Upsets galore in round 13 of the NRL season

Jasper Bruce |

Scott Drinkwater was instrumental in the Cowboys’ third straight win, over the Roosters.
Scott Drinkwater was instrumental in the Cowboys’ third straight win, over the Roosters.


PLAYER OF THE ROUND: Scott Drinkwater proved the difference as North Queensland ambushed the Sydney Roosters for their gutsiest win of 2024. The Cowboys fullback set up a try, scored one of his own and kicked the winning conversion to seal an 18-16 boilover. The win was the third straight for the hot-and-cold Cowboys.

QUOTE OF THE ROUND: When journalists told Shane Flanagan they wanted to know what he told St George Illawarra at half-time against Penrith, his answer was comically terse: “No you don’t. It wasn’t pretty”. The coach delivered a spray for the ages that inspired the Dragons to run in 22 unanswered points for a 22-10 upset defeat of Penrith.

TALKING POINT: Who’s going to make the best of the State of Origin period? The next six weeks has the capacity to make or break teams in a season as close as 2024, with usually-resilient Penrith already slipping at the first hurdle by losing to the Dragons. Without Matt Burton and Stephen Crichton, Canterbury impressed in a 32-2 win over Newcastle, who missed a chance to capitalise on avoiding the loss of any troops to Origin. North Queensland, meanwhile, eked out a tight win over the Sydney Roosters in a match that missed 11 players to Origin duty.

MAGIC MOMENT: The 34-year-old Canberra fullback Jordan Rapana – the NRL’s sixth-oldest active player – drilled the match-winning field goal from 33 metres with three minutes left in a golden-point period dominated by the Dolphins. Rapana came into Saturday’s game without an NRL field goal to his name, but left with two to seal a 26-25 win at Kayo Stadium.

STAT THAT MATTERS: The Knights’ Origin period struggles continued with the 32-2 loss to Canterbury. Since the competition went to 16 teams in 2007, the Knights have won only seven of 25 games in rounds with players away on Origin duty – the worst record of any team for that span.

CASUALTY WARD: Panthers – Dylan Edwards (quadriceps), Moses Leota (hamstring); Dolphins – Jesse Bromwich (rib); Bulldogs – Josh Addo-Carr (hamstring); Knights – Daniel Saifiti (knee); Roosters – Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (hamstring)

JUDICIARY WATCH: Roosters – Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (high tackle), Sam Walker (dangerous contact); Cowboys – Heilum Luki (dangerous throw), Jake Clifford (high tackle)

UNDER PRESSURE: It’s not panic stations just yet, but Cronulla have dropped back-to-back games after winning nine of their first 10. NSW representatives Nicho Hynes and Cam McInnes missed Thursday night’s loss to Parramatta but coach Craig Fitzgibbon was nevertheless scathing of his side’s energy and focus after the loss, which pushed the Sharks from the top of the ladder.