Our early Sunday game for Round 21 was always going to be all about one man. Cameron Smith became just the 3rd player to participate in 350 NRL matches and he did not shirk his responsibilities.
Smith lead the scoring with four try assists, 6 goals, 31 tackles plus a couple of other attack stats to finish on 88*. If there was any doubt about Smith's mantle as 'Rule number 1' for NRL Fantasy players, it has been quashed well and truly with a mind boggling performance from CS9. He ran the team just like we've come to expect and whenever the Storm were on attack, #CAM350 was there to take advantage of a weak Manly side which finished on 69 missed tackles. 69!!
As far as other scores go;
The other Cameron, Munster, finished on 59*. 9 tackle busts and an offload will have to be some consolation for Munster owners, as he came close to scoring at least 3 times but couldn't quite cross the line.
Joe Stimson was handed another start and duly delivered with a try on his way to 58* points. He's definitely not a target for this season but once Tohu Harris departs, he could be an undervalued buy for 2018.
Curtis Scott had a quiet second half and ended the game on 41* points. This was his second game in an unfamiliar left centre position but he performed admirably. He should continue to grow through this year and is definitely a valid option to fill a spot in your 17 for the remainder of the season.
Martin Taupau had somewhat of a resurgence with 49* points in 44 minutes. He made 5 tackle busts and 3 offloads to get him back to being in the conversation for a spot in your side after a few less than stellar performances.
DCE and the Trbojevic Bros Inc were a major let down with Cherry-Evans finishing on 25* after contributing 9 of the aforementioned missed tackles. He wont suffer the same treatment every week and is someone you shouldn't hesitate to play for the remainder of the season, unless you have Cleary, Pearce and a host of bench forwards to play in his stead. Jake Trbojevic scored 40* with no attacking stats other than run metres. He wont have to play the Storm every week so you can expect his scores to increase for the remainder of the season. The same could be said for brother Tom, who was shut down by Melbourne. Despite a try-assist, he could only provide 23* points for his owners.
Sharks win 26-12. That game was rather disappointing. As a Warriors fan, I'm not disappointed in their performance. I've come to expect it. But the way they rolled over in the last 20 minutes was pathetic. The more disappointing aspects of the match were the fantasy scores.
Bodene Thompson had a 33 point first half and scored a try to start the second stanza before suffering a shoulder injury. He still managed to top the scoring with 52* points from only 58 minutes. From reports, there was a 'crack'ing sound which could spell season over. All his owners will be severely disappointed as Thompson has been a strong POD over the last 6 weeks, averaging over 56.
Paul Gallen was the only other popular player to hit 50* points. Nothing special from the Sharks skipper, 30 tackles, 150+ metres and four offloads. Stock standard but still disappointing.
After that there was a run of very poor scores.
Simon Mannering's run of great scores came to a screeching halt with only 48*.
Andrew Fifita continued his run of rather disappointing scores with 39*. That makes 6 games in a row since he's hit 60. Since the start of Oranges he's been a bum. The problem with Fifita is his potential to go out on any given week and score 100+. This is why you must hold and continue to play.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck had a 9 point second half and finished on 38*. I suppose this could be considered a pass mark but it proves that he needs tries to really be considered a gun at WFB.
In fact the only surprising score was Fa'amanu Brown with 39*. He scored a first half try before going off in the 60th minute with a nasty head knock courtesy of Sam Lisone's knee. I would say 99.99% of Brown's owners would have had him riding the pine but if you were un(?)fortunate enough to have to play him **cough cough** Matthew Duggan **cough cough**, 39 points is a god send.
*All scores were correct at the time of writing and do not include updates.
The Parramatta Eels have beaten the Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium, requiring a late field goal from Corey Norman to take a 17-16 win and solidify their position in the top 8 on the NRL ladder.
James Tedesco scored his FIRST TRY SINCE ROUND ONE (!) and added 9 tackle breaks to lead the scoring with 61* points. It was always a matter of when and not if, Tedesco got back on the score sheet and with a price tag of around $440,000 next week looks the goods for the run home. He's a popular option with almost 25% ownership but you can definitely count on him to produce when it matters.
Nathan Brown continued a strong run of form with 59* to bring his 5 round average to 59.8. He's a solid workhorse and also has a good offload which adds to his appeal. If you're a Burgess owner and concerned about his availability, Brown is a great trade target as the Eels continue their push to the finals. They'll need all his metres and tackles if they want to make a run at the top 4.
For anyone that had the faith, or didn't have a choice, Semi Radradra returned a great score of 52*. He was very involved tonight and finished with one try, a try assist and 3 line breaks along with 202 metres. As is always the problem with the flying Fijian, he has his good and his bad weeks. The Eels face a reasonably easy schedule for the remainder of the regular season but start with a game against the 3rd ranked Broncos next week. He's definitely a match up based play but against the weaker teams he can run riot.
Corey Norman had a whole host of attacking stats but could still only return a score of 36*, thanks largely to a late line break. There were high hopes on Norman continuing his early season form alongside Mitchell Moses, however he hasn't topped 43 points since round 9 and averages just 40.2 with Moses in the team. In all likelihood, Norman owners won't have much of a choice but to hold and hope he turns it around.
Clint Gutherson owners will be nervously awaiting reports of a possible injury that befell him towards the end of the match. I am one such person and while I am happy with his 46* from tonights match, an injury will not be such fantastic news. He's great fun to watch and is very hungry for the ball. He's very capable of very large scores and averages 49.2 in his last 5 matches. If he does succumb to injury, I can't imagine it will be a long term one. Here's hoping you have some cover.
*All scores do not include updates and were accurate at time of publication.
Game of two halves... almost.
The Dragons blew the Sea-Eagles off the park at WIN Stadium in a high scoring affair. The St George-Illawaara team scored 9 tries to Manlys 4 in what can only be described as a flip-flopping affair.
The Dragons held a 30-0 half time lead thanks to tries to Nightingale, Lafai, Aitken, Host and Widdop.
With Manly desperate to hit back, Dylan Walker got them off to a good start by dotting down in the 42nd minute.
What followed can only be described as mind boggling. The Dragons were in possession inside the Manly 20 when a dust up betwen Jack de Belin and Darcy Lussick resulted in the former throwing a punch and being binned.
De Belin can also count himself lucky as it looked to some like he struck out with an elbow but the fact he was holding the ball with the same arm may save him from further scrutiny.
Manly then went on the attack, scoring 3 tries in the 10 minutes that Lussick was off the field to little brother Joey Lussick, Akuila Uate and Jake Trbojevic which closed the game up at 30-22.
As soon as Darcy returned to the field, the Dragons scored through Paul Vaughan which kick started another run of points as the game finished 52-22.
With the news that Josh Dugan would miss the game, Matt Dufty finally got his chance at fullback and was one of the Dragons best. He finished on 82* points with 11 tackle busts, 194 running metres, two try assists and capped it off with the final try of the game. Why this kid has been held back for so long beats me and the Dragons faithful will hope he can retain his spot at the back. With Euan Aitken going down after scoring his second try, perhaps Josh Dugan can return into the centres? We'll have to wait and see but the fact of the matter is, The Dragons looked a lot more electric with Dufty in the side.
Trbojevic Bros Inc roll on
Jake and Tom continue to shine in the Manly team with Jake nabbing a try for the second game in a row and finishing on 72* points. With Sam Burgess possibly missing time on the run home, Jake will be a popular target and at under 10% ownership could provide a nice alternative to the mainstays in the forwards. Tom couldn't get on the scoreboard today but he did turn provider for one try and saved another, finishing on 49*. He had a very quiet game so to still produce a score of that level is fantastic news for all his owners. Another potential Burgess trade target with Curtis Scott and Tyrell Fuimaono both disappointing this week.
Guns are guns for a reason
And the reason is clear. Average 50 or more and you'll be considered for a season ending spot in a lot of teams. The usual suspects Jack de Belin (60*) and Paul Vaughan (56*) continued to provide as they have all season. JdB managed 76 minutes today with Joel Thompson sidelined in the warm up and Packer being pulled early after some dismal defending led to the Manly fight back. Vaughan scored a try so his score may disappoint some of his owners but with a couple of less than ideal scores recently, I'd be laughing all the way to the bank.
And guns will soon no longer be guns...
Cameron McInnes and Martin Taupau will count themselves lucky that everyone is running low on trades but I have no doubt they will still find themselves in the shop window for a number of teams this week following two very disappointing scores of 34* and 33* respectively. McInnes is notorious for relying on tackle counts and with the Dragons having the majority of possession, he only managed to make 39 today. Combine that with 1 missed tackle, 1 error and 1 penalty conceded and McInnes was never in the hunt for a top score. With his running metres drying up (he hasn't run for more than 20 metres since round 15) he will be a hard hold, but with Cameron Smith possible missing some time, there aren't really any better options. Taupau started the game with some strong runs and when he went off after his first stint of 25 minutes, was on 28 points. Unfortunately, he must have watched what Andrew Fifita did on Friday night as his second 22 minute stint returned just 5 points. With 10 minutes remaining he was actually on less than his half time score. Taupau has been rather disappointing of late, with two sub-35 scores in his last 4 games. I'm sure if there were more trades floating around, he'd be a goner.
*Scores do not include updates and were correct at time of writing.
Sharks put the Rabbits back in their Sh*tty burrow.
By The Big Tree
Sorry for ever doubting you oh Fantasy god Angus Crichton! Playing through his apparent foot fracture Crikey pumps out a beastly 86* to appease all his wary owners. A few sells this week, let's hope those coaches know what they're doing.
No sign of Gal slowing down!
Still powered by peptides? Gallen tops the metres gained column once again, not quite enough extras such as OLs and TBs to return another gun score. How does the old bull keep doing it?! 49* will have to do this week.
Sammy Boyle is running dry.
38* why oh why! Midweek Facebook group speculation that Sam Burgess was carrying a neck injury likened to that of his Pommy counterpart James Graham had a few worried. Whether this be true or absolutely horrifying scenes in the 74th minute as Surgess leaves the field with what looks like rib cartilage issues. Those Zero Traders won't sleep well.
Fui/Scott Saga - Advantage Gamblers
Another storyline all week has been whether to run Fuimaono at CTR, or gamble on Scott being a late call up and risk an AE. A paltry 24* from Fuimaono tonight leaves the advantage with the gamblers as we saw CMat score 29 who a lot were saying could be their AE should Scott not make the 17. We wait.
With a monstrous 36 in his first stint Fifita owners were salivating at the prospect of him coming back and ripping in. In the 2nd half we witness a classic case of what goes up must come down as he manages a gross 11 in his second. 47*.
Oh, and, Reynolds played well for a guy with a broken thumb....
The Brisbane Broncos put the Canterbury Bulldogs to the sword at Suncorp Stadium tonight as they restricted the Sydney-siders to just one try in each half, winning 42-12.
Andrew McCullough got off to a flyer making a bunch of tackles before making a break up the middle and laying on a try to Tautau Moga. It wasn't until the 53rd minute that the clock finally overtook McCullough's score. The second half was a bit of a Bronco's try-fest of which McCullough wasn't too involved so his score suffered as the Brisbanites had very little defence to do. He would finish on 61* points that included only 32 tackles which is his second lowest tackle count of the season (31 tackles in 58 minutes in round 11). He's a perfect sidekick to Cameron Smith for the remainder of the season.
Moga also had a solid game, scoring the first Bronco's try and making a big break which lead to 49* points. Anyone that held him will be very thankful for his efforts the last two weeks. I, myself was thinking I was stuck with him for the remainder of the season but if he continues to play like tonight I won't be too displeased.
James Roberts scored a second half double around some tiring Bulldogs defense to bump his score up to 54*. He'll be priced around $370k next week and if has a strong run home, could be slightly undervalued for anyone looking for a POD for the run home (6.55% owned).
Kodi Nikorima enjoyed his switch to fullback and scored a try, ran for 140 metres and had 5 tackle busts to be rewarded with 47* points. With Darius Boyd likely to return next week, it is likely that Nikorima be relegated to the bench (at best) for the remainder of the season. But don't be surprised if Bennett shakes things up with Anthony Milford (31*) and Ben Hunt (35*) both having reasonably quiet games.
Aiden Tolman was subjected to some rather low minutes (56) this week and as such only managed 45* points. Obviously it's still a great PPM so if he can get another bump in games that the Bulldogs have a chance, he should get back to some decent scoring.
Moses Mbye was another to come under the spotlight in recent times with three 57+ scores in a row but he returned a very disappointing 25* to anyone that bought him this week.
One score I completely missed on the first pass was Josh McGuire's highly disappointing 24*. Let us also not forget that this included a try. McGuire made a surprisingly low 12 tackles and missed 3 in 49 minutes which is very very low. I know a few people that had to trade Trent Merrin were targetting him as someone who could produce some decent scores for a cheaper price tag. Unfortunately, McGuire has started the run home very poorly.
*All scores are pre-updates and were correct at time of writing.
South Sydney sold out for the cash to host the Cowboys again at one of their "home away from homes" in Cairns. North Queensland won quite comfortably in the end, as a result of being able to hold onto the football which was something that came as quite a challenge to the men in Cardinal and Myrtle.
Big Jase gets its done
Owners of the Cowboys lock hit the #JasePot as the big Kiwi climbed to a score of 65* thanks to a pretty simple try to lead all scorers and post a decent captain score. With an average above 60, Taumololo does offer an alternative captain for coaches who have opted not to finish the season with Cameron Smith in the squad –albeit he is prone to the odd low score due to fluctuating minutes.
Risky Running Halves
Michael Morgan showed the risk of punting for a running half as he finished on 24*, a stark contrast to some of the impressive totals he's amassed in previous games. Coaches looking to replace the injured SJ may look at the Origin hero but today's game is a warning that he will be rocks and diamonds.
Owners of the Enigmatic Englishman would be scratching their heads as to what has happened to the only fantasy relevant Burgess brother Sam who has spent some lengthy stints defending out on the edge. He posted a subpar score of 41* and will see his value decrease to around $500k; although with most coaches running low on trades he's probably not worth selling.
Everyone's favourite fantasy back-rower has been the source of conjecture of the past couple of weeks; having been spotted in a moonboot at a fan day last week. Angus cemented his status amongst fantasy fieds by responding to a plethora of Instagram DMs assuring the masses he was good to go; and he looked the part as he powered to 64* despite only being on 19 at HT. One point of interest is he did finish with his left foot heavily strapped over the boot – cause for concern?
*All scores are pre-updates and were accurate at the time of publication
Cherry on Top!!
Has taken his origin snubbing in his stride as he continues to navigate his Twin Turbo team confidently in the top 4. Another beautiful performance today, 76*, taking it to an average of 63.5 over the last month has him as a viable option for those SJ owners looking for a good trade in.
100 for Martin Taupau
100 games that is, a paltry 43* for him in the game today, certainly not performing at the level he was a month ago, with all the carnage this weekend I feel like a trade out would be a luxury at this stage.
Aaron emerges from the Woods.
With not too many great options at FRF an old boss has stepped up to the plate, averaging 56 over the last 6 weeks playing extended minutes he is back to his fantasy best. Buyer beware, the Tigers are shit and he's on the way out of the club in a few months.
Donning a black headband the young pup put in another brilliant performance at Lottoland, if you've expensive taste in the back line this could be your guy with Manly looking as exciting as ever. 60* today and a 54 average over the last month.
Young props Twal and Eisenhuth have been quite good for the Tigers this year, something for fans to hold onto going into next season. Averaging 45 and 38 respectively these guys are busy and can play.
48* for Teddy in a quiet performance from him, could be another to look at for those chasing points and needing to trade SJ, a lot would have Munster or Walker in the WFB area to facilitate this.
*Scores do not include updates.
The injuries continued on a night that saw the Raiders and Dragons fighting out the result in extra time.
An Elliott Whitehead try in the 84th minute sealed the win for the Raiders who at times didn't seem to be in the match. Thanks to a 90m intercept try to Aidan Sezer, the Raiders had the opportunity to gain the two points which they duly obliged thanks to a Sezer 40/20 followed by a Dave Taylor offload for Whitehead to dive over.
Cameron McInnes led the fantasy scoring after a whopping 72 tackles and, well, not a lot of anything else, to finish on 72* points. Obviously not worth turning your nose up and anyone that had earmarked him as an upgrade option with Cameron Smith back to full duty next week may be holding off, especially with serious injuries to Shaun Johnson and Trent Merrin a higher priority.
Despite being pushed back onto the bench before the match, Jack de Belin had a strong game after coming on when Russell Packer departed in the 6th minute with a hip injury. JdB played out the remainder of the game and finished on 63* points. I know a few people were saying there were a number of missed tackles not added so don't be surprised if his score drops a little overnight.
Leeson Ah Mau continued his strong run of form with 62*. Another to benefit from the Packer injury, Ah Mau is unlikely to keep it up and probably not worth keeping an eye on but he does have a history of decent scores when given the opportunity. If Packer is out for an extended period, his minutes and scores will rise.
Elliott Whitehead nabbed the match winner that thankfully bumped his score up to 52*. I think it is definitely time to upgrade him if you can, his scoring is definitely down on last year.
Paul Vaughan returned from injury to start the game in place of Jack de Belin. He maintained his gun status with 51* in 57 minutes. Nothing exciting, just a standard game from one of the leading props of the year.
Josh Dugan left the field after a Josh Papali'i shoulder charge led to a failed HIA. He finished on 22* points which is rather disappointing for anyone that brought him in as a POD for the run home. The Dragons don't play until Sunday next week so all his owners will be hoping he recovers from the knock by then.
Papali'i himself was luck not to find himself on the sideline after the shot led to Dugan's departure but I also don't think he'll be receiving much scrutiny from the MRC or Judiciary. It was definitely a shoulder charge but from the footage I saw, his shoulder did not connect with Dugan's head (despite it being the largest in the NRL). Don't be surprised if he's suspended for less than 2 weeks.
*Scores do not include updates.
Anyway, to the game.
Once again the Warriors threw away a handy lead to go down at the aptly named 'Manu Vatuvei' Stadium. After leading 12-6 early on, they went into the sheds down 18-12 but fought back well to lead 22-18 before Nathan Cleary scored his 2nd and 3rd tries to seal the game for the Panthers.
As far as fantasy is concerned, theres two or three big talking points;
Nathan Cleary had a belter on what could have one day been his home ground, scoring a hat trick and putting the sword to the Warriors. He finished one short of Angus Crichton's record with 120* points. He was in everything good for the Panthers tonight. It may have been helped with the late withdrawal of Matt Moylan but in reality, the kid is a gun. We're all thinking it, get that kid in a Blues jersey. If you don't have him now, there will be one handy trade option with...
Shaun Johnson went down like he'd been shot as he was chasing an Issac Luke kick that could have lead to a Warriors try and possibly a win. Instead, what had been a strong game for the Kiwi half ended in pain for him and heartbreak for all those fantasy coaches that own him. Later reported as a knee issue, Johnson owners will be very disappointed after he was sitting on a pretty 45* points in 62 minutes. We'll wait with bated breath as to the outcome of the inevitable scans but it looks like it could be a couple of weeks on the sideline at the minimum.
Simon Mannering opened the scoring after opening a hole for Johnson to stroll through before returning the ball for his 3rd try of the season. After dotting down, Mannering did what Mannering does best on his way to 52 tackles and 129 metres to finish on 72* points.
Bodene Thompson has re-established himself as a strong POD contender for the run home scoring 62* in his fourth 50+ game on the trot. He's been helped in the last two weeks with tries but his involvement has definitely increased and one can only imagine he was suffering from the pre season injury. He'll be priced around $430,000 next week with a four round average of 62. Thinks are looking up.
Another popular player to suffer an injury tonight was Trent Merrin. He went up the tunnel after only 27 minutes and it was quickly revealed he had suffered an MCL (Medial Cruciate Ligament in his knee) strain. From memory, standard return time for an MCL strain is 2-4 weeks which means he is almost definitely a trade unless you have either more pressing issues (like Johnson) or decent cover. He was trucking along nicely in the opening half and finished on 28* points.
There were also some non-injury related disappointments with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck not taking advantage of an under-strength Panthers team and finishing on 30* points. Dylan Edwards waited until the last 5 minutes before making a break and laying on the pass for Cleary's second try. He finished on 29* points which is pretty handy considering he made a multitude of mistakes tonight and was sitting on under 10 before the break.
If you're looking for a serious POD and are a little strapped for cash, James Gavet has a 5 game average of 47.6. He finished on 49* tonight which is his 5th straight 45+ score and will be available for around $360,000 this week. Just one for all those desperate enough.
*Scores do not include updates.