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Sunday, July 25, 2021

NRL Round 6 review: Roosters are still the kings

The Roosters and Eels played out a magnificent game of rugby league on Saturday night, but ultimately it was the Roosters who came away with the win and showed they’re still the team to beat.

In some of the other games, the Warriors’ loss resulted in Stephen Kearney being sacked, Manly produced a win for the ages, and we may have seen the best hit of the season.

Newcastle Knights 27 – 6 Brisbane Broncos

The Knights were far too good for the struggling Broncos in this one with their defence back to its best.

Their defence managed to hold the Broncos out all night, whose only try came from an intercept from the lightning quick Xavier Coates.

The Coates try was the sole highlight for the Broncos who continue to face heavy scrutiny.

The place of Anthony Milford in the side has to come under serious question with the five-eighth struggling to have any impact on a team that desperately needs some direction and a spark.

South Sydney Rabbitohs 40 -12 New Zealand Warriors

The story from this match came the following day with the Warriors announcing the sacking of coach Stephen Kearney.

Kearney came into the season under pressure after a poor season last year but due to the extreme situations of this season, it seemed he would be safe to keep his job.

It wasn’t the case and, after a disappointing performance against the Rabbitohs, he was sacked. It will be interesting viewing to see how the Warriors respond for the rest of the season.

The Rabbitohs made it back-to-back wins for the first time this year and have now put up 72 points over the past two weeks.

However, the two sides they’ve scored heavily against are the lowly Titans and Warriors.

The test for them will be this Thursday night when they come up against the in-form Panthers.

Penrith Panthers 21 – 14 Melbourne Storm

The Panthers have proven their credentials as top-4 candidates with an impressive win over the Storm.

The game was tied 14-14 after 60 minutes but the Panthers showed great resolve to hit the front through a Viliame Kikau try off a kick and then a late field goal to Nathan Cleary secured the victory.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy would’ve been irate at the Kikau try, after nobody challenged him in the air and he said after the match “we were outplayed and out-enthused”.

The Storm have been uncharacteristically inconsistent since the competition recommenced and will be looking to get back to their 2019 form as soon as possible.

Gold Coast Titans 8 – 20 St George Illawarra Dragons

Both sides have struggled this year but it was the Dragons who came away with their second win in a row.

They’ve managed consecutive wins against the Sharks and Titans but the test will come now as they face the Roosters and Raiders in the next two weeks.

The Titans lost new-recruit Corey Thompson early on after he was hit high by Jordan Pereira, leaving him unable to return to the field. Only a penalty was given for the hit but given Thompson was unable to return, a 10-minute sinbin would have been fair for the late shot.

The Titans also lost Young Tonumaipea and Phillip Sami to injury which led to a major reshuffle of their side.

Considering they lost three players, the Titans fought on well to go down by only 12 points, but they would be disappointed with their first 50 minutes.

Wests Tigers 36 – 20 North Queensland Cowboys

This was one of the strangest games I’ve seen in a long time with both sides showing how inconsistent they can be.

After managing only one try last round against the Raiders, the Tigers flew out of the blocks in this one, scoring all six of their tries in the first half.

It must be said though, the Cowboys’ defence was atrocious in the first half, allowing several soft tries and showing no determination to turn up for each other.

The disastrous first half prompted coach Paul Green to deliver a well-deserved spray to his team at half-time and they showed some response.

The Cowboys scored four tries to none in the second half and while it wasn’t enough to come close to winning, at least it showed some willingness to compete.

Sydney Roosters 24 – 10 Parramatta Eels

The match of the round delivered in spades with both sides showing why they’re the form teams of the competition.

The Eels looked like the winners when Maika Sivo steamrolled James Tedesco into next week and put them up 10-8 in the 59th minute but the Roosters responded like they often do.

Despite losing Tedesco for the rest of the match, the Roosters showed why they’re the team to beat in 2020, scoring 16 unanswered points in the last 20 minutes.

Despite the loss, the Eels can take hope out of the fact they matched it with the best side for 60 minutes but will need to make sure it’s the full 80 if they meet again in the finals.

Canberra Raiders 6 – 14 Manly Sea Eagles

Manly came into the game without Martin Tapau and Moses Suli and soon they lost Dylan Walker with an ankle injury and Brad Parker to concussion within the opening five minutes.

Despite the many outs, Manly produced a stunning defensive display to repel the Raiders many times and fought out a well-deserved victory.

Tom Trbojevic was the chief destroyer of the Raiders’ left-edge defence, scoring a try and setting the other one up before succumbing to a hamstring injury in the second half which could see him miss up to six weeks.

For the Raiders, their inconsistent restart to the competition continues and their issues in attack don’t seem to be improving at all.

Besides a George Williams masterclass against the Storm, the Raiders have struggled for points since this season restarted and will need to rectify things quickly as they come up against the Eels this weekend.

Defensively, the left edge continues to look vulnerable with Curtis Scott and Nick Cotric exposed numerous times.

Cronulla Sharks 20 – 18 Canterbury Bulldogs

Despite both teams struggling this season, this was an entertaining way to wrap up the weekend.

The Sharks built a 16-6 lead after 51 minutes behind a hat-trick to Sione Katoa but the Bulldogs refused to go away.

Despite the Bulldogs being down to 12 men after Brandon Wakeham was sinbinned, Kieran Foran scored a try to make it 16-12 in the 56th minute.

The Sharks responded with a try of their own to push it out to an 8-point lead but again the Bullogs came back and with four minutes to go, the score was 20-18.

The Sharks managed to hang on in the end, but it was a Bulldogs player who produced the highlight of the match.

At the 61-minute mark, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak came up with the hit of the season so far, nailing Matt Moylan in a bone-rattling collision.

The Sharks were shifting the ball left and Watene-Zelezniak read it to perfection. He came sprinting out of the line and delivered a perfectly executed hit on Moylan. It was a thing of beauty and will be replayed for a long time to come.

Matt Moylan of the Sharks is tackled by Dallin Watene-Zelezniak of the Bulldogs during the round six NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Canterbury Bulldogs at Bankwest Stadium on 21 June in Sydney. Getty Images.

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