NRL Round 14 Talking Points & Team of the Week
Sharks lose their bite in the Capital, Tigers party like it's 2005, Brisbane buckling in Sydney once again, Roosters finally crow again
SHARKS LOSE THEIR BITE IN THE CAPITAL
So near yet so far for Cronulla – it seems weird to say considering they trailed 20-0 after 25 minutes in one of NRL’s tougher away trips but the Sharks’ 22-20 defeat to Canberra was the one that got away. As their early deficit suggests, Cronulla were terrible early on.
Continually knocking on, the Sharks compounded their woes by conceding penalty after penalty to gift the in-form Raiders possession and territory. Before they knew it, they were facing a score more suited to the Cricket World Cup. Yet under coach John Morris, the 2019 Sharks have shown they’ll never stop trying and they overcame the early loss of on-fire strike centre Bronson Xerri to concussion to inch their way back.
Wade Graham has had limited game time as he returns from his long-term knee injury but his leadership shapes as a huge weapon for the Sharks’ finals goals and he laid on a key try in his side’s comeback. Remarkably Cronulla scored four tries to Canberra’s three but Shaun Johnson’s off-night with the boot meant Cronulla trailed by two points late on.
With the siren ready to sound the Sharks were 15 metres out from Canberra’s line and halfback Chad Townsend lined up a last-ditch attack on their fruitful right edge. However, Canberra centre Jarrod Croker read the play like a book and intercepted the lofted cutout pass to seal a painful Sharks defeat. These two sides will play finals in 2019 and a rematch would be fascinating viewing.
Up next – Cronulla ($1.33* – Sportsbet) will aim for an 80-minute performance when they visit Canterbury ($3.25*) after the week off.
TIGERS PARTY LIKE IT’S 2005
For neutrals the Tigers’ 27-26 golden point win away to North Queensland might not have had the utmost quality but it was one of the best games of the season to watch. The Tigers ran up an 18-0 lead inside the opening half hour before falling victim to a Jason Taumalolo-inspired Cowboy resurgence to find themselves down by four inside the final ten minutes.
Michael Chee-Kam has experience in scoring crucial tries – think back to his incredible effort against Brisbane – but his attempted barge-over was thwarted by Cowboys fullback Jordan Kahu’s high shot and the ensuing penalty try gifted them a two-point lead. The Cowboys seemed at their best chasing points however and their pressure paid off with the Tigers offside desperately defending their goal line and the penalty goal saw golden point on its way.
Wests dominated extra time though, owning possession and field position and despite two misses, Benji Marshall’s third field goal shot of the night squeaked its way in to give the Tigers a crucial win. Wests are seemingly searching for what their 2019 identity is – their attack remains inconsistent yet when clicking they’re an extremely hard side to contain. Improvement is needed to keep their finals chances alive but this win could be a turning point in their season.
Up next – A return to Bankwest Stadium where the Tigers ($2.70* - Sportsbet) host the Bunnies ($1.45* - Sportsbet).
BRISBANE BUCKLING IN SYDNEY ONCE AGAIN
Brisbane made their first trip to Bankwest Stadium only to find themselves the latest victims of a Parramatta ambush, falling to a convincing 38-10 defeat. Coach Anthony Seibold unloaded deluxe post-game at his side – describing his potential 12 representative players as having their heads in their future camps instead of the task at hand.
He also noted a worrying trend, with his side making its third visit to Sydney this year and each time trailing by over 20 points before getting themselves into the game. If the Broncos’ shock loss to Gold Coast last week was meant to be a minor setback after their promising three-game win streak, their Parramatta debacle looked more like a club back at square one.
Brisbane may consider themselves fortunate they don’t have many further trips to Sydney this season – at least in the regular season, their 5-8 record hardly lending itself to a side ready to play finals footy.
Up next – Another NSW trip, this time the Broncos ($2.20* - Sportsbet) travel to Newcastle ($1.65* - Sportsbet)
ROOSTERS FINALLY CROW AGAIN
It wasn’t champagne rugby league but the Roosters’ 38-12 win over Canterbury saw them end a three-game losing streak and more importantly show the defensive steel which has brought them two Premierships under Trent Robinson.
The Chooks seemingly had a vendetta against Dogs five-eighth Kieran Foran, bombarding the Kiwi with an array of brutal shots to knock the stuffing out of Canterbury’s attack. Roosters and NSW skipper Boyd Cordner led by example, being a defensive menace barrelling out of the line to smash up the Dogs. Joseph Manu had a whale of a game at fullback and the Roosters looked their most convincing in attack since their brilliant first half against Canberra in Magic Round.
Daniel Tupou is unlucky to miss out on NSW selection for Blake Ferguson, showing great awareness to create two tries while Latrell Mitchell ensured his Blues non-selection will be the most controversial in the Brad Fittler era with his best game in weeks. Canterbury aren’t the measuring stick for success but the Roosters capitalised on the chance to play themselves back into form after a challenging month.
Up next – a rematch from the game of the year, as the Roosters ($1.80* - Sportsbet) take on the Storm ($2* - Sportsbet) in Adelaide.
ODDSCHECKER TEAM OF THE WEEK
- 1. Jahrome Hughes (Storm)
- 2. Josh Addo-Carr (Storm)
- 3. Latrell Mitchell (Roosters)
- 4. Jarrod Croker (Raiders)
- 5. Reuben Garrick (Sea Eagles)
- 6. Cameron Munster © (Storm)
- 7. Daly Cherry-Evans (Sea Eagles)
- 8. Martin Taupau (Sea Eagles)
- 9. Cameron Smith (Storm)
- 10. Junior Paulo (Eels)
- 11. Ryan Matterson (Tigers)
- 12. Boyd Cordner (Roosters)
- 13. Jason Taumalolo (Cowboys)
ODDSCHECKER PLAYER OF THE WEEK
If New South Wales were hoping for Queensland’s key players to experience a form slump, their hopes are dashed with five-eighth Cameron Munster flourishing as seen in his star performance. Melbourne dominated the previously in-form Newcastle 34-4 and the fiery Maroons pivot had the type of game which would see Maroons coach Kevin Walters grinning.
Three try assists, 83 running metres and an aggressive defensive game laid the platform for Melbourne to consolidate top spot. While NSW chop and change their halves, Queensland will be delighted their incumbent halves Munster and Daly Cherry-Evans had blinders – just look at who our Team of the Week halves are.