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Roosters Run Riot, Wests Win & Ponga Putting One On A Plate

The 2024 NRL season is proving to be a tipsters nightmare as Round 3 was defined by surprised results and some big scores.

Round 3 In Review

The Brisbane Broncos were without two of their best and most infuencial players in Round 3, but the Penrith Panthers have left no doubt – all without James Fisher-Harris – that they’re a forced to be reckoned with once again with their 34-12 win.

The New Zealand Warriors hosted the Canberra Raiders in Christchurch as the two teams put on a show for the footy-starved locals. While not the highest quality affair, a close game is typically a good game and neither team gave an inch throughout the 80 minutes. A special moment from Roger Tuivasa-Sheck ended up as the difference as the Warriors picked up their first two competition points of the 2024 NRL season. The second Friday Night Footy feature wasn’t quite so close…

It’s not often the Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbirohs play out a blowout, but the Roosters were that good in the 48-6 win.

Things went from bad to worse for the Gold Coast Titans. First thrashed by the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 32-0, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui’s season is reportedely over due to an ACL injury. The St George-Illawarra Dragons appeared to have bounced back from their ugly performance in Round 2 to be only 22-18 behind the North Queensland Cowboys at the break. However, four unanswered tries after halftime blew the score out to 46-24 by the fulltime siren. It wasn’t a Super Saturday for those who enjoy a close contest, but few wouldn’t have enjoyed the Wests Tigers’ 32-6 win over the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks. They dominated from start to finish as Benji Marshall picked up his first win as a head coach.

Close games returned for Sunday, though. The Parramatta Eels and Manly Warringah Sea Eagles played out a banger. With the Sea Eagles getting off to a flier, the Eels responded as the two teams went toe-to-toe in the second half. Parramatta’s offloads and constant pressure through the middle proved to much in the end as they secured a 28-24 win. Later, the Newcastle Knights continued their decent run of form against the Melbourne Storm to eek out a hard-fought 14-12 victory.

Player Spotlight: James Tedesco

The Sydney Roosters made 20 errors against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in Round 2 to be arguably the worst-performing team of the week.

In Round 3, however, the Chooks flipped the script to dominate their rivals South Sydney Rabbitohs and right their wrongs from a week earlier.

Everything seemed to click for the Roosters in this one. They struck the right balance between dominating the middle and getting into the arm wrestle, and playing the high-risk and high-reward footy they’ve been so succesful with in recent years.

James Tedesco ended up as the major invididvual beneficiary. The mindnumbing conversations around his place in the New South Wales Blues side will be quiet for another week. The 31-year-old finished up with two tries, a try assist, two line break assists seven tackle breaks and 170 running metres in a masterclass performance.

NRL Team of Round 3: Wests Tigers

It’s not always the ‘best’ performing that is named Team of the Round. In this case, it’s the Wests Tigers who picked up a surprise result over a premiership contender.

“If there is ever a time to preface an NRL take with “it’s only Round 1”, the Red V’s win over the Titans is it.” Round 1 Review

That has proven to be painfully true for the Dragons two weeks later. We’re taking the same cautious approach here, too. Still, the Wests Tigers have to be the team of the round with what the produced on Saturday night.

Those not able to watch will have refreshed the score assuming there was a problem as the Tigers kept piling on the points.

Plenty will have predicted a 32-6 scoreline as the Tigers prepared to host the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks and Leichhardt Oval. Few predicted that the home side would be the one on top.

The Tigers walked off the field at halftime to a standing ovation. Unlike years past, they managed to build on their 18-6 lead to thump the Sharks and give Benji Marshall his first win as a head coach.

Running for 1,805 metres laid the platform. Api Koroisau, despite being under the weather, used that platform to dominate from dummy half with his deception and guile causing havoc around the ruck. In the halves, Lachlan Galvin and Aidan Sezer struck up the sort of partnership most anticipated in Round 1.

This version of the Tigers is exciting. Unlike previous seasons, these scoring actions are repeatable. They’ll need to do it a few more times before the masses signal a true change in fortunes, though.

Shoutout to the Bulldogs who, most other weeks, would have claimed this spot.

The Highlight Reel

There are a lot of candidates this week, but Kalyn Ponga putting it on a plate for Enari Tuala takes the cake.

The vision + execution = a lovely try.

The Numbers Game

The Penrith Panthers may have lost the first game of the NRL season, but their performance against the Brisbane Broncos is why they’re still the benchmark.

53% possession
87% completion
1,982 running metres

It’s the same almost every week, and against a depleted Broncos side, they made it look easy in the end.

The New Zealand Warriors got the monkey off their back with a win, but it was arguably their worst performance of the three so far this season. While the 13 errors will frustrate them, there is also a reason for optimisim with how they were able to claw their way to victory when things weren’t always clicking. Scoring only 10 points with 53% and 31 minutes in possession is a concern for the Canberra Raiders. In contrast, the South Sydney Rabbitohs are scrambling after giving up 48 points to a ruthless Sydney Roosters outfit. Pick any statistic you want, the Roosters dominated it.

While scoring 32 points is a reason to get excitied about a new-look Bulldogs attack, it’s the big 0 on the scoreboard that is most appealing as they kept the Titans scoreless. Finishing with 57 missed or ineffective tackles made things too difficult for the Titans in the end.

Valentime Holmes perhaps should have been under the spotlight further up: 18 points, 247 running metres, 2 line breaks, 1 try assist, 7 tackle breaks.

Encourgingly for the Tigers, they made the same number of linebreaks as the Sharks on Saturday – 4. The difference was in how each side executed on the back of them.

Offloads have always been a feature of the Eels when playing well. After not throwing any in the first quarter of the game as the Sea Eagles ran up a lead, Parramatta finished with 16 for the match. When they’re offloading the footy through the middle, space opens up on the edges. More on offloads: Having led the NRL with over 16 per game across the first two weeks, the Storm threw only six on Sunday evening.

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