Round 25 Team of the Week
Hat-trick heroes Josh Addo-Carr and Jordan Rapana both miss out as the wingers cut loose in Round 25 along with some match-winning plays to keep finals hopes alive from a Sae Eagles, a Dragon and a couple of Cowboys.
1. Tom Trbojevic (Sea Eagles)
The game was gone and with it the semi-final hopes of Manly seemed to be slipping away until Tommy Turbo conjured something extraordinary and then laid the groundwork for his captain to send the game into over-time.
2. Semi Radradra (Eels)
Everyone who tried to keep pace with the 'Semi Trailer' seemed stuck in second gear as the giant Fijian winger produced a performance to remember including two long-range efforts from deep inside his own half. His only try-scoring multiples this year have been two four-try hauls.
3. Josh Morris (Bulldogs)
Scored the sneakiest try of 2017 when he called to an unsuspecting Ash Taylor on the Titans' try-line in the dying stages and provided the final pass for Will Hopoate's second but also did an excellent job marshalling the Bulldogs' left side that was decimated by injuries.
4. Michael Jennings (Eels)
Another scintillating performance from the Parra centre whose try just before half-time gave his side a 20-point lead at the break and then added a second in the 69th minute to put the result against Brisbane beyond doubt.
5. Suliasi Vunivalu (Storm)
It seems unfair to give Vunivalu a nod and not also his wing partner Josh Addo-Carr but on a night where the Storm flyers blitzed the Rabbitohs defence it was Vunivalu who finished with 14 tackle busts, four line breaks, three tries, a try assist and 253 run metres.
6. Corey Norman (Eels)
Revelled in matching up against his former club, taking advantage of the Eels' fortuitous start to engineer an opening blitzkrieg that left the Broncos fans at Suncorp Stadium stunned. Had two try assists as his combination with Mitchell Moses continues to flourish.
7. Michael Morgan (Cowboys)
He's held the side together since Johnathan Thurston's injury and with the Cowboys' season on the line stepped up to inspire them to victory against the Wests Tigers, providing a brilliant kick for Kyle Feldt to score his second try and then sealing the result with a try of his own.
8. Junior Paulo (Raiders)
He's been enormous for the Raiders in their late-season surge and was again more than a handful for the Knights, scoring a first-half try, making two line breaks and racking up 153 run metres in the 46-28 victory.
9. Cameron Smith (Storm)
Quite simply the player of 2017. At 34 years of age the Storm skipper is the unbackable favourite to win the Dally M Player of the Year award and tormented the South Sydney defence, kicking nine goals and even sneaking over for his second try of the season in the 64-6 rout before he was given an early mark with 20 minutes left to play.
10. Aaron Woods
Was a tower of strength as the Tigers threatened to upset the Cowboys' finals hopes and showed some impressive skill to score his second try of the season with a show-and-go that fooled the North Queensland defence. Amassed 191 metres and 36 tackles.
11. Boyd Cordner
Punched away at the Sharks' right-edge defence all night and when his team needed an inspirational charge at 14-all it was the skipper who responded with a run that earnt his side the match-winning penalty goal. He finished the game with 137 metres and 35 tackles.
12. Josh Jackson
He spent 63 minutes in the halves after Moses Mbye went off injured but handled the assignment with ease, combining well with the forwards on his inside and the backs outside him to get Canterbury over the line.
13. Jason Taumalolo
Holding his trump card back until there was 28 minutes left to play, Cowboys coach Paul Green threw Taumalolo back into the fray and he responded with 118 second-half metres to give his side the platform to score three tries in the space of nine minutes. Finished with 199 metres, seven tackle busts and 28 tackles.
14. David Fusitu'a
Would have been man of the match for the Warriors had Manly not conjured three late miracles to steal the two points, Fusitu'a scoring two tries and setting up one other to cap off an extraordinary weekend for the NRL's wing-men.
15. Luke Lewis
Before Boyd Cordner's late heroics for the Roosters it was Lewis who looked as though he would be the man of the moment, his incisive runs as hard to stop as ever including the 72nd-minute try that allowed the Sharks to draw level. How good is the old bloke going? He had 12 tackle busts. Twelve!
16. Nathan Brown
Firming as the buy of the season with another powerhouse performance against the Broncos. In one of the most bizarre games of the season Brown did what he is doing every week, taking 22 wholehearted carries for 207 metres as well as making 33 tackles.
17. Tariq Sims
One incredible piece of play wasn't Tariq Sims's only contribution to the Dragons' win over Penrith but without it the Red V's season would be coming to a certain end this week. With the Panthers on the charge and in good position from a kick return, Sims stole the ball from the grasp of Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and raced 45 metres to score the match-winner. The irony is that they now need Penrith to defeat Manly to be any hope of making the top eight.