NRL talking points: Raiders beat Roosters, Ponga stars for Knights & Norman seals Dragons win

We’ve discussed the main talking points from round 10 of the NRL campaign.

Sydney Roosters 20-24 Canberra Raiders

Canberra Raiders overcame a lengthy injury list to record an outstanding win over the Sydney Roosters in a Grand Final rematch.

With hooker Josh Hodgson ruled out for the season, 22-year-old Tom Starling was tasked with replacing him and impressed in just his fifth game for the club.

Missing six of the Grand Final team including John Bateman, Canberra’s forwards stood up to the challenge with Dunamis Lui scoring their first try and Josh Papalii their last with George Williams also crossing.

For the Roosters it is now two defeats in three games having narrowly been defeated by Melbourne a couple of weeks ago and they will be without Angus Crichton for a few weeks due to a medial ligament injury.

As ever though, the Morris brothers stood out with Brett grabbing a double and Josh producing an outstanding flick pass for Matt Ikuvalu to score.

Trent Robinson’s side will expect to bounce back against the New Zealand Warriors while the Raiders host South Sydney.

Stat of the match: 2016 – The last time the losing Grand Finalists beat the reigning premiers in their Grand Final rematch was in 2016 when Brisbane pipped North Queensland 21-20 in golden point extra-time.

Melbourne Storm 42-6 Gold Coast Titans

Melbourne produced a clinical second half performance to ease past the lowly Titans on the Sunshine Coast.

Inspired by Cameron Munster returning earlier than expected from injury, the Storm scored 24 unanswered points after the break with Munster having scored and assisted a try apiece in the first half.

Josh Addo-Carr and, for the first time in his career, Nelson Asofa-Solomona grabbed doubles with Brandon Smith also continuing his impressive season at prop and hooker.

With just a Brian Kelly try and Ash Taylor conversion to show for their efforts, it was a disappointing afternoon for the Titans with 41 missed tackles not helping their cause.

Justin Holbrook will be encouraged by Phillip Sami’s performance at centre and Taylor’s short kicking game impressed but he knows he has a lot of work on his hands.

The Storm could rack up another high score when they play Brisbane in round 11 while the Gold Coast face a tough task against Penrith.

Stat of the match: 4 – Melbourne Storm have now recorded four consecutive victories, beating the Warriors, Roosters, Raiders and Titans. 

Wests Tigers 48-0 Brisbane Broncos

Brisbane’s horror season continued to go from bad to worse when they were thrashed by Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.

The contest was over by half-time as the Tigers led 26-0 with Luciano Leilua notching a brace with youngster Harry Grant, who was serenaded by the fans at full-time, and the ageless Benji Marshall also scoring.

Leilua impressed in defence too with zero missed tackles and produced five tackle breaks in an outstanding 80-minute performance.

Anthony Seibold saw his side concede another 22 points after the break as they were kept to nil for the third time in their last 11 games.

They are missing key players such as Kotoni Staggs, David Fifita and Alex Glenn but it could not excuse some of the soft tries let in and it just gets harder with matches against the Eels, Roosters, Panthers and Rabbitohs to come.

The Tigers kick off round 11 against Parramatta while the Broncos will have to improve as they play Melbourne. 

Stat of the match: 16 – Under Seibold Brisbane have had 16 scoreless halves.

St George Illawarra Dragons 28-22 Canterbury Bulldogs

St George Illawarra stormed back to seal a comeback win against Canterbury with a 79th-minute try from Corey Norman.

Trailing by 12 points, the Dragons crossed three times in the final 15 minutes with tries from Jason Saab and Matt Dufty before Norman denied interim Canterbury coach Steve Georgallis a win in his first game.

Dufty had given St George Illawarra the perfect start when he scored after just 58 seconds and despite leading 10-0 after 15 minutes, they found themselves trailing at the break.

Their impressive comeback, with Zac Lomax kicking four goals has given them hope of making the top eight as they battle with the Sharks and Sea Eagles.

For the Bulldogs it was a disappointing way to lose a game with tries from Jeremy Marshall-King, Nick Meaney and Raymond Faitala-Mariner having put them in a promising position.

Paul McGregor’s side will look to gain an important win in the battle for the finals when they face Cronulla with the Bulldogs travelling to play Newcastle. 

Stat of the match: 2 – The Dragons have now won back-to-back matches on two separate occasions in 2020, firstly beating the Sharks and Titans and now beating the Sea Eagles and Bulldogs. 

South Sydney Rabbitohs 18-20 Newcastle Knights

Newcastle survived a late South Sydney comeback to move into the top four with a hard fought win.

The Rabbitohs scored three tries in the last 15 mins through Mark Nicholls and Damien Cook as it looked like Kayln Ponga’s three missed conversions would prove costly.

However, they hung on and were indebted to an impressive first hour which saw them 20-0 up with their star full-back pulling the strings.

After recording no try involvements in his past two matches, Ponga grabbed the Knights’ third try and set up Bradman Best after the break.

South Sydney could take positives from their late rally but they were again their worst enemies in recording a 72% completion rate, just above their season average.

They will look to bounce back in the capital against the Raiders while Newcastle host Canterbury.  

Stat of the match: 1000 – This defeat brought up South Sydney’s 1000th Premiership loss.

Manly Sea Eagles 22-18 Parramatta Eels

A first half blitz from the Sea Eagles helped them to a surprise victory over rivals Parramatta at Lottoland.

The Sea Eagles came out firing and streaked into a 16-0 lead in as many minutes with tries from Martin Taupau, in his 100th NRL game for the club, Daly Cherry-Evans and Danny Levi.

Leading 22-4 at half-time, they hung on for an important win after Michael Jennings grabbed his second, entering the NRL top 10 try scorers and George Jennings set up the grandstand finish.

It was a disappointing result for Parramatta who failed to capitalise on an injury to Moses Suli and Reuben Garrick being forced off for an HIA, seeing Reagan Campbell-Gillard dropping the ball attempting to score.

The prop however was arguably their man of the match though, running for 290 metres and making 47 tackles in a strong 80-minute showing.

Next up for Manly is a trip to Townsville to face the Cowboys with the Eels kicking off round 11 against Wests Tigers. 

Stat of the match: 1 – There is only one current NRL player with more tries than Michael Jennings’ 154, Brett Morris of Sydney Roosters with 162. 

New Zealand Warriors 10-46 Cronulla Sharks

Cronulla recovered from their thrashing by Penrith by handing out one of their own against the Warriors.

Former Warrior Shaun Johnson tormented his old side with an 18-point personal haul with a try and seven goals as well as having a hand in three others.

Braden Hamlin-Uele scored the first try for the third time in the last four games and further tries from Will Kennedy, Ronaldo Mulitalo and Johnson gave them a 24-4 lead at the break and effectively sealed the game.

Second half doubles from Sione Katoa and Jesse Ramien followed as the Sharks made it to 256 points for the season, only behind Sydney Roosters.

For the Warriors, they never recovered from their nightmare start suffering their first loss in their temporary home of Gosford after wins over the Dragons, Cowboys and Broncos.

They have another tough task next against the Roosters while Cronulla face St George Illawarra.

Stat of the match: 162 – Shaun Johnson played 162 matches for the New Zealand Warriors between 2011-18, scoring 63 tries. 

Penrith Panthers 22-10 North Queensland Cowboys

Penrith surged to the top of the ladder after Nathan Cleary inspired them to a hard-fought win against North Queensland.

The halfback’s late solo try sealed the game for the Panthers in their first home game since round one, also slotting over three goals and showing up well in defence.

Looking for a fifth successive victory, Penrith trailed 10-4 early in the second-half before Stephen Crichton grabbed his seventh try in five games and Cleary crossed.

However, they will be sweating on the fitness of Dylan Edwards and Dean Whare after they were forced off with hamstring and groin injuries.

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, scored a superb try for the Cowboys, his speed taking him past six defenders before finishing in the corner and debutant five-eighth Daejarn Asi capping an impressive performance with their other try.

On Monday North Queensland announced that coach Paul Green had left the club by mutual consent paying the price for disappointing seasons since leading them to a maiden premiership in 2015 and another grand final two years after.

The Panthers will look to remain atop the table when they play the Titans with North Queensland taking this performance into their clash with Manly.

Stat of the match: 1991 – The last time Penrith started with eight wins from their opening 10 matches was in 1991 when they won the competition.

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