Team of the Week: Round 2
The big blokes from another Cowboys-Broncos classic, Knights drought-breakers, Eels entertainers and the Storm's two chief architects dominate the Round 2 Team of the Week.
1 Tom Trbojevic (Sea Eagles)
Although in a well-beaten team Trbojevic broke through the magical 300-metre mark, showed a clean pair of heels to score Manly's third try and got his side back in the game with a try assist for Daly Cherry-Evans just after half-time. Finished with 305m, seven tackle breaks and two offloads.
2 Semi Radradra (Eels)
Sure, Semi has had to run further to score tries before but when you become just the 11th Eel to score four or more tries in a game you book a place in the Team of the Week. The last player to score four tries in a game for the Eels was an 18-year-old rookie by the name of Jarryd Hayne in his seventh NRL game in 2006.
3 Tyrone Peachey (Panthers)
The makeshift centre is making a case for a permanent spot with a scintillating display in the Panthers' big win against the Tigers. Peachey had four line breaks, seven tackle busts, two offloads and a try assist to go with 182 run metres in a devastating display.
4 Peter Mata'utia (Knights)
In a Knights team full of running Mata'utia took a power of stopping and was rewarded for a whole-hearted performance in both attack and defence with the try that put his side in the box seat for a drought-breaking win five minutes from full-time.
5 Nathan Ross (Knights)
Earns a TOTW nomination purely for being the one to kick-start winning celebrations in Newcastle after almost a year of going without. 'White Lightning' rose to the top of the NRL's try-scoring list with a second straight double not to mention 145 run metres and two tackle busts.
6 Cody Walker (Rabbitohs)
Revelled in having Adam Reynolds back by his side and tore the Sea Eagles to shreds. Walker laid on his side's opening try for Robert Jennings, scored the next himself and provided the final pass for John Sutton to score and put the Bunnies in front after 29 minutes.
7 Corey Norman (Eels)
There may not be a player in the game playing with more freedom and confidence than Corey Norman right now, which is remarkable given how his 2016 season finished. Whether running, passing or kicking the Eels No.7 can do no wrong and had two try assists against the Dragons as he orchestrated the Parramatta attack to perfection.
8 James Graham (Bulldogs)
The Bulldogs skipper set the tone with some jarring hits on the giant Roosters forwards early and showed his deft touch by laying on the try for Adam Elliott that reignited Canterbury's hopes of a win. Finished with 126m and 28 tackles in 52 minutes but it was the manner in which he did it that made it so noteworthy.
9 Cameron Smith (Storm)
Points looked like they might be hard to come by when the teams took the field but Smith kicked five goals and in so doing brought up his 2,000th career point, just the fifth player to achieve the feat in premiership history. Held the Storm together in the middle with 45 tackles and his 198 kick metres were crucial in turning the Warriors around.
10 Matt Prior (Sharks)
One of the most improved players in the NRL the past two seasons, Prior stood up to the big Canberra pack and gave his side the foundation from which they could post a big win. Was rewarded late in the game with a try.
11 Coen Hess (Cowboys)
Called into the action early when Antonio Winterstein left the field with a broken arm, Hess dispatched of three Bronco defenders to score his side's first try and had a team high six tackle busts, made 37 tackles and ran for 93m in another classy display.
12 Wade Graham (Sharks)
A career first hat-trick highlighted a performance of high quality for the Sharks back-rower who tormented the Raiders' right-edge defence. Not only he did he score three tries himself but he added another try assist along with six tackle breaks and 126 run metres.
13 Jason Taumalolo (Cowboys)
The equal best player in the game last year is somehow getting better, delivering another power-packed performance in the golden point win over Brisbane. Played 78 of the 88 minutes, made 37 tackles and 231 run metres, the most crucial of which were the two runs in the space of three tackles to put Johnathan Thurston in position to kick the match-winning field goal. Again.
14 Cooper Cronk (Storm)
In awful conditions in Auckland and without his No.1 prop leading the way Cronk did what he always does, managed the game in such a way that the Storm came away with the two points in convincing fashion. His 438 kick metres were crucial in Melbourne winning the territory battle and it was fitting that he scored his side's final try.
15 Luke Keary (Roosters)
Helped to quieten an energetic Bulldogs outfit by laying on his side's first try for Boyd Cordner and then with the game in the balance took advantage of Josh Jackson being stuck in the centres to send Mitchell Aubusson to the line for the match-winner. Complementing the work of Mitchell Pearce superbly.
16 Herman Ese'ese (Broncos)
In two weeks has established himself as the young Bronco forward Wayne Bennett can count on. It was a career-best performance from Ese'ese who ran for a team-high 176 metres to go with 26 tackles and two offloads.
17 Mitch Aubusson (Roosters)
Under-appreciated by everyone outside of Bondi, Aubusson was rewarded for an 80-minute effort in the back row that consisted of 40 tackles and 84 run metres with the try that secured the two competition points for his team.