Holden Cup wrap: Round 3
All the key stats, breakout players and talking points from Round 3 of the National Youth Competition.
Horror round for tipsters
While hipsters were having a field day up in the Hunter Valley, spare a thought for us tipsters. It was absolute carnage in the NRL and things weren't much better in the Holden Cup. The lower-ranked team won five of the eight matches in Round 3, with the 16th-placed Raiders rebounding from last week's 74-12 loss to the Sharks with a 54-10 thrashing of the Tigers. It was a case of history repeating itself after the Green Machine downed the Tigers in 2015 a week after conceding 78 points to the Cowboys.
No better place than home
What a week to be the home team. Seven of the eight games in Round 3 were won by the home side, a stark contrast to the opening two weeks where 10 of the 16 matches were won by the visitors. That home support proved telling for the Thunderbolts and Knights who both produced comebacks to earn gritty four-point wins.
Statements made by powerhouse clubs
Some were questioning the Panthers after their Round 1 loss to the Dragons but last year's minor premiers have responded in style with back-to-back crushing wins, including a 38-12 victory on Saturday in a replay of the 2016 grand final. Five-eighth Dean Blore grabbed a first-half hat-trick and was ably supported by his forwards who outran the Roosters by 600 metres. The Cowboys were also expected to struggle without Kalyn Ponga against the high-flying Sea Eagles but fought valiantly to extend their unbeaten run to three games.
Players of the Round
We'll be tracking the best performances every round this year with a good old-fashioned 3-2-1 points system.
3 – Cowboys centre Enari Tuala stepped up when the game was there to be won, scoring a second-half hat-trick in his side's win over Manly. Two tries in three minutes gave the Cowboys the lead before Tuala iced the game at the death with a 90-metre runaway try. He also ran for 168 metres and broke nine tackles.
2 – Sharks centre Jesse Ramien continues to firm as one of the best players in the NYC. His hat-trick was the highlight in Cronulla's big win over the Dragons, with Ramien now on eight tries through the first three rounds to go with more than 30 tackle busts. It should come as no surprise the Sharks average 50 points per game.
1 – This point has been a long time coming for Knights No.9 Tom Starling. The diminutive hooker has been in terrific form this season and was again a key factor in his side's comeback win on Saturday. Starling made 48 tackles and had a try assist and looks an exciting prospect going forward.
Titans 28 – Eels 36
Knights 26 – Rabbitohs 22
Bulldogs 24 – Warriors 22
Storm 28 – Broncos 24
Panthers 38 – Roosters 12
Cowboys 28 – Sea Eagles 20
Raiders 54 - Wests Tigers 10
Sharks 38 – Dragons 4