NRL’s biggest debacle turns away angry fans

Peter V’landys has proved the best thing to hit the NRL in decades, but he still hasn’t been able to fix the fans’ biggest gripe: the bunker.

The men pushing the buttons came up with a couple of ‘howlers’ on the weekend, all but costing the Warriors and Raiders any chance of winning a couple of tight encounters.

Angry fans are turning their backs on the game in sheer frustration, as the bunker gets it wrong far too often, and V’landys needs to bring his magic touch to this vital area ASAP.

Raiders winger Bailey Simonsson was sin-binnned against Melbourne in a poor call from the NRL bunker. (Getty)

FAIRYTALE FLYERS OVERSHADOW STAR’S DUCK EGG

Rugby league produced two of the season’s great fairytales over the weekend.

Former shoe salesman Matt Ikuvalu, a part-timer in the Roosters’ squad, flew to Townsville on Thursday expecting to carry the drinks.

Then Brett Morris pulled out in the warm-up, Ikuvalu was thrown a jersey – and bagged an amazing five tries against the Cowboys – the most by a Rooster since the 1950s.

Less than 48 hours later, Charlie Staines, an unknown from Forbes, was handed his top-grade debut by coach Ivan Cleary.

Staines didn’t emulate Ikuvalu’s feat – but he came close, producing four tries in a memorable debut.

While it was raining tries for that duo, spare a thought for the Roosters’ other winger, Ryan Hall.

Veteran Hall has scored 226 tries in Super League – more than any current player has in the NRL.

But he can’t buy a try in Oz, currently in his second season at the Roosters and still on a duck egg.

Roosters winger Matt Ikuvalu and Penrith rookie Charles Staines scored a combined nine tries. (Getty)

COWBOYS PULL WRONG REIN WITH HOLMES

It’s desperate times up in Townsville and the Cowboys made a costly mistake by playing marquee man Valentine Holmes on the wing when not fully fit against the Roosters.

Holmes wasn’t comfortable from the start, making a mere 27 metres from four runs – terrible stats for a winger – before re-injuring his ankle.

Now he faces several weeks on the sidelines and the struggling Cowboys will sorely miss their major strike weapon.

Valentine Holmes sits on the Cowboys bench after being injured against the Roosters. (Getty)

WARRIORS GET NO PENALTIES, NO CHANCE

The Warriors have long thought they get the short end of the stick playing in the Australian competition – and it’s hard to argue after seeing their heartbreaking loss to the Titans.

In 80 minutes, the Warriors didn’t get a single penalty and had a highly dubious bunker decision go against them.

Missing a host of big names and playing on foreign soil, the Warriors aren’t good enough a team to overcome those setbacks but still put up a brave effort, before being run down 16-12.

A team that has sacrificed so much for the competition to go ahead deserved better.

Eels hooker Reed Mahoney is building a compelling case for a Queensland Origin debut. (Getty)

EELS RAKE STAKING QUEENSLAND ORIGIN CLAIMS

Reed Mahoney is slowly but surely playing his way into a Queensland State of Origin jumper.

The Eels’ mighty mite was the star of the gritty win over the Knights yesterday – a game played with Origin-style intensity.

Current Maroons hooker Ben Hunt hasn’t exactly set the world on fire so far this season and coach Kevin Walters is certain to keep a close watch in Mahoney in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of the finals before naming his Origin 17.

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