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Sport NRL trials: Who fired and who didn't for each club

03:00  01 march  2021
03:00  01 march  2021 Source:   sportingnews.com

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The weekend's trials gave coaches and fans a final glimpse of how their teams will line up to start the new season.

From new recruits, players returning from long-term injury lay-offs, and others in need of a big season – these matches were the stepping stone for a big year ahead for many players.

With two weeks until the season kicks off on March 11th with the Rabbitohs and Storm, coaches will now begin finetuning having witnessed their team's final hit-out of the season.

Here's what we learned from the trials, plus who impressed and who didn't out of your side over the weekend.

Brisbane Broncos

Result: defeated 32-18 by the Cowboys

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Who fired: A dazzling first try from Tesi Niu in the third minute against the Cowboys will have Broncos fans licking their lips. The versatile 19-year-old slotted in at centre and combined excellently with Jamayne Isaako and Xavier Coates playing down the right side.

Who didn't: After dominating the first stanza, the Broncos' forwards let the Cowboys walk all over them in the second-half. Kevin Walters' defence just crumbled once starting hooker Jake Turpin was taken off in the second half, as the Cowboys had far too much joy through the middle and on both edges. Worryingly similar signs to Brisbane's defence last year.

Canberra Raiders

Result: defeated 26-20 by the Roosters

Who fired: Much of the talk around Canberra this season surrounds who will take John Bateman's right-side edge spot, and Hudson Young made it his own on Saturday against the Roosters. The powerful backrower was all sorts of trouble for the Tricolours, scoring the opening try and offering plenty of muscle in defence.

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Who didn't: Corey Horsburgh was out to make an impression on Ricky Stuart after his off-season of misdemeanours but failed to do so. The Raiders firebrand was placed on report twice, once for a shoulder charge, and can expect to face time on the sidelines. Stuart has already told the emerging forward he'll start the season in reserve grade after being caught DUI.

Canterbury Bulldogs

Result: 16-10 win over the Sharks

Who fired: It's a new-look forward pack under Trent Barrett, but it was a Bulldogs regular who impressed most. Renouf Atoni had a whopping 182 metres playing off the interchange, steamrolling Cronulla's big pack with his hard-running. 25-year-old Atoni played 16 games for the Bulldogs last year, but could find himself with a bigger role this year after the weekend' display.

Who didn't: It was a gruelling first hit-out for Kyle Flanagan in his new colours. The star Bulldogs recruit was swamped by Sharks defenders all day and not given many opportunities to play his hand. Flanagan took the weight of playmaking duties for his new side, having been 2IC at former clubs the Roosters and Sharks.

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Cronulla Sharks

Result: defeated 16-10 by Bulldogs

Who fired: There's the obvious one in two-tryscorer Ronaldo Mulitalo, but John Morris will have liked what he saw from fullback Will Kennedy against the Bulldogs. The incumbent No. 1 had his hand in alot of the Sharks' attack, laying on two tries and three linebreaks, and was overall clinical at the back.

Who didn't: Lock was a problem position for the Sharks last year. Morris experimented with Billy Magoulias and Jack Williams at lock on Saturday and both notably struggled, particularly in defence. Williams was touted as the man to take Paul Gallen's No. 13 jersey in 2020, but didn't offer much with the ball against the Bulldogs.

Gold Coast Titans

Result: 12-12 draw with the Warriors

Who fired: All eyes were on the new recruits, but it was old-timer who impressed most for the Titans. Jarrod Wallace has reignited his NRL career under Justin Holbrook and if his performance against the Warriors gave any indication, the former Origin prop could be in for a big year. He scored a rare four-pointer, and led the Titans in the yardage department, amassing 148 metres off 17 runs and 59 post-contact metres.

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Who didn't: Ash Taylor had a fairly quiet day at the office after his return to form last season. The big-money halfback only had two runs for 26 metres, made two errors, while his kicking game was also slightly off.

Manly Sea Eagles

Result: defeated 52-10 by the Tigers

Who fired: Kieran Foran is expected to get first nod for the No. 6 jersey but Josh Schuster banged the door down with his performance in a heavily defeated side against the Tigers. The young towering playmaker plays with maturity beyond his years, throwing himself into the line and aiming up in defence. The youngster was rewarded with a tidy try at the end of the match.

Who didn't: Josh Aloiai had a big opportunity to put his former side on notice following his ugly exit over the off-season but failed to do so. Brought in as a direct replacement for Addin Fonua-Blake, Aloiai had zero impact for Des Hasler's side off the bench.

Melbourne Storm

Result: defeated Knights 30-10

Who fired: Jahrome Hughes's stocks have risen largely after his season for the Storm in 2020 and he continued that form on Saturday against the Knights. The in-demand Kiwi played with great control in a dominant display by the premiers. He played a starring role in attack and finished the day with a try and 61 metres from five runs.

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Who didn't: Craig Bellamy would've been happy with the overall effort of his side, by if anyone it was Reimis Smith was a tad quiet against the Knights. The new recruit was playing out position at centre, but had just four runs for 46 metres in the 20-point win in Albury.

Newcastle Knights

Result: defeated 30-10 by the Storm

Who fired: In a well-beaten side, Bradman Best was strong on the left edge for the Knights, running for 99 metres in an error-free performance. The emerging centre is bound to have another big year for the Novacastrians.

Who didn't: While he played limited minutes, Mitchell Pearce didn't quite stand out as he would've expected to after his horror-off-season. The Knights veteran had plenty of pressure applied on him, but didn't quite come up with any solutions in attack for his side without sidekick Kalyn Ponga on the field.

North Queensland Cowboys

Result: defeated Broncos 34-18

Who fired: Cowboys fans would've been happy just for Michael Morgan to get through a half, but the injury-stricken playmaker fired. Laying on a beautiful try for Mitch Dunn off the boot, and linking up beautifully with Scott Drinkwater at the back, it was a masterful performance from Morgan, who has had a wretched injury run over the past two years.

Who didn't: Justin O'Neil was quiet at centre for the Cowboys, running just four times for 40 metres. The veteran back didn't have his best defensive performance either, making a couple of poor reads that led to Broncos tries in the opening half.

Parramatta Eels

Result: 16-6 loss to the Panthers

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Who fired: After a pre-season switch to the left side, Mitchell Moses had a decent night, even if the Eels lacked attacking spark. Often criticised for not going after a game given his role, Moses ran the ball plenty, with 88 run metres by the end of the night. The Eels need Moses to fire if they're any chance of ending their huge premiership drought this season and Saturday was a good sign.

Who didn't: Moses' halves partner Dylan Brown had a night to forget in defence, missing a game-high seven tackles. Brown was completely fooled by a Jarome Luai step close to the line, that left the Panthers playmaker to stroll through.

Penrith Panthers

Result: 16-6 win over Parramatta

Who fired: Winger Brian To’o was a metre machine during the win, running for a game-high 207 metres. With Mansour headed to the Bunnies, To’o’s metres from the back will be crucial to the Panthers as Charlie Staines finds his feet in first grade. Along with this, To’o broke three tackles and should have had a try in the second half, but referee Ashley Klein ruled a forward pass.

Who didn't: The Panthers pulled a late switch before the Eels game, dropping Liam Martin to the bench in place of Kurt Capewell. Despite being one of their best in 2020, Martin was quiet during the win, recording 24 tackles as well as running for 49 metres off just four runs. With co-captain Nathan Cleary hinting that he may start from the bench, the Panthers will be looking for more impact from their back-rower.

South Sydney Rabbitohs

Result: beat the Dragons 48-16

Who fired: There was lightning performances across the park for South Sydney but the standout was easily Latrell Mitchell in his return from a long-term hamstring injury from last year. The Rabbitohs fullback was in everything in a dominant first-half, linking up perfectly down both sides of the field. He finished with three try assists and a four-pointer of his own. Something big is brewing this year with Mitchell at fullback.

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Who didn't: In a first half where the Rabbitohs tore the Dragons to threads with the Steeden, it was surprising to see Damien Cook only finish the game with four runs for 36 metres. But it seems unfair to single out a Rabbitohs player for a bad performance because realistically there weren't any.

St. George Illawarra Dragons

Result: defeated 48-16 by the Rabbitohs

Who fired: Fullback Matt Dufty has young gun Cody Ramsey snapping at his heels but was alive in the loss to South Sydney. The livewire No. 1 offered plenty of support, and actually linked up really well with Ramsey. Dufty finished the night with 207 run metres, a try assist and two linebreak assists in a performance that will show Griffin he's worthy of loyalty.

Who didn't: He's been said to have had a big pre-season, but Corey Norman didn't do enough in Saturday's heavy Charity Shield defeat. Ahead of an important year for off-contract five-eighth, Norman ran the ball just three times for 16 metres and didn't ask any questions of the Rabbitohs right side defence with the ball. The Dragons immediately looked more threatening when Adam Clune was brought on.

Sydney Roosters

Result: 26-20 win over Canberra

Who fired: Despite the hype surrounding Joseph Suaalii, it was the Roosters other teenage sensation, five-eighth Sam Walker that stepped up in their win over the Raiders. Walker came off the bench after playing big minutes in the NSW Cup and instantly made an impact, scoring a try in the 46th minute. What stood out was the way he scored it, starting the play with a 20 metre cut out to Joseph Manu, throwing a similar pass to the equally as impressive Angus Crichton before sprinting to link up as support for his second-rower to cross for a try. To see high-energy and effort plays like this from an 18-year-old should have Roosters fans salivating, with his line break to set up James Tedesco’s try the cherry on top.

Who didn't: It should speak to how well the Roosters played that a guy like Drew Hutchinson finds himself on this list but the 25-year-old was noticeably quiet during the win. Hutchinson also missed 3 tackles in defence and with the emergence of Lam, Walker and co., his position in the halves pecking order looks shacky.

New Zealand Warriors

Result: drew 12-12 with the Titans

Who fired: There were some very encouraging signs from Addin Fonua-Blake in his first game in Warriors colours. The Tongan Test front-rower was a handful in the middle for the Titans, and led the Warriors forward pack in dominant fashion, finishing with 14 runs for 169 run metres, and 87 post contact metres.

Who didn't: Not quite a stand-out effort for another new recruit Kane Evans off the bench. The big-bodied forward didn't really have an impact for Nathan Brown's side despite his side dominating the yardage.

Wests Tigers

Result: 58-10 win over the Sea Eagles

Who fired: Daine Laurie did everything he could to wrap up the fullback position for the Tigers. The former Panther scored the opening two tries of the game as well as setting up one of their nine tries and had three line-breaks, endearing himself to the Tigers faithful as they gave him a standing ovation.

Who didn't: When you put up 58, it’s tough to single out anyone for having a poor performance. The trick will be for coach Michael Maguire to build off this performance to ensure they deliver when it matters in round one against the Raiders.

Folau's NRL bid slammed by former Test teammate .
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