RED AND BLACK REPORT 2023: EDITION NO.13
The Red and Black Report shines a spotlight on Canterbury Rugby League products featuring in Australia’s elite and lower-grade competitions.
Aranui Eagles product Jamayne Isaako is on the cusp of history, sitting in the box seat to become the first player since Mal Meninga in 1990 to top the premiership’s pointscoring and tryscoring charts.
The Dolphins winger leads both categories with one round of the 2023 NRL regular season remaining, tallying 230 points and 23 tries – 14 points and two tries clear of his nearest rivals, respectively.
#EXCLUSIVE: The Dolphins won't end their inaugural season in the NRL empty handed with Jamayne Isaako poised to finish the year as the competition's leading try scorer and point scorer.@AdamJackson_9 #9News pic.twitter.com/0uC8Yia3Un
— 9News Queensland (@9NewsQueensland) August 28, 2023
Isaako has continued to dominate the scoreboard despite the Dolphins’ six-match losing streak, racking up 57 points – including eight tries – in their last five games. He bagged a four-pointer in Round 25 against Wests Tigers and looked to have slotted a match-winning field goal, before a late Tigers penalty goal consigned the premiership newcomers to a 24-23 defeat.
The 27-year-old had a day out last weekend despite a 34-10 loss to North Queensland, scoring both of his team’s tries, recording seven tackle-breaks and running for a season-high 271 metres.
Isaako ranks fourth in the NRL for line-breaks (27), 13th for tackle-breaks (99) and fourth for running metres (3,796).
Clubmate and Burnham Chevaliers junior Kodi Nikorima continues to bounce around the injury-hit Dolphins’ team sheet, featuring at fullback against the Tigers and reverting to five-eighth against the Cowboys.
The veteran utility produced a try assist in each loss to take his season tally to 16.
Hornby Panthers’ Jordan Riki is two matches into his return from a six-week foot injury layoff, making 23 tackles and 72 metres in Brisbane Broncos’ 29-18 defeat of Canberra Raiders on Saturday.
Burnham junior Jazz Tevaga endured another injury setback just two games back from a long absence, missing the Warriors’ past two games with a hamstring complaint. He is set to return for the final-round clash with the Dolphins, however.
For @NZWarriors fans, positive news on Jazz Tevaga, but huge disappointment for rookie Demitric Sifakula.
— Corey Rosser (@CoreyRosser23) August 23, 2023
Yet another former Chevalier, Siua Wong continues to make a big impression for the Roosters in his rookie campaign.
The 20-year-old has made four straight second-row starts, scoring a try in the Tricolours’ crucial win over Parramatta in Round 25, and reeling off 35 tackles along with 91 metres and a line-break in an 80-minute shift against Wests Tigers on Saturday.
After an appearance at centre, versatile Aranui product Daejarn Asi returned to the Parramatta halves with linchpin Mitchell Moses sidelined by injury.
Asi took his tally of 2023 NRL appearances to 10 after wearing the No.6 in the Eels’ loss to the Roosters and upset of the Panthers, notching a line-break and a try assist in the latter. The Eels have the final-round bye, meaning Asi’s club season has come to an end.
A mid-season recruit from Canterbury-Bankstown, Hornby Panthers junior Fa’amanu Brown turned out for his fourth NRL club courtesy of a late call-up for finals-bound Newcastle’s clash with Cronulla on Sunday.
— Newcastle Knights (@NRLKnights) August 27, 2023
The utility played 16 minutes off the bench in the crucial 32-6 win, making 24 metres and two tackle-breaks on one dummy-half run to underline the value he could provide the Knights in their playoffs campaign if required.
Before his call-up to Newcastle’s NRL side, Fa’amanu Brown played in four NSW Cup matches for the Knights.
Brown featured at hooker in a satisfying 42-28 win against the Bulldogs, while he was superb in Round 25 despite the Bears’ loss to the Knights, churning out 41 tackles in an 80-minute performance.
Warriors SG Ball captain and Halswell front-rower Tanner Stowers-Smith has made 10 NSW Cup appearances, making 27 tackles off the bench in a loss to Blacktown Workers a fortnight ago.
The teenager was promoted to prop and helped the Warriors seal a finals berth in a breakout performance, chewing off 137 running metres, recording four tackle-breaks and making 21 tackles in a big win over St George Illawarra.
Another Hornets product, Joseph Taipari was at halfback for Sydney Roosters’ last two matches of the season, impressing with his running game in losses to the Eels (102 metres) and Magpies (96 metres), and notching a try assist against the latter.
Taipari finishes the year with 21 appearances in the second-tier competition, scoring five tries and chalking up eight try assists, along with 73 metres and 16 tackles per game.
Former Hornby and Canterbury Bulls forward Caius Faatili’s Wynnum Manly Seagulls are still alive in the Queensland Cup finals.
The sixth-placed Seagulls edged seventh-placed Northern Pride 15-14 on Sunday to advance to week two, with Faatili making 18 tackles and five runs for 45 metres in 19 minutes off the bench.
Former Northern Bulldogs hooker/lock Sheldon Pitama’s fifth-placed Redcliffe Dolphins were eliminated from the finals on Sunday via a 42-36 loss to eighth-placed Sunshine Coast Falcons.
Pitama scored a try, produced two try assists and finished with a game-high 36 tackles as the Dolphins fought back from a 34-6 halftime deficit.
Burnham Chevaliers junior Jayden Nikorima scored a first-half try from halfback in the Falcons’ sudden-death victory.
Riccarton prop K-Ci Newton Whare started in the front-row in Melbourne Storm’s last two matches of the season – a win over finals-bound Penrith and a narrow loss to Canberra – as the side agonisingly missed the Jersey Flegg playoffs on for-and-against.
Hornby forward Felix Faatili has become an established member of Cronulla Sharks’ Flegg side, helping them to the finals in third place with interchange appearances in victories over Wests Tigers and Newcastle in the past fortnight.
The Sharks will face the second-placed Bulldogs in the major preliminary semi-final this Sunday.