Monday Morning Halfback: NSW bounce back
The Origin pendulum swings, the Warriors' golden point woes, top-four Raiders and the Robbie Farah saga.
Women go to new level
NSW's historic win in the Women's Interstate Challenge was as good a representative game as you are likely to see and a great showcase of the women's game.
There is no question the standard of this year's interstate fixture was yet another step up and a further indicator of the growth of the women's game in both states.
Superstar NSW fullback Samantha Bremner tasted success for the first time after five years of trying and was instrumental in the Blues victory making several incisive runs and looked dangerous every time she touched the ball.
"The reason that Queensland lost is not because they are any worse than NSW, it's because NSW has grown as a female rugby league population and we're now up to speed with Queensland now," Bremner, who first represented NSW as a 17-year-old said.
"We're both now two quality teams and that's a credit to female rugby league, we're growing across Australia now."
Since the Jillaroos' World Cup success in 2013, the game has grown at a rapid rate each year with marquee matches at the NRL Auckland Nines and mid-year Tests continuing to strengthen the standard and increase the brand.
The development of new pathways for women's rugby league in Sydney has further helped grow the game and was seen as a key component of NSW's ground breaking win.
It seems not a matter of 'if' but 'when' the Interstate Challenge will extend to a three-match series to mirror the men's schedule.
NSW's Origin sweep
Queensland may have just won their 10th State of Origin series from the last 11 years, but it is not all doom and gloom for those south of the Tweed.
With NSW women's historic 8-4 win over Queensland – their first in 17 years – the Blues claimed a comprehensive clean sweep of the other representative fixtures between the two states.
The under-16s won 12-0, under-18s triumphed 26-0 and the under-20s extended their undefeated streak to five years with a 36-22 victory.
The Blues will be hoping this dominance can transfer across the senior level in the coming years. They may have gone through a troubled past, but the future looks bright for NSW.
Warriors golden woes
The Warriors currently sit two competition points outside of the top eight and are locked in a dogfight for a finals berth.
It could have been so different.
The Warriors have lost three matches in golden point in their last four outings.
In Round 16 it was a James Maloney field goal to keep the Sharks' record-breaking winning streak alive, Round 19 saw Daly Cherry-Evans steal victory with a left-footed field goal in Perth, while Round 20 saw the Raiders claim a dramatic win through a try to their captain Jarrod Croker.
Had the Warriors managed to win those games, they would be comfortably in the top eight and would be two points above the Broncos. It's a moot point, but demonstrates how tight the NRL Telstra Premiership is.
The New Zealand outfit has an interesting schedule ahead where they clash with fellow teams fighting for the final places in the top eight. Games against the Panthers (8th), Titans (7th) and Wests Tigers (10th) could shape their 2016 destiny.
Green Machine rise again
Canberra's win over the Warriors moved them into the fabled top four and puts them in the box seat to claim an all-important home final. It's a crucial point; no team has ever won the competition from outside the top four under the current finals structure.
There is a lot to like about how Ricky Stuart's team is playing and there is certainly a belief in the nation's capital that they can match it with anyone in the competition. A monstrous forward pack, a clever dummy-half and some of the most in-form attacking outside backs is a lethal combination working wonders in Canberra.
The real test will come at the business end of the season and how they handle adversity. Their clash with the Sharks in Round 22 shapes as a real litmus test and will be invaluable to them ahead of the finals series.
Are they the real deal? We are about to find out.
One down for Tigers
A lot was made of Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor's decision to not play club legend Robbie Farah against the Dragons.
Emotions ran high throughout the week and it certainly divided opinion and soaked up extensive media coverage.
A big part of coaching is making tough decisions, at the very least, Taylor has shown he is willing to back himself and do things his way. He is adamant that the best way forward for the team is without the Origin rake.
It's a big call.
Like or hate the decision, Taylor is the coach and should be judged on results. It is a cut-throat industry and Taylor knows this better than most.
It might not make him popular, but eventually, results will tell the story.
After beating the Dragons on Sunday the Wests Tigers are two points outside of the top eight and have an opportunity to grab a finals berth. Five of their last six matches are against teams above them on the NRL ladder, and the other is against the Eels who had 12 competition points stripped off them.
It means the Tigers have a tough run home and there will be plenty of pressure and attention on Taylor, but it also means they have an opportunity to play themselves into the finals.
It's a results business, but it's also a highly passionate and emotive business.
What happens next is anybody's guess, but it'll make for compulsive viewing.