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A few talking points have arisen from the action that took place this past weekend. Brisbane continued their disheartening form; Melbourne took the reigning premiers to the limit in golden point and there was a fiery encounter at Bankwest.
Here is a brief round-up of all the key points that we can take from round eight, starting with the top-tier battle between Melbourne and Sydney.
Storm and Sydney battle in an unpredictable classic
Thursday fixtures are always highly anticipated, and this contest was no different. Two of the most decorated sides in the competition pulled no punches and left fans on the edge of their seats in awe on several occasions. It really was difficult to find a superlative that could describe what took place in the latter stages.
Luke Keary knocked over a field goal in the final two minutes and began to celebrate with his teammates. However, after an error from the restart, Ryan Papenhuyzen reciprocated with an equally impressive one pointer as golden point, which was eventually won with a Cameron Smith penalty goal, loomed.
George Williams is officially off the mark
Williams has experienced success among his England teammates Elliot Whitehead, Josh Hodgson and John Bateman, who confirmed his move back to Super League with Wigan on a minimum four-year deal but, after eight rounds, George has finally crossed for his maiden score in National Rugby League as two of his signature moves, a weave and left-foot step, aided his path to the line.
After a gut-wrenching golden point loss to Parramatta last week, the ‘Green Machine’ withstood a valiant comeback from a struggling Dragons side to re-acquire their top five status.
Eels’ electrifying display ends in success for Sivo
Parramatta continue to maintain their place at the premiership peak and pursued their first-class form with another pulsating performance. The Eels have dominated their previous Queensland-based opposition, Gold Coast and Brisbane, this season and their meeting with North Queensland’s Cowboys was identical.
The hosts dominated all attacking statistics in an eye-catching team performance but two names were important for their significant contributions. Maika Sivo crossed for a quality quadruplet of tries, including a second half hat-trick, and Jai Field, who has been targeted by Leeds in recent months, opened his try-scoring account for the year.
Sharks bite Titans with vengeance
There was an injury to each side in this contest, both of which were in the first half, which could cause concern for upcoming rounds as Matt Moylan re-niggled his hamstring and Mitch Rein suffered an injury to his knee.
Leading by just two at the break, Cronulla completed out-performed their opponents in the second stage, thanks to a pivotal half-back performance from New Zealand international Shaun Johnson, to a sublime victory. Some of the try-scorers included Royce Hunt, who crossed for his inaugural professional four-pointer, and former Warrington centre Bryson Goodwin.
Maumalo double helps get Warriors back on track
The Warriors opted to relocate to Australia for the foreseeable due to the Covid-19 adversity and, in doing so, left their families behind but, after some poor form following the competition’s resumption, Stephen Kearney was unexpectedly sacked and replaced by caretaker coach Todd Payten, which left the club in an unstable state.
But, after two landslide defeats, New Zealand’s only top-tier outfit potentially steered their season in the right direction as they scored three tries in the final 15 minutes, through Wayde Egan, Ken Maumalo and Isaiah Papali’I, to record their first victory in three games.
On the other hand, the Broncos are now the only side yet to record a victory since the competition’s restart on May 28th and, ahead of their meeting with Canterbury this Saturday, are currently on a six-game losing run.
Panthers and Tigers battle in fierce encounter
The Panthers continue to be just one-point adrift, after their draw with Newcastle last month, of Parramatta and Wests sit in the mid-field battle with three other sides on eight points. Hence, we expected an intense battle and, given the explosive opening tackle, we knew both sides were going to deliver.
Wests held a narrow four-point lead at the interval, with tries from Matt Eisenhuth and Tommy Talau counteracting Stephen Crichton’s effort. Nathan Cleary’s successful field goal in the latter stages put Penrith into a lead which was immediately emphasised by Dylan Edwards’ deciding score.
Newcastle survive against ill-disciplined Sea Eagles in Sydney
It was a strangely chaotic encounter between these two sides. Daly Cherry-Evans was sin-binned for a professional foul on seven minutes, which allowed Kalyn Ponga to kick a penalty goal that proved to be the difference, and Addin Fonua-Blake was sent off on the hooter for tirade towards the referee and, as a result, will miss the next two games.
Newcastle held on throughout the second stage and in doing so, leapfrogged both Canberra and Sydney in the table into fourth place. Meanwhile, Manly sunk two places down to tenth as Cronulla and South Sydney achieved victories.
Rabbitohs race away to victory
Canterbury have been in a concerning league position for a while now but, as they trailed by just two points to the twenty-one-time premiership winners at half-time, things looked relatively promising.
But, the twenty-one-time premiership winners began to show their extravagant class, with scores from Jaydn Su’A and Cody Walker shortly after the break. Furthermore, Dane Gagai broke away to score on the left edge in the final minute and, along with Adam Reynolds’ conversion, put the Bulldogs to the sword.
However, both sides suffered injury woes in the second half. Braidon Burns suffered a kneecap dislocation in a potentially season-ending injury and Adam Elliot sustained a shoulder injury.
Melbourne Storm 27-25 Sydney Roosters
Canberra Raiders 22-16 St George Illawarra
Parramatta Eels 42-4 North Queensland
Gold Coast Titans 10-40 Cronulla Sharks
New Zealand Warriors 26-16 Brisbane Broncos
Wests Tigers 12-19 Penrith Panthers
Manly Sea Eagles 12-14 Newcastle Knights
Canterbury Bulldogs 10-26 South Sydney Rabbitohs
Upcoming Fixtures: Round Nine
North Queensland vs Sydney Roosters
Gold Coast Titans v New Zealand Warriors
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Wests Tigers
Cronulla Sharks v Penrith Panthers
Brisbane Broncos v Canterbury Bulldogs
Canberra Raiders v Melbourne Storm
Newcastle Knights v Parramatta Eels
St George Illawarra v Manly Sea Eagles