Brits Down Under Round five: Graham’s Dragons demolish Bulldogs, Burgess’ Bunnies win again and Canberra quartet fly high

Another week and another round of the 2019 NRL season is in the books and it is that time again where we look into the homegrown players plying their trade down under and how they are getting on.

John Bateman

There is no denying that the start the 26-year-old has made in the NRL has been nothing short of sensational, receiving praise from pundits and fans alike. A new breath of life seems to have been injected into Canberra this season with Bateman being a huge part of that and once again himself and the Raiders did the business against Parramatta. The former Wigan and Bradford man has been somewhat of a regular stat sheet stuffer this season and this weekend was no exception. In the back row, Bateman made the fourth most tackles for his side with 24 while making over 100 running metres once again with 125. The game putting him atop Canberra’s metres gained list for the season so far with 645 along with placing him inside the top 25 in the league. There has not been a hint of slowing down from one of NRL newest hot properties as he continues to bulldoze his opposition with relative ease. Maybe it is time they renamed Bateman to John Bateman’s Bay in Canberra after all?

Sam Burgess

The Rabbitohs may have lost their first game of the season last week with a dramatic golden point thriller against Manly but throughout the game itself, Burgess showed exactly why he is one of the games exclusive talents with his hard running and sheer presence on the field. In another gritty win against the New Zealand Warriors ‘Slammin Sam’ was at it again despite some of his fellow teammates, especially Cody Walker, being more of a focal point. The 30-year-old was defensively sound wrapping up 31 tackles in the 28-24 win and that would be the second most by a Rabbitohs player for the game and as per usual he was just as effective when he had the ball in hand. Alongside eight other Bunnies players, Burgess made over 100 running metres of 16 carries in another triple digit affair. The NSW side have been one of the leagues brighter teams this season with a 4-1 start and with Burgess being his influential self-alongside the likes of Adam Reynolds and Damien Cook, could there be a decent push to the Grand Final once again this season?

Elliott Whitehead

A huge part of Canberra’s success this year has been down to great defensive displays and the 30-year-old back rower has been at the forefront of that this season so far. In the 19-0 win over the Eels, Whitehead proved this again making the second most tackles (33) behind fellow England international Josh Hodgson. The defensive effort placing him third on Canberra’s top hitmen list for the season only behind Josh Hodgson and John Bateman. Also, another bright spot for the former Bradford and Catalans star was that he was able to get his first try of the season after a beautifully weighted kick from Hodgson was collected by the number 12 for the Raiders second try.

Thomas Burgess

By the end of the game the 26-year-old prop forward displayed how difficult he is stop and made the second most metres for South Sydney with 128. The 26-year-old may have only played just over 200 minutes this season even without picking up an injury but just like his brothers, when he is out there you know he is out there. The opportunities with the ball in hand were unquestionably taken as he now stands fifth on the Rabbitohs metres made list for the season and that will no doubt be a sight we see just as frequently as the season keeps going.

Ryan Sutton

The 23-year-old continued his impressive form in Canberra’s win over Parramatta, starting once again in the loose forward spot. For the second consecutive game, Sutton surpassed 100 running metres making 115 off 12 runs and made his presence felt defensively racking up 21 tackles.

The opportunities may have been sparse to start the season, but the former Wigan man has no doubt relished the chances and has been a top performer for the Raiders in the last few games and with the potential injury to Joe Tapine it looks we will see a lot more of him going forward.

George Burgess

After what was a solid performance in his return for the Rabbitohs last week in the loss to Manly, it was certainly a much more conservative affair for the 26-year-old this time around. As his brothers continued to let themselves be known, George found himself with fewer chances to make a mark. The England international had only three carries for 28 metres alongside making 15 tackles. The Rabbitohs round six tie against a struggling Canterbury may be the perfect chance to bounce straight back.

Josh Hodgson

Once again, the England number nine showed that the Canberra attack and defence runs through him. The 29-year-old’s stellar style of play and great build up work has received plenty of plaudits since the start of the season as he undoubtedly remains the key figurehead for the Raiders. They now lie in third place on points difference thanks hugely to impressive defensive efforts, conceding only 44 points in their first five games and is something they have not done to start a season since 1990. The playmaker has even shown himself as to why he is one of his sides top hitmen so far making 47 tackles against Parramatta completely limiting his opponents to few chances. Also, with numbers like that it is no surprise he has the most tackles for the Raiders.

James Graham

Well after back to back one-point wins, the Dragons have looked to have found a new sense of confidence following a third successive victory with a crushing win over Canterbury. Following, the Bulldogs gritty performance against Melbourne last time out there was plenty tipping the Bulldogs for an upset here but that was just not to be as St. George Illawarra put together easily their best performance of the season. The 33-year-old prop was able to do what he has done pretty much throughout the season being a true workhorse in the Dragons’ front pack as for his side he made the fourth most tackles (28) while averaging just over 10 yards a carry with 132 metres of 13 runs. The result maybe exactly what Graham and his side needed following back to back tense wins and now with three consecutive wins under their belt, could we start seeing the Dragons we saw last season.