Round 16 produced some major upsets and memorable moments. From Edrick Lee scoring five tries to the Warriors returning back home to play, this round will be forever memorable. The team of the week includes players from nine different teams.
Fullback: Ryan Papenhuyzen (Storm)
Coming back into the team this week, Papenhuyzen was back to his brilliant best. Unfortunately his performance wasn’t able to get Storm the win.
The Storm were disappointing for 90 per cent of the match but were a completely different team in the last ten minutes. During this period he led the team with two tries and two try assists.
At the close of the game he had ten points, three line-break assists and 94 run metres. Without Cameron Munster he was efficient in the play-making role and had to apply himself there with the inexperienced Jayden Nikorima.
Wingers: Edrick Lee (Knights) and Alex Johnston (Rabbitohs)
What a performance by Edrick Lee. He single handedly destroyed the Titans defence, scoring five tries all coming from the left-side of the field. Lee now holds the record for most tries in a single-game by a Knights player. To top everything off he could not be tackled having four line-breaks and tackle busts.
In the raining Sydney weather, Johnston proved that he can be good in any conditions. Johnston’s two tries came off line-breaks. On the first try he took on the Paramatta defence, stepping and accelerating to the sideline. The next he was able to intercept the ball off a poor Eels attack.
Centres: Tolutau Koula (Sea Eagles) and Joseph Manu (Roosters)
Koula’s night started by intercepting a Ryan Papenhuyzen kick and running the length of the field to score a try. From then on his night just kept getting better and better.
He led the Sea Eagles with 198 run metres, seven tackle busts and added another try to his name. Koula will be hoping to back up this performance with finals slowly creeping up.
Continuing his form from Representative Round, Manu was red-hot against the Panthers. This time he didn’t score any tries, but instead set up his teammates with one try assist and one line-break assist. He was able to gain 160 metres and had 16 tackles in defence.
Five-Eighth: Tom Dearden (Cowboys)
The young five-eighth had one of the best games of his short career so far. Influential in attack, he provided his teammates in finding gaps in the defence and called plays with confidence.
Deardon’s defensive skill was also consistent as he put on 15 tackles. He has made sure not to be seen as the weak link in the defensive line.
Halfback: Daly Cherry-Evans (Sea Eagles)
If it wasn’t for Cherry-Evans, the result could have been a much different outcome. His 40/20 kick changed the momentum the first-half and allowed Manly to gain a comprehensive lead.
His kicking game was influential and his partnership with Kieran Foran showed other teams why they should not be messed with. He ended up with eight points, two try assists and two line-break assists.
Props: Joseph Tapine (Raiders) and Sio Siua Taukeiaho (Roosters)
The Raiders front-rower’s performance was unlucky not to get his team the win over the Dragons. He was easily the Raiders best players and could be considered the best player on the ground.
Only losing by two points at the full-time siren, Tapine led the game in most tackles and most gained metres with 43 and 154 each.
Taukeiaho was an absolute beast in the Roosters’ clash against the Panthers. He gained a miraculous 217 metres and put on 39 tackles to easily be the best player on the ground. His performance was cemented by a try, one line-break and six tackles busts
Hooker: Apisai Koroisau (Panthers)
With State of Origin slowly approaching, Koroisau put on a great display, cementing his spot as the starting hooker. The always reliable hooker had 53 tackles and shined in attack with a try, one try assist and three tackle busts.
He was able to put pressure on the Roosters running out of dummy half and getting past the advantage line.
Second-Rowers: Tohu Harris (Warriors) and Haumole Olakau’atu (Sea Eagles)
Back in his hometown and in front of a sold out Mt Smart Stadium, Harris had a first-half performance for the ages. Not only did Harris cross the line for a try but added 35 tackles and 129 run metres to his statistics sheet.
More than 90 of these running metres came in the first-half as he was instrumental into giving the Warriors an early lead.
The Manly second-rower was a menace in defence but his main contributions were in attack. Off only 11 runs, Olakau’atu was able to gain 104 metres which included a try. He made the Storm defence look like fools as he made nine tackle busts and had 44 post-contact metres.
Lock: Jason Taumalolo (Cowboys)
After being out with injuries in recent months, Taumalolo was as consistent as ever in the Cowboys win over the Broncos. He has been constantly reliable in the No.13 jersey and gained 140 metres in attack and 18 tackles.
Taumalolo was able to easily get past the opposition on each of his 16 hit-ups, illustrated by his 60 post-contact metres.
14. Dominic Young (Knights)
Just like his other winger on the other side of the field, Young had a performance for the ages. He ended the game with a hat-trick, with one of them coming off an intercept and him running the length of the field. Young would go on to have 294 run metres, six tackle busts and one line-break making him unbeatable in attack.
15. Murray Taulagi (Cowboys)
The Cowboys winger and now Maroons player put on a good showing ahead of Game 3. Taulagi had two tries, seven tackle busts and accumulated 171 run metres. He was able to dominate the Brisbane defence and get on the outside of them.
16. Martin Taupau (Sea Eagles)
Taupau is continuously a force coming off the bench for the Sea Eagles. This week he contributed to their win with 145 metres gained and 19 tackles. Taupau was most impactful after initial contact piling on 49 post contact metres. He adds that extra intensity that all teams need off the bench.
17. Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Storm)
Asofa-Solomona delivered an immediate impact coming off the bench. He led the game in metres gained with 171, running straight up the middle with dominant hit-ups. 59 of these metres came after initial contact as Asofa-Solomona kept going and going.
Player of the Round: Edrick Lee (Knights)
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