The NRL is under pressure for referees to offer greater protection for playmakers after North Queensland’s Johnathan Thurston was left battered and bruised by Newcastle.
Cowboys coach Paul Green was forced to bite his lip after Thurston was poleaxed by Knights enforced Beau Scott in the visitors’ 16-14 win in Townsville on Saturday night.
Scott was put on report when he hit Thurston without the ball in the first half before tipping the Queensland and Australian five-eighth on his head in a tackle.
The Cowboys say they will seek answers from the NRL, while Newcastle legend Andrew Johns said the “bashing” of Thurston was one of the biggest problems facing the game.
“There’s about 10 guys in the competition who do this continually every week,” Johns said on the Sunday Footy Show on the Nine Network.
“The ball player goes to the line and passes and they wait for a second or two, probably a second … when they relax and they hit them in the kidneys and they hit them in the ribs when they’re not expecting it.
“It’s a cheap shot as far as I’m concerned.”
Reigning champions South Sydney firmed as premiership favourites when they came from behind to defeat arch-rivals the Sydney Roosters 34-26 in a blockbuster that lived up to the hype at ANZ Stadium.
The Rabbitohs hit the front with 11 minutes to go after Joel Reddy scored before Issac Luke capped a great performance with a four-pointer.
It was a seesawing encounter, with Souths grabbing an early lead before Sydney Roosters put on three tries, while Rabbitohs halfback Adam Reynolds was up the tunnel being tested for a concussion, only for the premiers to come home stronger.
Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire paid tribute to the character of his side as they battled back after conceding 22 unanswered points to maintain their strong start to the season.
“The fight in the boys was definitely shown,” Maguire said. “It was needed today. The boys were able to dig deep and find something towards the end.”
New Zealand recorded their first win of the year with a 18-6 win over Canberra at GIO Stadium thanks to a three-minute scoring spurt to start the second half.
After Paul Vaughan knocked on from the restart, the Warriors put on tries through Solomon Kata and Ryan Hoffman in quick succession and never gave up the lead.
Daly Cherry-Evans erased doubts about his commitment to Manly when he blew Melbourne off the park in an eight-minute burst just before halftime, laying on three tries in his side’s 24-22 win.
The Queensland and Test playmaker, who’ll play for the Gold Coast next season, starred as Manly provided an emphatic reply to suggestions they were a spent force.
Penrith fullback Matt Moylan gave NSW coach Laurie Daley food for thought in a starring display in the Panthers’ 40-0 win over Gold Coast in Bathurst on Saturday.
Moylan set up three tries as he put his hand up to inherit Jarryd Hayne’s No.1 Blues jersey while Jamal Idris returned to his blockbusting best with three tries.
There were further woes for Parramatta, with Semi Radradra (knee), Chris Sandow (ankle), Beau Champion (knee), Anthony Watmough (knee), Tepai Moeroa (shoulder) injured in the Eels’ 32-12 loss to Canterbury.
Radradra is expected to be out for a month after damaging his medial ligament, while Champion could be out for the season with an ACL problem.
The pressure on Cronulla five-eighth Ben Barba intensified after the Sharks failed to score a try in their 10-2 loss to Brisbane on Friday.