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With many coaches struggling to field 17 and knockout finals underway, every point was critical in round 18 and those who stuck with Nathan Cleary as captain were rewarded.

The Panthers maestro recorded the top score of the round with another imperious display.


Making Cleary captain was a costly move in round 17 as several big guns – notably Payne Haas and Cam McInnes – outscored him comfortably.

But the Panthers halfback bounced back in round 18, heading all comers with 87 with a mix of 120 run metres and 500 kick metres, 25 tackles and a couple of tackle busts and goals.

Hudson Young (86) was a surprising name at second on the weekly scores after a dynamic stint in the middle against the Dragons including a try, try assist, five busts and nearly 200 metres.

In the same game, Jack Wighton (82) and John Bateman (77) scored heavily while the hard-working McInnes (83) ended up being the second-best choice of the likely captains.

Match Highlights: Sharks v Warriors

Daly Cherry-Evans (84) was third highest score of the week and Angus Crichton (82) racked up some serious numbers switching between middle and edge while Jake Friend (74) and Luke Keary (72) also enjoyed the romp over the Knights.

Sifa Talakai (76) has been a terrific buy for the few who took a chance on him when he earned a starting spot mid-year, while Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Jarome Luai (both 71) also scored well.

Solid scores from Damien Cook, Tohu Harris (both 68), Harry Grant (64 in the full 80 minutes), Martin Taupau (63), Tino Fa'asuamaleaui and Jamal Fogarty (both 60) swung plenty of head to head finals.

More minutes and more touches for SBW against Knights

Given the absence of Kalyn Ponga and Ryan Papenhuyzen from everyone's backlines, surprisingly serviceable scores from Tommy Talau (38) and Jake Averillo (40, starting at five-eighth) proved critical.


Injuries and sin-bins resulted in some costly unders from a few key players. Alex Twal (45), Josh McGuire (a season-low 38) each got themselves binned while Api Koroisau (46, head knock), Addin Fonua-Blake (40, knee) and Matt Doorey (18, knee) were among those limited by injury.

Jazz Tevaga (43), David Fifita (41), David Klemmer (39), Tyrone Peachey (34), Kurt Mann (31), Josh Papalii and Kotoni Staggs (both 24) and potential WFB replacements David Nofoaluma (36), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (32), Clint Gutherson (25) and Will Hopoate (21) all produced unexpectedly low scores.

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow's 17 wasn't necessarily a surprise but given anyone who owned him probably had to play him and he scored a try in the first five minutes it was underwhelming.

He's the second most-owned players in Fantasy but Zac Lomax's nine-point return including five errors was a disaster to any coach who had him unique in a head-to-head final.

Meanwhile, the only more popular player, James Tedesco, fell short of hitting three straight centuries by more than 50 points with just 47 in the rout of the Knights which was unfortunate for anyone who took a punt on him as skipper.

Match Highlights: Storm v Cowboys

Round 18 team of the week

  1. Dylan Edwards (63)
  2. Daniel Tupou (67)
  3. Morgan Harper (63)
  4. Joey Manu (62)
  5. Brett Morris (65)
  6. Daly Cherry-Evans (84)
  7. Nathan Cleary (87)
  8. Nelson Asofa-Solomona (71)
  9. Cameron McInnes (83)
  10. Payne Haas (69)
  11. Hudson Young (86)
  12. Angus Crichton (82)
  13. John Bateman (77)
  14. Jack Wighton (82)
  15. Siosifa Talakai (76)
  16. Jake Friend (74)
  17. Luke Keary (72)
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