Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
Sam's weekly assessment of all sixteen NRL sides is in, ahead of Round 24.
1. Bevan French 2. Semi Radradra 3. Michael Jennings 4. Brad Takairangi 5. Kirisome Auva'a 6. Corey Norman 7. Mitchell Moses 14. Daniel Alvaro 9. Cameron King 10. Tim Mannah 11. Manu Ma'u 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Nathan Brown 15. Kenny Edwards 16. Suaia Matagi 17. Peni Terepo 19. Will Smith
In - Bevan French
Analysis - The Eels six match winning streak came to an almighty halt last week they ran into the Knights juggernaut, who savaged the Eels Top 4 chances with a convincing 29-10 win at ANZ Stadium. Parramatta return to the same venue where they host an out of sorts Titans, where former Eels hero Jarryd Hayne potentially faces his former side for the first time since leaving the club. Bevan French returns to fullback in a huge boost, which sees Will Smith move back out of the 17.
5. William Zillman 2. Anthony Don 3. Dale Copley 4. John Olive 20. Phillip Sami 6. Tyrone Roberts 7. Ashley Taylor 18. Morgan Boyle 9. Nathan Peats 10. Ryan James 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Joe Greenwood 16. Leivaha Pulu 14. Kane Elgey 15. Nathaniel Peteru 17. Paterika Vaivai 19. Ben Nakubuwai
Analysis - The Titans have suffered a horrific week in the lead up to Thursday night football, with speculation that their coach Neil Henry will be sacked, after a fallout with marquee signing Jarryd Hayne. On the field, the Titans have now lost their last four matches and will be desperate to turn things around for the good of the club. Coach Neil Henry has tinkered with his side a little bit, with Tyrone Roberts starting at five-eighth and Max King will start at lock. Kane Elgey and Leivaha Pulu will start from the bench. Jarryd Hayne is in doubt and all eyes will be on the NSW centre should he suit up against his former club.
1. Alex Johnston 2. Bryson Goodwin 3. Aaron Gray 4. Tyrell Fuimaono 5. Campbell Graham 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Thomas Burgess 9. Damien Cook 17. Zane Musgrove 11. John Sutton 12. Angus Crichton 13. Cameron Murray 14. Robbie Farah 15. George Burgess 16. Kyle Turner 18. Jack Gosiewski
Analysis - South Sydney made it two wins on the trot, defeating a lackluster Bulldogs outfit 28-14 at ANZ Stadium in Round 23. The Bunnies now welcome the Warriors on Friday night as they look to continue their strong finish to their 2017 campaign. Michael Maguire has reshuffled his forward pack for the clash with the Warriors, which sees Sam Burgess start at prop, Angus Crichton returning to the backrow and Zane Musgrove moving back to the bench. Youngster Cameron Murray impressed in his run on debut and has been handed the number 13 jersey.
1. Roger Tuivasa-sheck 2. David Fusitua 3. Blake Ayshford 4. Solomone Kata 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Kieran Foran 7. Mafoa'aeata Hingano 8. Jacob Lillyman 14. Issac Luke 10. Sam Lisone 11. Bunty Afoa 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Simon Mannering 15. Chris Satae 17. Charlie Gubb 18. Mason Lino 23. Jazz Tevaga
Analysis - The Warriors were flogged by the Raiders at Mount Smart Stadium last Sunday, slumping to their sixth consecutive loss. They now travel to Sydney, where they will take on the Rabbitohs in a rare Friday night game. Kieran Foran returns at five-eighth in a huge inclusion for the visitors, which sees Mason Lino named on the extended bench. Ben Matulino has taken an early guilty plea to a shoulder charge and will miss a week, which sees fan favourite Charlie Gubb come onto the interchange.
1. Darius Boyd 2. Corey Oates 3. James Roberts 4. Tautau Moga 5. Jordan Kahu 6. Anthony Milford 7. Kodi Nikorima 8. Korbin Sims 14. Sam Thaiday 10. Adam Blair 11. Alex Glenn 12. Matt Gillett 13. Josh Mcguire 9. Ben Hunt 15. Tevita Pangai 16. Jai Arrow 17. Herman Essese
Analysis - The Broncos continued their strong form, making it back to back wins after they defeated the defending premiers Cronulla 32-10 in a huge statement for their fellow premiership contenders to consider. Wayne Bennett has made no changes to his 17 for their clash with his former club, however expect Sam Thaiday to continue to start at hooker, with Ben Hunt to come off the bench in his super sub role. It will be a big game for Hunt, given he will be playing against the side he has signed with for 2018 and beyond.
1. Matthew Dufty 3. Josh Dugan 21. Euan Aitken 4. Timoteo Lafai 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Kurt Mann 14. Tariq Sims 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Joel Thompson 13. Jack de Belin 8. Leeson Ah Mau 16. Blake Lawrie 18. Josh McCrone 19. Will Matthews
In - Nil
Analysis - The Dragons responded strongly after suffering back to back losses which left their Top 8 hopes hanging by a thread. Thanks to some superb performances from their new look halves combination in Gareth Widdop and Kurt Mann, the Red V put on a show defeating the Titans 42-16. Prop Leeson Ah Mau has been named to start at prop, with Tariq Sims starting from the bench in the only change. St George currently sit in 9th and they will be desperate to upset Brisbane in what will be their most important match of 2017 to date.
1. Dane Gagai 2. Ken Sio 3. Joe Wardle 4. Peter Mata'utia 5. Shaun Kenny-dowall 6. Brock Lamb 7. Trent Hodkinson 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Jamie Buhrer 10. Josh King 11. Sione Mata'utia 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 13. Mitchell Barnett 14. Danny Levi 15. Luke Yates 16. Sam Stone 17. Jacob Saifiti
In - Nil
Analysis - The Knights are flying! The potential wooden spooners have come from the clouds to record their third victory on the trot, this time stunning the Eels away from home. Newcastle now return to Hunter Stadium, where they face the competition favourites in the Melbourne Storm. Coach Nathan Brown has made no changes to his winning team and will have nothing to lose against the competition leaders.
1. Billy Slater 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. William Chambers 4. Curtis Scott 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 19. Brodie Croft 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Jordan McLean 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Joe Stimson 13. Dale Finucane 14. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 16. Kenneath Bromwich 17. Slade Griffin 18. Tohu Harris
In - Cameron Munster
Out - Tim Glasby
Analysis - The Storm scraped home against the Roosters in a semi final type atmosphere at AAMI Park on Saturday night, with Melbourne getting it right at the death to seal a 16-13 win. Cameron Munster returns from an ankle injury in a big boost, with Tim Glasby missing through injury. Melbourne are now six points clear at the summit and have picked a big squad and some late changes look likely as they have the luxury of their final games not being must wins. Tohu Harris, Nate Myles and Robbie Rochow are all named on the extended bench and coach Bellamy may be looking to get some minutes into his experienced players prior to finals in three weeks.
1. Michael Gordon 2. Latrell Mitchell 3. Ryan Matterson 4. Mitchell Aubusson 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Luke Keary 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Dylan Napa 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Aidan Guerra 13. Isaac Liu 14. Zane Tetevano 15. Sio Siua Taukeiaho 16. Kane Evans 17. Connor Watson 18. Joseph Manu 19. Victor Radley
In - Michael Gordon
Out - Joseph Manu
Analysis - The Roosters have now slumped to two straight losses and have also surrendered second position on the NRL ladder to the Broncos. The Roosters now return to Allianz Stadium, where they face a resurgent Tigers outfit on Saturday evening. Fullback Michael Gordon returns after a long injury layoff, which sees Connor Watson return to the bench, with Ryan Matterson remaining at centre and Joseph Manu dropping to the extended bench.
1. James Tedesco 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Esan Marsters 4. Kevin Naiqama 5. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak 6. Tuimoala Lolohea 7. Luke Brooks 8. Aaron Woods 9. Matt McIlwrick 10. Tim Grant 16. Michael Chee-Kam 12. Elijah Taylor 13. Matthew Eisenhuth 14. Alex Twal 15. Sauaso Sue 17. Jack Littlejohn 18. Josh Aloiai 19. Jj Felise 20. Joel Edwards
In - Chris Lawrence
Analysis - The Tigers stunned the high flying Sea Eagles at Leichardt Oval with an amazing second half fightback in front of their parochial home fans. Wests welcome back favourite son Chris Lawrence to the beckrow, which sees Michael Chee-Kam on the interchange, with Josh Aloai named on the extended bench. The form of James Tedesco has been electric in recent weeks and will be looking to have another big one against his future club.
14. Ben Hampton 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Javid Bowen 4. Kane Linnett 5. Kalyn Ponga 6. Te Maire Martin 7. Michael Morgan 16. Corey Jensen 9. Jake Granville 10. Scott Bolton 11. Coen Hess 12. Ethan Lowe 13. Jason Taumalolo 8. John Asiata 15. Patrick Mago 20. Enari Tuala 21. Shane Wright
In - Kalyn Ponga, Te Maire Martin
Out - Justin O'Neil, Shaun Fensom
Analysis - The Cowboys host the Sharks in Townsville in another test for their Top 8 aspirations. North Queensland just can't take a trick with injury in 2017, key halfback Michael Morgan was ruled out with an HIA early in their loss to the Panthers, and previous to that Queensland centre Justin O'Neil left the field with a dislocated elbow, which has ruled him out for at least the next few weeks. Shaun Fensom also joins them on the sideline and the Cowboys are down another experienced player. Young guns Kalyn Ponga and Te Maire Martin come into the starting side at wing and five-eighth respectively. John Asiata will start at prop for Fensom.
1. Valentine Holmes 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Kurt Capewell 4. Ricky Leutele 5. Gerard Beale 6. James Maloney 7. Chad Townsend 8. Andrew Fifita 20. Jayden Brailey 10. Matt Prior 11. Luke Lewis 12. Wade Graham 13. Paul Gallen 14. Jayson Bukuya 15. Sam Tagataese 16. Jeremy Latimore 17. James Segeyaro
Out - Nil
Analysis - The Sharks have now suffered back to back losses and things don't get any easier, with a difficult trip to Townsville ahead for the defending premiers. A loss against the Cowboys could see the Sharks slip out of the Top 4 and Shane Flanaghan's men will be desperate to turn around their awful performance against the Broncos. Cronulla have made no changes to their 17, however hooker Jayden Brailey looms as a late inclusion after being named on the extended bench.
1. Jack Wighton 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Joseph Leilua 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Blake Austin 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Junior Paulo 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Shannon Boyd 11. Josh Papalii 12. Joseph Tapine 13. Elliot Whitehead 14. Kurt Baptiste 15. Clay Priest 16. Dave Taylor 17. Luke Bateman 18. Michael Oldfield 19. Jeff Lima
Analysis - Canberra are making a late season charge and very much looked like the Raiders we were familiar with last season, when their backs clicked into gear, piling on six tries in their 36-16 romp over the Warriors in New Zealand. They now return to Canberra Stadium where they host Penrith in what looms as one of the matches of the round. Ricky Stuart has made no changes to his 17, it what may well be a semi final dress rehearsal for the Green Machine if they can keep their late run going towards September.
1. Dylan Edwards 2. Josh Mansour 3. Tyrone Peachey 4. Waqa Blake 5. Dallin Watene Zelezniak 6. Matt Moylan 7. Nathan Cleary 8. James Tamou 9. Sione Katoa 10. Regan Campbell-Gillard 11. Corey Harawira 12. Isaah Yeo 13. Moses Leota 14. Tyrone May 15. Bryce Cartwright 16. Tim Browne 17. James Fisher-Harris 18. Trent Merrin 19. Dean Whare
In - Sione Katoa
Out - Peter Wallace
Analysis - Penrith stormed into sixth position on the NRL ladder, making it six wins straight, when they defeated the Cowboys at Pepper Stadium on Saturday night in an impressive performance from Anthony Griffin's men. Halfback Nathan Cleary was outstanding for the home side and looms as the key player in their clash against the Raiders. Hooker Peter Wallace will miss the match in a big blow, which sees Sione Katoa start in the number 9. Trent Merrin could also make a timely return after being named on the extended bench and would be a vital inclusion.
1. William Hopoate 2. Brett Morris 3. Josh Morris 4. Brenko Lee 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Matt Frawley 9. Moses Mbye 8. Aiden Tolman 17. Michael Lichaa 10. James Graham 11. Josh Jackson 12. Adam Elliot 13. David Klemmer 14. Francis Tualau 15. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 16. Danny Fualalo 7. Chase Stanley
Analysis - The Bulldogs just can't wait for the season to end by the looks of their effort in their loss to the Souths which means Des Hasler's men have now slumped to four straight losses. In further bad news for the Blue and Whites, star players Josh Reynolds and Sam Kasiano have both been ruled out, which makes their assignment on Sunday afternoon all the more difficult. Matt Frawley will start at five-eighth, with Michael Lichaa and Francis Tualau coming onto the interchange.
1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Matthew Wright 3. Dylan Walker 4. Brian Kelly 5. Akuila Uate 6. Blake Green 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 16. Darcy Lussick 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Martin Taupau 11. Frank Winterstein 12. Shaun Lane 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Lewis Brown 15. Lloyd Perrett 8. Brenton Lawrence 17. Addin Fonua-blake
In - Brian Kelly
Out - Brad Parker
Analysis - The Sea Eagles blew their Top 4 chances with an upset loss to the Tigers at Leichardt Oval and now find themselves clinging onto seventh position after looking like possible contenders only weeks ago. Manly now travel to ANZ Stadium, where they have the opportunity to try and recreate their Round 3 demolition of the Bulldogs, where they thrashed the Dogs 36-0 at Brookvale Oval. The Sea Eagles have lost centre Brad Parker for the season, after he did his ACL late in their loss to Wests, he is replaced by Brian Kelly. This is a massive game for the Eagles if they are the real deal in 2017.