Highs and lows of the NRL’s 12th round


THEY SAID IT: “I didn’t want to go out there not at 100 per cent on Wednesday. I know what kind of arena it is and it was probably one of the toughest decisions I have made. But it was what is best for the team.” – Josh Dugan on his decision to withdraw from the State of Origin series opener due to an elbow injury.

MAN OF THE ROUND: Canberra youngster Joe Tapine announced himself as a star of the future thanks to a two-try haul in Canberra’s 32-20 win over Canterbury on Sunday.

STAT THAT MATTERS: Rushed into the side on game day after Josh Morris’ late call-up to the NSW State of Origin team, Canterbury rookie Reimis Smith became the first Bulldogs player since Jamie Feeney in 2009 to score two tries on debut in their 32-20 loss to Canberra.

MAGIC MOMENT: For the second time in three weeks, St George Illawarra centre Euan Aitken scored the game-winner when he powered over to break a 10-all deadlock late in their 14-10 win over reigning premiers North Queensland.

TALKING POINT: In the space of 24 hours, 2015 grand finalists Brisbane and North Queensland – minus a combined 11 State of Origin stars – were defeated by Wests Tigers and St George Illawarra, respectively. Do the title heavyweights have the depth to get through another gruelling Origin schedule?

JUDICIARY WATCH: Dragons – Leeson Ah Mau (high tackle), Jason Nightingale (tripping); Cowboys – Jake Granville (dangerous throw).

CASUALTY WARD: Broncos – Andrew McCullough (hamstring); Dragons – Josh Dugan (elbow); Raiders – Edrick Lee (hamstring); Bulldogs – Tyrone Phillips (shin).

UNDER PRESSURE: The Broncos’ halves. One week after Brisbane five-eighth Anthony Milford fluffed a field goal sitter in a derby epic against the Cowboys, halfback Ben Hunt sprayed an easy shot in the clutch that would have sent their clash against the Wests Tigers into overtime. Their next test is against the Warriors on Saturday.

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