Nathan Brown, Paul Momirosvki and Jake Clifford all responded to being dropped to reserve grade — and the latter was “not satisfied” with his performance despite setting up two tries.
James Roberts returned from a back injury, while Charlie Staines’ performance justified his reported pitch to the Tigers and Matt Dufty had his best game since being axed.
Albert Hopoate enjoyed “the perks of being a winger” with a stunning four-try performance in Canberra’s win, Cody Hodge had a Cup debut to remember with the Rabbitohs and there’s a couple of young Queenslanders to keep an eye on.
Meanwhile, 33-year-old prop Nathaniel Neale turned back the clock with a mammoth performance for Ipswich Jets.
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ALL EYES WERE ON
Eels star Nathan Brown responded to being dropped in the best way possible — having an absolute blinder in reserve grade. The Eels went down to the Bears but Brown stood out with a try assist, a linebreak assist, two tackle busts and 173 metres, while also making 43 tackles with just two misses.
In the same game, Paul Momirovski Also found himself in reserve grade after being dropped from the Roosters and had a dominant performance with a try assist, a linebreak, three linebreak assists and 125 running meters.
Jake Clifford was dropped back to the NSW Cup with Adam Clune returning from injury and proved he’s a class above that grade with two try assists, two linebreak assists and 98 running meters.
“It was all right,” Clifford told Fox League when asked about his performance.
“There’s a few things I’d like to take back, a few seven-tackle sets, a pass that led to a try and contact needs to be a little bit better… there’s heaps to work on so I’m not satisfied with that.”
James Roberts returned from a back injury via the Tigers’ feeder club, Western Suburbs Magpies and got through unscathed. The 29-year-old, who hadn’t played since Round 6, finished with a try, a try assist, a linebreak, a linebreak assist, four tackle busts and 117 running meters.
Taniela Paseka put the pressure on the Manly forwards with a 137 meter and two tackle bust performance. The towering prop also made 27 tackles with two misses.
Young Panther Charlie Staines Reportedly approached the Tigers about a club switch to play fullback — and his performance on the weekend suggests No.1 is indeed his best position.
Staines is stuck behind Dylan Edwards at Penrith and has fallen out of favor for a wing spot too with Taylan May taking over him.
While at fullback for Penrith’s NSW Cup side on Saturday, Staines set up a try, got a linebreak, a linebreak assist and four tackle busts. He also notched up 245 meters in their win 26-6 win over Newtown.
Matt Dufty had his best game since being dropped to reserve grade. The 26-year-old scored a double, set up two more, got a linebreak, three linebreak assists, three tackle busts and ran for 175 meters in the Bulldogs’ 48-12 win over the Magpies.
But even a performance like that is unlikely to get him back in the Dogs’ NRL side given Jake Averillo has looked right at home in the No.1 jersey.
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There’s another outside back at the Raiders knocking on the door of the NRL side — Albert Hope. The 21-year-old played five NRL games for Manly in 2020 before joining the Raiders last season.
He scored four tries in Canberra’s 30-26 win over Newcastle and also got three linebreaks and seven tackle busts, while also running for 257 metres.
Hope has now
“I just get all the easy ones, I just say all the time I’m just the catch and put-down (guy). But it’s good, that’s the perks of being winger I guess,” Hopoate told Fox League.
“I’m just trying to do my best every week so I can justify having the opportunity to play (NRL)… we’ll see what happens.”
We all saw what Locky Miller is capable of in his NRL debut, well the Sharks have another couple of attacking weapons in their system too in Kayal Aero and Kade Dykes.
Iro scored a try, got a linebreak and five tackle busts along with 200 running meters in Newtown’s loss — and that’s actually a quieter game by his.
Meanwhile, Dykes, who can play fullback or five-eighth and is still eligible for Jersey Flegg, ran for 135 metres, set up a try, got a linebreak and six tackle busts.
Terrell May returned to reserve grade after four weeks in NRL and produced the type of performance that earned him a call-up. He finished with 259 meters — 119 post-contact — four tackle busts and 33 tackles with just one miss.
His Bears teammate Tom Carr scored, got three linebreaks and ran for 168 meters, while Adam Keighran got Player’s Player. Keighran set up a try after making a break down the sideline with a chip kick off the side of his boot for Sandon Smith to score. He also slotted a field goal in the 74th minute.
Panthers winger Daeon Amituanai produced his best performance since being promoted from Jersey Flegg. The former Warrior scored a double, got four linebreaks, 12 tackle busts and ran for 171 metres.
Speaking of wings, Jayden Okunbor had a big game in the Bulldogs’ win, scoring a try, getting three linebreaks, two tackle busts and running for 202 metres.
But Baily Biondi-Odo stole the show with a try, two try assists, a linebreak assist and 141 meters at halfback.
Rabbitohs duo Cody Hodge and Isaiah Tass ran amok in their 38-12 win over Blacktown. Hodge joined the Rabbitohs over the summer on a train-and-trial deal and made his Cup debut on the weekend. The 23-year-old winger scored a hat-trick, got three linebreaks, five tackle busts and ran for 157 metres.
Meanwhile, Tass, who made his NRL debut in Round 6, was just as busy with a try, two try assists, a linebreak, three linebreak assists, four tackle busts and 137 running metres.
Dragon hooker Connor Muhleisen set up two tires and got three linebreak assists, while also making 44 tackles with just two misses in his side’s loss, while Jayden Sullivan once again proved why he needs to be playing first grade with two linebreaks, two linebreak assists, five tackle busts and 122 running meters.
Edward Kosi Scored a hat-trick for the Warriors’ feeder side, the Dolphins, got three linebreaks and eight tackle bustst as well as 213 running meters in their 24-all draw with CQ Capras.
His teammate, fullback Trai Fuller also dominated with a try, two try assists, a linebreak, a linebreak assist and two tackle busts.
Keep an eye on Deine Mariner — a teenager in the Broncos’ system. Mariner played center for Australian Schoolboys squad last year and scored four tries in his Queensland Cup debut for Wynnum Manly. On the weekend, in just his fifth Cup game, Mariner notched up 215 metres, two linebreaks and seven tackle busts on the wing.
Thomas Chester is set for a big future, which is why the Cowboys locked him on a Top 30 deal for 2023 and 2024. Chester, a homegrown North Queenslander played in the halves growing up but has successfully transitioned to fullback. The 20-year-old set up two tries in the Blackhawks’ 30-18 win over Brisbane Tigers and also got two linebreak assists, three tackle busts and ran for 142 metres.
Ipswich skipper Nathanaiel Neale got through a mountain of work in his side’s 26-18 win over Souths Logan. The 33-year-old Queensland Cup veteran played 72 minutes at prop, finishing with a try, a linebreak, four tackles and ran for 133 metres. He also made 55 tackles with just one miss.
Elsewhere, Gideon Gela-Mosby notched up a try, a try assist, a linebreak, two linebreak assists, eight tackle busts and 200 running meters for Northern Pride.
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Billy Magoulias is back with the Newtown Jets after gaining an early release from his contract with Super League club, Warrington Wolves. Magoulias played at lock and finished with 79 running meters and three tackle busts, while also making 17 tackles with one miss.
The Mounties-Dragons clash ended in a pretty unusual score — 41-40. It was seven tries a piece, with both goal-kickers only missing one conversion each too. A Brad Abbey field goal in the 78th minute sealed Mounties’ third win of the season.