NRL Round 11: Eight things we learned

Derbys are ferocious in Australia too!
Parramatta and Wests faced up on Thursday night and the battle of the west was quite the ding dong affair.
Ryan Matterson, who transferred from the Tigers to the Eels, is alleged to have said on the way out that the Tigers would never win a Premiership and the Wests players clearly hadn’t forgotten.
Russell Packer made a bee-line straight at him and Matterson had to head off for an HIA and wouldn’t return.
Packer would later be put on report for a nasty looking crusher tackle as the feistiness continued. Even the youngsters got involved with debutant Shawn Blore taking on Nathan Brown in a one-on-one feud.
It all made for an entertaining game but Packer should remember where to draw the line.

Fonua-Blake is key for Manly
Addin Fonua-Blake returned to Manly’s side on Friday night and provided them with the go-forward required to get their season back on track.
The front-row forward had served a two-game ban for using foul and abusive language towards a referee and the Sea Eagles had lost both games without him. They’d just lacked real punch up front but he certainly brought it back and linked up well with fellow prop Martin Taupau.
The Sea Eagles had threatened to drop out of contention with the various injuries and suspensions they’ve suffered but this win gets them back on track.

One hit is all it takes for Brisbane
You may look at the 46-8 scoreline in Brisbane and think it was another straightforward win for the Storm. And in some ways, you’d be right. But the Broncos were right in the game in the first half, leading it for the most part but one lapse in concentration with the scores level just before the break and it all came crumbling down.
Tyson Gamble and Jamil Hopoate let Jahrome Hughes saunter through a gap for the softest of soft tries and Brisbane never recovered.
In fact, they went to pieces in the second half. The intensity dropped and the tries flowed. It didn’t help that they were up against the maestro himself, Cameron Smith, who is still playing quality Rugby League at the grand old age of 37.

The Warriors aren’t done yet
They may not have been able to get the two competition points on offer against the Roosters but they did show everyone that there is plenty more fight in them.
There’s a group of four teams on six points and New Zealand are one of them, six points behind Manly and Cronulla at the bottom of the eight. That’s a long way back considering we’ve just ticked over half way in the competition. But some of the efforts from the Warriors on Saturday were impressive. They held Roosters attackers over the line several times so it was a shame they were undone by a simple run from dummy half by Joseph Manu.
The Warriors will continue fighting.

Bunker mistakes are creeping in
Cronulla’s match against St George was an absolute pearler. There were some brilliant tries scored and the game went down to the very last second with the Dragons almost snatching it but the first half was marred by some odd decisions made in the bunker.
The Sharks’ first try scored by Jack Williams shouldn’t have counted because Matt Dufty reached the ball and grounded it first. It felt like they rushed the decision.
For the first time in recent memory, the officials responsible have been dropped and rightly so. That was a simple one!

Raiders and Rabbitohs have plenty of depth
Both Canberra and South Sydney are having injury problems at the moment but their depth was there for all to see as they served up another classic on Saturday.
Wayne Bennett is a little concerned that he is having to use his squad depth a little too early in the season but when senior players are injured, it always provides an opportunity for younger players to progress and that can be beneficial down the line.

Canterbury are alive
We were beginning to think it would never come but Canterbury finally got their second win of the season.
It’s a long time since they gained their first against St George just after lockdown but they fully deserved this against a tough Knights side away from home.
The conditions were horrendous and yet the Bulldogs completed at over 90 percent. When you’re searching for your first win in a long time, that’s a pretty good way of going about it.
Onwards and upwards for the Dogs. They’re now only a win off jumping right off the bottom of the table and landing the Broncos in it.

Cleary is the man to beat
It wasn’t an easy game for the table toppers Penrith which shows just how far the Titans have come under Justin Holbrook.
The game could have swung either way in the second half but it was the class of Nathan Cleary that helped Penrith maintain their place at the top of the NRL.
He is surely set to retain his place in the Blues’ origin side. He’s the form player in the competition at the moment.