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Ponga ‘madness’ a ‘black mark’ on Knights

Surely the Knights brains trust that moved Kalyn Ponga from fullback to five-eighth needs to have a good hard look at itself.

Ponga is a brilliant player but his career has been plagued by head knocks.

In this new era of concern over concussion and player welfare, shifting a slightly-built player with a history of head knocks from fullback to the front line of defence is madness.

READ MORE: Fears over Ponga’s future after sickening clash

READ MORE: Security called after fiery Hastings confrontation

READ MORE: Knights star facing long ban over ‘unsavoury’ hit

Ponga lasted just one tackle in the Knights’ brave win over the Tigers yesterday and is now at the stage where his immediate future is in doubt.

The incident was the one black mark on one of the Knights’ bravest-ever days.

They also lost hooker Jayden Brailey early on to a head knock and back-rower Tyson Frizell in the second half to a leg injury, had Jacob Saifiti sent off and Dominic Young sin binned yet were always in command in the cauldron at Leichhardt.

Wests Tigers’ attitude problems continue

Tigers players need to have a think about their attitude too – and not just on the field.

For the second straight week, the Tigers were abysmal before their own fans at Leichhardt.

But it was their actions after the game that left a sour taste in my mouth.

Knights half Jackson Hastings went up to apologise to former team-mate Tommy Talau for a high shot early in the game – and got shoved in the chest.

Then as he walked away shaking his head, Tigers prop David Klemmer gave Hastings a verbal spray.

The Tigers need to be much, much better – on the field and in their sportsmanship.

Dogs young gun announces his arrival

Jacob Kiraz looked a fine prospect in his rookie season in 2022 – now he has taken his game to a whole new level.

Kiraz had arguably the best game of his short top grade career in the Bulldogs’ shock 26-12 win over Melbourne, scoring two slashing tries and running for a game high 213 metres.

NRL Highlights: Storm v Bulldogs – Round 2

A long-striding winger who is quick and hard to bring down, the local junior gave the Storm no end of trouble and is poised to score many more tries in coming months.

He’s become an exciting part of the Bulldog revolution that kicked off against the Storm after stalling in round one.

‘Hammer’ continues Dolphins’ NRL ambush

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow is fast becoming one of the NRL’s personality players.

The cheeky fullback bagged two tries in Saturday night’s brave win over Canberra.

Throw in 164 run metres, plenty of sledging of big Raiders forwards and some great takes under pressure and it’s easy to see why the Redcliffe faithful have embraced the speedy fullback after just two games.

The Dolphins are the best story to hit the game in years, becoming only the third expansion club since 1908 to win their opening two games.

The laconic Wayne Bennett masterminded yet another ambush after last week’s stunning upset over the Roosters and the Dolphins thoroughly deserved their 20-14 win.

Roosters unearth unsung hero

The Roosters are renowned as a club that loves to buy big names but a ‘no frills’ player is giving them great value in the early rounds.

Former Souths winger Jaxson Paulo scored the Roosters’ opening two tries in the hard-fought 20-12 defeat of the Warriors on Saturday afternoon – and ran for 160 metres for good measure.

NRL Highlights: Roosters v Warriors – Round 2

Paulo had plenty of work to do to cross the stripe twice and is proving himself to be a good finisher on the flank.

After their shock loss to the Dolphins in round one, the Roosters were far from convincing against the Warriors and only a few touches of class from Joseph Suaalii, Sam Walker and James Tedesco saved them from a second straight loss.

Walsh’s class evident in Broncos debut

The Broncos knew they had a very special player when they brought Reece Walsh back to the fold – but I don’t think even Kevvie Walters expected such a dynamic debut from the pint-sized fullback.

Walsh rockets away on Broncos debut

Walsh was superb in the Broncos’ 28-16 win over the Cowboys, scoring a try and having a hand in several others.

The guy is a genuine match-winner and has the ability to turn a talented Broncos team into a top four contender.

The Sharks’ classic ‘X-factor’

Sharks fullback William Kennedy is set to become one of the NRL’s biggest enigmas.

A wonderful attacking player with heaps of flair, Kennedy also has some mistakes in his game.

The speedy fullback scored three slashing tries and was the difference between the two teams in the Sharks’ exciting 30-26 win over the Eels.

NRL Highlights: Eels v Sharks – Round 2

But the lightly-framed fullback also missed four tackles and made two errors – both at vital stages of the game. Kennedy is classic ‘x-factor’ – he can win games and also lose games but there’s no doubt about one thing – he’s the type of guy who gets bums on seats in the NRL.

Eels’ ‘buy of the year’ contender

We’ve only had two rounds, but J’Maine Hopgood is putting in a strong case to be named the NRL’s buy of year.

Unable to secure a regular top grade spot at Penrith, Hopgood headed to Parramatta, who had lost half their pack over the off season.

The youngster set up two tries in the opening 10 minutes and a third late in the game as the Eels went down to Cronulla.

Hopgood appears to have it all – he can break the line, slip a pass and has a fine turn of speed.

He does have a couple of errors in his game – but many of the very good playmakers do as they try things other players would not dare attempt.

Panthers’ Kikau replacement impresses

Luke Garner has wasted no time in establishing himself in the Panthers pack with a starring role in the club’s first win of the year against Souths on Thursday night.

There were few headlines when Garner switched from the last placed Tigers to first placed Panthers over the summer – but Penrith officials were quietly confident they were on a winner.

NRL Highlights: Panthers v Rabbitohs – Round 2

And it proved spot on in the win over the Bunnies, with Garner collecting more fantasy points than any player on the field.

The tall edge back-rower had a try disallowed, produced a line break and a line-break assist, came up with two offloads and made 30 tackles.

He may not be a Billy Kikau, but he has a big motor, playing 66 minutes, and should only get better as the season unfolds.

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