by Wilson Smith
Roosters vs Tigers
Friday nights match turned out to be a very one-sided affair with Roosters halves Mitch Pearce and James Maloney doing their Origin chances no harm after guiding the Roosters to a solid 36-4 win.
The Roosters dominated the first half with Tupou opening the scoring in the 4th minute before the floodgates opened after 25 minutes with tries to Sio Siu Taukeiaho, Boyd Cordner and again Daniel Tupou.
The Roosters were much more quiet in the second half as the Tigers really muscled up in defence, keeping the Roosters to only two 2nd half tries to Tupou and Mitchell Pearce. Dene Halatau scored a consolation try for the tigers in the dying stages of the game after a great ball from Luke Brooks.
Laurie Daley would have watched this game with great intrigue as the Roosters halves controlled the game to dominate the Tigers. Man of the match Mitchell Pearce and Daniel Tupou would definitely have to be somewhere in Daley’s Origin calculations.
Sydney Roosters 36 (Tupou 3, Taukeiaho, Cordner, Pearce tries; Maloney 6 goals) def. Tigers 4 (Halatau Try) at Allianz Stadium. Crowd: 14,366.
Broncos vs Panthers
This last minute thriller at Suncorp Stadium was arguably one of the grittiest games of the season so far with great defensive displays from both sides.
Brisbane welcomed back Darius Boyd who, while clearly still not at his best, had some nice touches of the ball. Penrith were really boosted by the inclusions of Elijah Taylor, who was great in defence, and Jamie Soward, who tried his best in attack to no avail for the Panthers.
The first points of the game didn’t come until the 35th minute with Jordan Kahu scoring for Brisbane. Penrith hit back with Matt Moylan nailing a penalty goal right on half time.
The second half was just as gritty as the first with the first points going to Penrith through another penalty goal to Matt Moylan.
Tyrone Peachey was placed on report for a lifting tackle on Adam Blair in the 60th minute. The tackle was quite ugly and also well after the whistle, meaning Peachey could be in quite a bit of trouble with the NRL Judiciary.
The great defensive efforts continued, keeping the scores locked, until the 75th minute when Matt Moylan kicked a field goal to put Penrith in the lead for the first time.
After Ben Hunt shanked his field goal attempt it all looked over for Brisbane, until some great vision from Hunt who saw an overlap out right to put Corey Oats over for a try in the 79th minute.
Brisbane Broncos 8 (Kahu, Oates tries) def. Penrith Panthers 5 (Moylan 2 goals; Moylan field goal) at Suncorp Stadium. Crowd: 24,566. On Report: Tyrone Peachey (Panthers).
Raiders vs Titans
Raiders went into this game having not won any games at home this year and winning only 2 of the last 10 there. They went on to play one of their best games of the season to keep their winning streak going and to jump into the top 4.
Blake Austin opened up the scoring with one of the best goose steps of the modern era to run over the line almost untouched. Titans hit back with Anthony Don scoring before the Canberra continued with 3 more first half tries before Don scored again in the last play of the first half.
Titans started the second half strong with Don racking up his first hat-trick in the NRL before the Raiders recaptured their first half form going on to score 32 unanswered second half points.
Adding salt to the wounds of Titans, Jarrod Croker scored 24 individual points, more than the entire Titans team. Blake Austin was in amazing form, playing a major part in the Raiders success and is now really pressing his origin claims. Paul Vaughn and Josh Papalli were invaluable for the Raiders while Ryan James was arguably the Titans best.
Canberra Raiders 56 (Blake Austin 2, Jarrod Croker 2, Paul Vaughan, Jordan Rapana, Josh Papalii, Sia Soliola, Edrick Lee, Sam Williams tries; Jarrod Croker 8 goals) def. Gold Coast Titans 16 (Anthony Don 3 tries; Aidan Sezer 2 goals) at GIO Stadium. Crowd: 8116.
Sharks vs Warriors
What started as a really tight deadlock finished as a last minute thriller, with 3 tries in the last 10 minutes to set up one of the greatest finished of the round.
The Warriors opened up the scoring with Jonathon Wright before Sharks hit back, when a kick ricocheted of a Warriors leg to bounce up in the hands of Luke Lewis, who scored under the posts. Manu Vatuvei scored in the 30th minute before Valentine Holmes kicked a penalty goal right on half time to leave the scores tied at 8-8.
Penalty goals to both sides early in the second half kept the deadlock at 10-10 for the majority of the second half. Solomone Kata had a try denied before he redeemed himself, scoring in the 72nd minute, seemingly putting the game to rest. However Andrew Fifita revealed his true class scoring an amazing solo try, showing Laurie Daley that he is ready for origin this year.
While Sharks thought they had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, the Warriors had other ideas with Ryan Hoffman charging down Jeff Robson’s kick to lay the platform for Shaun Johnson to score his own solo try. Johnson ran through the defence, seemingly with ease to win the game for the Warriors in the last minute.
Konrad Hurrell was placed on report after contact from his knee led to Anthony Tupou being taken to hospital for a broken jaw. Sami Sauiluma was also placed on report.
New Zealand Warriors 20 (Jonathan Wright, Manu Vatuvei, Solomone Kata, Shaun Johnson Tries; Shaun Johnson 2 Goals) def. Cronulla Sharks 16 (Luke Lewis, Andrew Fifita Tries; Valentine Holmes 4 Goals) at Remondis Stadium. Crowd: 13,988. On report: Konrad Hurrell (Warriors) & Sami Sauiluma (Sharks).
Cowboys vs Bulldogs
The Bulldogs first game outside of Sydney turned into a very physical encounter and marked a return to some good form for NSW incumbent Trent Hodkinson but was still not enough to beat the Cowboys who had won their last 12 of 15 at home.
The first points of the game didn’t come until the half hour mark with Michael Morgan showing great speed to get past several defenders to score in the corner. Morgan had a hand in the Cowboys second try after an ugly pass found Matthew Wright unmarked in the corner.
The Bulldogs started the second half on fire with a quick tries to Josh Jackson and Corey Thompson before Curtis Rona intercepted a stray Jonathon Thurston pass and ran the whole field to score out wide.
A Moses Mbye error opened the path for Gavin Cooper to score levelling the contest before Michael Morgan broke away from the Bulldogs defence to score the match winning points. But Jonathan Thurston added a field goal to the Cowboys tally just to be safe, making this the Cowboys 6th win in a row.
North Queensland Cowboys 23 (Morgan 2, Wright, Cooper tries, Thurston 3 goals, Thurston Field Goal) def. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 16 (Jackson, Thompson, Rona Tries, Hodkison 2 goals) at 1300SMILES Stadium. Crowd: 15,794.
Sea Eagles vs Knights
Newcastle went into this game having lost 13 of their last 15 at Brookvale and this one would be no different as Manly showed glimpses of their best to outclass the Knights who have now lost 6 in a row.
Manly opened the scoring with a try to Jorge Tafua in the 18th minute and Brett Stewart built on his great try-scoring rate at Brookvale, scoring not long after. Ligi Sao scored his first try in the NRL right before half time and Newcastle had several chances but as has been the case a lot this season, have been unable to capitalise on their opportunities.
Newcastle started off stronger in the second half with James McManus scoring in the corner shortly after the resumption before Manly picked up where they left off with Brett Stewart scoring a great solo try to notch up his double and his 150th NRL try. Daly Cherry-Evans almost sent Stewart over for his hat trick before McManus intercepted the wayward pass.
Cherry Evans scored his own try to make up for his other mistake before Tariq Sims hit back for Newcastle scoring in the 73rd minute, but it was much too late for a late resurgence.
Cherry-Evans was named man of the match and played one of his best this season and is really stamping his authority heading into the origin period.
Manly Sea Eagles 30 (Stewart 2, Tafua, Sao, Cherry-Evans tries, Lyon 5 goals) def. Newcastle Knights 10 (McManus, Sims tries, Roberts goal) at Brookvale Oval. Crowd: 10,065.
Eels vs Storm
Melbourne head into this game on the back of a close loss to Manly, while Eels were desperate to win after being thumped by the Broncos the week before.
Storms had several players backing up from the rep footy weekend but were boosted by the return of Billy Slater, who made an immediate impact, opening the scoring early in the game thanks to his brilliant backing up.
Eels hit back to take the lead with tries to Will Hopoate and Ryan Morgan before Billy Slater scored again to notch up his double, leaving the scores tied up at 10-all at half time.
The second half was very one-sided however with Eels pushing for more points but coming up with errors and poor finished to their sets. Melbourne went on to score 18 unanswered second half points with tries to Marika Koroibete, Will Chambers and Dale Finucane.
Richie Fa’aoso was troubled by his second concussion in subsequent weeks, again marring his return to the NRL despite being cleared to return.
Melbourne Storm 28 (Billy Slater 2, Marika Koroibete, Will Chambers, Dale Finucane tries; Cam Smith 4 goals) defeated Parramatta Eels 10 (Will Hopoate, Ryan Morgan tries; Chris Sandow goal) at Pirtek Stadium. Crowd: 10,505.
Rabbitohs vs Dragons
Souths head into this game desperate for a win having lost four of their last 5 while Dragons are equal second on the ladder after winning 6 in a row. Souths were boosted after inclusions of John Sutton and Adam Reynolds while Josh Dugan was a late inclusion and Tyson Frizell returned from suspension.
Souths opened the scoring with a penalty goal after Sutton was hit with a high shot that left him struggling to see clearly. Widdop hit back for the Dragons with a penalty goal of their own before he proceeded to score the first try of the match to extend the Dragons lead.
Souths scored through Aaron Grey after Greg Inglis spotted Jason Nightingale coming in off his wing and sent it out wide. Nightingale made up for this soon after scoring out wide off a great cut-out pass from Benji Marshall. They went in at half time with Dragons ahead 10-6.
After the resumption a forced drop out put Souths in good field position to score through Aaron Gray out wide, thanks to some sloppy defence, to put Souths in the lead for the first time.
A string of penalties in the Dragons half, Souths managed to score again in the corner through Alex Johnston. Dragons tried everything to get points but Souths defence really stood up to grind out the win.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 16 (Grey 2, Johnston tries, Reynolds goal & Reynolds penalty Goal) beat St. George-Illawarra Dragons 10 (Widdop, Nightingale tries, Widdop penalty goal) at ANZ Stadium. Crowd: 14,126.
Photo: Mark Metcalfe