First tackle: Cherry-Evans thinking outside the box?
With the Storm enjoying all the possession and all the territory, and with 12 minutes remaining in the first half, we might have seen a stroke of genius from Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans.
After Cameron Munster had dribbled through a kick which saw Manly ground the ball in goal, the Sea Eagles looked almost certain to crack under the continuing onslaught. They were trailling 6-0 and with the Storm camped inside their quarter, it looked like only a matter of time before Melbourne crossed for their second try.
Cherry-Evans lined up under the posts for the drop-out and scooped it high and ridiculously short. It went barely four metres forward, resulting in a penalty right in front. The Storm had already taken a successful penalty shot at goal to take their score from 4 to 6: Did Cherry-Evans suspect they'd take the two on offer again? Did he deliberately butcher the drop-out to prevent another attacking raid? Considering any other form of deliberate penalty could have seen a player in the sin bin, it makes sense to do it that way.
Whether it was deliberate or not, it worked. The Storm took the two points on offer and thanks to a Jason Saab intercept try, and two further points from their first penalty of the game, the Sea Eagles went to the break level at 8-8.
The relentless Storm kicked down the Sea Eagles door in the second half to win the game 28-18. Considering recent Storm scores, it was a good indication of the fight Manly put up on the day.
Second tackle: Chambers uses flapping jaw as bait
Sharks centre Will Chambers has a well-earned reputation for being a big mouth on the field. In the shadows of halftime he stripped the ball from Warriors interchange forward Kane Evans in a three-man tackle. With the ball rolling away and Evans pinned to the ground Chambers screamed something into his face.
Evans clearly wasn't impressed, he stood toe-to-toe with Chambers who kept his jaw flapping. Evans decided he had heard enough and put two straight shove punches on his chin. With Chambers backing off the jabs were ineffective and left the Shark centre smiling and suggesting to Evans that his short-term future involved a trip to the sin bin.
As referee Matt Cecchin spoke to Evans, the frustrated Warrior could be heard replying: "He's a peanut!"
Turns out the peanut was Evans, who was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes. During his absence the Sharks scored two tries to take a 16-6 lead into the sheds at halftime.
Evans came back early in the second half, but he wasn't finished with the sin bin. With 16 minutes left in the second half he saw an opportunity to seek revenge against Chambers flinging him to the ground in a heavy tackle. It was somehow deemed to be a head slam by the officials and Evans was off to the bin again. This time the Warriors were able to keep the Sharks scoreless and went on to win 18-16 in a bitter blow to the Sharks' finals hopes.
Third tackle: Eels season flapping about on the boat deck
With the ridiculous fake crowd noise threatening to drown out the call of Ray Warren, the Eels lined up against the Rabbitohs in a game most agreed they had to win in order to get their season back on track. In the opening tackle they lost prop Oregon Kaufusi to a HIA. Both teams kept it simple early, no doubt intent on completing their sets as instructed by their coaches.
The Rabbitohs cracked the Eels defence after 20 minutes with a clever set play. Cody Walker caught the ball at first receiver 10 metres out from the Eels line, looking like he was set to spread it to the right. With both markers sprinting across to help on the open side, Walker jinked and sent it back to the dummy half Dane Gagai who threw it to Josh Mansour who had just played the ball. There was no one in front of him and he dived over the line to open the scoring.
It was another try down the Rabbitohs' lethal left edge, but it was far from the usual sweeping backline movement. The Rabbitohs turned to that for Mansour's next try. And the next to Gagai involved a Walker kick down the left hand side. For a change they put on some razzle-dazzle passing to score their next try down the right. The next was up the middle, and it was getting ugly. In the final minutes they scored one from a Benji Marshall grubber down the right.
The Eels defence had no answers, their season in tatters, despite a flattering couple of second half tries against a disinterested defence.
Fourth tackle: Burton puts smiles on downtrodden Bulldogs fans
Bulldogs fans had something to smile about on the weekend, but only if they were watching the early stages of the big clash between the Panthers and Roosters.
Ten minutes into the game the Panthers spun the ball to the left, well inside their own half. The ball found Matt Burton on the wing, he hit it at pace to burn the Roosters winger, before meeting fullback James Tedesco 10 metres into their half. He put on a sublime left foot step to leave one of the game' greatest custodians grasping at thin air.
He raced away to score under the posts with Panthers and Bulldogs fans cheering with equal enthusiasm.
He continued his starring role eight minutes into the second half, making a big break on halfway, before being dragged down by Tedesco. A couple of tackles later he took on the Roosters line with a dummy to the left, before stepping off his left foot twice to score his second try and give the Panthers a 20-6 lead.
The Bulldogs eagerly await Burton's arrival at Belmore next year, where it is hoped he can lead the rebuild of the currently dismal playing group.
Fifth and last: Cowboys pushing the proverbial up hill
The first half between the Cowboys and Titans ended with the Titans leading 14-6. A deeper dive into the official statistics showed that the Cowboys had done well to still be in the game at all.
The Titans had 61% of the ball on the back of a 92% completion rate, while the Cowboys' 39% of possession was thanks in part to a 67% completion rate.
The Titans had 26 tackle sets, compared with the Cowboys' 16. The penalty count was 6-2 to the Titans and the tackle restarts were 3-0 their way. It was only a monumental defensive effort from the Cowboys that kept them within 10 points.
All the play was down the Cowboys' end of the field and the mountain of tackles they had to make eventually caught up with them. They faded through sheer exhaustion under the heavy load of their own errors and a referee who had no time for their indiscretions.
Handover: Damned if they don't, penalised if they do
It's hard to know exactly what officials expect players to do when a bomb is put up near their own line. In the first half of Canterbury's loss to the Tigers, a Luke Brooks high ball came down on the Bulldogs line. Winger Corey Allan made a feeble jump at the ball while Will Hopoate stood there displaying the disinterest which has been a feature of his final year at the club. Tigers winger Ken Maumalo came flying through with all the momentum to take the catch and crash over for a try.
After the break, a similar kick saw Adam Elliot and Bailey Biondi-Odo do exactly what their coach would have ordered. They turned and jogged towards centre Aaron Schoupp who was standing under the ball. Tigers centre Tommy Talau ran into the back of Biondi-Odo, threw his hands in the air and received a penalty.
Not long after the Tigers scored another try to an uncontested high ball which a flying Talau took. It's a bit too easy when all the defenders move out of the way to avoid a penalty.