The post Origin round of the NRL season is in the books and we have a new leader on the NRL ladder in the form of the Melbourne Storm.
It’s not exactly an underdog story to warm the heart strings but it is a nice reminder of just how good Craig Bellamy’s side is that they go to the top of the ladder and everyone just assumes they were there already.
Read on for our five big takeaways from Round 14.
1 – It Was A Bad Week To Be A Queenslander
How much depth do we need to go into here?
Well let’s start with the demolition job that New South Wales put on Queensland up in Townsville.
That was ugly in every sense of the word.
North Queensland had the perfect opportunity to take advantage of a Manly side that was resting its superstar.
Things started off well for the Cowboys with Murray Taulagi crossing two minutes into the game.
Unfortunately for them, nine of the next 11 tries were scored by Manly as they put up 50 for the second time this season.
Saturday’s results were not much better for teams from the Sunshine State with the Titans and Broncos both going down.
It was not a good weekend for the Queensland sides but there is always the opportunity for them to bounce back next week.
2 – No Turbo, No Worries?
We, like many, have made plenty of references to the Sea Eagles being a one-man team with Tom Trbojevic.
While they would be best served to keep their key man in the lineup as often as possible, few blamed them for opting to rest their main man after his Origin heroics on Wednesday night.
It did mean that quite a few punters (this one included) thought that the Cowboys were pretty good value as $2.40 underdogs.
Manly might have been one of the worst performing sides in the NRL without Trbojevic in the early part of the season, but they put in an impressive shift to not only beat the Cowboys, but absolutely dominate them on Friday night.
Admittedly having DCE putting on passes like this are a huge help too.
Or Rueben Garrick doing this.
Good luck next week Gold Coast.
3 – There’s No Need To Panic In Penrith
We always knew that Origin time would be the biggest test of the season for Penrith and they lost their second straight game on Friday night.
That defeat knocked them off top spot on the NRL Ladder for the first time in what felt like forever, but these struggles should not have been a surprise to those paying attention.
Just about every good team hits a bump in the road during Origin time with several key players playing extra rep minutes.
What made it even more impressive though is the fact that the Panthers, despite playing a depleted lineup, managed to temporarily dig themselves out of an 18-0 hole to level the scoreboard.
Who could begrudge the Sharks this winning field goal though?
Punters are not abandoning the Panthers just yet with the team holding steady in our NRL Premiership market at $2.75.
Would you back against them in September?
4 – Sam Walker Is The Real Deal
If you are yet to buy into the hype surrounding Roosters young gun Sam Walker, it might be time to get on board.
His career is off to a great start and his performance on Saturday on the Gold Coast might have been his best yet.
Not only can he set up and score tries, he has the nerves of steel to step up and drill the winning field goal.
What will he have in store against the Panthers next week?
5 – Jake Averillo Had A Pretty Good Day Too
We had to wait an extra day for the end of the round but it was worth it, at least for the Bulldogs.
It was the Jake Averillo show as he scored 20 of the Bulldogs 28 points including a pair of tries.
Perhaps the bye was just what the Bulldogs needed to get things back on track, and they are showing an ability to at least be competitive against the middle tier of NRL teams.
Unfortunately the Eels are up next so it’s probably not advisable to get on board the Bulldogs bandwagon just yet.