Manly may have started round 20 barely hanging on to a place in the top 8, but their position looks well entrenched after
a Friday night demolition of Newcastle at Central Coast Stadium. In an ominous warning to the other teams in finals
territory, the defending champions turned on their premiership form to complete a 44-20 demolition of the Knights.
The lead-up to the game was dominated by the news that Knights coach Brian Smith would be leaving the club at the
end of the season, a year before his contract was due to run out, after getting a much bigger offer to join the Roosters
in 2010. But any fears the Knights would be distracted or dis-spirited by the coach’s upcoming departure proved
unfounded as the Knights burst out of the blocks. A strong run by Richard Fa’aoso opened the scoring, and an offload
to Mark Taufua in the 8th minute led to another try. With Scott Dureau converting both tries and adding a penalty goal,
the Knights had taken a 14-0 lead.
But in the 10 minutes before half time, the game was turned on its head. Tries to Ben Farrar, Tony Williams and Kieran
Foran put the Sea Eagles turned the 14-point deficit into a 2-point lead; as the Sea Eagles capitalised on Newcastle
mistakes to get a lopsided possession count and the weight of possession took its toll.
Three Manly tries in the last 10 minutes had handed the initiative to the Sea Eagles; and another three tries in the
opening 12 minutes of the second half turned the game into a blowout; as the Sea Eagles had gone to 34-14 ahead.
Farrar and Williams completed doubles as the Sea Eagles maintained their attacking intensity to the end, leaving the
Knights unable to keep up with the Manly juggernaut.
Manly Sea Eagles 44 def Newcastle Knights 20
Sea Eagles : Tries – B Farrar 2, T Williams 2, M Ballin, K Foran, G Rose, A Watmough. Goals – M Orford 6/8.
Knights : Tries – R Fa’aoso, S McDonnell, M Taufua. Goals – S Dureau 3/3, W Naiqama 1/1.
Referees – T Archer, J Robinson. Crowd – 15,857 at Bluetongue Stadium.
Skilled Park has been a fortress for Gold Coast in 2009, and the Titans maintained their unbeaten home record and
picked up South-East Queensland bragging rights when they recorded a 34-18 win over the Broncos on Friday night.
Corey Parker landed an early penalty goal for the Broncos, but any thoughts that getting the first score would trigger the
Broncos into action were quickly dis-spelled. The Titans raced away, three tries in the next 10 minutes and another one
shortly before half-time gave the locals a 22-2 advantage. Scott Prince was in devastating touch, scoring one of the
tries and having a hand in the other three.
The slaughter continued in the second half, with Kevin Gordon chasing a grubber to plant another try under the posts
before Esi Tonga took advantage of some woeful defending from a Brisbane side whose resistance had completely
crumbled to stroll in for the easiest of tries.
The injury-plagued Broncos had several big names out; including Darren Lockyer, Karmichael Hunt, Israel Folau and
Sam Thaiday. But even so, the Brisbane performance was below expectations as the Titans had little difficulty in getting
the ball through the Bronco defence with regularity. By the hour, the lead was 34-2, and could have been bigger but for
the Titans bombing a few scoring opportunities.
A late double from Antonio Winterstein and a solo effort from Dale Copley got some points back for the Broncos, but
they were never any chance of getting back into the game. But despite the Titans’ fadeout and the Broncos’ late rally, it
was an easy win for the Titans; one that significantly boosts their hopes of qualifying for a home final, but one which
places the Broncos at risk of missing the finals for the first time since 1991.
Gold Coast Titans 34 def Brisbane Broncos 18
Titans : Tries – K Gordon, A Harrison, M Henderson, M Minichiello, S Prince, E Tonga. Goals – S Prince 5/6.
Broncos : Tries – A Winterstein 2, D Copley. Goals – C Parker 2/2, A Gorrell 1/2.
Referees – J Maxwell, B Sutton. Crowd – 26,336 at Skilled Park.
On the hour, Kevin Kingston took advantage of some poor defending to score from dummy half and put the Eels 20-8 ahead. The Bulldogs were
creating chances, but some turnovers and some poor decision-making would cost them dearly. A field goal to Luke Burt extended the Parramatta
buffer to beyond two converted tries, putting the Bulldogs under even more pressure.
And with time running out, Fuifui Moimoi put the result beyond doubt with a barnstorming 20 metre run through traffic. As the Eels cult hero planted
the ball, the blue and gold army went into a delirium of excitement, having claimed the scalp of the Bulldogs, their second win against a top-4
opponent within a week.
Parramatta Eels 27 def Canterbury Bulldogs 8
Eels : Tries – E Grothe 2, L Burt, K Kingston, F Moimoi. Goals – L Burt 3/5. Field Goals – L Burt 1/1.
Bulldogs : Tries – B Goodwin, J Idris. Goals – H El Masri 0/2.
Referees – S Lyons, A Shortall. Crowd – 31,664 at ANZ Stadium.
Penrith consolidated their position in the top 8, and ensured North Queensland would face some anxious moments, when the Panthers recorded
an important away win with a 28-20 result at Dairy Farmers Stadium on Saturday night.
In a controversial game, the input of the video referee was decisive as the Panthers had two doubtful tries awarded, while the Cowboys were
The Cowboys raced to an early 10-0 lead, Johnathan Thurston catching the Panthers defence napping with a dummy to score and Willie Tonga
chasing a kick for another Cowboys try. The Cowboys were on fire, and could have scored again only for Carl Webb to be ruled to have been held
up in goal and then a try to Thurston disallowed for a forward pass.
But the Panthers fought back to level the scores at 10-10 at the break with tries to Michael Jennings and Michael Gordon. Gordon’s try left the
Cowboys bemused, a benefit of the doubt ruling by the video referee despite appearing to have been held up.
Carl Webb restored the lead for the Cowboys, but the lead would be short-lived after Michael Jennings picked up the crumbs from what looked
like a knock-on to Gavin Cooper and grounded the ball; the video referee again giving the benefit of the doubt to the Panthers. And from the kick-off
after the conversion, Jarrod Sammut scored after only two tackles, and in the blink of an eye the Panthers were in front.
With five minutes to go, John Williams threw the Cowboys a lifeline with a try in the corner, but Johnathan Thurston was unable to land the
conversion that would have levelled the scores. And in the final minute, Jennings put the issue beyond doubt, bringing up his hat-trick to give the
Panthers an 8-point win and ensure they would go ahead of the Cowboys on the ladder.
Penrith Panthers 28 def North Queensland Cowboys 20
Panthers : Tries – M Jennings 3, M Gordon, J Sammut. Goals – M Gordon 4/5.
Cowboys : Tries – J Thurston, W Tonga, C Webb, J Williams. Goals – J Thurston 2/4.
Referees – S Hayne, M Cecchin. Crowd – 14,274 at Dairy Farmers Stadium.
Melbourne have maintained their position in the top 4, the Storm condemning the Sharks to their fourth loss on the trot when they ran away in the
second half to record a 30-10 victory.
The first half was one best forgotten by both sides. Unforced errors, silly turnovers and some dreadful decision-making blighted proceedings;
both sides struggling to complete their sets, and failing to make anything of the numerous penalties their opponents gifted them. The only score
came from one of the few positive moves, when Billy Slater through a creative pass to find Brett Anderson.
The Storm led 4-0 at half time, and soon added a penalty goal; but the Sharks then made their move. Luke Covell pounced on a loose ball and
planted it over the line, the video referee taking what seemed an eternity before awarding a benefit of the doubt try. Converting his try, Covell
levelled the scores at 6-6.
But the turning point came when the Sharks’ Trent Barrett had a heavy collision with the Storm’s Brett White and came down with concussion.
Barrett attempted to play on, but was forced to throw in the towel and join an already long Cronulla injury list. And as Barrett was being replaced,
Joe Tomane grabbed a bomb and scored to put the Storm back in front.
It was the start of an avalanche, a run of four tries in 10 minutes that put the Storm firmly in control. Not even Barrett attempting to return to the field
of play could lift the Sharks as their defence crumbled and the Storm scored with ease. The final tally of 6 tries to 2, which looked unlikely at half
time, was a reflection of the Storm’s dominance in the latter stages, the Storm adding to their already imposing for-and-against and consolidating
their position in the top 4.
Melbourne Storm 30 def Cronulla Sharks 10
Storm : Tries – B Anderson 2, W Chambers, R Hinchcliffe, C Smith, J Tomane. Goals – C Smith 2/5, J Tomane 1/2.
Sharks : Tries – L Covell, B Ferguson. Goals – L Covell 1/2.
Referees – B Cummins, B Suttor. Crowd – 10,533 at Olympic Park.
Wests Tigers kept their finals hopes alive with their third win on the trot, completing a 25-4 win over Canberra at Bruce Stadium on Sunday
It was a bitterly cold, wet and windy afternoon in the nation’s capital; but Tim Moltzen warmed the Tigers’ spirits when he received the ball 10
metres out and spotted a hole in the Canberra line to dive over and score.
The try galvanised the Raiders into action, and the home side did everything they could to get the try back. Repeat sets, forcing the Tigers into a
string of line drop-outs, enabled the Raiders to put the Tigers under pressure. Phil Cooley crossed the line for what looked to be a try for the
Raiders, only for the video referee to disallow the try after some obstruction behind the play was noted.
The Tigers were under siege but held firm; and at the 25 minute mark the pressure was suddenly eased after Moltzen pulled off an intercept from
a Daniel Vidot pass and ran 90 metres to score under the posts. Benji Marshall’s conversion put the Tigers 12-0 ahead. John Morris added
another try on 35 minutes, and in the final seconds before the break, Robbie Farah put a field goal over to see the Tigers leading 19-0 at half time.
Taniela Tuiaki continued the Tigers’ run in the second half, wrong-footing the Canberra defence to score. Benji Marshall’s good afternoon with the
boot continued when he landed his fourth conversion. The Tigers’ goal-kicking, so often their weak link, maintained a perfect record.
Eventually the Raiders managed to score, Daniel Vidot crossing the line out wide, but it was the only blemish on what had been a solid
performance by the Tigers, one that keeps them within reach of the top 8. Not only the two points, but the healthy margin, could be important for
the Tigers in getting them back into the finals race, putting their for-and-against back into positive territory.
Wests Tigers 25 def Canberra Raiders 4
Tigers : Tries – T Moltzen 2, J Morris, T Tuiaki. Goals – B Marshall 4/4. Field Goals – R Farah 1/1.
Raiders : Tries – D Vidot. Goals – T Campese 0/1.
Referees – T Archer, P Haines. Crowd – 11,150 at Canberra Stadium.
St George moved into almost unbackable favouritism for the minor premiership, and boosted their chances of taking the title for the first time as a
joint venture club, when they travelled across the Tasman and returned triumphant after a comfortable 29-4 win over the New Zealand Warriors at
Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday.
The Dragons were on the board after just four minutes, Jamie Soward chipping the ball forward for Brett Morris to dive over and score in the
corner. But just two minutes later, the match was back on level terms, after Simon Mannering broke the St George line before off-loading to Joel
Moon. Neither try was converted, and scores were locked at 4-4.
A penalty goal restored St George’s status as leaders, and on 25 minutes Brett Morris brought up his double with a try under the posts. And a few
minutes later, Ben Creagh made a break to set up Chase Stanley for a try in the corner. The Dragons led 18-4, and took that lead into the break
after Jamie Soward tried and failed to add another point to the Dragons’ lead in the final seconds before the half time siren.
The Warriors came out hard in the second half, putting some big hits on the Dragons as they held the ladder leaders out. In attack they looked
dangerous, searching for a way to penetrate the St George defence. But the Dragons’ defence held firm through 23 scoreless minutes; and the
Warriors, despite all their efforts, were unable to manage a score and were unable to make any inroads into the St George advantage. And
against the run of play, it was the Dragons who would score the first points of the second half, Jamie Soward latching on to a grubber just forward
of his own goal-line and weaving around traffic to run 99 metres to score. Despite being unable to land his conversion attempt, Soward’s heroics
put the Dragons 22-4 in front.
A field goal put the margin beyond three converted tries, and a solo effort by Darius Boyd was the icing on the cake for the Dragons. With the
Bulldogs having lost earlier in the weekend, the Dragons now have a 2-game break on top of the ladder; but for the Warriors, their hopes of
appearing in finals action this season now looks an impossible dream.
St George-Illawarra Dragons 29 def New Zealand Warriors 4
Dragons : Tries – B Morris 2, D Boyd, J Soward, C Stanley. Goals – J Soward 4/6. Field Goals – J Soward 1/2.
Warriors : Tries – J Moon. Goals – K Locke 0/1.
Referees - G Badger, A Klein. Crowd – 13,507 at Mt Smart Stadium.
Souths’ third win in a row sees the Rabbitohs remain in the race to compete in the 2009 finals, after adding to local rivals Sydney Roosters’
misery with a 40-20 win at ANZ Stadium on Monday night.
The Rabbitohs wasted no time asserting themselves on the game, with Jamie Simpson scoring twice in the first 10 minutes to get the home side
off to a flying start. And the points kept on coming, with John Sutton and Isaac Luke strolling through some ordinary defence by the Roosters. It
was nearly a point a minute through the first quarter of the game, the Rabbitohs leading 18-0, a margin that could have been even greater had
Isaac Luke and Chris Sandow not missed some easy conversion attempts.
Mitch Aubusson scored in the final moments before half time to get the Roosters on the board, but the Roosters’ implosion continued early in the
second half when a brain explosion saw Willie Mason get 10 minutes in the sin bin. In his absence, Eddie Pettybourne and Craig Wing crossed
to add to Souths’ advantage; and Simpson completed his hat-trick shortly after Mason’s return. The Roosters scored three late tries, but it was too
little too late; the Rabbitohs closing to within one point of the top 8 while the struggling Roosters find themselves still stuck on the bottom of the
ladder, playing with no form and confidence and seemingly with no way out of the despair they find themselves in.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 40 def Sydney Roosters 20
Rabbitohs : Tries – J Simpson 3, I Luke, N Merritt, E Pettybourne, J Sutton, C Wing. Goals – C Sandow 4/6, I Luke 0/2.
Roosters : Tries – M Aubusson, J Friend, S Kenny-Dowall, M Pearce. Goals – S Kenny-Dowall 2/4.
Referees – J Robinson, G Sutton. Crowd – 11,031 at ANZ Stadium.
* Bulldogs penalised 2 points for breach of interchange rule.
|ROUND 21 FIXTURES:
(All times shown are Sydney time)
Friday 31st July
St George-Illawarra v Melbourne (7:30pm, WIN Jubilee Stadium)
Gold Coast v North Queensland (7:30pm, Skilled Park)
Saturday 1st August
Canberra v Brisbane (5:30pm, Canberra Stadium)
Newcastle v Sydney Roosters (7:30pm, Energy Australia Stadium)
Penrith v NZ Warriors (7:30pm, CUA Stadium)
Sunday 2nd August
Cronulla v Parramatta (2:00pm, Toyota Stadium)
South Sydney v Bulldogs (3:00pm, ANZ Stadium)
Monday 3rd August
Wests Tigers v Manly (7:00pm, Sydney Football Stadium)
A blockbuster Saturday evening crowd of 31,664 were stunned when the second-placed Bulldogs went down 27-8 to
their struggling traditional rivals Parramatta at ANZ Stadium.
It was a particularly good win for one Parramatta player, Daniel Mortimer, making his NRL debut. Up against the club
where his father Peter and uncles Steve and Chris made a name for themselves, Mortimer made an immediate
impact and was in the thick of the action all night. In the 10th minute, Mortimer sent a grubber into the Bulldogs’ in-
goal, and Luke Burt chased it down to score and give the Eels the opening try. And four minutes later, a 70 metre run
by Jarryd Hayne was followed by an offload to Eric Grothe that put the Eels 10-0 in front.
The Bulldogs fought back shortly before the break, tries to Jamal Idris and Bryson Goodwin narrowing the gap. But
importantly and unusually, Hazem El Masri failed to convert either try, which ensured the Eels would keep the lead and
go into the rooms at half time 10-8 ahead.
The Bulldogs threw everything at the Eels for 15 minutes after the resumption, the ball being camped in Parramatta’s
20. But for all the Bulldog pressure, the Parramatta defence held firm; and against the run of play it would be the Eels
who would be first to score in the second half with Eric Grothe scoring in the corner in the 55th minute.