Jeremiah Nanai would romp in as Dally M rookie of the year, except for one thing – he’s not eligible.
The boom Cowboys back-rower debuted in round 22 last year and played a handful of games without making much of an impression.
But if there was an award for newcomer to make the biggest impression in 2022, Nanai should romp in.
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The 19-year-old scored another try double in the Cowboys’ impressive 36-6 win over the Storm, terrifying the Melbourne defense with his running out wide.
Sure, the Storm were without some big names – but don’t forget that the Cowboys lost two of their best, Jason Taumololo and Kyle Feldt, in the first half.
Critics are waiting for the Cowboys to fall – after 11 rounds there is not even a sign of a stumble and Todd Payten’s men are well and truly finals bound.
Penrith extends incredible streak
Has there been a more relentless, ruthless team in the league’s modern era than the Penrith Panthers?
The Panthers simply strangle the life out of rival teams, waiting for weaknesses and then pouncing.
Incredibly, Saturday night’s 32-12 victory over the Roosters was the 45th time in a row that the Panthers have led at halftime and gone on to win.
Teen Roosters ace lays thumping hit on Kikau
The trend shows that once the Panthers get the upper hand, they simply don’t let go.
The Panthers’ critics claim they are cocky and like to showboat – but the stats show they are one of the finest football teams of all time.
Ricky’s Raiders turnaround
This finals race is so close that if you win three straight games, you are halfway to September football.
Canberra are living proof of that – after a horror start to the year they have won a hat trick of games and now find themselves in equal eighth spot.
Not so long ago, the Raiders were in second last spot on the ladder.
Raiders young gun blitzes through Bunnies
The Raiders have regained their mojo after Ricky Stuart challenged his men to lift three weeks ago when Jack Wighton was suspended for two games.
The players responded, winning both games he missed and then thumping Souths in Dubbo yesterday for good measure.
The Raiders probably played their best football in 12 months in disposing of a lethargic Souths side, leading 20-0 at halftime and then going on with the job after the break.
Souths’ Dubbo hoodoo
It’s great to see NRL clubs taking games to the bush and Souths got a healthy crowd and created plenty of goodwill by shifting yesterday’s clash with the Raiders to Dubbo.
But the downside of sacrificing home games is that it can come to bite you – and that’s what has happened to the Bunnies two years running.
They’ve lost both their road trips to Dubbo – and what’s more done it by a total score of 88 to 24.
The Bunnies looked lost, leaderless and lethargic against the back-to-form Raiders and it would have been a long trip home last night.
Dragons find new No.1
Cody Ramsey solved one of Dragons coach Anthony Griffin’s biggest headaches in Saturday’s hard-fought 24-18 win over the Warriors.
The key fullback position has been a worry for the Dragons throughout the opening rounds, with Ramsey the third player used there after Moses Mbye and Tyrell Sloan.
But in a dynamic 80 minute showing against the Warriors, Ramsey secured the number one spot with a classy performance.
Ramsey’s break leads to Lomax try
Ramsey scored one try, set up another and ran for 206 meters for good measure.
Had he not played, there’s a good chance the Warriors would have won, such was his influence on the game.
The win keeps the Dragons in the final race, but they still have work to do to match the NRL’s big guns.
There was plenty of joking at the start of the season when Wests Tigers announced they would have FIVE captains in 2022.
But the irony of it is, the team has one real leader – and he is not even in the five-man leadership group.
Jackson Hastings led the way in the Tigers’ 36-22 win over the Bulldogs on Friday night and has been the team’s on-field general in every game he has played.
Maumalo’s crash landing after insane finish
Hastings directed the team around the field, laid on a couple of tries and was the difference between the two teams.
Mention must also be made of forer Australian Schoolboy Jock Madden, who filled in for Luke Brooks in the starting side.
Madden proved a fine foil for Hastings and put his own stamp on the game with a clever chip-and-chase try.
Redemption for Sea Eagles pair
Manly were the better side for much of Friday night’s thriller against the Eels and only the injury to Tommy Turbo, some dubious officiating and the sin binning of Sean Keppie late in the game cost them victory.
And two guys who have copped some heat in recent weeks were key figures in a gutsy Manly performance.
Turbo suffers serious shoulder injury
Center Morgan Harper – still in the doghouse with some fans after a horror game against Cronulla a few weeks ago – scored one try and laid on another in a classy display.
And hooker Lachlan Croker, who I pointed out was very poor the previous weekend against the Broncos, redeemed himself with a fine display, running the ball well and making real inroads into the Eels defence.
Gutherson back in blue?
In his 150th NRL game against Manly on Friday night, Clint Gutherson put his hand up for a recall to the NSW State of Origin side.
With Tom Trbojevic out for the year, Latrell Mitchell in the USA and Ryan Papenhuyzen having injury concerns, Brad Fittler is struggling for outside backs.
Penisini scores and then Moses slots it from the sideline
Gutherson is a big match player and a polished performer – and let’s not forget he played the entire 2020 State of Origin series – but out of position in the centres.
Cool heads win Origin matches and Fittler is a big fan of Gutho’s football smarts and enthusiasm and he is right back in the frame for a center spot again.
Broncos on the way back
All sport goes in cycles and no one will tell you that more than Brisbane Broncos fans.
For so long one of the NRL’s elite teams, the Broncos have had a nightmare time of it over the last couple of seasons.
So you have to admire the way the Broncos have turned it all around in 2022 – the big 36-12 win over Newcastle gave them five straight victories – a feat they haven’t achieved since 2017.
Knights burned by bizarre Bunker call
The inclusion of three class players in Adam Reynolds, Kurt Capewell and Te Maire Martin has transformed the Broncos.
Young players who coach Kevin Walters has stuck with through some trying times last season have now come good.
Even without Reynolds, the Broncos were always in command against the out-of-form Knights and played some sparkling attacking football.
Newcastle’s shocker – again
The Knights were left fuming by a couple of decisions against the Broncos, but they need to also take a good, hard look at themselves.
The team once again imploded to record its eighth loss in nine games with 47 missed tackles – including 11 by halves Adam Clune and Anthony Milford – and 22 errors.
Those sort of stats killed the Knights’ hopes and until they get their heads screwed back on right, their losing run will continue.
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