Holden Cup wrap: Round 5
All the key stats, breakout players and talking points from Round 5 of the National Youth Competition.
Setback for rising star
The Roosters received a massive boost on Friday afternoon with last year's RLPA Holden Cup Player of the Year, Nat Butcher, returning from off-season shoulder surgery. The workhorse lock forward was on track for a monster game with 119 metres, a try and an assist through the opening 45 minutes in a performance that had Roosters fans licking their lips. However, Butcher was forced from the field after scoring the try and finished the game with his right shoulder heavily iced. It's a cruel blow for Butcher who has been tipped for big things in 2017.
To two, or not to two?
Penalty goals are rare as hen's teeth in the Holden Cup. In fact, we've only seen 10 kicked through the opening five rounds. But opinion was divided on Saturday morning when the Knights were awarded a penalty from directly in front against the Sharks. Trailing by eight points with six minutes to play, Fox Sports commentators Brett Finch and Joel Caine argued the pros and cons of taking the two to pull within a converted try. The goal would have given the Knights a chance to leave Shark Park with a draw, but they opted to take the tap instead and came up with an error. Somewhat ironically, the Sharks kicked a penalty goal after the siren to make it a 10-point game.
Wright or wrong?
Sea Eagles fullback Tom Wright had the brain-snap of the season on Friday afternoon, and you could say it cost his side the game. With Manly leading 8-4 midway through the first half, Wright collected a ball in his in-goal, but instead of trying to get back into the field of play, he inexplicably grubbered, with the ball ricocheting into the legs of a teammate who had his back turned to the play. The ball dribbled back into the in-goal for Rooster Luke Chalker to score the easiest try of his career. The Tricolours scored 10 of the next 11 tries to run out 52-point winners.
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 – This could go to any member of Cronulla's right edge that totally dominated the Knights on Saturday. Back-rower Briton Nikora gets the nod after scoring two tries, running for 193 metres and breaking 12 tackles.
2 – Jesse Marschke had a field day playing in the halves for the Roosters in their big win over Manly, kicking nine goals and setting up three tries on Friday. His short kicking game was too hot for the Sea Eagles to handle, while his ability to ball-play gets better every week.
1 – Victor Radley is starting to prove that last year's grand final heroics were no fluke. Initially named at lock, the final team sheet had him playing at halfback, but by the time the Roosters took the field, Radley had lined up at dummy-half. In just 57 minutes of action, Radley bagged two tries, ran for 146 metres, made 29 tackles and had nine tackle breaks. He is currently the form player of the NYC.
Roosters 66 – Sea Eagles 14
Cowboys 42 – Rabbitohs 18
Sharks 32 – Knights 22
Raiders 42 – Eels 22
Bulldogs 12 – Broncos 26
Storm 20 – Panthers 36
Warriors 30 – Titans 34
Wests Tigers 22 – Dragons 30