We’ve taken a look at the main talking points from the latest round of NRL action.
Roosters 6-24 Storm
Melbourne Storm completed the double over Sydney Roosters at the SCG as they continued their excellent recent form.
Their eighth consecutive victory came despite missing stars Cameron Smith and Cameron Munster through injury, but they produced an accomplished performance to be the first team to beat the Roosters twice in a season since South Sydney in round one and 25 in last year.
Jahrome Hughes stepped up in Munster’s absence with a try and a commanding display as Justin Olam grabbed a double and Felise Kaufusi also crossed.
In contrast, the Roosters have been scratchy in recent weeks and were not helped by the loss of Luke Keary to a rib injury, the half-back being rushed to hospital as a precaution.
They also saw Lachlan Lam and Mitch Aubusson depart early giving Trent Robinson a few selection dilemmas ahead of next week.
Sydney Roosters will put their patched-up side out in round 15 against Wests Tigers on Saturday (8:30am) while the Storm will kick off the round when they face Parramatta on Thursday (10.50am).
Stat of the match: 15 – Melbourne’s record for consecutive wins is 15, achieved between August 2012 and May 2013.
Warriors 12-18 Panthers
Penrith Panthers set a new club record of nine successive wins as they edged past the Warriors, but it was overshadowed by the racial abuse of winger Brent Naden by fans.
Eight men were ejected from Central Coast Stadium by police after Naden reported the abuse and NRL acting CEO Andrew Abdo said they would work with police to establish the facts and ensure the fans are banned from attending future games.
The Warriors CEO Cameron George also made his thought known post-match which said his club “did not condone any sort of racial remarks towards anyone playing rugby league or in general and we completely support a tough stance against this behaviour”.
Naden opened the scoring for the Panthers and further tries from Api Koroisau and Dylan Edwards gave them a 16-0 lead before the Warriors fought back, but a second-half penalty from Nathan Cleary ensured history was made.
As for the Warriors after their disappointing start, it was an encouraging performance with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck giving them hope before half-time and Patrick Herbet setting up a grandstand finish.
Todd Payten’s men will look to bounce back against the Bulldogs on Sunday (5:00am) with the Panthers hosting Cronulla on Friday (9:00am).
Stat of the match: 10 – The Panthers forced 10 drop-outs against the Warriors, their highest in a match this season.
Eels 12-14 Dragons
Paul McGregor claimed a victory in his final match as the Dragons head coach as they narrowly beat Parramatta at Bankwest Stadium.
Having been informed earlier in the week that he would be leaving, the St George coach was handed a team jersey by captain Cameron Innes after the match.
He would have been proud of his side as they gave him his 70th win in 151 matches in front of interim successor Dean Young with an impressive double from Mikaele Ravalawa and clutch goal-kicking from Zac Lomax.
Losing to the Dragons for the first time at Bankwest, it was another poor performance from Parramatta who arguably have not played at their premiership contending best since beating the Cowboys 42-4 in round 8.
They have claimed four wins since but have looked unconvincing, thankful for Shaun Johnson missed conversions for Cronulla last week and nearly giving up an 18-point lead against bottom side Canterbury.
St George will look to make it successive travelling to play the Broncos on Friday (10:55am) while the Eels host in-form Melbourne on Thursday (10:50am).
Stat of the match: 369 – Parramatta full-back Clint Gutherson set an NRL record with the most run metres ever recorded for a player in a match, beating his Warriors counterpart Roger Tuivasa-Sheck by a single metre.
Sharks 30-18 Titans
Kevin Proctor became the first player in NRL history to be sent off for biting as Cronulla took advantage to cement their place in the top eight.
The Titans forward was dismissed in his 250th match by Henry Perenara for the incident involving Shaun Johnson after the official was advised by the Bunker,
James Graham was suspended for 12 matches after biting Billy Slater in the 2012 grand final, and Proctor has received a four-game ban for the incident with his Kiwi teammate.
Before the turning point, Gold Coast struck first through Corey Thompson and a Jarrod Wallace try saw them level at 12-12 at half-time before the Sharks ran away with it, ensuring Keegan Hipgrave score was a mere consolation.
Cronulla made the extra man count from the 56th minute, crossing three times in eight minutes through Sione Katoa, Wade Graham and Jack Williams in a comprehensive victory to record their seventh win in nine matches.
The Sharks face a trip to leaders Penrith on Friday (9:00am) with the Titans hosting Canberra on Saturday (6:00am).
Stat of the match: 1 – Kevin Proctor became the first player to ever be sent off for the Gold Coast Titans.
Cowboys 30-31 Rabbitohs
Adam Reynolds was the hero for South Sydney as he redeemed himself after a late missed conversion as they snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against North Queensland Cowboys.
The half-back saw a 76th-minute sideline conversion drift wide as he failed to tie the game, but within minutes knocked over a penalty and a field goal to complete a remarkable turnaround.
Reynolds had opened the scoring for the Rabbitohs and Dane Gagai, Alex Johnston and Campbell Graham all crossed but they trailed by six points in the last five minutes before Johnston’s second gave them hope and Reynolds stepped up.
For the Cowboys it will be a tough loss to take, especially considering Kyle Feldt missed four conversions which would have put the result beyond doubt.
There were positives however with Michael Morgan looking back to his best with two tries and full-back Scott Drinkwater producing two outstanding kicks to set up impressive tries for Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and centre Tom Opacic.
North Queensland close out round 15 against the Knights on Sunday (7:05am) as the Rabbitohs host Manly on Saturday (10:35am).
Stat of the match: 2014 – The last time there was a 31-30 scoreline was in 2014 when the Cowboys lost to the Roosters in the finals series.
Raiders 36-8 Broncos
Canberra produced a slick second-half performance to ease past Brisbane at GIO Stadium on Saturday with their Englishmen playing a major role.
Despite trailing 8-6 at half-time, the Raiders confirmed the victory with five tries in 20 minutes with George Williams and John Bateman each claiming a four-pointer and assisting the other.
Half-back Williams also set up Jordan Rapana and Nick Cotric before the latter grabbed his second to confirm the Green Machine’s biggest win of the season.
A recurring theme, it was another poor second-half display from the Broncos, failing to score a point, and they now have the worst attack (186 points) and worst defence (437 points).
There were positive signs for Brisbane in the opening period as Kotoni Staggs and David Fifita impressed and Herbie Farnworth scored his second try in as many games.
Next up for the Raiders is the Gold Coast on Saturday (6:00am) while the Broncos face St George on Friday (10:55am).
Stat of the match: 23 – Brisbane have conceded 23 tries in the last 20 minutes of matches in 2020, the most in the competition.
Knights 26-24 Sea Eagles
Newcastle Knights grabbed a crucial win in the race to grab the coveted fourth spot and a home semi-final with a narrow victory over Manly.
The Knights, who sit sixth, two points behind fourth-placed Sydney Roosters claimed the victory late on when Kalyn Ponga set up Enari Tuala’s second try and nervelessly kicked the conversion.
Ponga had earlier assisted Star To’a as they recovered from being 12-0 down early on with Kurt Mann and Tuala crossing as they led at the break and Hymel Hunt scored in the second-half before the late intervention.
It was an agonising defeat for the Sea Eagles with Cade Cust’s try of the season contender after Brad Parker flicked the ball back from the sideline, and Daly Cherry-Evans’ score.
However a concession of 20 unanswered points were key and they now find themselves four points out of the top eight with just six matches remaining.
In Round 15, Newcastle will entertain the Cowboys on Sunday (7:05am) and Manly face South Sydney on Saturday (10:35am).
Stat of the match: 15 – The last time Manly missed out on a finals berth, they finished in 15th in 2018.
Wests Tigers 29-28 Bulldogs
Wests Tigers survived a second-half Canterbury fightback with a Luke Brooks drop-goal to keep their finals hopes alive.
The often maligned half-back slotted over from 32 metres late on to ensure the gap to eighth-placed South Sydney was four points with six matches, including hosting the Rabbitohs, remaining.
Having led by 16 points, they trailed by six before Luciano Leilua’s try and a Moses Mbye conversion gave Brooks the opportunity to spare their blushes.
A flurry of Canterbury points was engineered by former Tiger Jeremy Marshall-King setting up tries for Aiden Tolman and Kerrod Holland which added to a first-half debut try from Matt Doorey.
Matching his teammate, key half-back Kieran Foran assisted Marcelo Montoya and Doorey before being forced out with an ankle injury.
The Wests Tigers host Sydney Roosters in round 15 on Saturday (8:30am) and the Bulldogs play the Warriors on Sunday (5:00am).
Stat of the match: 9 – Wests Tigers currently occupy ninth position, where they have finished in the last two seasons.