‘Your Edge’ is back for Round 3 of the 2022 NRL season. This week we’re counting points on our fingers, checking in on two underperforming superstars, previewing the Queensland Derby, and highlighting the best value plays of the weekend.
Points At A Premium
Points are proving hard to come by in the NRL to start this season.
No team cracked 30 points in Round 2. Of the 16 games played so far in 2022, 15 have finished Under the points total. The rolling back of a portion of the six-again rule appears to be having an impact on the ability of struggling sides to keep within touching distance of those on top in a contest.
Teams haven’t been blown out quite so often to start the year. Instead, they’re seeing some reward for getting into the grind of a game. After a year of too much one-way traffic and one-sided contests, games are moving in ebbs and flows with changes in momentum clear throughout the 80 minutes.
The latest changes have removed a few tries, but to most, have made the competition more engaging overall. No game this week has a points total over 40 at the time of writing.
Following Up An Outlier NRL Season
Given what we’ve seen so far this season and the lack of points highlighted above, it’s looking more and more likely that the 2021 NRL season will be an outlier for attacking numbers.
Nobody is breaking the line 39 times as Alex Johnston did last season. He won’t beat his mark of 30 tries this year either.
His teammate Cody Walker is without a try assist through two games after handing out 33 in 2021.
Reuben Garrick broke the record for most points in a regular NRL season while becoming the first player to score 20+ tries and kick 100 goals.
David Fifita became the 5th forward in NRL history to score 15 tries in a season and finished up with 17 – the most since Steve Menzies scored 20 tries in 1998.
The list of records from last season goes on and on. However, we’re already seeing the overreaction to an outlier 2021 with two of the biggest names in the game under fire to start 2022.
Tom Trbojevic is already being called a one-season wonder after his slow start. He certainly made the most of one season to be head and shoulders above the rest of the competition when it came to combined tries, try assists, line breaks and linebreak assists, however, he is not a one-season wonder. His Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles are navigating a tough part of the draw to start with games against the Panthers (L 28-6) and Roosters (L 26-12) but the expectation is for them to do as they did last season and pick up their points against teams outside the top four.
Up against the Bulldogs this week, it will come as no surprise to see Trbojevic add a few counting stats to his 2022 tally.
Cody Walker doesn’t look far away from opening his account either. He’s without a try assist and his South Sydney Rabbitohs have only scored 18 points in two weeks. The left edge bombed a few chances last week, though. The Rabbitohs finished up with 19 errors on the night, too many coming down the left side of the field in positions they would have ended up with points last season.
Trbojevic and Walker have been disappointing to start the year but their class will show in the end. If they get anywhere near their numbers from 2021 by Round 25, they’ll have played out another incredible season.
Queensland Derby Preview
It doesn’t get much better in the NRL regular season than a classic Queensland Derby between the Brisbane Broncos and North Queensland Cowboys. One of the two annual fixtures is typically in the conversation for Game of the Season by the end of it. Fittingly, the two sides come into this one in somewhat decent form – something we’ve rarely been able to say about either side at all over the last three years let alone both at the same time.
The Broncos are 2-0 following their 16-10 win over the Bulldogs in Round 2. While the attack still has a lot of work to do, Kevin Walters must be happy with the defence. The Bulldogs played with 59% possession and finished with 523 more running metres than the Broncos but were held to just ten points. Despite defending 34 tackles inside their own 20-metre line and spending almost 13 fewer minutes with the ball throughout the match, the Broncos defence held on to the very end.
It looks as though they’re in for another tough night in defence this week, too.
While the Cowboys haven’t looked like world-beaters and Jason Taumalolo is running for only 148 metres per game, they’re towards the top of the all-important net running metres list. As we noted before Round 1, the Rabbitohs (Grand Finalists), Storm (Minor Premiers) and Panthers (Premiers) finished in the top three in net running metres last season.
There is more of an arm-wrestle to rugby league right now and that is always a prominent feature of the best Queensland Derby’s. If the Cowboys continue to dominate yardage and the Broncos remain up to the task defensively, this will be a beauty.
NRL Round 3 Value Plays
Dominic Young has been in fine form to start the 2022 NRL season and is an appealing option for the Try Scorer Value Finder this week. Dane Gagai has had a significant influence on the Knights right-side attack while Jake Clifford has picked up a maximum six Dally M points playing on that side to start the year. It’s a go-to area for the Knights in attack and they’re sure to test the unproven Taylan May opposite him on Saturday.
Siosifa Talakai’s inclusion in the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks starting side carries exciting potential given the shapes Teig Wilton found himself in last week. The Sharks like to attack down the left edge and Talakai presents as a strong short-ball option for Nicho Hynes or Matt Moylan. Towards the top of the Draftstars NRL Stat Bible and projected to score 40 points at $10,000, Talakai is the pick for Thursday night footy. Later in the week, Kurt Mann sticks out playing in a slightly weakened Knights pack that needs to find David Klemmer’s 150 running metres from somewhere.