NRL Round 10 Talking Points & Team of the Week
Knights scorch the Dragons; Storm finally clap back; Roosters’ Brisbane curse strikes again; have the Raiders hit their ceiling?
STORM FINALLY CLAP BACK
Rugby league can be a cruel game – just ask Wests Tigers punters. For 77 minutes it appeared the plucky Tigers were going to cause a massive boilover over a Storm side who last start had racked up the season’s biggest win. Robbie Farah was pulling the strings and Melbourne were showing signs of frustration at their inability to convert chances into points. All that changed though when Kenny Bromwich suddenly broke past Mahe Fonua and found Will Chambers in support, who snuck past a desperate Moses Mbye to score and give his side the matchwinner in their 24-22 win. It was a hard-fought Storm win, with Craig Bellamy’s men down in possession, territory and metres gained – yet they still found a way to win. In pre-season Ryan Papenhuyzen was their third-choice fullback behind Scott Drinkwater and Jahrome Hughes, but the youngster was a star in his run-on debut. Nobody came within cooee of his 260 overall running metres and without a handling error, he became the latest example of Melbourne’s culture of getting the job done no matter who’s in the jersey. The win was a total contrast to their domination over Parramatta but it means the Storm are increasingly building positive momentum ahead of Origin.
Up next – Melbourne ($1.30* - Bet Easy) get a relatively lengthy break before they travel to Belmore to play the Bulldogs ($4* - TAB).
ROOSTERS’ BRISBANE CURSE STRIKES AGAIN
If the Roosters thought their Magic Round win against Canberra at Suncorp was the end of their horror run at the venue, the Broncos showed otherwise as the Premiers crashed to a 15-10 loss, their first defeat since round one. The Premiers have been blitzing teams in the first half this season, before this match they’d won every first half by an average margin of 13 points. But the Broncos played their best game of the year, ensuring the Tricolours never built on their early 6-0 lead. Cooper Cronk’s third minute sin bin didn’t seem to have an impact at the time – indeed it was in his absence the Chooks scored their only try – but with a five day turnaround and four first-choice players out, it seemed they simply ran out of gas against an inspired Broncos. Latrell Mitchell had his quietest game of 2019 and only bench forward Zane Tetevano surpassed 100 running metres. Going to an 8-2 record after ten rounds is still a great season start for the Roosters but they’ll need an improved performance against an in-form Newcastle to avoid consecutive losses heading into their bye.
Up next – It’s a Friday night showdown with the Roosters ($1.48* - TopBetta) travelling to a resurgent Newcastle ($3* - Bet365).
HAVE THE RAIDERS HIT THEIR CEILING?
Before Magic Round, the Raiders were sitting comfortably in the top four but with their only top eight victory being against Parramatta, their back-to-back clashes with heavyweights Roosters and Rabbitohs would serve as a litmus test for how far they’ve truly come in 2019. After establishing a reputation for losing the tight contests, Ricky Stuart would be gutted for his side to have lost both matches by a combined total of just 10 points. Their 16-12 loss to Souths was no reflection of their effort – they played their backsides off. But only one try to show for having better possession, territory and completion just isn’t enough and the Raiders will be kicking themselves for missing a golden opportunity to show they’re capable of beating a Premiership favourite.
Up next – the Raiders ($1.50* - BetEasy) need to turn things around quickly when they host the Cowboys ($2.75* - Sportsbet).
KNIGHTS SCORCH THE DRAGONS
It’s not a stretch to say Newcastle are the competition’s form side. Off the back of key playmakers Kalyn Ponga and Mitchell Pearce, the Knights have now won four straight with their 45-12 smashing of a woeful St George-Illawarra a massive statement their top eight hopes are alive and well. Ponga racked up 24 points including superb individual efforts leading to two tries, while Pearce showed the skill which made him once upon a time a perennial New South Wales halfback with a try, four try assists and a cheeky field goal to seal a Mudgee mauling. Pearce showed no hesitation in attack with his fourth different halves partner of the season already in Kurt Mann, which allowed Connor Watson to come off the bench and exploit the tiring Dragons defence. Coach Nathan Brown on the long trip back to Newcastle might be wondering how the season’s start might had the superstar Ponga stayed at fullback instead of a failed push into the halves – the Knights might be far better than their 5-5 record.
Up next – Newcastle ($3* - Bet365) might be the underdogs against the Roosters ($1.48* - TopBetta) but they’ll enter with the superior momentum.
ODDSCHECKER TEAM OF THE WEEK
1 – Kalyn Ponga © (Knights)
2 – Jayden Okunbor (Bulldogs)
3 – Patrick Herbert (Warriors)
4 – Kotoni Staggs (Broncos)
5 – Ken Maumalo (Warriors)
6 – Cody Walker (Rabbitohs)
7 – Mitchell Pearce (Knights)
8 – Payne Haas (Broncos)
9 – Damien Cook (Rabbitohs)
10 – Matt Scott (Cowboys)
11 – Ryan Matterson (Tigers)
12 – Mitch Barnett (Knights)
13 – Cameron Murray (Rabbitohs)
ODDSCHECKER PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Be wary New South Wales – Kalyn Ponga is hitting peak form just in time for Queensland. Newcastle’s superstar fullback was unplayable against the Dragons, scoring two beautiful tries combining his speed and ability to perfectly read the defensive line to go with eight goals for a lazy 24 points for the day. Ponga’s individual momentum is increasing by the week and with Queensland desperate to regain Origin glory, the fullback will be a key player for the Maroons and be giving Blues coach Brad Fittler some restless nights already.
*odds correct at time of posting.