NRL Rd 15 Talking Points & Team of the Week
Chee Kam does it again, Minor Premiership Melbourne's to lose, 2020 cant come quickly enough for Brisbane, the Warriors pull a Warriors
CHEE KAM DOES IT AGAIN
When you think of clutch players, the mind races towards Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith, James Tedesco…but what about Michael Chee Kam? The Samoan utility is making a huge difference for the Tigers’ finals hopes in 2019. His brilliant match-winning try in their 14-9 defeat of Souths marking the third time he’s made a game-changing run after efforts against Brisbane and North Queensland.
George Burgess grabbed headlines post-game for eye gouging Robbie Farah but the impact this win has on the Tigers can’t be understated. Wests have been the definition of an “almost-there” team in recent years, threatening to end their finals drought but inevitably fading away post-rep season. Defeating Souths though is a big step forward – they found a way to grind out a win against a higher-placed side and did so the hard way.
Adam Reynolds’ 74th minute field goal gave the Bunnies the tightest lead but the hard-running Chee Kam had the final say with his brilliant 40 metre charge. These are exactly the matches Wests need to win to make the finals and they’re now building momentum while others around them are hitting a roadblock.
MINOR PREMIERSHIP MELBOURNE’S TO LOSE
Melbourne made it six straight wins in their gripping 14-12 win over the Roosters in Adelaide. The Storm had to work their socks off with the Roosters at times dominating possession and territory but Cameron Smith’s cunningness to eke a penalty and in turn goal late on broke the deadlock and now leaves Melbourne six points clear atop the table.
More importantly, it means Melbourne are all but certain to have two home matches in the finals – ideally weeks one and three. The Storm will know they’ll need to step their attack up if they’re to threaten the Roosters in the finals – last season they squeezed out a one point win over the Roosters at the same venue before being completely outgunned in the Grand Final – but they’ll take huge confidence in the way they’re handling rep season.
Ryan Papenhuyzen stepped in effortlessly to replace the late withdrawal of Jahrome Hughes, Dale Finucane showed no signs of a post-Origin hangover with a monster effort through the middle and having Smith available for their next start is gold, they’ll need every one of his 398 matches of experience with their side ravaged with Origin.
2020 CAN’T COME QUICKLY ENOUGH FOR BRISBANE
Broncos coach Anthony Seibold rolled the dice in performing yet another revamp to his side, this time switching fullback Darius Boyd and five-eighth Anthony Milford around but it was to little effect with the Broncos sinking 26-12 at Newcastle.
For a side tipped to push for a Premiership pre-season, whisper it quietly but the 14th placed Broncos are a real shot at their worst ever season finish. Nothing went right for them against the Knights. Not even the home side losing Kalyn Ponga before kickoff to a calf injury, then inexplicably having prop James Gavet sin binned to go with was enough for the Broncos to ever look likely.
Unsurprisingly the makeshift halves combo of Boyd (playing his first game in the halves) and Sean O’Sullivan (playing his third NRL game) didn’t fire, unable to convert territorial dominance into points. The Broncos aren’t mathematically out of the finals race but they’re looking a cooked outfit. 2020 seems their best bet at rebounding but there’s likely more pain to be experienced first.
THE WARRIORS PULL A WARRIORS
How did the Warriors lose that one? They enjoyed some dubious officiating, at one stage a 13-on-11 advantage through two Panthers sin bins and a 16-12 lead inside the final three minutes yet they still found a way to crumble to a painful 19-18 golden point defeat.
The Warriors entered the match determined to remedy a dreadful home record (their two wins coming against sides currently 15th and 16th) and had enough chances to win. Instead it was a lazy defensive effort on their right edge which allowed Panthers rookie centre Brent Naden to conjure up an incredible near length-of-the-field run to glide past Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and stun the Warriors faithful.
A resulting offside penalty off their short kickoff allowed Patrick Herbert a clutch penalty goal to take the match into extra time but a near air-swing shot at field goal from Blake Green summed up the Warriors’ day. The defeat sees Penrith now overtake the Warriors on the table and further dents their finals hopes.
ODDSCHECKER TEAM OF THE WEEK
- Ryan Papenhuyzen (Storm)
- Blake Ferguson © (Eels)
- Brent Naden (Panthers)
- Jesse Ramien (Knights)
- Reuben Garrick (Sea Eagles)
- Benji Marshall (Tigers)
- James Maloney (Panthers)
- Dave Klemmer (Knights)
- Cameron Smith (Storm)
- Junior Paulo (Eels)
- Manu Ma’u (Eels)
- Curtis Sironen (Sea Eagles)
- Jake Trbojevic (Sea Eagles)
ODDSCHECKER PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Blake Ferguson is enjoying one of the best spells in his career. The Eels winger has always had the talent but applying it regularly has been an issue. But after coming from the representative wilderness to help the Blues to a monster win, Ferguson backed it up with a game-changing effort in Darwin against Canberra.
His first try just before halftime gave the Eels a badly needed confidence boost, but his second try – a scorching 70m intercept – gave Parramatta a match-winning lead which looked at long odds when they were down by 16 at one stage. Ferguson overall ran for 152 metres, made two tackle breaks and zero handling errors – exactly the performance Parra had in mind when they lured him away from the Roosters. Put simply the Eels don’t defeat the Raiders without their big winger.
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