Another week of NRL action is in the books and it had something for everyone – dazzling tries, epic fightbacks, big upsets and a last-second finish to top it all off.

Here’s everything you need to know from each game of another scintillating round of rugby league.

1. Roosters fail to take Penrith’s lead 

Focusing on process over results is one of those pieces of generic coach-speak that we hear each and every week but, like all rugby league cliches, it becomes powerful if a team really means it. 

Penrith really mean it. They have for a long time now. The reason they’re able to be without James Fisher-Harris and Nathan Cleary and totally handle the Roosters, a side many tipped to be one of their main challengers this season is in that mentality they carry into every run, every set, every half and every game over the past few seasons.

A man fends a defender in the face during a rugby league match

The Panthers outfought the Roosters despite missing two of their biggest stars. (Getty Images: Cameron Spencer )

The Roosters, for all their talent, lack that same consistency from minute to minute. They have enough accomplished players on the roster to know exactly what’s required if they’re to make the most of their considerable potential. 

But as it stands, they’re still trying to find their way. There are still lapses of concentration that cruel them, basic errors of application and execution they can’t avoid. This is a team who should be able to look the Panthers in the eye without blinking but right now they’re still a fair way off the pace. 

ABC Sport Player of the Year votes

3 – Dylan Edwards

2 – Isaah Yeo 

1 – Sunia Turuva

2. Changes needed as Bulldogs fall short 

Canterbury aren’t exactly the most inspired attacking team in the world – despite boasting the likes of Viliame Kikau, Stephen Crichton and Matt Burton in the side, points have been hard to come by through four rounds. 

With that in mind, it’s crucial the Dogs make the most of each and every attacking chance they have. In their loss to South Sydney they had enough possession and field position to win the match but a lack of polish in the attacking 20 cost them dearly. 

Drew Hutchinson joined the club from the Roosters over the summer and while he’s a skilful and canny operator his lack of speed made things difficult in some of the most crucial moments of the Good Friday defeat. 

With the fresh legs of Toby Sexton waiting in the wings, a change of approach could help unlock things for Cameron Ciraldo’s side. 

ABC Sport Player of the Year votes

3 – Keaon Koloamatangi

2 – Josh Curran

1 – Jack Wighton

3. Dearden’s tackle for the ages

Brisbane totally dominated North Queensland on Friday night as they proved they, along with the Panthers, are a class above the competition at the moment. Cowboys coach Todd Payten lamented how his side wasn’t inspired into action by Tom Dearden’s cover tackle on Selwyn Cobbo and he had a point because it was one of the great defensive plays of recent years.

Loading Twitter content

It had a higher degree of difficulty that Scott Sattler’s legendary effort in the 2003 grand final but Sattler just sneaks home due to the magnitude of the moment.

But that might be the only tackle that has it covered – Dearden’s effort can stand alongside Darren Albert’s tackle on Matt Seers in 1997 and Xavier Coates chase on Dane Gagai in 2021 as one of the great effort plays of modern times. 

ABC Sport Player of the Year votes

3 – Adam Reynolds

2-  Pat Carrigan

1 – Tristan Sailor

4. What to do with Zac Lomax? 

The Dragons face a conundrum with Zac Lomax. The 24-year old isn’t happy about playing on the wing and has been linked with an immediate release from the only NRL club he’s ever known. 

But he’s good at playing there. Really good. In fact, after four rounds he’s been St George Illawarra’s best player along with the perennially competitive Ben Hunt.

A man celebrates after his team won a rugby league match

Lomax has been playing some of the best football of his career since moving to the wing. (Getty Images: Mark Metcalfe)

Lomax again ran for the most metres of any Dragon in their surprise win over the Sea Eagles which was a performance built on toughness, grit and desire – qualities Lomax has been accused of lacking in the past but ones he’s shown in spades this season.

The Dragons and Lomax are expected to scrum down over his future this week. What happens next is still up in the air but Lomax has proven through four rounds he has the talent to be an elite outside back in the NRL – whether at St George Illawarra or somewhere else. 

ABC Sport Player of the Year votes

3 – Ben Hunt

2 –  Jack Bird

1 – Jacob Liddle

5. Jesse Bromwich winds back the clock

There was a time when Jesse Bromwich had a fair case to being the best front-rower in the world. It might have been a while ago – Bromwich is the fourth oldest player in the league this year and will retire at season’s end – but the 34-year old was a terror in his day.

He was never supposed to be that for the Dolphins. Bromwich, the club’s inagural skipper, was recruited for his leadership skills and his ability to mentor the club’s younger forwards as much as he was signed for his playing ability.

New recruit Tom Flegler, who was the Phins’ best in their win over Gold Coast, is the club’s premiere prop and plays with an aggression and athleticism Bromwich simply can’t match.

But sometimes the old boy takes a look in the cellar and brings out something reminiscent of his finest vintage. Against the Titans it was a nice little short ball to Josh Kerr that helped the front-rower crash over and seal the win for Wayne Bennett’s side. 

It was part of a strong showing from Bromwich, who used his skill – he also threw two sharp offloads and had two line break assists – to help break down the younger Titans forwards. Just cause he’s older doesn’t mean he can’t get it done when duty calls.

ABC Sport Player of the Year votes

3 – Tom Flegler

2-  Euan Aitken

1 – Herbie Farnworth

6. Warriors can have it all with RTS and CNK 

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has made great progress in his first four games back in the NRL and he was one of New Zealand’s best in their win over Newcastle, running for 283 metres with ball in hand. 

Because Tuivasa-Sheck is such a star and produces highlight reel plays like his dynamic run in the second half, where he stepped straight past Mat Croker and Jack Hetherington before bumping off Adam Elliott, there have been calls for him to stay at fullback permanently.

Loading Twitter content

But with Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad set to return from injury, Tuivasa-Sheck should slot back in at left centre. There he can still showcase his dynamic running game while allowing Nicoll-Klokstad, who had the best season of his career in 2023, to resume his excellent partnership with Shaun Johnson and the rest of the club’s right-side attack. 

Back-to-back wins have helped stabilise the Warriors after their 0-2 start to the season and with Tuivasa-Sheck improving and Nicoll-Klokstad returning the Kiwi club are building into the season nicely. 

ABC Sport Player of the Year votes

3 – Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

2 – Mitch Barnett 

1 – Kalyn Ponga

7. Cronulla have a live one in Iro 

It’s not easy to crack Cronulla’s backline – their back five is one of the most productive and dangerous attacking units in the league and they led the way in the comeback win over Canberra with both their yardage work and their potency in the attacking 20. 

Kayal Iro was only getting a start because a raft of injuries forced Siosifa Talakai to switch to the forwards but in just his second NRL game the son of New Zealand legend Kevin Iro looked right at home, scoring a try and running for 135 metres on the left edge. 

Loading Twitter content

At 24, Iro is something of a later bloomer – he’s been a standout for Newtown in NSW Cup for a good few seasons now – but he looked very comfortable slotting in at left centre. Talakai could well return to the centres next week but if Craig Fitzgibbon ever wanted to make his move to the pack a permanent one, Iro seems a very capable replacement. 

ABC Sport Player of the Year votes

3 – Cam McInnes

2 –  Nicho Hynes

1 – Joe Tapine

8. The most underrated player in the NRL

It’s hard for any NRL player to truly fly under the radar these days. The rise of fantasy sports and the 24/7 microscope on the sport means everybody knows just about everything about everyone else. But if you wanted to pick for the most underrated player in the league, you could do a lot worse than Tigers lock Fonua Pole. 

There’s a lot going on at Wests Tigers right now. Lachlan Galvin and Jahream Bula are two of the NRL’s brightest young stars, Api Koroisau might be the best hooker in the world and, even as coach, Benji Marshall’s stardom is hard to eclipse. 

There’s nothing fancy about Pole, but that’s why he’s so effective. He’s got the brute force to move defenders around and footwork that makes him more than just another rock-breaking middle forward.

The 21-year old has cracked 100 metres in each of the Tigers three games so far this season and has played a key role with Stefano Utoikamanu in locking up the centre of the ruck. 

Galvin, Bula and Koroisau will continue to earn plaudits and they no doubt deserve plenty, but without the unsung work of Pole their job would be a hell of a lot more difficult. 

ABC Sport Player of the Year votes

3 – Lachlan Galvin

2 – J’maine Hopgood

1 – Api Koroisau 

ABC Sport player of the year top 10

1. Dylan Edwards (Panthers) — 7

=2. Ben  Hunt (Dragons) — 6

=2. James Tedesco (Roosters) — 6

=4. Pat Carrigan (Broncos) — 5

=4. Api Koroisau (Tigers) — 5

=4. Haumole Olakau’atu (Sea Eagles) — 5

=7. Tom Flegler (Dolphins) — 4

=7. Kalyn Ponga (Knights) — 4

=7. Jordan Rapana (Raiders) — 4

=7. Matthew Timoko (Raiders) — 4

(Votes are compiled by the ABC Sport commentary team after each match)

dan