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Sunday, January 24, 2021
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NRL round 10 review: Wide open race

Round 10 saw two premiership fancies upset by injury-hit teams to throw the premiership race wide open once again.

The Raiders pulled off a remarkable victory to beat the Roosters, while Manly did the same to knock the Eels off top spot on the ladder.

Other notable results included another disastrous performance from the Broncos, while another loss to the Cowboys saw their premiership-winning coach sacked.

Sydney Roosters 20 – 24 Canberra Raiders

The Grand Final rematch was everything you could’ve hoped for and more as the Raiders pulled off a famous victory.

With several injuries to key players, many were writing off the Raiders for this match and for the premiership, but they showed plenty of heart to defeat the highly fancied Roosters.

The Raiders attacked the Roosters through the middle of ground all night and it came up trumps as they scored three of their tries through the middle.

Josh Papalii was the star of the show for the Raiders, running for 218 metres and scoring the match-winning try with a barnstorming run.

The Roosters were red-hot favourites heading into the match but some uncharacteristic errors in defence cost them dearly.

James Tedesco was below his usual best and would have been embarrassed by a couple of defensive efforts, particularly a soft attempt to tackle George Williams as he brushed Tedesco aside to score a try.

The Roosters are still the team to beat in 2020, but some recent losses have shown they are not bulletproof.

Melbourne Storm 42 – 6 Gold Coast Titans

The Storm welcomed back Cameron Munster to the side, and he was simply superb in his return match.

Munster scored the opening try of the match and assisted on another one as the Storm romped their way to a huge win.

The Titans were solid for the opening exchanges and had the game at 6-6 after 27 minutes, but it was all downhill from there.

They looked uncompetitive at times and gave the Storm far too much space with the ball as they scored 6 unanswered tries.

The Titans have improved this season under Justin Holbrook, but they still have a long way to go to compete against the better teams.

Wests Tigers 48 – 0 Brisbane Broncos

Well, once again the dreadful Broncos are the story of the weekend after a disgraceful effort against the Tigers.

The Broncos didn’t look up for the contest at all. They say defence is about attitude and effort; well, the Broncos had neither of those and were exposed time and time again.

If Anthony Seibold doesn’t make some drastic changes to the side after this latest disastrous performance, then he might as well pack his bags.

Even though the story is how bad the Broncos were, the Tigers played some outstanding footy in wet conditions.

The new-look halves pairing of Billy Walters and Benji Marshall were on fire, while Harry Grant continued his hot form and even earnt himself a “Harry” chant from the crowd.

It was a fantastic performance from the Tigers, but they will need to back it up against the Eels next round.

Billy Walters started in the halves for the first time and played a starring role.

St George Illawarra Dragons 28 – 22 Canterbury Bulldogs

The Dragons got out of jail in this match as they scored three tries in the last 15 minutes to clutch victory from the jaws of defeat to remain just one game outside of the top eight.

They have been in good form recently so came into this match expecting a win, but it was the Bulldogs who controlled much of the match until the dying minutes.

The Bulldogs sacked their coach during the week and responded with their best performance in a month to almost come away with victory.

With the scores tied up at 22-22 with just a minute remaining, Marcelo Montoya came up with a terrible error that gifted the Dragons an easy try and sealed the loss.

The error summed up the Bulldogs season to date, but at least they showed improved effort on their recent performances.

South Sydney Rabbitohs 18 – 20 Newcastle Knights

The Rabbitohs once again failed to beat one of the top sides although they came mighty close after a late fightback.

The Rabbitohs trailed 20-0 after 65 minutes and looked like being blown off the park until Damien Cook inspired his side to score three tries in the next seven minutes and reduce the deficit to two points.

They desperately tried for a match-winner, but it was to no avail as the Knights hung tough and earnt the victory.

The Knights find themselves in the top four after an impressive first 60 minutes.

Coach Adam O’Brien would be disappointed they let the Rabbitohs back into the contest, but they showed resilience to find a way to still win the match.

Kalyn Ponga was back to his best form, scoring a try and setting another up, but it was his defensive effort late in the match that was most impressive.

With the Knights seemingly on the ropes, Ponga twice managed to get the ball out of his own in-goal area to prevent a goal line drop-out.

Kalyn Ponga was back to his best against the Rabbitohs.

Manly Sea Eagles 22 – 18 Parramatta Eels

This was a typical Des Hasler inspired victory with being Manly struck down with injury but managing a brilliant victory over the ladder-leading Eels.

They started the game on fire and ran out to 16-0 early with Daly Cherry-Evans leading his side around beautifully and scoring a try as well.

They went into half-time leading 22-4, but the second half was all about survival for Manly as the Eels dominated possession.

The Eels scored two late tries but Manly’s lead never looked seriously threatened as they recorded a much-needed victory to keep them level with the 7th placed Tigers on points.

The Eels looked flat from the opening whistle and far from the side that had only lost one match all year.

Some poor defensive errors allowed Manly to create a lead and, once Parramatta fell behind, they just could not get their game going.

It was perhaps a reality check for the Eels, and they will be looking to respond against the Tigers on Thursday night.

New Zealand Warriors 10 – 46 Cronulla Sharks

This game was over early as the Sharks had their way with the homesick Warriors.

The Warriors performance reeked of a side that is counting down the weeks until the season finishes, and they can finally head home.

Just about every time the Sharks had the ball in their attacking zone, they came away with a try as the Warriors had no answers in defence.

The Sharks are becoming like flat track bullies and when they get a sniff of the opposition being off, they can produce a dominant display.

It was a good response from the Sharks after being trounced the week before by the Panthers, but you would like to see that sort of performance emulated against a top side.

Penrith Panthers 22 – 10 North Queensland Cowboys

This match was closer than anticipated as the Cowboys turned out a decent effort against an in-form Panthers side.

The Panthers now sit one point clear at the top of the ladder and have won five matches in a row.

This was by far their best performance, but a sign of a good team is being able to win games when not at your best, so they should be pleased with the victory.

Even though the Cowboys put in a vastly improved effort, it was still not enough for coach Paul Green to keep his job, as it was announced this morning that he will depart the club.

Green won a premiership with the Cowboys in 2015 and led them to another Grand Final in 2017, but two bad years in a row were enough to see him axed.

Hopefully, a new coach and fresh voice can inspire the Cowboys to improve their performance and challenge some teams for the rest of the competition.

Nathan Cleary led the Panthers to a win and top spot on the ladder.

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