Hits and Misses: De Belin leaves his Dragons short and scrambling

This week we take a look at the way Jack De Belin brings down players who are tackled, but not held; consider what was a very strange week for Joe Ofahengaue; relive some incredible try-saving defence; and ponder another disappointing performance from the Warriors.

Read on as we take a look back at some of the biggest hits and misses of the weekend.


De Belin leaves his Dragons short and scrambling

Whether it is through concern about being knocked out or being found guilty of a hip drop tackle, we are seeing a lot of two-man, high, grappling tackles in the NRL lately. The player with the ball is often able to steal ten or more extra metres as the referees refuse to call held, as movement continues. Often the only way to stop these mini rugby mauls is for a third defender to come in around the legs.

Dragons forward Jack De Belin specialises in this method of grounding an attacking player, but on Thursday night he got it wrong. The referee pulled him up for a torpedo tackle against the Dolphins and he was sent to the sin bin for ten crucial minutes. The Dolphins were leading 12-6 at the time and enjoyed six sets of possession in a row, scoring one try, but more importantly running all of the steam out of the Dragons players.

The Dragons stayed in the game as long as they could, but fatigue eventually won out and the Dolphins scored the only second-half try to secure the points 26-12. On his return from the sin bin De Belin continued to make his third man in tackles, only with less impact and more care taken. After the game he was surprised that he was binned.

"To be honest it happened pretty quickly... I don't think I went in too hard or too low with bad intent so I was pretty shocked in all honesty to be sin binned," De Belin said.

"It's disappointing on my end, you don't want to leave the team with 12 men."

De Belin was later charged with a Grade 1 offence and faces a $1,800 fine with an early guilty plea or $2,500 if he unsuccessfully contests the charge.


Brown's incredible tackle keeps Eels in the game

You won't see a better try-saving tackle than the one from Dylan Brown with 10 minutes remaining in the first half against the Cowboys. Chad Townsend found himself in the clear 15 metres out from the Eels line and looked set to score next to the goal posts.

Brown, who was beaten by an inside pass back in the defensive line, turned, sprinted back and as Townsend was ready to celebrate, he cut him down with a perfect legs tackle. He hit Townsend on an angle and with such force it stopped the Cowboys half dead, a couple of metres short of the line.

Brown would go on to make several other crucial tackles, including a couple of big one-on-one hits in the second half on bigger players. His technique is up there with the best defenders in the league.


Ofahengaue takes on the Cowboys, twice in one week

What a week it was for forward Joe Ofahengaue. Last Saturday night he was wearing black, gold and white at a packed Leichhardt Oval, as his Wests Tigers piled on a record 66 points in crushing the Cowboys. He even managed to cross for a try during the drubbing. Thanks to a mid-week trade he found himself wearing the blue and gold of the Parramatta Eels exactly one week later at a half empty CommBank Stadium, taking on the Cowboys once more.

Unfortunately for Ofahengaue his debut for Parramatta lasted just ten minutes as he limped from the field and straight into the sheds with a calf strain. The Eels managed to outlast the stubborn Cowboys to take the two points, as Ofahengaue was sent for scans to assess the full extent of the injury.


Olakau'atu saves Sea Eagles from thrashing

If Dylan Brown's tackle was impressive, so too was Haumole Olakau'atu's effort to turtle a rampaging Bradman Best in Newcastle on Sunday. Best was in the clear and heading for the turf of the in-goal area before he was hit from the side, with Olakau'atu grabbing the ball and arm cradling it, while rolling Best on his back.

Not five minutes later, the Manly backrower was pulling Lachlan Fitzgibbon down short of the line as well. Fitzgibbon was found to have advanced his arm in the tackle and was penalised for a double movement.

Olakau'atu wasn't finished with his first-half try-saving efforts either. He also raced back to diffuse a chip kick which was destined for the arms of Jackson Hastings in the in-goal area .


Raiders forwards put in Origin-quality performance

The Raiders field one of the league's better packs, and it was never more evident than on Saturday night against the Rabbitohs. Josh Papalii and Corey Horsburgh could have been lining up for Queensland next Wednesday, only Papalii retired from representative football and Horsburgh was overlooked after an ordinary performance last week. Between them they put on a first-half performance that would have given the Blues trouble, let alone the depleted Rabbitohs.

Papalli notched up 146 metres before halftime, with charge after bullocking charge up the middle of the Rabbitohs defence. Horsburgh scored a try with some deft footwork and was dragged down metres short after a similar run, before the ball was spread left for another Raiders try. He also helped gain a Rabbitohs goal-line drop out with a driving tackle.

Between them they lay the ground work for what would be a solid Raiders victory.


Warriors fight back but ultimately disappoint restless Napier crowd

The Warriors had a great opportunity to silence the doubters and move closer to cementing a place in the Top 8 when they took on an Origin-depleted Brisbane in front of a packed McLean Park in Napier.

With ten minutes to go and the Broncos up 20-10, the game was interrupted by several pitch invasions in quick succession. There was another stoppage five minutes later as another local decided to run out onto the field. The Broncos scored a try to take a 26-10 lead shortly after the first interruption, before the Warriors found some late fight to take the score to 26-22 with minutes remaining.

The Warriors weren't done, with a try that would have levelled the scores, sending the crowd wild. Unfortunately for the Warriors, replays showed Adam Pompey had pulled the jersey of Dean Mariner as he turned to tackle Carlos Montoya. The tug of the jersey caused Mariner to stop, throwing his arms in the air. It was unnecessary and there was absolutely no way Pompey was going to get away with it. It pretty much summed up a disappointing afternoon for the Warriors.


Croker shocks Wighton with selective pass

Jack Wighton sent Jarrod Croker away on halfway with a beautiful flat cutout pass. He chased in support and as Croker expertly drew the fullback, Wighton was screaming for the ball on the inside.

Croker threw his pass, but it was a metre behind Wighton and hit interchange hooker Tom Starling on the chest. Starling outpaced the pursuing Rabbitohs to put the Raiders back in front. Wighton was left arms outstretched wondering why he was denied a certain try by his veteran teammate.

Closer examination of the play showed that Wighton was level with Croker and as he positioned himself to throw the pass, he would have been worried about throwing it forward to Wighton. The fact that his perfectly thrown pass to Starling was a metre behind Wighton suggests it was a legitimate concern.