NRL 25 days ago

Three Big Talking Points of The NRL Season So Far

  • Three Big Talking Points of The NRL Season So Far

    CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: Samuel Lisone of the Warriors runs the ball during the round three NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the New Zealand Warriors at GIO Stadium on March 24, 2018 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

A semblance of order has been restored to NRL proceedings after a chaotic first two rounds that saw a raft of shock results. The big favourites are starting to deliver on their promise and some smaller teams that flew out of the blocks in surprising fashion have now had their momentum checked. Here are three big talking points of the season so far:

Warriors continue to defy the odds

Many experts tipped the Warriors for the wooden spoon heading into the new season, but they have been forced to eat their words. The New Zealand outfit have won their first three games to sit top of the ladder along with the Dragons and excitement abounds among their fans. 

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An opening day win against Souths was followed by a 20-8 victory over Gold Coast, and they edged a thriller against the Raiders at the weekend. Two Shaun Johnson field goals in the dying minutes handed the Warriors a sensational comeback victory, and they have displayed great mental strength so far this season. 

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Tohu Harris, Johnson and David Fusitu’a have all impressed and this side could continue to embarrass the pre-season naysayers.

Roosters and Storm starting to look formidable

After round two, the top of the ladder had a very unusual look to it, with the Knights, Warriors, Panthers, Dragons and Tigers all at on maximum points. The Knights, Panthers and Tigers all lost at the weekend, and the ladder is now starting to look more familiar. 

The Roosters destroyed Newcastle on Sunday to quash Knights fans’ early season optimism, while the Storm bounced back from their shock defeat at the hands of the Tigers in style. In a rematch of last season’s Grand Final, they took on the Cowboys – who have since bolstered their side with halfback legend Johnathan Thurston, front-row enforcer Matt Scott and Melbourne prop Jordan McLean – and totally overwhelmed them.

It finished 30-14, and both the Storm and the Roosters have now soared up the ladder. It should not be long before they start to battle it out for supremacy, and they are now the joint favourites with bookmakers to finish in the top four.

Eels slipping to new lows

Before the season began, Parramatta looked like a dark horse for glory after bringing back former Dally M medallist and fan favourite Jarryd Hayne. They ended their finals drought last season and the presence of Hayne gave everyone at the club a massive boost, so they should be kicking on this year. 

Brad Arthur must have been delighted when he saw the draw, as his men were given an easy ride, and the Eels looked nailed-on for a top-six finish, not least thanks to the strength of their forward pack. But the season has thus far been an unmitigated disaster for Parramatta as they have slumped to three straight defeats. They suffered utter humiliation in round two as they lost 54-0 to the Sea Eagles, and it has since gone from bad to worse. 

A defensive improvement could not stop the Eels from losing 14-4 to the Sharks at the weekend and injury to Hayne rubbed salt in the wounds. It is now back to the drawing board for Arthur as he bids to rally his troops for their next game, which comes on Easter Monday against a plucky Tigers side.

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