Hits and Misses: Saab helps Manly celebrate DCE milestone

This week we take a look at the victory celebrations for Daly Cherry-Evans' 300th game, teams using the captain's challenge for foul play and the rampant returns of Latrell Mitchell and Viliame Kikau.

Read on as we take a look back at some of the biggest hits and misses of the weekend.


Sizzling Saab helps the Sea Eagles celebrate DCE's 300th

Manly have a terrible record at WIN Stadium, having lost their previous eight clashes there, over a span of 20 years. Things weren't going their way in the first half this time either, with the Dragons taking an 8-0 lead before the visitors were able to claw their way back to be in front 12-8 at the break. The Dragons were doing everything in their power to ruin the celebrations for Daly Cherry-Evans' 300th game.

Just minutes into the second half the Sea Eagles tore the Dragons apart from inside their own half, sending Reuben Garrick away to score under the posts. They should have extended the lead shortly after when Daly Cherry Evans put Jason Saab away down the right wing. As the defence converged he passed inside to Garrick who was ankle tapped and despite sliding towards the try line inexplicably passed it to Lachlan Croker who was simultaneously tackled, forcing the ball loose. Replays showing Garrick could have crawled over the line untouched.

Cherry-Evans was at it again not long after, putting Saab away down the right-hand side again. This time the lanky speedster decided to go himself, brushing though Tyrell Sloan's attempted tackle to score what would prove to be a decisive four-pointer. The Dragons fought back to be within a try of the Sea Eagles, with Manly just holding on in a fitting tribute to their star halfback..


Captain's challenge being used for foul play

You don't often see a captain's challenge to pick up a missed incident of foul play, but it happened a couple of times over the weekend that we saw. The first came midway through the second half of the Broncos' victory over the Roosters.

The Roosters were giving Reece Walsh some extra attention in tackles throughout the game. Walsh was on the end of a Broncos backline movement when tackled forcefully by Billy Smith near halfway. Walsh stayed on the ground rubbing the back of his neck, but the referee was not interested in the universal signal that a crusher tackle had taken place. Captain Adam Reynolds was having none of it and challenged the referee's non-decision.

The bunker took one look before determining that Walsh's head had been caught in Smith's hold and had not been allowed to slip free, constituting a crusher tackle. The captain's challenge was successful and the Broncos received a penalty from it.

Late in the Bulldogs narrow victory over the Dolphins, forward Harrison Edwards lost the ball in a tackle, the referee declaring it a loose carry. The Bulldogs challenged the decision on the basis that Felise Kaufusi had done something illegal in the tackle. The fact that Edwards was writhing in pain on the ground seemed to back their challenge. Replays showed however, that Kaufusi had given Edwards a thorough rib and kidney examination with his shoulder in a totally legal, crunching tackle.

The Bulldogs lost the challenge, but were able to hang on for the victory.


Mitchell's triumphant return

Latrell Mitchell really is a giant of the game. After being out with a calf injury suffered during Blues training for the State of Origin opener, he made his return for the Rabbitohs against the Tigers at Scully Park Tamworth. He ran for 171 metres in a full 80 minute display, despite looking to be a bit short on match fitness.

Mitchell didn't exactly win the game for Souths, but every time he touched the ball the crowd expectation rose. He charged, he stepped, he threw defenders off, he passed deftly to his outside men and he interacted with the crowd whenever the opportunity presented itself. He is a pure entertainer, capable of destroying defences at his best, and a player you would happily pay to go and watch.


Sharks let McInnes do all the tackling

Cameron McInnes set a new record for tackles in a game with 81 against the Panthers on Saturday night. This achievement would normally be recorded as a "HIT" for the purposes of this article, but the Sharks did end up losing 28-0. Perhaps if his teammates had a fraction of his commitment, the Sharks wouldn't currently be tumbling out of the Top 8.


Nikorima not happy to to play a key role in Kikau's return

Kodi Nikorima was one player who would have had a shiver down his spine on seeing the Bulldogs name Viliame Kikau for a return from injury against the Dolphin in Bundaberg on Sunday. Kikau lined up on Nikorima's edge and made a point of running directly at the five-eighth at every opportunity.

The ploy paid off well into the first half when Reed Mahoney passed the ball to Kikau five metres out from the Dolphins line. Kikau ran an angle straight at Nikorima, at a speed that caught Felise Kaufusi flat-footed and unable to assist his diminutive half. Kikau crashed over the top of the low tackle to score the Bulldogs first try. He was on the field for 61 minutes and will be better for the run.