With the representative season now behind us, and the countdown to the finals on in earnest, Brisbane stepped up
their push for a top-4 finish with a hard-fought 18-12 win over Cronulla at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
An early penalty goal ensured the Broncos were first on the board, but it was to be a dour and defensive first half, with
some hard hits and neither team able to break through the other’s defensive line for much of the half. The Broncos
went close to scoring at 28 minutes, but Kaine Manihera was held up in goal. But finally they managed to get a try five
minutes before half time, with a chip kick by Greg Eastwood being chased by Denan Kemp for a try in the corner. Ennis’
conversion gave the Broncos an 8-0 lead that they were able to maintain till half time.
The tight nature of the game continued after the break, and Paul Gallen found himself on report for a high shot on David
Stagg, with Stagg leaving the ground concussed and playing no further part in the game. But finally, shortly before the
hour, Sam Thaiday crashed over to score and after the conversion it was 14-0 to the Broncos.
Brett Kearney threw the Sharks a lifeline, making a break to score under the posts. The Sharks were on the attack, and
went close to scoring again only for Karmichael Hunt to pull off a spectacular one-man tackle to stop Luke Covell in his
But Greg Eastwood, against the run of play, scored in the corner to snuff out the Cronulla challenge. Michael Ennis’
conversion was unsuccessful, but with an 18-6 lead and only five minutes to go, the Broncos were safe. Grant
Millington scored a consolation try with two minutes to go, but it was too little too late for the Sharks.
Brisbane Broncos 18 def Cronulla Sharks 12
Broncos : Tries – G Eastwood, D Kemp, S Thaiday. Goals – M Ennis 3/4.
Sharks : Tries – B Kearney, G Millington. Goals – L Covell 2/2.
Referee – S Hayne. Crowd – 27,905 at Suncorp Stadium.
A cold and wet night at Parramatta Stadium on Friday kept the crowd down, with only 7,253 hardy souls turning up for
the Eels’ match against North Queensland. But at least they would go home happy, after the Eels snapped their losing
streak with a 16-4 victory.
The Eels were on the board after three minutes, after Brett Finch grubbered forward and Luke Burt chased down the
ball, grounding it just centimetres before it crossed the dead-ball line; and it took some lengthy deliberation by the
video referee before the try was awarded. But Burt, having been paid the try, added the extras and a penalty goal shortly
afterwards stretched the lead to 8-0.
The second try came after 25 minutes, with a poor line drop-out finding Tony Williams, who had little difficulty in shaking
off some poor defensive tackling by the Cowboys to score.
But the Cowboys fought back in the final 10 minutes of the half, with John Williams crossing over in the corner for an
unconverted try. And with four minutes to go before the break, the Cowboys looked to have scored again; but the video
referee ruled that Sione Faumuina had failed to ground the ball correctly; and the Eels led 14-4 at half time.
The Cowboys were twice more denied by the video referee during the second half, and neither side was able to trouble
the scorers until the final minutes; when a penalty goal to Luke Burt stretched the Parramatta lead to two converted
tries. And in a scrappy game in which scoring was difficult, that was enough of a buffer to get the Eels over the line.
Parramatta Eels 16 def North Queensland Cowboys 4
Eels : Tries – L Burt, T Williams. Goals – L Burt 4/4.
Cowboys : Tries – J Williams. Goals – J Williams 0/1.
Referee – S Lyons. Crowd – 7,253 at Parramatta Stadium.
Canberra won their third game on the trot, condemning Gold Coast to their second loss in succession, when the
Raiders dominated a one-sided contest in freezing conditions at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night.
The Raiders gave fullback Todd Carney his marching orders after a string of alcohol-related indiscretions, but barely
missed him as they put on a clinical display and the Titans had no hope of remaining competitive against the
The Titans were competitive early, and after 12 minutes were first on the scoreboard, Anthony Laffranchi crossing
out wide. The try wasn’t converted, and the Titans led 4-0. But it would be their only score for the night, as the
Raiders soon asserted themselves.
A solo effort by David Milne got the Raiders on the board, Terry Campese’s conversion giving the Raiders the lead.
In quick succession, Colin Best, Marc Herbert and Justin Carney would also find a way across the line, capitalising
on some poor Gold Coast defence to open up a 22-4 lead at half time.
Marc Herbert, on his debut appearance for the Raiders, had already scored a try in the first half, and was denied a
double by the video referee shortly after the break. But just a minute later, Joe Picker found his way through a
yawning gap in the Gold Coast defence, and the floodgates were open. It was the first of four second half tries, with
Colin Best bringing up a double, turning the Titans’ early lead into a Canberra-led demolition. The result, both the
win by the Raiders and the magnitude of the win, are significant; with both teams now level on 22 points but the
Raiders’ for-and-against differential going ahead of the Titans and the Raiders displacing the Titans in the top 8.
Canberra Raiders 46 def Gold Coast Titans 4
Raiders : Tries – C Best 2, J Carney, M Herbert, B Jones, D Milne, J Picker, A Purtell. Goals – T Campese 7/8.
Titans : Tries – A Laffranchi. Goals – B Davis 0/1.
Referee – T De las Heras. Crowd – 8,700 at Canberra Stadium.
A spot in the top eight was on the line when Penrith hosted Wests Tigers at CUA Stadium on Saturday night, and it
would be the home side who put themselves in a stronger position for the playoffs when the Panthers completed a
24-10 win over the Tigers.
The Panthers suffered an early blow when Lachlan Coote went down with a knee injury, having to be stretchered
from the field and playing no further part in the game. And after a scrappy opening, it was the Tigers who would be
first on the scoreboard after 15 minutes, with Chris Lawrence off-loading to late replacement Peni Tagive for a try
under the posts.
But it didn’t take long for the Panthers to equalise, with Michael Gordon chasing down a grubber from Luke Lewis to
score. The ball was travelling from end to end, and shortly before half time Daine Laurie found some room to crash
over and score. Benji Marshall was unable to convert, and the Tigers went into half time with a 10-6 lead.
Shortly after half time, Michael Gordon brought up his double, taking a pass from Luke Lewis and after extensive
deliberation by the video referee the try was awarded. Gordon successfully converted his own try and give the
Panthers a 12-10 lead. And shortly before the hour mark, Rhys Wesser sent Masada Iosefa through a yawning gap
for another try.
The Panthers were getting the better of a lopsided penalty count, and a vast majority of possession. With their
limited opportunities, the Tigers never looked like getting back in the contest; while the Panthers continued to attack.
Trent Waterhouse had a try denied, but when Michael Jennings ran 50 metres to score under the posts, the
Panthers had done enough to ensure victory.
Penrith Panthers 24 def Wests Tigers 10
Panthers : Tries – M Gordon 2, M Iosefa, M Jennings. Goals – M Gordon 4/4.
Tigers : Tries – D Laurie, P Tagive. Goals – B Marshall 1/2.
Referee – T Archer. Crowd – 14,075 at CUA Stadium.
The New Zealand Warriors recorded an important two points, of crucial significance in the even battle for a finals
berth, when they upset the high-flying Melbourne Storm 8-6 in appalling conditions at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday
Both sides struggled to control the slippery ball during the first half, with both sides struggling to complete their sets
and with a series of knock-ons and silly penalties the influence of the wet and windy weather was all too evident.
The Warriors scored the only try of the first half. Receiving a penalty for an illegal strip just ten metres short of the
Storm line, the Warriors took the tap and were rewarded when Sonny Fai scored in the corner. But Lance Hohaia
was unable to land the conversion, and at half time the Warriors were 4-0 ahead. It could have been a bigger
margin, but Ian Henderson was denied a try by the video referee in the final minute of the first half.
Conditions were slightly better after half time, and Lance Hohaia put a penalty goal over shortly after the break to
make the difference a converted try.
On the hour, scores were level. On the back of a penalty, the Storm ran the ball 50 metres and on the last tackle Sika
Manu gathered the ball and wrong-footed the Warriors defenders to score. Cameron Smith added the extras, and
scores were locked at 6-6.
With six minutes to go, the Warriors received a controversial penalty, with Michael Crocker being pinged for being
slightly on the wrong angle from the play-the-ball. A tough call in such muddy conditions, but the call was made and
Lance Hohaia kicked truly to give the Warriors the lead.
The Storm fought back hard in the final minutes, but with the rain heavier than ever and the ground by now virtually
unplayable, the Storm were unable to come up with a winner and the Warriors took out a valuable victory.
New Zealand Warriors 8 def Melbourne Storm 6
Warriors : Tries – S Fai. Goals – L Hohaia 2/3.
Storm : Tries – S Manu. Goals – C Smith 1/1.
Referee – J Maxwell. Crowd – 8,752 at Mt Smart Stadium.
A healthy crowd of over 23,000 at Energy Australia Stadium on Sunday afternoon saw Newcastle put on an exhibition
of their best play when the Knights recorded a convincing 39-12 win over South Sydney.
There was a lot of dropped ball and plenty of handling errors early, and it took some time for the two sides to feel
each other out. The deadlock on the scoreboard wasn’t broken until the 19th minute, but the Knights finally broke
through for the opening try of the game with a 70 metre gain over four tackles before Akuila Uate found the line. Four
minutes later, Kurt Gidley faced no resistance as he strolled over for the easiest of tries, to give the Knights a 10-0
Nathan Merritt led a mini-revival for the Rabbitohs when he grabbed a pass from Craig Wing and cruised through
under the posts; and shortly afterwards John Sutton was denied a try by the video referee. But that was cancelled out
in the final minute of the half, when Chris Houston crossed the line and the Knights went into the sheds at half time
with a 14-6 lead.
Repeat sets to the Knights in the opening two minutes of the second half saw Cameron Ciraldo generate field
position and cross the line to score. But the Rabbitohs again were thrown a lifeline when a string of penalties gave
Nathan Merritt a chance to bring up his second try, with Chris Sandow’s conversion reducing the margin to six points
The Rabbitohs had worked hard to get themselves back in the contest, but could go no further. A double from Adam
MacDougall got the Knights back out to a handy lead, with only some poor kicking from the tee preventing the scores
from blowing out further. With ten minutes to go, Marvin Karawana crossed over and the game was all but secure,
Corey Paterson’s conversion putting the Knights 32-12 ahead.
A field goal to Scott Dureau was another point on the board for the Knights, and Akuila Uate put the icing on the cake
with a barnstorming run and crashing over the line for another try. 39-12 for the Knights, with not only two points but
also a substantial boost to their for-and-against keeping them in the race for this year’s finals.
Newcastle Knights 39 def South Sydney Rabbitohs 12
Knights : Tries – A MacDougall 2, A Uate 2, C Ciraldo, K Gidley, C Houston, M Karawana. Goals – C Paterson 2/2, K
Gidley 1/4, S Dureau 0/2. Field Goals – S Dureau 1/1.
Rabbitohs : Tries – N Merritt 2. Goals – C Sandow 2/2.
Referee – B Cummins. Crowd – 23,182 at Energy Australia Stadium.
A top four clash at the Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday afternoon saw the Roosters pick up two valuable points
when they recorded a convincing win over top side Manly 34-12.
The win was built on the back of a flying start by the Roosters, when they wasted no time in locking the Sea Eagles
out of the contest. After five minutes, Mitchell Pearce set up a running Mitch Aubusson. Three minutes later, Shaun
Kenny-Dowall crossed over, and it only took three more minutes for Amos Roberts to find the line. Craig Fitzgibbon
converted all three tries. The game was only 12 minutes old, and already the Roosters were in a commanding
position with an 18-0 lead.
Michael Robertson put in an individual effort to get one try back for the Sea Eagles, but at the half hour mark Iosia
Soliola crashed through the Sea Eagle defenders to score. And the Roosters maintained the 24-6 lead till the half
time break. Mitchell Pearce attempted to land a field goal in the final seconds of the half, but the kick sailed wide.
Ten minutes after the break, with the Sea Eagles on the attack, an errant pass was intercepted by Amos Roberts;
and Roberts ran 90 metres to score under the posts. But Fitzgibbon’s attempted conversion was a shocker and
bounced off the cross-bar.
Another intercept followed on the hour, this time it was the Sea Eagles who scored. Brett Stewart gathered the ball in
his own in-goal and evaded the entire Roosters’ side as he ran the length of the field to score.
But Stewart’s try was a rare highlight for the Sea Eagles, as the Roosters had been easily the better side all day.
Sam Perrett in the final minutes of the game underlined the Roosters’ class with another try, the convincing 34-12
scoreline delivering not only two points but some for-and-against; as well as denying fellow top four contender Manly
any points for the round.
Sydney Roosters 34 def Manly Sea Eagles 12
Roosters : Tries – A Roberts 2, M Aubusson, S Kenny-Dowall, S Perrett, I Soliola. Goals – C Fitzgibbon 5/6. Field
Goals – M Pearce 0/1.
Sea Eagles : Tries – M Robertson, B Stewart. Goals – S Matai 2/2.
Referee – J Robinson. Crowd – 22,681 at Sydney Football Stadium.
The Bulldogs were rocked during the weekend with the walkout of Sonny Bill Williams. Less than one year into his
lucrative five-year contract, Williams flew out of the country on Saturday, headed to France to take up a rugby union
contract with French club Toulon. Deflated by Williams’ absence, the Bulldogs played without spirit on Monday night
as they crashed to a 30-0 defeat to St George in cold and wet conditions in front of a small crowd at ANZ Stadium.
The Dragons raced out of the blocks, with Josh Morris the focal point of their many raids into Bulldogs territory. And
everything Morris touched turned to gold in the first 25 minutes, as he crossed the line three times to bring up a hat-
trick. Morris’ twin brother Brett then put on some heroics of his own and before the half hour mark was reached the
Dragons were already 20-0 ahead.
The experienced Matt Cooper rubbed further salt into the wound with a try shortly before half time, and with a 26-0
lead at the break the result was already cut and dried. The Dragons had played efficient and effective play, while the
Bulldogs had little desperation, no imagination in attack, a myriad of missed tackles and seemingly no passion for
The Dragons put their foot off the accelerator after half time, and there were few highlights in a lacklustre second
half. The Bulldogs rarely pressed the Dragons line, their only serious attempt at scoring ended up with an intercept
by Jamie Soward who then ran 90 metres to score the only try of the second half and give the Dragons a 30-0 win.
To make things worse for the Bulldogs, Tim Winitana limped off with a leg injury in the fourth minute, while John Kite
and Andrew Ryan also finished the game on the injured list.
St George-Illawarra Dragons 30 def Bulldogs 0
Dragons : Tries – J Morris 3, M Cooper, B Morris, J Soward. Goals – J Soward 3/6.
Bulldogs : Tries – Nil. Goals – Nil.
Referee – S Hampstead. Crowd – 7,802 at ANZ Stadium.
|ROUND 21 FIXTURES:
(All times shown are Sydney time)
Friday 1st August
Manly v Penrith (7:30pm, Brookvale Oval)
Melbourne v Gold Coast (7:30pm, Olympic Park)
Saturday 2nd August
Cronulla v St George-Illawarra (5:30pm, Toyota Stadium)
North Queensland v Sydney Roosters (7:30pm, Dairy Farmers Stadium)
South Sydney v NZ Warriors (7:30pm, ANZ Stadium)
Sunday 3rd August
Wests Tigers v Bulldogs (2:00pm, ANZ Stadium)
Brisbane v Canberra (3:00pm, Suncorp Stadium)
Monday 4th August
Newcastle v Parramatta (7:00pm, Energy Australia Stadium)