Team Of The Week | Round 18
With the Origin stars in camp it was left to some of the less-celebrated players to stand up for their teams in Round 18.
1. Clint Gutherson
The newest cult hero at the Eels was in everything against the Storm, releasing his wingers on long charges on both sides of the field, running for 182 metres himself, busting five tackles and scoring the crucial try late in the game to seal the result.
2. Semi Radradra
Blew the Storm away with three line breaks from his first three carries, the last of which saw his opposite Suliasi Vunivalu sent to the sin bin. Finished the game with 201 run metres, 10 tackle breaks, four line breaks and a try.
3. Peter Mata'utia
Dragged his team back into the contest with some quick-thinking from a quick tap that resulted in a try just before half-time and gave his side what looked like a winning lead with his second late in the game. And then of course the unthinkable happened.
4. Brad Takairangi
The rangy Eels centre can be like trying to contain an octopus at times with his long limbs and he caused the Storm all sorts of headaches on Parramatta's left edge, providing the final pass for Radradra's try.
5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
Scored a controversial try in the first half against Manly and then helped swing momentum his side's way with a 70-metre run from the goal-line that put the Panthers on the attack. Looked to have scored a second try midway through the second half but was denied by a knock-on earlier in the play. Had nine tackle breaks in running for 150 metres.
6. Trent Hodkinson
Let's be honest, he should have taken the shot at penalty goal to potentially take the game into extra time but for the 79 minutes prior Hodkinson had expertly engineered what appeared set to be a spoiler to his good friend Josh Reynolds' final game at Belmore. His pass for Chanel Mata'utia's try was pure class.
7. Mitchell Moses
In his best display for the blue and gold to date Moses laid them on for the likes of Bevan French and Clint Gutherson and scored one himself when he backed up on the inside for French's inch-perfect kick in-field.
8. James Tamou
Set the right tone for his team with a try in the opening three minutes where he pushed past Sea Eagles opposite Martin Taupau to score under the posts. Ran for 155 metres with four tackle breaks and 23 tackles.
9. Jake Friend
With his regular half Mitchell Pearce away on Origin duty Jake Friend added playmaking to his defensive workload, producing the kick and pass for his team's two tries to go with an incredible 61 tackles against the Rabbitohs.
10. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
Like Friend, Waerea-Hargreaves was without his regular back-up due to Origin commitments but revelled in taking it to the South Sydney pack, amassing 217 metres and 31 tackles in a dominant display in the middle.
11. Raymond Faitala-Mariner
Rewarded for recent good performances with a starting position, Faitala-Mariner brought energy and aggression to the Bulldogs pack, playing 70 minutes and making six tackle busts, a line-break assist and 108 metres.
12. Shaun Lane
Starting for the first time in more than 12 months, Lane's giant frame was an imposing presence on Manly's right edge, his one-handed offload to Tom Trbojevic helping to get the Sea Eagles back within four points. Played the entire 80 minutes and made 157 made and 39 tackles to go with his try assist.
13. Nathan Brown
Another 80-minute effort full of power and purpose. His 25 carries yielded 200 run metres to go with 45 tackles and four tackle busts.
14. Moses Mbye
Shifted to hooker prior to kick-off, Mbye managed to showcase his running game from dummy-half but all we will remember from Sunday is his last-minute charge-down and try that gave his good friend Josh Reyolds the Belmore send-off he deserved.
15. Nelson Asofa-Solomona
Fresh from signings a new deal with the Storm Asofa-Solomona thundered into the Eels defence to try and give his side some momentum, racking up 131 metres with seven tackle busts and 28 tackles in 47 minutes of game time.
16. Daniel Saifiti
In another difficult season for Newcastle Saifiti continues to grow in stature, the hulking front-rower making 145 metres from 14 carries along with 20 tackles.
17. Aiden Tolman
Almost fell over in fright when he saw the try-line ahead of him late in the first half – his last try was in Round 12, 2016 – but did the job he is sent out each week to do, playing 80 minutes, making 43 tackles and running for 165 metres.
This article first appeared on NRL.COM