BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Ryan Papenhuyzen of the Storm runs the ball during the NRL Preliminary Final match between the Melbourne Storm and the Penrith Panthers at Suncorp Stadium on September 25, 2021 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images, Image supplied by Kayo)

Despite its dominance over the past few weeks, rep footy is finally over. That means that it's all NRL from here!

Round 18 produced a plethora of talking points including an unheard number of losses in a row, the thinning of the finals race and the possible re-emergence of a title threat.

Below are 20 thoughts from Round 18s round of action and the rugby league world.

1. Why did Kyle Flanagan decide to bad mouth one of the game's elite players with 15 minutes to go? Cody Walker and Souths clicked into another gear yesterday evening and blew the Bulldogs off the park. Souths have an all in attitude and you better believe Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker were out to punish the mouthy halfback.

2. Ryan Papenhuyzen's injury put a massive dampener on this weekend of action. Obviously, his health is way more important than results but the fact is Melbourne are now far less dangerous in terms of a title charge. Nick Meaney is very talented but he isn't Nicho Hynes. The Storm will feel this injury far worse in 2022 than last season.

3. It was incredible to watch young Declan Casey tear it up on his return to first grade. He had a horror show on debut, in shocking conditions, but was brilliant in his second game. The kid has a massive future.

4. I was at Campbelltown on Saturday afternoon and that Tigers and Sharks women's grand final was one of the most entertaining games I've seen. For those who missed it, the game ended square after 70 minutes then again after extra time. The Tigers kicked a field goal in golden point in a game which saw momentum change many times. It was brilliant. Kezzie Apps is a superstar of the woman's game.

5. Was Brett Kimmorley trying to be funny when he suggested the Panthers resting players was "not respectful"? His side was just beaten by a side missing a host of megastars. I'd try not to be drawing attention to it.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 12: Tigers interim coach Brett Kimmorley looks on during the round 14 NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the Manly Sea Eagles at Campbelltown Stadium, on June 12, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

6. It was treated as some kind of joke but Joseph Manu feigning an injury before bursting through and setting up a try was all-time bad sportsmanship. The Dragons players technically should have made the tackle unless a whistle was blown but if the cramp was legit and the Dragons mobbed him, the pitchforks would be out. I never want to see that garbage again.

7. For those who missed it, Bevan French scored seven tries for Wigan in the Super League. I cannot imagine an NRL player ever scoring seven tries in a game. A hat-trick is a wonderful effort, let alone doubling that up plus another try. Unheard of!

8. There is no amount of money in the world that could convince me to try and tackle Maika Sivo in full flight. I swear he doesn't even bother stepping the final defender anymore cause he knows he'll just run over him. That Sivo chant at Commbank Stadium is one of the best sounds in League... Unless you're playing Parramatta.

9. Am I crazy for believing Manly could be a bigger threat in 2022 than last year? That may sound ridiculous given the individual performances of Tommy Turbo but this side is better across the park. Reuben Garrick's brilliant form has made a mammoth loss far easier to overcome. Daly Cherry-Evans may be in career best form too.

10. I cannot believe I am about to type these words but the Storm are looking down the barrel of five straight losses. They play a very handy Souths side this Saturday night. It might happen!

11. Take nothing out of the Cowboys loss on Friday evening. They lost a game to a top-four rival after resting a number of players. Who would have known what would have happened with both sides at full strength but what I do know is nothing negative came from the loss. The resting of Origin players far outweighed any risk. Good coaching.

12. I may be the only person who thinks this way but I see Victor Radley not being available for the Blues in the future as a non-event. He wasn't close to selection this season despite being named in the extended squad. I applaud his decision.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 06: Victor Radley of the Roosters (R) celebrates victory with Jake Friend of the Roosters (L) at the end of the round nine NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles at Allianz Stadium on May 6, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

13. The Raiders kept their finals hopes alive with a brilliant win over Melbourne. The Dragons head into Round 19 with a -112 points differential and sit two points behind 8th placed Manly. If they don't beat Manly on Friday evening, their season is over. Four points and differential is far too much to make up from here.

14. I need this in writing so I can call back to it in two year's time - Jesse Colquhoun; remember the name! He has been an absolute monster for the Jets and made a flawless debut over 2,000 kilometres from home.

15. I don't think the Tigers had any choice but to go in the direction they did. Cameron Ciraldo turned them down and Brett Kimmorley was never really in the running. Tim Sheens coaching the side seems unfathomable but I like the succession plan. Nothing to lose but couldn't Benji have served his apprenticeship under Michael Maguire?

16. Evidently Rugby Union are about to launch a big raid on the NRL. Why would any NRL superstar want to go play that game? Seriously, I watched ten minutes of the test match on Saturday night during halftime in the late game and was fighting sleep. I don't mean to take a shot at the other code but it is awful and unwatchable.

17. Matt Burton is a brilliant footballer but I really believe all the talk about his kicking game is distracting other aspects of his game. I'd like to see him rely more on his running game. It's been lacking the last two games for the Dogs. His boot is a weapon but it's far from his only form of attack.

NRL Rd 2 - Bulldogs v Broncos
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 20: Matt Burton, Josh Addo-Carr and Matt Dufty of the Bulldogs celebrate a defensive effort during the round two NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Brisbane Broncos at Accor Stadium, on March 20, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

18. The Roosters sent a reminder on Saturday afternoon of what they are capable of. Ok, it's not like they beat a top-four side but the ease in which they disposed of the Dragons late on showed they're still capable of hitting that next gear. They need to back it up this weekend but it was a timely reminder.

19. Are Dolphins fans really supposed to get excited about the potential signing of Anthony Milford? I still believe Jake Clifford is a better option for Newcastle.

20. Each week I like to ask myself "are Parramatta for real"? The answer is ... I don't know. I simply can't see this side worrying the top sides but they are the only team to beat the Panthers this season, and also beat Melbourne. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for fans of the Eels.