Corey Horsburgh lost eight kilos while sidelined for a month due to pneumonia — but that didn’t hold him back in his return game for the Raiders.
Meanwhile, Te Maire Martin’s Queensland Cup performance has him right in the frame for an NRL recall and the Rabbitohs have a mini Cameron Murray coming through the ranks. His name is Tallis Duncan and is set for a very bright future.
An overlooked Panthers playmaker proved to Ivan Cleary that he should be considered to replace Nathan Cleary or Jaroma Luai, while a few key players returned from injury.
Read on for the latest Reserve Grade Wrap.
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ALL EYES WERE ON
Fiery Raiders forward Corey Horsburgh returned to the field via New South Wales Cup after a month on the sidelines with pneumonia.
Horsburgh was unstoppable on both sides of the ball in his 76 minutes on the field. The 24-year-old finished with a try assist, a linebreak assist, five tackle busts, five offloads and 199 running metres, while also making 43 tackles with three misses.
What makes his performance even more impressive is the fact he lost eight kilos while ill!
Horsburgh’s Raiders teammate Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad was also impressive with 214 running metres, two linebreak assists, five tackle busts and three offloads… but it wasn’t enough to get the win against the Rabbitohs with Josh Mansour and Richie Kennar’s booming right-side combination stealing the show.
The pair both finished with 176 running metres, while Mansour also had an impressive nine tackle busts.
Broncos fullback Te Maire Martin returned from a rib injury via Wynnum Manly in Queensland Cup and showed exactly why he’s set to be recalled into the NRL side this week. Martin scored a try, set up another, got two linebreaks, two linebreak assist and ran for 155 metres, although he did miss five tackles.
Still on the Broncos, Cory Paix featured for Souths Logan after being overlooked by Kevin Walters. Paix played 70 minutes at hooker, finishing with 52 running metres, a tackle bust and 32 tackles with two misses.
Panthers back Charlie Staines was originally named on the bench for NRL but lost his spot to debutant Sunia Turuva. Staines didn’t go back to reserve grade kicking stones though — instead he set up two tries and notched up 282 running metres, two linebreaks and two linebreak assists at centre.
And Dragons fans can breathe easy knowing back-up half Jayden Sullivan got through 80 minutes in his return from a shoulder injury. Sullivan ran for 60 metres, had two offloads and made 11 tackles with four misses in the Dragons’ 32-10 loss to Newtown Jets.
Meanwhile, Jackson Ford put his hand up to be the suspended Tariq Sims’ replacement for the final four games of the season with 205 running metres, six tackle busts, an offload and 29 tackles with two misses.
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There’s a young Rabbitoh that fans should keep a close eye — Tallis Duncan — consider him Cameron Murray junior.
Duncan started the season playing lock in South Sydney’s Jersey Flegg side, but has nailed down a spot on the bench in NSW Cup.
The 19-year-old, who was the Rabbitohs’ SG Ball Player of the Year in 2021, signed on a long-term deal in June which will keep at the club until the end of 2025.
In the 37 minutes Duncan was on the field on Saturday, he scored a try, got a linebreak and four tackle busts, while also running for 122 metres. He made 19 tackles — one forcing an error — but missed four.
That performance came after he spent a few days in camp with the NRL squad up on the Sunshine Coast — a clear sign that the club has high hopes for him.
Shaq Mitchell was also dominant in the Bunnies’ win over the Raiders, finishing with 130 running metres, two tackle busts and 22 tackles with two misses, while his ball-playing skills were also on show. Coach Dane Dorahy believes Mitchell is his most improved player this season and he is the first name he puts on the team list each week.
Panthers playmaker Kurt Falls was overlooked in favour of Jaeman Salmon last week and he sent coach Ivan Cleary a clear message that he’s ready should he be needed. Falls set up FOUR tries in Penrith’s 56-6 win over the Magpies, got a linebreak, two linebreak assists and ran for 147 metres, while also making 26 tackles with just one miss.
Meanwhile, crafty hooker Soni Luke set up two tries, got three linebreak assists and ran for 100 metres, while also making 27 tackles with two misses.
North Sydney’s Tom Carr bagged a hat-trick in their important win over the Bulldogs to climb to just one try by competition leader Izaac Thompson — who made his NRL debut last week.
Up and coming Roosters playmaker Sandon Smith also had a good game, scoring a try, setting up two more, getting a linebreak and two linebreak assist.
And a special mention goes to Bears second-rower Jacob Preston who pounced on a Bulldogs error and ran 90 metres to score.
On the other side of the ball, Bulldogs young gun Paul Alamoti was a hand full in his return from a facial fracture suffered in the under 19s Origin clash. Alamoti scored in the first two minutes and finished with a linebreak, seven tackle busts and 194 metres.
Fullback Creedence Toia was also busy with two try assists, two linebreak assists, three tackle busts and 143 running metres.
Blacktown Workers went down to the Eels but you can’t fault prop Kurt De Luis’ effort — 183 running metres and 40 tackles with zero misses — just another day in the office for the 26-year-old.
Eels utility Hayze Perham showed his worth at fullback, scoring a try, setting up two more, getting a linebreak, two linebreak assists and running for 121 metres.
Northern Pride winger Robert Derby proved to be a handful in his side’s 22-10 win over Townsville, notching up 237 metres — 83 post-contact — as well as a linebreak and 10 tackle busts.
Halfback Jack Ahearn had the ball on a string in Norths Devils’ 30-14 win over Souths Logan, setting up three tries, getting two linebreaks and two linebreak assists.
Triston Sailor was busy at fullback for Souths Logan though with two try assists, two linebreak assists, seven tackle busts and 179 metres, while prop Logan Bayliss got in on the action too with a try assist, a linebreak assist, two tackle busts and 142 running metres.
Warriors duo Rocco Berry and Adam Pompey were standouts in the Dolphins’ 28-18 win over Wynnum Manly. Berry scored a try, set up two more, got two linebreaks, three linebreak assists and ran for 137 metres, while also making 23 tackles with zero misses, while Pompey scored, got three linebreaks, eight tackle busts and ran for 197 metres.
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With Kade Dykes and Locky Miller promoted to NRL, Kayal Iro filled in at fullback. Iro, who is mainly a centre that can also play in the second row, notched up 145 metres and nine tackle busts.
Super-reliable Bears fullback Josh Bergamin made his return from a knee injury which sidelined him for eight weeks.
Raiders prop Ata Mariota made his NRL debut on Saturday after featuring in the NSW Cup game. Mariota was the replacement player for first grade and was activated at half time after James Fisher-Harris was sin-binned for a high shot on Ryan Sutton, who failed his HIA.
It’s a pretty wild story given Mariota wasn’t even meant to be the replacement player — Semi Valemei was until he suffered a rib injury while playing NSW Cup earlier.