First tackle: Bunnies are the real saints
Wayne Bennett deserves his reputation as one of the best coaches the game has ever seen, but the Rabbitohs achieved something on Sunday night that was incredible even by his lofty standards.
In 80 minutes of football his side was so disciplined that the officials only penalised them once. In the 17th minute of the game, Rabbitohs hooker Damien Cook was penalised for stripping the ball. It was the first and last penalty the Titans would receive.
The Titans did remarkably well to stay in the battle, winning the second half 12-10 after trailing 18-8 at the break. The final eight-point margin included three penalty goals, as the Rabbitohs received nine penalties in total.
The Rabbitohs started the season conceding only three penalties against the Roosters in what was seen as a blessing for the game, with the referees allowing the game to flow. That penalty count jumped out to nine against the Dragons, which must have seen the Bunnies work on their discipline all week.
Second tackle: When is a tackle complete?
There was an interesting passage of play in the clash between the Knights and Raiders, just as Newcastle were mounting a late fightback, trailing 16-10. With six minutes to go, Knights winger Edrick Lee fielded the ball and went to ground in a tackle. At worst it was a surrender tackle and the Raiders players should have been allowed to lay all over him to run down some time. Instead three Raiders players picked Lee up and carried him five metres over to the sideline. The referees baffled everyone by allowing the play and calling a Raiders scrum.
In the Warriors' game against the Sea Eagles, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck made a big break downfield before he was flung to the ground by Tom Trbojevic. He rolled over in the tackle, regained his feet and struggled to break free; Manly winger Reuben Garrick then joined in to help and Tuivasa-Sheck was bustled towards the sideline where he spilled the ball into touch. In this case the referee awarded a penalty to the Warriors.
Consistency clearly remains an issue for NRL referees.
Third tackle: Rocks and diamonds
Blake Ferguson was back to his infuriating hot-and-cold self for the Eels against the Roosters on Friday night. Just minutes after crossing for the Eels' first try, he was backpedalling in defence near his own try-line when James Tedesco bulldozed over him for a try.
With eleven minutes remaining in the first half he tried an audacious intercept which led to another six tackles. The Roosters hit the lead for the first time with a penalty awarded during that set of six.
The Roosters' second try, scored by Mitchell Aubusson with 28 minutes remaining in the game, was the result of a bomb to Ferguson's corner where he was out-jumped by former teammate Daniel Tupou. With Latrell Mitchell's conversion, the Roosters took a 14-12 lead.
When Maika Sivo put the Eels up 18-14 with his second try, Ferguson spilled the ball hitting it up after the kick-off. His head dropped and you could almost see the wind come out of the Parramatta sails. From the ensuing set of six, Victor Radley darted out of dummy-half and crashed over for a try that put the Roosters ahead 20-18 after Mitchell converted. From that point on it was all Roosters.
Throughout his career, Ferguson has single-handedly won many games, but has been largely responsible for losing almost as many.
Fourth tackle: Tommy Turbo to the rescue
What a difference Tom Trbojevic makes to the Sea Eagles. Starting the season without him Manly struggled, losing to the Tigers away and the Roosters at home. They took their Round 3 home game to Christchurch, where they were expected to struggle against a Warriors side fired up by the emotion of playing in the city still recovering from the horrors of the terror attacks.
The Sea Eagles conceded the first try after just two minutes. Trbojevic scored their first after 10 minutes and it was mostly Manly from that point on. When he wasn't scoring tries Trbojevic was setting them up. He was a constant threat in attack and rock solid in defence; his attacking flare allowed Daly Cherry-Evans to shine as well.
It must be said however that the Warriors were woeful. There were passages of play where players clearly gave up on the chase. They seem to have lost all of the passion that they displayed first up against the Bulldogs. Coach Stephen Kearney needs to turn this ship around fast because it is headed straight for the rocks.
Fifth and last: Bulldogs jump-start season
It's amazing what a bit of fresh blood can do for a team battling to find their feet at the beginning of the season. The Bulldogs had shown patches of form in their first two losses, before capitulating to superior enthusiasm, talent and commitment.
Under pressure, even in the week he signed a contract extension, coach Dean Pay made several changes to his line-up. The biggest, giving Nick Meaney his Bulldogs debut at fullback, was also the most influential. Former Knight Meaney was sharp, energetic and exciting to watch as was Jayden Okunbur who was brought into the side to play on the wing. Moving Will Hopoate to the centres also strengthened the Bulldogs' front line of defence.
It helped that the steadily improving Kieran Foran had his best game for the club, behind a shuffled pack which was much more effective. With everything coming together nicely, the Bulldogs next face the unbeaten Storm in Melbourne.
Handover: Fullback to where he belongs?
It was the battle of the battle of the fullbacks converted to halves as the Raiders hosted the Knights. Jack Wighton continued to adjust to his new defensive duties while much conjecture surrounded whether the Knights were getting the best value out of Kalyn Ponga in the No. 6 jersey.
Two thirds of the way through the game with the Knights struggling, coach Nathan Brown decided to shift Ponga back to fullback. With Connor Watson missing many argued that Ponga should have been there from the start of the game. The Raiders had no such concerns because their new fullback, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, had a blinder scoring two tries in their 17-10 victory.