Holden Cup wrap: Round 25
All the key stats and talking points from Round 25 of the National Youth Competition.
The streak is over
Cronulla's record-breaking streak has finally come to an end after they were beaten 26-18 by the Roosters on Saturday night. The Sharks had won 15 on the trot and hadn't lost since Round 4 but they were outclassed by the defending premiers who raced out of the blocks to virtually seal the result by half-time. The Roosters have now won four matches in a row and are one of the form sides in the NYC but have left their run too late and won't feature in the finals.
The battle for the eight rages on
The dogfight for a place in the post-season continued with teams six, seven, eight, nine and 10 all claiming wins on the weekend, although we now know that the Roosters can't make the finals. While there was nothing surprising about Manly and Souths notching big wins, there was plenty of drama for the other two teams in finals contention. The Broncos kicked off the round with a tense, low-scoring victory over the in-form Eels to stay in eighth spot and it looked like the top eight was locked in when the Knights trailed Canberra 20-16 late in the game. However, a try to Kainoa Gudgeon levelled the scores before Jack Johns slotted a clutch one-pointer to keep the Knights alive in 2017. They must beat the table-topping Sharks next week and hope one of the teams above them slip up.
No better place than home? Wrong!
Home ground advantage usually counts for plenty in the NYC but that wasn't the case in Round 25 with seven of the away teams getting up. The Broncos were the only side to celebrate in front of their home fans with the next seven matches won by the visitors. To be fair there weren't too many upsets, although St George Illawarra's 40-10 win at Penrith could have massive top four implications depending on how things play out this weekend.
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 – Sea Eagles hooker Manase Fainu did his best Api Koroisau impression with a terrific all-round display against the Warriors. The crafty No.9 scored a try, set up two more, ran for 106 metres, made 25 tackles and produced three offloads across the ditch.
2 – It's been a tough year for the Bulldogs but halfback Michael Doolan ensured there'd be one more reason to smile in 2017 with the playmaker dishing out three try assists in his side's shock win on the Gold Coast.
1 – Roosters fullback Nick O'Meley continued to shine in his rookie season with two tries, a couple of line breaks, 127 running metres and six tackle busts in his side's win over the Sharks.
Broncos 14 – Eels 8
Raiders 20 – Knights 21
Wests Tigers 18 – Cowboys 26
Titans 20 – Bulldogs 28
Storm 10 – Rabbitohs 44
Sharks 18 – Roosters 26
Warriors 12 – Sea Eagles 52
Panthers 10 – Dragons 40