Team of the Week: Round 25
1) Brett Stewart (Sea Eagles)
Without Stewart the Sea Eagles don't beat Penrith on Sunday. The wily fullback was able to keep Manly afloat with two try assists, a line break and three tackle breaks, and in the process kept Brisbane's Justin Hodges out of the weekend's best 17.
2) Chanel Mata'utia (Knights)
These Mata'utia brothers are sure making their mark in the Hunter. A couple of rounds ago it was Sione doing the family proud but on Saturday it was Chanel's turn to impress. The 22-year-old scored a hat-trick and made 113 metres, five tackle breaks and two line breaks in Newcastle's unlikely 30-point win over Parramatta.
3) Konrad Hurrell (Warriors)
With yet another a kiss to his mum, the Warriors centre helped the men across the ditch smash open the Titans to the tune of 42 points. Hurrell ran for 104 metres and broke four tackles in the New Zealanders' big win.
4) Joey Leilua (Knights)
The Newcastle centre was locked and loaded in beast mode on Saturday against the Eels. In his 99th game of NRL, Leilua scored an evasive try, broke through nine attempted tackles, made three line breaks and assisted in two tries as well as running 194 metres.
5) Manu Vatuvei (Warriors)
While Vatuvei didn't score a try or make a line break and only made one tackle bust by game's end, it didn't stop him from racking up a double century (212) of metres in his side's huge 42-0 win over the Titans.
6) Blake Austin (Wests Tigers)
Easily the best in his beaten Tigers team and one of the best on show at GIO Stadium on Saturday night, Austin scored a try to go along with his 128 metres, 229 kicking metres, two line breaks and remarkable 10 tackle breaks.
7) Mitchell Pearce (Roosters)
In a predominantly defensive-laden team performance, the Roosters halfback was able to stand above the rest with a try, a tackle break and a try assist, and says he is as motivated to prove his doubters wrong and win another premiership as he was last year.
8) Jesse Bromwich (Storm)
After welcoming his baby into the world last weekend and consequently missing the Storm's Round 24 game, a freshened-up Bromwich returned with yet another barnstorming performance for Melbourne. The Storm prop ran for 174 metres and made two tackle breaks and 29 tackles.
9) Michael Ennis (Bulldogs)
When he wasn't getting under Adam Reynolds' skin, the Bulldogs captain was producing one of his finer performances of the season. Ennis scored a try, made three tackle breaks and was as solid as ever in defence with 48 tackles.
10) Dane Tilse (Raiders)
The Canberra prop continued his stellar back end of the season with a charging display – featuring 120 metres, three tackle breaks and 25 tackles – to help the Raiders notch rare back-to-back victories.
11) Matt Gillett (Broncos)
Despite copping a bizarre sin-binning Gillett was one of Brisbane's best in their crucial win over the Dragons, scoring two tries and making four tackle breaks and 31 tackles in his 70 minutes on the park.
12) Joel Thompson (Dragons)
The Red V faithful will be hoping Thompson doesn't head back down the Hume Highway to Canberra next year after his brilliant showing in a losing St George Illawarra outfit. The back-rower raced away for a try, laid on another, ran for 161 metres and made 21 tackles.
13) Sam Burgess (Rabbitohs)
Busted ribs, a corked leg and an ongoing shoulder problem didn't stop this busted Bunny from earning Man of the Match honours last Thursday. Burgess scored twice and made 194 metres and 31 tackles in the Rabbitohs' hard-earned win over the Dogs.
14) Michael Gordon (Sharks)
The Sharks fullback rightfully earned Man of the Match honours in Cronulla's brave showing in their golden-point loss to the Cowboys on Monday. With his goal-kicking boot working with three-from-three, Gordon managed to also have a hand in every one of his club's tries and ran for 162 metres.
15) Johnathan Thurston (Cowboys)
The Cowboys halfback's poise under pressure almost single-handedly guaranteed a Cowboys finals berth for the third straight season. Thurston kicked two crucial field goals, nailed three conversions, scored a try off his own back, set up another and made 22 tackles for good measure.
16) Chris Heighington (Sharks)
The tireless Sharks lock stood tall in a depleted Cronulla outfit. With a whole squad's worth of men missing, the veteran took it upon himself to massively contribute to Cronulla's go-forward in an effort that saw him produce 169 metres and 28 tackles as well as being the benefactor of one of the most memorable short kick-off pickups you're ever likely to see.
17) Jason Taumalolo (Cowboys)
The Cowboys back-rower continued his solid run of form with a try-scoring double in North Queensland's golden-point victory over the Sharks. Taumalolo ran for 103 metres, made 30 tackles and broke through six others.