NRL Wrap: Round Seven ANZAC Weekend Sees Big Wins And Close Defeats
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ANZAC Round is always a memorable weekend. The NRL ensures at the start of every game we pay our respects to the Diggers for everything they have done for us and this amazing country of ours, before enjoying a great game of footy.
Let's recap all the excitement and emotion that was Round 7.
Cronulla Sharks 34 - Manly Sea Eagles 22
I almost wrote Siosifa Talakai 34 - Manly 22! A sensational solo performance from the big centre. I haven't seen one player dominate a game like that in a long time. Two tries, three try assists, running for 262 metres and pushing through for 63 post contact metres. Just wow.
Talakai was an absolute machine in the first 40 minutes, guiding the Sharks to a 32-0 lead at the break. Sifa couldn't put a foot wrong, and Manly's Morgan Harper couldn't do anything right, unable to stop his opposing centre. So much so that Des Hasler told Harper at halftime to hit the showers early.
The Sharks got a bit too comfortable being so far in front and took the foot off the pedal. The Sea Eagles shook off the nightmare that was the first half and staged a second half comeback. Three tries in 13 minutes gave Manly hope and had the Sharks looking lost. Another four pointer in the 65th minute had Manly trailing 32-22 with the possibility of an upset on the cards.
Cronulla were able to stem the bleeding, and with a penalty goal late in the game they managed to lock up the score 34-22.
Brisbane Broncos 34 - Canterbury Bulldogs 14
Canterbury's woes continued as they failed to hold onto an eight-point lead in the last stanza of their match against Brisbane on Friday to eventually go down 34-14.
The Broncos came back from a 14-6 deficit to score 20 points in the last 20 minutes to steal victory against the Bulldogs in front of the Suncorp Stadium crowd on Friday night.
Adam Reynolds steadied the ship for Brisbane and got them back in the game, with one try and three try assists. Despite being off with a shoulder injury for part of the match, Payne Haas was at his destructive best while on the field, topping the run meters with 254 and the tackle count with 39.
It was wonderful to see Te Maire Martin make a solid return to the NRL, after a brain bleed in 2019 forced him away from the game. He played the entire match at fullback and made a real impact.
The Bulldogs put up a brave fight for most for most of the match, despite having 12 players from the squad unavailable. Covid-19 and injury ripped apart the team days before the game, seeing the club scramble to field a side. Jacob Kiraz and Billy Tsikrikas made their debuts at the top level with so many regulars out, and both should be extremely proud of their efforts.
Josh Addo-Carr crossed over for his second try of the season, but like I mentioned last week, I'm sure he would happily swap it for a win.
North Queensland Cowboys 30 - Gold Titans 4
For a team that has copped a lot of criticism and a coach that has been under a tonne of pressure, the Cowboys put on another winning performance on Saturday night and are sitting nicely in the top eight.
Led by brilliant efforts from Jason Taumalolo, Tom Dearden and Scott Drinkwater, the Cowboys outclassed the Titans five tries to one in front of their Townsville faithful. Heilum Luki and Jeremiah Nanai also made a huge impact, both scoring a try each and causing major headaches for their opponents.
The home side opened the scoring early when Dearden crossed in the fifth minute. The Titans hit back not long after through Jamayne Isaako, but that was where the scoring stopped for the visitors.
It was another tough night at the office for the Gold Coast, who made too many errors and showed poor ball control. Even when Nanai was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle, the Titans couldn't capitalise on the one-man advantage. Nanai rubbed salt in their wounds by scoring his own try the minute he stepped back on the field.
The Titans poor form continues, slumping to their fifth loss of the season. David Fifita's positional switch to the centres to fill in for the injured Phillip Sami proved to be a poor choice. Unable to play his natural game in the back row, Fifita looked lost and frustrated - much like the rest of his teammates.
Wests Tigers 23 - South Sydney Rabbitohs 22
The Tigers have done it again, winning on the back of a field goal in the dying seconds against the Bunnies on Saturday night.
After four tries each with a minute left of the clock, it was Luke Brooks this time who broke the deadlock, slotting the match winner over for his team's second win of the season.
Brooks and his halves partner Jackson Hastings are proving to be the new dynamic duo of the NRL, quickly forming a partnership that is paying major dividends.
Wests' performance was close to perfect, completing 95 percent of their sets and making only three errors compared to South's 15. The Tigers repeated their successful form from last weekend with a complete 80-minute performance to secure back-to-back wins.
Souths put in a gallant effort after being reduced to 15 players with Hame Sele failing his HIA and Jacob Host injuring his shoulder. They even managed to score two tries while their own Taana Milne was in the sin bin. Captain Cam Murray, along with Cody Walker did their best to keep their side in the fight, but they couldn't match the determined Tiger's outfit that is on a mission to turn their horror start to the season around.
Parramatta Eels 39 - Newcastle Knights 2
Absolutely disgusting. Whatever the Knights did in the lead up to this game, should never be repeated. They were abysmal against an Eels outfit determined to make amends for the shock last weekend to the Tigers.
With one of the worst performances of the season, Newcastle embarrassed themselves in front of their home fans on Sunday, going down six tries to zip with an early penalty goal their only points.
Along with a terrible 67 percent completion rate, their fifth tackle options were poor and goal line defence paper thin. They showed no effort and no heart.
On the flipside Parramatta put in a top performance, taking advantage of playing against a side that forgot the object of the game. The Eels had a field day against a lacklustre defence, with Isaiah Papali'i scoring a double against an opposition that never turned up.
Mitch Moses led his team around the park beautifully and kicked seven goals from eight attempts and a field goal just for fun. Dylan Brown didn't put a foot wrong after his move to the centres with Tom Opacic out of the side due to injury, and Shaun Lane was solid in the back row, scoring a try and setting up another.
The loss was the Knights fifth in a row and has them now sitting second last on the ladder.
Penrith Panthers 36 - Canberra Raiders 6
It's fast becoming a bit of 'same result, different round' when reporting on the Panthers this season. Notching up their seventh successive win of the year, this time downing the Raiders 36-6 at home on Sunday.
Canberra stayed in the match until halftime, only down 14-6 at the break. But Penrith went up a gear, putting on another four tries and keeping the visitors scoreless in the second-half.
Stephen Crichton scored a hat trick for the Panthers including a penalty try, and Nathan Cleary had an impressive day with the boot, kicking six goals from seven attempts. Captain Isaah Yeo had another great match for Penrith, and Taylan May kept his spot near the top of the try scoring leader board, crossing for his eighth try in only five games.
It was never going to end well for the Green Machine, with only 40 percent of the possession and a 70 per cent completion rate. Running for over 1000m less than the Panthers and having to make 130 more tackles only making the day worse for the Raiders, and Ricky Stuart's blood pressure.
St George Illawarra Dragons 14 - Sydney Roosters 12
In the first of the traditional ANZAC Day games, it was the Dragons who took home the two points for the first time since 2018 in the historic match.
The Red V were superb in the first half, and the Tricolours well below average. The Dragons put on a solid defensive performance keeping the Roosters from scoring and crossing for two tries themselves. A successful penalty kick to Zac Lomax just before half time gave the Dragons a comfortable 14-0 lead.
Losing Jack Bird and Jaydn Su'A to injury early in the second half took some sting out of the Dragons, and the Roosters stepped up through James Tedesco and Joey Manu. Tedesco set up their first try for Sitili Tupouniua and Manu crossed himself in the 65th minute, bringing the Roosters into striking distance with the score 14-12.
It was an exciting finish to the game, with the Roosters trying everything they could but it was all too late, and the Dragons held on for the win.
Francis Molo and Josh McGuire put in big performances up the front, but it was Ben Hunt who had a sensational day out. Two try assists and a brilliant kicking game including a 40/20 late in the match that helped secure the win, his performance deservedly earnt him the Spirit of ANZAC medal for the man of the match.
The Roosters were lucky to not be down a man after a swinging arm from Daniel Tupou on Mikaele Ravalawa only cost his team a penalty, much to the anger of the Dragon fans in the crowd. It will be interesting to see what the match review committee make of it.
Melbourne Storm 70 - New Zealand Warriors 10
In the second ANZAC Day clash, the Storm were just too good for the visitors, thrashing the Warriors in front of an ecstatic Melbourne crowd.
It was a solid first half from both sides, with the home side opening the scoring up early through Jerome Hughes in the seventh minute. The Warriors hit back only five minutes later with Dallin Watene-Zelezniak crossing for a four pointer.
With the Storm in front 14-10 at halftime, the Warriors were still in the match. Unfortunately for them the floodgates opened in the second half, and the Storm scored another ten tries. Xavier Coates bagged himself four, while Hughes and Nick Meany each scored a double. Ryan Papenhuyzen was everywhere, scoring two and having his hand in another three.
It was a horror night for the Warriors, securing only 34 percent possession, leading the error and penalty counts, and having to make almost double the number of tackles compared to the Storm. The only shining light was that Melbourne missed six conversion attempts otherwise the score would have cracked 80.
To add to the Warriors disastrous night, Watene-Zelezniak was taken away on a stretcher after a sickening incident which saw him collect the knee of Nelson Asofa-Solomona and knocking him out. It was thankfully later revealed he had regained consciousness and seemed okay despite a horrendous concussion. Josh Curran also left the field early and was later seen on the sidelines in a leg brace.