Manly Watch On Amid Growing Injury Toll
With a growing injury crisis taking hold of the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, the club's depth has already been tested - and those at the top level have been keeping a keen eye on their Blacktown club mates. After NRL five-eighth suffered a devastating ACL injury on Friday night, all eyes were once again on Jackson Hastings the following day, playing his second successive game in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW.
The Sea Eagles' clash with the Bulldogs at Belmore Sports Ground was attended by a number of Manly NRL stars, most notably halfback and captain Daly Cherry-Evans. It was Cherry-Evans' reported altercation with Hastings which resulted in the 22-year-old's relegation by Trent Barrett - and the pair could yet be halves partners again given the injury toll.
Hastings, who suffered a minor finger injury during the game, failed to replicate his Round 7 dominance as the Bulldogs ran out convincing 44-14 winners. Likely the best in the beaten side was another player who has spent significant time in the halves: Tom Wright. Having played five-eighth for Manly's premiership-winning Holden Cup side last year, Wright's talent is unquestionable and could another option for Barrett to make his NRL debut.
Moceidreke the Hero for Mounties
As Mounties registered a second big win over the Wyong Roos for 2018, Sitiveni Moceidreke took the spotlight with a 24-point haul.
Moceidreke, who had three tries to his name in the previous seven rounds, doubled his tally with a hat-trick at Morry Breen Oval. The Fijian international has also taken on first-choice kicking duties for the first time in his Intrust Super Premiership career, kicking six goals from nine attempts to heap more pain on the Roos.
The game takes Moceidreke's season points tally to 82, making him the competition's leading point-scorer ahead of the recently-departed Josh Drinkwater. Moceidreke will next be in action when Mounties host the Warriors next Saturday, to be broadcast live on Fox League.
Heavens Open as QBE Stadium Christened
If Auckland-based fans were looking forward to attending the first game of Intrust Super Premiership played at QBE Stadium, the weather may have made them think twice.
The Warriors opted for the change of venue to preserve the newly-resown surface of Mt Smart Stadium - and it proved to be a masterstroke, as conditions would have been detrimental to their regular home ground. Torrential rain came over the North Harbour Stadium for the Warriors match against the Jets, flooding parts of the field and having a major impact on the contest. On two occasions, kicks which held up in puddles resulted in tries, while the slippery conditions made goal-line defence difficult.
With gale-force winds also affecting play, it is hard to be too harsh on Jets halfback and goalkicker Kyle Flanagan, who was able to convert just one of Newtown's four tries. It did prove the difference, however, with Channel Harris-Tavita kicking four goals for the Warriors and helping the home side to a 20-18 win.
Phillips Makes Club Debut to Remember
In what was his first game for the Penrith Panthers, winger Tyrone Phillips wasted little time pushing his case for an immediate NRL call-up.
Having been sidelined with a pectoral injury, the off-season recruit settled into his new colours with a hat-trick against the Dragons, showing off his trademark speed as the Panthers maintained their place in the top four. It was a good sign for the former Bulldogs captain, who has six NRL games to his name - with the aim of adding to that total at his new club.
With Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards suffering a shoulder injury in the side's NRL win over the Bulldogs, it opens up another first grade spot. While Phillips, form five-eighth Jarome Luai and young fullback Caleb Aekins could all be options in the No.1 jersey, another option for head coach Anthony Griffin will be Dallin Watene Zelezniak, who could shift from the wing into the custodian role. That gives Phillips a chance of a selection in the top grade, even if a relatively slim one.
Experience the Difference in Magpies Clash
As the Wentworthville Magpies prepared for their second clash with namesake team Western Suburbs, they did so knowing that two very different sides would take the field compared to the Round 4 encounter. The key changes, it must be said, proved vital.
While Western Suburbs were without star halfback Josh Drinkwater - who has signed with the Catalans Dragons until the end of the year - and equally impressive winger Mahe Fonua, who instead earned an NRL recall, Wentworthville welcomed back significant experience. Cameron King, Siosaia Vave and Josh Hoffman were all a part of the Magpies' side last week and were once again called back from the NRL squad, with the trio directly delivering the win.
Responsible for all four of Wentworthville's tries, the three players will have impressed head coach Brad Arthur - but for now can enjoy the third successive win for the Nathan Cayless-coached side.