I’m not sure if it was the slippery conditions, the closeness of the contest or actually seeing the game live, but I actually enjoyed a game of rugby league. Don’t get me wrong, sure I’ve watched plenty of matches on television in the past, and another one live but up until this point haven’t had much desire to attend the unskilled (okay, apologies less skilled) game those north of the border refer to as league.

 
I tend to watch 5-10 games of league during the course of the season; the three State of Origin contests, grand final and the occasional Melbourne storm game. To me watching any more games would be as pointless as a rugby league scrum (see I’m even using the terminology). Through a Facebook competition (Thank you Team Up Victoria – see link at the bottom of the page) I managed to swindle some tickets for the clash against the Penrith Pink Panthers and arrive just before kickoff.

 
The game contained impressive big hits and tackles throughout the match (think when AFL was called VFL and you were actually allowed to tackle), a few superstars of the game (Cam Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk), and even some cheerleaders. The quality of the match wasn’t super impressive, and I think Billy Slater has a poor game by his standards but because of the final result and last minute win for the home team it was thoroughly enjoyable. The rain probably didn’t help the players but you could see both teams should finish in the top half of the table.

 
Penrith seemed unlucky during the contest, and appear to be a team on the rise; although this could just be because I thought they were terrible at the onset. Storm has been one of the better teams of the last few years (extra payments included) but could be in for a tougher season in 2014. Having a limited knowledge of the rules helped me enjoy the game as I failed to become frustrated at poor refereeing decisions; maybe Ben Williams applied this to his performance on Sunday at the Melbourne Heart match.

 
Three observations I did make over the course of the match were
1) It was good to see Vulcan from Gladiators back in the public arena (Jamal Idris)
2) Sisa Waqa is a very good player for the Storm and a crowd favourite, next time I attend a match I promise to call out your name as opposed to “Go number 2”
3) Storm D (defence) is an absurd but fun concept. Sure I don’t think it made too much difference to the end result but it got the crowd involved which was fun.

 

It will never be the most skilled football game, but it provides a night of entertainment and I will be back again for more. One thing is for sure, Melbourne Storm gave me more joy than Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park over the weekend.

 

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