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NRL: Dolphins pull off huge upset

The NRL is up and running and if week one is anything to go by fans of rugby league are in for an outstanding 2023 campaign.

Right from the very first game we were treated to a thriller between the Parramatta Eels and Melbourne Storm with the latter winning on golden point.

The excitement rolled into Friday with Brisbane Broncos winning away at Penrith, while in the other game that night the Warriors beat the Knights. We were treated to another thriller on Saturday as the Raiders came back from 18-0 down to level matters with the Cowboys, only for North Queensland to then nick the game 19-18.

There was also a big win for South Sydney away at the Sharks, while Manly Sea Eagles got the season off to a fine start with a convincing win over the Bulldogs. Just when you thought it could not get any better the Dolphins pulled off one of the biggest shocks in NRL history when seeing off the Sydney Roosters on Sunday.

Later in the day the Wests Tigers continued where they left off last season when losing to the Gold Coast Titans. It was a superb opening weekend, but what were the main takeaways?

The Dolphins could be the real deal

No-one gave Wayne Bennett’s side a chance against the Roosters leading into their inaugural NRL game. Everyone should have known better. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but Bennett has a history of getting the very best out of his sides and pulling off big upsets against all odds.

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And he did it again here. The Dolphins had stars all over the pitch but it was Felise Kaufusi who was the stand-out performer and two big hits on Brandon Smith and Egan Butcher helped set up the win. Sydney Roosters looked rattled and there was only one side in the game in the second half.

Now the big question is, was this a one off? Or can the Dolphins build on this result and fly high in the season ahead? They are priced at 4.50 to make the top eight and next up is a showdown with the Canberra Raiders on Saturday.

They can be backed at 2.90 to pick up another win with the Raiders priced at 1.42.

Panthers concerns

Penrith Panthers needed to get off to a winning start to help wash away the disappointment of the World Club Challenge defeat to St Helens. Instead they suffered another loss on their home patch as the Brisbane Broncos picked up a 13-12 victory.

Even more worrying for the Panthers is the fact that scoreline flattered them and the Broncos were far more in control than 13-12 suggests. It is still very early days and after losing a couple of big players in the off-season it is going to take a bit of time for new combinations to gel.

However the sight of Jarome Luai and Jaeman Salmon arguing after the game was not a good look and possibly a sign that all is not well. Next up is a huge game against South Sydney at BlueBet Stadium with Penrith priced at 1.52 to win.

Bulldogs fall at first hurdle

There are plenty of eyes on the Bulldogs this season following the arrival of new coach Cameron Ciraldo and more marquee signings including Reed Mahoney and Viliame Kikau. However they could not have got off to a much worse start when going down 31-6 away at Manly Sea Eagles.

In fairness the Sea Eagles were very impressive but the Bulldogs were poor and Ciraldo has already had to give his players a stern dressing down. Ciraldo was far from happy with some of the errors made by his side, labelling them as unacceptable. 

The new coach said such errors cannot be made in the future, but on the positive side of things he accepts they are side with a lot of new players and do need time.

Fans not Api as Koroisau is left out

Tigers coach Tim Sheens has come in for heavy criticism for starting new star recruit Api Koroisau on the bench as his side lost at home to the Titans on Sunday. Koroisau, who has just arrived from the Panthers, is arguably the best No.9 in the NRL, so it is hard to fathom why he did not start.

Sheens said after the game that Koroisau is not fully ready fitness wise, but still many believe he should have been in from the start. Next up for the Tigers is another huge home game against the Knights and surely the State of Origin ace will be in from the start.

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