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NRL: Five things we learnt from Round 13

There were only five NRL games in round 13, but that did not make for a shortage of excitement as they all proved to be close and exciting encounters.

With game one of State of Origin taking place on Wednesday night, it was a reduced schedule with the Panthers, Roosters, Titans, Sharks, Storm, Tigers and Bulldogs sitting it out. 

However, all rugby league fans were still in for a treat as there was not much to separate the other 10 teams in action. 

The Dolphins kicked off with the most convincing win of the round when beating the Dragons 26-12, then on Friday night Parramatta Eels beat North Queensland Cowboys 24-16. 

There were two games on Saturday, with Brisbane Broncos edging out New Zealand Warriors 26-22, while South Sydney Rabbitohs were beaten 33-26 on home soil by Canberra Raiders. 

Then to wrap up the round on Sunday, Newcastle Knights won another close one when beating Manly Sea Eagles 28-18. But what did we learn from round 13?

Ponga made of tough stuff 

It has been a difficult 12 months for Kalyn Ponga, who has suffered four concussions, but the Newcastle Knights star showed he is made of tough stuff during the win over Manly Sea Eagles on Sunday. 

Ponga was overlooked for the Queensland State of Origin side, with the Maroons opting to go with Broncos star Reece Walsh instead. 

He had a point to prove and did just that when surviving three head knocks against the Sea Eagles, before helping guide his team to a crucial 10-point win. 

Ponga was back at fullback and excelled, giving Maroons coach Billy Slater plenty of food for thought.

Schuster tipped for the top 

The Sea Eagles put in a brave performance against the Knights, despite being without three of their star players. 

Tom Trbojevic and Daly Cherry-Evans were both on Origin duty, while Jake Trbojevic was missing through injury. 

However, one shining light for them was the performance of youngster Josh Schuster, who is destined to reach the very top. 

Former player, turned commentator, Michael Ennis says it is only a matter of time before Schuster is playing State of Origin footy.

Raiders bounce back in style 

Canberra Raiders once again showed they have what it takes to make finals this season as they beat the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Saturday. 

The Raiders saw their recent winning streak snapped when they were smashed 42-14 by the Manly Sea Eagles last week, but bounced back in fine style against the Bunnies. 

Winger Albert Hopoate was one of the stars of the show when scoring a hat-trick, and the Raiders are looking good this season. The Raiders are priced at 10.00 to make the Grand Final this season. 

Reynolds key for the Broncos 

Adam Reynolds showed his worth to the Broncos when starring in the narrow victory over the New Zealand Warriors on Saturday. 

The Broncos have a side full of quality, but they are not the same side when Reynolds is missing, as he was in the recent defeats against the Storm and Panthers. 

Despite missing their State of Origin stars, Brisbane still picked up the win and that was partly down to the fact Reynolds was back in the side following injury. 

The Broncos will now be praying he stays fit for the rest of the season. They are priced at 8.00 to win the Premiership. 

Dolphins continue to shine 

The Dolphins continue to show they are right in the mix for the top eight and will not be going anywhere soon. 

Wayne Bennett’s side picked up their seventh win from 12 games when seeing off the Dragons in Redcliffe on Thursday night. 

They sit sixth on the ladder, and although it is very tight, the Dolphins will be there or thereabouts come the business end. They are priced at 13.00 to make the Grand Final.  

We also learnt that the Dolphins have the full support of the town. Dolphin Stadium was sold out and that is also the case for the next few rounds.

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