Jeremiah Nanai will act as the best Dally M rookie of the year, except for one thing – he is not qualified.
Boom Cowboys back-rowers debuted in Round 22 last year and played a few games without making much of an impression.
But if there is a prize for a newcomer to make the biggest impression in 2022, Nanai should jump in.
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The Cowboys’ impressive 36-6 win over the 19-year-old Storm scored another goal in another attempt, making the Melbourne defense terrified at his run-out.
Of course, the storm was without some big names – but don’t forget that the Cowboys lost their top two, Jason Toumlolo and Kyle Feld, in the first half.
Critics are waiting for the Cowboys to fall – there are no signs of stumbling after 11 rounds and Todd Petten’s men are well and truly tied for the final.
Penrith stretches incredible streak
Is there a more relentless, ruthless team than the Penrith Panthers in the modern era of the league?
The Panthers simply suffocate life from the opposing team, wait for weakness, and then push.
Incredibly, Saturday night’s 32-12 win against the Rosters was the 45th time in a row that the Panthers led at half-time and advanced to victory.
Tin roster ace laying thapping hit on Kikau
The trend is that once the Panthers get to the top, they just don’t let go.
Critics of the Panthers claim that they like to be stingy and showboat – but statistics show that they are one of the best football teams of all time.
Ricky’s rider’s turn
The race for this final is so close that if you can win three games in a row, you are halfway through September football.
Canberra is a living proof of that – after a terrible start to the year, they won a game hat-trick and now find themselves in eighth place.
Not long ago, the Raiders were second in the ladder.
The assailant blitzes through the young gun bunnies
The Raiders have regained their mojo after Ricky Stewart challenged his men to pick up when Jack Whitton was suspended for two games three weeks ago.
Players responded, he won the two games he missed and then blocked the Souths in Dubbo yesterday for a good measure.
The Raiders probably played their best football in 12 months to settle a lazy Southern team, leading 20-0 at halftime and then continuing to work after the break.
Dubbo Hudu in the south
It’s nice to see NRL clubs taking the game to the bush, and the South has got a healthy crowd and a lot of goodwill by shifting yesterday’s clash with the riders to Dubbo.
But the downside to home game sacrifice is that it can bite you – and that’s what happened to the two-year-olds.
They lost both of their road trips to Dubbo – and what’s more, with a total score of 88 to 24.
The rabbits looked lost, headless and lazy against the back-to-form raiders and it could be a long trip home last night.
Dragon finds the new No.1
Dragon coach Anthony Griffin’s biggest headache has been solved in Saturday’s hard-fought 24-18 win over Cody Ramsay Warriors.
The original fullback position was a concern for the Dragons throughout the opening round, with Ramsay, the third player used there after Moses Mbay and Tyrell Sloan.
But in the dynamic 80 minutes against the Warriors, Ramsey secured the number one spot with a great performance.
Ramsey’s break leads to Lomax’s attempt
Rams tried one, set up another and ran 206 meters for better measurement.
If he hadn’t played, the Warriors have a good chance of winning, he had an impact in this game.
This win will keep the Dragons running in the finals, but they still have work to do to match the NRL’s big guns.
Hastings stood up
There was a lot of jokes at the start of the season when the West Tigers announced in 2022 that they would have five captains.
But the irony is that the party has a real leader – and he is not one of the five leaders.
Jackson Hastings led the Tigers to a 36-22 victory over the Bulldogs on Friday night and was the team’s on-field general in the game he played.
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Hastings guided the team around the field, tried a few times and there was a difference between the two teams.
Also worth mentioning is former Australian schoolboy Jock Madden, who initially belonged to Luke Brooks.
Madden proved a fine foil for Hastings and put his own stamp into the game by trying a clever chip-and-chase.
Unleashed for sea eagle pair
Manly was the good side for most of Friday night’s thriller against the Eagles, and only Tommy Turbo’s injury, some dubious performance and Shaun Kepi’s sinful format towards the end of the game was spent on their win.
And the two men who have endured some heat in recent weeks have been key figures in a daring manly performance.
Turbo suffered a serious shoulder injury
Center Morgan Harper – even after a horror game against Cronulla a few weeks ago at the Doghouse with some fans – scored in one attempt and slept in another in a great show.
And Hooker Lachlan Crocker, whom I mentioned was very bad the previous weekend against the Broncos, outperformed himself with a fine display, running the ball well and making a real entry into the Ellis defense.
Gutherson blue again?
In her 150th NRL game against Manley on Friday night, Clint Gutherson raised his hand to return to the NSW State Origin team.
Tom Trobozevic has been out for years, with Latreel Mitchell and Ryan Papenhuizen in the United States worried about injuries, while Brad Fitler is fighting for an outside back.
Penicini scores and then Moses slots from the sideline
Gutherson is a big match player and a smooth performer – and let’s not forget that he played the entire 2020 State of Origin series – but out of position at the centers.
Cool Heads won the Origin match and is a big fan of Fitler Gutto’s football smart and enthusiastic and he is back in the frame for a center spot again.
Broncos on the way back
All goes into the game cycle and no one will tell you more than the Brisbane Broncos fans.
One of the NRL’s elite teams for so long, the Broncos have had nightmares over the last few seasons.
So you have to appreciate the way the Broncos have turned it around in 2022 – a big 36-12 win over Newcastle has brought them five wins in a row – an achievement they haven’t been able to achieve since 2017.
Knights burnt in bizarre bunker calls
The inclusion of three classes of players in Adam Reynolds, Kurt Capwell and Te Maire Martin has changed the Broncos.
The young players that coach Kevin Walters stuck through some tough times last season are doing well now.
Even with the exception of Reynolds, the Broncos have always been in command against the Knights off the form and have played some brilliant offensive football.
Newcastle’s push – again
The Knights were frustrated by a few decisions against the Broncos, but they also had to look at themselves better, harder.
The team again had 47 miss tackles – including 11 halves by Adam Clooney and Anthony Milford – and 22 errors to record the eighth rate in nine games.
This kind of statistic kills the Knights’ hopes and their losing race will continue until they get their heads back to the right.
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