#KiwiNRL Encyclopedia: Round Rua

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Dragons vs Rabbitohs

Dragons

Starters: Jordan Pereira.

Bench/Extended Bench: Nada.

Rabbitohs

Starters: Nada.

Bench/Extended Bench: /Mawene Hiroti.

Doc's Word

The battle of the #KiwiNRL haters. Only interesting note here is that Mawene Hiroti appears to be next in line for a wing spot. Corey Allan is named ahead of Hiroti in the reserves and Allan is more of a fullback/play-maker, while Hiroti has also been named in the reserves for the first two rounds. Hopefully Hiroti can wiggle into some minutes soon.

Raiders vs Storm

Raiders

Starters: Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Jordan Rapana, Joseph Tapine.

Bench/Extended Bench: Siliva Havili, Iosia Soliola/Bailey Simonsson.

Storm

Starters: Jahrome Hughes, Jesse Bromwich, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Kenny Bromwich.

Bench/Extended Bench: Brandon Smith/Albert Vete.

Doc's Word

Bailey Simonsson makes way for Jordan Rapana, who did some Piccolo shit to return from injury swiftly. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad stays at fullback and it'll be very interesting to see how the Storm go about targeting Nicoll-Klokstad; not only did he spend time with the Storm in Under 20s, we know the Storm are clinical in executing plans to expose opponents. Nicoll-Klokstad had 15runs/152m, 5 tackle busts and an offload, but the key stat with Rapana coming back is 5 dummy half runs for 50m.

Rapana loves a dummy half scoot and how these two combine out of dummy half, could prove crucial to their chances against a Storm team who look as good as they ever have. Here are the Storm #KiwiNRL stats from round one...

Jahrome Hughes: 80mins, 1 try, 26runs/224m, 1 line break, 3 tackle busts.

Jesse Bromwich: 50mins, 1 try, 14runs/158m, 1 line break, 1 line break assist, 4 tackle busts, 2 offloads.

Nelson Asofa-Solomona: 34mins, 12runs/109m, 1 tackle bust, 2 offloads.

Kenny Bromwich: 74mins, 1 try, 8runs/70m, 1 line break, 1 line break assist, 1 try assist, 1 tackle bust.

Broncos vs Cowboys

Broncos

Starters: Jamayne Isaako, Kodi Nikorima, Alex Glenn.

Bench/Extended Bench: Nada.

Cowboys

Starters: Jordan Kahu, Te Maire Martin, Jason Taumalolo.

Bench/Extended Bench: Nada.

Doc's Word

Jordan Kahu faces Brisbane Broncos, which is going to be super duper fun...

Jason Taumalolo flexed with a classic South Auckland Rhino performance last week vs Dragons; 62mins, 21runs/286m, 2 line breaks, 1 try assist, 7 tackle busts. This feels like a product of a better mix in the Cowboys forward pack with the arrival of Josh McGuire, giving the Cowboys more grinders around Taumalolo. They played a similar number of minutes (McGuire got through 63mins) and Taumalolo made 15 tackles while McGuire made 29. Other than bench forward Mitchell Dunn who only played 19mins, Taumalolo made the fewest tackles of all the Cowboys forwards and that's despite Taumalolo playing the second most minutes.

That's a clear picture of the situation the Cobwoys need to create to get the very best out of Taumalolo. I don't think it is sustainable though as opposition teams will run at Taumalolo to get that tackle count up over 25 and after his barn-stormer last week, the Broncos will likely head down this route of targeting Taumalolo.

Interesting balance between Te Martin and Michael Morgan as Martin had 41 touches to Morgan's 48, while Martin had 15 runs to Morgan's 6. This tells the story of Martin playing more like a typical #6 in terms of being the running threat and to wind it all up; Martin had 'Pass To Run Ratio' of 1.8 vs Morgan's 4.33.

To take it one step further, we can compare that to Kodi Nikorima who had a PTRR of 2.07 vs Anthony Milford's 5.86. This ultimately means that Nikorima and Martin played fairly similar roles in round one and they both let their respective halves partners take more kicks; Martin and Morgan had 4/19, while Nikorima and Milford had 8/11.

Sharks vs Titans

Sharks

Starters: Sosaia Feki, Sione Katoa, Shaun Johnson, Briton Nikora.

Bench/Extended Bench: /Braden Hamlin-Uele.

Titans

Starters: Kevin Proctor.

Bench/Extended Bench: Moeaki Fotuaika/Jesse Arthars.

Doc's Word

Tough start for Shaun Johnson and Cronulla Sharks, going down 8-14 vs Newcastle Knights. It's always the same story for Johnson as his involvement in running the footy has a direct correlation to how his team performs. Johnson had 6 runs vs Newcastle, the least of any half in this game (including Kayln Ponga and Mitchell Pearce) and if Chad Townsend (9 runs) is regularly running more than Johnson, the Sharks will be struggling. Johnson had 1 tackle bust to reinforce that point.

Jesse Arthars sneaking into #KiwiNRL contention for Gold Coast, named in the wider squad. With Phillip Sami on the bench, Arthars is behind Sami although Arthars made the QLD Intrust Super Cup Team of the Week for last weekend playing at centre, which could see Arthars leap-frog Sami if a centre spot becomes vacant.

Knights vs Panthers

Knights

Starters: Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Danny Levi, James Gavet.

Bench/Extended Bench: Herman Ese'ese/Mason Lino.

Panthers

Starters: Dean Whare, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Sione Katoa, James Fisher-Harris.

Bench/Extended Bench: Moses Leota/Jarome Luai, Malakai Watene-Zelezniak.

Doc's Word

Herman Ese'ese is back on the bench and he will be eager to ensure that he doesn't fall out of the Knights top-17 again, with a big performace vs Penrith. James Gavet got through 31mins with 6runs/50m in a fairly bland first Knights game and I'm low key wondering that if Ese'ese plays at his best in returning to the team, Ese'ese could soon overtake Gavet.

Sea Eagles vs Roosters

Sea Eagles

Starters: Toafofoa Sipley, Martin Taupau.

Bench/Extended Bench: Nada.

Roosters

Starters: Joseph Manu, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Siosiua Taukeiaho.

Bench/Extended Bench: Isaac Liu, Zane Tetevano/Sitili Tupouniua, Poasa Fa'amausili.

Doc's Word

Toafofoa Sipley has been named to start for Manly, after playing 4mins last week vs Wests Tigers. Sipley did have 3runs/34m though to signal his intentions for 2019, however he will be coming up against one of the best #KiwiNRL forward packs in the competition; Jared Waerea-Hargreaves had 12runs/122m and Sio Siua Taukeiaho had 13runs/138m in their loss to the Rabbitohs.

Bulldogs vs Eels

Bulldogs

Starters: Reimis Smith, Kieran Foran, Raymond Faitala-Mariner.

Bench/Extended Bench: Jeremy Marshall-King, Corey Harawira-Naera/Ofahiki Ogden.

Eels

Starters: Josh Hoffman, Brad Takairangi, Dylan Brown, Marata Niukore.

Bench/Extended Bench: Nada.

Doc's Word

Dylan Brown impressed in his #KiwiNRL debut, showcasing oodles of skill and pizzazz in Parramatta's win over Penrith. Mitchell Moses handled most of the kicking with 14 kicks to Brown's 3, while also getting more footy via 59 touches to Brown's 40. That is to be expected while Brown wasn't overly impactful in running the footy, his 8 runs to Moses' 6 runs suggest early signs that Brown has a good blueprint to work from.

Don't let the hype around Brown distract you from the low key #KiwiNRL performance of Marata Niukore on an edge though. Niukore played 80mins, scored a try and had 12runs/133m, making him the only Eels forward to average over 10m/run. Niukore had the most post contact metres for Parramatta's forwards as well with 60pcm and had a cheeky 4 tackle busts. Niukore could be the hottest #KiwiNRL name you're not paying attention to.

Tigers vs Warriors

Tigers

Starters: Esan Marsters, Benji Marshall, Ben Matulino, Elijah Taylor.

Bench/Extended Bench: Russell Packer, Josh Aloiai, Michael Chee-Kam.

Raiders

Starters: All but Adam Keighran, Blake Green, Lachlan Burr.

Bench/Extended Bench: All the boys.

Doc's Word

Blake Ayshford drops out of the Warriors 17 to give them just three Aussies now and they're coming up against a Tigers team that has 7 #KiwiNRL players in their 17. I'm going to let some dust settle after a few rounds before sussing out the stats of guys like Ben Matulino, Russell Packer and Josh Aloiai as they were fairly volatile last season, however Esan Marsters picked up exactly where he left 2018 from.

Kicking 100%, Marsters had 16runs/148m, 4 tackle busts and a whopping 5 offloads. It's not just the oomph that Marsters offers as his speed and footwork around the ruck causes carnage, hence Marsters could have 5 dummy half runs for 62m. That's the same number of dummy half runs as Robbie Farah - who had 44m - and chuck in Marsters' offloads as well for the total package.

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