#KiwiNRL Encyclopedia: Round Tekau

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Storm vs Tigers

Storm

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

Bench/Extended Bench: Brandon Smith.

Tigers

Starters: Esan Marsters, Benji Marhall, Ben Matulino.

Bench/Extended Bench: Josh Aloiai, Michael Chee-Kam/Elijah Taylor.

Doc's Word

Wests Tigers were too good for Penrith Panthers last week, winning 30-4 and in this game we saw a fairly solid outing from Ben Matulino. The Wellington middle forward played 46mins, with 12runs/112m, 26 tackles and 1 missed tackle, which had me thinking about Matulino's season overall for the Tigers. Averaging 36.7mins, 8.6 runs for 72m, Matulino has effectively put away the offload this season with 0.1 offloads per game and appears to be strictly in job-doing mode for the Tigers.

How that looks against the typically strong Storm middle, led by Jesse Bromwich and Nelson Asofa-Solomona will be an enticing #KiwiNRL battle. The Storm blew away Parramatta Eels last week so those stats are a little inflated and I explored Asofa-Solomona's stats last week, so here are the elder Bromwich bros' averages; 47.6mins, 11.8runs, 107m, 1.6 tackle busts and 0.6 offloads.

Panthers vs Warriors

Panthers

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

Bench/Extended Bench: Jarome Luai, Moses Leota/Caleb Aekins.

Warriors

Starters: All but Blake Green.

Bench/Extended Bench: All but Karl Lawton.

Doc's Word

Caleb Aekins has been dropped down to reserve grade where he will start at fullback vs Warriors, while Sione Katoa has been promoted to start for Penrith Panthers. Aekins had 14runs/138m with a line break and 2 tackle busts in the loss to Tigers and while his numbers from his stint in the NRL are interestingly superior to those of Dylan Edwards who is back starting. Edwards averages 15.8runs, 108m, 0.2 line breaks, 0 offloads, 2.4 tackle busts and 2.6 errors, while Aekins averages 15.7runs, 145m, 0.7 line breaks, 2.7 tackle busts, 0.7 offloads and 0 errors.

The Panthers haven't been so flash defensively though and maybe Aekins hasn't been directing traffic from fullback as well as Edwards. Otherwise, there is quite a clear case for Northland's Aekins to still be starting fullback.

This is also a great opportunity for Katoa, taking on the starting role. Katoa has had a large dip in form this season and not only for his own sake, for the team's sake, he needs to provide a constant threat around the ruck and ease the pressure on Penrith's halves.

Broncos vs Roosters

Broncos

Starters: Jamayne Isaako, Alex Glenn.

Bench/Extended Bench: Nada.

Roosters

Starters: Joseph Manu, Sio Siua Taukeiaho, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Isaac Liu.

Bench/Extended Bench: Sitili Tupouniua/Poasa Fa'amausili.

Doc's Word

Other than the return of Jamayne Isaako, everything's fairly stock for both teams here. Poasa Fa'amausili returns to the Roosters mix on an extended bench and the last few weeks have been intriguing from a #KiwiNRL perspective as Sitili Tupouniua has taken over from Fa'amausili on the Chooks bench. Both have played four games, so now is a lovely time to compare the two...

Fa'amausili: 27mins, 6runs/59m, 9.83m/run, 0 tackle busts 0.3 offloads.

Tupouniua: 31.5mins, 5runs/57m, 11.4m/run, 1 tackle bust, 0.5 offloads.

Titans vs Bulldogs

Titans

Starters: Moeaki Fotuaika.

Bench/Extended Bench: Jesse Arthars.

Bulldogs

Starters: Reimis Smith, Kieran Foran, Jeremy Marshall-King, Corey Harawira-Naera.

Bench/Extended Bench: Ofahiki Ogden/Fa'amanu Brown, Renouf To'omaga.

Doc's Word

Jesse Arthars is again on the bench for Gold Coast Titans after a 53min effort in last week's loss to Cronulla Sharks. Arthars offers the Titans versatility off the bench and with 11runs/108m showed some promise, although 60 percent tackle efficiency needs a touch up. Arthars and Bulldogs winger Reimis Smith are two young #KiwiNRL outside backs who don't get a whole lot of attention, but if you're a #KiwiNRL nerd, take note of where Arthars pops up and the impact he has on the game compared to Smith - who low key offers immense skill and play-making as a winger.

Cowboys vs Eels

Cowboys

Starters: Jordan Kahu, Jason Taumalolo.

Bench/Extended Bench: Nada.

Eels

Starters: Josh Hoffman, Brad Takairangi, Marata Niukore, Manu Ma'u.

Bench/Extended Bench: Peni Terepo/Matt McIlwrick.

Doc's Word

Coming up against Jason Taumalolo, Parramatt Eels have named Manu Ma'u to start in the middle and line up opposite the South Auckland Rhino. Along with Peni Terepo who will come off the bench for Eels, these three Tongan internationals will provide a funky wrinkle to this game. After highlighting the need to force Jason Taumalolo into 30+ tackles last week, the Rabbitohs did exactly that as Taumalolo made 32 tackles in 63mins and had 16runs/146m. The flow of the game robbed Taumalolo of the whole stats, however Taumalolo only averaged 9.12m/run with those 32 tackles and there's wee correlation between greater defensive workload and less running efficiency.

Raiders vs Rabbitohs

Raiders

Starters: Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Bailey Simonsson.

Bench/Extended Bench: Siliva Havili, Iosia Soliola.

Rabbitohs

Starters: Mawene Hiroti.

Bench/Extended Bench: Nada.

Doc's Word

Taranaki's Mawene Hiroti starts on the wing for South Sydney Rabbitohs, our first sighting of Hiroti this season. 2nd in Canterbury Cup points via his goal-kicking, Hiroti is also 5th in tackle busts for the NSW reserve grade competition and while the Raiders are missing Jordan Rapana and Joey Leilua, their play-makers will offer a tough examination of Hiroti's defensive reads.

Dragons vs Knights

Dragons

Starters: Jordan Pereira.

Bench/Extended Bench: Nada.

Knights

Starters: Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Danny Levi.

Bench/Extended Bench: Herman Ese'ese, James Gavet/Mason Lino.

Doc's Word

I've talked about Herman Ese'ese and James Gavet nearly every week, which is because of how extreme their first stanza of the season has been. In defeating the Bulldogs, Ese'ese and Gavet offered great impact off the bench as Ese'ese played 26mins with 14runs/144m, 8 tackle busts and an offload, while Gavet played 29mins for 11runs/108m, 1 tackle busts and 1 offload. The minutes are roughly the same to their averages, but with Gavet averaging 7.4runs/60m and Ese'ese averaging 6.4runs/66m, it's easy to see the difference in their production as we've moved through the first few rounds.

Sharks vs Sea Eagles

Sharks

Starters: Sosaia Feki, Briton Nikora.

Bench/Extended Bench: Braden Hamlin-Uele/Sione Katoa.

Sea Eagles

Starters: Martin Taupau.

Bench/Extended Bench: Nada.

Doc's Word

Cronulla Sharks suddenly have two quality young #KiwiNRL forwards to watch out for as Braden Hamlin-Uele has been graced with greater opportunities, joining Briton Nikora in the top-17. Nikora has been a constant since making his debut, while Hamlin-Uele has now played 5 games this season and last week's effort vs Titans was an exciting reminder of Hamlin-Uele's potential.

Playing 56mins, via Andrew Fifita only playing 6mins and Matt Prior 19mins, Hamlin-Uele got through 14runs/121m, 6 tackle busts, 2 offloads and 25 tackles with 92.6 percent tackle efficiency. Don't expect such big minutes this week as Hamlin-Uele averages just 31mins, but the confidence from last week could push Hamlin-Uele to be more efficient and impactful off the bench.

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