NRL Bunker Review – Round 6

Round 6 of the 2022 NRL season ended up as the best of the year so far with the Wests Tigers, in particular, putting on an unexpected show.

Is Lolo Back?

It was bound to happen eventually, but Jason Taumalolo returned to his best as the North Queensland Cowboys handed the Canberra Raiders an 18-12 defeat on Thursday night. While inconsistent, the Cowboys are currently 7th on the NRL ladder and look best-positioned of all the lower-tier sides to feature in finals football this season. Especially if Taumalolo keeps doing this…

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart gave his side a bake in the post-game press conference as his side put in another head-scratching performance and blew yet another lead. It’s a trend that has been fairly consistent in recent years and one Stuart’s side just can’t shake. His teamlist on Tuesday will be worth keeping an eye on ahead of their Round 7 match against the Penrith Panthers as $6.70 underdogs.

Are The Knights…Bad?

The St. George Illawarra Dragons hung on to beat the Newcastle Knights 21-16 on Sunday evening. It wasn’t a particularly skilful affair and won’t generate a lot of new NRL fans. However, it has given those that can’t get enough of the game plenty to talk about.

Moses Suli played out one of his better games to run for 177 metres while handing out two try assists. The Dragons used him to carry the ball and break nine tackles before he used his skill to set up points for others. Meanwhile, Ben Hunt continued his purple patch that has now extended for over a year. His forced dropout that he bounced into touch 50 metres up the field is particularly notable.

For the Knights, Kalyn Ponga finally looks like himself. The speculation around his contract is mind-numbingly boring and based on rumour and speculation, but he did his negotiations no harm with his Round 6 performance. The performance of the captain is about the only positive for the Knights, though. Regardless of the injuries they’re dealing with, the Knights were poor in a game they really should have won if the Top 8 is a realistic goal.

Now 2-4 and struggling to keep up, the Knights are preparing to face the Eels as $3.12 and +8.5 underdogs in Round 7.

Statement Game of Round 6:

Statements are made every round in the NRL. In Round 5 it was the Sharks. This week it’s the South Sydney Rabbitohs who thrashed the Bulldogs on Friday night.

It’s all coming together for the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Following a tough draw to start the year, they’ve hit the ground running to begin a friendly period by hanging 36 points on the Bulldogs in Round 6. Damien Cook is back to his brilliant best and scored three in this one. He’d looked likely for a couple of weeks while using Cameron Murray to drag the defence away and he made them pay on Friday night.

While Cody Walker and Lachlan Ilias aren’t linking up quite like many had hoped, Ilias, in particular, has displayed positive signs throughout the opening six weeks. We all know what Walker is capable of as well. The pair are still learning to play beside each other and Walker is in a new role. They need time and will be presented with two months of appealing opponents to figure things out.

Upcoming Draw: @ Tigers ($1.29/-12.5), Sea Eagles, Broncos, @ Warriors, Raiders, Tigers, @ Titans, Dragons

If the Rabbitohs are to play themselves into form and be a big part of the premiership conversation heading into the second half of the 2022 NRL season, it needs to start now. They’re currently on the seventh line of betting to win the premiership at $17.

Tiger Town

There was a feeling about this one.

The Parramatta Eels flying into Round 6 played in front of a sellout home crowd while celebrating their 75th anniversary. Massive favourites, the question for neutrals at least was not about whether or not the Eels would beat the Wests Tigers, but by how much.

Starting strong, it looked as though the home side would do the job. However, a resilient Tigers side defended exceptionally well and absorbed pressure. That pressure soon transferred to the Eels as a restless home crowd began to sense an ambush. The gap between the two sides meant that the Tigers couldn’t get too far in front. Whenever the visitors started to pull away, the Eels pulled one back, eventually going into the final ten minutes locked at 20-all.

Social media spent the week laughing at Luke Brooks being given the #6 jersey as though it would magically change his form. Well, it kind of did, but more than anything else, it gave Jackson Hastings more control.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

With the game on the line and the prospect of starting the 2022 NRL season with six losses, Hastings stepped up, slotted the field goal and finally gave the Tigers faithful something to cheer about with a 21-20 victory over their rivals.

Wests are by no means out of trouble. They remain 16th on the ladder and have an improving Rabbitohs side ahead of them in Round 7. However, it takes the pressure off Michael Maguire – if only for a week – and provides them with some more time to figure things out.