Round 2 of the Women's National Rugby League Premiership was full of surprises, with two of the new teams earning their first ever wins. The Canberra Raiders upset the Sydney Roosters 24-14 and the North Queensland Cowboys defeated the reigning Premiers, the Newcastle Knights 31-20.
But the most entertaining match of the round was by far the local derby between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans. The Titans won 17-16 thanks to a Lauren Brown field goal in the second period of golden point extra time. The Broncos have been part of both NRLW golden point games and are yet to win one.
The results from the weekend have left the ladder quite congested with only the Parramatta Eels and Broncos waiting to get their first win.
Here are your talking points.
Next generation make their mark
One of the most exciting things about the expanded competition is the increased opportunity it gives women to play rugby league at the elite level. Several players have also come across from other sports including rugby union and rugby 7s.
There were some stand out performances on the weekend too.
After a tough season for the Knights due to injury in the pre-season, Jakiya Whitfeld has been one of the Wests Tigers best players and made 292 run metres against the Sharks and also scored her third try of the season.
Grace Kemp was a standout in the Raiders first ever NRLW win, scoring a try and running for 121 metres.
Nathan Wong had two try assists and two-line break assists in the Dragons thumping of the Eels.
The youngest halves combination in the competition, Chantay Kiria-Ratu and Sienna Lofipo were also impressive in their golden point win over the Broncos.
Should Eels fans be panicking?
It has been a tough start for the 2023 Grand Finalists, losing 36-8 in Round 1 against the Tigers and then 38-12 against the St George Illawarra Dragons in Round 2.
But it's not time to panic yet. Two of the Eels best players in Rachael Pearson and Elsie Albert are yet to play a game due to injury and will hopefully return in the next couple of weeks. Both players will make a significant impact, particularly Pearson who is one of the best halves in the competition.
In the Eels loss against the Dragons, the pinpoint kicking game of Raecene McGregor was the difference on several occasions setting up two tries with cross field kicks and also kicking a 40/30. The Eels will really benefit from the return of Pearson.
The Eels are also the most inexperienced team in the NRLW and are taking a little bit of time to find their feet, particularly in defence. They need time and fortunately with an extended season this year, they have the luxury of having that little bit of extra time.
What a difference Dibb makes
The Cowboys recorded their first ever win against the Knights and Kirra Dibb was a stand-out with the boot.
Dibb is one of my favourite halves in the competition and in this game, kicked a field goal during the second half and also set up two tries in the last quarter of the game.
What has always niggled at the back of my mind is why she seems to come in and out of contention for representative honours, including for the Australian Jillaroos and more recently for the New South Wales Blues.
She wasn't the only former Knight to cause problems for her old team with Emma Manzelmann playing a key role in the Cowboys second try.
-- Zahara Temara became the first player in the history of the competition to reach 100 points.
-- There are injury concerns for the Sharks who lost Jada Taylor during the week with an ankle injury and Emma Tonegato left the field early in the second half with a right calf issue.
-- The Rooster may be Premiership favourites, but struggled against the Canberra Raiders, missing over 30 tackles and completing at just 66 percent.
-- Cortez de Pou and Margot Vella each crossed for doubles for the Dragons in their debut games.
-- In a losing side, Talesha O'Neill continues to be a standout, running for over 140 metres.
Onto the Next
Round 3 has some fantastic match ups, including the Cowboys taking on big sister club the Brisbane Broncos at Queensland Country Bank Stadium; their first home game this NRLW season.
It doesn't get any easier for the Eels with a Grand Final rematch against the Knights as part of a double header with the Parramatta Eels men at CommBank Stadium on Sunday.
I'm also really looking forward to two new teams matching up after strong wins with the Raiders playing the Tigers at GIO Stadium.