Mayhem. Absolute bedlam.
That’s the only way to describe Round 21, a weekend where injuries cruelled the chances of many chasing the overall prize in Holden NRL Fantasy.
In an attempt to piece together their ideal Fantasy side as quickly as possible, many coaches have burned through the majority of their trades with over a month remaining in the regular season.
Shaun Fensom, Wade Graham, Elijah Taylor and Bryce Cartwright headlined the big list of casualties from the round, and with Sam Burgess missing with a shoulder complaint, for many, things are starting to get desperate.
Sea Eagles 16 def. Broncos 4
Despite his side just scoring the one try, Josh Hoffman managed a game-high 67, thanks mainly to a handy 13 tackle breaks and 189 run metres. Daly Cherry-Evans (57) is back to scoring well on a consistent basis, while injury restricted Anthony Watmough (40, knee injury) and Justin Hodges (10, hamstring). Tyson Andrews’ (6) price continues to plummet, making him a cheap – if not dangerous (think auto-emergency) – downgrade option.
Panthers 22 def. Bulldogs 22
A double to hooker James Segeyaro (83) saw him top the scoring in this fixture, while Josh Mansour (47) made a successful return from injury. Tim Lafai (53) was the best for the Bulldogs, with Josh Jackson (51) and Tony Williams (42) not far behind. A ruptured ACL will see Elijah Taylor (5) miss the remainder of the season, with Bryce Cartwright (43, ankle), Brent Kite (20, pec) and Bulldogs flyer Chase Stanley (11, shoulder) also expected to spend time on the sidelines.
Eels 32 def. Sharks 12
He’s not easy to buy any more, but there’s a reason Jarryd Hayne (82) is now ridiculously pricey – he’s posting incredible numbers every week. The Parramatta and NSW fullback is averaging just over 74 from his last five starts. If you haven’t got him, you’re missing out. Big time. Another hot property in Fantasy land at present is Andrew Fifita (83), who’s returned to his destructive best. Both of these players went some way to easing the injury pain. Speaking of which, Wade Graham (55) looks set to miss the remainder of 2014 due to a stress fracture. In more positive news for Fantasy coaches and Sharks fans everywhere, Valentine Holmes (54) made a great start to his first grade career.
Cowboys 28 def. Titans 8
Johnathan Thurston (68) is in superb touch, and it’s translating to his Fantasy output, with an average of 62 from his last three starts. Returning from injury, Matt Scott (61) had a lazy 194 run metres and 31 tackles, and looms as a real point of difference as a premium FRF on the run home. You’ve probably traded him out already, but Jason Taumalolo (65) had his highest score of the year, and with coach Paul Green hinting that his workload may increase over the coming weeks, could be one to keep an eye on. Gavin Cooper (56) had a great return from a long lay-off with injury, with Brad Takairangi (42) best for the Titans.
Roosters 30 def. Dragons 22
Despite being denied a try by a great effort from Mitch Rein, Aidan Guerra still produced 122 run metres on his way to 59. Josh Dugan (60) was good in a beaten side, with Trent Merrin (51) returning to type of scores we expect from the NSW representative. In his comeback from injury, Michael Jennings (51) had two tries, and Benji Marshall (57) had one of his best displays in the famous Red V.
Warriors 54 def. Raiders 18
No Johnson? No worries. Despite dominating the scoreboard, there were no ridiculous Fantasy scores from any particular Warriors player. Raiders forward Paul Vaughan topped the scoring with 64, followed by Ben Matulino (55), Chad Townsend (54) and Manu Vatuvei (54). Sam Rapira (51) joined in on the try scoring action, grabbing a double and his best Fantasy return of the season. But it was the loss of Fensom (7) that hurt the most, with the Fantasy superstar (owned by almost 39,000 coaches) set to miss the next 6-9 months after rupturing the ACL in his right knee. The Raiders confirmed on Monday that David Shillington (37) and Kurt Baptiste (6) are set to join Fensom on the sidelines for the remainder of the season. Konrad Hurrell (30) also picked up a hamstring injury in the big win.
Rabbitohs 50 def. Knights 10
Another Sunday afternoon thrashing, with the Rabbitohs enjoying another suburb outing in Cairns. Kirisome Auva’a (who incidentally should have an actual headshot in Fantasy soon) had a career-best score (80), as did hat-trick hero Alex Johnston (63). Dylan Walker (62) continued his impressive run of form, which included this magic try. Adam Reynolds (59) owners will be happy if they retained the South Sydney halfback, while Lote Tuqiri (51) had his most prolific game in the cardinal and myrtle. Chris McQueen (49) made a successful return from injury. Best for the Knights was Adam Clydsdale (39).
Storm 28 def. Tigers 6
Two of the best hookers in the business went head-to-head on Monday night, and while neither produced a huge total, both Cameron Smith (65) and Robbie Farah (60) delivered the type of score we expect from both week in, week out. Bodene Thompson made 43 tackles for a season-high 54, while the bulk of Cooper Cronk’s 53 came from his four try assists. Jesse Bromwich missed the majority of the match and could only manage 19, as did Pat Richards (6, hamstring).