NRL talking points: Terrific Tedesco, impressive Hiku & marvellous Mitchell

We have taken a look at the talking points from round five of the NRL.

Manly 20-18 Brisbane

After nearly pulling off a second-half comeback against Parramatta, Manly were able to complete the feat when facing a wounded Broncos. 

Tom Trbojevic again starred, as did half-back Daly Cherry-Evans with the Sea Eagles coming from 18-0 down to triumph. 

The pair were involved in the three-try burst either side of half-time which set the platform for Manly’s turnaround. 

Trbojevic sent debutant Tevita Funa and Moses Suli over either side of Cherry-Evans grabbing his own four-pointer. 

Reuben Garrick then slotted over two penalties to seal an impressive comeback but Manly will be missing Suli against Canberra after he underwent surgery while Broncos centre Kotoni Staggs will be out for a month with a hamstring strain. 

Stat of the match: 30 – Points conceded by Manly in the first halves of the last two games. 

New Zealand Warriors 37-26 North Queensland

A completely different side to the one nilled at Penrith a week earlier, the Warriors came out on top in this points-fest in the Central Coast.

Their five-eighth Kodi Nikorima and halves partner Blake Green were the difference, with five try assists, a field goal and four goals between them. 

Five of their seven tries were on the last tackle which will disappoint Cowboys coach Paul Green, celebrating becoming the the most capped coach in Cowboys history with 162 NRL games.

North Queensland also saw Jordan McLean and Valentine Holmes, who did grab a try, forced off with ankle and calf injuries. 

The duo will miss their match with Wests while the Warriors will hope Peta Hiku can continue his fine form as they meet South Sydney after his hat-trick.

Stat of the match: 18 – Age of North Queensland debutant Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow who claimed two try assists.

Parramatta 16-10 Penrith

Penrith threw away a commanding half-time lead for the second time in three matches as they were stunned by a late Parramatta turnaround. 

Ivan Cleary’s side led 10-0 going into the final quarter but returned from Bankwest with nothing, two weeks on from seeing a 14-0 lead against Newcastle end all square. 

Former Panther Waqa Blake was the catalyst for the Eels as his 62nd minute try brought three tries in a whirlwind five-minute period. 

He set up Clint Gutherson to restore parity before a fortunate bounce allowed Ryan Matterson to claim a Mitchell Moses kick and seal the win. 

Nathan Brown also impressed on his return from suspension as did Nathan Cleary for Penrith.

Stat of the match: 67 – The Eels have outscored their opposition 67-5 in the last 20 minutes of matches this season. 

South Sydney 32-12 Gold Coast

Latrell Mitchell’s most impressive full-back performance came as South Sydney eased past the Titans for their second win of the season. Mitchell scored one try and set up three others.

In a much-needed victory for the Bunnies they welcomed back Cody Walker and have reaped the rewards of moving Cameron Murray into the middle.

Fresh from eventually ending their drought last time out, the Titans fought gamely, keeping Wayne Bennett’s men scoreless for 50 minutes after conceding a fourth try. 

The Rabbitohs will look to continue their momentum against the Warriors while Justin Holbrook’s men, who have signed winger Corey Thompson from the Tigers, face the Dragons.

Stat of the match: 213 – Metres made by England international Tom Burgess for South Sydney.

Newcastle 12-26 Melbourne

Melbourne held off a fast-finishing Newcastle side to move into the top four after Cameron Smith again showed that age is just a number. The 36-year-old claimed two try assists and made 42 tackles.

Trailing 18-2 at the break, Newcastle set up a grandstand finish with tries from Bradman Best and Edrick Lee before Cameron Smith knocked over a penalty and his protege sealed the win. 

Knights coach Adam O’Brien, who learnt his trade from Storm counterpart Craig Bellamy, was left bemoaning a poor first half: “But just that start, we just got beaten to the punch by a team that that was running harder, playing the ball quicker and sticking their contact a lot harder than we were.”

They will look to recover against Brisbane on Thursday while Melbourne will face Penrith. 

Stat of the match: 416 – Matches Cameron Smith has played for Melbourne.

Wests 6-14 Canberra

Ricky Stuart celebrated his 400th NRL match as a coach with a scrappy win over the Tigers as Canberra bounced back from their Newcastle defeat. 

A second consecutive reverse was on the cards as they trailed 6-0 at the break but tries from Jack Wighton and Nick Cotric, and three Jarrod Crocker goals completed the turnaround. 

As for the Tigers, who dropped Benji Marshall alongside four others, it was a second straight loss after being shocked by the Titans last week.

Despite dropping Marshall, Michael Maguire’s side were boosted by the return of Josh Reynolds who impressed.

They will look to return to the winners circle against the Cowboys with Canberra facing the Sea Eagles. 

Stat of the match: 8 – Ricky Stuart is the eighth coach in the NRL to reach 400 games. 

St George Illawarra 30-16 Cronulla 

The Dragons grabbed a much-needed victory over Cronulla where selection changes paid off. 

Ben Hunt was switched from the halves to dummy half, where he has played at Origin and test level and Matt Dufty was reinstated at full-back.  

The two had a major say in the win as Hunt grabbed a try and two assists off the bench and Dufty matched him, also recording 10 tackle breaks. 

The result leaves the Sharks with a solitary win to their name.

They will look to kick-start their campaign in an important match against the Bulldogs while the Dragons face the Titans.

Stat of the match: 5 – Times the Dragons have scored more than 20 points in the last 18 games.

Canterbury 6-42 Sydney

This match was postponed from Sunday afternoon and played on Monday, with the Roosters breezing past the Bulldogs. 

In a third successive win, the premiers welcomed back James Tedesco, one of the world’s best full-backs, and he starred in another lightning start from the Roosters.

He set up Angus Crichton for a first half double and grabbed one himself as four tries flowed in the opening 25 minutes.  

A second NRL hat-trick of his career was completed after the break as he also recorded five line break assists and 10 tackle busts. 

As they look for a third successive title, Trent Robinson’s side will meet the Eels next in a blockbuster clash while the Bulldogs have a big game themselves against Cronulla. 

Stat of the match: 129 – Points the Roosters have scored in three games since the competition restart.

By Sam Harris

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