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Five things we learn from round 9 NRL

RUGBY league is a team sport but in round nine it was all about standout individual performances.
Check out seven things we loved from round nine of the NRL:
1. SHAUN JOHNSON MAGIC
You’d be forgiven for thinking Katy Perry’s smash hit song Hot N Cold was actually inspired by Shaun Johnson.
He’s hot then he’s cold ... he’s yes then he’s no.
And he was both hot and cold against the Sharks on Saturday.
But boy, when he was hot he was scorching.
The rocks and diamonds halfback scored one of the best individual tries we’ve seen this year and fittingly it was the matchwinner.
With about a minute to go and trailing by two points, Johnson got the ball 20 metres out and the twinkled toed playmaker stepped his way to the tryline leaving Sharks defenders clutching at thin air.
2. FIFITA FLEXES MUSCLE
Not to be outdone, bigman Andrew Fifita came up with a play that is also a contender for the best individual try of the year.
Back from suspension, Fifita needed to step-up and lead from the front with Paul Gallen and Chris Heighington missing from Cronulla’s pack.
And Fifita not only led from the front, he also played himself into a NSW Origin jersey with a powerful display that culminated in a brilliant four-pointer.
In what appeared to be the match winning play, the forward received the ball 10 metres from the line and charged forward, stepping and tackle-busting his way to the tryline.
He also churned out 220 metres and made 34 tackles in his barnstorming performance.
3. BRILLIANT BLAKE AT IT AGAIN
While we are on the subject of scintillating individual performances, Blake Austin continues to give NSW coach Laurie Daley a lot to think about after the five-eighth scored five tries in six days.
He was a standout in the City-Country clash and backed it up with a fine display back in the NRL for the Raiders.
In a five-star showing Austin once again pulled all the strings in attack with a dynamic running game.
He scored two tries and even made two try-saving tackles proving he’s no slouch in defence.
With Canberra now sitting pretty in the top eight, it’s hard to believe this is the same side that could not seal a deal with a marquee signing.
Despite their recruitment dramas, coach Ricky Stuart has managed to assemble a bunch of outcasts and misfits capable of earning a top eight spot.
4. SNAKES ALIVE AND SO ARE THE SEA EAGLES
If there’s one player who can find the tryline it’s the Prince of Brookvale, Brett Stewart.
The fullback noticed up his 150th career try making him only the 10th player in history to do so.
Star halback Daly Cherry-Evans was also at his attacking best.
In a dominant performance he heaped misery on Newcastle’s defence as he led his side to a 30-10 victory — making it two wins in a row for the northern beaches club.
Manly fans will be hoping the back-to-back victories can breathe some life into their 2015 campaign.
The Sea Eagles have also unearthed a diamond in the rough in former Queensland Cup player Blake Leary. The backrower, who was named at five-eighth in the absence of Kieran Foran, was involved in everything — he ran more metres than any other Sea Eagle, made the most tackles and set up DCE for a try with a great offload.
5. BRONCOS’ LAST-GASP WIN
Broncos half Ben Hunt couldn’t kick a field to save his life ... OK so that’s a bit dramatic but he definitely couldn’t kick one to seal a win.
In the end, his inability to kick a field goal was made redundant by his exceptional ability to read the play.
Having butchered his first attempt and with the Broncos trailing 5-4, Hunt received the ball 10 metres out and drew in two Panthers defenders to put Corey Oates through to score in the final minute and claim victory.
We love the fact Hunt had the guts to put it all on the line. Not many would have had the steel and class to work that play on the last with 60 seconds to go.

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