How could you not enjoy Round 3 of the NRL season?
Things got started with an absolute classic as the Panthers and Storm faced off for the first time since last season’s Grand Final (but it was not a rematch).
It was a busy weekend for a handful of teams and their medical staff as injuries began to mount for a few sides as well.
Read on for our five biggest takeaways right here.
1 – You Don’t Need Points For A Good Game
Round 3 got off to a phenomenal start with the Panthers and Storm facing off in an early contender for game of the year.
It did not matter that there were only 22 points scored, the frantic pace, high standard of desperate defending.
Not to mention the final few sets with both sides desperately chasing the victory with Kikau’s heroics at the death producing a photo that deserves endless retweets.
While it will not ease the pain of last year’s Grand Final defeat, extending their perfect start to the 2021 season against the Storm is a nice reminder that the Panthers are not having a Grand Final defeat hangover at all.
All three of Penrith’s games in 2021 have gone under the total points line proving that despite the desire for more open, attacking rugby league, there is still a place for defence in the modern game.
Chances are the Panthers will make it four from four when they visit Manly on Thursday night and with the Sea Eagles tallying just 28 points so far, the Panthers could produce another suffocating performance.
2 – But Points Can Also Lead To An Instant Classic
As gripping as the Panthers-Storm game was, the ending to the Raiders-Warriors clash was just as entertaining.
It looked like the Raiders would get home with a 25-6 halftime lead before New Zealand hit the accelerator to come home with the wettest of sails.
Punters went wild when Adam Pompey crossed with three minutes to go and Kodi Nikorima converted before RTS made the play of the match to secure the win for the visitors.
Seeing that attack click in the second half was a nice reminder of how dangerous this Warriors team can be, and how fun they are to watch when they are playing well.
3 –Health Issues Will End A Contender’s Season
We all know that rugby league is a brutal game and injuries are inevitable, but every season some teams find themselves unable to catch a break.
Canberra’s collapse against the Warriors could be at least partly attributed to a string of injuries that left them short on the bench.
The Sharks were left not just short on the bench but completely empty for the entire second half as they went down to the Eels.
Perhaps the biggest blow suffered this weekend was the Roosters losing not only their first game of the season, but star man Luke Keary to a torn ACL.
You can try and build up as much squad depth as humanly possible but there is only so much you can do to try and counter a season from hell in the injury department.
Perhaps come September we’ll look back at Round 3 as the weekend the Roosters title charge faltered.
4 – The Broncos Should Enjoy Their Win
You can couch it all you want, it was only against the Bulldogs, they ran away with it late, there’s still plenty of questions about the next month, but one big thing stood out on Saturday evening in Brisbane.
The Broncos won their first game since Round 2 of last season and it should be cause for celebration.
Maybe not “we’ve won Origin (again)” level, tearing down Caxton St but any time you win a game, it should be enjoyed.
Saturday’s win also produced a rare kickoff return try, something we’re more used to seeing in the NFL.
While we’re not quite ready to anoint the Broncos premiership favourites, just getting to end that drought is a positive step.
5 – North Queensland May Go Winless
Is there any cause for optimism in Townsville at the moment?
The Cowboys were nothing short of atrocious in their 44-8 hammering at the hands of the Titans to make it three losses from three starts.
In each of the three defeats, they have conceded more and more points with an average losing margin of 22.33 points.
At the end of the last non-COVID shortened season, the Titans finished with the wooden spoon on 10 points, the Eels had 14 the year before that and the Knights took 14 points in 2017 as well.
Ask yourself this, is there a realistic chance that the Cowboys in their current state even come close to touching those points tallies?