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Canberra Raiders fans celebrate their team's win over the Roosters in Round 2.

They may have had little success in the recent World Club Series, but English players are leaving their mark on the NRL Telstra Premiership - and that is a great thing for rugby league.

Sam Burgess headlined an ever growing list of UK talent with his best performance since his one year sabbatical, tearing Newcastle to shreds in the middle of the field with 149 metres, nine offloads and four tackle breaks. 

James Graham was at his tireless and ferocious best with 142 metres and 40+ tackles in a tough old fashioned contest against Penrith, Jack Reed scored an important try for the Broncos against the Warriors, George Burgess also made a strong return with 132 running metres from 50 minutes and then there was Josh Hodgson.

Hodgson is the unheralded hooker from Canberra who manfully kept his depleted team in the contest against a Roosters side that had every right to win the game. 

He then brilliantly stood up with the game on the line, ensuring he got into 40/20 range and then executed to perfection on the third tackle to give his side a chance of stealing victory. 

It spoke of everything you need to know about the hard-working rake: gutsy, composed and skilful to boot. He may not be as well known as his English comrades, but he is proving every week he is in the same class.

The 26-year-old started at hooker in all 24 games for the Raiders last season, led the club for try assists (12), line-break assists (10) and was second only behind tackling machine Shaun Fensom in the tackle counts (805) in his first year of NRL.

Hodgson has played five games for England, and if Saturday's showing is any indication he will get a lot more in the white jersey.  

"Josh was amazing last week and the individual brilliance he showed [kicking that 40/20] shows he is a representative level player," Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said.

These are the star players England coach Wayne Bennett can build a team around for the Four Nations and World Cup - a team very capable of matching it with the best at international level. 

The English have gone very close in the past, taking Australia to the deep water several times before faltering in the final quarter of matches and they were a tackle away from beating New Zealand in a famous World Cup semi-final at Wembley in 2013. 

The one-sided results in the World Club Series were used as cannon-fodder to dismiss the English game as inferior to the Australian product, but the final scores masked the talent on offer in the UK. 

The English Super League may not be at the lofty NRL standard but there is a growing number of players who are not only at the right standard, they are starring in the world's toughest competition. 

For the sake of the international game, may they continue to prosper.

Return of the Green Machine

It was a game that Canberra simply had no right to win. 

The writing was on the wall when they lost inspirational forward Shaun Fensom in the opening minute of their clash with the Roosters due to concussion. 

They conceded two tries in the final five minutes of the first half and it looked like a terminal blow. 

The Raiders were down to just 15 players and 12 on the field - thanks to the sin-binning of Joey Leulia - with a horrible 56 per cent completion rate and 15 errors, but somehow they found a way to win. 

They simply refused to yield.

"At one stage they had 17 sets to our six, there is no way we should have won that game," Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said.

"We didn't win that game through ability we won it through our character and desire. Playing out there for 10 minutes with only 12 players on the field was unbelievable.

"I've witnessed a lot of tough wins under challenging moments and adversity, but I haven't seen one tougher than that. We just had so much desire. 

"We didn't give up. Even last year we never gave in. There is a wonderful culture at this club and the camaraderie and spirit they are building through a lot of hard work, I'm really proud to be a part of it."  

The Raiders lost six games by four points or less last season, but already they are showing they have learned the tough lessons. Last week against Penrith was another game they could have easily lost, but with the game in the balance they found a way to win through Fensom's solo run. 

They have started 2-0; in years gone by both games might have gotten away. It is only early in the season but there is a lot to like about the way they are playing football. 


Momentum Killer

Benji Marshall had just rewound the clock to waltz straight through the middle of the Sharks defence with the famous step and surge of speed to break into the back field on Sunday afternoon. It resulted in a 60-metre break and Cronulla's Sosaia Feki being sent to the sin bin for deliberately holding down Jason Nightingale, saving a certain try. The sin bin was academic. 

But on a hot day after doing plenty of defence, the Dragons decided to take the two points to break the nil-all deadlock. 

The Sharks couldn't believe their luck. They had just been ripped to pieces and were now down a man.

It was a questionable but somewhat understandable decision at the time. 

Unfortunately the Red V followed it up with an inept 10 minutes that involved three errors and two penalties that completely let the Sharks off the hook and they went to the break trailing 18-2. 

The penalty goal was the only two points they would score all game. Hindsight is a killer.

Their decision to take the two didn't cost them the game, but the following 10 minutes certainly did. 


Are the Rabbitohs back?

Two games and two dominant performances, you can't ask for anything else - yet the jury is still out on South Sydney in the 2016 NRL Telstra Premiership competition. 

They steamrolled a Roosters side well short of their best 42-10 in Round 1 and they followed that performance by picking a hapless Knights side to pieces in ruthless fashion 48-6.

In both games they got off to flying starts to lead by 20 points inside the first quarter of the match. They have faced little resistance.

The Rabbitohs are yet to be tested this season - and there will be much sterner obstacles as the year rolls on which will reveal the true character of the Cardinal and Myrtle.

But you can only beat who is in front of you. 

Next stop the Dragons (beaten 30-2 by the Sharks) at the SCG. 



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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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