NRL Round 4 Recap: Panthers Shine, Bunker Controversy, Raiders Blow It

NRL Round 4 Recap: Panthers Shine, Bunker Controversy, Raiders Blow It

Round four of the NRL saw plenty of action with eight games taking place across Easter weekend.  

Defending champions Penrith Panthers delivered a statement victory without star playmaker Nathan Cleary, while Roger Tuivasa-Sheck stood up for the New Zealand Warriors.  The Titans, however, remained winless after three outings, while a dodgy Bunker call stole the headlines in the Sharks vs. Raiders game, and a costly penalty miss led to another Eels defeat.  

We dissect the biggest talking points of NRL round four and highlight the good, the bad, and the ugly of last weekend’s NRL action. 

News Insights

  • Panthers impress without Nathan Cleary, winning 22-16 against the Sydney Roosters
  • Roger Tuivasa-Sheck produces stellar display as Warriors get past Newcastle
  • Gold Coast Titans lose again and remain winless after three matches
  • Raiders squander 18-0 lead against Sharks as controversial Bunker decision flips match

The Good: Tuivasa-Sheck Back to His Best for the Warriors, Panthers Show Depth 

Dally M Medal winner Roger Tuivasa-Sheck returned to the fullback role in the NRL for the first time in three years this week, and did not disappoint. After a stint away from the sport, injuries to Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and Taine Tuaupiki saw RTS back in his familiar position. He racked up 278 meters on 23 runs, with seven tackle busts and two offloads. 

It was just what the doctor had prescribed for the Warriors after they saw Luke Metcalf limping off the pitch 10 minutes after kickoff. Andrew Webster’s men picked up a comfortable 20-12 victory against the visitors and steadied the ship with back-to-back wins after losing their first two of the season. 

Another side who won the fullback battle was the Panthers, as they executed their ninth successive win against Sydney Roosters. Nathan Cleary’s absence did not tip the balance of the tie in Roosters’ favour, as many had predicted. Huge performances by Sunia Turuva and Dylan Edwards showed the squad’s depth as the Panthers got across the line 22-16.  

Surprisingly, the West Tigers also got another win on the weekend, edging the Parramatta Eels in a closely fought 17-16 affair. Benji Marshall and company now have two wins from three under their belts, uncharted territory for Wests in recent years. 

The Bad: Bunker Gets It Wrong in Raiders vs. Sharks, Agonising Penalty Misses 

The Canberra Raiders seemed set for their third win of the season after they stormed to an 18-0 lead against Cronulla Sharks. Referee Liam Kennedy made a few dubious calls that infuriated the Canberra faithful, with the worst when he ruled out a try, questionably accusing Raiders’ skipper Joe Tapine of a knock-on. The Bunker did not overturn the decision, sparking a Sharks resurgence that ultimately cost Canberra the game.  

Eels’ fullback Clint Gutherson also had an outing he won’t reminisce on anytime soon. Gutherson had the opportunity to slot a late penalty and win the tie for Eels, but failed to convert and handed the Tigers their second win of the year. 

The Ugly: Titans Still Winless, Raiders Cave in to Resurgent Sharks  

The Titans made history on Saturday night, even though it’s nothing to be proud of. They became the first team in more than two decades to concede 28 points in eight consecutive matches.  

The Gold Coast outfit had an encouraging start but later surrendered to the visiting side. Dolphins scored 30 unanswered points to condemn the Titans to the bottom of the NRL standings after four rounds. Safe to say that betting sites are favouring them for the wooden spoon this year, with odds of just 2.00 at bookmaker bet365

Canberra, on the other hand, will be blaming poor refereeing decisions for their collapse at PointsBet Stadium on the weekend. While their complaints have merit, it’s inexcusable to throw away such a big lead. No doubt Raiders’ boss Ricky Stuart gave his players an earful following the match and will be desperate to avoid such a scenario in coming games.

NRL round four delivered the usual package of good, bad and ugly. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck impressed, the Panthers were solid despite high-profile absentees, and the Tigers defied their underdog tag to pick up another victory. Gutherson caved and missed a last-minute penalty, while refereeing marred the Raiders vs. Sharks clash. Meanwhile, the Titans showed no sign of improvement as their nightmare start to 2024 continued.