How good was it to have live rugby league back in our lives? Last weekend delivered a few blowout victories but the new 6-again rule made for some entertaining and fast-paced games.
Some teams announced themselves as genuine finals contenders while other failed to deliver in their first games back. Let’s dive into the round that was, Round 3.
Melbourne Storm 6 – 22 Canberra Raiders
The Raiders were certainly one of the teams to impress over the weekend with a classy first-half performance against the Storm.
George Williams looked like he made the most of the two-month break with a man-of-the-match performance setting up two tries and providing the shot of the match with a big hit on Ryan Papenhuyzen.
Canberra’s goal line defence was a feature of the match. The Storm had several opportunities to crack the Raiders line but were only able to cross once.
Despite the convincing score line, Coach Ricky Stuart labelled the second half as “disappointing” so there’s still some room for improvement for the Green Machine.
Speaking of coaches not happy with their team, Craig Bellamy said the Storm’s effort was “embarrassing” so it looks like they might be in for a tough week of training.
The Storm looked dangerous at times, particularly when Cam Munster and Papenhuyzen had space but failed to capitalise.
Brisbane Broncos 6 – 34 Parramatta Eels
Our first look at how the new 6-again rule change would impact the game and it seemed to suit Parramatta beautifully.
The Eels confirmed why they are a premiership fancy with an impressive all-round performance.
Their forwards dominated the Broncos pack and their backline showed how dangerous they can be with Mitchell Moses the standout.
To show how dominant they were, the Eels gained 2,316 metres to the Broncos 1,309 whilst completing 36 sets to 20.
If the Eels were good, the Broncos were equally as bad. They gave away several 6-again penalties which had Parramatta on the front foot all game.
The Broncos also made numerous errors in the second half and never gave themselves a chance to come back.
North Queensland Cowboys 36 – 6 Gold Coast Titans
The score line doesn’t reflect how competitive the Titans were in the first half. They had momentum at several points but lacked any sort of creativity or control from their halves.
Unfortunately for them, it all fell apart in the second half as the Cowboys flexed their muscles.
Jason Taumalolo again showed why he’s the best forward in the game, running for a lazy 290 metres while Valentine Holmes impressed with three try assists.
The speed of the game seemed to suit Taumalolo and the Cowboys backline as they improved the longer the game went on.
Sydney Roosters 28 – 12 South Sydney Rabbitohs
If anyone was worried (or hopeful) the Roosters had declined after their 0-2 start to the season, they alleviated those fears with a comprehensive victory over their arch-rivals.
James Tedesco was at his best, racking up 314 metres and a brilliant individual try, while Victor ‘the Inflictor’ Radley was at his damaging best in defence.
The Rabbitohs looked lacklustre in attack with Damien Cook unable to have any impact on the game.
The absence of Sam and George Burgess was noticeable with their middle forwards struggling to lay a platform for their backline to attack from.
New Zealand Warriors 18 – 0 St George Illawarra Dragons
Not many people expected much of the Warriors this season but they came up with probably the win of the round.
In one of the more remarkable stats, the Warriors completed a record 46/48 sets for a whopping 96% completion rate.
Their young forwards were fantastic with Jamayne Taunoa-Brown and Eliesa Katoa showing they could be a force in years to come.
On the flipside, Dragons coach Paul McGregor is already in the firing line after just one match back, that’s how bad this Dragons performance was.
They lacked any sort of cohesion in their halves and hardly threatened the Warriors throughout the 80 minutes.
With Origin players like Ben Hunt, Corey Norman and Tyson Frizell amongst others, there is no excuse for such a poor performance.
Cronulla Sharks 16 – 28 Wests Tigers
After a difficult week for the Sharks, it didn’t get much better on Saturday night as the Tigers ran over the top of them for an impressive victory.
In his first game since crossing over from the Storm, Harry Grant played a starring role for the Tigers with 46 tackles and a try.
35-year-old Benji Marshall just keeps getting better with age. Once the Tigers struck the front, he took control of the match and they never looked like surrendering their lead.
The Sharks looked good late in the first half with three consecutive tries giving them a 16-10 lead at half-time.
Wade Graham was superb and showcased his skill as a triple threat with his ability to run, pass and kick.
Ultimately, fatigue set in for the Sharks and they simply had no answers when the Tigers got on a roll late in the match.
Penrith Panthers 14 – 14 Newcastle Knights
Easily the most entertaining match of the round, 90 minutes couldn’t separate these two sides with bombed tries and field goals off the post all a part of a crazy golden point.
The Knights were absolutely fantastic in this one. Already missing Kalyn Ponga due to suspension, they lost halfback Mitchell Pearce only a few minutes into the match, followed by Connor Watson a few minutes after that.
After being down two of their playmakers early, they then fell behind 14-0 and you might have been thinking the Panthers by how far?
The Knights managed to score a try late in the first half to make it 14-6 and showed plenty of heart in the second half to tie it up 14-14 and come away with a point.
Young guns Tex Hoy and Bradman Best stood up for the Knights and showed why they have big wraps on them.
The Panthers, on the other hand, would have walked away disappointed after squandering a lead against an undermanned Knights side.
Nathan Cleary’s Tik Tok suspension proved to be costly with young Matt Burton taking on the responsibility of kicking the field goals and unable to find the middle of the sticks.
Manly Sea Eagles 32 – 6 Canterbury Bulldogs
If the match before was the most entertaining, then this one was the biggest snooze fest of the round.
Manly were far too good for the Bulldogs, with Tom and Jake Trbojevic having it all their own way for the match.
Tom, in particular, was superb scoring two tries and setting up another three in a display showing that he could challenge Tedesco as the best fullback in the game.
The Bulldogs, on the other hand, looked dreadful in attack. They had two young halves in Jack Cogger and Lachlan Lewis who provided little direction.
Despite the young halves playing poorly, former Bulldog Michael Ennis blamed the administration for the club in an emotional spray on Fox League Live.