Despite there being only four fixtures in the NRL on the weekend, there is still plenty to look at in another edition of Brits Down Under.
A host of injuries and the unavailability of key players due to Origin duties caught up with Souths over the weekend in a 26-14 loss to the Eels on Friday. The 30-year-old second-rower still proved to be the key cog in South Sydney’s machine that has been such a familiar sight all season. However, a much-depleted side could not cope with the Parramatta attack, with 10 players making more than 100 metres.
Alongside his twin brothers, ‘Slammin Sam’ was still able to total up 103 metres and further cemented himself as the Rabbitohs’ leader in metres made this season.
The loss just goes to show how Origin can affect teams and it may not get any easier for the Rabbitohs as they face an in-form Newcastle side, who are also feeling the Origin effect. It will be interesting to see how Burgess is able to lead his side in this game against the Knights, but you would certainly be a brave man to bet against him.
It was a late call-up but after being named in the reserves on Tuesday, and the 25-year-old was officially selected to make his comeback much closer to game time. The second-rower had only just made the long journey back over form his hometown of Bradford earlier in the week, but what a return it was. In an otherwise scrappy affair, the Raiders managed to survive a late Bulldogs charge with a 12-10 win, with Bateman showcasing the same scintillating form that made him an integral aspect of the Raiders in those first eight rounds.
Although, it was not a complete light up of the stat pages that we became so accustomed too, Bateman’s presence in the back-row was more than enough and made a welcome return that accumulated with an outstanding try scoring effort in the corner alongside making 126 metres from 12 carries and 26 tackles. A great show of toughness from the England international, returning much earlier than anticipated from a fractured eye socket.
After missing the last three games, the Raiders had failed to win a game in his absence. Bateman impress even more for the Green Machine and help them climb the NRL ladder?
The 27-year-old has found some monstrous form as of late, being the ultimate handful for an opponent’s defence. The powerful prop forward racked up more than 150 metres once again and made the second most by a South Sydney player on the day.
The display marked the fourth time in five games that the bulldozing front-rower made 150+ metres and he has now made the second most metres by any Rabbitohs player this season with 1,445. Now, there is plenty of talented options for Great Britain in that front-row, but Burgess continues to make a great case for himself as he so often does and prove that he is ahead of the rest.
The 29-year-old was once more at the forefront of the Raiders’ engine room as they powered their way to a win over Canterbury. A nothing but common sight this season saw Whitehead at his determined best in defence, making an astounding 41 tackles throughout the game and with Josh Hodgson injured, he is now the Raiders’ top hitman this season with 396 tackles to his name.
Although he is not always a huge factor in terms of ball carrying and racking up the metres, Whitehead’s work ethic always seems to play a great part as always. The men in lime green have conceded the second least amount of points this season and although it has not always translated into wins, it is still a good testament to likes of Whitehead in that back-row and their toughness in defence.
It might have taken a while since returning from a suspension at the start of the season, but the bruising front-rower has started to find that extra gear going forward.
Another 100-metre display and heap of tackles were centre to his game over the weekend. It might not have been the win that Souths wanted but it is another solid display for the 27-year-old and will provide him with another huge boost of confidence after finding himself being switched from starting role to the bench at the last minute plenty of times this season.
The 23-year-old has shown a great deal of effort and efficiency since making his NRL debut at the start of the season, seeing himself included in the starting 13 and racking up the numbers both in attack and defence.
However, after three loses on the bounce that saw the Raiders forced out of the top four, it looked as if coach Ricky Stuart thought it was time for a little change up in the back-row. The availability of both Bateman and Joe Tapine pushed Sutton back onto a bench role but he was still as solid as ever, despite the drop in numbers. Despite only making 45 metres in the game, the former Wigan man made 28 tackles in an unquestionably hard-fought affair. Another gritty defensive display now has Sutton sitting third on the list of Canberra’s top tacklers this season with 308.
There is no question that Sutton has placed his best foot forward whilst at Canberra, making the absolute most of his chances in the Raiders set up. Alongside standing as their third top tackler, he has also made the sixth most metres in the team with 968. You can only think now that if he is able to continue at the level we have seen then could we see a Great Britain call up in the future?
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