Oliver Gildart, who will finish the season at the Roosters, was handed a big challenge — playing in the halves for the first time in his career after a 20-minute crash-course — and remarkably he didn’t look out of place at all .
Meanwhile, a gun fullback could help solve some of the Storm’s injury woes and there’s a 194cm, 95kg beast with footwork to boot that is yet to be picked up by an NRL club.
Read on for the latest Reserve Grade Wrap.
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ALL EYES WERE ON…
Oliver Gildart lined up at five-eighth for the Magpies on Saturday and although they were defeated 36-24 by Mounties, he proved his worth as a versatile backline player, before sealing a loan move to the Roosters this week.
Gildart is primarily a center but has had a taste of fullback in the New South Wales Cup and now the halves.
The 25-year-old proved to be one of the Magpies’ most important players and his willingness to take on the line saw him set up two tries, get a linebreak, a linebreak assist, four tackle busts and 158 running meters.
Gildart told Fox League the last time he played in the halves was when he was 11-years old so he got a quick refresher in Friday’s captain’s run.
”I got a 20-minute session yesterday at captain’s run so I was a bit clunky but you get your hands a lot more on the ball so I enjoyed that side of the game… I’ve got a lot to learn in this position that’s for sure,” he said.
Parramatta’s Nathan Brown continues to put pressure on coach Brad Arthur with another standout performance in reserve grade. The 29-year-old NRL veteran set up a try, got a linebreak assist, two tackle busts and ran for 206 metres. He also made 32 tackles with two misses in the Eels’ one-point loss to the Panthers.
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Dane Aukafolau’s performance would have caught the attention of NRL clubs in Mounties’ win over the Magpies.
At 194cm and 95kg, he cuts an imposing figure while playing in the second row but after a history in the centres, Aukafolau has the footwork to catch his opposition off guard.
Aukafolau stunned with a try, a try assist, a linebreak, two linebreak assists and seven tackle busts as well as 17 tackles with two misses.
Mounties are made up of majority part-time players like Aukafolau and he couldn’t be proud of their efforts this season.
“Being one of the senior players I needed to step up so I just try and do what I can,” he told Fox League.
“These boys, day-in, day-out, their efforts are unreal. It’s good to see part-time footballers bringing that contest up to the level of these (full time) guys. It shows a lot.”
Still on Mountains, Tim Simona wound back the clock to show he still has what it takes to play first grade.
Simona scored a double, got four linebreaks, three tackle busts and 169 running meters in the centres.
Penrith escaped with a one-point win in which the craftiness of hooker Soni Luke was on show. The 26-year-old, who got an NRL debut earlier this season, scored a try, set up two more, got a linebreak, four linebreak assists, six tackle busts and 112 running meters.
A couple of Panthers forwards were equally impressive and dominated on both sides of the ball.
The soon-to-be Eel J’maine Hopgood showed his future club what they can look forward to, with a try, two linebreaks, nine tackle busts, four offloads and 214 running meters, while also making 41 tackles with just two misses.
Meanwhile, the highly-regarded Lindsay Smith finished with 227 running meters, five tackle busts and 38 tackles with two misses.
There wasn’t a lot to smile about for Dragons fans over the weekend, but their reserve grade side bagged an important 30-18 win over the Raiders to keep their final hopes alive.
Michael Molo starred in the win, notching up a try assist, a linebreak assist, three tackle busts and 167 meters while also making 34 tackles with just one miss. Meanwhile, jackson ford finished with 141 running meters and a season-high 10 tackle busts.
Competition leaders, Newtown, seem to be getting better and better each week and with a fairly simple run home they are the favorites to claim the minor premiership.
half-back Braydon Trindall starred in their 42-18 win over the Rabbitohs on Saturday, having a hand in FIVE tries (one try and four assists). He also got four linebreak assists, three tackle busts and ran for 82 metres. Trindall also had a perfect day on the boot, slotting seven goals from seven attempts but on the flip side, he did miss five tackles.
Mawene Hiroti had a day out in the centres, scoring a try, setting up two more and getting two linebreaks, a linebreak assist and five tackle busts to go with his 185 running metres.
There were some good performers for the Bunnies though with five-eighth Jack Campagnolo, who guided Wynnum Manly to the Queensland Cup grand final last year, setting up two tries, as well as getting a linebreak assist and five tackle busts. And workhorse lock james hasson notched up 128 running meters and made 23 tackles with zero misses — he was the only Rabbitoh to not miss a tackle.
UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT
The Storm’s Nick Meaney has been cleared of a serious shoulder injury but has to pass concussion protocols to play in Friday’s Titans clash.
Craig Bellamy has already conceded his backline stocks are running very low, but a fullback at one of the Storm’s Queensland Cup feeder sides has put his hand up over recent weeks to come into consideration.
Brisbane Tigers’ Tony Pellow stunned in their 32-18 win over Ipswich with two try assists, two linebreak assists and 221 running metres.
It was only two weeks ago that 25-year-old Pellow came up with a clutch play in the final four minutes to steal his side a four-point win over Souths Logan. Pellow received the ball from a scrum 10 meters out from his own line, found a gap, palmed off a Magpie, ran 70 meters and then put a cross-field grubber in for Jayden Nikorima to score.
Pellow, a St Johns Dubbo junior, joined the Tigers this season from the Dragons and spent eight weeks training with the Storm during pre-season.
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Out-of-favor Wests Tigers hooker JJacob Liddle played lock for the Magpies over the weekend. Coach Wayne Lambkin had limited options and had to pick a couple of players out of position to fill gaps. Liddle, who is reportedly set to sign with the Dragons, finished with 93 running meters, two tackle busts and 35 tackles, but had six misses.
rising star Kade Dykes didn’t feature in Newtown’s big win because he was 18th man for NRL. With Will Kennedy out for the next six weeks, it’s assumed Locky Miller will step into the No.1 jersey but don’t be surprised to see Dykes get his NRL debut at fullback. Coach Craig Fitzgibbon will have a headache of the good kind when deciding who fills in for Kennedy.