Bankwest carnage claims FIVE as Eels outlast Sharks in brutal Wild West scrap: 3 Big Hits
The Eels have won all three outings this season, the latest a gritty 28-4 win over the Sharks at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday night.
It was a dire day in general as five players in total failed to finish the contest.
Here’s the biggest talking points.Round 3
Watch The 2021 NRL Telstra Premiership Live & On-Demand with No Ad-Breaks During Play. New to Kayo? > Get your 14-day free trial now & start streaming instantly >
MATCH CENTRE: Eels vs Sharks score, stats, video, and more
Sharks help Moses after scary head knock0:31
CARNAGE IN THE WEST
The casualty ward in the western Sydney stadium resembled something out of a wild west flick.
When the players ran out for the second half at Bankwest, four had already been ruled out of the contest through injury.
Wade Graham, Mitchell Moses, Will Kennedy, and Briton Nikora all failed head injury assessments and were not allowed to return.
Sharks winger Sione Katoa injured his knee in an awkward tackle and had to be assisted off the pitch.
In the second half Eels winger Maika Sivo also left the field for a HIA, but luckily passed his.
CASUALTY WARD: Brutal Super Saturday as stars drop like flies
The carnage will add fuel to the debate around introducing a concussion sub in the NRL.
The AFL this season introduced a medical sub, although that has been met with criticism and controversy, and a pure concussion sub makes more sense.
“This is going to open discussions. Is it time for an 18th man?” asked Fox League commentator Andrew Voss.
Injury-hit Sharks go down to Eels1:54
“If you have at least two HIAs do you keep an 18th man on the bench? They’ve now had three players succumb to HIAs here, Canberra had a couple earlier today.
“We talk about player welfare, Canberra had a bloke with a fractured rib in Curtis Scott. If someone [from Cronulla] is injured in this half they’ll have to play on [with 12 men]. We talk about welfare, that is the intention of the HIA.”
Sharks coach John Morris spent the second half sitting on the bench along with his staff, as no fit players were there.
He said he’s never seen such injury carnage in his entire career.
“No, never. In 20 years of my experience as an NRL player and coach never have I seen a team go down to 13 by half time,” he said.
“We didn’t even use one interchange. We had three HIAs and Sione Katoa and then our bench was shot.
“We had front rowers defending as backrowers, backfowers defending as centre. We had eight or nine in different positions than what they started in.Really proud.
“We’re wounded and busted in there but I’m proud.”
MAKESHIFT CENTRE NEEDS PERMANENT GIG
Marata Niukore hasn’t spent a lot of time at centre so far in his NRL career.
But the backrower-turned-backline star is making a case for a full-time gig in the three-quarter line.
He’s been impressive to start the season and was again huge in the Eels victory on Saturday.
Niukore set up an early try for the Eels with an expert flick to his winger Blake Ferguson.
He continued to be damaging with ball and without, laying a number of big hits and threatening to poke through for a try of his own on the right edge.
He racked up 155 run metres including 46 post-contact, four tackle busts, two offloads, a linebreak and 16 tackles.
Waqa Blake, at this rate, won’t be getting his centre spot back any time soon.
GUTHO WILL BE IN THE DALLY RACE AGAIN
Clint Gutherson missed out on the 2020 Dally M Medal by only one vote to winner Jack Wighton.
But the Parramatta captain could go one better in 2021 if he continues the form he’s shown in the opening three rounds of the season.
Last week he was superb in holding a desperate Melbourne out.
Gutherson saved the game by knocking the ball out of Cameron Munster’s hands, and then putting his body on the line to hold the behemoth Nelson Asofa-Solomona up over the tryline.
In Round 3 he was an inspiration when halfback Mitchell Moses was forced out of the game with concussion in the first half.
It was captain Gutherson who took control, keeping his teammates buoyed during a tough second half.
Gutherson ran for 227 metres and had five tackle busts, two offloads, and two linebreaks.
He also took the kicking tee in Moses’ absence and knocked over four of five attempts.
Fox League commentators mused if they were awarding Dally M votes for the game, Gutherson would certainly get the maximum three.