NRL talking points: Tedesco’s standout stats, Williams shines & Trbojevic magic

It was a great weekend to restart the NRL competition and Love Rugby League look at the talking points of each match. 

Brisbane 6-34 Parramatta

The Eels made it three from three with a convincing win at Suncorp but we will have to wait and see if it is all or nothing for Brad Arthur’s men. 

Six times, Parramatta have started a season in such form, winning the competition on three occasions but also failing to make the finals three times. 

The last time they started with three consecutive wins was in 1993 and they ended up finishing 11th. 

Stat of the match: Brisbane 6-92 Parramatta – the aggregate score of the last two meetings between the sides, with the Eels cruising to a 58-0 win in last year’s finals. 

North Queensland 36-6 Gold Coast 

Valentine Holmes may be the missing piece of the jigsaw for North Queensland in 2020.

The full-back, a key part of Cronulla’s 2016 Premiership winning side, was brought back to rugby league from the NFL in the off-season and starred with three assists, helped by Jason Taumalolo at his bulldozing best, making 290 metres. 

His creativity and try scoring prowess (19 in the Sharks’ title winning campaign) will be a massive boost to a side who finished 14th in 2019 posting just 378 points, the third lowest in the competition. 

Stat of the match: 635 – metres made by Taumalolo in his last two matches. 

Sydney Roosters 28-12 South Sydney 

All eyes were on Latrell Mitchell as he turned out in the green and red of the Rabbitohs but it was his Roosters counterpart James Tedesco who stole the show. 

The full-back, who won the Dally M and the Wally Lewis medal in 2019, scored the gamebreaking try shortly after half-time as the reigning champions won for the first time this season. 

Unsurprisingly, the Rabbitohs missed half-back Cody Walker after his two-match suspension for an off-field incident in December. 

Stat of the match: 13 tackle breaks, 295 metres, two line breaks and one try – Tedesco’s stats.

New Zealand Warriors 18-0 St George Illawarra

The Warriors have sacrificed a lot, moving to Australia and away from their families for the rest of the season, in order to ensure the NRL could restart. 

Therefore no-one could fail to be pleased for them after an impressive performance gave them their first points of the season, despite having to deal with a raft of injuries. 

There were tries for youngsters Eliesa Katoa and Jamayne Taunoa-Brown as Stephen Kearney’s men completed 44 consecutive sets through the first 75 minutes. 

Tohu Harris was one of the standouts in a huge team effort from the New Zealand side, making 48 tackles and 219 metres including 76 post-contact. 

Stat of the match: 2006 – The last time the Warriors nilled a side in Australia.

Cronulla 16-28 Wests

Cronulla lost to Wests Tigers in a topsy-turvy encounter at Bankwest Stadium.

The Sharks could not get to grips with mercurial half-back Benji Marshall, remaining without a win in 2020 and could face the Cowboys next weekend without Andrew Fifita or Chad Townsend through injury.

Stat of the match: 2015 – The last time the Sharks started a season with three straight defeats. 

Melbourne 6-22 Canberra 

There have been plenty of success stories when it comes to forwards moving from Super League to the NRL with the likes of Adrian Morley, James Graham and more recently John Bateman but the same can’t be said of the backs. 

But it seems that George Williams could be able to buck the trend. 

Signed from Wigan in the close season, the half-back produced an accomplished performance at AAMI Park with two try assists as Canberra made their best start to a season in 15 years. 

In an overall eye-catching display, he also showed the defensive side of his game with an impressive shot on Ryan Papenhuyzen as Canberra kept Melbourne scoreless in the second half. 

Stat of the match: 3 – The number of consecutive wins the Raiders have at AAMI Park.  

Penrith 14-14 Newcastle 

Both teams had stars missing, Cleary for Penrith and Ponga for Newcastle but this remained an entertaining clash where not even golden point extra-time could separate the two. 

The Knights fought back impressively, keeping their opponents scoreless in the second half with two-try Bradman Best and debutant Chris Randall making a record 71 tackles.

Along with Ponga, it shows the young talent in this Knights team who have a serious chance of making the finals for the first time since 2013. 

Stat of the match: 1998 – The last time Penrith and Newcastle played out a drawn match, 13-13 on that occasion.  

Manly 32-6 Canterbury

Manly eased to a comfortable win over a disappointing Canterbury, backing up their win over the Roosters, and not for the first time since his debut in 2015, Tom Trbojevic was the name on everyone’s lips.

The full-back finished 2019 with eight try assists and 11 line breaks and a similar campaign this year would help the Sea Eagles break their Premiership drought, as they are seen by many as genuine contenders. 

On Sunday, he was involved in five of his side’s seven tries, crossing twice himself, including one set up by brother Jake, and ran for 188 metres. 

A certain starter, albeit at centre, for New South Wales in Origin at the end of the season, Trbojevic has a strong chance of winning the Dally M Medal where he would be the first Manly player since Matt Orford in 2008 to claim the prestigious award.

Stat of the match: 47 – The number of tries Tom Trbojevic has scored for Manly, in just 92 matches. 

By Sam Harris

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