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Dragons closing in on Top 8, Wishart impresses & Fullers finish

Injuries continue to decimate the NRL but Round 10 still managed to entertain as the competition proves difficult to tip.

Blowing leads is becoming a concerning trend for the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, who once led the Dolphins 16-4 before losing 24-30 at Suncorp. While a disappointing crowd for the home side, those in attendance did make the trip back to Redcliffe happy after Jack Bostok put the Dolphins in front with 13 minutes to play.

The Penrith Panthers were made to work against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs but never really looked in trouble. Their 16-10 win seemed inevitable despite Nathan Cleary leaving the field shortly before halftime. Unfortunately for the Parramatta Eels, that sense of inevitability around defeat surfaced long before kickoff. They’re without big names and out of form as it is and couldn’t keep up with the Brisbane Broncos after the opening 20 minutes as the visitors cruised to a 30-14 win.

Streaks continued to start Super Saturday as the Newcastle Knights made it three in a row with their 20-14 win over the Wests Tigers, who have now lost five on the bounce. We never saw the new coach bounce out of the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Decimated by injuries and in the sort of form that saw Jason Demetriou sacked two weeks ago, they struggled to stay with the St George Illawarra Dragons, who went on to claim the 28-14 victory. Both the Melbourne Storm and Cronulla Sutherland Sharks kicked off without their halfbacks. Still, the 25-18 win is another signal that this Sharks team is the real deal in 2024.

The Sydney Roosters kept up their strong run of form to blow the New Zealand Warriors away early. While the Kiwi club fought hard in the 38-18 defeat, conceding four tries in the opening 12 minutes ended any hopes of an upset. In contrast, the Gold Coast Titans did their best to blow it. Ahead of the North Queensland Cowboys 20-0 at halftime, the Titans conceded two tries in the last five minutes to take years off the lives of the home fans in the stands.

NRL Team of Round 10: St George Illawarra Dragons

Currently 11th on the NRL ladder and only one competition point outside the Top 8, the St George Illawarra Dragons continue to impress.

They were widely written off to start the season. Plenty had them in the wooden spoon conversation. However, Shane Flanagan’s side, while somewhat inconsistent, are a threat every week. They’ve defended well and don’t concede easily. That hasn’t always been the case for the Dragons in recent years. In attack, the Dragons can score from anywhere on the field with Ben Hunt, Zac Lomax and Tyrell Sloan orchestrating their most dangerous point-scoring actions.

While the Rabbitohs are down on troops and confidence, the Dragons couldn’t be complacent. Any team can win on their day in the NRL and the Dragons made sure to start well to take the chocolates with a 28-14 win.

It remains to be seen whether or not the Dragons have enough improvement in them this season to feature in the finals. This was always circled as a rebuilding season as Flanagan’s first in charge. However, they’re ahead of schedule and could yet propel themselves into the Top 8.

Handed the bye for Magic Round, the Dragons have the Bulldogs, Nathan Cleary-less Panthers and Tigers to come in a favourable portion of the draw.

Player Spotlight: Tyran Wishart

He’s played all over the place throughout the 2024 NRL season.

This week, Tyran Wishart stepped in for Jahrome Hughes and didn’t miss a beat in the halfback position.

He did his best to emulate Hughes and his running game for 125 metres on the night. Dangerous every time he touched the ball, Wishart broke seven tackles and caused the defensive line nightmares with his ability to evade would-be tacklers and generate ruck speed for the Storm forwards to play off.

Since arriving in Melbourne, the 24-year-old has excelled as a utility player. He’s an important part of the Storm squad and proved exactly why on Saturday night.

Highlight Reel

Wayne Bennett might have a tough decision to make when Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow returns from injury.

Trai Fuller has been excellent in his place. He certainly doesn’t deserve to be dropped. The Dolphins have been able to keep their heads above water with their captain and fullback on the sideline, in large part due to the seamless transition Fuller has made into the #1 jersey.

The 27-year-old scored another beauty on Thursday night, too.

Numbers Game

Thursday night couldn’t have been much more even between the Dolphins and Sea Eagles: 50/50 possession, four line breaks each, and both averaged 36 metres per set with just 0.02 seconds difference between play-the-ball speeds.

Round 10 is one that got away from the Bulldogs. It’s not often you earn six linebreaks against the Panthers to their three. However, they couldn’t ice enough of them to apply scoreboard pressure. Blaize Talagi is in the middle of contract negotiations at the moment and added a few numbers to his demands this week. The young fullback stepped into the big shoes left by an injured Clint Gutherson to run for 214 metres, score a try and register three linebreaks.

It’s not been a pretty period of football, but the Knights are ripping in and winning tough. Their 1,841 running metres to the Tigers’ 1,529 ended up as a defining difference between the two teams this week. By conceding another 38 points, the Rabbitohs became only the fourth team to concede 320 points or more through the first nine games of a season.

Siosifa Talakai started the NRL season in the centres but has since moved into a bench role. This week, he managed to find 170 running metres and a try in only 32 minutes of action.

Dom Young has been relatively quiet to start his Roosters career. He will feature in every Round 10 highlight reel package, though. With 254 running metres, nine tackle breaks, two offloads and a try, Young looks back to his best on the end of an improving Roosters attack. The Titans defence is improving, too. They missed only 22 tackles to the Cowboys’ 44 on Sunday evening in a game that ended up closer than it should have on the Gold Coast.

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