Magic Round produced plenty of highlights and talking points as the entire NRL converged on Suncorp Stadium this past weekend.
Some players did not enjoy the experience with sin bins and sending off dominating the headlines in what was the highest scoring round of the season.
Read on for our five takeaways below.
1 – More Sin Bins Will Only Help The Good Teams
The gap between the haves and the have nots in the 2021 NRL season was already quite wide with plenty of blowouts throughout the opening two months.
Last season’s rule changes, most notably the six again penalty option, gave the fitter sides a real leg up as they were able to hold onto the ball and punish the ill-disciplined sides in a 13 on 13 situation.
With the crackdown on high shots (and more) resulting in 14 sin bins and a further three send offs this weekend, that gap is only going to get wider as teams struggle to keep up the pace.
You can only play the rules as they are written at that point in time and it will be on the players to find out just how far they can push the referees before getting severely punished.
Right from the outset this weekend it was clear the referees were going to be policing the games with an iron fist and teams that gave up penalties were going to struggle to keep a full contingent of players on the field.
As a rule, the good teams are already good because they don’t give up the sorts of penalties that result in a sinbinning which will see them playing with a man advantage more than the struggling sides.
Round 10 saw the average winning margin blow out to 20.75 points per game as the winning teams really applied the blowtorch in Magic Round.
Not to mention with more suspensions likely coming for poor tackles, sides will be punished in subsequent weeks as well.
Get ready for even more one-sided contests as the season goes on.
2 – It Was A Bad Weekend For The Knights
Seven of the eight favourites won outright in Magic Round, only the Knights were victims of the upset.
It was the smallest line of Magic Round with the Knights closing as -3.5 favourites so perhaps the least surprising upset however getting blasted by 18 points by the Tigers would not have helped the confidence in that camp.
Making things even worse is the fact the Knights scored a couple of late tries to make the scoreline a bit more respectable than the game actually was.
Up next they head further north to take on the Cowboys in Townsville with both sides desperately needing a win in that game.
3 – You Can Have Too Much Faith In Souths
If you backed Souths at the line early in the week you would have loved watching their 10 point win over Cronulla but not so much if you jumped on board later on.
Souths started off as -7.5 favourites but the weight of money pushed them out to -11.5 at kickoff.
It was possibly the worst beat of the weekend with this late try giving the Sharks the backdoor cover.
After some overconfidence caught punters out last week, few people will likely give the Bunnies a chance next week when they take on the Panthers as double digit line underdogs as well.
4 – Canberra Should Celebrate That Win
Most of the time, beating the Bulldogs by only two points would be a cause for concern however in the case of the Raiders, they have to take any victory at the moment.
Especially having to play essentially the last half hour of the match with 12 men on the park following the 53rd minute sin binning of Jack Wighton and the sending off of Josh Papalii on the hour mark.
It would be a massive leap of faith to think that that will be the win that kick starts their season, but it did just show that the Raiders can still grind out a victory here and there.
Considering they will be rather shorthanded next weekend against the Storm however, grinding out back to back wins seems unlikely.
5 – Penrith Will Go Unbeaten If They Can Survive Origin
It is both the curse and blessing of being the best side in the NRL, Penrith’s phenomenal start to the season is about to enter its biggest test.
10 straight wins by an average of almost 24 points with the second best attack and the best defence in the NRL, you have to wonder if anyone can stop them.
Realistically nobody might be able to stop them, but an event (or series of events) just might.
With State of Origin returning to midseason, Penrith’s phenomenal side may find itself stretched to the limit over the coming weeks.
If they can get through this period with their record still intact, they are every chance of running the table and competing a perfect season.
They have moved into $2.80 to win the Premiership in our market and as they keep winning, they will only further shorten in price.