The 2018 rugby league season is yet to fail to deliver. Although Thursday night’s game hardly set the world on fire, the rest of the weekend more than made up for it.
1. Warriors (Last Week: 4)
The Warriors ended the Dragons perfect start to the season, and did so without their star Shaun Johnson. Incredibly their win came with under 40% possession and a near-insane 63 missed tackles. The scramble and effort was there is spades for a newly resolved Warriors outfit. RTS is back to his metre-eating best with over 200 ran.
2. Dragons (Last Week: 1)
Although the Dragons completed at 80% with over 60% of ball, they were unable to extend their winning run to seven. Hardly panic stations for a Red V outfit who could have won this game on any other occasion. Paul Vaughan’s 161 metres continues to push his Origin claims. Only 22 missed tackles for a side who will have to be up for their Anzac Day clash in a few days time.
3. Tigers (Last Week: 2)
The Tigers were just two minutes from joining the Dragons and Warriors at the top of the table. A hail-Mary kick from Jamie Buhrer saw the competition points slip away but ultimately Ivan Cleary can be proud of his players. Esan Marsters, who is fast becoming one of my favourite players to watch, celebrated his new contract with a huge performance.
4. Rabbitohs (Last Week: 5)
Here come the Bunnies. The red and green were an absolute joy to watch in their seven tries to four win over the Raiders. Greg Inglis’s form would have more than a few opposite centres breathing a little uneasy. Cody Walker looks a million dollars now that he is settled in his role. Three tries in the opening 15 minutes set this game up and the Bunnies never looked back.
5. Storm (Last Week: 6)
If the 15 other sides weren’t worried following the Storm’s efforts last week, they should be now. The purple rain swamped the Broncos at Suncorp. Josh Addo-Carr is back to his electric best while Vunivalu looks in the mood. The 14 offloads to six stat shows the Storm are starting to play with confidence. Riley Jacks is a special talent. Seriously, what do they put in the water?
6. Panthers (Last Week: 3)
Two late tries probably flattered the Panthers on a sunny Sunday afternoon in the shire. Penrith fans will be happy that their side refused to say die but they’ll feel like this one got away. For the first time since his injury the Panthers really missed Cleary. The Panther kicking game really failed to dictate play with Maloney targeted. They’ll bounce back.
7. Roosters (Last Week: 9)
The Roosters collected the two competition points on Thursday night over the Bulldogs. The less said about the game the better but ultimately the Roosters rebounded from a horror loss a week earlier. Ryan Matterson made a huge 65 tackles which says it all really. Not one for the record books but two competition points. Enough said.
8. Knights (Last Week: 10)
What a win! Jamie Buhrer’s last-ditch kick was plucked out of the air by Shaun Kenny-Dowall to steal it late over the Tigers. Incredibly the kick came after Buhrer was shifted to the halves following an awful injury to Mitchell Pearce. Ken Sio scored a hattrick in the five try to three win. Kalyn Ponga’s one from six with the boot kept the Tigers in it to a point but what an absolute superstar.
9. Broncos (Last Week: 7)
The Broncos will be looking for answers after being outgunned on their own turf by the Storm. Josh McGuire entered a mammoth performance topping both the tackle count (34) and metres made with 129. Jack Bird looked a little lost at times in the halves but his time will come.
10. Titans (Last Week: 6)
The Titans, at times, were relegated to spectators in the return of the JT show. Tries to Taylor and Wallace in the final ten minutes flattered the score-line but that was probably fair given the Titans weren’t massively outplayed here. Jai Arrow lead the way with 180 metres, furthering his cause for future Origin honours. Have a huge home game this weekend against the Sharks.
11. Sharks (Last Week: 14)
Although the Sharks conceded two late late tries and made the final minute infinitely harder than it needed to be, this was the win the club needed. Josh Dugan was massive in his return to fullback while Moylan had his best game in the club colours. Fifita could be the form big man of the competition over the past three weeks. Scott Sorenson’s try was an absolute joy to watch in the Sunday sunshine.
12. Cowboys (Last Week: 15)
Was this the start of the Cowboys revival? The JT and JT show returned to 1300 smiles stadium as both Thurston and Taumalolo lead the way. Ben Hampton is filling in extremely well at centre in his third position already this season. Coen Hess is someone you simply could not pay me enough money to tackle. This was the performance we expected weeks ago.
13. Raiders (Last Week: 11)
It’s very difficult to concede three tries in the opening 15 minutes and win a game at this level. As is the theme this weekend, the Raiders scored two late tries to make this result look closer than it was. Elliott Whitehead is a try-scoring machine at the moment but the Raiders just aren’t getting the output from the likes of Rapana, Leilua and Austin.
14. Bulldogs (Last Week: 12)
The Bulldogs were resolute in defense on Thursday night but their efforts to attack, especially when close to the line, left a lot to be desired. Aaron Woods was an absolute monster on the night with a game-high 239 metres. The Dogs made almost 500 metres more and won the ‘tackles in the opposition 20’ by a landslide, but failed to make a single line break. Josh Cleeland time?
15. Eels (Last Week: 16)
The Eels are off the mark and in a huge way. The 44-10 win over rivals Manly will go a long way to restoring pride in the jumper, especially considering the manner of their defeat to the same opposition just weeks ago. Moses and Norman looked like players on a mission and that was fun to watch. Tim Mananah lead the way for his halves with a massive 170 metres, 70 more than the nearest Eel.
16. Sea Eagles (Last Week: 13)
A horror week off-field translated to an awful performance on-field for the Sea Eagles. Thumped 44-10 by the previously winless Eels, Manly will want to forget this and move on. A 59% completion rate at this level is unforgivable. Conceding eight line breaks and missing 35 tackles doesn’t make for pleasurable reading either.