Round 2 Hits and Misses: Gotta love two-point field goals

Round 2 of the 2022 NRL season is complete and only four teams remain unbeaten. There were plenty of highlights and just as many lowlights across the eight games, as teams fought hard for every metre and every point.

We take a look back at some of the biggest hits and misses of the weekend.


The two-point field goal is... good?

The NRL has introduced some odd rule changes in recent seasons. Set restarts replacing penalties, the 20/40 kick, captain's challenges and the move to fewer scrums. But, one of the most gimmicky additions to the game was the introduction of a bonus point if a team kicks a field goal from beyond 40 metres.

Did the game need two-point field goals? No. Is it a bit silly? Sure. Is it good anyway? Friday night's Storm-Rabbitohs game suggests it is.

Latrell Mitchell couldn't convert a try all night for the Bunnies yet he could slam a field goal over from 45 metres out with the game on the line, levelling up the scores at 14-14 and sending the contest into extra time. It was a stunning end to the 80 minutes, particularly after the Rabbitohs had appeared to be done and dusted after 25, and it provided the biggest argument yet that two-point field goals might just have been a great idea.

The Knights without Ponga, just as good

There were concerns that the Knights would be toothless without star fullback Kalyn Ponga, but they have shown in their first two wins that they have plenty of threats elsewhere. In their opening round shock victory over the Roosters, Ponga had a relatively quiet afternoon. He was missing through injury as they demolished the Tigers on Sunday, with Tex Hoy taking his fullback jersey.

Many had their doubts following the departure of Mitchell Pearce - would the Knights miss his influence in the halves? Adam Clune, picked up from the Dragons, has joined five-eighth Jake Clifford to form a formidable combination. The return of Dane Gagai has been a revelation and on the other side of the field Bradman Best has continued his dominating style. With Tyson Frizell recapturing some of his best form, in leading the forwards, the early signs are very promising for Newcastle.


Tom Trbojevic's early-season form

The toning down of recent rule changes with penalties replacing set restarts within a team's own 40-metres has already had a few effects on the style of games we're seeing this season. The scorelines are lower, but the matches are closer, with defences less fatigued and teams able to hang in contests and launch fightbacks.

It is affecting the fortunes of some players as well -- and perhaps none more so than Tom Trbojevic. Turbo Tom is coming off one of the greatest statistical seasons of any player, ever, having racked up an outrageous 28 tries and 28 try assists in 18 NRL games last year. On the (very) early evidence, it's hard to see him going close to repeating those numbers this year.

Trbojevic's Manly have admittedly come up against two of the league's best teams in Penrith and the Roosters, but so far, he has just a single try assist to show from two matches. Across his first five seasons in the NRL, Trbojevic scored or assisted in 96 tries in 89 games, or just over one per match. In the six-again era of the past couple of years that number exploded to more than three per match. If this season's early trend continues, Turbo could go back to those old (still very good) numbers rather than last year's spectacular ones.

Good teams clocking off at the break

What's with the premiership hot shots stopping at halftime? The Storm raced to a convincing 14-0 first half lead against the Rabbitohs on Thursday night, before conceding 14 unanswered points after oranges. They managed to take the two competition points when Ryan Papenhuyzen kicked a golden point field goal, their only point after the break.

At Kogarah on Friday night the reigning premiers Penrith looked to have things well under control when they jogged off after 40 minutes leading 20-6.

The Panthers put their feet up after the break as well, not troubling the scoreboard again as the Dragons drew dangerously close. They managed to hold on for a 20-16 victory, but coach Ivan Cleary will be joining Storm coach Craig Bellamy in insisting that his players finish the job in a full 80-minute performance.

Marty was right!

Generally speaking, when a prop forward calls for a captain's challenge, the captain will wisely dismiss it like a Marnus Labuschagne DRS call. But, halfway through the first half of the Roosters' clash with Manly prop Martin Taupau was certain that a review would clear him of a stripping penalty. Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans ignored his testimony and the penalty put the Roosters deep on attack where they pressured the Sea Eagles for the next 10 minutes and eventually scored a third try to take a 16-0 lead.

Slow motion footage of the Taupau tackle showed the ball squirted free after Daniel Tupou knocked it from his own grasp with his flailing knee. With Manly looking to swing momentum back in their favour it was a monumental missed opportunity.

Chad was wrong!

Chad Townsend finished the night with a big smile on his face, but there was a passage of play 12 minutes into the second half against the Raiders where he had three misses in quick succession.

Firstly he tried to put a grubber kick through the line near halfway and kicked it straight into the legs of a Raiders defender. With a chance to regather, he scrambled for the loose ball, only to bobble it between his legs as he rolled over it. His hat-trick of misses was complete when he insisted on a captain's challenge, which was unsuccessful.

Townsend plays with a bit of a chip on his shoulder, often feeling he is on the wrong end of every refereeing decision. He spends a lot of time trying to instruct the whistle-blowers on how to run the game. He is no doubt an excellent addition to the Cowboys and his experience and guile went a long way towards securing them the unexpected win.

Special mention

Broncos centre Kotoni Staggs dropping the ball over the line after a miracle between the legs pass from Adam Reynolds.