Four things we learnt from the weekend trials

Walter Penninger Roar Guru

By Walter Penninger, Walter Penninger is a Roar Guru

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    The NRL is warming up with its preseason trials, including the Storm’s World Club Challenge match against the Leeds Rhinos. Here are four things we learnt ahead of the season proper.

    1. Storm on track for consecutive premierships
    The World Club Challenge games have proved most instructive, with the NRL teams going up against determined Super League teams that were treating these matches seriously.

    It is clear that the Storm also treated their World Club Challenge final very seriously, with a result that makes consecutive premierships a real possibility, particularly if you listen to the postmatch press conference given by coach Craig Bellamy.

    There is no doubt that the Storm will be the team to beat again this year.

    (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

    2. Dragons have a fullback
    The Dragons and Rabittohs struggled in their two World Club Challenge matches, but both teams treated the match as a trial against Super League teams that were there to win.

    The form of Matt Dufty seems to have settled the Dragons fullback position for the moment, and there were some limited but promising signs from the Ben Hunt and Gareth Widdop combination.

    3. Tigers give Cowboys a mauling
    The Tigers have demonstrated in the first trial that they will not be easy beats this year. The Tigers have bought well in the off-season and have good young players coming through.

    Taane Milne is looking like a very good buy for the Tigers, and there is a plethora of young talent coming through in the forwards.

    4. Halves combinations settling in
    New halves combinations at the Dragons, Broncos, Sharks, Bulldogs and Panthers have all shown some promise, but Cooper Cronk made no appearance for the Roosters. With the Raiders’ choice for hooker is still up in the air, they may raid their halves combination for the solution.

    Other trials
    There is no doubt that some trials were more trying than others. The Warriors won against a reserve-grade Storm team, but not by much – just six points separated the two by the end of the game. That would have been very troubling for the coach.

    The Canterbury Bulldogs defeated the Canberra Raiders 16-12, but neither team came away from the encounter with much to shout about.

    The Panthers have much to prove after last year, and they came some way towards doing that in their game against the Roosters, who they beat 30-18.

    It may not have been a draw, but sure felt like one. Cronulla Sharks defeated the Manly Sea Eagles 30-14. Manly clearly have work to do this year.

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    The Crowd Says (13)

    • February 19th 2018 @ 3:34am
      Gary Harvey said | February 19th 2018 @ 3:34am | ! Report

      Aidan Sezer looked great at hooker. Predicting he will be wearing the number 9 for the Blues this year plus steering the mighty Green Machine on to glory.

    • February 19th 2018 @ 6:43am
      BA Sports said | February 19th 2018 @ 6:43am | ! Report

      On your four things we learnt;
      1. – There haven’t been many who didn’t think Melbourne would be there when it matters – so nothing changed, though the for of Croft this early was certainly a warning for everyone else in the comp that Cronk’s departure doesn’t kill the Storm.

      2- I’ve only heard one person suggest Duffty shouldn’t be the fullback, so I don’t think many of us learnt much there

      3- Nobody thinks the Tigers will perform better than the Cowboys this year.They played a solid game by all reports – helped by the Cowboys conceding 5 penalties while in possession apparently.

      4- Is just a statement, not really anything we did or didn’t know.

      Every year, every one says, don’t read anything into trials and every year people read into trials….
      That said, I watched the Warriors – How bad were they…?! 🙂

    • February 19th 2018 @ 9:13am
      rossco said | February 19th 2018 @ 9:13am | ! Report

      Souths struggled in their match against Wigan? You are dreaming surely. Only one team struggled in that game yet Souths had an almost reserve grade team out there against one of UK’s two top teams.

      • February 19th 2018 @ 12:33pm
        Albo said | February 19th 2018 @ 12:33pm | ! Report

        The Souths mostly reserve grade squad were actually quite impressive I thought. They looked well drilled and keen and easily handled the Wigan team. They have more depth than I thought & I think I may have to re-assess their top 8 chances now ?

        • Roar Guru

          February 20th 2018 @ 8:38am
          The Barry said | February 20th 2018 @ 8:38am | ! Report

          So that gives them two good reserve grade sides…

      • February 19th 2018 @ 4:23pm
        Paul said | February 19th 2018 @ 4:23pm | ! Report

        I thought it was a game of two halves for Souths, Rossco.

        Their first half was very impressive given the guys sitting on the sideline. The second half was okay for a trial but unacceptable for a normal game, from a Souths perspective, given how much ball and field position they had. Not a lot of creativity and some ordinary handling, most of which seem to come from Robbie Farah passes.

        There are a lot of promising backs at Souths but not sure about their go forward or the spine over the course of a season.

    • February 19th 2018 @ 9:29am
      peeko said | February 19th 2018 @ 9:29am | ! Report

      I wouldn’t be excited by the wests Tigers trial

    • February 19th 2018 @ 9:30am
      Bearfax said | February 19th 2018 @ 9:30am | ! Report

      Suggestions that Manly has a lot of work to do, based on the trial, suggests the writer hadnt referred to the first graders who didnt play for them. Tom Trbojevic, Jake Trbojevic, Taufua, Uate, Cherry-Evans, Kaupau, Koroisau, Thompson, Sironen. To add to this the captain of this side, Lussick was carried off after 2 minutes, Walker is out injured until about Rd 4, Croker, Manly’s first choice at present for 5/8 didnt play and several of the players in the side had already played in the earlier fixture for the Blacktown Sea Eagles team. Further no less than nine of the players on the field were playing U20s last year. The fact they got so close suggests Manly’s depth this year is significantly better than last year.

    • Roar Guru

      February 19th 2018 @ 9:56am
      The Barry said | February 19th 2018 @ 9:56am | ! Report

      Anyone reading anything into trial form is setting themselves up for disappointment.

      Very few sides are at full strength and most of the first grade regulars are luck to play half a game.

      Trials are to iron a few things out and get a bit of match fitness nothing more.

      For these specific things we learned

      1) They definitely are but I don’t think that game really showed anything we didn’t know. The test for the Storm and Croft comes much later in the season. Souths were killing it early in 2015 with 4/4 and a nines win (remember the undefeated talk ?) before the wheels fell off

      2) Dufty looked good last year, looks good this year. Again, like all young players his test will come after he’s had about 14 rounds of carting the ball back from kicks and getting hit and having to make tackles on big men, etc and there’s no end to the season in sight.

      3) Technically we did learn that the Tigers gave the Cowboys a mauling. I don’t think there are any easy beats this year but when you compare the Tigers roster to other teams it’s hard to see them winning consistently unless a few players have ‘out of their skin’ seasons.

      4) That’s what trials are for, it would be news if new combinations weren’t settling in.

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