Dolphins dream continues, Craig Bellamy move stuns: Good, bad and ugly of NRL round 3

Adam Lucius recaps all the major talking points of the third round of NRL action.

Craig Fitzgibbon, Craig Bellamy and Wayne Bennett, pictured here in the NRL.
Craig Fitzgibbon and Craig Bellamy are under the pump, while Wayne Bennett is firing in the NRL. Image: Getty

😃 The good: Dolphins show they're the real deal

😔 The bad: Cronulla sink to another disappointing loss

😡 The ugly: Craig Bellamy and Melbourne Storm suffer more woes

The third round of the NRL was an absolute doozy, with talking points galore. Take a look at our recap of all the biggest moments.

Time to jump on the Dolphins bandwagon

For three weeks we have resisted sticking the Dolphins in this section for fear of falling into the trap of believing all the hype and hysteria over the NRL's newest franchise. Granted, round one was an excellent start and an excellent win against an excellent club in the Roosters.

But it was just one win at home in a game that was easy to get up for. Could the new boys back it up a week later or would the comedown from opening night be too great?

We soon had our answer as the Dolphins put the Raiders to the sword. No hangover whatsoever.

Still, we held off, waiting to see how they'd go on the road. Newcastle was decimated by injury and suspension but showed enough courage and commitment against the Tigers to suggest they'd be a real handful, especially at McDonald Jones, on Friday night.

Not so. The Knights did put up some sort of fight but the Dolphins never really looked like losing a game Wayne Bennett described as the worst of his side's three victories.

Time to jump on the bandwagon? You betcha. A 3-0 start for a new franchise is nothing short of incredible. If they beat the Broncos in the first all-Brisbane derby on Friday night, well, then we’ll start talking about how far this fairytale might go.

What is going on with Cronulla?

Someone sound the shark alarm. Where's that Cronulla side that lit up last year's premiership, finishing second in the regular season under rookie coach Craig Fitzgibbon?

The 2022 Sharks were white pointers. This year they've been as potent as a wobbegong.

They were pretty much second all night against Souths in round one and fell across the line against winless Parramatta in round two. Sunday night's trip to Canberra would tell us a little bit more about where they sit.

It didn’t prove pleasant viewing for those who follow the boys in the black, white and blue. The difference was only four points but it was a game Cronulla never really looked like winning.

Cronulla Sharks players, pictured here looking on after their loss to the Canberra Raiders.
Cronulla Sharks players look on after their loss to the Canberra Raiders. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

They look uncertain with the ball and, most alarmingly, have conceded 77 points in three outings. Only Paramatta has coughed up more points.

The return of Nicho Hynes will help fix the clunky attack, but the ability to halt points will be Fitzgibbon's main concern. He is a renowned defensive expert so will earn his pay trying to put some starch and whack back in what has become a thin blue line. The Sharks have to turn it around quickly or risk being beached.

Craig Bellamy and Storm in unchartered territory

You have to wonder in one of his rare quiet moments whether Craig Bellamy asks himself why did he back up for a 21st season with the Melbourne Storm. The club has let the master coach have the final say on when he will pull the plug on his illustrious career and he could have easily decided 2022 was it.

But the 63-year-old didn’t feel the time was quite right and has prolonged his innings into what is turning out to be a horror start to the season. Yes, the Storm have been hit with an incredibly bad run of injuries. There's no Ryan Papenhuyzen, no Nelson Asofa-Solomona and no Cameron Munster… just to name a few.

And, yes, they were forced to sit back and watch the Dolphins pilfer their hardmen trio Felise Kaufusi and the Bromwich brothers, Jesse and Kenny. But Bellamy has worked under this sort of duress before and come out of the other side smiling…or for what passes as a smile on Bellyache's dial.

Melbourne Storm players, pictured here in action against the Gold Coast Titans.
Melbourne Storm players in action against the Gold Coast Titans. (Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)

His damning assessment of his team's performance after the loss to the Titans was almost unprecedented. "Our problem at the moment is the care factor seems very, very low," he said. "You might be able to tell me (why) because I’m not quite sure how to fix it."

Bellamy is a problem solver and will work a way out of this mess. And then he will finally take that well-earned rest in 2024 and leave these sort of problems to the new bloke.

Check back in every Monday for Adam Lucius' weekly recap of the NRL round that was.

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