Almanac Rugby League – NRL Round 13 wrap: Let’s stick to the on-field action

There’ve been plenty of dramas off the field, with coaches Wayne Bennett and Anthony Seibold going into isolation due to COVID-19 issues while a Broncos player was embroiled in a revenge porn scandal. A couple of other NRL players acted irresponsibly and were also forced to isolate themselves for 14 days.


But I don’t want to focus on any of that. My focus is on the football.


Quite clearly, the top four teams on the ladder have very strong premiership credentials while the teams from fifth to eighth have a lot more work to do in order to press their claims. More predictably, the end of the year can’t come soon enough for the Bulldogs, Broncos and Cowboys.


Penrith maintained the ladder lead while the Storm and Roosters emerged triumphant without key personnel. The Eels remained in the top three but were perhaps a shade lucky to win this time.


Perhaps the most bizarre aspect of the round was Blake Green playing against the Wests Tigers for the second successive round, having switched clubs during the week. Another contender for most bizarre aspect of the round was a scrum win against the feed in the Parramatta-Cronulla fixture.


Despite being out of finals reckoning, the Dragons appeared to have a good chance of downing the reigning back-to-back premiers considering the Roosters missed a number of key players. But the 2018 and 2019 premiers showed the strength of their depth. On that basis, the Roosters are still well in contention for a hat-trick of premierships, even if they remain outside the top three on the ladder. The Dragons recovered from an early 10-0 deficit to be on even terms at half-time, but the Roosters gained the ascendancy in the second stanza. They moved ahead 24-10, before a consolation try bridged the margin to eight points.


The Warriors showed that they could cause havoc for the teams above them on the ladder, with their 26-22 victory on Friday night relegating the Manly Sea Eagles to outright ninth place. Sea Eagles skipper Daly Cherry-Evans was pushed into touch in the opening seconds, before the New Zealand team raced to a 16-0 lead. Manly clawed back after the Warriors lost Karl Lawnton to the sin bin, but the Warriors regained the ascendancy later on. Manly again closed the margin after another Warriors player was sin-binned, but the New Zealanders prevailed despite having been a player short for a quarter of the match.


Even with Bennett forced to watch from home after breaching COVID-19 restrictions, the South Sydney Rabbitohs had little to worry about as they accounted for the insipid Broncos 28-10. The Broncos were well in contention for the first 30 minutes, but a try to Souths prop Mark Nicholls in the shadows of half-time virtually summed up Brisbane’s season. From a tap penalty 10 metres out, Nicholls ran onto a pass and bustled through several feeble attempts at tackle. This defence would embarrass an Under 8s coach, never mind appear in NRL first grade.


A knee injury to Cameron Munster put something of a dampener on the Storm’s 41-10 trouncing of the Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs were competitive early on but missed a penalty goal attempt, before the Storm grabbed control with three quick tries. The understrength Melbourne team was not at its best throughout the course of the game, but it mattered little. The team still scored more than 40 points, even without the one and only Cameron Smith. A comprehensive result was no surprise, although I must emphasise that the first try was a 90-metre intercept. I know I said something about this recently, but I’ll say it again: nothing changes a game quite like an intercept. The Bulldogs scored first in the second half to be as close as 13 points behind, but the Storm were not to be denied. Kenny Bromwich bagged a double, as did Addo-Carr.


Also on Saturday, Blake Green’s first appearance in Newcastle colours was one to remember as he starred at five-eighth in a 44-4 thumping of the Tigers who almost certainly bowed out of finals contention. Ironically, Green was the Warriors’ halfback in their victory over the Tigers just eight days earlier. Perhaps the most contentious decision from The Bunker was in the Knights-Tigers match, as Newcastle’s Jacob Saifiti was awarded a try when it appeared obvious that he should have been penalised for a double movement. Check the incident here Newcastle moved to sixth place, and moved to within one point of Canberra on the ladder after the Raiders went down 28-12 to the Panthers.


Penrith led 12-0 before Canberra were denied a couple of times, and then the Panthers extended their lead before a Raiders comeback fell well short.


Michael Morgan’s return for the Cowboys proved disastrous as the northerners were no match for the equally struggling Gold Coast Titans on Sunday. Gold Coast led 20-0 at half-time before the teams scored 10 points each in the second half.


The Sharks scored three tries to two in the other Sunday fixture, but it wasn’t enough as the Eels scraped home 14-12 on a soggy Kogarah playing arena. Water constantly splashed around while most of the line markings were impossible to see, yet both sides put in a spirited display in the atrocious conditions. Two converted tries gave Parramatta a 12-4 lead before Cronulla drew level following back-to-back tries to Ronaldo Mulitalo. Frustratingly, one of Shaun Johnson’s three unsuccessful conversion attempts bounced off an upright. Mitchell Moses meanwhile was on target, and his penalty goal broke the deadlock with about 10 minutes left. There was some controversy, as Parramatta’s Blake Ferguson appeared lucky not to be pulled up for an apparent knock-on at a vital stage. On another occasion, Ferguson threw a sensationally wild pass in the torrential rain. Check both incidents here:


Stay tuned for Thursday’s preview of Round 14.


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About Liam Hauser

A Queenslander through and through, Liam went out of his comfort zone as he had a thoroughly worthwhile time in Tumut and Gundagai from 2008 to 2016 before enjoying a year in Gunnedah. His strongest sporting interests are State of Origin, Sheffield Shield, Test cricket and the NRL. His sporting CV doesn’t have many highlights, although he once top-scored in a warehouse cricket match with 54 not out at number 10, and shared in an unbroken last wicket stand of 83 with the number 11 who scored an undefeated 52. Liam has written books including State of Origin 40 Years, A Century of Cricket Tests, A History of Test Cricket, The Immortals of Australian Cricket, The Immortals of Australian Rugby League, and The Great Grand Finals: Rugby League's Greatest Contests. Also a huge fan of Electric Light Orchestra.


  1. Idiots off the field, the rest of the season on a knife-edge, coaching rumours galore, the adventures of man-of-many-jerseys Blake Green, ‘Battleships and Cruisers’ at Kogarah, toothless Tigers and damaged Sea Eagles – just a snapshot of the week that was. Too easy to get distracted from some good footy played by Penrith, Melbourne and Newcastle. As MOH tells it, ‘You’ve just got to love footy!’

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