Team of the Week: Round 7
Match-winning Broncos, a pair of Storm superstars, try-scoring Dragons and two former Blues halves headline the outstanding performances of our Round 7 Team of the Week.
1. Billy Slater (Storm)
In a weekend of fine fullback performances (Boyd, Holmes, Tedesco et al) it was vintage Billy at Lottoland with the Storm No.1 providing the final pass for three of his side's first-half tries, including a superb pass for Vunivalu's opening four-pointer.
2. Suliasi Vunivalu (Storm)
Got down low to take Slater's pass for his first try and then leapt high above the Manly defence to snare his second courtesy of a Cooper Cronk cross-field kick. Also played a big role in the try for opposite winger Josh Addo-Carr.
3. Tim Lafai (Dragons)
Ran rings around Origin centre Justin O'Neill in the first half in Wollongong, slicing through himself twice to score and providing a perfectly-timed flick pass for Jason Nightingale's spectacular try in the corner.
4. James Roberts (Broncos)
He always seems to save his best for his former club, 'The Jet' flashing across on the back of two Darius Boyd passes and then backing up after Matt Gillett's charge-down two minutes from full-time to score the match-winner and break Gold Coast hearts.
5. Nene Macdonald (Dragons)
Showed great hands to pick up the ball from his bootlaces to score in the first half and was a constant target in the air. Ran for a team-high 168 metres.
6. Josh Reynolds (Bulldogs)
Another whole-hearted performance from the Bulldogs' No.6, his energy helping to turn the tide of momentum the way of his team in the second half as they scored 16 unanswered points. His sheer bloody-mindedness saw him chase his own kick through to score prior to half-time, he dragged down Adam Reynolds when the Souths half appeared destined to score and was heavily involved in the Josh Jackson try that opened the floodgates.
7. Mitchell Pearce (Roosters)
Another professional performance from the Roosters No.7 who took the right option to hit Michael Gordon for the fullback to score and then sealed the result with a sharp step off his left foot to straighten and score under the posts himself. His kicking game (485m) and defence (24 tackles) were also keys in the Roosters' win.
8. Jarrod Wallace (Titans)
The most outstanding display of his career to date, the Titans prop smashed his previous best statistical output, running for 264m and making 33 tackles against his former club. Held up from scoring the game's first try, Wallace played for all but seven minutes and showed just what he is capable of producing.
9. Cameron Smith (Storm)
The architect of Melbourne's 30-point first half against the Sea Eagles, Smith took advantage of a quick play-the-ball to put Young Tonumaipea over down the short side to go with his customary 38 tackles.
10. Aiden Tolman (Bulldogs)
Got through a mountain of work (169m, 38 tackles) and threw in a try assist for good measure, following through on a Matt Frawley kick to provide the final pass for Josh Morris to score in the corner.
11. Boyd Cordner (Roosters)
Constantly tested the Knights' right side defence with his purposeful charges, making one line break and busting four tackles while amassing 175 run metres and making 37 tackles.
12. Matt Gillett (Broncos)
A performance that will be remembered for his 78th minute charge down of a Kane Elgey kick, Gillett's defensive presence came to light much earlier in the contest, pinning Tyronne Roberts-Davis in the Titans in-goal to help swing momentum the way of the Broncos. Made 40 tackles all up, missing just one.
13. Jack de Belin (Dragons)
An unstoppable force as the Dragons ran riot in the first half, de Belin powered through the line before offloading in the lead-up to Gareth Widdop's try and bent the Cowboys defence back with every charge. Finished with four offloads, two line-break assists, 150m and 31 tackles.
14. Josh Hodgson (Raiders)
With the game in the balance, Hodgson's 66th minute try secured the two competition points for his side, completing another fine all-round performance that included 45 tackles and 66 kick metres.
15. Junior Paulo (Raiders)
Showing silky skills for such a big man, Paulo got the balance perfect for the second week in a row, providing a good link between the forwards and the halves. Thundered forward for 185m in a powerhouse 61-minute display.
16. Chris Heighington (Sharks)
The 300-gamer looked like a first-year rookie, bringing boundless energy off the bench that kept the pressure on the Panthers. In 34 minutes ran for 138m, second only in the Sharks team to fullback Valentine Holmes. His effort was exemplified by forcing a Penrith line drop-out midway through the second half with a desperate tackle.
17. Wade Graham (Sharks)
The Sharks enforcer was at it again on Sunday, terrorising the Panthers' creative men as well as coming up with three tackle busts and two offloads of his own. Made a total of 35 tackles and also had a hand in Sosaia Feki's first half try.