Buzz Rothfield has fallen in love with rugby league again.
Buzz Rothfield has fallen in love with rugby league again.

Monday Buzz: 10 special days of NRL that won me back

Dear rugby league, I have fallen back in love with you.

From Melbourne to Bankwest, to the SCG and back to Panthers Stadium, the past 10 days have been simply stunning. A mixture of contemporary and tradition.

The painful memories of last year and the "NRL is now a shit game" tweet are long gone.

You are back, baby.

I loved Bankwest Stadium, the crowd, the blue and gold, the slashing Parramatta performance, Mitchell Moses, cheap pies, affordable beer and fans on the ground at fulltime.

That Ray Hadley awkwardly shook the hand of the ABC's Andrew Moore in the same media area where Ray Warren almost strangled old Daily Telegraph reporter Ray Chesterton with a phone cord.

I loved the SCG and the respect around Anzac Day. The last post, the national anthems, the goosebumps.

The Matt Dufty try and the Dragons' stirring second-half fightback.

 

The NRL Anzac weekend clashes have been stunning. Picture. Phil Hillyard
The NRL Anzac weekend clashes have been stunning. Picture. Phil Hillyard

 

The chant like the glory days. Saint George (clap, clap, clap), Saint George (clap, clap, clap).

The big bloke behind me in the Noble Stand, Don from Carlton, bagging the tripe out of Dufty whenever he erred and then, on his feet 20 minutes later, to salute his spectacular touchdown at the Randwick end.

Jake Friend's 40/20 and the try-saving tackle on Ben Hunt. And his courage, with a ruptured bicep, to make the match-sealing hit that jolted the ball out of Dufty's arms.

No wonder Brandy Alexander has been screaming on Fox Sports: "Is there a better sport on this planet than rugby league".

 

Each game has had a wonderful tribute to the Anzac forces. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Each game has had a wonderful tribute to the Anzac forces. Picture. Phil Hillyard

 

No wonder ratings have been through the roof.

To Penrith on Friday night and the heaven that is suburban ground footy. A cracking game of rugby league with brutal goal-line defence.

The Alex Johnston tackle on the normally unstoppable Billy Kikau in the 66th minute. Around the bootlaces, stopping him dead in his tracks. A must see for every kid and coaching manual.

I love Cameron Murray. A phenomenal young player.

Kikau's left step and right fend for his remarkable try in the 75th minute.

That crooked smile on Wayne Bennett's face at his post-game press conference, pretending he didn't know he was playing against his old mob the Broncos and facing Anthony Seibold on Thursday night. What a feud, what a game.

 

Tamworth was treated to a special fixture. (AAP Image/Darren Pateman)
Tamworth was treated to a special fixture. (AAP Image/Darren Pateman)

 

Days before Bankwest we had the colossal Roosters versus Storm grand final rematch. The Cooper Cronk decoy and the towering Latrell Mitchell field goal. Cameron Smith's amazing second-half contribution to lift his team from a hopeless position.

I love the fact the refs have put their whistles away. They are still making mistakes but at least we're getting free-flowing footy.

I love that this competition is so close, so tight and so unpredictable that I've already had five tips at the wooden spoon.

The Warriors, the Bulldogs, the Titans, the Sea Eagles and now the Cowboys.

I love being at packed grounds or watching on TV.

Kenty v Crawls and their combat on 360. Vossy in career-best form, mad Fletch and Rabs calling again at the SCG.

I loved Tamworth and a packed Scully Park.

I love that Todd Greenberg is now being held accountable by the commission.

No one is perfect and mistakes are still being made.

Like scheduling the Bulldogs versus Cowboys at ANZ Stadium in front of just 6711 fans when Townsville, one of Australia's biggest military garrisons, would have sold out.

Still, you can't complain. Rugby league is baaaaaccck … and she's still the greatest game of all.

Buzz