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Cowboys Creeping Up The NRL Ladder, Teddy’s Origin Audition & Super Su’a

Round 17 of the 2024 NRL season ended up as one for the home teams as just one playing on the road took the two competition points.

The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs got Round 17 of the 2024 NRL season off to a flying start with two tries inside 12 minutes. However, they needed Golden Point to ice the 15-14 win over the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, who have now lost four of their last five games.

Once again, a packed-out Mt Smart Stadium welcomed the New Zealand Warriors home this week. Eager to right the wrongs of their 60-point thrashing by the Titans in Round 16, the Kiwi club made the most of a depleted Brisbane Broncos to claim the 32-16 win. Defence wasn’t a huge factor in the second Saturday game as the Newcastle Knights and Parramatta Eels combined for 87 missed tackles and 60 points. Parramatta had an opportunity to win it late when Junior Paulo crashed over to make it 28-26 with four minutes to play. However, a second Bradman Best intercept and 80-metre dash pushed the final score out to 34-26 in Newcastle.

The Canberra Raiders have a history of turning up to Melbourne and causing an upset. However, they didn’t strut into this one with the same confidence. While Ricky Stuart’s men put up a fight, they gifted the Storm too much possession too often for the home side to spend 60% of the game with the ball. They turned it into an ugly 16-6 win to wrap up Super Saturday.

Opening the NRL season with plenty tipping a wooden spoon, the St George Illawarra Dragons continue to impress. Zac Lomax didn’t back up from Origin on Sunday, but Ben Hunt and Jaydn Su’A, who played a blinder, turned up for the Dragons and led them to a 26-6 win over the Dolphins. Now 8th on the ladder, it’s time to start considering the Dragons as a finals smokey.

As the only Origin player to backup for the North Queensland Cowboys and Penrith Panthers, Isaah Yeo couldn’t bring that Blues winning form to his club side. The Cowboys made it difficult on themselves. A Jack Cole/Brad Schneider halves pairing struggled to manufacture points for the Panthers. Still, the Cowboys took the two competition points back to North Queensland and are slowly climbing the ladder following their 16-6 victory. The results returned to regular programing to finish the round as the Sydney Roosters thrashed the Wests Tigers 40-6. Trent Robinson’s Roosters made it look easy at times while Benji Marshall was made to pay for sticking with a winning team that still could have been improved heading into this one.

Player Spotlight: James Tedesco

James Tedesco isn’t going to make it easy for Michael Maguire.

It’s very unlikely that Madge will make a change to the New South Wales Blues following their dominant win in Game 2. However, Tedesco has put his hand up with another impressive performance for the Roosters.

Just when you think he’s over the hill and coming to the end of his NRL career as a superstar, he produces a performance like he did in Round 17.

1 try
231 running metres
2 linebreaks
1 linebreak assist
1 try assist
11 tackle breaks

An honourable mention should also go to Tedesco’s Roosters teammate, Sam Walker.

The 22-year-old has put a disappointing 2023 NRL season behind him and started to look like the star many tipped him to be early. Too early. With some consistency in the halves and regular first grade football, we’re seeing Walker develop into a top tier halfback before our eyes.

NRL Team of Round 17: North Queensland Cowboys

While the Penrith Panthers played without their State of Origin stars, so too did the North Queensland Cowboys.

Factor in the Cowboys unconvincing form outside Queensland and their last win at BlueBet Stadium coming in 2016, along with the two players sent to the sin bin throughout the match, and their 16-6 victory is one of the most impressive of the weekend.

Panthers needed 88% possession across 10 minutes to finally break the Cowboys to make it 12-6 shortly before halftime. That being the only points Penrith scored is a testament to North Queendland’s defence on the night.

Chad Townsend ordered the troops around the field while Jake Clifford is an excellent backup half option in place of Tom Dearden. Jason Taumalolo doesn’t have the numbers, but every involvement was a good one whether he carried the ball or passed it. Kyle Feldt became only the second player in NRL history to score 10+ tries in nine consecutive seasons, too. The old heads stepped up, and the Cowboys have all of a sudden won four of their last five games to revive their season and sit 7th on the NRL ladder.

With the Sea Eagles and Bulldogs to come – two teams also clogged in the middle of the ladder – either side of a bye, the Cowboys could be entrenched in the Top 8 by the end of Round 20.

Highlight Reel

The Raiders tinkered with their lineup with varying degrees of success. Kaeo Weekes, in particular, didn’t play out his best game on the night. Still, he produced a highlight reel moment that will keep him in consideration for the fullback jersey moving forward.

Numbers Game

Look through the stats, and you’ll struggle to see where the Bulldogs dominated on Friday night. The Sharks won yardage, recorded more linebreaks, broke more tackles and tackled at a better clip. However, their discipline (13 errors and 8 penalties) gave up too much possession.

The Warriors dominated possession on Saturday evening. Their best footy this year has come in the grind, and they kept coming at the Broncos to finish with over 600 more running metres and 55% possession. Bradman Best is the beneficiary of two dropped balls on the Eels right edge, but they don’t draw pictures on the stats pages. Cleaning both up to score, Best finished with two tries and 357 running metres. Despite Ricky Stuart’s pleas in the press conference and cries over officiating, a 6-5 penalty count and 6-4 infringement count aren’t egregious. What is: 17 errors. While Melbourne made the same amount, you need to be a lot better than the Storm to beat them, and the Raiders weren’t in this one.

Take a bow, Jaydn Su’A: 208 running metres, 8 tackle breaks, 1 line break assist and 1 try assist.

His defensive involvements need work, but Daine Laurie always piles up the counting stats. He finished up with 228 running metres and nine tackle breaks in a well-beaten Panthers side on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Roosters made it 22 wins from 24 games against the Tigers thanks to doubles from Dom Young and Daniel Tupou.

 

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