Newcastle's sad truth and Reece Walsh antics: Good, bad and ugly of NRL round 17

Adam Lucius has called out the Newcastle Knights and Reece Walsh in a dramatic round in the NRL.

Pictured left to right, Christian Welch, Newcastle star Bradman Best and Reece Walsh.
Storm captain Christian Welch's press conference exposed the Newcastle Knights' worrying form, while Reece Walsh had several referee blow-ups in a dramatic round 17 in the NRL. Pic: Fox League/Getty

😃 The good: Cowboys' stunning resurgence continues

😔 The bad: Awkward post-match act exposes Knights reality

😡 The ugly: Reece Walsh's angry referee blow-ups

Cowboys on a roll after Tigers humiliation

It's hard to believe it was just over a month ago North Queensland gave up 66 points against the struggling Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval. It was a horrific performance which produced a rush for red pens as we all put a line through their season.

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Since that darkest of days, the Cowboys have beaten Penrith, Melbourne and South Sydney in a remarkable about-face. They are right back in the finals race – and halfback Chad Townsend reckons they have that Leichhardt Oval slaughter to thank for the revival.

He told Channel 9: "We just didn’t turn up on that day and it taught us a big lesson. "In a way I think we're grateful for it because we’ve come on since that point."

Haven’t they what. They racked up 45 points in the win over Melbourne, 27 against Penrith and 31 against the Rabbitohs.

Once the Cowboys hit the go button, there are fewer more dangerous attacking teams. We won't be making the mistake of writing them off again.

Storm skipper exposes grim Newcastle reality

If Newcastle need a fairly innocuous throwaway line from Christian Welch to fire themselves up and make something of a season fast slipping away, they're in more trouble than we first thought. ICYMI, Welch was talking to Craig Bellamy before their team's post-match press conference on Saturday night when the live mic picked him up referencing the Knights' loss to a depleted Penrith.

The Storm skipper said: "How'd the Knights lose? The Panthers didn’t have anyone." Many jumped all over the comment, accusing Welch of sledging Newcastle and anticipating retribution when the Storm and Knights meet in round 21.

Really? Welch was only posing a question most of us were thinking – how could Adam O'Brien's team not land a blow against a team missing almost half its roster?

The Knights need to find a better source of motivation than that if they’re to arrest a season fast heading in the wrong direction. They sit in the bottom four on the back of a 5-9 season and look at long odds to make the finals.

To make their job even tougher, there's also building talk O'Brien is not the man to take them forward. Things could get a lot worse before they get better.

Reece Walsh ref antics rankle viewers

Reece Walsh is a wonderful player who brings crowds to the game through his sheer individual brilliance. But someone at the Broncos should have a word to him about the way he carries on in front of referees.

It was embarrassing watching the Brisbane fullback mouth off at referee Chris Butler during the Broncos' shock loss to Gold Coast at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday. The home side was on the wrong end of several calls but replays justified every single decision.

That didn’t stop the petulant Walsh from shouting at Butler and wildly throwing his arms around and pointing fingers at match officials. At one point he cost his team 10m after Butler marched the Broncos up-field following another spray.

Reece Walsh was at the centre of several fiery incidents with the referee during Brisbane's NRL defeat to Gold Coast in round 17. Pic: Getty
Reece Walsh was at the centre of several fiery incidents with the referee during Brisbane's NRL defeat to Gold Coast in round 17. Pic: Getty

It handed the Titans a simple penalty to ease them out to a six-point lead in the dying stages. Walsh must have been very close to spending time in the bin, especially given there appeared to be foul language used.

His behaviour was a big talking point among fans and experts, with some drawing comparisons with Penrith's polarising Jarome Luai. "He shows a lot of passion, the young fella, but I reckon Kevvie Walters will be talking to him. Every referee decision this afternoon he's argued with or has blown up about," Steve 'Blocker' Roach said in commentary on Fox Sports.

Pull your head in, Reece. It's a terrible look.

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