Sport Rugby League Set of Six: What we learned from Round 6 of the NRL

Set of Six: What we learned from Round 6 of the NRL

Newcastle's Edrick Lee attempts to break free the defence of Gold Coast Titans' Bryce Cartwright on Sunday. Photo: Getty
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Farewell GI

Rabbitohs captain Greg Inglis announces his retirement from rugby league at Redfern Oval on April 15.

Last Monday we said goodbye to one of the finest players of his generation, South Sydney centre Greg Inglis.

The 32-year-old has been forced into early retirement because of a debilitating shoulder problem.

For 15 years Inglis has thrilled and delighted, first with Melbourne, Queensland and Australia, and then with Souths. What an entertainer he has been.

The kid from Kempsey, an athletic freak at 105 kilograms, 195 centimetres and with the ability to run like the wind and swat opponents away with ease, has done it all – three-time grand final winner, State of Origin hero, World Cup winner and Golden Boot awardee as well.

Perhaps his greatest honour was helping to end the Bunnies 43-year premiership drought in 2014. Inglis was not only a sensation man on the field, but an Indigenous icon off it.

It is sad to see his body fail him and end his amazing career like this. But the centre can walk away content with the outstanding amount of things he has been able to achieve. Thanks for the memories Greg.

Comeback kings

Penrith looked home and hosed when it racked up a 14-0 lead at half-time. But with Sharks No.1 supporter Prime Minister Scott Morrison watching on, Cronulla put on a show to steal a 24-20 victory. It was a gutsy comeback from the Sharks who refused to throw in the towel. Young gun Bronson Xerri displayed how he has such a bright future by scoring the best try of the game, outpacing the Panthers in a 65-metre run for the ages. Only 18, and the first try of his NRL career, Xerri certainly made it memorable. For Penrith, its annus horribilis continues. The Panthers have only won two of their first six games and coach Ivan Cleary will be left scratching his head how the hell they managed to lose this one.

Dejected Panthers players attempt to recover after conceding a try. Photo: Getty

Top dogs

There’s no doubt the Roosters and Melbourne are the two best teams in the NRL this year, as Friday night clearly demonstrated.

The 2018 grand finalists played out a ding-dong battle for the ages at AAMI Park.

The Chooks raced to a 20-0 lead and look comfortable winners. But you can never write off Storm and it fantastically fought back to tie it up at 20-20.

The match went to golden point and up stepped Latrell Mitchell with a towering field goal he landed from 40 metres out.

There was no shortage of ill feeling between the two sides, no desperation or desire lacking in this one. This was two heavily talented and brilliantly coached outfits giving it absolutely everything, and boy wasn’t it great to watch?

NFL or bust

The NRL is watching closely to see how former Cronulla winger Valentine Holmes fares in the NFL.

Holmes has landed a practice squad berth with the New York Jets as he seeks to follow the Jarryd Hayne path and go from rugby league star to NFL breakthrough.

Many had tipped Holmes to return to the NRL and sign with the North Queensland Cowboys after failing to win a regular contract in the American competition.

But Holmes has said he has no plans to come back to the NRL.

“I am committed to making the NFL and I believe I can,” he told The Courier-Mail.

“The critics say I can’t make it, but I won’t leave any stone unturned in my pursuit to make the Jets’ 53-man roster. I turned up to the Cronulla Sharks as a rookie when no one knew who I was and I worked hard and it turned out OK.

“This is a totally different sport, but I am prepared to bide my time and learn.”

Flying Fijians

Fiji is proving to be a growing hotspot of NRL talent.

A few decades ago Fijian players in the competition used to be unique and stand out like hen’s teeth – not any more.

Now it seems like nearly every NRL club has a diamond of their own from the Pacific island, and it’s not hard to see why as they bring an X-factor.

Parramatta had the blockbusting Semi Radradra, now the Eels have Maika Sivo.

Melbourne had Marita Korobiete, now it has the brilliant Suli Vunivalu.

St George Illawarra flyer Mikaele Ravalawa is seeking to join the ranks of Vunivalu and Radradra as a wing wizard.

Already the 21-year-old has bagged four tries in just six games for the Dragons.

On Saturday he scored the winner as the Red V downed the Sea Eagles. A former Crusaders rugby union junior, this code hopper is one to watch.

Euan Aitken celebrates with his Dragons teammate Mikaele Ravalawa after a try against the Sea Eagles at WIN Stadium on Saturday in Wollongong. Photo: Getty

Broncos and Knights pain

The Raiders celebrate with John Bateman in their win over the hapless Brisbane Broncos at GIO Stadium on Sunday in Canberra. Photo: Getty

The start to the seasons of Brisbane and Newcastle have gone from bad to worse.

The Broncos notched their fifth loss, beaten by the ultra-impressive Canberra Raiders, while the Knights were dominated by the tenacious Titans.

Brisbane and Newcastle, along with the Bulldogs, anchor the bottom of the NRL ladder with only one win from six.

Anthony Seibold will need more time to turn the Broncs around, but it remains to be seen if the Sunshine State will give it to him. The Brisbane community demands success.

In the Hunter Valley Nathan Brown has been given time, rebuilding the club over several years after Wayne Bennett left the squad in pieces.

After bringing in big names like Mitchell Pearce, Kayln Ponga, David Klemmer and others, it’s now time for the Knights to deliver.

Today the final match of the round will take place, with Parramatta christening the new Bankwest Stadium against Wests Tigers.

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