Penrith went into their home game against St George desperate for a win to consolidate their place in the top eight, but
the Panthers were never in the hunt against a red-hot Dragons side that dramatically shortened the odds of finishing
top of the ladder, the Dragons taking out a comfortable 25-6 victory at CUA Stadium on Friday night.
Ben Creagh was over after just five minutes, successfully tying the Panther defence in knots and running around them
to place the ball under the posts. But the Panthers were defending resolutely, and it would be another half hour before
either side scored. The Dragons had the bulk of possession, and were creating field position but were finding the
determined Panther defence hard to penetrate.
But weight of possession eventually took its toll four minutes before half time, with Jeremy Smith from dummy half
finally catching the Penrith defence off guard to score and give the Dragons a 12-0 lead at the break.
The Panthers came out breathing fire after the break, and gaining repeat sets they were able to capitalise when Luke
Lewis crashed over to score and put the margin back to one converted try. And the comeback looked set to continue as
Lewis again crossed the line, only to be denied by the video referee.
But the comeback was brought to an end in spectacular style, with Jamie Soward intercepting and running 80 metres to
score, and the conversion made the score 18-6 to the Dragons. And although the Panthers continued to work hard, they
could find no way through the St George defence.
With 10 minutes to go, Jamie Soward added a field goal to the Dragons’ advantage. And in the final minutes, Jeremy
Smith brought up his double. It was another great night for the Dragons, their seventh win in a row, further extending
their lead on top of the table.
St George-Illawarra Dragons 25 def Penrith Panthers 6
Dragons : Tries – J Smith 2, B Creagh, J Soward. Goals – J Soward 4/5. Field Goals – J Soward 1/1.
Panthers : Tries – L Lewis. Goals – M Gordon 1/1.
Referees – G Badger, A Klein. Crowd – 19,987 at CUA Stadium.
Billy Slater celebrated his 150th NRL game in style, playing a starring role as his Melbourne Storm side consolidated
their place in the top four with a hard-fought 20-8 win over North Queensland at a cold Olympic Park on Friday night.
The Storm were in early, with Cooper Cronk’s cross-field kick finding Steve Turner, planting the ball down to score.
Turner, also a milestone man in his 100th game, took great delight in scoring the opening try; but the angle was too
tight for Cameron Smith to convert. But the Cowboys fought back, throwing the ball around until Willie Tonga burst
through to score. Johnathan Thurston’s conversion attempt was a shocker, and scores were 4-4.
25 minutes had elapsed when the Storm regained the lead, thanks to a solo effort by Brett Finch. And scores remained
at 10-4 Melbourne’s way for the remainder of the half, with both sides attempting to score but failing to cross the line.
Shortly after half time, the Storm added to their advantage. Billy Slater, making a break, ran to just short of the line
before being held; but at the final split-second managed to somehow throw a pass to Cooper Cronk, who found the
line. And on the hour, Billy Slater found Tomane next to the sideline, and Tomane showed some fancy footwork to keep
his feet from going into touch as he dodged the Cowboy defenders to score in the corner. A sideline conversion by
Cameron Smith gave the Storm a 20-4 lead, and victory was assured for the Storm.
Willie Tonga brought up his double in the final minutes to salvage some respectability for the Cowboys, but it was the
home side who were clearly the better side all night and deserved their victory. The result, along with Penrith’s loss to
the Dragons, sees the Storm now more than a game clear of fifth, and with just four rounds to go before the finals, a
home final in the first week is now looking likely. But it was a chance lost for the Cowboys, now five points behind the
Storm, and time is running out for the Townsville side to avoid another long flight when finals time comes.
Melbourne Storm 20 def North Queensland Cowboys 8
Storm : Tries – C Cronk, B Finch, J Tomane, S Turner. Goals – C Smith 2/4.
Cowboys : Tries – W Tonga 2. Goals – J Thurston 0/2.
Referees – T Archer, G Sutton. Crowd – 10,510 at Olympic Park.
South Sydney, after looking out of the finals race, suddenly found themselves back in calculations for this season’s
playoff action when the Rabbitohs travelled to Brookvale Oval to take on defending premiers Manly; but in a major
boilover the Rabbitohs took out their first win at Brookvale since 2004, a 36-22 defeat of the Sea Eagles.
The Sea Eagles made the early attacking, and in just the third minute Tony Williams chased down a grubber to score.
It was all Manly, as they continued to attack; and Jamie Lyon looked to have scored five minutes later, only to be denied
by the video referee ruling obstruction by a decoy runner. But in the 12th minute, Anthony Watmough crossed over to
score under the posts and put the Sea Eagles 12-0 ahead.
But five minutes later, the Rabbitohs fought back, with John Sutton putting a grubber forward on the last tackle which
Nathan Merritt chased down to score. And in the 22nd minute, Isaac Luke put up a bomb which Manly fullback Tony
Williams was happy to let bounce. But a freak bounce saw the ball move away from Williams, and first-gamer Chris
McQueen couldn’t believe his good luck as the ball bounced into his arms for a try. Chris Sandow’s conversion
levelled the scores.
Fetuli Talanoa on the half hour mark gave the Rabbitohs the lead for the first time, as he outmuscled the Manly
defenders to score an unconverted try in the corner. And shortly afterwards, centre Beau Champion outran the Sea
Eagle defenders to score under the posts and give the Rabbitohs a 22-12 lead that they would maintain till half time.
The ball travelled from end to end in the second half, but the scoreline remained unchanged until the 57th minute. But
repeated infringements from the Sea Eagles tested the referees’ patience, and eventually a penalty was awarded; with
Chris Sandow converting the try to extend the lead to 12 points.
* Bulldogs penalised 2 points for breach of interchange rule.
|ROUND 23 FIXTURES:
(All times shown are Sydney time)
Friday 14th August
North Queensland v Bulldogs (7:30pm, Dairy Farmers Stadium)
South Sydney v Gold Coast (7:30pm, ANZ Stadium)
Saturday 15th August
Sydney Roosters v Manly (5:30pm, Sydney Football Stadium)
Canberra v St George-Illawarra (7:30pm, Canberra Stadium)
Parramatta v NZ Warriors (7:30pm, Parramatta Stadium)
Sunday 16th August
Cronulla v Wests Tigers (2:00pm, Toyota Stadium)
Brisbane v Penrith (3:00pm, Suncorp Stadium)
Monday 17th August
Newcastle v Melbourne (7:00pm, Energy Australia Stadium)
But on the hour, the Sea Eagles were back in the contest, swinging the ball out wide for Tony Williams to bring up his double with a try in the
corner. But shortly afterwards, Chris Sandow from dummy half drew the Manly defenders before sending Nathan Merritt through a gap for a
sensational try under the posts that gave the Rabbitohs a 30-16 advantage.
Time was running out, and there were less than ten minutes left on the clock when Beau Champion brought up his double, making the game
safe for the Rabbitohs. Even with a consolation try for Jason King in the dying seconds, it was a comprehensive performance by the Rabbitohs;
and one that puts them back in the mix for finals calculations, while seeing the Sea Eagles no certainties to qualify for this year’s finals.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 36 def Manly Sea Eagles 22
Rabbitohs : Tries – B Champion 2, N Merritt 2, C McQueen, F Talanoa. Goals – C Sandow 6/7.
Sea Eagles : Tries – T Williams 2, J King, A Watmough. Goals – M Orford 3/4.
Referees – B Cummins, B Suttor. Crowd – 15,702 at Brookvale Oval.
The Bulldogs kept themselves in the hunt for the minor premiership, but were made to fight all the way by a determined Canberra side before
eventually falling over the line 23-20 in an eventful Saturday night game at ANZ Stadium.
The Bulldogs were the hottest of favourites going into the game, and it didn’t take long for in-form winger Bryson Goodwin to cross the line and
score in the corner; with Hazem El Masri landing a conversion from the sideline. But the Raiders fought back, with Terry Campese chasing down
a grubber to score and level the match at 6-6.
On 18 minutes the Bulldogs were in again, after a length-of-the-field play that finished with David Stagg grounding the ball over the line. Shortly
afterwards, Bryson Goodwin chased down a Brett Kimmorley kick and after considerable deliberation by the video referee the try was awarded
and Goodwin had completed his double. But, uncharacteristically, Hazem El Masri was unable to convert either try, and the Bulldogs’ lead
remained at 14-6; a scoreline that would remain intact until the final seconds of the half, when Brett Kimmorley put a field goal over to add another
point to the Bulldogs’ lead.
Only three minutes into the second half, the Raiders kept themselves in the contest after a strong individual performance by Joel Thompson led to
an unconverted try. But the Bulldogs looked to have the game under control a few minutes later with a converted try to Brett Kimmorley; and at 21-
10, it was looking comfortable enough.
But on the hour, Phil Graham was on the end of a string of passes to score in the corner, with Terry Campese adding the extras. Five minutes
later, Daniel Vidot flew over the line with the ball to score; but Campese failed to land the conversion that would have given the Raiders an unlikely
Kimmorley’s field goal would be a valuable buffer during the second half, preventing the Raiders from levelling the scores. With the one-point
advantage, the Bulldogs were able to defend and the Raiders were forced into mistakes when attempting to find another score. The Raiders
continued to work hard, but could not find another way to score and the Bulldogs were able to hang on to take the win. A penalty goal in the final
minute added another two points to the Bulldogs’ score, while eating up enough time to prevent the Raiders from taking one last shot at victory.
Bulldogs 23 def Canberra Raiders 20
Bulldogs : Tries – B Goodwin 2, B Kimmorley, D Stagg. Goals – H El Masri 3/5. Field Goals – B Kimmorley 1/1.
Raiders : Tries – T Campese, P Graham, J Thompson, D Vidot. Goals – T Campese 2/4.
Referees – J Maxwell, B Sutton. Crowd – 13,310 at ANZ Stadium.
The trip across the Tasman can often be difficult, but the Gold Coast Titans successfully overcame the challenge, and with a comfortable 30-10
win at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday afternoon all but booked their place in their first finals series.
The Titans took the lead early, thanks to a penalty goal to Scott Prince. And after 12 minutes, the Titans got a try on the board; with Anthony
Laffranchi finding a gaping hole in the Warriors’ defence and running to the line to score under the posts. And the Warriors’ defence was again
found wanting ten minutes later, as Scott Prince encountered minimal opposition to cruise through for the easiest of tries.
14-0 to the Titans, and the scoreline would remain unchanged for the remainder of the half. The Titans did the majority of the attacking, but were
unable to add to the lead. But the run of play changed as the second half got under way, and the Warriors began to get a better slice of
possession and began to work their way back into the contest.
Seven minutes into the second half, a bomb from Stacey Jones was pounced on by Manu Vatuvei for a try in the corner. And on the hour, in what
looked a replay of the previous try, Vatuvei scored again and the scoreline was 14-10, with the Warriors building momentum and threatening to
run the Titans down.
But the Warriors’ charge could go no further. Mat Rogers set up Kevin Gordon for a try that would stop the Warriors’ comeback, restoring the
initiative for the Titans. And in the last ten minutes, Mat Rogers ran in a double, turning the result into a comfortable 20-point win for the Titans.
With just four rounds till the finals, a spot in the finals for the Titans is all but assured.
Gold Coast Titans 30 def New Zealand Warriors 10
Titans : Tries – M Rogers 2, K Gordon, A Laffranchi, S Prince. Goals – S Prince 5/6.
Warriors : Tries – M Vatuvei 2. Goals – K Locke 1/2.
Referees – S Lyons, A Shortall. Crowd – 10,205 at Mt Smart Stadium.
The Wests Tigers’ juggernaut rolled on at the Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday afternoon, as the Tigers won their fifth game on the trot to be on
the verge of the top eight, defeating the struggling Sydney Roosters 17-10.
The Roosters, desperate to get off the bottom of the ladder, started strongly and after seven minutes became the first side to score. An explosive
run by Craig Fitzgibbon put the Roosters to within metres of the line, and on the next tackle Setaimata Sa found an opening to score the opening
try. Fitzgibbon’s conversion attempt was unsuccessful, but the Roosters had a 4-0 lead.
Ten minutes later, Anthony Minichiello made a break, resulting in Shaun Kenny-Dowall crossing over for a try, and a shock 8-0 lead for the
Roosters. But back to back penalties at the half hour mark enabled the Tigers to put the Roosters under sustained pressure, enabling Taniela
Tuiaki to chase a grubber and score. None of the first half tries were converted, and the Roosters were 8-4 ahead at half time.
The Roosters found themselves a man short early in the second half, when Mitch Aubusson found himself sentenced to ten minutes in the sin
bin. And while the Roosters were short, the Tigers capitalised, with Beau Ryan spotting the opening and crossing over to score. Benji Marshall’s
conversion gave the Tigers the lead for the first time.
On the hour, a penalty to the Roosters saw Craig Fitzgibbon elect to take the two points, and scores were tied up at 10-10. But with 13 minutes to
go, Benji Marshall caught the Roosters’ defence out with a creative run, before off-loading to Beau Ryan; Ryan bringing up his double with a
converted try that put the Tigers 16-10 ahead.
A field goal to Robbie Farah shortly afterwards put the game out of the Roosters’ reach, and the game counted down to a 17-10 win for the Tigers.
A season that had looked dead and buried for the Tigers just a month ago is very much alive, and the Tigers have plenty of momentum and a
good chance to make the finals for the first time since their 2005 premiership. But for the Roosters, it was another winning opportunity that got
away, as they find themselves still languishing at the bottom of the ladder.
Wests Tigers 17 def Sydney Roosters 10
Tigers : Tries – B Ryan 2, T Tuiaki. Goals – B Marshall 2/3. Field Goals – R Farah 1/1.
Roosters : Tries – S Kenny-Dowall, S Sa. Goals – C Fitzgibbon 1/3.
Referees – G Badger, T De las Heras. Crowd – 16,427 at Sydney Football Stadium.
Parramatta won their fourth game on the trot, and find themselves within reach of the top eight, after the Eels dominated at their home ground to
complete a comprehensive 40-8 win over Newcastle on Sunday afternoon.
The Knights started well enough, with Jarrod Mullen offloading to put Steve Simpson in for a try under the posts. But on 15 minutes, the Eels
responded after Krisnan Inu put his hand down to pressure the ball during a scramble on the goal-line; with the video referee deliberating before
awarding the try.
Kurt Gidley landed a penalty goal shortly afterwards to put the Knights back in front, but it would be short-lived. Luke Burt began to exert his
influence. A possible try was denied on the video replay, but Burt scored shortly afterwards from a chip-and-chase to give the Eels the lead. Four
minutes before half time, Joel Reddy picked up the crumbs from a Newcastle knock-on and faced little opposition to score; with Burt’s conversion
and a penalty goal on the stroke of half time seeing the Eels with a 20-8 lead at half time.
Newcastle, 12 points behind and with their place in the top eight on the line, came out firing in the second half and threatened to score during the
early minutes after the break, only to find themselves unable to seal the deal. But, when they had the Eels under pressure, the Knights would lose
the opportunity, handing the Eels back-to-back penalties to surrender possession and put the home side in the attacking zone. And at the 55-
minute mark, Eric Grothe found the line to score out wide with a try that Burt capitalised on with a magnificent conversion from near the sideline.
A penalty goal on the hour added to Parramatta’s buffer, and shortly afterwards the game was safe; with big prop Fuifui Moimoi putting the crowd
in raptures as he crashed his way through the Newcastle defenders to barrel over the line and score.
The game was safe for the Eels, and there was no looking back. Luke Burt again showed his class in the final minutes, bringing up a double to
go with his eight from eight with the boot. Four wins in a row for Parramatta has seen them come from near the bottom to be in a position to
challenge for an unlikely spot in the top eight. But for the Knights, their third loss on the trot sees them fall out of the top eight. The Knights have
been low on morale and results since coach Brian Smith announced he will be defecting to the Roosters next season; and pressure will be
intensifying on the departing coach to leave early.
Parramatta Eels 40 def Newcastle Knights 8
Eels : Tries – L Burt 2, E Grothe, K Inu, F Moimoi, J Reddy. Goals – L Burt 8/8.
Knights : Tries – S Simpson. Goals – K Gidley 2/2.
Referees – S Hayne, M Cecchin. Crowd – 17,669 at Parramatta Stadium.
Brisbane brought their three-game losing streak to an end, keeping themselves in finals calculations, when they comfortably overcame Cronulla
30-10 at Suncorp Stadium on Monday night.
The Sharks started brightly enough, with Paul Gallen off-loading to Luke Covell for a try in the corner in the fifth minute. But the Broncos soon took
control of the contest. Jharal Yow Yeh was held up just centimetres short of the line as the desperate Cronulla defence denied him a try. But there
was no holding Yow Yeh back in the 20th minute, as he crashed over for a try; and with Corey Parker’s conversion, the Broncos had taken a 6-4
The Broncos were looking stronger, and on the half hour mark, Peter Wallace made a creative off-load to send Ben Te’o to the line for a try. Parker
was unable to convert, but made up for it by putting a penalty goal over shortly before half time.
The floodgates opened as the second half got under way, and in quick succession Dave Taylor, Alex Glenn and Josh McGuire found the line for
converted tries. Grant Millington scored a late consolation try for the Sharks, but there was no doubting that this was another comprehensive
display by the Brisbane side.
For the Broncos, it was a welcome reversal of form. Recovering from their 56-0 humiliation against Canberra last week, the result gets their
hopes of maintaining their unbroken run of finals appearances back on track. But the struggling Sharks have now lost six in a row, morale around
the club is low as they count down four more weeks until their disastrous season is over.
Brisbane Broncos 30 def Cronulla Sharks 10
Broncos : Tries – A Glenn, J McGuire, D Taylor, B Te’o, J Yow Yeh. Goals – C Parker 5/6.
Sharks : Tries – L Covell, G Millington. Goals – L Covell 1/2.
Referees – B Cummins, P Haines. Crowd – 20,114 at Suncorp Stadium.