South Sydney made it two wins from two games when it fantastically fought back to beat St George Illawarra 34-18 on Thursday night. They were under the pump in the first half, but showed courage to come back and blow the Dragons completely off the park. Like Melbourne and Parramatta, the Rabbitohs are unbeaten and have started the season on a roll. Pencil in Wayne Bennett’s men as proper premiership contenders come the business end of the season. He has got them firing on all cylinders, especially young tyros Braidon Burns and Cameron Murray, at the moment.
The main man behind the Bunnies’ beautiful display was Sam Burgess. The veteran Englishman scored two tries and set up one for Cody Walker in a sensational solo performance. Burgess has been moved back to the edge under new coach Bennett, from the lock position, and it is proving a masterstroke. He ran for 157 metres, had a new lease of life and was near unstoppable. Spare a thought for the dire Dragons though. Without a win from two rounds and with a mounting injury list, this is a tough time for the Red V.
Clash of the Titans
— NRL (@NRL) March 22, 2019
Everyone in the rugby league world was excited by the anticipation of Friday’s showdown between Brisbane Broncos and North Queensland Cowboys. But, more importantly, it was the duel of Tevita Pangai Jr against Jason Taumalolo. The young bull against the top dog, the two huge forwards of Tongan descent actually turned into a bit of a bust when Taumalolo was forced off early through injury. It didn’t matter to Pangai Jr though as he went on a one-man wrecking ball mission. The 23-year-old grabbed one try, made 115 metres and spent the whole 80 minutes smashing Cowboy after Cowboy in defence whenever he could. The prop made it personal and was brilliant. What a future he has.
Concussion has been a real issue in the past few years after alarming studies involving in NFL players emerged, and more and more former players came out with damaging health problems caused from their involvement in elite contact sport. The NRL has done its best to rise to the challenge, making sure players go off for head tests and introducing its own ‘brain bunker’. But it remains an in-perfect science, as evidence of the case of Isaah Yeo.
He copped a whack to the head in Round 1 against Parramatta, suffered a concussion and was taken off. But he was back in Round 2 against Newcastle, where he suffered an elbow to the head and another concussion. But Yeo did return to the field on Saturday and made a big impact, scoring the try that helped his side beat the Knights. But surely the main priority has to be his health and making sure he doesn’t suffer any lasting effects. It could be time to introduce a mandatory number of weeks players have to sit out on the sidelines after they are concussed consecutively.
— NRL (@NRL) March 24, 2019
The Roosters went into their match against Manly without key men Cooper Cronk and Jake Friend. A worry? Not at all. Luke Keary stepped up to the plate and bossed the opposition. Keary set up four first-half tries with a range of passes, kicks and offloads that displayed the versatility of his all-round game. Moving from five-eighth to halfback and taking the dominant playmaking role was a piece of cake for the former Souths man. It was also a special night for Lachlan Lam, son of Roosters great Adrian, who made his NRL debut off the bench. The 20-year-old didn’t disappoint in his first taste of first grade, setting up one of Boyd Cordner’s tries and making some tough tackles in defence. A fair chip off the old block is Lachlan.
The Titans and Sea Eagles are already firming as wooden spoon favourites after winless starts to 2019. Gold Coast didn’t score a point against Canberra last weekend and could only manage six in its loss to Cronulla. Manly was beaten by Wests in a wet and wild encounter, but was mostly poor at Brookvale against the Roosters. The Sea Eagles went behind 26-0 before even throwing a punch, but they did manage to some respectability late by crossing three times. It might be only March but these two teams, along with Canterbury, remain in the box set for the dreaded spoon this season.