Weekly wrap: Round 26 winners, losers, injuries

2021 6th overall Clem Cassidy and Nick Moon recaps every game from Round 26, eyeing the Supercoach studs and duds.


Well that all but wraps up what the Supercoach season of 2023 that was!! Round 26 we are happy to see you in the rear-view mirror! In the penultimate round of the year, and the Grand Finals for so many head-to-head leagues, we had absolutely everything! Injuries, smashing’s, upsets, low scores, high scores, resting’s… I only missed a Radley sin-bin on my bingo card!

How did we all fare? Many of the head-to-head finals would have rested on Joey Manu’s shoulders, and it seems he couldn’t carry the burden as he pulled up lame and finished with only 16 points. Let me tell you, I was with the Overlord on Saturday night and didn’t he cut a dejected figure. The free grog and chorizo sliders in the corporate lounge at GIO Stadium though did cheer him up.

But on the total other end of the spectrum, we had some huge captaincy scores with Cleary, Ponga, and Walsh all going large, the latter hitting a massive 141 despite getting airborne after Joey Manu hit him. The radar at Canberra Airport had him as an incoming flight.

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It will not get any easier for us come Tuesday team lists as there could be some huge resting and some major – and I mean MAJOR – injury concerns. Word is Tohu won’t be named, Manu unlikely, and Ponga has succumbed to the shoulder injury he picked up yesterday.

Ohh and Kotoni got suspended.

It’s going to get messy!! And with no trades we are likely going to be copping an AE at some stage. You gotta love it! Don’t be too dejected, I reckon 95% will be in a similar boat. Let’s just hope there are enough life rafts.

The Philly Hamstrings have found some form late scoring a solid 1366 which came from owning four of the top five scoring players of the round – Thanks DCE, although I was also was forced into playing Mat Croker and copped Joey Manu’s 16 and DWZ’s 25. The ups and downs!

My fearless co-writer Clem didn’t go so good, managing only 1269 but did captain KP. DWZ, Mulitalo, and Piakura just couldn’t fire for her. Clem needs to claw back 15 points on the Spy to come out as a victor! Let’s get behind her.

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Panthers v Eels

By Nick Moon

I tell ya, this Eels side could be anything! That’s if they were able to play Penrith every week, it’s the other 15 teams that seem to give them problems!

Turned it on in the final match and are now able to settle into the next five days on the drink with a win under their belt and plenty of “What could have been’ questions.

They left it late to get Sivo into the action, as he busted and bruised his way to a mammoth 154 after crossing for 4 tries! He wouldn’t have been in many teams, but there would have been a select few out there with him on their bench and even some lucky sod out there who ended up with him as an AE. Oh we could dream.

The Eels bucked the trend of a low scoring match up against the Eels with Gutherson also coming in for a 118 points and Brown was superb, it’s like he has a point to prove or playing to gain back some respect. Whatever it is its working, as he finished with 81 and now runs 3 games of 80+ in a row. Good to know for 2024.

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Hopgood rounded out 2023 with a solid 74. Turned out to be likely the buy of the year, but did have a lean back third of the year, with only one score over 100 and none over 75.

As for the Panthers, well I wouldn’t like to be playing them this week. Might kick a few of them into gear. Ivan will know where they can finish come Thursday night so they will play it one of 2 ways. Rest everyone and give them a spell or play them back into a bit of form. I think the latter.

Cleary had a night out despite the scoreline. Picked up his usual 25 points for showering and boarding the team bus on the way home to finish with 109, whilst Soni Luke too got a little bit of love from the updaters as he finished with 46

Injuries: Jarome Luai (shoulder), Clint Gutherson (knee)

Judiciary: Jesse McLean (Careless High Tackle)

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Warriors v Dragons

By Nick Moon

DWZ! Brother where art thou? In what shaped as the matchup of the round, new season, our man, my 5th favourite triple barrelled name Dallin Watene-Zelezniak was a spectator for this one and barely got the mullet into the air.

He was the most traded in player (just on vibes alone, no research) and everything was going in his favour. Soft left edge of the Dragons, CNK back to his best, home game but nothing went his way.

It was a real hammer blow for those who made the trade and even the odd one out there who tried to outsmart everyone by captaining him (Hey Zacho) as he finished with 25, only Freddy Lussick who played 14 minutes scored less.

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Even the likes of CNK and SJ couldn’t reach the lofty heights we set for them against the Dragons but as I mentioned last week, they are plucky and don’t go away. Credit to them they stuck it to NZ and should have had a try within 7 seconds.

AFB dropped one over the line, but did make up for it late scoring an easy try. He finished with 84, but it could have been 115 had he held onto the Steeden. Might just cost Clem in her quest to knock the Spy off.

Up the Wahs!

Injuries: Luke Metcalf (hamstring), Rocco Berry (knee), Sione Finau (ankle)

Judiciary: Nil

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Dolphins v Cowboys

By Nick Moon

As a Scotty Drinkwater non-owner, for him to only score 124 here is an absolute God send! I thought he was going to break the record at one point! Every time there was a half break or an opening, there he was sniffing around. He dropped an absolute sitter over the line and Kyle Feldt thought he was Matt Gidley and threw a wild flick pass that would have been a TA to Scotty! In that period, he missed out on what was potentially 70 points with the goalkicking. There’s the top score for 2023.

What could have been for the mercurial man! Like I said, thank the Rugby League Gods he only got 124.

Owners who went the two week play trading him in, now face the prospect of a matchup against a scorn Penrith Panthers. Remember his score of 1 in round 2? He will beat that but it may not get much higher.

Jamayne Isaako crossed for a double including a very classy second try for him to muster up triple figures on his way to set a new record for most points scored for a new club in his first season! Didn’t have that in my fortune cookie. His 111 was his 7th ton of the season and needs 67 points to go past the Parra fullback and be the leading FLB/CTW of 2023! That one has come from the clouds.

Injuries: Nil.

Judiciary: Josh Kerr (Dangerous Contact)

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Storm v Titans

By Nick Moon

Ladies and Gentleman.. Mr Ryan Papenhuyzen! I won’t spend a lot of time talking about a bloke who is worth 950k and scored 11 but how good was it to see him back! Another quiet game this week and we could be looking at a cheap Papi come 2024. Him and a fit Turbo to kick off next year? Stop it, it’s starting to hurt!

As for the real action, Melbourne were clinical and have all but cemented their spot in the top 4. Who awaits them week one remains to be seen, but they may have to do it without both Grant and Hughes.

The pair went down with a shoulder complaint and a knee injury respectively. Hughes looks the worse of the two and could miss a couple weeks, Harry I’m not so sure of.  Melbourne can jump into 3rd spot if the Warriors lose, I’m just not sure it’s worth risking him. That and I have a backup hooker not named Luke. He was able to finish the game though.

Munster was sensational but hasn’t hit that ceiling many owners would have liked. Tore the Titans right edge apart but couldn’t cross the stripe himself, finishing with only 87. Only 87 seems tough but come the business end of the year, that needs to be converted to 130s.

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Katoa looks a new man since getting his eye poked out a while back. Can finally see the holes in front of him. He crossed again for another try and finished with 82, giving him an average of 80- since returning, including a 33-point effort. Now has 5 tries in past 5 games.

I chose to anti POD Fifita after Origin. Not through smart planning or being cheeky, I just couldn’t afford the beast! And its actually paid off with an average of 69 since returning form the Maroons gig. That was also after his 6 100+ scores in 7 weeks. A very dour end to the year

On the other hand of the Titans guns, Tino bounced back to his destructive ways after a lean match v Penrith. Managed 81 and after a tough run of matches for the Titans, heads into a Bulldogs matchup that will have owners salivating. I have a trade and he is top of my wish list.

Injuries: Jahrome Hughes (knee), Harry Grant (shoulder)

Judiciary: Nil.

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Roosters v Tigers

By Clementine Cassidy

Despite the Tigers scoring first through rookie centre, Triston Reilly, the Roosters smashed them, 32 – 8, setting up an exciting battle for a spot in the top 8 when they vs the Bunnies this round.

And just 24 minutes into the game, many SuperCoacher’s H2H Grand Finals were looking lost, and hearts were broken, as popular Captain, Sir Joey M copped a hammy injury to finish on 16 points.

And I am K on the D! About 5 mins before the game started, I second guessed myself and was about to swap to a Manu captaincy, and then stopped myself at the last minute and kept it on Ponga.

And thank the lord! Because if I’d done the swap, I would be on the receiving end of whatever the loser is copping between Spy and me in our personal H2H for sure!

(There’s only 15 points between us, and with one round to go, we’re still determining the loser’s prize – a nudie run was contemplated, but that was deemed too risky because when Spy loses, the internet will be broken for sure…move over Kimmy K!)

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And with Manu out (and we wish our Kiwi Sir God all the very best in his recovery), it was time to step up Suaalii. And step up he did. Going on an absolute tear, and finishing on 128 points including a try, 2 line breaks, and 2 line break assists!

And the Roosters copped some players out this game. Alongside Manu, there were HIA’s for Billy Smith and Sam Walker. Waerea-Hargreaves deciding to throw a casual head butt and a late tackle, copping a sin bin and ruling himself out for weeks.

And let’s talk about Brandon Smith. And wow! 90 points including 45 points in tackles. I’m so stoked for you! Still. We won’t be going back there…ever. I’ve given my failed SuperCoach situationship too many second chances already.

For the other Roosters, Luke Keary finished on 86 points with 3 try assists (the man LOVES a try assist!), and Radley (who continues his hot streak of not being on report) scored too, to finish on 69 points.

For the Tigers, Bateman top scored with a 63, IPap managed a 50, and Api a 48.

Injuries: Joey Manu (hamstring)

Judiciary: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Dangerous Contact & Striking), Luke Keary (Dangerous Throw)

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Raiders v Broncos

By Clementine Cassidy

Reece Walsh you sparky, sparky man! Oh, I so wish I had you in my team!

And please sir. Where do you get your eyebrows done, because they are a pair of perfectly waxed identical twins and right now my eyebrows are so asymmetrical, they aren’t even related. And I would like the name of your eyebrow person please. I must insist.

Now alongside the little spew on the sideline, there were 141 points including a try and 3 try assists, 2 line breaks and 3 line break assists. Including an epic 30 metre display of gloriousness that led to Cobbo’s third try of the night.

And it was a game of trading tries and playing seesaw, but it was the Broncos, in the hunt for the minor premiership and led by our hero Reecey Walsh, who eventually took control, to take the win, 18-29.

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And let us talk about future immortal Cobbo. 118 points including 3 line breaks and a hatty, his third for the season. A three-round average of 82. How good if you have him in your team!

For the other Broncos, Payne Hass finished on 66 points and Staggs on 52 points with a try.

And for the Raiders, firstly a huge congratulations must also go to Croker, who played his 150th game at GIO Stadium.

And as for SuperCoach points. Whitehead top scored on 102 points with 2 try assists, Tapine managed 55 points, while Big Red tackled his way to 56 points but is now facing a suspension for unlucky owners who are already short on numbers, including yours truly.

Injuries: Nil.

Judiciary: Corey Horsburgh (Shoulder Charge), Kotoni Staggs (Dangerous Contact), Jordan Rapana (Dangerous Contact – Tripping), Zac Woolford (Crusher Tackle)

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Bulldogs v Manly

By Clementine Cassidy

If you traded in DCE you’re a genius with a crystal ball. Take a bow Timmy Williams!

146 points including a try, an assist, 24 points in goals, 22 points in tackle busts, 2 line breaks and a line break assist – what an absolute day out!

You’re also a genius if you went Koula at fullback. 125 points including THREE try assists.

And it was a try-fest at Accor Stadium on Sunday arvo – seven to Manly and four to the Bulldogs who missed 45 tackles and came away with the loss, 24 – 42.

And the Bulldogs now have an unenviable 944 missed tackles in 2023.

Accor Stadium was also the scene for the greatest Kum shot in history. Gordon Chan Kum Tong, on NRL debut, slotting a penalty goal after being handed the ball by Cherry-Evans in the 76th minute.

And congratulations on a glorious debut, made all the more sweeter with 150 screaming, cheering family and friends in the crowd! Heart-warming scenes indeed.

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And if you had any Manly players in your team, you were stoked! Sipley finishing on 98 points including a try. Croker landing on 91 points including a try and an assist. And big Olakau’atu on 88 points including a try.

Well, actually. You might not be so stoked if you traded in Saab who finished with 2 tries but only 45 points – but OMG how good is it watching him run! The man has some absolute legs on him!

For the Bulldogs, if you own and played Blake Wilson for 119 points you would’ve felt like a genius (Spy left him on the pine which was quite a deliciously beautiful moment for me).

And if you were one of the 771 people who owned 104-point Waddell and were short on numbers and had to play him? Well, you’d be buying a lotto ticket for sure…

Injuries: Nil.

Judiciary: Nil.

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Knights v Sharks

By Clementine Cassidy

Ohhh. How good are the Knights! And how good that they’ve secured a spot in the finals with their 8th win in a row, downing the Sharks 32 – 6 in front of an epic home crowd.

The Sharks scored first through Tracey. But they clearly missed the gloriousness that is Prince Nicho’s glorious wet locks (understandable), and so that was it for them.

Because despite making some great defensive efforts, they missed 71 tackles and made 11 errors, and the Knights crushed them with 32 unanswered points – five tries in the second half thanks to a Kalyn Ponga masterclass.

And didn’t Ponga come through for his Captainers and owners, scoring 128 points including a try, a try assist, goals, tackle busts, 2 line breaks and a line break assist.

But what’s this? Disaster! A villain in the form of Ramien! And now we are without our Ponga-shaped hero for the final game of the SuperCoach season, and our hearts are broken, and we hope that he has a speedy recovery in time for the finals!

And for the other Knights, Clune scored a 105 including 3 try assists. Lucas finished on a 95 including a try for his 2500 owners.

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And then there was big Bradman Best. 93 points including 2 tries – what a gun! And of course, Young scored his 21st try of the season to finish on 85 points, Marzhew scored to finish on 71 points. And Gagai – 26 points in tackle busts to finish on a 78 – how beautiful for his 5% of owners.

For the Sharks, with next to no tries on offer, there wasn’t much to write home about when it came to the popular SuperCoach players. Connor Tracey top scored with a 71 and Cam McInnes scored a 68 and now has a 5-round average of 75.

And I speak for owners everywhere when I say, if only Nikora had put down that ball! He finished on 61 points in the end, but what could have been!

Then there was Brailey on 53 points. Ramien on 36 points and Katoa on 36 points. Talakai on 28 points – gosh, you wouldn’t be offering up your soul for him anytime soon.

And Mulitalo. 24 points. With only one decent score since I traded him in back in round 19…I absolutely rue the day…

Injuries: Kalyn Ponga (shoulder)

Judiciary: Thomas Hazelton (crusher tackle)

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