Brits Down Under: Heroic Hodgson, Bateman for Dally M, gallant Graham

The British contingent Down Under have made their presence felt in another action packed weekend of NRL action. 

Sam Burgess

Well, you can’t exactly fault the efforts of the Rabbitohs talisman in recent weeks. Despite not displaying their best defensive performances in the last couple of rounds, South Sydney have still found a way to win, with Burgess showing us just how much of a machine he is.

The 30-year-old second-rower has been a measuring poll of consistency and sheer quality ever since the season began. The Rabbitohs may have struggled at times but Burgess’ ability in his running game proved dividends as it became a little too much for Canterbury in the end. The former Bradford star bulldozed his way to 180 metres and his battle with the Bulldogs’ Lachlan Lewis became an enticing addition to the game.

It looks as if his move to the second-row at the start of the season is proving fruitful as the England international looks as elite as ever.

Josh Hodgson

The Green Machine with Hodgson leading the way marches on following their four consecutive win and this time it coming against Brisbane.

As mentioned in recent weeks, the Raiders have taken comfort in the exceptional ability of Hodgson at the dummy half position as he continues to be a linchpin on both sides of the ball, and this was no different against Brisbane. Once again, the 29-year-old led from the front with the most tackles by a Raiders player, with an impeccable 48 to his name.

George Burgess

The recently turned 27-year-old continued his return to action from suspension with another solid outing in the South Sydney win over Canterbury.

Alongside his brothers, he proved once more that his intimidating physical stature makes him such a tough opponent to stop when he has that ball in his hand. The barnstorming prop etched up over 123 metres and we should only expect more of this going forward in the season.

Elliott Whitehead

The former Bradford and Catalans back-rower might not set the world a light when he steps onto the rugby pitch, but he is always player that can be relied upon with his work rate in defence.

Similarly to James Graham at the Dragons, the 30-year-old has been a determined force defensively and was back at it in Canberra’s win over the Broncos, wrapping up the third most tackles by a Canberra player with 34. Whitehead has gone about his business solidly at the Raiders and has shown why he is usually one of the first names on the England teamsheet.

John Bateman

Well, what more can you say about this man right here this season? The 25-year-old has become a joy to watch during his first stint in NRL and has received praise from fans and pundits alike due to his big performances for the Raiders. His powerful runs combined with some exquisite touches have turned Canberra into a force and have quickly made him a fan favourite amongst the Raiders faithful.

The back-rower finished the game against Brisbane with another stat fuelled display with a try, an assist, a clean break, three tackle busts, 61 metres and 42 tackles all to his name. Now, it is certainly easy to just sit here and talk about how he lights up the statistics in most of his games but when you look at the fact that this time last year, the Raiders were struggling to even make it into NRL finals contention and now find themselves amongst the mix then it stands as a true testament to his impact and influence on the field. Is he a Dally M Medal contender? Right now, it seems more than a fair assessment.

Tom Burgess

It was a much quieter performance than what we have been used to from the monster prop forward in recent weeks.

While his brothers made their way over 100 metres, he could only rack up 59, albeit from six carries. Now, with his twin brother George back in action it looks as if the prop forward partnership between the pair will see much more of a shared workload, which in the long run seems like a good move, especially when Finals rugby comes around. So, only expect more from Burgess as the season goes on.

James Graham

Well, St George Illawarra certainly look to be making deal out of these late wins. In recent weeks, the Dragons have snatched late wins over the likes of Brisbane and Newcastle before crushing Canterbury last week. As they headed into this round six tie against Manly, they were no doubt hoping for a similarly convincing win against a team who were on a hot run of their own. However, the Dragons would be on the end of another thrilling encounter that saw them trailing 10-8 with only three minutes to go before clinching a late try from Ben Hunt that snatched the two points.

The win seals St George Illawarra’s fourth in a row and sees them well amongst the mix of NRL finals rugby in the back end of the year. Despite the late wins, the Dragons owe a good amount of consistency and effort to certain players and Graham can most definitely say he has fit that bill. The 33-year-old has been a staple of hard work in the front pack for Paul McGregor’s side all season and once more put up solid numbers as we are so used to seeing from the former St Helens star, with his 32 tackles being the most by St George Illawarra player.

Ryan Sutton

The 23-year-old has been in flying form as of late with another impressive showing in the green of Canberra.

The injury to second-rower Joe Tapine has opened the door for Sutton to make a significant impact and he has taken his opportunity with both hands. The Lancastrian made his presence felt, scoring his first NRL try in the 69th minute which sealed the win for his side. Is it hard to imagine now that if he keeps these kind of performances up then maybe he can give Wayne Bennent something to think about when the Great Britain internationals come around this autumn?

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