NRL Round 3 Recap: Panthers Make a Statement, Rabbitohs Spiral

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Bren Gray
NRL Round 3 Recap: Panthers Make a Statement, Rabbitohs Spiral

Three rounds into the NRL 2024, and two-time defending champions the Penrith Panthers have made a statement. Contenders the New Zealand Warriors and Sydney Roosters also got good wins. Meanwhile, the Rabbitohs continued to flounder, injuries flowed, and some dodgy tactics emerged. 

We break down all the big talking points from round three of the NRL, looking at the good, the bad and the ugly of the competition’s third round. 

News Insights

  • Panthers defeat Broncos 34-12, Warriors get first win
  • Nathan Cleary, Mitchell Moses out with injury
  • Rabbitohs sink to third consecutive loss
  • Blocking tactics from Panthers come under the microscope

The Good: Panthers Win Big, Warriors and Roosters Build 

If you wondered why betting apps had the Penrith Panthers as heavy favourites to win the NRL 2024 pre-season, then you got your answer over the weekend. With a mouth-watering Grand Final rematch against the Brisbane Broncos on Thursday night, the Panthers sent out a warning shot to the rest of the competition. Their systematic demolition job of the Broncos put them firmly as title favourites, with bookmaker TopSport shortening their odds to just 3.75 now. 

Other contenders also impressed in round three, with the New Zealand Warriors getting on the board after a slow start to the year. Their 18-10 victory over the Canberra Raiders wasn’t exactly impressive, but the monkey is off their back now. The Roosters actually were impressive, thoroughly trouncing the Rabbitohs 48-6 for their second win of 2024. 

Shout out to the Bulldogs and Tigers too, who got their first wins of the year in fine style, racking up 32-0 and 32-6 score lines over the Titans and Sharks respectively. 

The Bad: Injuries Continue, Dodgy Tactics Emerge 

In bad news for the competition, more injuries were suffered by big names over the weekend. While the Panthers initially denied claims that Nathan Cleary had sustained a hamstring injury in their win over the Broncos, news has now emerged that their star pivot is indeed injured. How long he’ll be away from the game is unsure. Considering it’s a reoccurring area of concern, Penrith is likely to be without their scrumhalf for the better part of a month. 

The Parramatta Eels have also taken a big hit, with halfback Mitchell Moses fracturing his foot in the side’s 28-24 win over the Manly Sea Eagles in round three. Moses will be out for at least six weeks as a result, and potentially as much as half a season. The 29-year-old has been at his best so far this year, with the news a blow for the Eels’ title hopes. Bookmaker bet365 has subsequently lengthened their 2024 odds to 26.00 as a result. 

Speaking of halfbacks, the Panthers have come under the microscope for more dodgy tactics when it comes to blocking kicks. On several occasions in their win over the Broncos, Mitch Kenny was seen passing to Cleary for a kick, then drifting across field to block advancing players. Analysts are up in arms, considering a similar tactic was banned last year courtesy of the Panthers exploiting it. 

The Ugly: Rabbitohs Thrashed, Titans Looking Grim  

While the likes of the Panthers, Roosters and Warriors all showed positive signs this round, the same can’t be said for the Rabbitohs and Titans. Both teams are winless, and there’s very little to be gleaned from their performances in round three. 

The Rabbitohs sunk to a 48-6 loss at the hands of the Roosters. With just one try managed in 80 minutes, ugly images have emerged post-match of rival fans brawling in the stands. Not good stuff.  

For the Gold Coast Titans, they’ve only played twice in 2024, but it hasn’t been pretty. The two teams they’d likely have banked on getting a win against coming into the season would have been the St. George-Illawarra Dragons and Canterbury Bulldogs. But alas, they’ve lost both those clashes, most recently getting thrashed 32-0 by the Dogs—about as ugly as it gets.

Round three of the NRL saw plenty of good, some bad, and a bit of ugly as well. The Panthers fired a warning shot, Warriors got on the board and Roosters continued to build. Cleary and Moses got injured, while kick blocking tactics came under the microscope. Meanwhile, both the Rabbitohs and Titans look like they’ll battle in 2024, with a pair of heavy losses over the weekend.