Dearden absent until the final after a low blow, Tapine “best striker” in the competition

North Queensland hopes of clinging on to second place dealt a low blow with playmaker Tom Dearden all the way to the final after needing surgery to repair a ruptured testicle.

Dearden suffered the painful injury in the Warriors’ 48-4 defeat at Townsville on Friday night and will not feature in this Saturday’s crucial clash with the Souths at the Accor Stadium or in the final round against Premiers Penrith.

The Cowboys need to win both games to ensure they host their playoff opener by finishing second to the speedy Sharks and Storm.

Dearden, who made his debut for Queensland in Origin III, isn’t sure he’ll be right for the first week of the finals.

His absence means Scott Drinkwater will likely return to halves alongside Chad Townsend with Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow earning a trade call at the back.

The Rabbitohs should get a boost for their showdown against the Cowboys with Tom Burgess (groin) and Kodi Nikorima (hamstring) likely to be available.

The seventh-placed Suds could still drop out of the final if they can’t beat the Cowboys or Roosters in the final rounds.

Tapine best striker in the NRL: Starling

Canberra hooker Tom Starling has declared team-mate Joe Tapine the NRL’s best striker after the prop helped set up the try that kept their season alive.

The Raiders and Newcastle were locked on 22 points apiece in the final 10 minutes on Sunday when Josh Papalii crossed the line and connected with Tapine.

Still with work to do, Tapine rounded Anthony Milford and drew in two defenders before throwing an overhand pass to Jack Wighton, who dove in to score.

The crucial tryout assist allowed the Raiders to stretch to a six-point lead that ultimately sealed the win and kept them in touch with the top eight heading into the final fortnight of the regular season. .

Tapine is having an equally impressive year on the stat sheet, ranking in the top three among props for offloads and tackle busts and has covered more yards than any first-rower this season, adding 175 from more on his count Sunday.

“He’s the best forward in the competition right now,” Starling said after the Raiders’ 28-22 win. “I don’t think anyone can argue with that. He’s had a hell of a season and he’s only going to get better. »

Tapine missed his first game of the season in round 22 after suffering a rib injury the previous week.

With the Raiders’ final hopes hanging in the balance, Tapine walked off the pitch in visible discomfort against Penrith.

“The first three days I was in a bit of pain and retired for three weeks,” Tapine said with a laugh. “But I came well after a week, so I’m happy.”

The Raiders will be glad he did; Penrith’s pack monster Canberra’s after Tapine left the pitch, but in his opener against Newcastle the script was reversed.

Tapine said her form came from growing up and taking a different approach to her work.

“I’ve matured a bit,” he said. “I think I’m a bit more professional (with) everything in the week: preparation, training, diet, everything that is part of football.

“It’s a lot of things combined, I can’t boil it down to one thing. I’m happy with my performance and I have to keep improving.

Sports Grp2

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