Brits Down Under: Widdop steals the show again

Ever since Adrian Morley got sent off inside 15 seconds in a Test match against Australia we’ve taken notice of English players in the NRL.

Granted, Morley had already won a Premiership by then and Martin Offiah had also enjoyed success with the Dragons in the early 90s, but that was the moment where English players started to truly stand out.

Now they’re everywhere in the NRL, as clubs in Australia look for a recruitment difference, and English players look to test themselves against the best. In this weekly column, we give you a quick round-up of how the current crop fared.

Warriors v Bulldogs: Graham unhurt but Bulldogs feel the pain

Bulldogs Captain James Graham finally got through a game without re-injuring the neck and shoulder problem he’s been struggling with.

The English prop got through 53 minutes of work, however his team were disappointing against the Warriors – a team they’ve beaten easily already this season.

Graham made 37 tackles, had an offload and carried the ball for 112 metres in a solid display that will have his coach Des Hasler feeling a little better about his sides’ push towards the top eight.

Tigers v Titans: Greenwood puts head knocks behind him to help his side to a much-needed win

Back-rower Chris McQueen was ruled out with a neck injury just prior to kick-off, so Englishman Joe Greewood was promoted to the run on side.

Greenwood had earlier in the week been moved to the bench to help him ease his way back from his fourth (yep, you read that right) concussion of the season.

Regardless he was strong again, continuing the promise he’s shown in the opening 15 rounds of the season. His left edge didn’t see too much ball, most it going the way of Konrad Hurrell, but he was industrious in defence making 41 tackles without a miss.

Raiders v Broncos: Benji gets the better of Brits Hodgson and Whitehead

The Raiders continue to fail to find the balance in their bench and ball-playing options. This was evident again in their woeful loss to the Benji Marhsall-inspired Broncos.

The Kurt Baptiste/Josh Hodgson split in minutes is wreaking havoc on the team’s continuity. Hodgson is often guilty of overplaying his hand when he’s at dummy-half but is then forced into meaningless hit-ups when Baptiste enters the fray.

Hodgson also appears to be trying to dominate the decision making because there is little direction from Sezer and Austin. The result is errors. Hodgson had three of them to go with four missed tackles and two penalties conceded in what was a rough night.

His countryman Elliot Whitehead also had five missed tackles (he made 37), but was better with ball in hand, threatening the line and carrying for 97 metres.

Dragons v Knights: Widdop leads Dragons back to the winner’s circle

Gareth Widdop was at his absolute best in the second half as he laid on four tries and had three tackle breaks in a display that helped his side recover from trailing 28-10 at halftime.

The master conductor had a hand in almost all of the Dragons tries, helping Jason Nightingale to a hat trick and compounding the Knights to their 12th loss of the season. Widdop was likely to have picked up three Dally M Medal points for his stellar performance with both boot and sleight of hand.

Sharks v Sea Eagles: Injuries mean more game time for Heighington but a bridge too far for the Sharks

Chris Heighington enjoyed extended minutes as the Sharks were reduced to a three-man interchange because of a Jayden Brailey broken jaw.

The extra minutes didn’t relate to additional output from the big man who stayed consistent with his numbers from the rest of the season. Heighington made 20 tackles, ran for 72 metres and produced a scratchy offload in his 40 minutes on the field.

For more on this week’s NRL action, have a read of our list of the five most important things learned during the round, or check out how your team got on in the full list of results.