We have played 20% of the 2021 NRL season and the fifth weekend of top level rugby league delivered plenty of drama.
Penrith remained perfect while maintaining an insanely good defensive record while the Bulldogs were left alone at the foot of the table.
There were spectacular tries aplenty as teams continued to light up the scoreboard with the Storm’s 52-18 victory the highest scoring game of the season.
We have boiled the weekend’s action down to five key takeaways below so read on to see our five lessons learned.
1 – It Was A Points Galore… For Some
For the second straight week, it was a try scoring bonanza for the victors in the NRL.
The eight winners combined for 258 points at an average of 32.25 points per game.
Five sides scored over 30 points and while the total was down from the 282 tallied in Round 4 (largely due to Manly winning with 13 points), it was still a productive weekend.
The Titans bounced back well from a meagre four points against the Raiders with a commanding win at home to Newcastle.
When they are on they are a dangerous side in attack, tallying 114 points in their three wins compared to 10 in their two losses.
All three of their wins have gone over the total points line as well so it certainly looks like it just depends which version of this Gold Coast team will turn up.
Up next is a Manly side that just held the Warriors to 12 on the weekend but still has the second worst points differential in the competition with -121.
If the Titans can build on their momentum from their win over the Knights they could be a very solid bet to put a big score on Manly.
2 – 16 Points Is Going To Be Enough To Win A Game
On the other end of the equation, it was actually the highest scoring weekend of the season for losing sides as well, but they still found themselves outscored by 17 points per game.
Only the Broncos were held to a single digit score, while the Tigers scored 30 in defeat as the eight sides combined for 122 points, bettering their previous high of 101 in Round 3.
It was a marked improvement from Round 4 where the average scoreline was 35-9.
Perhaps it has something to do with the teams knowing they can afford to give up an extra try when they are putting up 30 points per game, or just that some of the combinations are starting to gel in the second month of the season.
So far this season the average score for a winning side is 29.95 while the defeated teams are averaging 11.9 points per game.
In short, in most weeks if your team is good enough to score 16 points, they are a better than average chance to win the game.
The Roosters and Storm have had no troubles scoring points this season combining for 300 points thus far between them and will face off in what promises to be a high scoring affair on Friday night.
3 – There Is No Line Big Enough To Back The Bulldogs
The line for the Bulldogs and Storm game opened at a whopping 25.5 points in favour of the defending Premiers.
Such is the perceived mismatch between these teams that punters were not only happy to back the Storm with a five score handicap but they actually grew the number to -28.5 by kickoff.
Those punters would have been left to sweat the final scoreline with the Bulldogs looking like covering after Jake Averillo and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak scored converted tries to bring the score to 36-18 with 20 minutes to play.
Then the Storm remembered they were the Storm and piled on another 16 points to give them a comfortable win and cover.
Canterbury may think their run gets a bit easier with the Cowboys up next but they are coming off their first win of the season and will certainly be thinking they should make it two in a row here.
Until the Bulldogs show they can cover a handicap, let alone win a game you should be taking them on at every opportunity.
4 – The Sharks Will Make The Finals By Default
Cronulla is good enough to be a top eight team, as long as they are not playing another top eight team.
They ran the Roosters close on the weekend but showed just what they are lacking when it comes to competing with the NRL’s elite.
Things started off on a very strong note with a try right off the bat and they took a 18-4 lead into the final 20 minutes.
From there things went awry with the Roosters piling on 22 unanswered points to come away with the victory.
Cronulla will win enough games against teams that can’t capitalise on the opportunities afforded to them by the Sharks, but will likely find themselves bounced in the first round if they do not develop that killer instinct.
5 – It May Be Too Late To Buy Dragons Stock
You may be surprised to look at the NRL ladder and find the Dragons sitting in fourth place with four wins and a loss.
After their 32-18 defeat to the Sharks in Round 1, many would have been forgiven for thinking they were in for another long season.
Back to back games against the Cowboys and Manly gave them the perfect opportunity to build up some momentum and their massive upset win over the Eels would have sent plenty searching for the red and white bandwagon.
Unfortunately it looks like the market might have caught up with the Dragons and they find themselves favoured for the first time since Round 3.
If they extend their run don’t be surprised if the Dragons continue to get more respect from the game markets.