NRL Bunker Review – Round 8

Round 8 of the 2022 NRL season produced a Super Saturday of upsets which saw the Cowboys announce themselves as a legitimately good footy side following their thrashing of the Eels.

Sharks Humbled

The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks entered Round 8 of the 2022 NRL season as THE team to watch. While there is little doubt the Penrith Panthers and Melbourne Storm are way out in front of the competition, the Sharks looked like one of the better sides in the chasing pack. However, after feeding on a school of poorer teams throughout the opening weeks, the Sharks crumbled against an impressive Brisbane Broncos side at Suncorp Stadium.

Brisbane’s rushing edge defence did an excellent job in shutting down the Sharks’ attack. All the talk in the buildup was about the battle between Siosofa Talakai v Kotoni Staggs – a battle Staggs won with relative ease. Despite a few moments where it looked as though it could get away from the Broncos, they found points when it mattered to register a 16-7 win which moves them to 4-4 for the season.

The loss isn’t a massive concern for the Sharks just yet. They have the opportunity to get back to their winning ways in Round 9 against an awful Warriors side and remain on the third line of betting to win the premiership at $9.

Super Saturday of Upsets

Rugby league was the winner on Super Saturday.

Three games, three upsets.

Warriors 21 def. Raiders 20: It’s not one anybody wants to re-live, but it’s an upset nonetheless. The Canberra Raiders did Canberra Raiders things to blow a 20-12 lead to lose at the death. Meanwhile, the New Zealand Warriors did what are becoming New Zealand Warriors things, that is, playing terrible footy but somehow being in a position for Shaun Johnson to win it late. This game was made for the low-interest Saturday afternoon spot.

Bulldogs 16 def. Roosters 12: The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs took all of the emotions from a difficult week and put it into their best performance of the 2022 NRL season. They’re in no way Top 8 contenders right now. They have A LOT of work to do if they’re to move comfortably out of the bottom four any time soon. However, this game showed that they have some fight and can grind out a win if it’s on offer. Lucky for them, the Sydney Roosters offered it up all game. Their attack is still strangely poor and doesn’t look like improving. James Tedesco is doing everything he can and Joseph Manu is popping up with dangerous actions, but there is only so much the pair can do. Right now, it’s not enough to consider them premiership contenders at $13.

Cowboys 35 def. Eels 4: The Parramatta Eels entered this one with a handful of injuries. Still, their lack of potency in attack and the ease at which the North Queensland Cowboys skipped through the defensive line late in the piece is a cause for concern for Brad Arthur. For Todd Payten, on the other hand, his Cowboys did exactly what was asked of them…

Statement Game of Round 7:

Statements are made every round in the NRL. In Round 7 it was the Cowboys. This week it’s the Cowboys again!

Payten put a focus on defence over the summer and it’s defence that won them this game despite the scoreline. They absorbed early pressure with an excellent scramble defence. The Eels are susceptible to being impatient when the points don’t come, and after defending a handful of early raids on their line, the Cowboys entered the grind and let their pack drag them into the game. Again excellent through the middle, the Cows notched up just short of 1,700 running metres in an area that was always likely to have a big impact on the result:

“We’ve got two of the best yardage teams in the NRL going head-to-head in this one. The Eels rank 3rd at 1,777 running metres per game while the Cowboys are just behind at 1,699 running metres per game.” NRL Tips & Preview – Round 8

The Melbourne Storm and Penrith Panthers are streaks ahead of the rest of the NRL at the moment – they don’t count here. Take those two away and the Cowboys are one of the better teams in the competition right now. Payten has done an extraordinary job with their defence and things are starting to improve on the attacking side of the ball. There is an exciting Top 8 race brewing this season, but the Cowboys look as though they will hold their place comfortably.

Hastings Keeps Handling It

The Wests Tigers didn’t get the job done against the St. George Illawarra Dragons on Sunday. The 12-6 defeat means they will be waiting for at least another three weeks to win three games on the bounce for the first time since Round 6, 2018. However, the influence Jackson Hastings is having on the side is still of interest.

He touched the ball another 96 times to average 96 touches per game since returning from suspension.

While the Tigers remain towards the bottom of the NRL ladder, Hastings is doing enough for this side to drag them out of the wooden spoon race.