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.
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.
A fantastic game at Kogarah that ebbed and flowed worse than the Solent was eventually won by the Dragons.
After opening the game with two Nightingale tries to take his career tally over 100, the Knights stormed back into the contest with 5 tries in a purple 18 minute patch that included a hat-trick to Nathan Ross.
While Nightingale (60*) and Ross (70*) are largely fantasy irrelevant, big Paul Vaughan is not. He lasted all of 3 minutes before leaving the field with what was later reported to be a torn calf. Depending on the grading, Vaughan could be out for up to the rest of the season so keep your eyes and ears open for any news. Oh, and he finished on 2* points.
Gareth Widdop led the Dragons back into the contest after trailing 10-28 at half time. Widdop provided four try assists in the second half to finish on 47* points. After starting the season on fire, Widdop has fallen away in recent weeks and is not really an option anymore.
Josh Dugan was at his tackle breaking best with 11 and added a try to join Nathan Ross at the top of the standings with 70*. Dugan has a proven history of being a gun WFB for fantasy and priced around $420,000 next week could be an interesting POD for the run home but will miss rd 18 with his Origin commitments.
With Vaughan on the sideline and Taane Milne on the bench, the Dragons big boppers got extra minutes and provided nicely with Ah Mau (67* in 60 minutes) and Packer (56* in 57 minutes) returning some nice scores. Again, these guys are all but irrelevant in fantasy terms, even if Vaughan misses a lot of time.
As far as other guys that ARE fantasy relevant, Cameron McInnes may aswell have spent a long period on the sideline. He was very quiet today and other than one dart in the second half, I think I didn't hear his name called once. He finished on 35* points which is frankly not good enough. He was definitely hindered by the all the tries scored as both teams were more than happy to spread the ball out wide.
A bruising encounter at ANZ Stadium was highlighted by a near flawless first half performance by Jack de Belin.
The Dragons lock finished the half on 49 points and was involved in absolutely everything. He had his standard 15 minute rest after half time but didn't get as involved in his second stint and finished the night on 70* points.
Cameron McInnes also had a stellar night. He made 61 tackles as the Bulldogs used their big men up the middle to try and establish a platform from which to attack. While that made up pretty much all of his final 67* points, his owners will not be unhappy in any way. All those that were thinking of only running one hooker for the rest of the season might want to rethink that strategy, I know I will.
Josh Dugan showed his wares as a possible POD for the run home with a handy 51*. He has a knack of beating the first defender which always results in good tackle bust numbers (he had 7 tonight).
Paul Vaughan was slightly disappointing, finishing with 45* points. Considering the amount of game played in the middle of the field, I would have expected more from him. Assuming he won't play Origin (which is no guarantee), he'll be a popular buy for the run home.
Bulldogs captain James Graham also disappointed with only 40* points. This came from 25 tackles and 153 running metres with no negative stats. In his second half stint it seemed like he spent the majority of the time just shifting the ball out to the backs and didn't take too many hit ups. It's a possibility that this was a result of his sore shoulder. With the bye in round 15, all those that held Graham through this period will be desperately hoping the rest gets him back to 100% fitness.
Tim Lafai and Gareth Widdop found themselves near the bottom of the points table tonight with 21* points each. Lafai has been a star at centre this year so anyone that has him will be feeling let down. Widdop was shaping as a POD contender but tonights performance may have put a few coaches off him.
Thats all from tonight. How did your score finish up for the week? I know quite a few of you made it over the 1000 mark. Head over to our Facebook group to tell us all about it!
There are no changes to the home side as the Dragons will run out as named on Tuesday. All those Jai Field owners - unlucky.
For the Storm, Joe Stimson comes onto the bench in place of Ryley Jacks which is good news for all those that still own him.
1 Josh Dugan
2 Nene Macdonald
3 Euan Aitken
4 Tim Lafai
5 Jason Nightingale
6 Kurt Mann
7 Josh Mccrone
8 Russell Packer
9 Cameron Mcinnes
10 Paul Vaughan
11 Tyson Frizell (C)
12 Joel Thompson
13 Jack De Belin
14 Tariq Sims
15 Leeson Ah Mau
16 Hame Sele
17 Taane Milne
1 Billy Slater
2 Suliasi Vunivalu
3 Will Chambers
4 Cheyse Blair
5 Josh Addo-Carr
6 Cameron Munster
7 Cooper Cronk
8 Jesse Bromwich
9 Cameron Smith (C)
10 Jordan Mclean
11 Felise Kaufusi
12 Kenny Bromwich
13 Dale Finucane
14 Christian Welch
15 Tim Glasby
16 Nelson Asofa-Solomona
18 Joe Stimson
The Roosters and Dragons turned in another classic ANZAC day match that went right down to the wire.
With the Dragons suffering a number of injuries to key players, they were run down in the second half after leading 6-0 at half time. A fantastic try to Nene MacDonald and a clutch sideline conversion from Josh Dugan tied it up at 12s with seconds remaining on the clock. In extra time, Mitchell Pearce did the unthinkable and kicked his first field goal in 20 attempts.
Pearce once again showed his appeal with 67* points and at the same time you would have to think that he cemented his place in the NSW team for Oranges which means he will miss 4 matches over the bye period. This makes Adam Reynolds very enticing.
Boyd Cordner also had a strong game running for over 200 metres and scoring 55* fantasy points. That will push his average up to close to 50 and he could be an interesting POD post byes.
Sio Siua Taukeiaho impressed with 44 points in 47 minutes. If and when he returns to a bigger minute role, these couple of low scores will make him a rather enticing POD.
That's about as far as the good points go in this match with a number of disappointing scores.
Jack De Belin headlines this with 47* points. He went off the field for 6 minutes with a bung knee and also spent some time in the halves and at centre when Gareth Widdop and Josh Dugan left the field.
Cameron McInnes has also disappointed recently with an average of 45 in the last 3 weeks. I know of many that upgraded Brailey to McInnes when Segeyaro made his return and they'll be scratching their heads wondering what went wrong.
Gareth Widdop came from the field in the 39th minute with a Grade 1 Medial Ligament Tear. While this should not hinder his aspirations to play for England, but he may struggle to back up next week against the Storm.
Oh and it would be remiss of me not to mention Mitchell Aubusson who did not play due to illness. It has taken 8 weeks but the Black Widow strikes again!
1. Jack de Belin train chugs along
JdB had a monster game, playing 71 minutes and scoring a try which lead to 63* points. In a similar mould to Sam Burgess and James Graham, I would to tell you to snap him up but the Dragon's don't have the best bye period schedule. He might be worth holding if you have him but I wouldn't target him until after round 18.
2. Euan Aitken has a fast start
With 51 at half time, many would have been expecting massive things from Aitken. Unfortunately, he didn't score any more tries and was pulled off at the 68th minute mark (he came into the game with a niggle). 60* is nothing to turn your nose up at but 9 points in 28 minutes isn't great either.
3. Paul Vaughan is a PPM monster.
I tried to tell everyone this years ago (just ask K5). He was extremely under-utilised at the Raiders and I bet Ricky Stuart is regretting letting him go. 61* in 57 minutes means that Vaughan has now scored 357 points in 305 minutes this season. Monster stats. Yes, he can keep it up and is definitely a keeper. Buy him when you can.
4. Keep an eye on...
Josh McCrone. JUST KIDDING
5. It's time to go...
Brian Kelly. I have no idea where he got 13 points from but his time in my team is definitely up. Cash out or upgrade to Aubusson. Yes, I just recommended Aubusson.
6. It's time to buy...
Paul McGregor. Surely Paul Vaughan doesn't make that much of a difference to this team? They are playing ridiculously well this year. Did they spend the off season on Mars?