Every week the NRL gives us plenty of things to talk about, but much like the finals let’s focus on the Top 8.
1. On Thursday night the Broncos and Dragons opened the NRL season with a great game of Thursday night football. The Broncos looked incredibly shaky and definitely proved that they need to find a real halfback who can run the game for them. Without the management in the middle, the game managed to get away from them. But, speaking of halfbacks to run the game for the Broncos; when you’re playing against your former halfback, it might be a decent idea to change up your play calls. In the final minute of the first half, Ben Hunt managed to spot a Broncos play-call from 15 metres away, shot out of his own line and grabbed the intercept to pick up an easy try.
2. The first game of Friday night saw the new look Knights team facing the Sea Eagles. The Knights have made a lot of changes coming into this season, grabbing a lot of young players but also picking up some more experienced players like the spurned ex-Rooster Mitchell Pearce. And these new players are already making their mark on the Newcastle team. They took the Sea Eagles to double golden point and managed to grab a great win on a Pearce field goal with less than two minutes to go.
3. Let’s look to the Cronulla Sharks now. Everyone is talking about the Josh Dugan ‘Fortnite: bandaged up’ try celebration, which is ironic because Josh Dugan gets injured about once a fortnight. But what everyone should be talking about is the Sharks back three having their catching ability Space Jam’d away from them. Between dropping Thurston’s in-game bombs to letting kick-offs roll out-of-bounds, there’s gonna be some aliens somewhere looking a lot like ‘World Cup Valentine Holmes’.
4. It’s rare to get a truly clutch individual moment or opportunity in the NRL. If you ask a guy like Nick Anderson (Google ‘1995 Nick Anderson’ and watch a man fall apart) he might say that NRL players aren’t missing much. But, after this weekend Tui Lolohea probably feels pretty good about them. Lolohea, who was almost dropped before the season, managed to put away a sideline conversion at the very end to sneak away with the two-point win and getting Cooper Cronk to question his big move.
5. Speaking of solo excursions in the NRL; Josh Addo-Carr is a disgustingly quick fella. After stripping Moses Mbye after a solid hit, Addo-Carr hit the afterburners and showed us why he’s considered the quickest in the NRL. You can see the time it takes the other players to figure out what’s going on, and by the time they’ve managed to do that, JAC is already in the clear.
6. There’s no real way to preface this next point, so here it is.You’d think that Woodsy would have figured it out by now. But, like the TV series Lost, it might take a few more seasons than we’re all comfortable with for him to finally put it all together.
7. In another egregious display of over-confidence, Canberra’s Jarrod Croker decided to jump in front of a moving freight train that the Titans have managed to squeeze into a jersey. The Titans managed to grab a great win over a good Raiders team to start the season, and after moving on from the Hayne Plane, the Titans will have their sights set on the real Top 8 this year.
8. The Panthers made a good impression in the first week. Last season the Panthers were the kings of having a great first half and then letting it all slip away, this weekend they did the opposite. The Panthers managed to get the 24-14 victory after a run of 24 unanswered, which was sparked by a Mitchell Moses sin-binning that gave them an easy penalty kick and let Waqa Blake continue the pain with a try while Moses was watching from the sideline. This was probably not the return that Jarryd Hayne envisioned, and that is simply because no one is talking about him.