Panthers flyer Charlie Staines experienced a new feeling in the clash with Wests Tigers on Friday night – losing.
Staines, who scored four tries in a memorable debut last season, had never lost a game in the NRL until the weakened Panthers made the trip to Leichhardt.
The speedy winger had played 14 games for 14 wins – but his charmed run came to an end as the Panthers – minus their eight best players due to Origin and suspension – were put to the sword by the Tigers.
Staines has made a fine impression in his short time in the top grade, notching 16 tries in his 15 games.
NRL Highlights: Dragons demolish the Broncos in Kogarah – Round 13
BRONCOS’ SOFT DEFENCE
The Broncos’ defence is getting more embarrassing by the week, with the team that was once the pride of Queensland conceding over 50 points against the struggling Dragons attack on Thursday night.
One thing about the soft defence – it’s a team effort.
A glance at the stats shows that 10 Broncos have missed 20 tackles or more in the opening 13 rounds of the season.
It’s a worrying sign for coach Kevvie Walters, who can’t point the finger at any one player as he attempts to plug the many leaks.
For the record, David Mead and Anthony Milford, who have only played 10 and nine games respectively, head the miss tackle count with 32 each.
Then come Tevita Pangai Junior (30), Matt Lodge (28), Jordan Riki (25), Tyson Gamble (23), Tom Flegler (22), Jamayne Issako (22), Xavier Coates (21) and Herbie Farnworth (20).
The finger of blame certainly can’t be pointed at hooker Jake Turpin – he has played all 13 games, made 533 tackles and missed just nine – stunning figures in such a terrible defensive team.
Unlikely Tigers hero pulls off long-range pearler
For a hooker to run over 90 metres for a try is a rare effort – but one up-and-coming Tiger Jacob Liddle managed to achieve against the weakened Panthers on Friday night.
In a key moment of the game, Liddle picked up a grubber kick after it hit his knees eight metres from his own line – and saw the Panthers tryline way, way downfield.
Liddle took off – and few people gave him any chance – but he went all the way with half the Penrith team in pursuit and making little impression.
Few people realise that – like Blues hooker Damien Cook – Liddle is a former beach sprinter.
Injuries have plagued the 24-year-old from the NSW Central Coast since then – he’s had two shoulder surgeries, two ankle operations and one on his knee.
But now he’s back to full fitness he looks a fine number nine – and as we all saw on Friday night at Leichhardt, a very fast one as well.
Dufty puts on a magical performance in Kogarah
BIRD BREAKTHROUGH AGAINST BRONCOS
Matt Dufty and Jack de Belin stole all the headlines in the Dragons’ big win over the Broncos on Thursday night, but the bloke I was happiest for was Jack Bird.
After winning a premiership at Cronulla, Bird had a horrendous three years at the Broncos, playing just 17 games, suffering injury after injury.
The tough utility was a man who would have wanted to prove plenty against the Broncos in his first meeting against his former club – and he was primed for a big one.
Bird scored the Dragons’ first try and set up second for Brayden Wiliame and was strong throughout in a game that would have given him a lot of satisfaction.
NRL Highlights: The Storm edges the Titans in last seconds – Round 13
GOING NORTH NO WORRIES FOR STORM
Those crafty Queenslanders have managed to hijack the venue for Origin One – and Storm coach Craig Bellamy won’t complain if they get the NRL grand final transferred to Maroonland as well.
Melbourne’s 20-14 win over the Titans was the Storm’s 23rd straight win north of the Tweed – just another remarkable achievement by the men in purple.
The Storm’s record in Melbourne is also pretty impressive – but they clearly see the sunshine state as a home away from home and are enjoying their stay up north.
NRL Highlights: Eels humiliate the Knights – Round 13
SIVO CAN’T STOP SCORING
Eels cult hero Maika Sivo is scoring tries like they are going out of fashion – and yesterday reached the 50 mark in the third quickest time in the NRL era.
The only two players to get to the half century of tries faster than Sivo have been fellow Fijians Suli Vunivalu and Semi Radradra.
Sivo reached the milestone with a double against the lack-lustre Knights in only his 59th game in the NRL.
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