Round 11 of the 2021 NRL Premiership promised plenty and delivered its fair share of drama.
On Thursday night it was the Cowboys who dominated, on Friday it was the Sharks sneaking home, Saturday had a $41 result, and on Sunday the rugby league world was rocked by the death of Immortal Bob Fulton.
Victor Radley could miss six games for the Roosters and Angus Crichton will miss State Of Origin I for New South Wales courtesy of suspensions for high contact, while the customary ‘Tigers lose when they shouldn’t’ play came through once again.
Let’s take a look back at all the highs and lows of Round 11.
Cowboys 3620 Knights
The improving North Queensland Cowboys have now won five of their last seven and look poised to make a run at one of the final two spots available in the top eight, with only points differential keeping them out at the moment. Todd Payten’s side controlled the game on Thursday night, and only Jason Taumalolo and Lachlan Burr being sin binned in quick succession got the Newcastle Knights into the contest. The fact the Cowboys were able to brush that off after Newcastle reeled in a 16-0 gap was a great sign of maturity from a team who looked all at sea eight weeks ago. The Knights’ awful record in Queensland proved their undoing once again, and we got a $3 return for our prediction of a 13+ win to the Cowboys.
Warriors 3026 Tigers
It was another week where the Wests Tigers had a great chance to get a second consecutive win for the first time since June 28th last year, but as per usual, they found ways to lose. Michael Maguire was heartbroken again in the post-match, conceding it hurts more than other losses because he feels like they gave the game away. Reece Walsh continued to impress with another eye-catching performance, and if the 18-year-old wasn’t on the field, perhaps the New Zealand Warriors would have lost and fallen out of the peloton. This game in the lead up felt like a toss of the coin despite the Warriors being the clear favourite, but those brave enough to take the Tigers at the line snuck in by half a point.
Sharks 1312 Dragons
It took a trip to golden point, but the Cronulla Sharks finally snapped their six-game losing streak, courtesy of a Chad Townsend field goal. The St George Illawarra Dragons were forced to the very depths of their squad to field a team and played with plenty of courage, but that field goal could be the difference in them making or missing the top eight. William Kennedy was fantastic again for the Sharks and got us a nice win when he crossed the line in the 61st minute. When Cody Ramsey was streaking away in the first half, the $13.50 multi we liked was about to get up – and then he was tackled high. Brutal. Regardless, the Sharks fell across the line and our 1-12 prediction for Cronulla got us another margin win.
Titans 3020 Bulldogs
Alexander Brimson recently signed a new five-year contract to remain at the Gold Coast Titans, and he immediately repaid the faith with a match-winning double. The Titans were in control for most of the game, but an inspired second stint from Bulldogs forward Luke Thompson got the score back to 24-20. However, for the second week in a row, Canterbury were unable to close the deal. Those who took the Bulldogs at the line can pop down to Belmore this week and thank Thompson for the win, as without him they may have lost by 20 points.
Roosters 1634 Broncos
The $41 for a Brisbane Broncos 13+ win was perhaps the most ridiculous, absurd and fanciful bet a punter may have ever had, but it got up. It will go down as one of the biggest upsets in NRL history, and if anyone had a slice of that return, you deserve every penny. The Victor Radley debacle will be the big story that will dominate the build-up to Round 12, but take nothing away from Brisbane, who got under the Sydney Roosters’ skin early and frustrated them into a poor performance. They may not be tactically brilliant, but the Broncos clearly respect coach Kevin Walters and his pre-game ‘rocket’ went down a treat. Unfortunately, the celebrations will be all too short, as Brisbane must now face the Melbourne Storm.
Raiders 1034 Storm
As the Canberra Raiders shot out to a 10-0 lead, they looked like their old selves. But the longer the game went, the more the absence of Josh Hodgson, Josh Papalii and Jack Wighton showed as the Storm scored 34 unanswered points to leave the home crowd disappointed. The big win also marked the first time in the NRL era that a team has won eight consecutive games by 13 or more points, an incredible achievement. The result left more questions than answers for Raiders coach Ricky Stuart, and it now looks as though they will miss the top eight.
Rabbitohs 1256 Panthers
In their three games against the 2020 grand finalists this year, South Sydney have lost by a combined 142-30. They are a good team, but they are so far away from being a premiership contender it’s almost comical. The Penrith Panthers made the game look like a training run, and Matt Burton scoring a hat-trick in his hometown of Dubbo will go down as one of the best moments of the 2021 season. The longer the season goes, the more it feels as though getting on the Panthers for an undefeated season may have been smart business. Outside of their game against the Storm in Round 20, can anyone see Penrith losing one? Their consistency is remarkable, and the moment punters can bet on Nathan Cleary to win the Clive Churchill Medal, they should load up.
Eels 628 Sea Eagles
Was this the game Manly emerged as a dark horse to make a charge to the 2021 NRL Grand Final? They played 60 minutes of the game with just 12 men and yet ran away 28-6 winners over a Parramatta team who have been trampling their opponents in recent weeks. It was a day of high emotions for the Sea Eagles as the passing of Bob Fulton, the club’s greatest ever player, was confirmed. The great spirit Manly-Warringah have become famous for was well and truly on display, and the performance of Josh Schuster left plenty around the league impressed. Parramatta going down the way they did was surprising, and it left our kitty a little empty at the end of the day. Fortunately for us, Tom Trbojevic crossed the line in the closing moments of the game to get us something back. Manly to finish in the top four has come in to $4.25 on the back of this win, and it may be worth an investment.
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