Matt Dufty found himself in New South Wales Cup after being dropped from the Bulldogs’ NRL side, while Maika Sivo’s reserve grade stint is set to come to an end.
A Manly enforcer put a “nervous” wait behind him to finally return to the field and an exciting outside back — that emerged as a fan favourite after a trial game — stunned for Blacktown Workers.
Meanwhile, a Warriors forward’s stunning performance has put pressure on coach Nathan Brown to recall him.
There were several standouts for the Eels, the grandson of a rugby league legend made his Cup debut and a late change may indicate what’s to come for the Titans.
Read on for the latest Reserve Grade Wrap.
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ALL EYES WERE ON
Matt Dufty was a new face in the Bulldogs’ Cup side and although he didn’t set the game alight he still contributed to their 20-16 win over the Knights with a try assist, a linebreak assist, two tackle busts and 88 running metres. He also made five tackles with zero misses.
David Nofoaluma spent another week in reserve grade. The 28-year-old spent the first half on the right wing before shifting to fullback after half time. He notched up 98 running metres to go with his try assist, linebreak assists and six tackle busts but struggled defensively. He was caught jamming in off his wing twice, opening the door for Rabbitohs winger Izaac Thompson to score two tries in five minutes.
Maika Sivo looks set to return to the NRL this week and his performance in NSW Cup on the weekend certainly suggests he’s more than ready to step back into the top grade.
The powerhouse winger scored a hat-trick in the Eels’ 38-nil shellacking of Mounties. He also got four 4 linebreaks and nine tackle busts as well as an eye-watering 252 running metres.
Manly prop Taniela Paseka returned from a knee injury via feeder side Blacktown Workers and his presence — along with some other handy additions — helped Blacktown get just their second win of the season.
Paseka played the entire first half and four minutes of the second half before getting an early mark. He finished with 118 running metres, two tackle buts and 15 tackles with two misses.
The 24-year-old told the Sea Eagles’ website afterwards that he was “a bit nervous” heading into the game but was happy to play “40 straight minutes” — something he doesn’t usually do in NRL — to “get that match fitness back.”
Warriors coach Nathan Brown may look at making some changes to his side after Saturday’s horror performance against Manly and Eli Katoa put his hand up for a recall while playing for feeder side, the Dolphins.
Katoa featured in 10 of the Warriors’ first 11 games, but was the replacement player in Round 12 and dropped back to Queensland Cup last weekend.
It’s rare to see a forward have a hand in FOUR tries but the 110kg beast scored in the Dolphins’ 54-nil win over Ipswich and set up three more tries. He also got a linebreak, two linebreak assists, three tackle busts, four offloads and ran for 150 metres. Katoa also made 22 tackles but had four misses during his 80-minute effort.
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Dragons second-rower Billy Burns had a day out against his former club, setting up two tries, getting three linebreaks and five tackle busts while running for 159 metres in his side’s 26-22 win over Penrith.
Jayden Sullivan was once again dominant as he set up a try, got a linebreak, a linebreak assist, two tackle busts and ran for 164 metres.
Meanwhile, Treigh Stewart is improving every week. The young winger scored, got a linebreak, three tackle busts and ran for 197 metres for the Dragons.
J’maine Hopgood was impressive in a losing side and proved the Eels have picked up a good one after he inked a two-year deal with the club from 2023.
Speaking of the Eels, there were several standouts in their win over Mounties. Aside from Maika Sivo, young half Jake Arthur, Jordan Rankin, Ky Rodwell and Wiremu Greig were impressive.
Arthur set up a try and notched up 150 metres to go with his linebreak assist and five tackle busts, while Rankin was busy — as always — with two try assists, three linebreak assists, three tackle busts and 113 running metres.
But perhaps the biggest headaches for Mounties were Rodwell, who played lock and Greig, a front-rower that came off the bench.
Rodwell amassed 236 running metres and made 27 tackles with zero misses, while Greig scored a try, got a linebreak, had five tackle busts and ran for 233 metres — 109 of those post-contact.
Matt Dufty might have been the player to watch for the Dogs but three of his teammates really stole the show. 18-year-old centre Paul Alamoti set up two tries, while Isaac Lumelume scored a try, got two linebreaks and ran for 197 metres.
Jackson Topine was all effort once again, finishing with 125 running metres, three tackle busts and 43 tackles with just one miss.
With the Tigers enjoying a bye, forward Alex Seyfarth dropped back to reserve grade and made the most of his opportunity to play 80 minutes. Seyfarth set up a try, got a linebreak assist, five tackle busts and ran for a game-high of 189 metres, while also making 36 tackles with just one miss.
Jorge Taufua was back in NSW Cup after a week in NRL and didn’t kick any stones over the demotion. The veteran back scored for Blacktown, got a linebreak, a linebreak assist and four tackle busts along with 207 running metres.
Remember Ray Vaega — the exciting train-and-trial Manly winger that scored a hat-trick in a trial game and became a fan favourite with a wholesome post-game interview? He was in sensational form on the weekend, scoring a try, getting two linebreaks and five tackle busts. He should have gotten a second try but it was ruled a knock-on — however replays showed it was a try. Vaega also steamrolled a North Sydney Bear in the lead up to an Ethan Bullemor try and came up with a Jorge Taufua-style hit on another Bear.
Bullemor’s addition was a boost for Blacktown with the 22-year-old scoring a double, running for 135 metres and getting a linebreak and three tackle busts.
On the other side of the field, Jordin Leiu put his uncharacteristic brain-fade in the opening seconds behind him to put in a big performance for the Bears. Lieu got his timing wrong off the kick-off and unfortunately caught the ball before stepping out… a minute and a half later Blacktown scored. But Leiu made up for it with a try of his own, a linebreak, four tackle busts and 170 running metres.
Titans feeder side, Burleigh, gave fans something to smile about with a 64-16 thrashing of Storm feeder side, Brisbane Tigers and Josh Rogers had day to remember scoring 32 of those points alone. The five-eighth scored a hat-trick and slotted 10 conversions from 11 attempts. He also set up two more tries, got a linbreak, four linebreak assists, four tackle busts and 163 running metres.
Burleigh’s fullback Taine Tuaupiki was also a standout with a try, three try assists, three linebreaks, a linebreak assist, three tackle busts and 214 metres… but he won’t be the one to replace Jayden Campbell (more on that later).
Trai Fuller is continuing to push his case for a full time deal with the Dolphins next season. The 25-year-old fullback backed up his 249-metre and 12-tacklebust effort from a fortnight ago with three tries, a try assist, a linebreak, two linebreak assists, five tackle busts and 242 running metres in the Dolphins’ win.
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Zac Fulton made his NSW Cup debut with Blacktown Workers on the weekend. The grandson of the late Bob Fulton played lock and finished with 122 running metres and 28 tackles with two misses.
Paul Turner was a late scratching from Tweed’s clash with PNG Hunters, which could suggest he’s in line to replace the injured Jayden Campbell this week.
The Warriors’ new signing Ronald Volkam played his first game for feeder side, Dolphins and finished with 72 running metres and three tackle busts at halfback.
The North Sydney Bears are going through a tough injury run at the moment. Reliable fullback Josh Bergamin is expected to miss the next two months after suffering an MCL injury, while gun prop Tuku Hau Tapuha left the field early on the weekend with an ankle injury. Adam Keighran also has a finger injury but he should be back this week. The 25-year-old centre could have played last week but coach Jason Taylor decided not to risk him.