Round 12 of the NRL season saw Payne Haas booed, the Roosters show some real fight, the Eels halves on fire and New South Wales make the inexplicable decision to leave Josh Addo-Carr out the State of Origin opener.
Read on as we take a look back at some of the biggest hits and misses of the weekend.
Broncos fans boo Haas, cheer fightback
The Broncos might have been wearing the most colourful and beautiful Indigenous jerseys and shorts of the weekend, but their fans were clearly unhappy. Every time prop Payne Haas was involved in play the majority of the Suncorp Stadium crowd let him know what they thought of his demand to be released from his lucrative contract. The boos rang out with every Haas carry and carried on through to when he left the field for his first break. The fans were hurt by his mid-week actions and they let him know.
Ironically, it was another unstoppable forward who fled Brisbane for a bigger contract, Gold Coast's Dave Fifita, who crashed over for what looked to be a back-breaking try just before halftime. With the Titans reduced to 11 men through double sin bin infringements, Fifita picked the ball up from dummy half 10 metres out from the Broncos line. With no interest from the marker he charged at the line, leaving flat-footed defenders spectating as he barged his way through and slammed it down, to take the score to 24-4.
Not many in the crowd expected that that would be the end of the Titans' scoring for the night. The Broncos stormed back into the game scoring five unanswered tries after the break to overcome the 20-point deficit. It was the second time this season that the Titans have blown a 20-point lead.
- Darren Arthur
The Roosters are finally, finally back
"What is wrong with the Roosters?" has been a theme of the first half of the 2022 season. The perennial title contenders, loaded with talent and now reasonably injury-free after their 2021 season was all but ruined by injury, were for whatever reason struggling to get results in the opening 11 rounds.
Not only did they lose five of their first 11 matches, but those loses weren't even necessarily against good teams. They were beaten by Newcastle, the Dragons and the Bulldogs. They were smashed by 20 against the Panthers last week. Critics were questioning whether they could still be a force?
Of course, we've been here before. In 2018 the Roosters lost five of their first 11 as well. They went on to win the minor premiership. Then the grand final. Then the next year's grand final.
This week, the Roosters showed they are no spent force, coming up against 2022 surprise packets the Sharks and thumping them 36-16. Their best player was captain James Tedesco, who was sublime as he ran in a try, two line breaks, two try assists and 238 metres.
It's hard to fathom now that people were calling for Tedesco to be replaced as NSW fullback this season (before Tom Trbojevic's season-ending injury). How he and the Roosters navigate the State of Origin period will be the next test -- but one made easier by the fact only he, winger Daniel Tupou and potentially boom youngster Joseph Suaalii, are set to line up for the Blues this series.
- Dominic Brock
Eels halves on fire
Dylan Brown rightly received a lot of praise for his two-try performance in a game where he tore the Raiders defence up with some scything runs, but it was an effort from halves partner Mitchell Moses which really caught my eye. Parramatta were trailing 20-16, 15 minutes into the second half, when they made their way downfield, thanks to another Brown burst. The ball was spun right to Moses who slipped an inside pass before being absolutely flattened by Raiders forward Hudson Young.
Moses could have stayed prone, hoping for a penalty while shaking off the cobwebs, but instead sprung back to his feet to be in position as the ball came back his way. He ran at the defence, drawing the winger, before throwing a perfect pass to Bailey Simonsson who dived over in the corner to level the scores. To top it off, Moses then kicked the conversion from the sideline to take the Eels to a 22-20 lead.
Moses has unquestionable talent and continues to prove that his physical and mental toughness are up there with the best of them as well. If the Eels are to take a serious shot at the premiership this year, Brown and Moses need to continue this form.
- Darren Arthur
Addo-Carr hard done by at the NSW selection table
The biggest surprise in Brad Fittler's 22-man NSW Blues squad for State of Origin I was the absence of superstar winger Josh Addo-Carr, who was the marquee signing for the Bulldogs this season after years of dominating on the wing at the Melbourne Storm.
He's been terrific at Origin level as well, his 10 tries from 12 games making him the second-most prolific try-scorer in history for the Blues.
Two factors have seemingly counted against him -- the height of his replacement Daniel Tupou, picked for his aerial prowess, and not something Addo-Carr has any real control over. The other is his form at the Bulldogs, a team that is once again languishing at the foot of the ladder.
But has Addo-Carr's own form actually been bad? He's scored six tries in 10 games this season -- not quite the haul he managed last year on the end of the star-studded Storm backline, but still not a bad return. He is responsible for just under a quarter of all the tries the Bulldogs have scored this year.
Addo-Carr's other numbers are on par with most of his previous seasons: he's on track to finish with more line breaks than he did in 2018, 2019 and 2022; his 127 run metres per game are on track with previous seasons; and his 5.3 tackle breaks per game are a career-best. Most importantly, he's proven time and again he can get the job done at the top level both for the Storm and the Blues. His enthusiasm as much as his athleticism has lifted the Blues at times when they needed to dig deepest, while his finishing is world class and his kick returns and running out of trouble have been inspirational against the always ferocious Queensland defence.
The decision to leave him out is an odd one, and adds more weight to the theory that players could be costing themselves future rep spots if they leave a strong club for a struggling one. The decision also appears to fly in the face of the pick and stick mentality, ignoring any loyalty to incumbency, particularly on the back of the third winning series in four years for Brad Fittler's Blues. State of Origin football has been compared to a battlefield, in that each player has to be willing to sacrifice everything for the players next to him. That passion and commitment is built on camaraderie and mateship, two intangibles that can be torn apart by perceived disloyalty.
- Dominic Brock and Darren Arthur
Raiders not helping themselves with baffling penalty goal decisions
Here are two scenarios the Canberra Raiders faced when awarded penalties within goal-kicking distance against the Parramatta Eels on Sunday.
The first -- when Canberra held an 18-16 lead, three minutes into the second half. They had the chance to push for a try and extend their lead to eight, and took the goal instead -- meaning their two-point lead became a four-point lead, no material difference when a converted try is worth six. Within 10 minutes the Eels scored a try and went in front.
The next chance came with four minutes remaining on the clock, with Canberra trailing 28-20. A goal would have meant the Raiders would need a single try to send the game into extra-time. Instead they turned down the two points, leaving themselves with the task of scoring two tries in four minutes. Parramatta would have been confident the result was in the bag once the Raiders took that decision, repelled Canberra's first attacking set and the win was theirs.
- Dominic Brock