The Parramatta Eels remain the only side with a perfect record after a comeback win against the Penrith Panthers in the match of the round.
Some other highlights of the round included Latrell Mitchell’s best game for the Rabbitohs, a classic Jack Wighton shiner, and the NRL’s first COVID scare since restarting the season. Let’s get into the games.
Manly Sea Eagles 20 -18 Brisbane Broncos
The Broncos showed up with a much better attitude than they had displayed in their previous two matches and were unlucky to lose this one.
They led 18-4 at half-time and had another try to Darius Boyd after Daly Cherry-Evans milked a dubious penalty for obstruction.
Manly then showed their class by mounting a strong comeback and levelling the scores at 18-18 in the 64th minute.
Another controversial moment went against the Broncos when Patrick Carrigan looked to complete a one-on-one strip against Jake Trbojevic, but the referee called held at the same time. Manly were awarded a penalty in front of the goals which Rueben Garrick slotted to give the Sea Eagles a 20-18 victory.
If Manly were hard done by the previous week against the Eels, they can count themselves pretty lucky to escape this one with the win.
New Zealand Warriors 37 – 26 North Queensland Cowboys
After being held scoreless, the Warriors amassed 7 tries against the Cowboys largely due to a kicking masterclass from Blake Green.
Green finished the match with 3 try assists and controlled the second half with his boot.
The Cowboys were boosted by the return of Jason Taumalolo and Coen Hess but unfortunately lost Valentine Holmes early to an ankle injury.
The game was a see-sawing affair for much of the contest with both sides dangerous in attack, but it was the Warriors who finished the better, scoring 3 of the last 4 tries.
Parramatta Eels 16 – 10 Penrith Panthers
This was billed as the match of the round and it didn’t disappoint with a 5-minute burst from the Eels securing them a close win.
The Panthers were on top for much of the first half and built up a deserved 10-0 lead at half-time through tries to Brian To’o and Josh Mansour.
Their defence looked so good through the first 60 minutes, but the Eels have so many offensive weapons you just can’t count them out.
Waqa Blake crossed for the Eels first in the 62nd minute, before setting up Clint Gutherson for the Eels’ second just two minutes later to level the scores at 10-10.
Then in the 67th minute, Mitchell Moses put through a grubber that Panthers fullback Caleb Aekins looked to have covered before he copped a wicked bounce that Ryan Matterson pounced on to give the Eels a 16-10 lead.
The Panthers had the ball deep on the Eels line as time expired and were looking to level the scores but Mansour failed to connect on a kick, which secured the win for the Eels.
Both sides look like they will have a say in how the top 8 shapes as the Eels remain undefeated on top of the ladder while the Panthers are in 5th spot.
South Sydney 32 – 12 Gold Coast Titans
The Rabbitohs secured a much-needed win in comprehensive fashion while the Titans couldn’t back up after their drought-breaking win the previous week.
Latrell Mitchell opened the scoring for the Rabbitohs in his best game for his new club. Along with a try, Mitchell also had 3 try assists in a best on ground performance.
Thomas Burgess was huge for the Rabbitohs, running for 213 metres allowing Damien Cook to create headaches for the Titans with some damaging runs out of dummy half.
For the Titans, it was a disappointing performance after last week’s drought-breaking win. But they couldn’t continue the momentum and Justin Holbrook must be frustrated by the inconsistency of his side.
Newcastle Knights 12 – 26 Melbourne Storm
The Storm jumped out of the blocks in this one and led 18-0 at half-time behind a masterful display from Cameron Smith.
Smith showed he hasn’t slowed down at all, controlling the match and finishing with 2 tries.
While the Knights started slowly, to their credit they fought back in the second half to make it 18-12 with just under 20 minutes to go.
A controversial penalty against David Klemmer of the Knights gave the Storm an easy shot at goal to put them up by 8 points with 5 minutes to go and effectively ending any Knights comeback.
Wests Tigers 6 – 14 Canberra Raiders
The Raiders toughed out an 8 point win against the Tigers to give coach Ricky Stuart the perfect present in his 400th game as an NRL head coach.
Jack Wighton was the star for the Raiders. Sporting a classic shiner on his left eye, Wighton scored the Raiders’ first points 49 minutes into the match to give them a 6-4 lead.
George Williams set up the next try 5 minutes later with a perfectly placed kick to Nick Cotric and the Raiders built a lead they wouldn’t surrender.
While neither side showed a great deal in attack in difficult conditions, both coaches would’ve been pleased by their team’s defensive efforts.
St George Illawarra Dragons 30 – 16 Cronulla Sharks
Finally, something to smile about for Dragons fans in a win that could ease the pressure on coach Paul McGregor ever so slightly.
The Dragons reshuffled their spine again this week with Matt Dufty coming back to start at fullback, Corey Norman moving back to five-eighth and Ben Hunt shifted to the bench.
The moves worked with Dufty playing his best game all season while Hunt came on at hooker, scoring a try and setting one up.
The Sharks would be disappointed, failing to back up after a big win against the Cowboys the previous week.
It leaves them with just one win from five games to start the year and playing finals will be a big challenge from here.
Canterbury Bulldogs 6 – 42 Sydney Roosters
The match being postponed a day due to a COVID scare clearly didn’t worry the Roosters as they dominated this one from start to finish.
After dropping their first two games of the season, the Roosters have proven why they’re the favourites to win three premierships in a row, outscoring their opposition 129-18 through the first three games post the COVID break.
After missing last week’s match with a high temperature, James Tedesco showed why many consider him the best player on the planet, scoring a hat-trick in a typically brilliant display.
For the Bulldogs, they would be disappointed to concede so many points, but they were just completely outclassed by a better team.
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