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NRL: Five things we learnt from Round 16

There were just five games played in round 16 of the NRL but there was still plenty of excitement and talking points.

The round got underway in scintillating fashion as the Cowboys edged out the Penrith Panthers in a golden-point thriller on Friday night.

Then on Saturday the Roosters beat the Knights in another thriller, while Parramatta and Melbourne Storm picked up convincing wins over Manly and Wests Tigers respectively.

On Sunday, Cronulla Sharks wrapped up the round in style when smashing the Bulldogs.

But what else did we learn from a gripping week of action?

Hunt wants out of Dragons

Not directly related to matters on the pitch this weekend as the Dragons were not even playing, but Ben Hunt wanting to leave the Red V is huge news.

Speculation over the playmaker’s future has been rumbling on ever since the departure of coach Anthony Griffin, who he respected massively.

Now it has been revealed that Hunt and his management have requested an ‘immediate’ release from his contract so he can get fixed up with another NRL club asap.

Incoming Dragons coach Shane Flanagan will be desperate to keep hold and may knock back the request.

The Gold Coast Titans are said to be the early favourites to sign him.

Roosters back in the mix

The Sydney Roosters pulled off an important win when edging out Newcastle Knights by just one point, relieving some of the internal pressure.

It is the second one-point victory in three weeks and is just what the doctor ordered following a heavy defeat to Penrith the week before.

Despite all the talk of their season being in turmoil, the Roosters sit ninth on the ladder and are just four points off the top.

The Roosters are priced at 21.00 to win the grand final.

Ladder remains tighter than ever

It is amazing to see that just six points separate the North Queensland Cowboys down in 13th and Penrith Panthers who sit top.

The Cowboys beat the Panthers in the opening game of the round, which again shows anybody can beat anybody on any given day.

It makes for a very exciting competition. The battle to win the premiership, finish in the top four and make the eight to play finals is set to go right to the wire.

Penrith are priced at 3.50 to win the grand final.

Bulldogs defence not ‘NRL Standard’

Former Bulldogs star Sonny Bill Williams was highly critical of the team’s defence after they suffered a heavy 48-10 defeat against Cronulla Sharks on Sunday.

Williams said the defensive effort was not good enough and not ‘NRL Standard’ as they conceded a number of tries from the middle of the field.

It came after another heavy loss to Parramatta the week before, but there was no improvement.

The Bulldogs have a bye next week and new coach Cameron Ciraldo has plenty of work to do.

Hynes made of strong stuff

Nicho Hynes showed what he is made of after bouncing back from State of Origin disappointment to star in the convincing win over the Bulldogs.

Hynes has been axed from the New South Wales squad but bounced back well and was involved in two tries during the 48-10 win.

Speaking after the game, Hynes says he is ignoring the talk regarding his axing and is staying focused on what he can control, and he did just that on Sunday afternoon.

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