There were no shortage of storylines and drama to come out of Round 9 as the top four sides this season all continued their winning ways to consolidate their spots on top of the ladder.
South Sydney's win over Wests Tigers on Friday night saw the Rabbitohs climb to sixth, while Canberra dropped down to seventh — a loss compounded by the serious knee injury suffered by inspirational hooker Josh Hodgson.
St. George-Illawarra's big win over a depleted Sea Eagles side saw them rise to 11th while the Broncos eventually ended their six-game losing streak with a comfortable win over the Bulldogs, who are now four points clear in last placed.
VB Hard Earned Effort of the Week: Round 9
Sydney Roosters 42 def. North Queensland Cowboys 16
Injuries: Valentine Holmes (ankle), Jake Friend (concussion), Brett Morris (groin)
Judiciary: No charges.
Up Next: Roosters vs. Raiders (Thursday), Panthers vs. Cowboys (Sunday)
Matt Ikuvalu became the first Roosters player to score five tries in a match since 1955 after receiving a late call-up to replace Brett Morris in the Roosters' big win over North Queensland — moving them in to the top four for the first time this year.
Gold Coast Titans 16 def. New Zealand Warriors 12
Injuries: Keegan Hipgrave (shoulder)
Judiciary: Peta Hiku (monetary fine)
Up Next: Storm vs. Titans (Friday), Warriors vs. Sharks (Sunday)
The Titans ended a 10-game losing streak at Cbus Super Stadium by stunning the Warriors 16-12 courtesy of a late try to rookie Beau Fermor.
The win sees the Gold Coast move four points clear of the Bulldogs on the bottom of the ladder while the Warriors drop down to 13th.
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South Sydney Rabbitohs 18 def. Wests Tigers 10
Injuries: Liam Knight (ankle)
Judiciary: Josh Reynolds (2 weeks), Latrell Mitchell (2 weeks), Mark Nicholls (2 weeks)
Up Next: Wests Tigers vs. Broncos (Friday), Rabbitohs vs. Knights (Saturday)
Latrell Mitchell's Rabbitohs got the goods against a Wests Tigers outfit, but the South Sydney star's triumph may yet cost him dearly after a fiery running battle with Josh Reynolds ended with both players facing two-week suspensions.
South Sydney's win sees them move up to sixth, while Wests Tigers remain in eighth position after other results fell their way over the weekend.
Penrith Panthers 56 def. Cronulla Sharks 24
Injuries: Andrew Fifita (hamstring), Siosifa Talakai (concussion)
Judiciary: Royce Hunt (0 weeks)
Up Next: Panthers vs. Cowboys (Sunday), Warriors vs. Sharks (Sunday)
Charlie Staines stamped himself as the next young star off the Penrith production line after scoring four tries in his NRL debut as the Panthers inflicted the heaviest defeat in John Morris’s coaching tenure at Cronulla.
Brisbane Broncos 26 def. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 8
Injuries: Alex Glenn (knee)
Judiciary: Reimis Smith (1 week)
Up Next: Wests Tigers vs. Broncos (Friday), Dragons vs. Bulldogs (Saturday)
Broncos captain Alex Glenn is set to go for scans on a suspected medial cruciate ligament injury in the only sour point from the side’s much-needed 26-8 win over the Bulldogs at Suncorp Stadium. The Bulldogs are now four points clear in last while the Broncos climb above the Titans on the ladder to now sit in 14th.
Melbourne Storm 20 def. Canberra Raiders 14
Injuries: Josh Hodgson (knee), Bailey Simonsson (shoulder)
Judiciary: No charges.
Up Next: Storm vs. Titans (Friday), Roosters vs. Raiders (Thursday)
Melbourne fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen proved the difference to help the Storm overcome a night of controversy and beat a gallant Raiders outfit 20-14 in frosty conditions at GIO Stadium. Canberra lost hooker Josh Hodgson and winger Bailey Simonnson to serious injuries in the defeat, and have dropped down to seventh.
Parramatta Eels 10 def. Newcastle Knights 4
Injuries: Daniel Saifiti (knee)
Judiciary: No charges.
Up Next: Sea Eagles vs. Eels (Saturday), Rabbitohs vs. Knights (Saturday)
A brilliant performance from hooker Reed Mahoney has helped Parramatta grab back top position on the NRL ladder in a tight 10-4 win over a sloppy and disjointed Newcastle Knights outfit at McDonald Jones Stadium.
St. George-Illawarra Dragons 34 def. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 4
Injuries: No injuries.
Judiciary: Jordan Pereira (1 week)
Up Next: Dragons vs. Bulldogs (Saturday), Sea Eagles vs. Eels (Saturday)
Ben Hunt's return to the starting side and attacking sparks from Matt Dufty and Zac Lomax propelled the Dragons to a 34-4 win over Manly — moving the Dragons up to 11th and just one position behind the injury-depleted Sea Eagles.