Last weekend in the NRL: Bateman magic, Widdop’s woes and more

John Bateman shows he’s world-class

We all knew John Bateman was world class over here in the Super League, but now the other half of the Rugby League fraternity are finding out how good the backrower is.

Canberra Raiders have now won two out of their opening three games and Bateman was crucial to both wins.

All four of the Raiders’ English stars started the game but Bateman was the stand-out running for 190 metres, making 41 tackles and two clean breaks.

Ricky Stuart knows the value of an English player when he sees it.

Gareth Widdop’s injured again

We’re far too used to Gareth Widdop hobbling off a Rugby League field holding his shoulder.

It’s happened in three of his last five NRL games including Thursday night!

Coming across to try and defuse a dangerous kick, Widdop grabbed the ball but fell awkwardly, released the ball and allowed Jack Bird to score the equalising try for Brisbane Broncos.

On a positive note for the Dragons, Corey Norman was on hand to slot the winning field goal but St George, Widdop, Warrington and England are all now sweating on their halfback’s condition.

Thankfully for St George, they have a ready-made replacement in Matt Dufty.

The unbeaten duo

After round three, there are only two teams remaining in the NRL with 100 per cent records. Melbourne Storm and South Sydney Rabbitohs are both going strong.

Melbourne ousted the very disappoint Penrith Panthers while South Sydney fought off a dangerous comeback from Gold Coast Titans, the only side in the competition without a win.

Meanwhile, Canterbury Bulldogs got their season underway with a win over Wests Tigers that saw Michael Maguire unload on his side live on TV after the game, and the Dragons’ win in Brisbane was their first of the campaign.

NRL pay their respects

Also recording their first win of the campaign were Manly Sea Eagles.

But in this case, the meaning behind the game was far more important.

Christchurch has been in mourning since the tragic events of a couple of weeks ago and the NRL paid its respects with a very emotional ceremony before the game between the Sea Eagles and New Zealand Warriors.

Both sides had done brilliant work in the community prior to the game also.

When the game did kick off, Tom Trbojevic and Daly Cherry-Evans ripped the Warriors to shreds but the work done by both teams around the game won’t go unnoticed by the community of Christchurch.

Dean Pay’s contract gamble

It’s a very unusual circumstance. Despite losing their first two games of the year, the Bulldogs board decided to offer Dean Pay a contract extension.

All signed and sealed the Bulldogs went on to win well at Wests Tigers with players and staff saying the stability of a new contract for the main man helped them to focus on the task and produce a brilliant performance.

It’s certainly a gamble by the board but it looks to have paid off at this early stage.