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Bunker Review – Round 19

Round 19 of the NRL premiership featured just five matches but no shortage of absolute barnburners and crucial results that had a major impact on the ladder as the tumultuous Origin period draws to a close. 

Eels, Rabbitohs and Titans hit double-zero in Origin roulette

The lucky dip of State of Origin selection and when teams get their byes was perfectly exemplified in Round 19.

Cronulla, with a grand total of zero players on Origin duty (though they did field two players discarded by the Blues in the past three Origins), eventually overwhelmed battling Wests Tigers 36-12 after being held to 12-all at halftime.

Likewise, Canberra further cemented their Top 8 position by muddling their way to a 36-26 defeat over cellar dwellers St George Illawarra – taking the foot off the gas after leading 18-0 and 30-10 before wrapping it up late. The Raiders only have one Origin rep, with Corey Horsburgh getting a debut for the Maroons but Hudson Young falling victim to the Blues’ selection axe, while Jack Wighton’s rep retirement has helped them navigate this midyear minefield.

At the other end of the spectrum, Parramatta – stripped of NSW trio Mitch Moses, Clint Gutherson and Reagan Campbell-Gillard – were no match for a Warriors outfit that hasn’t had an Origin rep for six years, crashing to a 46-10 loss at home as a five-match winning streak came to an end.

South Sydney had Cody Walker and Keaon Koloamatangi added to the Blues’ mix for game three alongside clubmates Damien Cook and Cameron Murray. Consequently, the Rabbitohs – who also have rep stars Latrell Mitchell, Campbell Graham and Jai Arrow on the injured list – went down 36-32 to a Canterbury side that lost 66-0 a week earlier and only had NSW winger Josh Addo-Carr unavailable.

Meanwhile, Gold Coast are contributing forward trumps David Fifita, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Moeaki Fotuaika to the Queensland cause again, alongside game three fullback replacement AJ Brimson. The Titans lost a vital golden point classic to the Dolphins, whose only Origin absentee was centre Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow.

Whether a dedicated window for State of Origin where the NRL takes a break ever eventuates is probably at the behest of the broadcasters, but the inherent inequity of the current system continues to be something of an embarrassment.

Dolphins stay alive in golden thriller

While it was undeniably aided by a heavily depleted Gold Coast pack, the Dolphins’ nerve-shredding 23-21 victory in golden point has kept their finals flame flickering.

A fifth straight defeat would have just about been curtains for the NRL newcomers’ Top 8 hopes. Instead, they joined the unlucky Titans and the Roosters on 20 points in a share of 11th – just one win shy of seventh. Unlike the Titans, Roosters and 10th-placed Sea Eagles, who are on 21 points, the Dolphins still have a bye in hand.

The Dolphins fought back from a 14-6 halftime deficit and belatedly clinched the result via a penalty goal in extra-time after the Titans had levelled up from 24-20 and 21-20 down in a frantic final 15 minutes.

The defensive improvement from Wayne Bennett’s side was a notable feature. The Dolphins have copped some absolute pastings of late but conceded just three tries – only the third time in their last 14 games they have leaked less than four.

The Dolphins are $8 to make the Top, as are the Sea Eagles, while the Roosters ($8.50) and Titans ($15) are the next-placed teams in that market.

Statement game of NRL Round 19

Canterbury will be under no illusions about the weakened status of their opposition, but their exhilarating 36-32 defeat of heavyweights South Sydney could prove a much-needed turning point in the Cameron Ciraldo-led rebuild.

It was nervier than it needed to be in the finish after watching 18-6, 28-12 and 36-22 leads whittled away by a spirited Rabbitohs outfit, but the end of a four-match losing streak and just their third win in 12 games would have been mighty satisfying for the Bulldogs just six days after their horrific capitulation to Newcastle.

The midweek arrival of Titans halfback Toby Sexton was a catalyst for the turnaround, while rookie winger Blake Wilson bagged a hat-trick in just his fourth top-grade game and centre Ethan Quai-Ward crossed on NRL debut. But Ciraldo’s selections also paid dividends: Jake Averillo was retrenched to fullback at Hayze Perham’s expense and ran for over 200 metres.

The Bulldogs’ already modest middle-forward rotation also had to battle on after the ninth-minute loss of Ryan Sutton to injury.

The result moved the Bulldogs four points clear of the bottom two, ensuring they should avoid a second wooden spoon in three years. The Bulldogs are now $26 in the least wins market as the Tigers ($1.60) and Dragons ($2.20) battle it out to offload the ignominy of a last-place finish.

Warriors make a move

The NRL premiership market stayed very stable overall after the truncated Round 19, but the Warriors’ emphatic 46-10 victory over depleted Parramatta did create a swing. As well as leapfrogging the Eels on the NRL ladder, the Warriors came in to a season-low $18 to the seventh line of title betting while the blue-and-golds dropped a few spots to eighth after drifting from $12 to $19.


Penrith Panthers$2.45$2.60
Brisbane Broncos$5.00$5.00
South Sydney Rabbitohs$6.00$5.50
Melbourne Storm$7.50$7.50
Cronulla Sharks$13$12
North Queensland Cowboys$16$13
New Zealand Warriors$18$26
Parramatta Eels$19$12
Canberra Raiders$34$41
Sydney Roosters$101$81
Manly Sea Eagles$201$151
The Dolphins$201$176
Gold Coast Titans$251$176
Newcastle Knights$301$251
St George Illawarra Dragons$501$501
Wests Tigers$501$501
Canterbury Bulldogs$601$601


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