Hits and Misses: Nigglied Panthers confirm premiership dominance

This week we take a look at the Panthers and the way they smashed the Storm, appreciate an incredible Tigers try, and relive some brilliance from a winger that didn't involve an acrobatic dive in the corner.

Read on as we take a look back at some of the biggest hits and misses of the weekend.


Panthers' defence drives Storm mad in Penrith

The big clash between the Storm and Panthers was a one-sided affair, which only added to the spite that crept in during the second half. With 25 minutes remaining and the Panthers leading 26-6, Storm winger Will Warbrick ventured too close to the sideline where Stephen Crichton tried to drag him into touch, but instead ripped the ball away and over the line.

The touch judge correctly ruled a Storm ball, but Jarome Luai felt the need to come over and discuss the matter. Storm centre Marion Seve decided that he'd heard enough and lightly slapped Luai across the back of the headgear. Players from both teams gathered for some obligatory push and shove during which Crichton could be heard saying to Storm replacement forward Eliesa Katoa "who are you? who are you?" as he backed him away from his five-eighth. Things settled down and play resumed.

Two tackles later after the Storm had unsuccessfully spread the ball across to the left and back to the right, Seve found himself in possession. The Storm centre was felled by Crichton, but not held, and as he regained his feet, he was met by Panthers winger Sunia Turuva, Luai and Crichton who manhandled him over the sideline, with much joy and overt celebration. Some more pushing and shoving ensued but in a snapshot of the whole night the Panthers had had the last laugh. More than anything on the night, their defence was just too good for the Storm.


Tigers pushing it uphill against more poor calls

The Tigers might be headed for back-to-back wooden spoons, but they are still capable of some entertaining football, as they showed in an unlucky loss to the Raiders on Sunday.

Trailing 10-0 with five minutes remaining in the first half and the Raiders deep in attack, winger David Nofoaluma intercepted a Jack Wighton pass out of thin air and took off downfield with a pack of lime green jerseys in pursuit. As they caught up with him, the Tigers veteran propped and came to a complete halt on the Raiders' 30 metre line.

Nofoaluma missed a chance to slip a pass to Starford To'a, who flew past in support, instead firing a long looping ball, that looked destined to find a Canberra player or, at best, the turf. It miraculously hit a flying Luke Brooks perfectly on the chest. Brooks veered left to link up with Charlie Staines who beat Nick Cotric to the corner.

It was one of several highlights for the Tigers and their fans as they put up an admirable fight in a game that still wasn't decided even minutes after fulltime had elapsed.

The Tigers were on the wrong end of some dubious refereeing calls, something fans are very familiar with. They should receive another apology this week, for at least one blatant forward pass that ended in a Raiders try. It will be little comfort as they continue to languish at the bottom of the ladder.


Winger works a different kind of miracle for try

We see so many NRL wingers make so many spectacular diving efforts to score tries in the corner, that we've become a bit numb to the athletic brilliance involved. Sometimes a winger will produce the unexpected, setting up a try instead of scoring it himself.

Warriors winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has scored a fair share of sideline-defying tries himself, so as he set sail for the corner in the 34th minute of the game, three Titans defenders converged in a desperate attempt to stop him.

Watene-Zelezniak felt the pressure and realising he was still well short of the line, stretched out his right arm and hooked a perfect pass around them all and onto the unmarked chest of Shaun Johnson. The star halfback smiled broadly as he ran around towards the posts to score his second try of the game and make his own conversion easier.


Dolphins blow a chance to finish on top of Knights

The Knights were hanging on in an up-and-down performance against the Dolphins, after a 73rd minute try to Connelly Lemuelu brought the score to 30-28. A mistake by Knights centre Bradman Best in a tackle ten metres out from his own line saw a Dolphins attacking scrum in the middle of the field with three minutes remaining in the clock.

The ball was spread to the left where Tyson Gamble hit Kodi Nikorima with a tackle which might have included some high contact. But the referee had already blown his whistle, because Dolphins prop Herman Ese'ese had grabbed the jersey of Knights prop Leo Thompson and held on to him way too long as the scrum broke up. It was a stupid move that was totally inconsequential to the ensuing play and cost the Dolphins any chance of a late victory. Coach Wayne Bennett had seen enough and stormed out of the coach's box, no doubt ready to have a word or two to Ese'ese.


Dismal Rabbitohs are in for a battle to make the finals

The Rabbitohs are clinging to eighth spot on the NRL ladder with the Eels, Cowboys, Sea Eagles and Roosters all looking to knock them out of the Top 8. With Latrell Mitchell back from injury, they were expected to power their way into the finals, starting with a comfortable victory over the Sharks, who have struggled all year against the top sides.

Instead the Bunnies handed in their most insipid performance in recent memory, down 14-0 at halftime before conceding the next two tries to face a 26-0 deficit. They managed to score the last three tries of the match to narrow the margin and the degree of embarrassment, but their effort was well below what was needed. Mitchell himself put on one of his most uninspiring displays, and his example infected everything the Rabbitohs did in defence and attack.

The Rabbitohs face the Dragons, Knights, a bye, and the Roosters before the finals. On paper they should win every one of those, but the Dragons have shown some improved form of late, the Knights are flying and the Roosters would like nothing more than to finish their season with a win over their arch rivals, regardless of their own situation.