NRL Round 12 Talking Points & Team of the Week
Panthers finally go back-to-back, Parra bounce back at last, Canberra gut it out and a win's a win for North Queensland
PANTHERS FINALLY GO BACK-TO-BACK
So often the Origin period unearths the next generation of star NRL talent, and Penrith may have found their next gem in backrower Liam Martin. With Viliame Kikau a late scratching further depleting the Panthers, Martin stood up and turned in a game-deciding man of the match performance in his side’s 15-12 win over Manly.
Penrith did it the hard way, needing to overcome having only 41% possession and a late Sea Eagle resurgence. James Maloney had his best performance of 2019 as the senior playmaker with Nathan Cleary on Origin duties and rookie hooker Mitchell Kenny tackled himself into the ground, racking up 56 tackles in an extremely impressive effort. Neither of Penrith’s last two victories have been stellar performances but for the first time in 2019 they now have consecutive wins and are slowly taking pressure off besieged coach Ivan Cleary.
They suffered yet another injury blow with veteran prop Tim Grant suffering a pectoral tear which likely ends his season. But with defensive grit as they showed against Manly, the Panthers may finally be finding their 2019 identity.
Up next – Penrith ($2.80* – Sportsbet) now aim for three straight wins while their opponents the Roosters ($1.40* - Sportsbet) are desperate to avoid three consecutive defeats.
PARRA BOUNCE BACK AT LAST
The unaffected by Origin Eels hit the schedule jackpot by drawing the highflying Bunnies who were missing a raft of Origin talent and duly capitalised in a 26-14 win at ANZ Stadium. The victory snapped a three game losing run and was a welcome response to Parra coach Brad Arthur wielding his selection axe.
With the likes of Tim Mannah, Daniel Alvaro and Brad Takairangi watching on, Mitchell Moses took control to create three tries and use his fleet of foot to rack up over 130 running metres. Manu Ma’u became the latest forward to crack the 200 running metre mark and had a powerful game in response to a Souths pack still containing the Burgess brothers.
In normal circumstances the Bunnies would have been heavy favourites to win comfortably but Parramatta were presented this opportunity and to their credit took advantage. The win may prove valuable in their finals hopes – but they know with their coach fully willing to make big selection calls, they’ll need to maintain their improved performance.
Up next – the Eels ($2.50* - Sportsbet) have a chance to clean sweep the Sharks ($1.52* - Sportsbet) in 2019.
CANBERRA GUT IT OUT
The Raiders’ 12-10 win over Canterbury could prove a turning point in their 2019 campaign. Canberra will have larger win margins and overcome more illustrious opponents but in defeating the Doggies, the Raiders overcame a substantial Origin talent unavailability and avoided a potential four-game losing run.
It’s no coincidence the win came as their inspirational lock John Bateman made his early comeback from a horror eye socket fracture, the Englishman scoring and providing the leadership the understrength pack needed with Josh Papalii (Origin) and Josh Hodgson (injury) unavailable.
Jarrod Croker gave Blues coach Brad Fitter another reminder he’s ready for Origin with another solid performance including a crucial steal off Reimis Smith to flip field position with scores locked 10-all with time running out. The Raiders’ emotion at full-time was plain to see – they knew this was a chance to get their season back on track.
Up next – Canberra ($1.90* - Sportsbet) face a refreshed Wests Tigers ($1.90* - Sportsbet) coming off a bye.
A WIN’S A WIN FOR NORTH QUEENSLAND
If there’s a highlights package for the Cowboys’ 6-4 win over the Titans lasting longer than a minute then viewer discretion might be advised. But while the game never looked close to a quality encounter, the Cowboys did just enough in defence to hold off the desperate Titans.
They did so undermanned with Gideon Gela-Mosby breaking his collarbone and Corey Jensen failing a HIA, and post-game fullback Jordan Kahu had an arm in a sling, which shows the effort displayed by coach Paul Green’s side. John Asiata tried his heart out once again in the six jersey and while his kicking game might be slightly unrefined, the big man at least backed himself to put up attacking kicks while the Titans inexplicably played it safe even while trailing.
His defusing of Gold Coast kicks also might see him come in handy in the slips for Australia’s Cricket World Cup defence. The Cowboys now have three straight wins for the first time since the 2017 finals and despite a monumental injury toll in their backs, the Cowboys are giving themselves a hope for a finals charge.
Up next – North Queensland ($1.65* - Sportsbet) aim to make it four straight wins when they host Manly ($2.25* - Sportsbet)
ODDSCHECKER TEAM OF THE WEEK
- Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (Raiders)
- Kyle Feldt (Cowboys)
- Michael Jennings (Eels)
- Sebastian Kris (Raiders)
- Maika Sivo (Eels)
- John Asiata (Cowboys)
- Mitchell Moses (Eels)
- Corey Horsburgh (Raiders)
- Reed Mahoney (Eels)
- Junior Paulo (Eels)
- Liam Martin © (Panthers)
- Manu Ma’u (Eels)
- Jason Taumalolo (Cowboys)
ODDSCHECKER PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Take a bow Liam Martin. After experiencing five defeats in his first five career NRL matches, the young Panthers forward broke his duck in spectacular fashion against Manly. What made his performance even more special was he wasn’t even meant to be starting – it was Viliame Kikau’s illness which gave him a spot and he took full advantage.
He outsmarted Manly to set up Dylan Edwards early on before he swooped on a Manly error to score a try for himself – and in a low-scoring game, it proved a match-winning performance. Not bad for a 22-year-old coming off a Canterbury Cup run four days earlier!