-minute period of extra time is up, with Hull FC and Castleford Tigers the two teams who have been involved in more than one golden-point game.
The Black and Whites have won both of theirs thanks to half-back Sneyd's trusty boot, while Castleford have been on the receiving end as well as tasting victory in such circumstances when Brad Dwyer's one-pointer denied them away to Leeds earlier in the season.
So far, there has yet to be a draw following the 10-minute period of golden-point extra-time, which follows the system the NRL have used since 2003.
Of the 118 regular-season games to have gone to golden point in the NRL during that period, only 14 of them have finished all square after the extra 10 minutes - and the last of those was just under three years ago when Gold Coast Titans and Cronulla Sharks drew 18-18.
Back on these shores, those extra points gained by teams thanks to winning in golden-point extra-time could be even more valuable come the end of the season at both ends of the table.
Tony Smith is back in the game
There was no fairy-tale return for Tony Smith as his first game in charge of Hull KR ended in a narrow defeat at home to Wigan, but many will be pleased to see the former Huddersfield Giants, Leeds and Warrington Wolves boss involved again.
Smith, who had a spell in charge of the England team as well, had been out of rugby league since leaving Warrington in 2017 and made no secret of the fact he was unhappy with the direction the sport was heading in.
During that time, the 52-year-old had been undertaking a mentoring role in football with the Premier League and League Managers' Association, and the chance to take over from Tim Sheens in east Hull came almost out of the blue.
"I've had numerous people ask me if I wanted to get back into coaching and at numerous stages I wasn't sure," Smith told Sky Sports.
"Six weeks ago, a close friend of mine who is involved in rugby union as me did I think I'd get back into coaching and my answer at that point was I'd want to know if the situation was right.
"Six weeks later, I got a text from somebody involved in the Rovers seeing if I would be available and if I was interested in speaking to them.
"Within about 20 minutes of that text, I had a phone call with the chief executive and the next day I was speaking to the owner."
McDermott on Toronto's week...
Down in the Championship, it's not been a great week for Toronto Wolfpack as owner David Argyle quit on Friday as chairman and chief executive of the club over racist comments he made to a Swinton player. Then over the weekend, Australian forward Darcy Lussick was denied entry to Britain for what the club have termed an "immigration technicality".
Argyle is the subject of an investigation by the Rugby Football League over comments he made to Swinton forward Jose Kenga in the immediate aftermath of the Lions' game against the Wolfpack in Toronto in April.
Kinshasa-born Kenga revealed on social media that Argyle said to him "do they allow black people in Swinton?" before laughing and handing over a drink token.
Argyle, who has bankrolled the Toronto club since they entered the English game in 2017, made a public apology when the news came to light and on Saturday issued a open letter in which he says he has "sacked himself".
When asked about the situation at the club after Sunday's 34-14 victory over Swinton at Heywood Road, Toronto head coach Brian McDermott paid "recognition" to Argyle, while also denouncing his words as "unacceptable".
Watch McDermott's full interview below...
Burgess brothers could be in hot water
It was a fiery encounter when South Sydney Rabbitohs and Newcastle Knights met in the NRL over the weekend, with four players being sin-binned just before the end of the first half.
England internationals Sam and Tom Burgess were both sent for spells on the sidelines by referee Grant Alexander in the 20-12 defeat for Souths following their part in a brawl. Knights pair Daniel Saifiti and Lachlan Fitzgibbon joined them as well.
To make matters worse, the Burgess' will now be up in front of the judiciary for their actions, along with Saifiti.
Whether they are banned or not, the siblings are set for spells on the sidelines anyway. Sam went for surgery on a long-standing shoulder injury over the weekend which will rule him out for up to six weeks, while Tom is likely to have minor surgery on his ankle this week.
The other member of the Burgess trio, George, failed to finish the defeat to Newcastle as well after being forced off with a head knock, but he has not suffered any ill-effects from that.