Holden Cup wrap: Round 22
All the key stats and talking points from Round 22 of the National Youth Competition.
Knights put sorry Warriors to the sword
The Warriors' season went from bad to worse with the three-time premiers suffering another embarrassing defeat, going down 70-4 in Newcastle. Their last trip to Australia saw them lose 70-10 to the Cowboys in Round 20 while things weren't much better back home when they lost 42-4 to the Sharks last week. On the flip side, Saturday's result was massive for the Knights who jumped up to sixth spot and gave their points differential a huge boost. The 66-point victory was their biggest in the NYC, surpassing their 56-4 win over the Sharks back in 2008. Their big men were unstoppable, halves Hayden Loughrey and Jack Johns combined for four try assists while fullback Matt Cooper had a field day, but more on him later.
Epic comeback falls agonisingly short
They produced one of the greatest comebacks in rugby league history to claim the 2016 Holden Cup grand final but the shoe was nearly on the other foot for the Roosters on Sunday when they almost blew a 28-0 half-time lead against Manly. Needing a win to stay in touch with the top four the Sea Eagles roared back with five tries in the space of 23 minutes to level things up, only for the Roosters to race in back-to-back four-pointers to survive the frantic fightback. If Manly had gone on to win they would have equalled the competition record set by the Sharks last year when they fought back from 34-6 down to beat the Storm.
Flanagan on track for NYC record
Sharks halfback Kyle Flanagan became just the fourth player in competition history to notch 300 points in a season with his haul of seven goals and a try against the Raiders taking his tally to 302. Jake Mullaney (322 in 2009), Dylan Collier (312 in 2011) and Patrick Templeman (307 in 2013) have scored more in a season, but you have to assume the gifted halfback will go past them all in the coming weeks.
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 – This was one of those weeks when we could have chosen at least 20 worthy candidates, but in the end we went with Sharks five-eighth Luke Metcalf who scored a hat-trick, had one try assist and ran for 235 metres in the big win over Canberra.
2 – We mentioned him earlier so it would be remiss of us to exclude Knights fullback Matt Cooper after he scored two tries, set one up and ran for 232 metres in an utterly dominant display against the hapless Warriors.
1 – They might have fallen short of an epic comeback but the Sea Eagles wouldn't have been in the contest without star No.6 Tom Wright. The five-eighth continued his incredible year with two tries, nine tackle breaks and a whopping 249 running metres.
Bulldogs 14 – Eels 36
Dragons 16 – Rabbitohs 38
Cowboys 50 – Storm 6
Knights 70 – Warriors 4
Titans 34 – Broncos 36
Sharks 58 – Raiders 22
Sea Eagles 32 – Roosters 38
Panthers 38 – Wests Tigers 12