Four things we learned this weekend in rugby league

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1] Rhinos really are a bit better than Saints.

Yes, League13.info can officially announce that, after the Rhinos defeated the Saints for the third time in three seasons to secure a Super League record Grand FInal three-peat, parity is dead in Super League.

The big-four has become the large-One; LEEDS. Either Saints, or Leeds, have appeared in 10 of the 12 Grand Finals. Apart from them only Bradford, Wigan and Hull have reached the Grand Final.

Now even the Saints are becoming also-rans; no surprise perhaps, as their ageing team is slowly dismantled.

The rampant Rhinos reign supreme.

2] Even the video referee can get it wrong.

Yes, you too can study a video screen that clearly shows a player to be half-a-yard offside and somehow conclude that he isn’t.

Perhaps it was pay back for 1999, a karmic kick for the hint of a fingertip knock-on that gave Saints the edge over Bradford Bulls.

Whatever it was – and despite the feeble if obligatory backing of Stuart Cummings (Referee’s Controller) who is also wrong – the estimable Phil Bentham dropped a colossal clanger.

And he even had the aid of the conveniently placed white line (the 10m line), which usefully showed Danny McGuire to be relatively closer to it than Lee Smith was, thereby removing the “can’t tell from this angle” argument and negating the need for a geometry degree.

Cummings words (League Express) are nothing more than a smoke screen in this instance and do not merit a reply. The whole scenario begs the question; “Why bother with the replay at all?”

Or do SKY think it adds to the melodrama, as well as providing a break that enable Stevo to put his mouth into overdrive and his brain in neutral?

I say bin it and just go with the in-goal judges to adjudge grounding.

Or perhaps the RFL could choose to follow their ‘Club Call’ trend and turn it into an ‘ask-the-audience’ type feature using Sky’s interactive red-button to solicit viewer input.

3] Brian Noble is no good at keeping secrets.

No knock on Brian, he’s a damn fine coach, but he’s been involved in two of RL’s worst kept secrets this season. First that he was on his last legs at Wigan, and secondly that he was destined for the Valleys (when Celtic Crusaders played in the valleys, which they don’t now of course).

It was a touching moment when Noble said goodbye to the Wigan job and he can consider himself the victim of circumstance there after turning a tottering giant into one of the rising-stars; the Warriors are poised to regain their championship next season, you can see their swagger slowly returning. And that is due in no small part to Noble.

Nonetheless his expertise will be invaluable in salvaging the Welsh experiment. He and the able assistant, Jon Sharp, are probably the perfect choice for the job; best of luck to them.

4] Wigan Warriors never learn their lesson.

Brian Noble was released by the Warriors who see an unknown Aussie assistant coach as clearly better then the Grand Final winning former Great Britain coach. Whatever.

Ok, I heard what Ian Lenighan said. I was at the press-conference in the depths of the GPW Recruitment Stadium to hear it.

What I didn’t hear was what shook me most.

When asked whether he thought it had been a disappointing season, his response was (essentially) that “we could have been much better”.

I paraphrase, excuse me, I binned my recording. But what I clearly thought he said between the lines was: “If only we’d had another coach … we could have been much better.”

Maybe that was the furthest thing from his mind. Maybe I just misinterpreted it; but that’s my opinion.

Mr. Lenighan clearly thinks another coach can get more from this team than Noble.

Me? I put this ‘business decision’ firmly in the same pile as the decisions on: Sean Long, David Hodgson, Luke Robinson, Stephen Wild, Kevin Brown, Michael Dobson, Chris Ashton and numerous others.

That is, I think it is poor and borne of an arrogant desperation for supposed ‘deserved’ success.

That said, the academy is just churning out talent now, so barring a catastrophic (Raffa Benitez style) set of decisions by the new coaching regime, even the Pies can’t miss this time.

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