Almanac Rugby League – NRL Round 16 wrap: Injuries might shape the destiny of South Sydney

Surprising results, predictable results and injuries ensured there was plenty to talk about in Round 16 of the NRL. The top five teams maintained their respective places while Souths moved to sixth at Newcastle’s expense.

 

Three of the first four matches produced surprising results. Take your pick as to which one was the biggest shock: a) the then seventh-placed South Sydney Rabbitohs thrashing the third-placed Parramatta Eels; b) the 13th-placed Gold Coast Titans edging out the 10th-placed Dragons; c) the then 12th-placed Warriors hammering the then sixth-placed Knights.

 

Recently I mentioned that the Eels seemed to be in a bit of a lull. Now it appears that they have fallen well off the pace, while a serious ankle injury to Dylan Brown set them back even further. Evidently the absence of disasters had obscured the reality of Parramatta’s situation until Thursday night. Surely nobody could’ve seen it coming. The Rabbitohs decimated the Eels 38-0 less than a week after pounding the struggling Manly Sea Eagles 56-16. Souths had put on 38 unanswered points in the first half against Manly before scoring 22 points in the first half and 16 in the second half against Parramatta. While the Eels were simply inept and could miss Brown for the remainder of the season, the Rabbitohs just might have emerged as a smoky of the competition. But, by the same token, a season-ending hamstring injury to Latrell Mitchell in a freak accident could spell doom for the Bunnies.

 

The first match on Friday was unusual as the only points in the first half came from a penalty goal before the Dragons held a 10-4 lead with five minutes remaining. A fluky four-pointer turned the game on the 75-minute mark, as Tyrone Peachey touched down after a rolling kick ricocheted speculatively. With the score 10-all just moments later, a break from AJ Brimson led to a match-stealing try for Jamal Fogarty to all but end St George-Illawarra’s skinny finals hopes.

 

It was no surprise to see the fourth-placed Roosters beat the 15th-placed Broncos to a pulp. If anything, it was somewhat unexpected to see the Broncos score as many as two tries, including a runaway effort from a Roosters’ error. Following Brisbane’s respectable four-point loss to the Dragons in the previous round, the 58-12 scoreline against the Roosters was a much stronger indication of the Broncos’ ongoing situation. Diabolical. It was obvious that the recent departure of coach Anthony Seibold will make virtually no difference in the short term.

 

Remarkably, two winning teams on Saturday scored 28 unanswered points at one stage while the other victorious side on the same day notched 30 points without reply. In the first of these three matches, the Warriors showed that they could yet sneak into the top-eight as they moved to ninth place with an unexpected 36-6 trouncing of Newcastle. The first half was tight as the New Zealand team held a mere 8-6 lead at the break before the Warriors blew their opponents off the park. The Warriors scored 28 points in the second stanza, including 22 in the final 20 minutes. The Knights remained safely in the top-eight, yet their latest reality check was a clear sign that they could just be making up the numbers in the play-offs.

 

The Warriors’ cause, however, was not helped as they remained two wins outside the top-eight due to the eighth-placed Cronulla’s 28-12 victory over the lowly-placed Cowboys. North Queensland led 6-0 but things went pear-shaped as Michael Morgan exited with a potentially season-ending calf injury while Jason Taumalolo was already sidelined with a similar injury. The Sharks had a few tries disallowed but they still turned a 6-0 deficit into a 28-6 lead before their opponents scored a consolation try.

 

In the third match on Saturday, the vanquished team also failed to build on a 6-0 lead. After conceding the first try, ladder leaders the Panthers did not concede any other score as they registered a comfortable 24-point triumph. The Tigers were rocked as Adam Doueihi was sin-binned shortly before half-time but the margin was still an attainable eight points following an arm wrestle in the opening 40 minutes. Although the Panthers were kept scoreless while the Tigers were down to 12 men, Penrith scored three tries thereafter and confirmed its status as ‘the team to beat’.

 

The Storm, however, showed that they too would be extremely hard to beat when at or near full strength. They were a little erratic at times but were still much too strong for Manly. The Storm showed a number of their admirable qualities as they scored some fine tries and produced some splendid defence in their 30-6 triumph. The Sea Eagles paid dearly for a bombed try from a kick in the opening minutes, with the Storm subsequently opening the scoring before Manly drew level. Melbourne soon gained control, although the margin was limited to 12 points with less than 20 minutes remaining after Cameron Smith uncharacteristically missed three successive conversion attempts. Justin Olam bagged three tries while Josh Addo-Carr notched a double, having scored a brilliant runaway try in the last minute following lead-up work from Cameron Munster and Ryan Papenhuyzen.

 

The Canberra Raiders clung to fifth spot but survived a major scare against the Canterbury Bulldogs who wasted yet another chance to move off the bottom of the ladder. The Bulldogs gained a useful lead but were again left to rue their inability to play for the full 80 minutes. In a fluctuating first half, Canberra conceded the first try before gaining a 12-6 lead, only for the Bulldogs to lead 20-12 at half-time following a great try as the siren sounded. The Raiders were set back further as Geoff Starling was sin-binned and Curtis Scott injured early in the second stanza. But Jack Wighton turned the match Canberra’s way with the Raiders scoring 22 points to nil in the second half to run out 14-point winners.

 

Round 17 promises more intrigue. Stay tuned.

 

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Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.

 

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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 35 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.

Comments

  1. Liam, it looks like injuries will go a long way to deciding this premiership.You can’t see Souths doing it without Mitchell; Parra will do it even tougher if Brown is out. It looks like a three horse race to me between Penrith, Melbourne and the Roosters.

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