Cartwright the man as Panthers rout the Bunnies

Bryce Cartwright

Enjoying a recent resurgence in his own game of late, the impact of Bryce Cartwright on the Penrith Panthers team cannot be understated. He is performing and winning games for them.

The game v Souths was no different, as everything he did turned to gold and produced the goods that led the Panthers to a 20-6 win at home against the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

It was a brick wall in defence by the Panthers, as they showed a steely defensive resolve that has so far been hiding in season 2015.

Despite the Bunnies’ best efforts and a completion rate of a remarkable 93% in the first half, they were simply unable to score and find a way through the resolute defence of the Panthers.

The Bunnies had opportunities to score but failed to capitalise, because of Penrith’s defence and their own mistakes.

There were errors in the second-half and even the first, that ended their attacking momentum, and Souths just could not find a way to score until late on through Joel Reddy.

By that time, it was already too late and the icing on the cake was settled when departing hooker Apisai Koroisau kicked a penalty goal late on.

The news does not get any better for Souths after a head clash saw prop Dave Tyrrell leave the field and back-rower John Sutton suffering a possible biceps injury.

2014 was a quality year for the Panthers and whilst they have not quite reached the same heights this year, coach Ivan Cleary believes they are getting towards that sort of form once more.

“We’re starting to look like a football team again. Combinations are starting to improve and I think the confidence definitely is starting to come back,” Cleary said post-game.

“I mentioned a few weeks ago we were disjointed, that’s just how we were playing. Our play wasn’t flowing very well. It just wasn’t quite clicking. I thought we just played as a team really, that was the best thing.”

Cleary also made it clear that after some dour performances at their home ground, that the club and the players are keen to make Pepper Stadium a difficult place for opposition teams to play at.

“Our last two home games have been really disappointing. A while back now against Parramatta and then the Storm in particular,” Cleary said.

“Home is home. We’ve got some very loyal fans but they need to see some decent performances to get excited out here. Hopefully they’re a bit more excited after this one.”

Player of the Game:

3. Bryce Cartwright
2. Waqa Blake
1. Isaah Yeo

Penrith Panthers 20 (Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Dean Whare, Peter Wallace, Waqa Blake tries; Apisai Koroisau 2 Goals) defeated South Sydney Rabbitohs 6 (Joel Reddy Try; Adam Reynolds Goal) at Pepper Stadium. Crowd: 14, 068. Half-time: Panthers 8-0.

Eels confirm Foran signing

Kieran Foran

In a huge boost for the Parramatta Eels from season 2016, the club has confirmed the signing of Kieran Foran.

The signing very nearly did not happen, as a series of events led to a string of nervous moments had Eels fans on edge after some mismanagement regarding Foran’s contract.

With the deal now all sorted and all parties in agreement, Foran has signed wit the Eels for two seasons with a further two year option in favour of the player.

He will commence training with the Eels in November 2015.

In what had tense and nervous moments galore, the Eels are pleased that the signing has been confirmed, as Eels Chairman Steve Sharp praised Foran and how he dealt with the situations.

“Kieran has been very professional while the club worked through the process and I thank him for his approach,” said Sharp.

“I would also like to thank our Members and fans for their patience throughout this process with a good result for all achieved in the end.”

“It’s now time to move on and get back to focusing on football. Our Members and fans showed incredible support last Saturday night and we want to see them out in force on Monday night when we take on the Wests Tigers.”

Tipping Point’s View: Rd 17 Tips

Our tipping guru is back to help you out during this tough week of games. Just the four this week but none are easy to tip for varying reasons. Our man Tipping Point will hopefully make things a bit clearer tipping wise to help you gain the edge over rivals.

Round 17 Tips

Season: 71/124 (57%) – Last week: 5/8

At a glance: Souths, Cowboys, Manly, Eels, Queensland

Panthers v Rabbitohs, Pepper Stadium

Souths are significantly ahead in this clash if you’re going by the bookies, but I reckon the Panthers will give them a real shake. They were super impressive against the Tigers last week and at their home ground with no Origin outs I think they can spring an upset. What worries me about tipping the Panthers is that they do tend to struggle against the better sides, and Souths have a solid record over them with four straight wins. I’ll be tipping the Bunnies, but Penrith are a shrewd selection for a point of difference in your tipping comp.

Tip: Souths

Dragons v Cowboys, WIN Stadium

This game is an absolute lottery, despite the Dragons giving away a considerable start at the line. The Cowboys are obviously without their Origin quartet but the Dragons are in the midst of a massive injury crisis, and have Frizell, Farrell, De Belin, Joel Thompson and Matthews out and Nightingale under a cloud, to go with Dugan and Merrin who are in Origin camp. The Dragons also look a bit out of sorts generally, especially in the halves, with Marshall in particular well down on his good early season form. I think the Cowboys have a more settled line-up and with their strong away form in 2015 I think they can spring an upset and maintain their unbeaten record in NSW this year.

Tip: Cowboys

Manly v Sharks, Brookvale Oval

This was probably the most straightforward tip in a tricky round. You just have to take Manly. With their season and pride on the line I think they’ll be up for a big game, in particular DCE who was dropped from the Queensland side for game three. Crucially, Manly have their 1, 6, 7 and 9 playing and there are rumours that Lyon will be a late inclusion. With their strong record against the Sharks (10 wins from their last 11 games) and in front of the Brookie faithful I think they will get up, although it ought to be a willing contest against a pretty underrated Cronulla side.

Tip: Manly

Tigers v Eels, ANZ Stadium

This is just flat out awkward to tip. I could list a dozen reasons why you shouldn’t pick either side (Eels are awful on the road, and even worse at ANZ whereas the Tigers struggle without Farah and, seriously, who could pick them after last Sunday?) but I have to nominate a winner. It’s an even money bet but I think the Eels seem to have more go about them. They’ve strung together two wins, and had they held their nerve against the Cowboys it could well have been four straight wins. The Tigers have burned me so many times this year: they seem to put in one outstanding performance every few weeks to give you a bit of hope, and then dish up the kind of effort we saw last Sunday. With a few backline injuries they are looking thin out wide, and I expect the Eels to exploit that. Interestingly, the Tigers could end up in last place after this round should they lose and Manly win.

Tip: Eels

New South Wales v Queensland

Game three in what has been a spiteful series wraps up at Suncorp Stadium with Queensland going in as favourites. The Maroons will be without Slater and McGuire but welcome back Cooper Cronk and noted hitman Josh Papalii who will no doubt be on a mission to stop David Klemmer (and resume his acquaintance with Paul Gallen’s ribcage). The Blues meanwhile are expected to be without veteran Robbie Farah who had surgery on an injured hand earlier in the week, with Michael Ennis the likely replacement. I have to say I reckon the Blues have Queensland’s measure, particularly in the forwards, but I worry about their ability to close out the match. The Maroons are going to come at a million miles an hour and it just seems like the kind of encounter where one brilliant play will be the difference: I don’t know that the Blues are good enough to put them away in hostile territory when the game is really up for grabs. Interestingly, over the past ten years only six series have gone to a decider. Four of those six encounters have been won by the side which was victorious in game two. Recent history would suggest a Blues win, but I think a Queensland victory is the more likely.

Tip: Queensland

Follow Tipping Point on Twitter: @tpoint1908

Panthers confirm departure of Koroisau

Apisai Koroisau

Whilst he may have been at the club for a short time only, opportunity is everything in this day and age of rugby league. Although he is playing now, with James Segeyaro to return, opportunity will soon be limited for Apisai Koroisau.

And so, the exciting hooker is set to join the Manly Sea Eagles from season 2016 in order to garner further first-grade opportunities.

The move will see Koroisau released from the final year of his contract with the Panthers, in order to accept a three-year deal with Manly.

“Api has been given an opportunity to secure his future and he leaves with our blessings,” Panthers Executive General Manager rugby league Phil Gould AM said.

“He has been wonderful for our club in the short time he has been here, and I know he will continue to give us great service for the rest of the season.

“With James Segeyaro also at the Panthers, it is only fair that we give Api the opportunity to secure a regular starting position with another NRL club.”

Despite the departure of Koroisau, the club believe in the talented youngsters coming through their club ranks.

“We have several outstanding youngsters coming through the ranks to still provide great depth for the club in this position,” said Gould.

“I know Api will give all he’s got for the rest of the season.”

Storm youngster rewarded for good form and signs new deal

Felise Kaufusi

Bursting onto the NRL scene earlier this season, the form shown by Melbourne Storm youngster Felise Kaufusi has been enough to convince the club to re-sign him.

Kaufusi will enjoy a new 2-year deal with the club, with the forward playing an important role off the bench in his 13-game career so far.

Kaufusi, a Bundaberg Brothers junior, was a part of the North Queensland Cowboys Holden Cup set-up and now in his second season with the Storm, the club are pleased to have re-signed him.

“Felise is a very good young player who we believe can play regular first grade football,” said Melbourne Storm Director of Football, Frank Ponissi.

“He attracted a number of other offers, so we are very pleased he has decided to stay with Melbourne Storm and the next two years allows the Club to continue to develop him into a consistent NRL player.

“His signing is great news for Melbourne Storm for now and for the future.”

Playing alongside the calibre of players at the Storm and what they are building, was a big reason behind Kaufusi’s decision to stay.

“Having players like Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater, Jesse Bromwich and the overall pack, I think I can just improve and get better as a player,” said Kaufusi.

Playing alongside an international prop in Jesse Bromwich – and one of the best in the NRL – Kaufusi has learnt a lot from him in the two years he has been with the club.

“As you said, he is the best prop in the game and I’m just trying to learn as much as I can off the big unit,” said Kaufusi.

The chance to play first-grade and stay in the Storm team has been a dream for Kaufusi and he is just pleased to be playing.

“Oh, mate, it’s been unreal,” said Kaufusi.

“I’ve enjoyed every second of it and I’ve still got a lot of improvement in me.

“Look forward to improving on the little things and getting better.”

Eels fullback signs short-term deal with St Helens

Adam Quinlan

Currently in the midst of a fullback crisis with several of their key players injured, St Helens have acted quickly to plug the hole, signing Parramatta Eels fullback, Adam Quinlan.

After the retirements of two players and injuries to several others, St Helens sought Quinlan as their ideal replacement for the role.

Still only 22, Quinlan joined the Eels from fellow NRL club, the St George Illawarra Dragons, and has since been playing for their feeder team Wentworthville.

Upon receiving his visa, Quinlan will link up with St Helens and get cracking for them.

St Helens coach Kieron Cunningham admits that it is not the first time the club approached Quinlan and he is pleased to have the youngster on board.

“We’re lucky enough to get the signature of Adam Quinlan, who is the back-up full-back at Parramatta,” Cunningham said.

“We’re waiting on visas.

“We looked at Adam originally when we had a few injuries. Shannon became available so we went with him. I think Adam was kicking himself that he didn’t make the decision to come.

“I spoke to him again when Shannon got injured and he is itching to come. He’s a good full-back and is an ex-half-back so he understands the game. He’s a real exciting player.”

Dragons confirm the signings of three new players

Mark Ioane

Building strongly for both the remainder of this year and years to come, the development of the St George Illawarra Dragons side into a premiership threat is a very real one.

With the need for big boppers – as their fans put it – and additional forward depth in light of injuries, the St George Illawarra Dragons have signed Gold Coast Titans forward Mark Ioane and Mounties prop Luke Page.

Additionally, the club have also announced the signing of Melbourne Storm utility Kurt Mann on a two-year deal from next year.

Ioane and Page will join the Dragons for the remainder of the season, after being granted releases by their clubs.

Ioane, still only 24, has played in 23 NRL games to date and after coming through the ranks as a successful junior within the New Zealand Warriors Holden Cup side, a new challenge beckons for the Otahuhu Leopards junior.

Luke Page

Page, also 24, joins the club from the Raiders and has enjoyed a cult following since videos of powerful runs emerged on Youtube, that showed him bulldozing over defenders in the NSW Cup for Mounties.

The depth is crucial and the Dragons are pleased to welcome the duo to the club for the remainder of the season.

“Both Ioane and Luke have respectively been recruited to add important depth to the current playing roster and provide cover where needed within the forward-pack,” said Dragons Director of Recruitment & Retention Peter Mulholland.

“Both players demonstrate a willingness to play their role in the squad and we look forward to providing them with an opportunity to continue their own development.”

As for Kurt Mann, the two-time U20’s representative for QLD started his career at the Winton Devils before a couple of seasons with the Newcastle Knights U20’s side. With 21 NRL games to date, he will join the Dragons in November.

Knowing that his form would see him go on the open market, the Storm are disappointed to see him go but know that his effort will be top-notch for the remainder of the season.

“Kurt has played some very good football since making his NRL debut last year, so we were not surprised he attracted offers from other clubs,” said Melbourne’s Director of Football, Frank Ponissi.

“He is a terrific young man and well liked at the Club and while we are disappointed not to be able to retain his services, we wish him the best and know he will finish the season with the right attitude.”

Kurt Mann

Dragons youngster sacked for breaching contractual obligations

Addin Fonua-Blake

Just yesterday, the St George Illawarra club was celebrating the signing of a powerful forward. Today, they have been force to sack one, with talented youngster Addin Fonua-Blake given the flick for breaching contractual obligations.

After an incident on Sunday January 18, Fonua-Blake was stood down from all club duties and received counselling support from the club during the time away.

Following investigations by both the club and the NRL’s Integrity Unit, it was found that Fonua-Blake breached clauses within his contract, leaving the Dragons with no choice.

“The decision followed a detailed investigation by the Club and the NRL Integrity Unit as well as a Hearing before the Board of the St George Illawarra Dragons,” said Dragons CEO Peter Doust.

“Addin’s actions breached clauses in his contract and upon review of all information by the Board of the Dragons, the decision was made that termination of his contract was the appropriate outcome.

“This circumstance is unfortunate for both Addin and the Club, Addin has been at our Club for a number of years and was a player our coaching group had targeted for NRL this season.”

Rd 17 NRL Teams

The last of major bye rounds, with many interesting clashes to take place this week. Some teas are rising, some teams are dropping and some need wins to maintain their spots. Just one game each day this week but they will prove to be entertaining clashes. Just who will win them, we will find out.

So, without further adieu, here is the teams for Rd 17:

Penrith Panthers v South Sydney Rabbitohs (#NRLpensgi); Pepper Stadium, Penrith; Friday July 3. Kick-off: 7:35pm.

Panthers: 1. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 2. Josh Mansour 3. Dean Whare 4. Waqa Blake 5. David Simmons 6. Jamie Soward 7. Peter Wallace 8. Nigel Plum 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 11. Isaah Yeo 12. Bryce Cartwright 13. Elijah Taylor.

Interchange: 14. Lewis Brown 15. Sam McKendry 16. Jeremy Latimore 17. Tyrone Peachey 22. Sika Manu (One to be omitted).

Coach: Ivan Cleary.

Souths: 1. Alex Johnston 2. Joel Reddy 3. Dylan Walker 4. Bryson Goodwin 5. Aaron Gray 6. Luke Keary 7. Adam Reynolds 8. George Burgess 9. Issac Luke 10. Tim Grant 11. Glenn Stewart 12. John Sutton (C) 13. Chris McQueen.

Interchange: 14. Ben Lowe 15. Chris Grevsmuhl 16. Dave Tyrrell 17. Thomas Burgess 18. Jason Clark 19. Cameron McInnes 20. Daryl Millard (Three to be omitted).

Coach: Michael Maguire.

St George Illawarra Dragons v North Queensland Cowboys (#NRLsginql); WIN Stadium, Wollongong; Saturday July 4. Kick-off: 7:30pm.

Dragons: 1. Jason Nightingale 2. Yaw Kiti Glymin 3. Euan Aitken 4. Peter Mata’utia 5. Eto Nabuli 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Benji Marshall 8. Leeson Ah Mau 9. Mitch Rein 10. Ben Creagh (C) 11. Will Matthews 12. Jake Marketo 13. Mike Cooper.

Interchange: 14. Nathan Green 15. George Rose 16. Rory O’Brien 17. Heath L’Estrange 18. Craig Garvey (One to be omitted).

Coach: Paul McGregor.

Cowboys: 1. Lachlan Coote 2. Matt Wright 3. Justin O’Neill 4. Kane Linnett 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Ray Thompson 7. Robert Lui 8. Ben Hannant 9. Jake Granville 10. Sam Hoare 11. Gavin Cooper (C) 12. Ethan Lowe 13. Jason Taumalolo.

Interchange: 14. Rory Kostjaysn 15. John Asiata 16. Scott Bolton 17. Patrick Kaufusi 18. Glenn Hall 20. Ben Spina (Two to be omitted).

Coach: Paul Green.

Manly Sea Eagles v Cronulla Sharks (#NRLmancro); Brookvale Oval; Sunday July 5. Kick-off: 4pm.

Manly: 1. Brett Stewart 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Peta Hiku 4. Steve Matai 5. Tom Trbojevic 6. Kieran Foran 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Jake Trbojevic 9. Matt Ballin 10. Luke Burgess 11. Feleti Mateo 12. Tom Symonds 13. Dunamis Lui.

Interchange: 14. James Hasson 15. Ligi Sao 16. Justin Horo 17. Willie Mason 22. Josh Starling (One to be omitted).

Coach: Geoff Toovey.

Sharks: 1. Michael Gordon 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Gerard Beale 4. Ricky Leutele 5. Valentine Holmes 6. Jack Bird 7. Jeff Robson 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Michael Ennis 10. Matt Prior 11. Luke Lewis 12. Wade Graham (C) 13. Chris Heighington.

Interchange: 14. Jayson Bukuya 15. Ben Barba 16. David Fifita 17. Sam Tagataese.

Coach: Shane Flanagan.

Wests Tigers v Parramatta Eels (#NRLwstpar); ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park; Monday July 6. Kick-off: 7pm.

Tigers: 1. James Tedesco 2. Kevin Naiqama 3. Delouise Hoeter 4. Nathan Milone 5. Pat Richards 6. Mitch Moses 7. Luke Brooks 8. Sauaso Sue 9. Dene Halatau (C) 10. Keith Galloway 11. Kyle Lovett 12. Chris Lawrence 13. Martin Taupau.

Interchange: 14. Manaia Cherrington 15. Ava Seumanufagai 16. Matt Lodge 17. Brenden Santi 18. Jack Buchanan (One to be omitted).

Coach: Jason Taylor.

Eels: 1. Corey Norman 2. Semi Radradra 3. Ryan Morgan 4. Brad Takairangi 5. Bureta Faraimo 6. Luke Kelly 7. Chris Sandow 8. Junior Paulo 9. Cody Nelson 10. Tim Mannah 11. Manu Ma’u 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Anthony Watmough.

Interchange: 14. Pauli Pauli 15. Darcy Lussick 16. Danny Wicks 17. David Gower 18. Joseph Paulo (One to be omitted).

Coach: Brad Arthur.

Hulking prop returns to Australia and signs with the Dragons

Mose Masoe

The St George Illawarra Dragons fans have been crying out for some big boppers in their team and they may have the man they are after, with Mose Masoe to return to Australia after signing a 2-year deal with the club.

Currently playing for St Helens in the Super League, Masoe is a Samoan international and has been capped seven times for his country and was a member of the Saints premiership-winning season last year.

Originally at the Roosters before then signing with the Penrith Panthers, Masoe has forged a reputation on being a hard hitter and a hard runner, assets that will only boost the Dragons forward pack from 2016.

A Randwick Kingfishers junior, Masoe has played in 108 first-grade games in the NRL to date and the club are excited to have him on board for next year.

“Mose will be a welcome addition to the Club as he is able to provide both the additional size and go-forward which is vital in all strong forward-packs,” said Dragons Director of Recruitment & Retention Peter Mulholland.

“He is presently playing his trade in the traditionally-physical Super League competition and is a key player for the strong St Helens club.

“We look forward to welcoming him to the Club during the off-season.”

A crucial part of the St Helens forward pack over the last couple of seasons, the club are keen to end his tenure on a high.

“We’re sad to be losing Mose Masoe as he has been a popular member of the squad and been at the hub of a pack that has been superb this year,” said St Helens coach Kieron Cunningham.

“He is a really good bloke who I know will want to end his Saints career with more winner’s medals.”

With the desire to return home, whilst they are disappointed to lose Masoe, the Saints were not going to stand in his way.

“Naturally we’re disappointed to lose Mose but we wouldn’t stand in the way of a player who wants to return home,” said St Helens Chairman, Mike Rush.

“He is enjoying his time in St Helens and has settled in well – becoming a real fans’ favourite.

“Having spoken to Mose, he is determined to finish the rest of this season on a high and once again cap it with a Grand Final winner’s medal.”