Round 11 of the NRL saw a number of big matchups take place, with a number of teams occupying similar spots on the ladder coming up against one another. A handful of upsets helped to shake up the status quo, and nearly halfway into the season there is still plenty of potential for change in the top half of the ladder. Here are how some of the biggest games went down.
Thursday Night: Newcastle Knights vs Brisbane Broncos
Round 11 of the NRL season kicked off with a game which loomed as a great opportunity for the Broncos to continue their rapid rise up the ladder, and that was exactly the way that it panned out. As expected by the betting sites, following a tight first half they proved far too good for the struggling Knights, scoring five tries in the second half (including four in the last 13 minutes) to run out 36-12 winners in what was their fifth successive victory. The win moved them up to fifth place and just goal difference outside the top four, while the Knights dropped back to 15th.
Next Match for Newcastle
The Knights have a winnable game against the Warriors next week, but nonetheless they will head in as underdogs as they search for their fourth win of the season.
Next Match for Brisbane
The Broncos are now a legitimate top four contender after five wins on the trot, and they are comfortable favourites to make it six and likely jump into the four when they face the Titans.
Friday Night: Parramatta Eels vs Manly Sea Eagles
Both the Eels and the Sea Eagles entered this matchup in desperate need of a win, each of them harbouring finals and even top four aspirations but having endured numerous tough losses of late. Parramatta entered the game as favourites on the betting apps, but it was Manly who entered half time with a slim lead in a toughly contested game. Two more tries early in the second half saw them establish a ten point lead, but the Eels rallied to score two of their own, and with a conversion in the 78th minute of the game they grabbed a 22-20 lead and recorded a memorable victory.
Next Match for Parramatta
The Eels are now just goal difference outside the top four, and should give themselves a chance to jump inside it with a win against the Raiders this weekend – though Canberra is coming off an impressive win of their own.
Next Match for Manly
The Sea Eagles’ trying season doesn’t get any easier this week; they come up against a Storm side reeling from back-to-back losses who will be eager to inflict a bit of pain on their opposition.
Saturday Afternoon: North Queensland Cowboys vs Melbourne Storm
This top four clash in north Queensland loomed as one of the games of the round, with the Cowboys attempting to continue proving their legitimacy as a contender and the Storm eager to bounce back after a disappointing loss to the Panthers the week prior. The odds set by Aussie bookmakers suggested the Storm would be too strong, but the reverse came to fruition as the home side dominated from the outset. After two early tries to the Cowboys the Storm rallied, but North Queensland put the foot down early in the second half with four consecutive tries and ultimately ran out 36-6 winners.
Next Match for North Queensland
The challenges keep on coming for the Cowboys, who after demolishing the Storm now have to head to Penrith for the toughest task in rugby league.
Next Match for the Storm
The Storm need a win after consecutive losses, and they will be confident they can get it when they head back to AAMI Park to take on the Sea Eagles.
Saturday Night: Sydney Roosters vs Penrith Panthers
Though they had a relatively tough matchup against the Roosters, the Panthers were tipped by betting sites to continue on their merry way on Saturday night, testament to just how dominant they have been so far this season. That prediction turned out to be justified as the Panthers jumped out to an 18-0 half-time lead which they wouldn’t relinquish. The Roosters battled on in the second half but were never truly in the game, and ultimately went down 32-12 to the best side in it.
Next Match for the Roosters
The Roosters will partake in arguably the match of Round 12 on Saturday night, coming up against fellow top four aspirant in the Cronulla Sharks.
Next Match for the Panthers
The Panthers might not have things all their own way against the impressive Cowboys next week, but nonetheless they’ll head in as a comfortable favourite.
Sunday Afternoon: South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Canberra Raiders
There was plenty on the line in this one, with both the Rabbitohs and the Raiders likely to be competing for similar positions in the bottom half of the top eight come season’s end. And while the Rabbitohs were favourites with Aussie bookmakers, the Raiders had to be given a chance considering their performance the week prior when they upset the Sharks by 20 points. As it turned out, that was no fluke; they were again terrific, ultimately running out 32-12 winners and moving into ninth place on the NRL ladder.
Next Match for the Rabbitohs
The Rabbitohs need a win if they’re to maintain their hold on a spot in the top eight, and they get a good chance to get it against the Tigers this weekend.
Next Match for the Raiders
The Raiders impressive form has seen them catapult up the ladder courtesy of two big wins, but they’ll need to cause a third upset in a row if they’re to move into the top eight.