Holden Cup wrap: Round 17

All the key stats and talking points from Round 17 of the National Youth Competition. 

Minor premiership is Cronulla's to lose

Will anyone catch the Sharks before season's end? The short answer is no. It's also the most logical answer given John Morris's men are three points clear at the top with a bye to come this weekend. They are unbeaten in 12 matches and average just shy of 40 points per game. Five of their final eight matches are against sides currently outside the top eight and they are playing perhaps the best brand of footy we've seen in the NYC. 

Upsets galore

Holden Cup tipping is usually a lot gentler than the NRL variety, but Round 17 proved to be a minefield for tipsters with several upsets highlighting an exciting week in the NYC. The third-placed Panthers rallied late to snatch a 16-all draw with the resurgent Rabbitohs but it was a different story for the Dragons who dropped from second on the ladder after they were outclassed by the Titans. The Cowboys started the round in the top four but dropped a spot after losing to bottom-four side the Raiders. Parramatta was a top-four team a month ago; now they're clinging onto eighth spot after falling to the lowly Bulldogs in the upset of the round. 

Broncos buck unwanted trend

A second-half surge saw the Broncos thrash Melbourne 48-18 to record their first win at Suncorp Stadium over the Storm. The visitors had won the previous seven meetings between the teams at the venue and looked on track to make it eight straight when they headed to the sheds with an 18-12 lead, but six unanswered tries in the second half proved the difference as the Broncos joined the eighth-placed Eels on 18 competition points. 

Players of the Round

We're tracking the best performances every round this year with a good old-fashioned 3-2-1 points system. 

3 – Late-inclusion Gerome Burns proved too hot to handle for the Storm defence, with the Broncos five-eighth scoring two tries and kicking eight goals in his side's big win. He also chimed in with two line breaks, seven tackle busts and a try assist. 

2 – Knights centre Heath Gibbs had a field day against the Wests Tigers with three tries and seven tackle busts on the right edge to power his side to an important win at home. 

1 – Sharks skipper Billy Magoulias mightn't have provided the same flashiness as some of his teammates but it was his work through the middle that laid the platform for most of their attacking raids. Magoulias ran for 216 metres, made 38 tackles and produced four offloads in another powerful performance at lock. 

Results

Eels 18 – Bulldogs 26

Titans 26 – Dragons 24

Broncos 48 – Storm 18

Roosters 18 – Sharks 32

Sea Eagles 58 – Warriors 12

Raiders 36 – Cowboys 14

Knights 28 – Wests Tigers 18

Rabbitohs 16 Panthers 16