First tackle: Those Eels can't win the premiership
Parramatta Eels will go yet another year without an NRL premiership, that is the only conclusion to be taken from their effort against the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium. The last-placed Bulldogs did everything but win the game against a team which is supposed to be contending for the minor premiership.
Parramatta coach Brad Arthur summed up the feelings in the Eels dressing room after the game.
"It was like a morgue in the dressing rooms, they were really disappointed," Arthur said.
"I had to ask them if they really wanted to sing the team song."
The Eels raced out to an 18-0 lead in the first half, with almost every bounce of the ball going their way.
Eleven minutes into the game. trailing 6-0, the Bulldogs crossed for a try out wide, but the referee blew a penalty for obstruction in the lead-up. Standard procedure has long been to send such calls to the bunker when a try has been scored. Instead the referee called on Kieran Foran to challenge the decision, and as Foran argued that it should be reviewed anyway, the Eels kicked for touch and play continued. Replays suggested the collision between decoy runner and Mitchell Moses was a defensive mistake from the Eels halfback.
The Eels went to the break leading 18-6 on the scoreboard and 7-1 on the penalty count.
With 24 minutes remaining in the game, and the Eels clinging to a 18-16 lead, the Bulldogs were awarded a penalty adjacent to the posts. Instead of levelling the scores, Aiden Tolman took a quick tap and thundered into the defence, somehow thinking he could score a try. He could not and the Bulldogs ineffective attack faltered again.
With fifteen seconds remaining and the Bulldogs given the ball in their own 20 metre zone, still behind by two points, their last three seasons were encapsulated in an Aiden Tolman hit-up to nowhere.
It was classic Bulldogs, all heart and too little brain, but it also said a lot about how well the Eels really are travelling. A serious premiership contender would not have taken the foot off the Bulldogs throat after leading 18-0.
Second tackle: Ankles snapped
To use an NBA expression, we saw some ankles snapped during the Storm's win over the Knights when Melbourne fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen put a move on Kalyn Ponga on the way to scoring his team's third try. Ponga put through a grubber kick 20 metres out from the Storm's line which Papenhuyzen flew onto, bursting through the Knights chasers on his own ten metre line.
Ponga somehow found his way across to face the flying Storm fullback, who put on a massive right-foot step to leave the Queensland Origin fullback folded up like an origami swan. In Ponga's defence, he did well to even be in a position to attempt a tackle.
Papenhuyzen still had plenty of work to do with 70 metres ahead of him and Knights flyer Enari Tuala in hot pursuit. He outran the cover to score a try which took the Storm to a 16-6 lead.
Third tackle: Freakish tries in the corner continue
Penrith winger Charlie Staines continued the freakish start to his NRL career adding two tries to the four he scored on debut. Staines is a fullback who has been squeezed onto the wing in first grade, but his second try against the Sea Eagles would be the envy of any finisher.
Receiving the ball ten metres out he punctuated his angled run to the corner with a goose step, which held off the defence long enough to allow him room for a desperate dive. He had the ball in the wrong hand and had to reach back around the corner post, with his whole body in the air over the sideline, defenders throwing themselves at him. He grounded the ball for the try, but unfortunately strained a hamstring in doing so. His NRL career was put on hold after 85 minutes with a return of six tries.
On Sunday, Bulldogs centre Jake Averillo, another youngster who has only eight games under his belt and three tries to his name matched Stains for athleticism. He beat the Eels cover defence to the corner, held the ball in the inside hand, but was nearly in the grand stand after an almighty Maika Sivo shove. He somehow managed to find a patch of grass inside the chalk for another incredible try.
Fouth tackle: Taumalolo simply phenomenal
With 29 minutes remaining in the game and the Raiders leading 8-6, two Cowboys defenders dropped off a tackle to allow Mitch Dunn to strip the ball from Dunamis Lui. It was a big play, just 20 metres out from the Raiders' line.
The next hit up was given to Jason Taumalolo and the Raiders defenders tried the same trick, dropping off to allow Corey Harawira-Naera a chance to strip the ball. The NRL's answer to the Hulk stood there, shook his head and laughed as Harawira-Naera tried his best.
A couple of tackles later Taumalolo ran onto an inside ball from 10 metres out and carved his way through the lime green defence for a try under the posts. The conversion took the Cowboys to a 12-8 lead, one they couldn't hold onto in a closely contested match.
Fifth and last: Captain's howler
We saw one of the worst captain's challenges of the year with 15 minutes remaining in the Warriors win over the Tigers. Warriors forward Jazz Tevaga stood to play the ball, and appeared to bobble it in putting it on the ground. The referee ruled a knock-on and for some reason the Warriors challenged the call.
Replays showed that not only did he lose control, but he then stepped over the ball without coming anywhere near touching it with his boot. The challenge was deemed unsuccessful, and the scrum awarded to the Tigers, but in all fairness the bunker could have upgraded the call to a penalty for incorrect play the ball.
Interim Warriors coach Todd Payten would not have happy with either the handling or the misuse of the challenge, but their hard-fought victory would soon wipe it from his mind.
Handover: Left with nothing but a collar
There is an old expression used to indicate the capture of someone, "he was collared". Broncos prop Thomas Flegler might doubt that definition after his questionable tackling technique left him on the ground, while Sharks winger Ronaldo Mulitalo raced away for Cronulla's first try.
It was an amazing effort by Flegler to run down the flying Mulitalo. He was close enough to grab the winger's collar with both hands, but all he ended up doing was damaging the jersey. He was noticed tackling other players in a similar manner through the game. It might be something he needs to address, as the Broncos look for any answers to their continuing horror run.