Brits Down Under: Burgess’ Bunnies lose, Canberra quartet shine, Graham inspires Dragons

After another explosive round of the 2019 NRL season, we take another look at the performances of the league’s British contingent after week four… 

John Bateman

Alongside his fellow England recruits, Bateman showed once again that he was a true class act with another great and energetic performance in the lime green of Canberra.

The 25-year-old eclipsed the triple figure mark in metres made once more with 109. The former Bradford and Wigan star has shown no signs of slowing down since his debut in the NRL and only looks to be going from strength to strength as each game goes by. The Raiders’ new cult hero presumably?

Sam Burgess

Before their round four fixture against Manly, South Sydney sat with Melbourne as the only undefeated teams left in the league with the older Burgess brother being a vital and integral cog in the Bunnies’ back-row.

The 30-year-old showcased his world beater quality again but, in the end, it would be part of a losing effort as the Rabbitohs succumbed to a 13-12 loss to the Sea Eagles in a golden point thriller. After Manly took the lead through Tom Trbojevic, Burgess levelled the scores with a try of his own before being instrumental to creating more opportunities for the Rabbitohs. The game may have ended in disappointment, but Burgess’s attacking effort saw him accumulate the most metres by a South Sydney player with 163. Next up for his side, the New Zealand Warriors and chance to bounce back.

Josh Hodgson

It is hard to question that if Hodgson keeps performing at the level we have seen this season then he will be locked in at the England number nine position.

The 29-year-old dummy half’s great build-up and organisation have been key for Canberra, especially in the Raiders’ crushing win over the Cowboys as well as his solid defensive effort of making the joint most tackles with 32. The Raiders now stand fourth in the league and have been one of the NRL’s most improved teams this season as their quartet of England recruits look to get the job done.

Ryan Sutton

After making his first start in the win over Newcastle last time around, Sutton once again took up the starting loose forward spot in their round four fixture against North Queensland.

In what was undoubtedly his best performance in a Raiders jersey to date, the 23-year-old produced the joint most tackles (31) and the second most metres made (138) by a Canberra player as the NSW side cruised to a win over the Cowboys. The continued unavailability of Joe Tapine led to the former Wigan man taking up the number 13 role for a second consecutive week and he took that opportunity with both hands. There were doubters when Sutton made the move over to the NRL but he has quickly shown that he can perform right up there with the best of them.

Elliott Whitehead

Despite a more subdued performance last week, the Yorkshire second-rower’s work rate was never in question and that was proven again in their win over the Cowboys with a dominant defensive performance.

The former Bradford Bulls back-rower was defensively sound, alongside his England cohorts. They restricted North Queensland to as little as possible by producing the second most tackles (31) by a Canberra player.

Tom Burgess

After lining up alongside his brother George for the first time this season at prop, it would not have been too far gone to think that the return of the one-two punch of the Burgess brothers in the pack was a relatively decent confidence booster for a South Sydney team that came into their game against Manly without a defeat. However, in a thrilling encounter, the Bunnies suffered their first loss with Burgess maybe not having the solid performance we are used to witnessing from him in the front-row. However, although he was not able to eclipse the 100-metre mark or place himself on his side’s top tacklers list he was able to do best with the chances he had, making 86 metres from 13 runs. This will no doubt be a loss that Burgess and the Rabbitohs will look to shake off quickly and bounce back from in their next game against the New Zealand Warriors.

James Graham

When you look at the stats this season then you might notice a scarily familiar sight and that will be Graham’s name at the top or at least pretty much near the top of his team’s top tacklers list after each game this season.

After piling up 42 tackles in St George Illawarra’s second consecutive thrilling one-point win over Newcastle Knights, the 33-year-old now stands second on the Dragons’ list of top tacklers this season, only behind Cameron McInnes and is now inside the top 20 for the entire league. The Dragons may have had a stuttered start to the 2019 season, along with losing Gareth Widdop for a significant amount of time, but following narrow back-to-back wins it may just be the confidence booster Graham and his men may need to fully kickstart their season.

George Burgess

It may not have been the winning return that the 26-year-old wanted but in his first game back since missing out the first three rounds due to suspension, the prop forward showed glimpses of exactly what he can bring to the Rabbitohs.

Similarly to his brothers, his presence and size are enough to cause most teams problems and Burgess was able to use this as effectively as he could in their loss to Manly. The England international ran over 100 metres as he partnered his brother Tom in the front-row. The Rabbitohs may have come away with nothing but the return of the twin duo definitely displayed its positives.

Ryan Hall

The powerhouse winger continues to sit out as he looks to fully recover from the ACL injury he suffered at Leeds last season. However, Hall’s Roosters continued their winning ways with their crushing 36-4 win over Brisbane.

Gareth Widdop

After dislocating his shoulder in the Dragons last gasp win over Brisbane last time out, the 30-year-old has since seen a specialist and gone through a latarjet reconstruction to correct the problem in the hopes of a return by August.

In the meantime, Widdop will take a role within a coaching capacity at the club in the hopes that the Dragons can lead on from their back-to-back narrow wins.

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