NRL Round 16: team of the round
Another round of the National Rugby League is complete and as per usual, we have been stunned and impressed by individual performances.
There were some incredible team performances, such as the Canterbury Bulldogs toppling the Melbourne Storm or the Newcastle Knights finding their best against the Wests Tigers But, each of those team performances were backed up by incredible individual performances.
So then, what were the greatest performances and who made the round 16 team of the week? Read on to see whether your favourite player made the team. Feel free to comment below as to who you think should be in the team of the week.
Fullback: Ben Barba (CBY)
Some will want to see Matt Bowen in the No. 1 spot here, but the simple truth is that Ben Barba was the best fullback of the round. Against the competition leaders and title favourites Melbourne Storm, Barba produced arguably his greatest performance of the season and commandeered his team to a gritty 20-4 victory.
With a potential Origin spot on the line, Barba scored the opening try for the Bulldogs before setting up two incredible tries in the second half – the second of which, is without doubt the try of the season so far. He finished with 198m, three line breaks and 16 tackle busts to consolidate his position as fullback of the round.
Wingers: Ryan Morgan (PAR) and Tautau Moga (SYD)
First up, I know both of these players are listed as centres and not wingers, but considering the number of incredible performances from centres this week, it seems only fair to include both Morgan and Moga’s sensational efforts.
Ryan Morgan was the only reason that Parramatta beat Penrith on Saturday night – not Chris Sandow and not even Nathan Hindmarsh, as good as both their performances were. Morgan was their go-to man in attack down the left-hand side and finished the night with a whopping 215m, seven tackle breaks and a try. He was also the man that got the Eels in field goal range.
Tautau Moga was outstanding for me in a losing side – finishing the match with the most line breaks out of both sides. This is a pretty amazing statistic when you consider Moga’s Roosters were beaten by 52 points.
Moga scored one of the Roosters three tries and chalked up 135m – consolidating himself as one of footy’s brightest young stars and definitely a player to keep an eye on.
Centres: Timana Tahu (NEW) and Jamie Lyon (MAN)
Tahu finally showed why Newcastle have persisted with him in their starting side – scoring a hat-trick en route to an incredible come-from-behind victory over the Wests Tigers. The veteran centre finished the night with just 95m to his name, but had three line breaks and 11 tackle breaks in addition to his hat trick.
Completing our backline is Manly’s Jamie Lyon who was once again superb in his team’s demolition of the Sydney Roosters. Lyon scored two tries late against the Roosters and kicked eight conversions – giving him a personal tally of 24 points, which was the highest of the round.
Five-eighth: Matt Bowen (NQL)
Again, Bowen was listed at fullback for the Cowboys clash against the Raiders on Saturday night, but considering he’s played five-eighth for the club several times this season and practically played five-eighth on the night, I think it’s fair enough to push him in to the No. 6 jumper.
Also playing for a potential Origin recall, Bowen continued his fine form for the Cowboys – throwing the final pass in five of North Queensland’s seven tries. Only two of them would be credited to him as try assists, but he also had two line breaks and three line break assists throughout the match to continue his push for a Maroon jumper.
Half: Chris Sandow (PAR)
Did Sandow have the best game of his career against the Panthers? Not in a million years. He was patchy at times, didn’t dominate in attack and wasn’t anywhere near the best player on the ground. But among all the speculation and criticism about his form this season for the Eels, Sandow finally delivered for his team when they needed him most. And at the end of the day, that’s all the Eels really need him to do.
Front row: James Graham (CBY) and Josh McGuire (BRI)
Actually starting off the bench for the Bulldogs, James Graham was superb in his side’s victory over the competition leaders and paved the way for the likes of Barba and Inu to work their magic. In just 56 minutes on the field, Graham racked up 110m in 15 hit-ups and made 43 tackles.
McGuire was another standout up front – dominating up front for the Broncos in their solid win over the Rabbitohs. The prop made 118m for his team, with 15 hit-ups. He also made 46 tackles in just 68 minutes of football.
Hooker: Matt Ballin (MAN)
Tough to go past the heroic return of Robbie Farah for the Wests Tigers but let’s face it – they did get flogged by Newcastle. Thus the hooker of the round is Manly’s Matt Ballin who was superb in his team’s big win over the Roosters. Ballin led all players in tackles, racked 141m in kicks and recorded two try assists for the Sea Eagles. He might never get the Origin duties that he perhaps deserves thanks to the brilliance of Cameron Smith, but he certainly showcased just how strong he was over the weekend.
Second row: Tony Williams (MAN), Corey Parker (BRI) and Nathan Hindmarsh (MAN)
In his first game back from injury, Tony Williams was his usual wrecking-ball self and had New South Wales’ fans rejoicing after his dynamic performance. Williams played the full 80 minutes and racked up 105m from 14 hit-ups, which also included two offloads, eight tackle busts and a beautiful chip-kick try assist for Steve Matai.
However, Williams’ performance was still eclipsed by the next two men, who were simply phenomenal for their respective clubs. Brisbane’s Corey Parker was playing his first game since Origin II and he returned to form sensationally. He made 39m from 17 hit-ups and a staggering 59 tackles. As much as New South Wales were rejoicing over Williams, Queensland were celebrating over Parker.
But the man who stole the show was Nathan Hindmarsh, who turned back the clock to deliver a thrilling victory for Parramatta over the Penrith Panthers. Hindy made 200m through 23 hit-ups, 43 tackles, six offloads, nine tackle breaks, one linebreak, one try assist to Luke Burt and one linebreak assist to Fuifui Moimoi.
Even if it was from a forward pass.
What do you think, Roarers? Who makes your team of the week?