EELS DEFENCE IMPLODES IN BACK-TO-BACK LOSSES
What's happened to the Parramatta defence over the past fortnight?
The Eels were cruising with five straight wins before hitting the wall, losing 28-6 to Manly and then copping a 38-20 thrashing from Souths.
The most worrying aspect of those two losses for Brad Arthur was that the Eels conceded a staggering 22 line breaks.
Parra need to fix their leaky defence if they hope to finish in the top four – and quickly.
RAMPANT RABBITOHS DEADLY IN INDIGENOUS ROUND
No one will want to play Souths in Indigenous Round in coming years.
The Rabbitohs gave arguably their most complete performance of the season against the Eels on Saturday night – with their pumped-up Aboriginal contingent leading the way.
In fact, six of the Bunnies' seven tries in the 38-20 rout were scored by their Aboriginal players, with Dane Gagai and Alex Johnston both grabbing hat-tricks.
STRUGGLING MILFORD'S NRL CAREER ON THE BRINK
Anthony Milford has played his way out of the Broncos next season – now he is fast playing his way out of the NRL altogether.
The talented five-eighth – playing for a contract at a rival club for 2022 – had an absolute shocker in the big loss to the Storm on Thursday night.
Milford missed five tackles, threw some awful passes and generally kicked poorly.
The former Raider only got his chance because Tyson Gamble was suspended – and did his chances of getting a contract for next year more harm than good.
It now appears that his best chance of landing a deal for next season will be with an English club in Super League.
COWBOYS' CLIFFORD MISS IN NO.7 SHUFFLE
A week is a long time in rugby league – a few months is like a lifetime.
Take the case of Jake Clifford at the Cowboys.
Before a ball was kicked this season, Todd Payten's halves shaped as Scott Drinkwater and Ben Hampton.
But fate handed Clifford the No.7 jumper – after he had signed to play at the Knights late last year – and he has grown into the role.
After a slow start, Clifford has been instrumental in the Cowboys' fine run of six wins from their last eight games and I reckon if Payten had his time again, he would have fought to keep Clifford, who is set to make an early leap to the Knights this week.
As it stands, the Cowboys' halves next season look like being Tom Dearden and Chad Townsend as the great playmaker shuffle continues throughout the NRL.
ONE FLAW FOR WARRIORS' TEENAGE SUPERSTAR
My new favourite player Reece Walsh was again dynamic in attack in the Warriors' narrow loss to the Cowboys – but there were some deficiencies exposed in his defence.
Stranded at fullback, Walsh made four tackles but missed two, both of which led to tries.
Warriors coach Nathan Brown is still working out the best way to use the talented teen and I think he may well end up in the halves.
Rival coaches will aim their big men at him in the line, without doubt, but he won't be left posted on his own and will get support from the big blokes around him.
Time will tell where his best spot is – but the kid has special talent, that no one can deny.
FLAT-FOOTED DRAGONS NEED MORE OOMPH
Injuries and suspensions have seen the Dragons' good run come to a grinding halt in the last couple of weeks.
But even with the players missing, their lacklustre effort against the up-and-down Tigers was a major concern.
Chief worry was the lack of thrust up front – not a single Dragons forward managed to break the 100 metres running mark.
Tariq Sims came closest with 81 metres but coach Anthony Griffin will demand more fire power from his big men in coming weeks.
Hooker Andrew McCullough also needs to get more involved – his three runs for just nine metres against the Tigers was a major problem as the Tigers dominated the forward exchanges.
Modern day hookers HAVE to be able to run the ball and McCullough needs to show more 'oomph' next weekend to get his big men going forward.
WESTS TIGERS FINALLY CRACK SPINE MYSTERY
It's taken him a while, but Michael Maguire has finally found his best spine and the Tigers are suddenly a chance for the finals.
After a slow start to the season, the Tigers have won three of their last five games and looked good in disposing of the Dragons 34-18 on Friday night.
With Daine Laurie at fullback, Moses Mbye and Luke Brooks in the halves and Jacob Liddle at hooker, Maguire has a spine with plenty of speed and creativity.
The Tigers have some work to do in coming weeks – but with these four fit and firing – have the ammunition to make a genuine finals challenge.
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