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Monday, April 12, 2021

NRL round 14 review: Biting drama

Round 14 of the NRL saw several close matches but the results were overshadowed by a biting allegation against Gold Coast Titan’s captain Kevin Proctor.

In his 250th NRL game, Proctor was sent off for biting Shaun Johnon but has since strongly denied the claims and will plead his case at the NRL judiciary on Tuesday night, 18 August.

In some other news, the Roosters suffered more injuries, the Broncos’ dismal season continued while the Rabbitohs and Tigers claimed one-point wins.

Sydney Roosters 6 – 24 Melbourne Storm

This was a disastrous match for the Roosters as they picked up several key injuries in a big loss to the Storm.

Lachlan Lam and Mitch Aubusson sustained serious injuries in the first half before their star five-eighth Luke Keary picked up a rib injury late in the match.

Lam and Aubusson face extended time on the sidelines while Keary will miss the next two weeks as the Roosters desperately cling to fourth spot on the ladder.

Despite picking up the injuries, the Roosters were outplayed from the beginning against a Storm side missing some key players of their own.

The Storm were without star playmakers Cameron Smith and Cameron Munster, meaning the pressure was on halfback Jahrome Hughes to deliver.

Hughes was outstanding as he scored a try and set another one up to help the Storm to another dominant win.

The Storm have now won eight matches in a row but face a big test in the Eels next round.

Luke Keary will be a huge loss over the next couple of weeks for the already injury depleted Roosters.

New Zealand Warriors 12 – 18 Penrith Panthers

The Warriors again proved they have plenty of heart as they fought back from 16-0 to make this a contest against the best team in the league.

The Panthers have made a habit of blowing teams off the park this season and looked to be doing that again when they led 16-0 after 35 minutes, but they took their foot off the Warriors’ throats and allowed them back into the game.

The victory was the Panthers’ ninth straight win and has them on top of the ladder with just six matches left.

Their victory was marred by alleged racial abuse of Panthers Indigenous player Brent Naden by members of the crowd.

Eight young males were escorted from the stadium by police after Naden alleged he was vilified by them.

It is a stark reminder that this behaviour is completely unacceptable, and I would hope that if the allegations are proved correct, those men would be banned from attending NRL matches for life.

Parramatta Eels 12 – 14 St George Illawarra Dragons

It’s amazing how often we see a team perform well after their coach has just been sacked and the Dragons put in their best performance of the season in coach Paul ‘Mary’ McGregor’s farewell game.

It was evident how much the players like McGregor after the game as they all embraced him, and captain Cam McInnes presented him with his match jersey.

The performance was bittersweet from the Dragons as they farewelled their coach in style, but it left you wondering why it took so long for them to put together such a solid performance against good opposition.

The Eels have now played two matches in a row in torrential rain and have been outplayed in both games.

They were the hottest team in the competition six weeks ago but their form has since faded a little and with the Storm this weekend, it presents a real test for the Eels to find out exactly where they’re at as finals approach.

Paul McGregor and Cam McInnes embracing each other
It was a bittersweet end for Mary at the Dragons, but there’s not denying his players loved playing for him.

Cronulla Sharks 30 – 18 Gold Coast Titans

Was it a bite or not? That seems to be the question on everyone’s lips coming out of this game.

With the scores locked at 12-all and the game looking to go down to the wire, Titan’s captain Kevin Proctor was sent off for biting the arm of the Shark’s Shaun Johnson.

Johnson had his arm around Proctor’s neck area and the footage shown by the bunker seemed to show Proctor open his mouth and bite Johnson on the forearm.

The incident has been referred directly to the NRL judiciary on Tuesday night, which will be one of the most anticipated tribunal cases in recent memory.

Proctor has come out and strongly denied the allegations, citing his squeaky-clean record in the game.

Unfortunately for Proctor, it was a horrible way to end his 250th game as his send-off completely changed the game, the Sharks scoring three quick tries to run away with the victory.

North Queensland Cowboys 30 – 31 South Sydney Rabbitohs

This was a fun game of rugby league to watch as both sides traded blows throughout the match before a crazy finish saw the Rabbitohs take the two points.

The Cowboys looked to have broken their six-game losing streak when Tom Opacic scored to give them a 30-24 lead with just six minutes to go.

The Rabbitohs hit back with a try to Alex Johnston a minute later but Adam Reynolds missed the conversion that would have tied the scores.

Kyle Feldt then gave away a silly penalty within penalty goal range for the Rabbitohs and Reynolds made no mistake this time to level the scores at 30-all with just two minutes to go.

The Rabbitohs then marched down the field on their next set and Reynolds stepped up again and nailed the match-winning field goal to give his side a much-needed victory.

The win keeps the Rabbitohs in the top eight and two games clear of the ninth-placed Wests Tigers, while the Cowboys remain in 14th spot and would be kicking themselves for blowing a golden opportunity.

Canberra Raiders 36 – 8 Brisbane Broncos

The season continues to get worse for the Broncos with yet another second half capitulation condemning them to their 11th loss in 12 games.

The Broncos dominated field position in the first half but only went into the break leading 8-6.

Once the Raiders started to get more ball in the second half, the Broncos completely fell apart and their effort looked non-existent at times.

To make matters worse, Jake Turpin suffered a broken hand and Payne Haas is facing a two-week suspension after a crusher tackle.

The Raiders racked up their biggest score of the season and would be hoping it’s a sign of things to come for their attack that has struggled all season.

John Bateman and Corey Harawira-Naera have both played three games back in the side and look better the more football they play.

The Raiders remain fifth on the ladder but are now equal on points with the Roosters as they chase that all-important top four spot.

Payne Hass running with the ball
Payne Haas has been the Broncos best player this season but is facing a suspension for a crusher tackle.

Newcastle Knights 26 – 24 Manly Sea Eagles

This game was a beauty with several lead changes and a late try to win it for the Knights.

The Knights fell behind 12-0 early on but reeled off four straight tries to lead 20-12 early in the second half before Manly fought back to regain the lead at 24-20.

The Knights had all of the ball after they fell behind but had to wait until the 72nd minute to score when Enari Tuala crossed for his second try. Kalyn Ponga calmly kicked the conversion to give the Knights a two-point lead and seal the victory.

It was an important victory for the sixth-placed Knights as they look to secure their spot in the finals.

Manly’s finals hopes are now hanging by a thread with the loss compounded by their fullback Brendan Elliott rupturing his ACL.

Wests Tigers 29 – 28 Canterbury Bulldogs

Yet another exciting game to finish the round as the Tigers kept their faint finals chances alive.

The Tigers looked like they’d have the game wrapped up at half time when they led 22-6 after 30 minutes, but the Bulldogs reeled off two quick tries to reduce the margin to just six points at half time.

They then scored the next two tries to give themselves a 28-22 lead with 10 minutes to go but Joey Leilua crossed in the corner for the Tigers and the scores were level at 28-all.

Luke Brooks then stepped up to nail a field goal to give the Tigers a one-point lead and seal the victory.

The win was an important one for the Tigers after they had lost their previous three matches and were belted by the Knights 44-4 last round.

The Bulldogs continue to show they have improved since Dean Pay was sacked but they are just struggling to win games. They sit 16th on the ladder and just one win behind the Broncos so would be desperate to win one more game and avoid the dreaded wooden spoon.

Joey Leilua scoring a try for the Wests Tigers.

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