Brits Down Under: Thompson stars in defeat, Whitehead scores & Rushton continues to impress
We’ve taken a look at the performances and stats of the NRL’s British contingent in Round 11.
After breaking an extensive losing streak against Canterbury last week, the Raiders were brought back down to earth with a shuddering halt after another poor showing saw Melbourne easily beat Canberra 34-10. Canberra’s second half struggles have been well documented this year and it was the same again despite a red hot start to the game. Even in defeat, Sutton was still probably one of their most effective players in the forward pack as he put in another solid all-round performance with 109 metres, 36 post contact metres and 33 tackles to his name. In the midst of their issues, the 26-year-old has been one of his side’s most consistent players all year.
There was plenty of hype surrounding the fixture between South Sydney and Penrith as both teams boast plenty of attacking quality, but it was the Panthers who would put the Rabbitohs to the sword with a huge 56-12 victory. As the Bunnies struggled offensively it certainly reflected on the player’s performances and stats with Burgess not having as big a game as what we have seen in the past but even still, the 28-year-old produced a solid effort with 96 metres, 37 post contact metres, 18 tackles and a tackle bust as Penrith dominated from start to finish. At the halfway stage, the powerful prop forward still tops the charts for Souths in run metres with 1,435.
Like Sutton, Whitehead has undoubtedly been one of Canberra’s most influential players even with all their problems this year and especially since taking over the co-captaincy role from fellow Englishman Josh Hodgson. In the 34-10 loss to the Storm, the 31-year-old did help get his side off to a hot start as he scored Canberra’s second try of the game following a great break from Curtis Scott to give them a 10-0 lead inside the first 15 minutes. However, this would be as good as it got for Ricky Stuart’s side as they failed to record any more points in the game. Overall, the second-rower had 75 metres, 27 post contact metres, a try and 37 tackles. Throughout the year, Whitehead has the most tackles (329), the second most offloads (9) and the joint second most tries (3) all by a Raiders player.
The Bulldogs put up a great fight against Gold Coast on Saturday but sadly it was not enough as they were beaten 30-20 by the Titans. After only playing seven games this year, Thompson has developed into one of Canterbury’s most consistent and standout performers with some great all-round displays and it was much of the same in the defeat to the Titans. The 26-year-old was one of the best players on the field for Canterbury with a mammoth 22 carries for 164 metres and 54 post contact metres alongside 22 tackles, four tackle busts, a line break and a try. Since making his return from suspension, the former Saints man has been in impeccable form, averaging 134 metres, 32 tackles and two tackle breaks per game.
The 26-year-old did put together a strong first half showing against Melbourne but as has been the case for most of this season it would be tale of two halves as Canberra failed to follow up a strong opening 40 minutes. Williams still showed glimpses of his attacking quality despite defeat with 70 metres, 18 post contact metres, two tackle busts and a try assist. After 11 games this year, Williams leads the Raiders in try assists for the season with seven altogether.
The 19-year-old has become a prominent feature for Canberra’s reserve side in the New South Wales Cup as he continues to hone his skills. The young back-rower started at loose forward and saw 56 minutes of action in the 36-22 loss to the Western Suburbs Magpies and put together another hard-working effort despite defeat. In total, Rushton had 13 carries, 106 metres, 42 post contact metres, three tackle breaks and 31 tackles. So far this year, the former Wigan forward now has the most tackles by a Raiders player in the NSW Cup with 269.
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