The Roar
The Roar


Wayne's not done yet: Kodi steals show as Phins avenge Cowboys thrashing with stunning Townsville boilover

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4th May, 2024

Wayne Bennett might be rumoured with a move elsewhere for 2025, but his Dolphins are far from done in 2024 after another stunning boilover win.

They had been thrashed on the opening weekend by the Cowboys, losing 43-18 on their own turf, but repaid the favour in Townsville with a 28-26 victory thanks to a Jamayne Isaako hat trick.

Inspired by Kodi Nikorima’s four try assists, the depleted Dolphins picked up their second successive win in the far north, consigning the Cowboys to a fourth straight defeat.

“It was a bit of a crazy game,” said Bennett.

“I’m pleased with the outcome.

“As a coach I’m really proud of them and I’m sure the fans are proud of them too. They overcame a lot to get that win, a huge amount.

“Anyone who had a Dolphins jersey on impressed me tonight.”


The hosts were weakened by the loss of Chad Townsend on the eve of the game – Jake Clifford made a second club debut in his place – and they missed his control, especially in the period after the break when the Dolphins strangle set in.

It might have been different had Val Holmes landed a conversion with a minute to play, but in truth, had he done so and forced extra time, it would have been mightily unfair on Redcliffe, who had fought back from a 10-0 deficit early on to hit the front amid six lead changes.

Todd Payten’s side were horrendous on their goalline and, for all the flash they can show in attack, that is what was their ultimate undoing.

“It’s super frustrating,” said the coach.

“It makes me really angry, disappointed. In the end we were just outworked when it really mattered.

“We knew that we were playing a team that just doesn’t go away. We started fast but aren’t able to defend back to back sets. It’s really disappointing.”


Kodi’s revival

Kodi Nikorima is rarely seen among the very best of NRL players, but since joining the Dolphins, there’s a strong shout that he might be the most underrated.

Both the Warriors and South Sydney were happy to let him leave, unable to work out what sort of player he was and where he could fit in their system.

Bennett didn’t hestitate to add him to the inaugural Dolphins side and has, in his inimitable fashion, got the very best out of him.

Last year, the stats showed that he was creating at a level of Shaun Johnson and Cody Walker, but often being cruelled by his teammates inability to finish the opportunities that he created.

This was a banner night for Kodi, who showed his slight of hand and kicking ability at various points en route to four try assists, the best he’s ever recorded in the top grade.


Moreover, he’s playing a senior role and a junior role at the same time: as the older, more experienced half, he provides leadership for Katoa, but does so by playing without fear, constantly trying new things and entrusting his young halves partner to run the team.

It’s a dynamic that’s working, and it was too much for the Cowboys’ flimsy defence tonight.

The Cowboys make everyone look good

Like several sides in the NRL this year, the Cowboys have put a lot of emphasis on their attack, perhaps to the detriment of their defence.

That was on full display here, with a first half showing that saw them go in with the lead, but with nobody quite sure as to how.

It was a real curate’s egg of a half: North Queensland had a mite more ball and territory, and threw a lot at the Phins, but were only able to come in with the lead as a result of two clangers from the Redcliffe kick defence that gifted free points to the Cowboys.


Conversely, when the Dolphins were anywhere near good ball, they scored immediately. Three visits, three tries and just ten tackles inside the opposing 20m zone. Resilience? This was the opposite from the Cowboys.

It lead to a situation where the hosts had made almost all the running with the ball, but had achieved very little with it, while the visitors had been mightily effective.

The Dolphins try their best not to beat themselves, but that wasn’t happening here: they gave up two tries directly to their opponents.

They don’t try to be scintillating with the footy, but when faced with resistance like this, they were made to look like a ruthless attacking machine.

It’s an issue that the Cowboys are having every week at the moment.  Their attack is good enough that they can pile on the points, not least when the kicking is on point and can target Jeremiah Nanai around the right tramline.

But they’ll end up in a game with anyone that can swing back well enough and will concede enough points to make life difficult for themselves.


They aren’t the only side that have this issue – Manly, Parramatta and the Roosters do it too – but they might be the worst for it. Every game will be a challenge as long as they keep defending like this.