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NRL: The four top talking points from round 22

It was another exciting round of action in the NRL with both the Penrith Panthers and North Queensland Cowboys slipping to defeats, while South Sydney Rabbitohs continue to shine.

Round 22 always looked set to be an exciting one, with some of the competition’s top sides going head-to-head, and it did not disappoint.

In the opening game of the round on Thursday night the Panthers were kept to zero by the Melbourne Storm, who put 16 points on the board with an impressive win.

Parramatta also failed to register a point as they were comprehensively beaten 26-0 by South Sydney at CommBank Stadium on the Friday.

Elsewhere the Cowboys failed to capitalise on Penrith slipping up as they also lost 32-18 against the Sydney Roosters.

Cronulla Sharks were one of the big winners as they beat the Wests Tigers to move level on points with the Cowboys in second place on the NRL ladder.

The Broncos returned to winning ways, while there were also victories for the Warriors, Dragons and Titans. And just to wrap up the weekend, the Bulldogs announced who their new coach will be for the next five years.

Now let’s take a closer look at the main talking points from the round.

South Sydney are the big danger to Penrith

The Rabbitohs have been starting to flex their muscles for some time now but their victory over the Eels on Friday night and the manner of the performance really caught the eye.

They have now won five of the last six games. The only defeat came against the high-flying Sharks when just one point separated the two sides.

Souths were ruthless against the Eels to move to fifth on the ladder and they now have a great chance to make the top four.

The final three games are tough against the Panthers, Cowboys and Roosters but many believe that is the ideal run-in to a finals campaign.

Many pundits and commentators also believe the Rabbitohs are now the team that Penrith Panthers will fear the most. Souths are priced at 9/1 to win the grand final.

Keeping everyone fit will be crucial and if the likes of Latrell Mitchell and Cameron Murray are out on the pitch, the Bunnies are in with a shout.

Melbourne Storm are back in the groove

The Storm are priced at 5/1 to win the NRL grand final and look to be back to their old selves following the 16-0 win over Penrith.

Yes the Panthers were missing key players, but so too were the Storm and they still managed to put in a fine display at Bluebet Stadium.

Melbourne were clinical in the first half when piling on the points, but it was their defence that really caught the eye and would have left coach Craig Bellamy delighted.

They came under heavy pressure as Penrith fought to get back into the game but they stood firm to keep them out. That bodes really well for the rest of the season.

The Storm have recovered from the losing streak and have now won the last three games on the spin. They could be about to peak at just the right time.

The Canberra Raiders are still in the mix for top eight

The Raiders are refusing to go away and they put a tough week behind them to beat the Dragons 22-20 and keep their top eight hopes alive.

They sit just two points behind the Roosters with three games to play and it looks set to go right to the wire for eighth spot.

The green machine also have three very winnable games against the Newcastle Knights, Manly Sea Eagles and the West Tigers. If they can take six points the pressure will be on the Roosters and maybe even Parramatta.

The Roosters still have the Melbourne Storm and South Sydney to come, along with Wests Tigers.

So despite many believing the top eight was pretty much sorted, the Raiders are still in with a chance. The Raiders are priced at 15/4 to make the top eight.

The Canterbury Bulldogs have landed their man

Away from the pitch and looking ahead to next season and beyond, the Bulldogs confirmed over the weekend that Cameron Ciraldo will be their new coach.

The Penrith assistant turned down the Wests Tigers earlier this season but has now opted to join the Bulldogs after penning a bumper five-year contract from the start of 2023.

The capture of Ciraldo is also a boost for the Bulldogs as it means star playmaker Matt Burton is now likely to stay, following reports he was looking to leave.

The Bulldogs are now being tipped by some to win the premiership during Ciraldo’s five-year tenure.

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