After Parramatta ended Penrith's incredible home winning streak on Friday night, Eels forward Isaiah Papali'i is on the verge of taking down another Panther as he closes in on Isaah Yeo on top of the VB Hard Earned Index leaderboard.
Papali'i was simply on another level in the Battle of the West — finishing the round with an 112-point effort comprised of 21 total runs and 46 tackles — that saw him finish significantly clear of any other player in the competition for the week.
No other player than Papali'i topped the century mark, with Sharks edge forward Teig Wilton (98) and Cowboys prop Reuben Cotter (95) rounding out the top three.
Wilton crashes over
Papali'i's complete performance saw him pull within a whisker of Yeo on top of the Hard Earned Index leaderboard, with the Panthers skipper (735 points) now holding just a four-point lead from his Eels counterpart (731). Rabbitohs captain Cameron Murray isn't far behind that pair (717 points), with that trio kicking well clear of Jason Taumalolo (644) and Josh King (621), who head up the chasing pack.
While the Eels forward attracted all the headlines from his side's stunning upset over the Panthers, Apisai Koroisau certainly did his best to get his team over the line — his 54 tackles were more than any other player made during the round.
Brian To'o also showed no ill-effects in his return from injury, with his 18 runs of eight-plus metres the most by any player in the competition.
To'o denied in return
Sea Eagles fullback Tom Trbojevic also made a successful return from injury and finished narrowly behind To'o in that regard, making 17 runs of eight-plus-metres.
Melbourne continued their attacking brilliance against the Dragons on Sunday, with Harry Grant and Cameron Munster standing out for the home side. No player made more offloads than Grant (who's five was equal with Nicho Hynes for the most in the round) while Munster's 10 tackle breaks (equal with Reuben Garrick for the most of any player) helped the home side move to the top of the Telstra Premiership ladder.
VB Hard Earned Index
Top Performances of Round 9
- Isaiah Papali'i (Eels) — 112 points
- Teig Wilton (Sharks) — 98 points
- Reuben Cotter (Cowboys) — 95 points
- Cameron McInnes (Sharks) — 92 points
- Patrick Carrigan (Broncos) — 92 points
- Isaah Yeo (Panthers) — 735 points
- Isaiah Papali'i (Eels) — 731 points
- Cameron Murray (Rabbitohs) — 717 points
- Jason Taumalolo (Cowboys) — 644 points
- Josh King (Storm) — 621 points