The Raiders and the Roosters set the beginning of Round 10 ablaze with a thrilling Grand Final Rematch at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The Canberran side had been hit hard by injuries but still produced a star-studded effort to take on the also injury-hit Roosters. It was the middle pack that helped the Raiders the win, with Papalii and Lui powering through the centre on their way to a 24-20 victory.
A ‘local derby’ was the first Friday night fixture, with the Melbourne Storm (now based in QLD), facing the Gold Coast Titans at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
I was able to attend this game and it was a thriller, even on a truly cold night out on the Sunshine Coast. Cameron Munster returned from a knee injury in style, helping his team run rampant to beat the Titans 42-6.
The Titans handling issues were at the fore of their game, costing them a number of opportunities. Giant Kiwi pop, Asofa-Solomona went over for a double. Burrowing forward Brandon Smith scored out of dummy half and Josh Addo-Carr went on a tearaway, scoring a long range try as well as getting a beautiful cut-out ball from Munster to go over in the corner.
Munster himself went over early in the first half off a great ball from the Storm captain, as well as a great pass to centre Brenko Lee to score out wide.
The Storm weren’t perfect by any means but they kept peppering the Titans defensive line and they just weren’t able to hold on. This was a great suburban ground game, even if the score was a blow out.
Leichhardt Oval the spiritual home of the Wests Tigers, hosted the beleaguered Broncos in the main Friday night game. After the Broncos ended their losing streak in Round 9, punters thought they would put up a bit more of a fight. Unfortunately for them, the Tigers were on fire and handed them a brutal beating, winning 48-0.
Broncos back rower, Corey Oates, was severely injured in the second half and was stretchered off. While at the time a compound leg fracture was suspected, luckily, it was a horrible bruise and deep thigh laceration – a non-season ending injury.
Harry Grant had another exceptional game and was given an early mark with around 15 minutes to go in the game. Luke Brooks, who had been the 7 but dropped to the bench by coach Maguire, came onto the field for Grant.
The Tigers faithful have fallen in love with the young gun from Melbourne and chanted his name as he left the field. Benji Marshall was selected to play after having been dropped for a few games, producing his best again.
Billy Walters joined Marshall in the halves for most of the game and went over for his first NRL try. The best thing to come out of the game was the Tigers defensive effort, keeping the Broncos scoreless.
The Broncos were abysmal across the park, with no communication when defending or even in the huddle. It was clear to fans and commentators alike that the players are no longer playing for the Coach or the club.
WIN Stadium in Wollongong hosted the Bulldogs against their own Dragons on Saturday afternoon.
The Bulldogs took an early lead, even though the Dragons scored first. The Dragons showed some strength, to come back from 18 points down to score the match-winning try in the 79th minute. Lomax and Dufty were the best on field for the Dragons, while Meaney was great for the Bulldogs. The final 10 minutes of this game was the highlight, with the Dragons winning 28-22.
Next up was the Knights and Rabbitohs at Bankwest Stadium.
The Knights got away to an early lead and errors were the issue for the Rabbitohs, who looked disjointed and slow. Ponga didn’t have a good night with the boot, missing 3 conversions.
Newcastle capitalised on their opportunities, while the Rabbitohs just couldn’t seem to get over the stripe.
Everything was going Newcastle’s way, until the last 15 minutes of the game. A six again call seemed to spark South Sydney into life and they piled on 3 quick tries. The Knights defence was what got them home in the end, although it only came from a bunker decision of no-try. The Knights taking the 2 competition points by 20-18.
The final game of Saturday footy saw the Sea Eagles take on the Eels at Lottoland in Sydney.
It seemed this round was the week for fast starts, as the Manly side jumped out to an 18-0 lead early on. The Eels didn’t look like they even got off the bus, with a bad start to the match.
Cherry-Evans was excellent for the Sea Eagles again, controlling them and leading them across the park. In comparison, Clint Gutherson kicked out on the full, their first try went wanting with a simple, cold drop over the line.
The Eels did get into the grind though, with Nathan Brown getting some much needed yardage. Brown forced a dropout and Jennings went over for the Eels first try. The Eels came out firing after halftime but all that work was undone by errors.
Manly didn’t have a great second half, with errors from Sironen, Cherry-Evans, Suli and Taufua. The Eels got up within 8 with only a few minutes to go, but the Sea Eagles hung on to win in a scrappy ending, 22-18.
Sunday afternoon began at Central Coast Stadium with a 46-10 drumming by the Sharks over the Warriors.
Shaun Johnson was great against his old club, with a try of his own and a hand in 3 others. He also had a good night with the kicking boot.
The Warriors suffered a few HIA’s during the game and Blake Green spent 10 in the bin for holding back Wade Graham.
The Sharks started the second half like they did the first – hard and fast. Wade Egan went over for a late consolation try, which added to Ken Maumalo’s try on the wing.
The Panthers were back at home for the last game of the round against the long-distance travelling Cowboys.
The Cowboys showed some grit, after having improved in the past few games. As Valentine Holmes was out, we got another glimpse of the speedy Hamiso (The Hammer) Tabuai-Fidow with a great run-away try in the first half.
Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary put on some big tackles and inspired his team, who were down 10-4 in the second half. He also went over for a try of his own and did better with the kicking tee this week.
The Cowboys put on a gritty display but in the end the class of the Panthers got the 2 points, winning 22-10 and leapfrogged the Storm into top spot on the ladder.
Harry Grant has soared into top spot on the Dally M Leaderboard with 13 points. Cameron Smith and Clint Gutherson are hot on his heels with 12 points each