England star Ryan Hall returned from injury to make his NRL debut for Sydney Roosters in round 10.
Despite being a force for the Dragons in recent weeks, Graham and his St George Illawarra side now find themselves fresh off four consecutive defeats after a more than heavy defeat to a resurrected Newcastle Knights side this weekend.
In a 45-12 loss to the Knights, 33-year-old Graham was not at his dominant best like we had seen in the few rounds as he made 24 tackles alongside 36 metres from four carries. The Dragons will next come up against a Cronulla side that are right amongst that top eight mix.
We may be 10 rounds in, but Hall finally made his long-awaited debut for the Sydney Roosters this weekend and what a debut it was.
Despite coming in as heavy favourites against the Brisbane Broncos, the NSW club still succumbed to a shocking 15-10 defeat to the Queensland side in an all-out gutsy affair. However, the 31-year-old was still one of the Chooks’ standout performers in the brutal clash. The former Leeds Rhinos winger finished as the Roosters’ top metre maker with 136 metres from 18 carries as well as making plenty after contact.
In what was dubbed as a ‘Battle of Britain’ game between South Sydney and Canberra, the Bunnies would be the ones to come out on top in a 16-12 affair against the Raiders and in the end, would send Wayne Bennent’s men to the top of the NRL ladder.
The Rabbitohs captain has been a prime catalyst for the NSW side in recent rounds but was not completely at his best in this enticing encounter but yet was still able to make his presence felt as he so often does. The 30-year-old was incredibly solid defensively, with 34 tackles as Souths were able to keep the Green Machine at bay in a hard-fought affair. The Rabbitohs now stand alone at the top of the league table, with the battling second-rower leading the way. The influential captain has the third most tackles this season by a Rabbitohs player with 239 alongside being the club’s highest metre maker with 1,340 from 160 carries.
It may have been a second consecutive defeat for the men in lime green, but the 29-year-old second=rower was still at his absolute best in the game against the Souths. Although the Raiders may have come out as losers for a second consecutive week against a team from Sydney, they still pushed the Rabbitohs to their limit, with Whitehead being pinnacle once again to his team’s defence.
The former Bradford and Catalans star topped the tackle charts for Canberra with 41 as they tried their best to contain the tough Rabbitohs pack. Whitehead still stands as one of the club’s top hitmen with 317 tackles over the course of the season. A hard game defensively also accumulated with a try assist from Whitehead to put through Sam Williams on the hour mark, showing his attacking instinct. The Raiders now face a North Queensland outfit who look to be finding to their feet recently and will need Whitehead and that forward pack firing on all cylinders for this one.
The last two weeks have seen the 27-year-old at his ferocious best in the forward pack, racking up the metres as he usually does with ease and eclipsing over 100 metres in the process.
However, it was certainly more of battle in the game against Canberra but yet still the England international had a solid stat line to show for it with 97 metres from 10 runs as well as making the fourth most tackles by a Souths player with 28. The prop forward has no doubt been integral going forward as the Rabbitohs sit right at top of the NRL ladder.
The injury to John Bateman has certainly left the door open for the 23-year-old to make his presence felt in the Canberra set up even more than he has done in the past.
The former Wigan man has been a revelation since making his debut in the NRL and once more was a pillar of stability in their game against the Souths. Although it was to be a losing effort, the loose forward staked his claim once more for a GB place, making 39 tackles as well as being one of five other Raiders players to make over 100 metres with 122. Another great performance from Sutton now has him as Canberra’s fourth highest tackler this season (250) as well as the fifth highest metre maker with 843 metres, at an average of 8.5 metres per carry.
It may have been a quiet few weeks for the 27-year-old in terms of productivity, but the prop forward has still shown what he can bring to the Rabbitohs set up with his tenacity and sheer size in the prop position.
Although he would not have many opportunities with the ball in hand, Burgess made the best of his chances, racking up 54 metres from seven carries.
The 29-year-old’s build up play and creativity has been a standout aspect to Canberra’s success this year and he has more than validated a spot within a GB squad at a position that certainly holds substantial depth.
The Raiders may be fresh off back-to-back losses but still remain one of the premier sides this season, with inspiring defensive efforts led by the dummy half who leads the way in tackles for the men in lime green with 363. The next challenge for Hodgson and his side see them come up against the Cowboys on the back of a two game skid. The Raiders need every tool in the dynamic player’s arsenal to get this team back firing on an attacking front.