The Cumberland Throw

Around The NRL – Round 2

QUICK HITS AND TALKING POINTS FROM ROUND 2 OF THE NRL

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34

Sam Burgess will likely be banned from kicking the ball even before they do the video review of this game but he was otherworldly in pretty much every other facet of the game as the Rabbitohs ran out 34-18 victors over the Dragons.

St George were the better team in the first half and they finished the opening stanza up 12-6 with Jordan Pereira bagging an early brace of tries, including one via a gorgeous Harbour Bridge cut-out pass from Corey Norman. That was just about it for positive things to say about the Dragons though as the second half belonged to the Rabbitohs.

South Sydney are wearing the preseason mantle of title-contender quite comfortably after two rounds in the NRL and look to be one of the teams to beat.

 

10

22

Someone needed to tell the Raiders you never order the Vindaloo curry when it has 3 chililes next to it on the menu. They simply could not handle the heat as Melbourne flier Suliasi Vunivalu dropped a flaming first-half hat-trick on the home team.

Canberra were their own worst enemy in the first half as errors and mental lapses afforded the Storm bountiful gifts of possession and field position – one of the biggest cardinal sins in the NRL. They rallied somewhat in the second half to post two quick tries but once again let errors creep into their game to allow Melbourne to close out the win.

With the 12-point win the Storm become one of just four teams to remain undefeated after two rounds and unfortunately still look to be one of the top contenders for the title.

 

29

10

Two monstrous forwards entered the coliseum on Friday night but only Tevita Pangai Junior emerged intact from the QLD derby as Jason Taumalolo succumbed to a Grade 3 MCL sprain (6-10 weeks). Pangai Jnr was immense for the home team but it was a great night out for all of Brisbane’s young and talented pack as Joe Ofahangaue and Thomas Flegler also caused plenty of carnage.

The win gets Brisbane on the board for 2019 but there never really any doubting the talent in their forward pack – it is all about how consistent their young bulls can be week-to-week. The rest of the ream fed off that energy on Friday night however with even much maligned centre Jack Bird hitting top form.

North Queensland’s will be tested in the coming months without their talismanic forward – especially as the injury to Taumalolo threatens to overlap with Origin.

 

20

6

Paul Gallen is safe from the unwanted ‘honour’ of the losingest player in NRL history for another week after Cronulla saw off the Titans on Saturday in a pretty dour affair. A Sione Katoa double helped the home team to their first win of the season but alarm bells will surely ringing on the Gold Coast after posting a grand total of 6-points over the first two rounds.

It was a game largely devoid of talking points beyond the massive individual game from Jai Arrow, who starred in defeat for the Titans. Arrow will need a whole lot more from his team-mates if the Gold Coast are to anything of a factor in 2019.

 

14

16

The Kalyn Ponga experiment isn’t quite producing as intended in its early days – although as we saw with Darren Lockyer, it can take quite some time to successfully transition from fullback to five-eighth.

It was another half that stole the show, surprisingly on defence, as James Maloney took names and saved tries by putting his body on the line. He definitely rides the whistle between what is legal and what isn’t at times but it was to Penrith’s advantage on Saturday.

The Panthers barely prevailed in a pretty ordinary game as the hype and shine quickly wears off on both clubs that have been media darlings in recent times. Controversy did find its way into this game though as Isaah Yeo had a head injury assessment for the second in a row. Yeo returned to the game this time around and later defended his clearance from any sort of concussion but it could be a plot line worth following next week.

 

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26

One of the round’s most fascinating games was played in torrential conditions out at Brookvale Oval. The Roosters were unbackable favourites, even without the services of Cooper Cronk, and certainly started proceedings out that way as Luke Keary marshaled the visitors to a commanding 22-0 lead early on.

The Sea Eagles then roared back to life with quick-hitters in the 58th and 59th closing the gap. They ultimately fell short but it was a telling reminder that the reigning premiers are indeed mortal.

Among the Bulldogs, Titans and Sea-Eagles it certainly feels like Manly are a half-step ahead of their fellow cellar-dwellars, especially considering they will soon welcome back Tom Trbrojevic from the injury ward. They still look to be lacking across the park but they have the offensive firepower to jag the odd win that the Bulldogs and Titans lack.

 

16

36

March premiers be damned, the Eels are still on schedule to go 24-0 in the regular season. Absolutely no hyperbole here good sir. None what so ever.

 

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6

The only person that has started the season better than new coach Michael Maguire is his dummy-half Robbie Farah. Farah has wound back the clock over the first two rounds of 2019 and starred in the Tigers’ wins over both the Sea-Eagles and the Warriors.

Admittedly, the Warriors were pretty ordinary on Sunday – failing to back up from their emotionally charged win in Round 1. Like the Eels however, Wests can only play what is in front of them and to their credit they have put away two teams they should have.

New Zealand will have to get on top of ill-discipline issue immediately with the likes of Adam Blair and Sam Lisone crippling their team with poorly timed and poorly thought out penalties. Rookie sensation Adam Keighran came back to Earth this week but remains one of the more exciting prospects in 2019 so keep an eye on him.

 

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John Eel

Warriors really struggle away from home