Victor Radley implodes, Cowboys hit new low: Good, bad and ugly of NRL round 12

Adam Lucius discusses some of the big talking points from an action packed round 12 in the NRL.

Pictured left to right, Roosters star Victor Radley and Cowboys coach Todd Payten.
Roosters star Victor Radley and Cowboys coach Todd Payten had matches to forget in round 12 of the NRL. Pic: Getty

😃 The good: Clint Gutherson the 'king' of consistency

😔 The bad: Victor Radley's latest brain snap

😡 The ugly: Cowboys in free fall

'King Gutho's form is music to Parramatta's ears

I've got to admit, Clint Gutherson's pre-game pump up playlist didn’t do much for me, either. Like a lot of fans, I struggled with too much too much Adele and Taylor Swift and not enough ACDC and Foo Fighters.

But maybe Gutho is onto something because that playlist sure had him hitting the right notes against South Sydney on Friday night. It was one of the great fullback performances of the season, not so much if you check the dry and boring stats but in pure, drive, leadership and sheer refusal to give in.

His effort and quick thinking to stick out a boot to prevent Alex Johnston scoring a certain try should carry an award of its own. Sure, there are more talents players in the NRL but no-one beats Gutherson for effort.

The Eels No.1 is among his team's best players every single week. For consistency, he has just about every fullback in the comp covered.

Yet, for some reason, King Gutho doesn't get the same recognition as a Tedesco, Mitchell or Edwards. Whether it's the nickname, the manbun or the playlist, fans seem to love a Gutherson pile on. Secretly, they would all love him at their club.

Victor Radley unable to stay out of trouble

The problem for Victor Radley is he was born about 50-60 years too late. If the Roosters forward had been running around in 1983 instead of 2023, his many on-field indiscretions would have been written off as "part of the game" and his off-field skirmishes celebrated as "boys being boys".

He'd be picking up speaking gigs at sportsman's lunches as a much-celebrated character of the game. But here's a news flash for you, Victor.

Headbutts disappeared from the game around the same time as Siro's electrical tape. Same as cheap shots.

This image shows Victor Radley getting sin-binned after a headbutting incident against the Dragons in round 12 of the NRL.
Victor Radley again found himself in the sin bin after a headbutting incident against the Dragons in round 12 of the NRL. Pic: Getty

The message doesn’t appear to have got through to Radley, who continues to play the game through a 1980s lens. The England international will leave the struggling Roosters without his services for three games after his headbutt on St George Illawarra's Blake Lawrie during Friday night's loss.

How Radley didn’t add to his growing sin-bin tally only Graham Annesley can explain in his weekly debrief – aka apology – session. But there was no escaping a suspension, nor coach Trent Robinson's wrath judging by the look on the coach's face at the post-match press conference.

Radley is a wonderful player and competitor, but his short fuse makes him a week-to-week liability. It can’t keep going on like this.

Cowboys a shadow of their 2022 selves

Don’t the rugby league gods work in funny ways. Cast your mind back 10 months to the round 18 encounter between North Queensland and Wests Tigers in Townsville.

You may recall the Tigers led 26-25 with one second left on the clock when the Cowboys kicked off and the visitors regained possession. Game over…only it wasn't.

The Cowboys went to the bunker on a captain's challenge, arguing the Tigers had used an escort to run into Kyle Feldt as he attempted to contest the ball. Long story short – the Cowboys are awarded a penalty, Val Holmes slots it and the Tigers are deadset robbed as North Queensland place a hefty down payment on a top four spot.

That result marked the lowest point of a dreadful season for the eventual wooden spoon Tigers, whose fans were told to suck it up by jubilant Cowboys supporters conveniently side-stepping the injustice. So who could deny the Tigers faithful a long night of celebration following the record-breaking 66-18 win over the same club on Saturday night.

The Cowboys were eviscerated, their carcass thrown to one side in the worst defeat in the club's history. Their fans have spent the past 36 hours or so questioning how the club has slipped so badly in less than a year.

They also want to know how you get towelled up by a team most thought was headed towards the wooden spoon. Guys, some days you've just got to suck it up.

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