The penultimate bye round of the 2014 season threw up a few surprises in Holden NRL Fantasy. A veteran hooker turning back the clock, a strike weapon returning to form, and the debut of a popular cheapie will all have coaches considering their next moves as the season nears the final stretch.
Let’s take a look back at what went down in Round 17.
Bulldogs v Sea Eagles
Michael Ennis (81) claimed the second highest score of the round with his match-winning efforts against the Sea Eagles on Friday night. James Graham (70) was at his best, with his 37 tackles and 163m bolstered by a try. Those who held cash cow Jack Littlejohn (46) would’ve been pleased with his return, while Damien Cook managed just a single point with his limited minutes. The Bulldogs’ makeshift halves pairing of Tony Williams (24) and Josh Jackson (32) starred on the night, but their performances didn't translate to equally impressive Fantasy totals.
Dragons v Cowboys
Dragons flyer Jason Nightingale (75) claimed a hat-trick against the Cowboys to top the scoring in this fixture. The experienced winger has been quietly going about his business this season, and is in for a hefty price rise in the coming weeks. Joel Thompson (60), Leeson Ah Mau (58) and Adam Quinlan (53) all scored well above their season averages, while Benji Marshall (47) continues to improve each week. Tautau Moga (18) didn’t really deliver for the 7734 coaches who jumped on the Cowboys’ new recruit.
Roosters v Sharks
Who would've tipped this one? Leading the side in the absence of Fantasy gun Paul Gallen, Wade Graham (53) topped the scoring in this one, scoring one of the sneakiest tries you’ll see in the process. Jeff Robson (57) was solid, while those who jumped on Jacob Gagan (46) would be pleased, with two tries helping the winger to his highest score three games into his NRL career. Two tries to the enigma that is Mitchell Aubusson (41) saw him attain his best score since Round 10, and those with Sonny Bill Williams (33) would be left disappointed as he failed to do much damage to the Sharks.
Wests Tigers v Panthers
Those 8110 coaches who have kept the faith with Jamal Idris (77) were rewarded for their persistence, with the giant centre scoring his first try in Panthers colours. Young fullback Matthew Moylan (59) was a standout for the Panthers, but his inconsistent scoring means he’s not a must-have quite just yet. Josh Mansour (42) had a relatively quiet afternoon by his standards. Plenty of coaches snapped up Mitchell Moses (18) who made his debut at Leichhardt Oval, and with the injury to Braith Anasta (11), it would appear his first grade spot is quite secure for the foreseeable future.
Rabbitohs v Titans
Rabbitohs workhorse Sam Burgess showed just why he’s the highest scorer in Fantasy after 17 rounds with 87 against the Titans on Monday night. Playing his 250th NRL game, Mark Minichiello (65) had a huge game, while Adam Reynolds managed 57, despite playing much of the game on one leg. Both Dylan Walker (53) and George Burgess (41) were late inclusions, with the latter succumbing to a recurrence of his ankle injury early in the second half. He would take no further part in the game, but coach Michael Maguire says he should return in Round 19. Luke Keary scored a try in his first game of 2014 on his way to 35, and popular cash cow Daniel Mortimer finished with 33.