After round 23 of the NRL season we again look at the performances and stats of the league’s British contingent.
The Broncos continued their strong end of the season run over the weekend as Kevin Walters’ side came away with a narrow 24-22 win against the Warriors to leapfrog the Cowboys into 14th place. The 21-year-old was in fine form for Brisbane as he yet again proved to be an elusive and stellar ball carrier and a nightmare for his opposition, tallying 171 metres, 74 post contact metres and five tackle busts. The Lancashire-born centre was also given goal-kicking duties as he nailed four out of four conversions as he continues to take his game from strength to strength. Overall, there is no escaping the fact that it has been a tough year for Brisbane sitting down towards the bottom of the table but there is no doubting how good the youngster has been this year as he leads a strong nucleus of bright young talent coming through the side that includes the likes of Tesi Niu and Payne Haas.
The Raiders’ final hopes continue to fade after a heartbreaking 19-18 loss to Manly over the weekend. As has been the case for much of the season, Canberra failed to follow on from a great first half with their attack completely stuttering and allowing Manly to escape with a narrow victory. The 31-year-old was in great form defensively though as he racked up the most tackles in the game by any player with a monumental 51 throughout the entire game. Now with only two games left to go, Hodgson looks set to finish as the side’s top tackler for the year. Canberra’s play-off aspirations may look to be disappearing but with only two rounds remaining they are still in the running sitting in 10th place and level on points with Cronulla in eighth and Gold Coast in ninth.
It was not the result that Sutton and his Canberra side would have wanted but it was still another great individual performance from the 26-year-old who put in another powerful effort on both sides of the ball. Altogether he secured 114 metres, 27 post contact metres and a tackle bust as well as the second most tackles in the game by a Raiders player with 41 to his name. As the regular season winds down, the former Wigan back-rower has certainly put together his best NRL season to date as he has the second most metres gained and tackles by a member of the Raiders this season.
The Bulldogs will unfortunately take away the wooden spoon this year as a courageous loss against Newcastle saw them condemned to the bottom of the ladder with two games to play. Even in defeat, Canterbury, as they have done on plenty of occasions this year, put together a brave display with the game certainly there for the taking but in the end their concentration wavered to allow the Knights to sneak away with a win. It was another tough pill to swallow for Trent Barrett’s side but once again Thompson was one of the better players on the field for the Doggies with the 26-year-old bulldozing his way to 152 metres and 69 post contact metres on top of racking up 27 tackles.
Despite defeat, it was another solid showing from the 31-year-old who continues to be a key member of the Raiders’ forward pack. A total of 39 tackles from the second-rower in the game against Manly sees Canberra’s British trio top the tackle charts for the side this year with Whitehead sitting third behind both Sutton and Hodgson. The former Bradford and Catalans star also put together a ball running performance with 83 metres and 26 post contact metres.
The Rabbioths failed to take sole possession of second place this weekend and keep the pressure on Melbourne as they failed to breakdown a resurgent Penrith side. The Bunnies came out of the blocks quickly, surging into a 12-0 lead inside the first 25 minutes but from there it was all downhill as they failed to record anymore points with Panther’s Nathan Cleary taking full control of the game as he helped his side record 25 unanswered points to secure victory. As their opponents dominated the second half with quick defensive line speed, players such as Burgess were not able to be as effective and destructive with the ball in their hand. However, it was still another strong effort from the 28-year-old who recorded 98 metres, 35 post contact metres and 27 tackles as he now looks set to be South Sydney’s leading metre maker this year.