Team of the Week: Round 5
The return of 'Leipana', the birth of 'Widingale', a pack of hungry Dogs and a pair of Storm superstars headline the NRL.com Round 5 Team of the Week.
1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Warriors)
Remember not so long ago when tacklers could barely lay a hand on Roger Tuivasa-Sheck? Well those days are coming again after RTS put in a blistering display against the Titans. His speed was too much for Dale Copley as he scored from a set play early in the second half and each time he linked with Kieran Foran and Shaun Johnson the alarm bells sounded. Vintage Roger.
2. Jordan Rapana (Raiders)
I said it on Saturday; Rapana's combination with centre Joey Leilua is fast becoming one of the most devastating the game has seen. The pair were at the heart of so much that the Raiders did well in attack with Rapana's brilliant run down the touchline for Blake Austin's try an optical illusion as he somehow stayed in the field of play.
3. Joey Leilua (Raiders)
Stats don't tell the full story when it comes to Joey Leilua's contribution. Yes he made an error and missed as many tackles as he made but he influences the result of a game like few centres can. His pass to release Jordan Rapana prior to Blake Austin's try showed great game awareness and his try came courtesy of a second effort to support Rapana and superb skill with both hands and feet.
4. Dylan Walker (Sea Eagles)
Now that the failed five-eighth experiment has been put to bed we get to see Dylan Walker for what he truly is; one of the game's most exciting centres. He went within centimetres of putting Akuila Uate over for a try early in the second half, chased through on a Blake Green grubber to put his side in front and then with less than two minutes to play linked in centre field with centre partner Brian Kelly to race 50 metres and score the match-winner. And kick the conversion from the sideline for good measure.
5. Jason Nightingale (Dragons)
The man they call 'Gypsy' had the foresight to stay on his wing for the first half against the Tigers and he came within inches of being rewarded with four tries. When he bounced his final effort he had to settle for a first-half hat-trick that came via a flick pass, clever chip kick and one of the best cut-out passes for a try that you will ever see.
6. Gareth Widdop (Dragons)
Absolutely dominant display from the Dragons No.6 who tormented the Tigers defence both with his kicking and passing game. Was credited with three try assists but also played a key hand in Nightingale's first four-pointer. He was so good in attack that we can forgive the nine missed tackles.
7. Cooper Cronk (Storm)
Tormented Tyrone Peachey by giving Will Chambers plenty of time and space on the right side for the Storm to score twice early in the first half and then backed up superbly to extend the Storm's lead a minute after half-time with a try of his own.
8. Martin Taupau (Sea Eagles)
Revelling in the rumble with the Roosters, Taupau was a dominant presence in the middle of the field, meeting the aggressive Tricolours pack with plenty of his own on his way to 183 metres from 16 carries. His six tackle busts and five offloads also helped to disrupt the Roosters' defence.
9. Cameron Smith (Storm)
Given the influence he exerted on his record 238th win for the Storm in the NRL you have to wonder how many Melbourne would have won had Smith played for another team. The skipper controlled the ruck, made 42 tackles, kicked four goals and had six kicks out of dummy-half for 167 metres in a typically brilliant display.
10. James Graham (Bulldogs)
There was always going to be a response from the Bulldogs after the disappointment of five days prior and it was no surprise that Graham led the charge. Not only did he make 180 valuable metres in atrocious conditions but one of his 56 tackles was a cover-defending effort on a winger that took him over the sideline.
11. Josh Papalii (Raiders)
The leader of the Raiders' forward pack again carried his side forward with charges on the left edge that bent the Eels' defence back time and again. Played the full 80 minutes for a return of 204 metres from 20 carries.
12. Tyson Frizell (Dragons)
In a highly-functioning Dragons forward pack Frizell was again outstanding, with all 36 tackles and 12 carries packing plenty of punch. Had four tackle busts and two offloads along with 116 run metres but it was the purpose behind his work that helped set the tone for his side's fourth win of the year.
13. David Klemmer (Bulldogs)
With field position so crucial in the awful conditions, no Bulldog did more to progress his team up field than Klemmer. Yes, when you are as big as Klemmer is you should be hard to stop but he showed tremendous commitment to the cause to put his hand up for 22 carries and 265 metres in 66 minutes of game time.
14. Josh Reynolds (Bulldogs)
If the Bulldogs' win over the Broncos was built on heart then Reynolds was the major artery. His at times over-exuberance was denied twice in the opening half but his perseverance was rewarded with his side's first try before playing a leading hand in their second shortly after.
15. Paul Gallen (Sharks)
With the Sharks facing plenty of resistance from the Knights the skipper stood up with 25 carries and 240 metres including 90 post-contact metres as the Newcastle defenders struggled to bring him to ground.
16. Dale Finucane (Storm)
Sparked the Storm's second half surge with a one-handed offload for Cooper Cronk to cross in the opening minute and was a powerful force in the middle of the ground for all 65 minutes he was out there. Hit on Panthers prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard was a bone-rattler.
17. Josh Jackson (Bulldogs)
Absolutely terrorised Broncos five-eighth Anthony Milford all night on the Bulldogs' right side, contributing significantly to Milford's five missed tackles, including the one that led directly to Brad Abbey's match-winning try. A total of 151 run metres and 40 tackles rounded out an excellent all-round performance.