Hits and Misses: Broncos destroy Eels, pose biggest threat to Panthers

This week we take a look at the Broncos and their demolition of the Eels, some awful defence from some highly paid Bulldogs, the rebirth and instant death of the kicking duel, and more magic from the Melbourne Storm.

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


Broncos destroy Eels as they grow more impressive every week

The Broncos showed their premiership teeth on Friday night against the Eels, three tries late in the first half looked particularly ominous.

The first came from dummy-half 10 metres out. Billy Walters picked the ball up and dummied to go to the shorter side where the Broncos had lined up their weapons. He stepped off his left foot to throw the marker off before nailing another bigger left foot step to beat the only other defender between him and the line. It was devastatingly simple and exposed the fragile nature of the Eels' defensive line.

The next try came four minutes later from a scrum in centre field inside Parramatta's 20. Reece Walsh and Ezra Mam lined up together directly behind the scrum, as Walters picked it up from the lock position. Walsh was his target and Mam and Herbie Farnworth both ran perfect decoy lines which drew in the Eels defenders like flies to an unguarded snag at a summer BBQ. Walsh timed a looping floating pass which hit Deine Mariner on the chest as he ran untouched to score the try.

The third try started inside their own half with an intercept by winger Mariner who beat a couple of tackles before slipping the ball to Farnworth who took off on a 50 metre sprint to the line. Mitchell Moses chased him down 10 metres out; Farnworth stumbled and fell backwards out of the tackle, but not held, he stood and finished the final metres running backwards.

They were three very different tries, illustrating just how dangerous the Broncos are, no matter where they are on the field and under any circumstances. They turned a 24-0 halftime lead into a 54-10 humiliation, putting the Eels' season into a deadly tailspin.


Pathetic effort from Bulldogs forwards sums up season

The Bulldogs have not received a lot of value out of the hefty contract England prop Luke Thompson signed in 2020. In the years since then he has managed just 39 games and has missed the whole of this year after injuring his ankle at preseason training. He made his return on Sunday against the Knights, named on the bench, but switched to start at lock. Coach Cameron Ciraldo, heralded as a defensive genius after his tenure at the Panthers as defence coach, had Thompson lined up inside Viliame Kikau, who was playing just his second game back from his own lengthy spell on the injury list. Through coincidence or design, the Knights took full advantage of the flat-footed behemoths twice in the opening quarter of the game.

Newcastle's first try came with a pass to Dane Gagai on the right, he turned back infield after skipping out of a flimsy Matt Burton legs tackle about 20 metres out. The Queensland veteran spotted the gap between Thompson and Kikau and accelerates through, Thompson threw out a feeble arm, but Gagai was gone.

Not long after the Knights were on the attack again, and the ball was in Tyson Gamble's hands. He spotted the same pair and ran straight at the space between them. Once again the gate was open and Gamble was away. The conversion gave the home team a 12-0 head-start from which the ill-disciplined Bulldogs never recovered.

Well over $1.5m worth of prime rugby league forward talent had twice put in an effort that wouldn't be accepted in an under 10s game. Thompson was soon taken from the field as the Knights continued to put the dismal Bulldogs to the sword.


Seibold tries to upset the Panthers with shock plays

You don't see too many kicking duels anymore, and after what happened at Brookvale on the weekend, we might not see one ever again. Five minutes into the second half, with the scores locked at 12, Manly decided to reintroduce the long-lost mystical art.

Collecting a Nathan Cleary kick inside his own 20 metres fullback Reuben Garrick took a few quick steps before booting it back down the middle of the field. Jason Saab made sure he was onside and took off in pursuit. It caught the Panthers off guard momentarily, but fullback Dylan Edwards managed to run it down on his 20 metre line, ran past Saab on his way to the 40 metre line where he threw a flat pass wide to Stephen Crichton. He quickly sent the ball infield to Sunia Turuva who took off from inside his own half in a weaving run which split the scattered and disjointed Manly defensive line. He ran all the way to plant the ball under the posts, helping the visitors an 18-12 lead.

The Sea Eagles obviously felt they needed to shake things up to upset the reigning premiers. They were often seen spreading the ball wide from well within their own territory, Daly Cherry-Evans kicked on early tackles and there was a short kick-off just before halftime.

Manly coach Anthony Seibold said that they couldn't play a standard game of football and expect to beat the Panthers.

"It was a plan, yeah it was a plan," Seibold said after the game.

"We had to go down swinging, if we just tried to come out here and arm-wrestle the Panthers, well they've been clearly the best at that type of game for a couple of seasons.

"We threw the ball around, we used our weapons.

"We had to think outside the box because we were missing quite a few troops and we lost a couple in the first few minutes in the second half."

Manly were unlucky not to lead at halftime after a knock-on was missed in the lead-up to the Panthers' second try, after the first came from a Crichton intercept. But Penrith showed their class in the second half to wrap up another two points.


Storm magic humbles Ricky's Raiders

The Storm scored a try just before halftime against the Raiders which came from nothing and looked all but unstoppable. Cameron Munster found himself with the ball just inside the Raiders 20 metres with nothing planned and nowhere to go. He signalled for big Nelson Asofa-Solomona to run around him and take a hit-up into the Canberra defence. As usual big Nelson put a dent in the line, and was up and playing it with defenders reforming their line.

Harry Grant jumped into dummy-half, passed it to his right where Jahrome Hughes stepped and placed a perfectly timed pass on the chest of Eliesa Katoa who stumbled and dived over the line in the one motion, making it just about impossible to tackle him. His last points of contact with the field of play were his knees as he torpedoed his way underneath the defensive line.

The Storm went to the break with a comfortable 20-2 lead, before embarrassing the Raiders after halftime to win 48-2. On that performance, it is hard to believe that both teams were in the running for a Top 4 finish.


Kodi's efforts ultimately in vain

We saw an incredible passage of play during the Roosters-Dolphins clash. Dolphins fullback Kodi Nikorima charged back and across field in pursuit of a Roosters' 40/20 attempt. He reached out over the sideline, managed to scrape it back infield, before chasing the resultant rolling ball back to his own try line. As the Roosters chasers converged, Nikorima threw a risky pass to Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow who took off on a run across his own in-goal area looking to flank the wall of red white and blue. The Roosters' line was so extensive that Tabuai-Fidow gave up and stepped across the dead ball line.

On slow-motion replay it became evident that Nikorima's foot was over the sideline as he scraped the kick back into play. The Roosters were given the ball where Nikorima crossed the line and a couple of tackles later Drew Hutchison cut through some feeble defence to take the Roosters further away from the disappointing Dolphins.