Latrell Mitchell’s return does little to inspire the Rabbitohs, the Cowboys and Warriors continue to slide, and Bradman Best re-emerges into the State of Origin frame as other options break down.

Here’s this week’s NRL Round-Up.

1. Sea Eagles cough up another first-half lead

Manly has developed something of a painful habit over the last two weeks.

Two games, two sizeable leads established in the first half-hour of matches, two painful defeats at the end of 80 minutes.

The two-point defeat at home to Canberra in round nine can perhaps be written off as a one-off aberration.

But to then lose to the Dolphins, having led 16-4 at the 30-minute mark, cannot be ignored.

“It’s frustrating talking about the same thing,” Daly Cherry-Evans said.

“It’s something we need to fix. We’ve got to change a few things. We can fix it, we’ve just got to work harder at it.”

ABC player of the year votes:

3. Trai Fuller (Dolphins)

2. Herbie Farnworth (Dolphins)

1. Mark Nicholls (Dolphins)

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

2. Bulldogs improving, but not quite there yet

The relatively tight winning margin the Panthers achieved on Friday night didn’t quite tell the story on a soaking wet night in Penrith.

Despite being in control of the first quarter of the contest, the Bulldogs were left empty handed in terms of points, with Josh Addo-Carr’s diving effort in the corner the closest the visitors came to breaching the Panthers defence.

The Bulldogs had two really good chances in the second half too.

Addo-Carr was denied a try in the corner after some lovely quick hands by a forward pass that was well-spotted by the officials.

Then Stephen Crichton was called back after Jacob Kiraz popped the final pass illegally off the deck after being held by Sunia Turiva.

Two big chances that meant that when the tries to Matt Burton and Kiraz came in the final quarter, it was too late.

The Bulldogs were close and competed for long times with the defending premiers, but Friday night’s clash showed that there’s still a bit of work to do yet.

ABC player of the year votes:

3. Dylan Edwards (Panthers)

2. Isaah Yeo (Panthers)

1. Jacob Kiraz (Bulldogs)

3. Broncos show style in the wet

When the rain started falling at Western Sydney Stadium, not many people would have expected either side to be able to turn on the style.

But that’s exactly what Brisbane did.

Ezra Mam is one of the most skilful players in the game, and he showed all that skill with a magical chip and chase to help the Broncos re-establish their 10-point lead.

Then, Selwyn Cobbo proved that the rain was no obstacle to his acrobatics, scoring with a somersault to dot down a Reece Walsh grubber.

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“Our tryline attack against opposition isn’t that great,” Kevin Walters said after the match.

“But we’re still scoring good points and enough points to win games.”

ABC player of the year votes:

3. Payne Haas (Broncos)

2. Reece Walsh (Broncos)

1. Blaize Talagi (Eels)

4. Bradman Best could be Blues’ Knight

Bradman Best smiles with blood coming from his eye

Bradman Best was impressive in Tamworth.(Getty Images: Mark Evans)

Has Bradman Best played his way into retaining his Origin spot?

He was a surprise inclusion in the Game III team last season, and scored two tries.

And with Blues hopefuls going down left, right and centre, Bradman could be hitting his Best form just at the right time.

He ran for 235 metres against the Tigers, breaking 11 tackles, busting through for three line breaks and scoring a try in a stunning all-round performance, dominating his opposite number Brent Naden like a schoolyard bully with an array of steps, balance and sheer brute strength.

Is it enough to impress Michael Maguire?

“It’s definitely a goal [to play Origin],” Best told ABC Sport post match.

“It’s the pinnacle of rugby league. We’ll see what happens.”

ABC player of the year votes:

3. Bradman Best (Knights)

2. David Armstrong (Knights)

1. Isaiah Papali’i (Wests Tigers)

5. Rabbitohs need defence 

No team has conceded 28 points or more in eight of their first nine games in an NRL season — until this hapless South Sydney side.

There are mitigating factors of course — a brutal injury list, a change of coach overseeing just his second game, and a lack of confidence that seems to permeate everything that the Rabbitohs do this season.

But the Rabbitohs are bad, and getting worse.

The return of Latrell Mitchell could have provided a spark that Souths needed, but despite scoring two tries, Mitchell was a mixed bag on Saturday night.

Defensively he was suspect when diffusing kicks into the in goal and looked to be struggling for fitness.

Sure, there is no substitute for match fitness, but Mitchell has not been out injured, he’s been suspended, and did not look fit enough to make enough of an impression.

ABC player of the year votes:

3. Zac Lomax (Dragons)

2. Jack de Belin (Dragons)

1. Hame Sele (Dragons)

6. Storm fullback lights up Melbourne

There were a lot of talking points from this game.

How long will Nicho Hynes be out for with his injured calf? How much contact with a kicker is too much? But one other question will be, what will the Storm do with Sua Fa’alogo when the senior players are fit?

Fa’alogo is lighting up the NRL in just his third senior match.

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The young fullback showed all his audacity and skill in the first half, racing from inside his own 10 to over half way with a dizzying run of sheer brilliance.

Every time he picked up the ball it felt like he was going to do something special, the crowd rising with every twinkle-toed step he took.

Ryan Papenhuyzen will be out for a little while with that broken ankle, but he may have to work just as hard to get his place back based on what we’ve seen so far.

ABC player of the year votes:

3. Dan Atkinson (Sharks)

2. Blayke Brailey (Sharks)

1. Tyran Wishart (Storm)

7. Life is about to get harder for the wobbly Warriors

The Warriors stand behind their tryline looking sad during an NRL game.

Shaun Johnson (left) was subbed out early with a pec injury.(Getty Images: Mark Metcalfe)

It feels like a lifetime ago that the Warriors were being talked about as premiership contenders after three straight wins over the Raiders, Knights and Rabbitohs.

They’ve now gone without a win in five games in the past month, including four straight losses to the Dragons, Titans, Knights and now the Roosters.

Sunday’s 38-18 loss was the most excusable of the bunch, coming as it was away from home against perhaps the form team of the comp, but surrendering 22 points in 14 minutes isn’t exactly laying a platform for success.

Then, in the 67th minute, halfback Shaun Johnson left the game after battling through a pectoral strain for about half an hour.

It’s not a good sign that he was subbed off even as the Warriors were mounting something of a resurgence that got the score back to 32-18 with more than 10 minutes to go.

Next up for the New Zealanders are the defending premiers in Magic Round, then the Dolphins in Auckland before a hopefully restful bye. And by then, they may desperately need the two points that come with the week off.

ABC player of the year votes:

3. Angus Crichton (Roosters)

2. Luke Keary (Roosters)

1. Dom Young (Roosters)

8. Drinkwater’s high-ball woes continue

In round four, Adam Reynolds made Scott Drinkwater’s life miserable at Lang Park.

The Cowboys fullback looked more likely to catch a sniffle from the persistent rain then he ever did one of Reynolds’s towering bombs.

Six weeks later and Drinkwater looks like he’s reliving that night over and over again.

Against the Titans, he and Semi Valemei got mixed up a number of times on kick receptions, including a farcical effort in the lead-up to AJ Brimson’s try when neither wanted to claim it and Valemei ended up sticking a boot at the ball and kicking it straight back to the Titans.

“It’s a real issue for him and it’s becoming quite evident,” former Raiders and Maroons fullback Clinton Schifcofske said on ABC Sport.

“A lot of kickers are really targeting him. It’s something he really needs to work on. They’re just gonna keep peppering him. He’s just lost all confidence at the back.”

ABC player of the year votes:

3. Moeaki Fotuaika (Titans)

2. Kieran Foran (Titans)

1. Brian Kelly (Titans)

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Posted 6h ago6 hours agoSun 12 May 2024 at 7:41pm, updated 1h ago1 hours agoMon 13 May 2024 at 12:45am