NRL Bunker Review – Round 24

While the 2022 NRL season is over for some, there was plenty to play for in Round 24. However, somebody forgot to tell the Broncos…

Broncos Bashed…

Again…

The wheels have well and truly fallen off the Brisbane Broncos.

Sitting at 4th on the NRL ladder with 12 wins and six losses after Round 19, Kevin Walters’ side are now outside the Top 8. Their 53-6 loss to the Parramatta Eels on Thursday night is one so significant that their healthy points differential over the Canberra Raiders is gone. In fact, they’ll need a Broncos-like capitulation from the Raiders in Round 25 just to play finals football.

The Raiders play the Wests Tigers in Round 25. On paper, it’s a game they should win comfortably. It is, however, the Raiders. While they might be $1.14 to make the Top 8 to Brisbane’s $5.50, everybody knows better than to assume Canberra will get the job done.

Provided the Broncos beat the Dragons, the last game of Round 25 will be season-defining for Walters and Ricky Stuart.

Roosters Keep Crowing

The Sydney Roosters haven’t beaten any good teams, they said.

While the quality of opposition certainly needs to be taken into account, the Roosters had proven before Round 24 that they were a side capable of competing for the premiership. They’ve found form in key areas – yardage and defence – to be one of the best teams in the NRL right now. Still, some demanded they beat a quality side before being taken seriously as contenders.

In response, the Roosters completed one of the toughest road trips in the game to beat the Storm 18-14 in Melbourne.

The Chooks continued their dominance in yardage to run for 1,507 metres to the Storm’s 1,291 running metres. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (108m) and Matt Lodge (144m) led from the front to start with Siosiua Taukeiaho (117m) providing a valuable effort off the bench. Perhaps more importantly, though, is the 14 points conceded. It keeps consistent with their recent defensive form and adds to their case as potential premiers at $8.50.

A slow start to the season means the Roosters will need to take the long way to the big dance. Still, their $3.50 to reach the NRL Grand Final deserves consideration.

Statement Game of Round 24

Statements are made every round in the NRL. In Round 23, it was the Melbourne Storm. This week it’s the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

The South Sydney Rabbitohs added more weight to their premiership contending credentials with a 20-10 win over the North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday night.

Latrell Mitchell played a leading role in the win to throw another two line break assists to extend his lead at the top of the category despite only playing 13 games this season. Alex Johnston scored his customary try down the left edge while Keaon Koloamatangi exposed a frail Cowboys left edge defence early on to open the scoring for the Bunnies. The Cowboys had their moments, but the Rabbitohs looked like the better team throughout.

It’s a rather concerning loss for the Cowboys. They’ve drifted out to $13 in the premiership race and haven’t been playing at the level they were earlier in the season. Tom Dearden is a significant loss for this one. Still, their defence is what made them so good to start the year and they’ve fallen off in that department recently.

Perhaps lucky for Todd Payten, they have an opportunity to play themselves into form at home next week against the Penrith Panthers.

Tigers Tiger It Again

This team…

If you don’t laugh as a Wests Tigers fan, you’ll cry.

With an opportunity to lift off 16th on the NRL ladder – even if only for a moment – there for the taking, the Tigers fell to pieces like a cheap deck chair.

They had done the hard work to be 22-16 in front with seven minutes to play. After earning a repeat set and providing themselves to release pressure, Junior Pauga touched the drop out inside the ten metres to give away a penalty. With it, the Dragons marched up the field to level the scores at 22-22 shortly after. Another poor play, this time an Aj Kepaoa shoulder to the head of Zac Lomax, soon resulted in a penalty and 24-22 defeat for the Tigers.

The end of the 2022 NRL season can’t come soon enough for this side.

Are you sure you want this job, Benji?

With the Gold Coast Titans beating the Newcastle Knights later in the afternoon, the Tigers need a miracle if they’re to avoid the wooden spoon.

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