NRL Round 8 Recap: Early Contenders Continue Momentum, Warriors Stumble

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Bren Gray
NRL Round 8 Recap: Early Contenders Continue Momentum, Warriors Stumble

The early contenders in the NRL 2024 title race have continued their momentum in round eight, but not without some unexpected moments on Anzac Day. It’s safe to say not a lot of people foresaw the Warriors falling short to a struggling Titans at the Go Media Stadium on Thursday.  

There were some ruthless thrashings too, as the Roosters demolished the Dragons and the Sharks scored 40 unanswered points against a helpless Raiders unit.  

With round eight of the competition in the rear-view mirror, we take a look at the best and worst of the weekend. Read on as we pick apart the biggest controversies, celebrate the best moments, and reveal the performances that left us scratching our heads

News Insights

  • AJ Brimson steals the show as the Titans sneak past the Warriors.
  • The Cowboys’ injury woes continue.
  • Xavier Coates limps off the pitch after excellent hat-trick against the Rabbitohs.
  • The Sharks show no mercy to the Raiders.

The Good: The Titans Get Going, David Armstrong Makes Stellar Debut 

Des Hasler finally notched his first win as Gold Coast Titans’ head coach, with a gutsy away victory over the New Zealand Warriors on their home turf. The Titans conceded two early tries, setting alarm bells ringing for a long afternoon. 

However, they dug deep and channelled their recent fighting spirit to claw their way back into the game, ultimately outmuscling the Warriors for a crucial win. AJ Brimson was the star man for the Titans, who scored two tries, made two line breaks, five tackle busts, and clocked a whopping 160 metres.  

David Armstrong also had a great weekend for the Knights. The 23-year-old had some pretty big shoes to fill in his debut match against the Dolphins, filling in for the injured Kalyn Ponga. Impressively, he made a dream debut, getting his name on the scoresheet only eight minutes after the kick-off.  

Brian To'o marked his 100th NRL appearance in style, extending his phenomenal scoring streak against the North Queensland Cowboys. Since his debut in 2019, the Panthers winger has scored in every single one of his six appearances against the North Queensland Cowboys, racking up a total of seven tries. 

The Bad: Xavier Coates Suffers Injury, Maiko Sivo Sin Bin, Cowboys Injuries 

The Storms continued their winning run with a 54-20 drubbing of the Rabbitohs, but it came at a significant cost. Xavier Coates, the man of the moment, tore into the game with a first-half hat-trick. However, his night took a nasty turn when he was forced out of the game just before half-time with a hamstring injury. 

Parramatta's Maika Sivo, who earlier bagged a hat-trick as well, went from hero to villain in a flash. In a moment of madness, he twice clattered opponents with forearms to the head, earning himself a yellow card and a stint in the sin bin. This act of indiscipline proved costly, as Manly capitalized on the Eels' temporary disadvantage and cruised to a comfortable 32-18 victory at 4 Pines Park. 

A first-half hamstring strain for Tom Chester during the Cowboys’ match against the Panthers has thrown a spanner into the North Queensland outfit's plans. The Cowboys will now need to find a replacement at right centre, leaving a significant gap to fill in their starting lineup. 

Chester had been plugging the gap left by the season-ending injury to Zac Laybutt. His injury leaves Todd Payten with a shortage of options in the backline for next week's clash with the Dolphins, prompting betting sites to label the latter as favourites for the round nine clash.  

The Ugly: The Raiders Finish Scoreless Against the Sharks 

Ricky Stuart's 500th NRL coaching game turned into a nightmare as the Cronulla Sharks ran riot, securing a resounding 40-0 victory. The Sharks exploited every Raiders weakness on their way to the top of the NRL table, leaving Stuart's milestone match a night to forget for the Canberra faithful. 

The young half-back pairing of Kaeo Weekes and Ethan Strange looked out of their depth, lacking the creativity needed to unlock the Sharks' defence. This defeat sees the Raiders kicked out of the top eight.  

Ricky Stuart has a major job on his hands to salvage the Raiders' season. The Green Machine is clearly feeling the pinch from a string of injuries to key players like Jamal Fogarty, Corey Horsburgh, and Jordan Rapana. 

Titans’ fans finally had something to celebrate this season as the side picked up their first win of NRL 2024 in week eight. No such luck for Storm fans, however, as Xavier Coates’ injury doesn’t bode well, despite their comfortable win. The Raiders, however, were the biggest sufferers of the week, as the Sharks outmuscled them in a one-sided affair.