Round 7 began at Kogarah, where the Panthers took on the Rabbitohs. Cleary had been in the hospital with an infection but had fought it to play. Unfortunately, errors were the downfall of the Rabbitohs on the night. Latrell Mitchell had an off night, with four handling errors and a trip to the sin-bin. Even though the Panthers did have some chances to extend their lead, they let them go begging. In the end, the Panthers beat South Sydney, 20-12.
Thursday night footy began with a Storm masterclass against the Warriors, downing them 50-6. The Storms record of no back-to-back loses continued with the win. Munster injured his leg early in the first half but played on until just before half time. Unfortunately, scans showed a knee injury that will keep him on the sidelines for 4-6 weeks. It’s a big loss for the Storm but Cameron Smith moved into the halves with Jahrome Hughes and Brandon Smith went into the Hooker position. The transition was seamless. Paul Momirovski debuted for the Storm after being involved with the transfer deal for Harry Grant at the Tigers. He scored a double and was strong in defence. Papenhuyzen was dynamic at the back and also went over for a double. Vunivalu was scorching on the wing and scored a hat trick! HIA’s were the story of this game, with Melbourne having four and the Warriors one. The win was the 9th in a row against the Warriors, dating back to 2015.
The Friday Night marquee game saw an injury depleted Roosters beat the Dragons at Bankwest Stadium, 26-12. Radley and Verrills suffered season-ending knee injuries within two mins of each other. Radley was missed by the Roosters, whose attack looked clunky after he went off. They kept playing though, with Manu being incredibly strong in Number 1 jersey, because Tedesco was ruled out. Matt Dufty was clearly the man for the Dragons but it just wasn’t enough.
The Cowboys clicked into gear on Saturday afternoon at Queensland Country Bank Stadium against the Knights. The Knights didn’t seem to even get off the bus, with the Cowboys out-playing and out-enthusing their opposition the entire game. The Cowboys got an early lead before the Knights came back after half time. It was too little, too late and they went down 32-20.
The beleaguered Broncos were poor again, with the Titans beating them easily at Suncorp Stadium, 30-12. The Queensland Government had approved 10,000 people to attend this game, but the current position of the Broncos couldn’t sell out the ticket availability. Ash Taylor put on a great performance and had his team up 22-0 at half time. The Broncos players were booed by their own fans and both half and full time. Errors and a general lack of effort from the Broncos meant that the Titans had their second biggest win again them.
Saturday night saw a blockbuster clash between the Raiders and the Eels at Bankwest Stadium. The game went into Golden Point overtime, with Gutherson kicking his first ever career field goal. The Eels lost Mitchell Moses just before half-time with a leg injury. They came out firing in the second half, as did Canberra but they put on two late tries to take the game into overtime. It was a thrilling game, with twists and turns and a few dubious decisions from the refs and even the crowd booing Raiders player Corey Horsbrough, who left the field in tears after a legal tackle with a knee injury. He flipped the bird to the crowd, which has become a topic of conversation and ridicule since. The extent of Moses’ injury isn’t as yet known.
Central Coast Stadium hosted the Sharks and the Sea Eagles on Sunday afternoon. Manly had a few wounded warriors, with Tommy Turbo, Dylan Walker and Moses Suli all ruled out for the game. The Manly side really noticed the loss with handling errors, kicks out on the full and missed tackles contributed to the loss. Townsend had a great match, with his kicking on point and Katoa got a double. The Sharks were just stronger across the park and beat Manly 40-22.
The last game of the round saw the Tigers soundly beat the Bulldogs 34-6 at Bankwest Stadium on Sunday night. This was the second match that Benji Marshall had been dropped from in favour of Josh Reynolds. Reynolds had done well in both games and Harry Grant has been outstanding since transferring over from the Storm, post COVID-19. Hopoate went off with an ankle injury early in the first half and played no further part in the game. Handling errors were the biggest problem for the Dogs and this loss has the at the bottom of the ladder.
The race for the Dally M is heating up, with Cowboys forward Jason Taumalolo leading the race with 11 points and Harry Grant coming in a close second with 10. Clint Gutherson, Nathan Cleary and Tom Trbojevic are all tied on 9 points.