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Eight talking points from NRL Round 6

Avagalu Seumanufagai of the Wests Tigers. (AAP Image/Michael Chambers)
Editor
9th April, 2017
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Another week is in the books and what a round it was. The Knights caused a scare, Mitchell Moses laughed off the adversity, Johnathan Thurston was injured and the Canberra Raiders put up 40 while the Dragons won at Brookvale for the first time since 2008. Welcome to The Roar‘s Round 6 NRL Talking Points.

Brisbane at their best are dangerous, but the Roosters have plenty to work on
The Broncos finally got their attack in order to open Round 6 and boy was it a joy to watch.

They threw caution out the back window and with good reason. It seemed like everything they tried came off – offloads, kicks, passes. The creativity of Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford was strong, their outside backs played fantastically and they looked like a different team.

I’ve been incredibly harsh on Brisbane so far this season, so it’s only fair credit is given where it is due. They were sensational and if they can string together more performances like that, the competition needs to be on notice.

Consistency will be the key moving forward.

The Roosters, on the other hand have a lot to work on. While they still sit near the top of the table, they haven’t put a convincing performance on the board for a number of weeks and have now lost two on the trot.

While they played well against the Sea Eagles, it was hard to pinpoint anything they did right in the second against the Broncos and in such an important sort of statement game, getting blown out is far from ideal.

Their defence proved to be soft and their attack not much better. Shawn Kenny-Dowall dropping the ball is like the sun rising in the morning and both Mitchell Pearce and Luke Keary struggled to put their effect on the game.

The Roosters do have the talent and they have shown it early in the season, but things are going south for them at the moment.

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Corbin Sims Brisbane Broncos NRL Rugby League 2017

Time for Frawley to be the Bulldogs permanent No.7
I’m not even sure this one needs a lot of discussion and while Moses Mbye supporters are going to see it differently, I haven’t seen too many out in force since Friday.

The Bulldogs almost got rolled by Newcastle. In fact, they were behind in the first half with an attack that just wasn’t working in the slightest. Mbye was uninvolved and struggled to do much right with the ball in hand.

Josh Reynolds played decently and fought hard, but Mbye might as well have been missing in action. Enter Matt Frawley.

He helped turn the game for the Bulldogs, playing 55 minutes and barely having a bad touch, scoring a try and assisting another as he led Canterbury to victory.

Des Hasler has admitted he is pushing for the no.7 jersey and after a brilliant performance last week when Mbye was out injured, it looks like it’ll be only a matter of times before Mbye is an afterthought and Frawley in the starting 13.

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Corey Harawira-Naera has thrown a hat in the ring for rookie of the year
Look, the Panthers lost. I get it. But if there was a bright spot for the suspension and injury-hit club then it was youngster Corey Harawira-Naera.

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While the Panthers did hang in there, they would have liked to do a lot more than that against a struggling South Sydney Rabbitohs outfit. It was hard to know what to make of the game, but Naera in just his third first grade game made a noticeable impact, and not for the first time.

Making his debut against the Knights in Round 4, Naera made an immediate impact breaking the line, making some big tackles and scoring a try.

He then made almost 130 metres in a losing effort against the Melbourne Storm, before backing up with more strong running and another try against the Rabbitohs.

He might have come in because Bryce Cartwright was injured, but there’s a good chance he is going to keep a spot somewhere and just keep improving.

Just how far can the Dragons go in 2017, and does Paul McGregor deserve a new contract?
No Josh Dugan, playing away at Brookvale Oval. It was supposed to bring an end to the Dragons’ incredible run of form to begin the season.

They came out and fired again though, racking up 35 points on the Manly Sea Eagles in a display that was impressive to watch.

McGregor’s men weren’t afraid to try things in attack and you have to wonder why they are such a different team now to the one they wheeled out in the Charity Shield.

The Dragons next three rounds, which see them play the Cowboys, Storm and Roosters are going to tell us a lot about where they will end up. They haven’t yet beat a side who has played well against them, but then teams seems to be putting in their worst performance of the season against the Red V.

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I don’t want to say they will make the finals, but where you would have been punched before kindly being told to take your opinion and shove it before the season started, it’s now worth a debate.

As for McGregor, who is off contract at the end of the season, it’s still very much up for debate. The rumour mill before the season said he needed to win four of six, and now it’s that a contract will be signed sometime in the next few weeks.

A bit more time should be given before he is signed, but he doesn’t appear to be directly in the firing line regardless.

Gareth Widdop St George Illawarra Dragons NRL Rugby League 2017

$4 million on the sidelines and still the Titans fight
The Titans are the bravest team in the competition. Bar none.

This is a side who came into their clash with the Raiders missing $4 million worth of talent. Jarryd Hayne, Kevin Proctor, Chris McQueen, Dan Sarginson, Nathan Peats, John Olive, William Zillman, Agnatius Passi and Tyrone Roberts headlined the grandstand crew on the Gold Coast.

And yet the Titans fought. They were down 24-0. They could have rolled over and lost by 60 or more against a Raiders side whose attack is finally starting to fire.

But they didn’t. Instead, Neil Henry’s men got their defence into gear, then scored three back-to-back tries to get into the game.

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Sure, they went on to lose pretty big, but that one bit of fight and only conceding 42 shows you what sort of a club the Titans are.

The Tigers finally realise potential in the face of adversity
To say it’s been an ordinary week for the Tigers would be the understatement of the century. Ivan Cleary might have been signed as coach, but reports of Mitchell Moses asking for a release, along with Aaron Woods and James Tedesco struggling to agree to new contracts saw a busy week for reporters.

That was all squashed as they ran onto the field in Townsville. Instead of playing like they have for most of the season, the Tigers looked like the side many were predicting would make the top eight and played strong football.

Beating the Cowboys in Townsville is no easy feat. They came firing out of the gates and had the Cowboys on the ropes. Their defence then was the order of the day as they got the win.

A club in turmoil doesn’t defend like that with their backs to the wall. Cleary might be just what the doctor ordered for the Tigers.

Kieran Foran can guide the Warriors to the finals
Kieran Foran missed the first four rounds of the competition and the Warriors looked dreadful. Absolutely awful. Kieran Foran has played the last two rounds and it’s not a coincidence the Warriors have won two straight.

Instead of their only attacking option being Shaun Johnson, the side have stood up at both ends of the park. The spine are in working order and the forward pack are starting to get into the games.

They have only beaten the injury-ravaged Gold Coast Titans and poorish Parramatta Eels of course, so there are still questions and plenty of doubts to prove wrong, but the signs are positive for the Warriors.

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Cooper Cronk to retire? Tell him he’s dreamin’
It’s just the vibe of the thing, really.

No but seriously, Cronk could play on for a couple of years yet. It was a tough slog on Sunday afternoon in wet weathers, but the way Cronk controls games is brilliant. He is only second to Johnathan Thurston in that regard, but he has plenty left to offer.

Just about every club in Sydney would be interested pending the Salary Cap and while it’s tough to see Cronk play against Cameron Smith and Billy Slater, he is a professional and retirement, right at the moment doesn’t appear to be the favourite.

Well, there you have it Roarers. Round 6 done and dusted. What did you make of it? Drop a comment and let us know!