Monday Morning Halfback: Round 18

The Roosters flex their premiership muscle, Nathan Friend produces one of the greatest offloads in recent memory, the Storm and Dragons need to regroup, Luke Lewis joins the elite one per cent in his 250th NRL game, while PNG win the gold medal at the Pacific Games.

Amazing Warriors

Take a bow Nathan Friend, Shaun Johnson and David Fusitu'a. The Warriors were at their breathtaking best on Sunday afternoon against the Storm, scoring multiple contenders for try of the year. 

With stars Manu Vatuvei, Konrad Hurrell and Ryan Hoffman all ruled out of the clash, the Warriors did not miss a beat in dismantling Melbourne. 

Nathan Friend's effort to somersault and somehow manage to pass the ball between his legs while upside down will go down in folklore as one of the most freakish try assists in rugby league history.

It takes a lot to upstage Johnson and not even his no-look flick pass to keep the play alive could live up to Friend's acrobatics to start the play. If it wasn't the try of the year, I can't wait to see what the NRL Telstra Premiership throws up in the run to the finals. 

Don't take my word for it, watch the play below.

 

 

 

The Warriors' victory propelled them into the top four of the NRL Telstra Premiership. Is this the year the New Zealand outfit make good on their potential? They've always had the talent, but despite making two grand finals, have largely underachieved since entering the competition in 1995. They are still not the total package, but they are edging closer to it. They have the ability to blow any team off the park on their day. 

The real test will come next week against the third-placed Roosters on Sunday afternoon at Allianz Stadium. Get your tickets, lock yourself in and get ready for anything, it promises to be an absolute classic. 

Storm enter unfamiliar territory

The Storm have now had four consecutive losses for the first time since Rounds 16-20 of season 2012.

It is foreign ground for the majority of the 2015 squad, and captain Cameron Smith believes it all starts with their attitude.

"Conceding 28 points is never good enough at this level, it's pretty hard to win a football game when you have 28 points on the scoreboard against you," he said.

"I think we just need to have a bit of an attitude readjustment towards our football."

Here come the Roosters

The Roosters have long been touted as a Premiership force in 2015 and they are starting to look at their ominous best. There were a few questions raised when they lost four-in-a-row earlier in the season, but coach Trent Robinson and the players knew that they weren't far away from getting the results. 

They have lost only once in their last seven matches. Centre Blake Ferguson had his best game since his NRL return and will be a real strike weapon for the Tricolours at the business end of the season. Their clash with the Warriors this week on Sunday afternoon should be an absolute blockbuster.

 

 

Dragons' dramatic slide

The Dragons were without key players Benji Marshall, Josh Dugan and Trent Merrin against the Sharks and were never in the hunt despite hanging in on Sunday afternoon at Remondis Stadium.

It was the fifth loss in a row for the Red V and after leading the competition in Round 12, the Dragons are now desperately hanging on to the top eight.

"We're in a tough position but we've put ourselves there," Ben Creagh said.

"Unfortunately at this level trying hard is not good enough.

"That's what we're doing at the moment, we're trying hard but we're not competing hard enough like we were earlier in the season. 

"We're not playing that tough gritty footy that we played before, but luckily for this side we're not still searching for it we've done it and we know how to do it."

Luke Lewis joins top one per cent

Luke Lewis scored try number 103 in his 250th NRL game on Sunday afternoon at Remondis Stadium. In doing so he became just the 95th player in the history of the game to rack up 250 games. According to stat guru David Middleton, that puts him in the top 1.02% of all players.  It is an amazing achievement. Since making his debut on the wing for the Panthers with bleached blonde hair in 2001, Lewis has gone on to have an amazing career, including a premiership, successful Origin series with NSW and Four Nations titles with Australia. 

With nine tries already in season 2015, Lewis is not done yet. Well done Luke!

 

PNG crowned champions

Papua New Guniea won the gold medal in the Pacific Games rugby league nines with a dominant 38-10 victory over Toa Samo in the final. It capped an unbelievable tournament for the Kummuls who defeated Tonga 36-6 in the semi finals and also accounted for Fiji (18-12), Tonga (42-0), Solomon Islands (42-4) and Cook Islands (26-4).