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Sunday, July 25, 2021

NRL round 13 review: Wet weather footy

The NRL’s round 13 saw the Parramatta Eels and Cronulla Sharks play an enthralling match in some of the most extraordinary conditions we have witnessed in a long time.

We also saw the Penrith Panthers show why they deserve to be premiership favourites with a dominant first half against the Canberra Raiders, and the Gold Coast Titans crowned the best Queensland team.

St George Illawarra Dragons 16 – 24 Sydney Roosters

Kicking off the NRL’s round 13, these two sides were evenly matched across the field, but it was the class of Luke Keary that made the difference for the Roosters.

Keary showed why he deserves to be the NSW Blues’ starting five-eighth this year with a dazzling display against the Dragons.

Keary scored a try himself and assisted in another with a move that left the Dragons defence scratching their heads.

The win keeps the Roosters entrenched in the top four despite looking far from their best.

It was a disappointing result for the Dragons who continue to show glimpses of being a good team but just lacked the polish to beat a good team.

Zac Lomax has been the shining light for the Dragons this season and continued his strong form with another two tries.

The Dragons now need to win their remaining six games to be a shot at finals, but it won’t be easy with some tough matches still to come, including the Eels next round.

Manly Sea Eagles 22 – 26 New Zealand Warriors

The Warriors continue to wreak havoc on potential finals contenders with another upset over Manly propelling themselves into finals contention.

For a team that has been away from home for so long to be playing their best football late in the season is quite amazing, but this Warriors side refuses to quit.

Despite losing two players to the sin bin, the Warriors showed plenty of heart to hang on in the last 15 minutes to put themselves just two games outside of the top eight.

It was another disappointing performance from Manly, who have now lost four of their past seven matches since their star fullback Tom Trbojevic went down injured.

Trobojevic makes such a huge difference to this Manly side and his brilliance can’t be replaced but Manly will need to find a way to overcome his absence if they want to play finals.

South Sydney Rabbitohs 28 – 10 Brisbane Broncos

Thomas Burgess celebrating a try against the hapless Broncos.

Another week and another disappointing loss followed by off-field drama for the Broncos.

It seems to be the same thing each week with the lack of leadership on full display for this once mighty club.

First, their most experienced player Darius Boyd left the leadership group and then Tavita Pangai Junior, who is in the leadership group, defied the COVID rules to visit a friend’s barbershop and now finds himself out for two weeks.

This follows another poor performance on field where they showed little desire in defence and looked impotent in attack.

The Rabbitohs played a solid game without being outstanding and were far too good for the Broncos.

They now find themselves in 7th spot on the ladder and look to be finding a bit of form in the back end of the season.

Melbourne Storm 41 – 10 Canterbury Bulldogs

Some people were sniffing an upset with the Storm missing key personnel in Cameron Smith and Ryan Papenhuyzen, but they are such a professional outfit they still got the job done.

The Storm raced out to a 22-0 lead after 23 minutes and were never seriously troubled.

The main concern from the game was another knee injury to their star five-eighth Cameron Munster, who is set to miss the next month of football, including this Thursday night’s blockbuster against the Roosters.

The Bulldogs would’ve fancied them a chance against an understrength Storm side, but some costly errors gave them no chance.

They had two errant passes intercepted by the Storm and returned for tries and you just can’t give up easy points against such a quality team.

Halfback Lachlan Lewis was sinbinned for a nasty high shot on Munster and will now miss a game through suspension and may struggle to get his spot back after a poor outing.

Newcastle Knights 44 – 4 Wests Tigers

Kalyn Ponga was superb for the Knights as he bagged two tries in a dominant display.

Coming into the game, both teams were fighting for a spot in the finals but only one team showed up with the mentality required to play finals.

The Knights dominated this match from start to finish and the easy opening try to Kalyn Ponga was a sign of things to come.

Ponga strolled through under the posts in the 9th minute and the floodgates opened with the Knights running in eight tries to one.

Blake Green fitted in seamlessly in his first game for the Knights and will be a handy addition as they gear up for the finals.

The top eight looks a long shot now for the Tigers as three consecutive losses has seen them slip to 10th on the ladder.

Michael Maguire has continued to shift his team around to find the right side but it seems to have made little difference as the Tigers are as inconsistent as ever.

Benji Marshall was targeted repeatedly by the Knights attack and his position may come under scrutiny once again.

Penrith Panthers 28 – 12 Canberra Raiders

Viliame Kikau was at his destructive best against the Raiders.

This was billed as the match of the round, but the Panthers had it won by half time with a dominant display.

They led 24-0 at the break behind the brilliance of Nathan Cleary who has overtaken James Tedesco as the best player in the NRL right now.

Cleary steered his side around brilliantly all night as his Panthers showed why they are now the team to beat in 2020.

It was a disappointing effort from the Raiders in the first half as they let in a couple of uncharacteristically soft tries.

Their goal line defence has been so resolute in recent weeks but the Panthers sliced through with ease early on.

The Raiders attack continues to struggle this season as they have the fewest points of any team in the top eight and have failed to score more than 24 points in a match all season.

Gold Coast Titans 30 – 10 North Queensland Cowboys

The Titans are now officially the best Queensland team in the NRL after dismantling a poor Cowboys outfit.

After an honourable loss to the Roosters the week before where they played some of their best footy in a long time, the Titans produced an even better effort against the Cowboys.

Led by their captain Kevin Proctor, the Titans showed plenty of fortitude in defence while their attack looked much better with Jamal Fogarty running the show and Alex Brimson at fullback was dangerous.

It was a poor outing for the Cowboys who had been competitive in recent weeks but have now slumped to 14th on the ladder after six straight defeats.

Michael Morgan looked well off the pace in his first game back from injury as he missed several easy tackles.

Cronulla Sharks 12 – 14 Parramatta Eels

The players would have come off the field pretty battered and bruised after a physical contest in crazy conditions.

You don’t see matches played in conditions like this too often as the torrential rain in Sydney created a soaked Netsrata Jubilee Stadium.

It was actually quite enjoyable to see both sides slipping and sliding everywhere with the wet weather affecting both teams’ ability to hold on to the football. It also meant that some parts of the ground were severely waterlogged and especially the in-goal areas, where the ball would stop quickly in the puddles.

The Sharks scored three tries to two but unfortunately Shaun Johnson struggled kicking in difficult conditions as he missed all three conversions as the Sharks went down.

The scores were locked at 12-12 for a long period in the second half until Braden Hamlin-Uele gave away a silly penalty right in front of the goals which the Eels happily took the shot for goal and sealed the win 14-12.

It was a lucky escape for the Eels after they were outplayed for much of the second half but they remain entrenched in the top four with 11 wins from 13 matches.

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