The NRL wrap: Round 7

Foz’s Brookie bash
The Parra machine keeps advancing after they saw off a committed first half Manly, and some dodgy bunker decisions, to carve out another win. This was the pervarible game of two halves, the Sea Eagles looking strong in the first 40 but the Eels clearly dominating the second 40. It was brutal at times and Parramatta’s defence was outstanding. Kieran Foran certainly enjoyed his return to Manly, as did Clint Gutherson.

Terrific Townsville
Just how do you stop the Cowboys? The reigning premiers added the scalp of Souths to their burgeoning collection. Their big three of JT, Morgan and Coote were on fire as they blew the rusty Rabbits out of the water 44-18. The 2014 premiers have now lost four of their past five and they have big problems, compounded by the loss of Greg Inglis to concussion. Adam Reynolds was back for South Sydney but he couldn’t save them and nor could the Burgess boys, who were typically busy with Sam making 40 tackles and 120 metres.

Mary’s relief
It’s been a while but the Dragons have managed to score tries again, three of them in fact, as they beat the Titans 19-14. Gareth Widdop was very good in this one as St George Illawarra bounced back in style. The Red V has been under the pump in recent weeks but here they gave the performance the club’s fans were craving for. Englishman Mike Cooper made 180 metres in the pack as the Dragons held off a late Gold Coast charge sparked by Ash Taylor.

Wellington wake for Dogs
New Zealand finally clicked in Wellington as they edged the Bulldogs by four points. With Tui Lolohea partnering Shaun Johnson in the halves for a change, the Warriors’ attack was much sharper and dangerous with that combination. The Doggies rallied, led by their impressive young hooker Kerrod Holland, but the Kiwis held on to scratch out their third win. The biggest blow in this came with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck being ruled out for the season with an ACL rupture, simply terrible news for the Warriors.

Nuked Newcastle
Anthony Milford went nuclear in this game – destroying the Knights’ defence and dishing out a 53-0 whalloping. Milford scored three tries and set up several others, giving a complete mastercall from the 6 jumper. Perhaps even more impressive was the Broncos defence, which gave Newcastle not even a single point. Brisbane remain the competition’s top dogs with North Queensland, while the Knights remain 2016’s whipping boys.

Sutherland strike
Are the Raiders having a bit of a wobble? That’s two games in a row where they have dominated now, last weekend by Parramatta and in this one by the Sharks. Ricky Stuart gave his team a massive spray after the game as this performance wasn’t up to muster. They may have been missing Blake Austin but this was all too easy for Cronulla who look to have few weaknesses. Its now four wins in a row for the Sharks who looked destined to snag a top four spot come finals time.

Crafty Cooper
Forget Jonathan Thurston, Shaun Johnson or anyone else, Cooper Cronk is THE clutch player in rugby league. He’s done it time and time again in State Origin and in the NRL, and once again he delivered on Sunday at Leichhardt. The Tigers will be wondering how they lost this one after a tough performance against the Storm. The lead changed hands several times and there were lots of moments of controverdy, like when James Tedesco was hit high and play was allowed to continue. A penalty against Blake Green allowed Jordan Rankin to tie it up in the 79th minute and send the game to golden point. And up steps Cooper Patrick Cronk to save the day once again, stabbing a knife into the Tigers’ hearts on their home turf.

Chocolate Soldiers march
It was wet, it was slippery and it was brutal but it was Penrith who got the choclats with a 20-16 win over the Roosters. This 80 minutes ahd a bit of everything and some real star power with Latrell Mitchall and Te Maire Martin both turining it on. Ultimately it was the Panthers who went home happy thanks to Jamie Soward‘s radar boot. Antony Griffin will be relieved his men got over the line after losing several close ones in recent weeks.

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