during the round one NRL match between the Newcastle Knights and the Manly Sea Eagles at McDonald Jones Stadium on March 9, 2018 in Newcastle, Australia.

1. Dragons have found the missing pieces

The Dragons started the season off with a bang scoring a 34-12 victory over the Broncos. There is a lot to get excited about when it comes to the Dragons new recruits, James Graham was at his British bulldog best with 23 tackles and running for 107 meters the same as the Broncos best. Dragons fans would love having a genuine number 7 for the first time in years and it reflected on the scoreboard as well scoring 34 points, 12 more than their average last season. Against his old side, Hunt was good without being great but you can see a lot of potential there St George is hoping for the half to go from strength to strength. I don’t think they are top 4 material but as the side gels, I can easily see them pushing into the bottom half of the 8 come September.

2. Kalyn Ponga is a star

What were the Cowboys thinking to let a player of his quality go? The Knights superstar showed flashes of brilliance throughout Friday nights game. The young fullback scored a try with his first touch and saved at least two or three the best, stopping a certain try in the corner to a flying Uate with a great diving effort. He also managed 115 run meters and an incredible 8 tackle breaks if he can stay at that pace he’s in for a record season. He also looked good with the boot slotting 3/3 in the Knights golden point victory over Manly. Expect big things from KP in 2018.

3. Cowboys are STACKED

The Cowboys were impressive from the opening kick off in their win over other premiership contenders Cronulla. JT, wow what more can you say in his 300th and first competitive game since June 21 last year even without his partner in crime Australian representative Michael Morgan he was just incredible he really is a class above. Taumalolo has continued his 2017 finals form, which is great news for the cowboy’s and with the addition of Mclean and Scott back from injury their forward pack is arguably the best we have ever seen in the NRL. To the Sharks credit, they didn’t go away the whole 80 minutes. I think both sides are in for a top-four finish.

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4. 2018 Tigers Underrated

The Tigers are the most underrated side of 2018. Even without their biggest offseason signing, they stunned the highly favoured Roosters. I think most people were expecting the Roosters to cruise to victory but the Tiger’s defence really stood up this week. Their goal line defence was just outstanding; despite all the chooks firepower, they managed to hold them to only one try the entire game. The Tigers led most of the game and will only get better when Reynolds comes back. Look out for them to definitely improve on their 14th finish last season.

5. Blake Green buy of the season

The Warriors finally broke their nine game losing streak in Perth Saturday night and Blake Green was instrumental. Not since the Maloney years have the Warriors had a 5/8 of this quality and they managed to make the grand final in those years with a squad that had much less talent. Green seemed to slot in seamlessly, he set up one try but it’s the small things you don’t notice on TV or won’t show up on the stats that impressed me. He took a lot of the pressure off Johnson something that hasn’t happened the past few seasons, the freedom really showed through with flashes of Johnsons golden boot form showing through. I know it’s the Warriors and you never know with them in seasons past but I think Green can be the change maker and steer them to finals footy.

6. No Cronk no worries

Cooper who? Even missing Slater through injury and Cronk no longer being at the club, the Storm started 2018 exactly how they ended last season. Munster was the star in the 36-18 victory setting up 3 tries. With the young halves pairing of Jacks and Croft you’d be forgiven if you thought the Storm would struggle, but no it seems whoever puts on the storm jersey is an instant success. It shows the class of the whole Storm organization, as long as Bellamy is there, the storm will be top 4 contenders.

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7. Nathan Cleary should be NSW halfback

The young Panthers number 7 showed his class in the 24-14 victory over the favoured Eels. Cleary looked great steering the side around the park; it’s hard to believe he is still only 20. Seeing as Cleary is so young if the blues get their act together they will have the halfback to build around for the next 10-15 years. He totally outplayed other NSW half hopeful Mitchell Moses in pretty much every category. Cleary almost ran for 100 meters – the most of any other Halfback or 5/8 this round. His 316 kick meters also put him top 3 in round 1. He was 6/6 with the boot, Cleary’s outstanding goal kicking would be a very handy assist for the blues in 2018.

8. Ash Taylor is real contender for Dally M

Ash Taylor was outstanding in the Titans come from behind win over the Raiders. He set up 3 of the Titans tries and just looked a class above the rest of the players on the field. I think he has a good chance at being towards the top of the Dally M count come the end of the season. He is easily the Titans best player so you’d expect him to poll 3 points in the majority of the Titans wins. If he can keep up this kind of form he could single-handedly push the Titans into the 8.


  1. On Ponga, I would like to see him string some games together. We are going down the same old path of heaping praise on a young blike, labelling him a superstar, when he is yet to really do anything in the game. All we are doing is setting them up to fail. Think Filiga, Loko and the likes, destined to be the next big thing….

    As for the NSW half spot, whilst it is still a long way off, did anyone seriously have Moses in their team anyway. He had a good finish to last year and a good WC playing for Lebanon, but he is still a way off leapfrogging Cleary, or even Adam Reynolds for that matter.

    I also can’t see Taylor getting the Dally M, no matter how good he goes. Unfortunately I think he will struggle to accumulate the points playing in a team that will likely lose more than they win.

    At the end of the day it was round 1. There were a number of upsets, and some disappointing performances by teams expected to do better, Eels being one. But there is a long way to go. Great to have the footy back.

  2. You must be taking the piss.

    After a single game by each team you are declaring Buys of the season, NSW halfbacks etc

    Settle down & wait 4 to 6 weeks until all teams find their groove.

  3. Article should be titled “9 things we learned from round 1”

    The 9th thing being…….. “we actually learn very little if anything from round 1″………………..

  4. I know everyone will get on my back as a biased Parramatta supporter, but I honestly believe while Cleary was good, didn’t dominate Moses. Kicking game was class yet I feel that his running game was reasonably poor (picked the wrong times) and he didn’t have much of a hand in any of Penriths try’s. Moses on the other hand had a blistering opening 15 minutes but was then off for 25 minutes of the game. Little chance of him showing his ability when Parra don’t hold the ball either…….. but I do concede that there were a couple of times where he took the wrong option. In saying all this I honestly reckon the halves combo for NSW should be Cleary and Moses…….
    Just my opinion

    • Obviously I will get labelled bias too but i tend to agree. Whilst i think Cleary is a real talent I found myself thinking the same thing yesterday. Surw he ran 100 metres, which is massive for a half, but i think he runs for the sake if running sometimes without a lot of thought. If he can learn when to run and when not to he will become really dangerous.

      He was better overall than Moses though. Moses first 15 minutes was tremendous, but between the head knock and our forwards being dominated his game really fell away.

    • Cleary should definitely be NSW halfback this year and for at least the next few years and probably for the next 12 years, unless another superstar halfback comes along. There are big wraps on Shane Flanagan’s son.

      I could see this in Cleary’s rookie season.

  5. Don’t agree with that Dragons one.

    I didn’t think either team looked like being good enough this year.

    I know it is week one – so to be clear, I think it’s very premature to say the dragons are good enough.

  6. 9. James Tedesco is without question the most overrated fullback in the NRL. He made 3 inexcusable errors and overall was a non-factor in attack. Should have kept Gordon or put Latrell Mitchell back in his preferred role of fullback, and saved money for depth

  7. I agree with you parra4life. On most of what you had to say.
    I thought Moses did a couple of dumb things, but had a great first half.
    Cleary was good, but did choose some wrong times to run. However, he did make the break to send Blake over, when Moses was in the bin. He was by no means perfect, but was better than Maloney.

  8. I have to say, this type of reporting is extremely tiresome.

    I don’t know about the rest of you league fans, but I personally think that the media is forever trying to ram the hype down our throats and the odd thing is.. I never really hear it from league FANS. Only people who write articles.

    If you go to news.com.au these days, you’ll notice they use very specific language.. it’s all superlatives. The SHOCKING truth. The HIDDEN truth. HORROR, OUTRAGE, UNBELIEVABLE etc.

    It’s the same rubbish in League.. A kid puts away four overlap tries on the wing and he is the next big thing and what is his origin availability?

    Fair play to the author of this article – it doesn’t have a title that suggests hype, but it’s still hypey.

    Here is a PROPER few things we have learned from round 1.

    1. Warriors are still the most unpredictable team in the comp to tip. You can almost smell them losing this week but you know if you tip against them.. they’ll win.
    2. Souths still look a bit weak in places.
    3. Darius Boyd’s hamstring might be the end of him.
    4. Cowboys and Storm are still the most likely
    5. Buying Cooper Cronk might not create an offensive masterclass team. In actual fact, Mitchell Pierce might have been more capable in terms of offence.
    6. Andrew Fifita still has absolutely terrible discipline. Love him or hate him, he is not an intelligent man in the heat of the battle.
    7. The ruck has barely been policed for slowdown tactics.

    No hype.. just a few things. Didn’t see all games.

  9. Warriors are in for a good year, aside from the way they dominated Souths and they played like the warriors of old but with more control their body language was the biggest thing for me. I don’t recall RTS or any other captain being so candid and it flowed throughout the team. Bully is back and Green will unleash SJ and will go close to being buy of the year depending on how the warriors season goes. It’s only rd one but I’ve noticed our draw has a number of Friday night games 8 in total and our records on a Friday vs a Sunday are a lot better so thanks nrl for the favourable draw!

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