This will be the last Brits Down Under feature for a while.
Round two of the NRL was played behind closed doors at the weekend – but they have since suspended the season due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
Brisbane beat South Sydney 22-18 but the close scoreline didn’t give a true sense of the game as the Broncos were on the front foot throughout.
Tonga ace Kotoni Staggs and that exciting forward pack were just too much for the Rabbitohs even though they would somehow go in to the second half leading 12-10. In the end though Brisbane proved too much to handle and they went on to win 22-18.
Once again, in a rather inexperienced forward pack, Burgess’ hard running tendencies were on show as he led the South Sydney forwards in metres gained with 93 and proved to be handful to bring down when Wayne Bennett’s men threatened to go forward. However, despite the close score it still was not the full 80-minute performance from Souths and they were certainly a long way off the Bunnies side that won 10 0f their first 11 games last season.
It just was not to be for St George Illawarra in the game against the Panthers. The Dragons fell just short against a Penrith side who a week earlier surprised the reigning champions.
The 34-year-old Graham who did not have much time with the ball in his hand was still his standard self in defence racking up 25 tackles. The recent season suspension could probably not have come quick enough for the Dragons though as they sit 0-2.
The 30-year-old continued in his great start to the season with another solid performance in Canberra’s 20-6 round two win over the Warriors.
The former Bradford and Catalans back-rower made it two tries from two games to start the year after opening the scoring in the 22nd minute for the Raiders. Despite not seeing plenty of opportunities with the ball in his hand, Whitehead still recorded a line break and was again his highly influential self on the defensive side, making the third most tackles by a Canberra player with 35 to his name.
After an impressive debut last week against Gold Coast, the former Wigan playmaker followed it up with another inspiring showing against a deflated Warriors side.
A total of 19 tackles and a try assist were just part of another well round showing from the 25-year-old as he also tallied the most kick metres by a Raiders player in the game. There would be lapse in concentration from Williams though as in the 75th minute, the referee ruled he had interfered with Kodi Nikorima in a kick chase which resulted in a penalty try given to the Warriors. However, the moment would be a blip in an otherwise positive start to the Englishman’s NRL career.
The longest active losing streak in the NRL continues as Watkins and his Titans side were completely put to the sword in a 46-6 loss to Parramatta.
The loss makes it their 10th straight at home but it was evident lady luck was not on Gold Coast’s side either as they lost veteran Kevin Proctor to a hamstring complaint before kick off while hooker Reed Mahoney went off during the game with an ankle issue.
After an inspiring start the season, Watkins could not follow it up with a similar effort though after registering 57 metres from 10 carries alongside 20 metres post contact. However, the blame does not solely fall on the former Leeds centre as most Titans players failed to get anything going from an attacking standpoint. The loss means Holbrook is yet to register his first league win in charge of Gold Coast. Similarly to Graham and St George Illawarra, the recent suspension to the season probably could not have come quick enough.
The 30-year-old was again key to the Green Machine’s defence, leading the way with 41 tackles to his name.
The dummy half also showed his brilliant attacking instinct and half-back mentality in the build up to Canberra’s second try in the 44th minute when Sia Soliola would crashed over the line following a great Hodgson grubber kick. Canberra have made nothing but a positive start to 2020 and if or when the season starts up once more, they could certainly be a team to watch out for.
And the rest
Despite being named on the extended bench, Ryan Sutton failed to make it in to Ricky Stuart’s final match day squad this time around.
Both John Bateman and Ryan Hall remained sidelined for Canberra and Sydney as they continue to recover from their retrospective injuries.
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