Brits Down Under: Top tackler Pearce-Paul, metre-maker Radley & Young can’t stop scoring

Ben Olawumi
Dom Young, Morgan Smithies, Victor Radley NRL Alamy

Dom Young (left), Morgan Smithies (centre) and Victor Radley (right) in NRL action

Round 3 of the NRL season is done and dusted, with Kai Pearce-Paul topping the tackle count in Newcastle Knights’ win, Victor Radley making metres like there’s no tomorrow for Sydney Roosters & his team-mate Dom Young continuing his incredible scoring form.

Brits Down Under is a weekly feature coming to Love Rugby League in 2024, checking out how the NRL‘s British contingent get on every week.

Here is a brief recap from Round 3, with Dolphins the team with the bye this week…

John Bateman (Wests Tigers)

Bateman played the full 80 minutes as Wests got their first win of the year, making 115 metres as they beat Cronulla 32-6.

The Bradford-born forward made 31 tackles, that the joint-third highest tally for the Tigers, enjoying 14 runs with the ball in hand.

Tom Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs)

Powerhouse Burgess, who will join Super League outfit Huddersfield Giants from 2025, played 26 minutes for the Rabbitohs as they were beaten heavily by the Roosters, 48-6 the final score.

Tom Burgess
Tom Burgess

The 31-year-old made 70 metres in those 26 minutes, over half of those coming post-contact. Souths remain bottom of the pile in the NRL, beaten in all three of their games so far this season.

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Kai Pearce-Paul (Newcastle Knights)

Pearce-Paul topped the Knights’ tackle count with 39 as they edged out Melbourne Storm. Having been 14-0 up come the break, the hosts had to see out the threat of a comeback from the Storm, who got it back to 14-12 with four minutes remaining, and then missed a penalty with just over 60 seconds remaining which would have tied things up.

The ex-Wigan Warriors man – who played the full 80 minutes – also made 145 metres with two offloads, breaking out of four tackles to boot in a strong performance.

Victor Radley (Sydney Roosters)

Playing the full 80 minutes, loose forward Radley was the highest metre-maker of anyone on the field as the Roosters demolished Souths, making 172 in the 48-6 victory.

Victor Radley
Victor Radley

The England international, whose father Nigel hails from Sheffield, also made 31 trademark tackles with an efficiency of almost 94%. Team-mate Nat Butcher with 33 was the only man to make more tackles in the game.

Morgan Smithies (Canberra Raiders)

Halifax native Smithies played 66 minutes as he tasted defeat for the first time with Canberra, who were narrowly beaten by the New Zealand Warriors in Christchurch. The hosts turned things around in the second half, coming from behind to end up 18-10 winners.

Ex-Wigan forward Smithies managed 85 metres in his 66-minute stint, 37 of those coming post-contact, breaking through a tackle. In defence, he made 29 tackles with a 93.55% efficiency score on that front. Only three Raiders players successfully made more tackles, including second-rower Hudson Young who did the full 80 minutes.

ANALYSIS: 7 reasons why Morgan Smithies will succeed in the NRL – ‘The Aussies will love him’

Elliott Whitehead (Canberra Raiders)

Veteran Whitehead, who looks likely to retire come the end of the season, made his first appearance of 2024 in Canberra’s 18-10 defeat to the Warriors.

Jarrod Croker, Jack Wighton, Elliott Whitehead
Jarrod Croker, Jack Wighton, Elliott Whitehead (far right) pictured after Canberra Raiders’ defeat to the New Zealand Warriors in June 2023

The 34-year-old played 34 minutes across two stints, ending with a 100% tackle efficiency score having brought opponents down 25 times. Whitehead also took the ball off a Warriors ace one-on-one, the only player in the game to do so.

Dom Young (Sydney Roosters)

Free-scoring winger Young added yet another try to his eye-catching tally, making it 45 tries in 53 NRL appearances, including two in two now for the Roosters this year following his off-season move over from the Knights.

The 22-year-old – born in Dewsbury – took just three minutes to open the scoring in the Roosters’ 48-6 demolition of Souths having been set free down the right flank. Young missed out to team-mate Radley by two metres for the top billing in that category, but made the most line breaks (3) and also broke through a phenomenal 12 tackles.

NRL Round 3 results

Penrith Panthers 34-12 Brisbane Broncos

New Zealand Warriors 18-10 Canberra Raiders

Sydney Roosters 48-6 South Sydney Rabbitohs

Canterbury Bulldogs 32-0 Gold Coast Titans

St George Illawarra Dragons 24-46 North Queensland Cowboys

Wests Tigers 32-6 Cronulla Sharks

Parramatta Eels 28-24 Manly Sea Eagles

Newcastle Knights 14-12 Melbourne Storm

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