Queensland Cup enjoyed a bye over the Easter weekend, but there was plenty of action south of the border.
The North Sydney Bears are now the outright leaders of New South Wales Cup after Newtown’s shock loss to the Rabbitohs.
And while Dragons coach Anthony Griffin has indicated he won’t be rolling the dice on any young guns soon, he may change his mind after one put their hand up in reserve grade.
Still on the Red V, Aaron Woods sent a statement to Griffin after being dropped, Tyrell Fuimaono returned from suspension and Tyrell Sloan ran amok.
A Raiders forward returned from injury, while the Green Machine have added two new faces to their squad.
And Tui Katoa played his first game after a staph infection, heart murmur and brain aneurysm threatened to end his young career last year.
Read on for the latest Reserve Grade Wrap.
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ALL EYES WERE ON…
Raiders forward Hudson Young returned from a toe injury via Cup on Saturday. Young missed Round 5 due to the injury, with coach Ricky Stuart saying after that game it came down to the fact that he hadn’t trained enough that week.
Young was back in action in the Raiders’ 28-20 loss to the Bears and looked to be fully recovered from that injury. Not only did he play the entire 80 minutes, but he also scored, got a linebreak, a tackle bust and ran for 148 metres as well as making 22 tackles, with two misses.
Aaron Woods had a day out in the Dragons’ 42-6 win over Blacktown. The former State of Origin prop ran for 174 metres, had two offloads and made 21 tackles with one miss in 49 minutes.
Tyrell Fuiamono didn’t just walk straight back into the first grade side after his suspension, instead he was forced to return via NSW Cup — but don’t be surprised to see him back in the NRL side for Round 7.
Fuimaono played 65 minutes at lock and notched up 138 running metres, six tackle busts and 17 tackles.
Tyrell Sloan was also busy with 176 running metres, a try assist, two tackle busts, two offloads and nine tackles with zero missed. He did have four handling errors though.
But it was halfback Jayden Sullivan who really stole the show scoring a try and setting up two more. He also had two linebreaks, three linebreak assists, seven tackle busts and ran for 132 metres. With another performance like that it’ll be hard for Griffin to ignore him.
Meanwhile, Panthers outside back Robert Jennings picked up a knee injury late in his side’s win over Mounties on Saturday. The 26-year-old managed to finish the game but was spotted talking to the team doctor afterwards.
North Sydney prop Terrell May continued with his stunning form, notching up 223 running metres — 124 post contact — two tackle busts and 25 tackles with two misses.
May is a part-time player that will train occasionally with the NRL squad. If the Roosters don’t lock him in on a full-time contract it’s only a matter of time before a rival swoops in.
Jacob Preston also deserves a shoutout for a brilliant game for the Bears in what was his NSW Cup debut. Preston, a second-rower, scored a double and had a linebreak while also making 32 tackles with zero misses.
Harry Rushton couldn’t continue with his tryscoring run after scoring in back-to-back games but he did run for 159 metres, get two tackle busts and make 47 tackles — with four misses though — in his 71 minutes at lock.
Still on the Raiders, Sam Williams was back in action after taking some time out following the death of his father. Williams set up three tries but it wasn’t quite enough to hand the Bears their first loss of the season.
Kayal Iro is proving to be one of Newtown’s most damaging players and the young centre was again outstanding despite his team copping a heavy loss. Iro scored a try, set up another, had three linebreaks, five tacklebusts and ran for 228 metres.
There’s been a lot of chatter as of late about the Bulldogs halves and there’s one player that’s flown under the radar — probably because he’s been coming off the bench as a hooker. But make no mistake, Zach Dockar-Clay is just as useful in the halves and proved that on Saturday. The 26-year-old set up two tries and ran for 101 metres.
Sean O’Sullivan hasn’t taken his foot off the accelerator since dropping back to reserve grade. The crafty half has slotted into the No.6 jersey in Peter Wallace’s side and is forming a lethal combination with halfback Kurt Falls. O’Sullivan set up a try, had two tacklebusts and ran for 146 metres in Penrith’s win over Mounties.
His teammate, Young Cherrypickers junior Tom Jenkins was equally impressive with 154 running metres, two linebreaks, eight tacklebusts and a soccer-like kick to set up a try.
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SHINING A SPOTLIGHT ON…
Knights forward Ben Talty.
The 23-year-old is one of the many part-timers in Newcastle’s cup side. Away from the field he’s a youth worker that’s studying a Bachelor of Business and a Bachelor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship with the goal to one day work in a sports related organisation.
Talty was instrumental in the Knights’ upset over the Bulldogs, playing 78 minutes at prop and scoring a try, getting a linebreak and running for 231 metres.
Coach Mark O’Meley has previously told foxsports.com.au that Talty is one of his most reliable players.
The Dogs, who have now slipped out of the top four, were in control early, scoring three tries in 16 minutes before Newcastle hit back with six consecutive tries. They each got another four-pointer in the final 10 minutes but the Knights walked away deserving winners.
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A big round of applause is in order for Tui Katoa who returned to the field on Saturday after being dealt some horrific news last season.
Katoa was admitted to hospital in September due to a staph infection and while he was in there it was discovered he had a heart murmur and also needed surgery on a brain aneurysm.
Katoa was a late addition for the Bulldogs’ feeder side, Mounties and got through the full 80 minutes in the centres. The 22-year-old ran for 107 metres and got a tackle bust.
The Raiders have bolstered their hooking depth with the immediate signing of Zac Woolford, who returns to the club after playing his under 20s footy for the Green Machine. Meanwhile, Zac Saddler has also joined the Raiders after spending the summer with the Broncos on a train-and-trial.
New Bulldogs recruit Isaac Lumelume was forced to watch his side from the sideline. He was at Belmore Sports Ground with a splint on his hand.