Dale Budge is a sports writer for the NZ Herald.

NRL: NRL Round 9 redux

Shaun Johnson makes a break during the round nine NRL match against the Roosters. Photo / Getty Images
Shaun Johnson makes a break during the round nine NRL match against the Roosters. Photo / Getty Images

The Melbourne Storm surged clear at the top of the standings, there were more upsets and the Warriors got a break-through win at Mt Smart Stadium in round 9 of the NRL.

As Aaron Woods confirmed his departure from the Wests Tigers and Shaun Johnson inked a new deal that will see him stay with the Warriors until the end of 2019 the action of the field slowly became the focus rather than player movement.

Martin Taupau had a huge game against the Rabbitohs. Photo / Getty Images
Martin Taupau had a huge game against the Rabbitohs. Photo / Getty Images

Kiwis Watch
With the Kiwis test side named at the completion of the round the Kiwis had one last chance to impress selectors.

The Penrith-based Kiwis suffered another disappointing performance in losing to the Broncos on Thursday night. Jordan Kahu had his best game in a month.

Martin Taupau was strong for the Sea Eagles as they thrashed the Rabbitohs on Friday while Jason Taumalolo had a rare disappointing showing in the Cowboys' loss to the suddenly in-form Eels.

Konrad Hurrell enjoyed a big game for the Titans against the Knights while Greg Eastwood and Sam Kasiano pushed their Kiwi chances in the Bulldogs' win over the Raiders.

Shaun Johnson and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck were pivotal in the Warriors getting a win over the Roosters in Auckland. Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves were solid for the visitors.

Titans players celebrate against the Knights. Photo / Getty Images
Titans players celebrate against the Knights. Photo / Getty Images

Best Performance
It is a toss-up between Manly's win over Souths on Friday night or the Gold Coast Titans thrashing Newcastle. I'm going with the latter. The Titans got off to a slow start to the season but have not been as far away as their lowly position on the ladder would indicate.
Having come through a lot of injuries the Titans have recorded back-to-back wins and eased past the Knights without difficulty. With Jarryd Hayne, Hurrell and Nathan Peats back in the side the Titans will prove a tough team to crack in the coming weeks.

Akuila Uate bagged four tries in Round 9. Photo / Getty Images
Akuila Uate bagged four tries in Round 9. Photo / Getty Images

Standout Player
Akuila Uate was once the most lethal finisher in the NRL and then the Newcastle Knights lost form and Uate found himself in the doldrums. He made the move to Manly this year and has been back to his best. His four-try haul over the Rabbitohs a reminder about his ability to finish.

Key Moment
Just when it appeared Mitchell Pearce had kicked a winning field goal two weeks in a row referee Ashley Klein found a penalty against the Roosters, which gave Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson a shot at winning the game for the home side. Days after signing a million-dollar-a-season extension to stay with the Warriors Johnson slotted the goal to earn his two competition points.

Shaun Johnson kicks the winner. Photo / Getty Images
Shaun Johnson kicks the winner. Photo / Getty Images

Controversy
Same game, same referee. Klein sent Roosters winger Daniel Tupou to the sin bin late in the first half for intentionally giving away a penalty when the Warriors were on the attack. Tupou had carried the ball forward from a Warriors clearing kick and aimed straight at Johnson. The halfback made heavy contact and managed to rip the ball free in a one-on-one strip. He tried to play the ball quickly as the Roosters scrambled to get back onside but Tupou held him down for an age. Klein's decision to sit him down wasn't consistent with what we've seen this year but it was the right call. Hopefully other referees use this as the yardstick for the rest of the season.

Team of the Week
1.Will Hopoate (Bulldogs)
2.Josh Addo-Carr (Storm)
3.James Roberts (Broncos)
4.Dylan Walker (Sea Eagles)
5.Akuila Uate (Sea Eagles)
6.Cameron Munster (Storm)
7.Chad Townsend (Sharks)
8.Aiden Tolman (Bulldogs)
9.Cameron Smith (Storm)
10.Martin Taupau (Sea Eagles)
11.Boyd Cordner (Roosters)
12.Wade Graham (Sharks)
13.Josh McGuire (Broncos)
14.Corey Norman (Eels)
15.Simon Mannering (Warriors)
16.Shaun Johnson (Warriors)
17.Nathan Brown (Eels)

Will Hopoate had a massive game against the Raiders. Photo / Getty Images
Will Hopoate had a massive game against the Raiders. Photo / Getty Images

Power Rankings
1.Storm (0)
2.Sharks (0)
3.Dragons (0)
4.Broncos (+2)
5.Roosters (-1)
6.Bulldogs (+4)
7.Sea Eagles (+1)
8.Raiders (-3)
9.Eels (0)
10.Cowboys (-3)
11.Warriors (+1)
12.Rabbitohs (-1)
13.Titans (+1)
14.Tigers (-1)
15.Panthers (0)
16.Knights (0)

- NZ Herald

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