15/04/2024
Round 18 produced some game-winning and memorable moments. This team of the week includes players from nine different teams

Round 18 produced some game-winning and memorable moments. From the Roosters’ 40-point second-half performance to the Raiders’ upset over the Storm, and Latrell Mitchell’s second-half takeover performance against the Bulldogs.

This round has created different shifts in conversations about teams and players going into the final seven rounds of the season. This team of the week includes players from nine different teams.

Fullback: Latrell Mitchell (Rabbitohs)

Photo: NSWRL

Latrell Mitchell in his third game since he returned has continued to play at a high level.

This game saw Mitchell have one try, three try assists. He also recorded 137 running metres, 12 tackle breaks, and three line-break assists against the Bulldogs to end the round.

What made Mitchell’s performance noteworthy was his ability to take over in the second-half performance in which the Bulldogs could not stop the Rabbitohs from scoring four tries that would lead to the final score.

As the playmaker, Mitchell used his creativity with the ball to open up success for his team to score points.

Wingers: Jason Saab (Sea Eagles) and Alex Johnston (Rabbitohs)

Jason Saab scored two tries in the Sea Eagles’ dominant win over the Knights.

Saab also ran for 223 metres, showing his potential to build his game around his speed and size coming out of his own half.

His try from Daly Cherry Evans’ short side creativity tag team play with Kieran Foran also displayed a new aspect of Saab’s game to move off the ball into the right spot at the right time, being a support player on the inside to catch Kalyn Ponga off guard.

Alex Johnston had another try-scoring clinic in the game against the Bulldogs. 

Johnston scored a hat-trick of tries, two of which occurred in the final six minutes of the game. 

Johnston also had 144 running metres and two line breaks, showing his understanding of the defensive line and schemes.

Centres: Waqa Blake (Eels) and Jesse Ramien (Sharks)

Waqa Blake showed his ability to play all-around, especially on the offensive end.

Blake scored two tries in the first twenty minutes of the game and run 156 metres for the game and showed his chemistry with teammate Maika Sivo.

Jesse Ramien scored his two tries also in the first twenty minutes of the game.

The standout in his performance was having 10 tackle breaks against the Cowboys, showing the strength and physicality that he possesses.

Five-Eighth: Joseph Manu (Roosters) 

Photo: Sydney Roosters

Since Joseph Manu played for New Zealand in Representative Round, he has put on several impressive performances, one after another, and they have been outside of his normal position.

Manu had two tries, two try assists, along with 15 tackle breaks, and three line breaks, only running 194 metres.

Manu’s ability to play as a creative, strong ball carrier and make metres without interfering with James Tedesco’s and Sam Walker’s play.

This month, Manu has scored two tries, four try assists, four line breaks, seven line break assists, 40 tackle breaks, and ran 850 metres. 

Manu’s play has gone to a whole other level recently and in the 42-point second-half performance by the Roosters, the offence was on display.

Halfback: Daly Cherry-Evans (Sea Eagles)

Photo: NRL.com

Daly Cherry-Evans had another impressive performance after his impactful performance in the Origin series win for the Maroons, showing his kicking game and coming up with on-the-fly plays that caught the Knights defence off guard.

Cherry-Evans had 16 kicks collecting 522 metres, three try assists, five tackle breaks as well as two line breaks.

The short-side play tag teaming halves partner Kieran Foran and finding Jason Saab on the inside was the stand-out moment. 

Cherry-Evans’ style of play does not usually consist of plays like that where he shows his running game and understanding of how defence in open space on the short side is structured. 

Props: Tevite Tatola (Rabbitohs) and Joseph Tapine (Raiders)

Tevite Tatola has become a consistent performer in the middle for the Rabbitohs and showed how aggressive he can be when he brings that energy to the table.

Tatola had scored a try, made 21 runs, gaining 234 running metres, while also having 82 post-contact metres, and 33 tackles in 62 minutes of play.

Contributing in a multitude of aspects in this game was a standout when compared to his peers in the same position this week.

Joseph Tapine had a challenging assignment in the matchup with the Melbourne Storm and he delivered at a high level, being aggressive in his running game.

Tapine had 171 running metres, 81 post-contact metres, and three tackle breaks.

Hooker: Reed Mahoney (Eels)

Reed Mahoney had his best game of the season, with and without the ball.

Mahoney had two try assists and two line-break assists, showing his ability to run the ball and find the right guy to put the ball over the line in the right spot.

Mahoney also had 37 tackles, showing his brand of play has a defensive dummy half holding down the middle.

Second-Rowers: Villame Kikau (Panthers) and Keaon Koloamatangi (Rabbitohs)

Keaon Koloamatangi was a stand-out in the back-rower position, being a work-horse for the Rabbitohs. 

Koloamatangi was second in running metres in the forward pack behind Tatola, having 139 running metres.

To compare his teammates, Mark Nicholls had 23 fewer running metres than Koloamatangi and more than half of the forward pack had less than 100 running metres.

Villame Kikau provided a lot of production while his team was resting seven Origin players against the Tigers.

Kikau scored a try from a grubber kick from teammate Sean Sullivan. A tap-kick from Kikau, along with a try assist and 138 running metres, showed his offensive ability, especially on the left edge.

Lock: Victor Radley (Roosters)

Photo: NRL.com

Victor Radley opened up the scoring for the Roosters, scoring the first try of the game in the 12th minute.

Radley provided a lot of physicality and intensity on both sides of the ball and helped open up the middle, helping the Roosters get the win against the Dragons. Radley had two tackle breaks and one line break.

Radley also finished with 213 running metres and 31 tackles, the second most in the forward pack in their victory.

Interchange:

14. James Tedesco (Roosters)

James Tedesco ran for 191 metres and scored two tries in the Roosters’ victory over the Dragons.

Being the second option to Joseph Manu in the offence, Tedesco played off the ball and maximised his opportunities with the ball, with 10 tackle breaks.

15. James Schiller (Raiders)

James Schiller was outstanding in the Raiders’ upset over the Storm.

Schiller scored two tries, including an impressive kick and chase on the right edge where he was able to be in the field of play just at the perfect time before grounding the ball for the four points.

16. Tohu Harris (Warriors)

In the Warriors’ loss to the Eels, Tohu Harris was the Warriors’ best player.

Harris had 170 running metres along with a try assist, a tackle break, a line break, and a line break assist, showing his ability to carry and move the ball in a lacklustre Warriors offence.

17. Adam Reynolds (Broncos)

Adam Reynolds took charge in a close battle with the Gold Coast Titans. 

Reynolds scored a try and had 596 kicking metres. Kicking to corners and specific spots to put pressure on the Titans getting out of their own half showed why the Broncos signed Reynolds, to be their organiser and facilitator of the offence.

Player of the Round: Joseph Manu (Roosters)

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