NRL Tackle: Likes, Dislikes for Round 6
NRL Tackle: Likes, Dislikes for Round 6

NRL Tackle: Incomprehensible $5000-per-run flop

Welcome to The Tackle, where our rugby league writers reveal what caught their eye - good and bad - in Round 6 of the NRL.

 

KNIGHTS v BRONCOS

Dally M votes: Daniel Saifiti 3, Bradman Best 2, Herman Ese'ese 1. Judge: Wally Lewis

Like:This time 12 months ago Daniel Saifiti was a massive shock when rushed into the NSW Origin team to cover the injured David Klemmer.

At the time even Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga questioned Brad Fittler's logic given Saifiti's lack of big match experience.

But fast forward and the rampaging Newcastle prop was the absolute standout last Thursday, completely overshadowing all the big name props including Klemmer and highly rated Brisbane bookends Payne Haas and Matt Lodge.

Saifiti ran for a game high 215m and scored a powerful try that again highlighted what a huge talent this bloke is. Consider also, he's only just turned 24, so he should get a lot better.

 

Knights prop Daniel Saifiti was huge against the Broncos. Picture: Grant Trouville/NRL Photos
Knights prop Daniel Saifiti was huge against the Broncos. Picture: Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

 

Dislike: It's hard to pin the blame on what is happening at the Brisbane Broncos on struggling five-eighth Anthony Milford.

In fairness he is playing behind a pack that is being dominated - and across the park inexperience and lack of confidence has gutted this once proud footy club.

But it is still hard to comprehend how a player of Milford's talent and experience can walk off the field after 80 minutes and have just 4 runs for 13m.

Milford is on a $1m salary, equating to just short of $20,000 a week.

So that was basically $5000 a run on Thursday night with nothing to show for it.

Everyone knows Milford is at his best when he runs the football. So if he runs more often he might just run himself back into confidence.

- Paul Crawley

 

RABBITOHS v WARRIORS

Dally M votes: Cody Walker 3, Latrell Mitchell 2, Damien Cook 1. Judge: Jimmy Smith

Like: Yes, there were plenty of stories surrounding Latrell Mitchell in Friday Night Football. Yet one which got little airtime is the fact, undeniably, this new Bunnies No. 1 has found that commodity so many believed he could never own - consistency. More than being outstanding against the Warriors, where he orchestrated two tries, Mitchell now finds himself on a run of strong performances after similar showings against both Gold Coast and, more impressively, Melbourne. During his time in the Roosters backline, the big knock on Mitchell was his drifting in and out of games. Or even weeks. And while six rounds is nowhere near a season, even in these crazy COVID times, the new Bunnies fullback is showing an upward trajectory - both over 80 minutes and in collections of them - which looms as a strong sign for player, team and Bunnies fans.

 

Latrell Mitchell is getting better with each game for the Rabbitohs. Picture: Dan Himbrechts/AAP
Latrell Mitchell is getting better with each game for the Rabbitohs. Picture: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

 

Dislike: How long until the Warriors get to be with their families again? Speaking after the loss on Friday night, Stephen Kearney admitted the lengthening weeks between players and their families had become "a challenge". Given the tremendous sacrifices the Aucklanders continue making for the NRL season, you would hope their wives, partners and children could at least join them in their Terrigal bubble ASAP. Asked how long until they could be going home, Kearney replied: "Absolutely no idea. But we're hopeful they (families) will be allowed out of that very clean bubble in New Zealand and join our bubble which is very clean also in lockdown. Hopefully the Federal Government give us that opportunity, for families to join us in the near future because it's a challenge."

- Nick Walshaw

 

PANTHERS v STORM

Dally M votes: Nathan Cleary 3, Viliame Kikau 2, Cameron Munster 1. Judge: Sam Thaiday

Like: How can you not like big Viliame Kikau? Well not his hair obviously - but kids these days just need to express themselves. No doubt Penrith coach Ivan Cleary is happy for Kikau to express himself however he likes via his peroxided bouffant, so long as the big unit continues to cause havoc on the left edge for the Panthers. Cleary would have also been boosted by how well his fullback, Dylan Edwards, performed in his first game for the season running for 159 metres and barking at the defensive line all night.

 

Penrith's Viliame Kikau was more than a handful for the Storm. Picture: Brett Costello
Penrith's Viliame Kikau was more than a handful for the Storm. Picture: Brett Costello

Dislike: Bad luck, or at least an absence of good fortune, Melbourne fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen has had more than his share this year. In 2019, everything Papenhuyzen touched turned to gold. In 2020, Papenhuyzen can't seem to catch a break - or even make a linebreak. On Friday night the livewire custodian made 21 runs for a team-leading 176 metres and yet despite racking up big stats, he never looked like threatening to bust Penrith open.

- Robert Sutherland

 

TITANS v DRAGONS

Dally M votes: Zac Lomax 3, Matt Dufty 2, Paul Vaughan 1. Judge: Paul Whatuira

Like: NSW Origin coach Brad Fittler would have been excited watching the performance of Dragons prop Paul Vaughan. Vaughan produced one of his best hit-outs of the season, charging for 167m in a strong display to get the Dragons on the front foot. Fullback Matt Dufty was in good touch for the second straight week, with his sharp running and improving passing game giving the Dragons some spark. The only real shining lights for the Titans were props Moeaki Fotuaika and Jaimin Jolliffe along with livewire Tanah Boyd, whose energy got the Titans their only try of the game.

 

Paul Vaughan led the way up front for the Dragons. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP
Paul Vaughan led the way up front for the Dragons. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP

 

Dislike: No one is expecting the Titans to challenge for this year's premiership but they can't seem to get the fundamentals of the game right. Ash Taylor's last-play kicking was horrendous and put the Gold Coast under immense pressure. They suffered injuries to Corey Thompson, Phillip Sami and Young Tonumaipea which put the team under huge stress after they fell behind on the scoreboard. The Titans showed some heart and hung in but their execution of the basics is poor. Coach Justin Holbrook is going to be scraping the bottom of the barrel for players against the Broncos next Saturday.

- Travis Meyn

 

TIGERS v COWBOYS

Dally M votes: Harry Grant 3, Jason Taumalolo 2, Luke Brooks 1. Judge: Nathan Hindmarsh

Like: The development of hooker Harry Grant will have Tigers fans kicking themselves when he leaves. Grant is currently on loan to the Tigers from the Melbourne Storm and the 22-year-old showed why he is so highly regarded with a clinical ruck performance. Grant terrorised the Cowboys, setting up two tries, posting a line break and topping the tackle count with 30 in a complete hooker's display. Grant combined well in midfield with prop Josh Aloiai, who crashed over in the 25th minute from close range and dominated the Cowboys with 139 metres.

 

Harry Grant has hit the ground running for Wests Tigers. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
Harry Grant has hit the ground running for Wests Tigers. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

 

Dislike: North Queensland have massive problems in defence. They have conceded 73 points in the past fortnight and coach Paul Green had every right to spray his troops after they slumped to a 34-0 half-time deficit. The Cowboys have conceded 13 tries on their left edge - the worst in the NRL - and on the right side Esan Marsters is vulnerable. Even in the middle, the Cowboys lack authority in offence and defence and are sorely missing the inspiration of retired warhorse Matt Scott. Jason Taumalolo ran for 235 metres but he can't fly solo every week.

- Peter Badel

 

ROOSTERS v EELS

Dally M votes: Josh Morris 3, Nathan Brown 2, Luke Keary 1. Judge: Scott Sattler

Like: They may be off-contract and near the end of their careers but there is little reason to suggest Josh and Brett Morris' time in the NRL is done. Josh starred while Brett was reliable as ever showing he has lost none of his pace. Josh gave opposite Waqa Blake a bath, running for 162 metres with three line breaks and a try assist while Brett scored the opener.

 

Josh Morris, like his brother Brett, shows no signs of slowing down for the Roosters. Picture: Dan Himbrechts/AAP
Josh Morris, like his brother Brett, shows no signs of slowing down for the Roosters. Picture: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

 

Dislike: There wasn't much to dislike from this game of foot but one area was Parramatta's ball control: The Eels were resilient and should get a lot of confidence how they hung in despite being below their best. But their ball handling at times were horrid. They forfeited the ball multiple times to one on one steals and some of their options at crucial times were lacking. Game management is key when matches are on the line. As coach Brad Arthur said, if they learn from these moments they'll be better for it and come out the other side.

- Michael Carayannis

 

RAIDERS v SEA EAGLES

Dally M votes: Addin Fonua-Blake 3, Curtis Sironen 2, Daly Cherry-Evans 1. Judge: Corey Parker

Like: Manly's courage and guts. This was a famous win. Injured stars Jorge Taufua, Moses Suli and Marty Taupau weren't selected while Manly also lost Brad Parker (concussion), Tom Trbojevic (hamstring) and Dylan Walker (ankle) during the match. That left one player on the bench for the final 28 minutes. As they have so often in the club's 73-year history, Manly responded to adversity with courage and resilience. Canberra wasn't poor, they were probably guilty of trying too hard during the second half. Despite the loss, Raiders coach Ricky Stuart still found time to praise Manly's brave performance.

Dylan Walker was the first of three Manly players to go down injured in the spirited win. Picture: AAP
Dylan Walker was the first of three Manly players to go down injured in the spirited win. Picture: AAP

Dislike: The Campbelltown Stadium turf is starting to show some concerning wear and tear. Players were chopping up the playing surface in what was the third game at the venue this round. All teams are desperate to return to their home grounds in round eight. Canberra's attack looked unsettled and ineffectual at times. Ricky Stuart admitted there was a problem but isn't about to panic. Stuart was upset with the loss but Canberra has still won four from six this year.

- Dean Ritchie

 

 

SHARKS v BULLDOGS

Dally M votes: Shaun Johnson 3, Will Hopoate 2, Aaron Woods 1. Judge: Mark Geyer

Like: Dallin Watene-Zelezniak's Jorge Taufua-type hit on Matt Moylan. No wonder Moylan had to leave the field for a HIA. It's a wonder he didn't need a stretcher.

The hit was among a number of promising signs for the battling Sharks. The finishing touches of Sharks winger Sione Katoa was another. He scored three tries, the second one from a miraculous take of a ball on his bootlaces. It was extraordinary skill in wet conditions. Andrew Fifita is nowhere near peak fitness but got heavily involved from off the bench when he replaced Aaron Woods. He made 145 metres.

Dislike: Canterbury winning a controversial captain's challenge when Watene-Zelezniak lost the footy. Somehow the bunker ruled Blayke Brailey had stripped the footy.

Also, the Bulldogs' lack of class players. They are such a brave side and they try hard but the roster just isn't good enough.

- Phil Rothfield

 

DALLY M LEADERBOARD

Jason Taumalolo 9

Tom Trbojevic 9

Cameron Smith 7

Harry Grant 7

James Tedesco 7

Benji Marshall 6

Cameron Munster6

Clinton Gutherson 6

Jack Wighton 6

Matthew Dufty 6

Mitchell Moses 6

Nathan Cleary 6

Victor Radley 6

Josh Hodgson 5

Kodi Nikorima 5

Shaun Johnson 5

Tohu Harris 5

Addin Fonua-Blake 4

Apisai Koroisau4

Curtis Sironen 4

Daniel Saifiti 4

Elliott Whitehead 4

Josh McGuire 4

Latrell Mitchell 4

Luke Keary 4

Reed Mahoney 4

Bradman Best 3

Cody Walker 3

Dane Gagai 3

David Klemmer 3

David Nofoaluma3

George Williams3

Herman Ese'ese 3

Isaah Yeo 3

James Fisher-Harris 3

Jayden Brailey 3

Jesse Bromwich 3

Jesse Ramien 3

Josh Jackson 3

Josh Morris 3

Josh Papalii 3

Liam Knight 3

Matt Burton 3

Mitchell Pearce3

Moeaki Fotuaika3

Payne Haas 3

Ryan Matterson 3

Thomas Flegler 3

Tim Glasby 3

Tui Kamikamica 3

Will Hopoate 3

Zac Lomax 3

Aaron Woods 2

Addin Fonua-Blake 2

Angus Crichton 2

Brodie Croft 2

Cameron McInnes2

Dale Finucane 2

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak2

Daly Cherry-Evans 2

Josh Mansour 2

Josh Reynolds 2

Junior Paulo 2

Justin Yeo 2

Michael Jennings 2

Mitchell Barnett 2

Patrick Carrigan 2

Paul Vaughan 2

Scott Sorensen 2

Valentine Holmes 2

Viliame Kikau 2

Waqa Blake 2

William Hopoate2

Aiden Tolman 1

Ben Hunt 1

Blake Green 1

Brett Morris 1

Bryce Cartwright 1

Cameron Murray 1

Coen Hess 1

Damien Cook 1

Eliesa Katoa 1

Jahrome Hughes 1

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves1

Jarrod Croker 1

Luke Brooks 1

Maika Sivo 1

Reece Robson 1

Ryan Papenhuyzen 1

Tex Hoy1

Wade Graham 1

Xavier Coates 1

Originally published as NRL Tackle: Incomprehensible $5000-per-run flop


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