17 Rounds are in the books in the 2021 NRL Season and we have just wrapped up our second shortened weekend.
It was a weekend of slightly closer scores with the average margin of victory down to 14 points after last week’s 27.
Check out our five big takeaways from NRL Round 17 below.
1 – It’s All Go From Here
It’s a necessary evil but four games per weekend instead of the normal eight really does suck.
The good news though is that the remainder of the 2021 NRL season will have full rounds of action.
Much like in the AFL last year, the Sunshine State is providing a safe haven for most of the competition with an enthralling finals race setting up.
With every team now having played 16 games, any number of scenarios could unfold for the makeup of the Top 8.
The Sharks and Knights are locked on 16 points on either side of the divide, while a further seven teams are within two wins on either side.
Get ready for plenty of drama on the field.
2 – Souths Are The Value Bet At The Moment
It might have only been against the Cowboys but you have to be impressed with the way Souths just dismantled North Queensland on Friday night.
In spite of missing a few of their Origin stars, the Bunnies still put up 46 points for the second time in three weeks.
While it would be fair to assume that the Premiership is going to be a two horse race between the Storm ($2.60) and Panthers ($3.00), Souths at $7.00 could wind up as the value play of the season.
On their day they have the firepower to keep pace with the Storm and take full advantage of a vulnerable Panthers team should Nathan Cleary miss an extended period of time.
In their current form you can’t rule anything out.
3 – Sam Walker Is A Genius
There was plenty of outrage online Saturday evening when Sam Walker produced one of the smartest plays of the season.
With the Roosters up 22-16, Walker decided to eschew a relatively straightforward field goal on the last tackle and tried to run out the remaining 20 seconds on the clock.
It was a moment of sheer genius and out of the box thinking that should be applauded instead of criticised.
Bottom line is the NRL is a results driven industry and Walker made sure that his side came away with the victory, even if it was through slightly unconventional means.
4 – Don’t Write Off The Sharks
Cronulla remains a tough team to get a read on due to their inconsistencies but on their day, they are a tough out.
They have won four of their last five and picked up a much needed win over the Warriors this weekend.
If they can carry on with that form they should be able to cement their spot in the top eight, however their margin for error right now is not what they would have been hoping for.
They will also need to turn around their points differential of -44 if they want to climb up the ladder, although winning a few games should help with that.
5 – It Really Does Not Matter Where They Play Origin 3
While it is understandably frustrating for the NRL and Blues having State of Origin Game 3 moved to Queensland, the venue probably won’t impact the result.
We have seen through the first two games of the series that the Blues are just a whole lot better than the Maroons and anything less than another blowout would be surprising.
The tide in this rivalry has well and truly swung south of the Tweed.