Sport NRL round 4: What we liked and disliked

12:45  05 april  2021
12:45  05 april  2021 Source:   sportingnews.com

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Footy is back in a big way and round four of the Telstra Premiership promises to be another cracker when it kicks off from Thursday night so it's time to get your tips in. With a full round of matches producing seven winners and two teams sharing the points in Penrith and Newcastle, tipsters now And here's the predictions from our panel of experts for round four . Fox Sports reporter Hannah Hollis is leading the way from a chasing field that includes former NRL coach Matthew Elliott, NRL .com journalist Zac Bailey, Fox Sports commentator Michael Ennis and the mysterious NRL Fantasy guru

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There was plenty happening across the NRL over the weekend, with some blowout games.

Canterbury, Manly, Brisbane and North Queensland were all outclassed by much strong opposition, while the likes of Melbourne and South Sydney again showed their premiership credentials.

Here's what we liked and didn't like from round four.


What we liked: Jarome Luai's finesse

There was much to like about this performance from the Panthers, but Jarome Luai's performance with the Steeden stands out.

The five-eighth had Penrith's left side attack singing, with the crafty playmaker having a hand in five of Penrith's eight tries.

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Luai's running game also caused plenty of troubles on Manly's leaky right side defence.

There aren't too many players who play what they see better than Luai and the Origin hopeful has again started off the season in electric form for Ivan Cleary's side.

What we didn't like: Defence of Daly Cherry-Evans

No   individual is capable of lifting Manly out of the slump they're in at the moment, but Sea Eagles fans will want a lot more from their captain Daly Cherry-Evans.

The veteran halfback's defence hasn't been up to standard and he again missed four tackles in the heavy loss to Penrith, following last week's poor effort against the Dragons.

Questions have now been raised over whether Cherry-Evans is worth the reported $1.2 million yearly outlay, given the value the Sea Eagles are getting out their captain this year.

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What we liked: Damien Cooks's running game return

Criticised for sitting back in the Rabbitohs' opening two games, Damien Cook's running game was again on show in the hammering of the Bulldogs.

The Test and Origin No. 9 was better last week, but was at his best against the Bulldogs on Good Friday, making seven dashes from dummy half for a total of 92 metres.

He also had two try assists and a team-high 47 tackles to go along with it, in the 38-0 win.

The Rabbitohs' best footy comes when Cook finds space around the ruck and that's exactly how they tore the Bulldogs apart.

What we didn't like: Bulldogs fail to score, again

A lot went wrong for the Bulldogs in this loss, as they lost playmaker Lachlan Lewis inside 15 minutes to concussion, as well as hooker Sione Katoa.

But facing adversity from injuries aside, they're inability to build any momentum and score points is alarming.

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Trent Barrett was the mastermind behind Penrith's attack in 2020, but his arrival has done nothing to spark the Bulldogs' attack.

All up, the Bulldogs have now scored just two tries in four games to have the NRL's worst attack.

No doubt they lack class in the spine, but it's the attacking fundamentals that are amiss in their performances to start the year.


What we liked: Ryan Papenhuyzen

It goes without saying, Ryan Papenhuyzen's four tries inside 11 minutes to bury the Broncos was the round's marquee moment.

Returning from injury, people would've forgiven the dynamic Storm fullback for easing his way into this contest, but he did anything but.

Papenhuyzen's support play and incredible ability to read the flow of the game is becoming more and more evident each week. He showed off his ballplaying skills on Friday as well.

It's scary to think his best footy is still ahead of him.

What we didn't like: Kevin Walters' puzzling halves dilemma

It's a question many have tried to answer over the past three years, and one Kevin Walters is clearly struggling with now, but Brisbane's halves need to be locked down.

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In a late change, Walters opted to give Tom Dearden the start against the Storm, but bizarrely left halfback Brodie Croft on his bench and used him for 25 minutes.

It offered the Broncos no value or point of difference off their interchange, and will do nothing for the confidence of either Dearden or Croft long-term.

Dearden was impressive enough to command a start next week, while Anthony Milford was also more involved.

For the betterment of all three players, and the team as a collective, Walters needs to pick his halves and settle on it moving forward.


What we liked: William Kennedy

The early signs from William Kennedy suggest the Sharks No. 1 could be one of the breakout stars of the NRL by season's end.

The elusive fullback has been arguably his side's form player so far this year and was again on song in the rout of the Cowboys, scoring two tries to go with his 181 run metres and linebreak assist.

A special mention also goes out to Chad Townsend, who had one of his better games in a long time, setting up three of his side's eight tries and putting forward a brilliant kicking display.

What we didn't like: Cowboys effort in defence

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But their 38-point loss to the Sharks on Saturday which extended their winless start to the year under new coach Todd Payten was unacceptable.

The Cowboys defensive effort, particularly on the edge, was deplorable as they leaked three tries inside six minutes prior to halftime to go in the sheds 36-6 down at halftime.

After ringing the changes following last week's demolition against the Titans, Payten was imploring his side to show more accountability but they did anything but that against the Sharks.


What we liked: Canberra's desperation defence

It was a performance that would've really impressed Ricky Stuart.

Canberra's overall defence was encouraging, shutting out an in-form Titans outfit, however, the desperation shown to stop two Anthony Don try attempts stood out as key in getting the two points.

Don looked to score two tries down the right edge prior to halftime that would've put the Gold Coast well in the lead. But the Raiders' tremendous scramble defence saw both attempts from the Titans winger denied.

It set up the victory in the second half as Stuart's side scored twice through Josh Papalii and Ryan Sutton to claim the 20-4 win.

What we didn't like: Jamal Fogarty's quad injury

The Titans' attack struggled immensely once halfback Jamal Fogarty went off with a quad injury, and the club will be sweating on scans this week.

Already without Ash Taylor (hand) for a couple of weeks, the loss of Fogarty is going to sting as well.

Fogarty was removed in the 50th minute and the Gold Coast attack more or less fell apart, as they failed to convert any attacking territory into points.

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In the likelihood both Fogarty and Taylor are out next week for the game against Newcastle, Holbrook may look to fullback AJ Brimson and Tannah Boyd as his halves pairing.


What we liked: Tariq Sims

All eyes were on Tariq Sims' face-off with former teammate Tyson Frizell in the latter's first hitout against his former side and it was Sims who very much came out on top.

The left edge forward was in everything, scoring two tries inside 10 minutes after halftime to set up the win, to go along with a statline that read 129 metres, three tackle breaks and a linebreak.

Sims also did well in combination with Adam Clune and Brayden Wiliame to contain the running threat of Frizell, who was largely kept quiet the whole afternoon.

After a couple of lean years disrupted by injuries, Sims is returning to some of his best form.

What we didn't like: Knights' lengthy injury list

Newcastle's injury woes keep going from worse to worse.

Already without Kalyn Ponga and a number of other starting players, Newcastle look to have lost Mitchell Pearce and Tex Hoy to long-term injuries.

There are concerns Pearce could be sidelined for up to nine weeks with a suspected pec tear, while Hoy is awaiting scans on a hamstring injury that saw him taken off at half-time in the loss to the Dragons.

Kurt Mann (concussion) and David Klemmer (knee) are also in doubt for next week's clash with Adam O'Brien conceding after the 22-13 loss he may struggle to name a 21-man squad.

Hardly the situation Knights fans will want their club coming off two tough losses.


What we liked: Sam Walker's debut

The kid is as special as they say.

Sam Walker's NRL debut was as anticipated as they come, and the young No. 7 blitzed it in the Roosters' resilient win over the Warriors.

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Walker's kicking game was a stand out but a classy play to set up Nat Butcher will have Roosters fans salivating. He more than stood up in defence despite being tested by a big Warriors pack.

There were fears the Roosters' season was off the rails after they lost halves Luke Keary and Lachlan Lam, but Walker's debut will have done more than allay those concerns.

What we didn't like: Warriors losing Addin Fonua-Blake

Having stood out as arguably the best buy so far this season, Addin Fonua-Blake going off with a knee injury was a tough sight for Warriors fans.

The prop was taken off after 14 minutes following a collision with Sitili Tupouniua and did not return from the sheds.

Nathan Brown said after the loss he didn't expect any major damage for Fonua-Blake, but confirmed it was unlikely he'd be fit for next week's clash.

NRL Physio reports it appeared Fonua-Blake had suffered a minor PCL injury, which usually comes with a 3-4 week recovery time.


What we liked: Parramatta's unsung heroes

It's easy to talk about the likes of Junior Paulo, Reed Mahoney and Mitchell Moses whenever the Parramatta outfit chalk up a victory.

But again on Monday, it was the unsung heroes in the blue and gold who got them the win.

Tom Opacic crossed for a double in the centres, while Marata Niukore continued his shift to the centres in style, scoring a try and making countless great reads in defence on the edge.

Isaiah Papali'i filled in again for Ryan Matterson in the second-row, and again proved why he is one of the best signings of the season so far. He finished the game with 146 metres, 26 tackles and a try to his name.

What we didn't like: Tigers' lack of polish

Nothing that the Wests Tigers did over the course of the 80 minutes resembled anything that looked cohesive, despite having their fair share of possession and almost clinching victory towards the end of the game.

Luke Brooks struggled with his last-play options on multiple occasions, while Daine Laurie and James Roberts seemed like they were constantly trying to create something out of nothing.

Moses Mbye looked creative when he came on the field and Adam Doueihi put up some lovely bombs, but it couldn't solve the overall lack of structure for the Tigers.

Parramatta were by no means at their best, and they still managed to win the game. If the Tigers could have been more clinical with the ball, they would have won the game.

Vatuvei's giant impact on carbon-copy centurion .
Warriors winger Ken Maumalo has credited club icon Manu Vatuvei as "a big part of my career" ahead of his 100th game.Maumalo now credits the Warriors legend, with whom he played during his first three years in the NRL, as "a big part of my career" as he closes in on his 100th game.

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