Warriors still flying high after successive wins to open season

New Zealand Warriors fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

Many may not have seen it coming prior to the start of the season but a rejuvenated New Zealand Warriors side are 2/2 to start 2018. 

In the end, a comfortable 20-8 win in front of their vocal home crowd saw them keep their record intact.

The Gold Coast Titans, missing Ash Taylor who was a late scratching due to injury, looked lost in attack.

It looked as if the first half was headed for a rather dour affair with the only points in the first 25 minutes a penalty goal to Michael Gordon.

The Warriors attack took some time to make an appearance but when it did, it had a renewed venom.

First, they look destined to score, only for a spectacular try-saving tackle from Michael Gordon stopping David Fusitu’a.

The points came soon after, however, as the right edge attack of Tohu Harris, Peta Hiku and Fusitu’a combined for the winger to open the try-scoring account in the match.

Another try came soon after as the Warriors spine combined with a lovely play to send Roger Tuivasa-Sheck over to score.

Despite the Titans best efforts, their attack continued to fall short. They missed the calmness and resolve of Ash Taylor and his ability to force repeat sets.

After a slow start to the second half, both sides slowly started to find their mojo again but neither could score again.

That was until Warriors centre Solomone Kata bustled his way over and got his 2018 account up and running.

The Titans would hit back with a late try after Anthony Don pounced on a clever grubber from centre Konrad Hurrell but it was too little, too late.

A continued bright spot this season for the Warriors has been Fusitu’a who has bagged a double in successive games now.

“It was a scrappy win, the Titans really came at us, but it just shows the resilience this side has,” he said.

Not one to take all the credit, he praised both Harris and Hiku for the work they do inside him.

“They draw in so many defenders, they have good footwork, so all I have to do most of the time is just put the ball down,” he said.

Although they did win, Warriors coach Stephen Kearney knows they can get even better.

“Anytime you get the win you are happy but I felt we could have been a lot more direct,” he said.

“The defence I was happy with. To only concede one try in the final minutes off a kick, that’s a pretty good effort.”

Garth Brennan was quite frank about his team’s performance; not having Ash Taylor was not an excuse, they were just not good enough.

“Ash was missed but that’s no excuse,” Brennan said.

“I thought Bryce [Cartwright] and Kane [Elgey] played well and they were just the better side today.

“I thought we scrambled pretty well but against a Warriors side who are on like they were today, it’s tough.

“When they start throwing it around like they did and it sticks, they are very hard to defend and they have some class there in Shaun Johnson and (Roger) Tuivasa-Sheck off the back of that.

Player of the Game:

3. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

2. David Fusitu’a

  1. Jai Arrow

Broncos prevail in tough local derby v Cowboys

Brisbane Broncos prop Tevita Pangai Jr.

Was it divine intervention or was it merely destined that the Brisbane Broncos would win? Either way, it was the Broncos who won another riveting local derby, defeating the North Queensland Cowboys 24-20 at Suncorp Stadium.

In what is perhaps one of the more bizarre moments in rugby league, Cowboys prop Scott Bolton seemed all but certain to score only to be denied the by the goal post.

With the score 24-20 at the time, it would have won the match for the Cowboys. The goalpost had other ideas, however, as memes, jokes and comments reigned supreme post-match about the goalpost’s intervention.

Since 2015, the two Queensland sides have produced tremendously tense affairs, culminating in wins for both sides in see-sawing clashes.

The Cowboys got the ball rolling as a ricochet off Matt Lodge’s foot from Johnathan Thurston’s grubber was pounced upon my prop Jordan McLean.

The early running was all Cowboys, as they went up 8-0 and could have scored more, if not for some steely Broncos defence.

The Broncos then slowly hit back as three tries in nine minutes gave them the lead and the ascendancy.

It was Tevita Pangai Jr. who scored the first one, as he muscled his way over and trampled defenders to score.

The Broncos second try came fortuitously, as Andrew McCullough’s seemingly heavy kick stayed just inside the dead-ball line for Tom Opacic to score.

A third Broncos try was then scored by Alex Glenn following Corey Oates’ break down the sideline. The score at half-time read 18-8 in favour of the Broncos.

As is always the case with these games, though, a close finish was in order.

After Kodi Nikorima capitalised and scored off a James Roberts break, the Cowboys then hit back with two tries of their own.

First, it was the Thurston and Gavin Cooper connection as the back-rower hit a huge hole for his second try of the year.

Thurston then found himself at dummy half and laid the ball on a silver platter for Jake Granville to glide over.

That pivotal moment with the goalpost arose and, as they say, the rest is history.

Player of the Game:

3. Tevita Pangai Jr.

2. Johnathan Thurston

  1. James Roberts

Roosters dig deep to record their maiden 2018 win

Sydney Roosters fullback James Tedesco

Despite finishing the game with just fifteen men, the Sydney Roosters prevailed on the back of stellar performances from their stars.

Playing at home at Allianz Stadium, James Tedesco and Cooper Cronk shone, guiding the Roosters to 30-12 win over the Canterbury Bulldogs.

There are nervous waits ahead, though; both Daniel Tupou (pec) and Mitch Aubusson (head) will be assessed.

The loss of the two did not matter, however, as Tedesco and Cronk stood up to guide the Roosters home.

For the Bulldogs, their sole spark came from half-turned-fullback Moses Mbye, in what was otherwise a lacklustre Bulldogs display.

It was not just Tedesco and Cronk shining for the Roosters, as the likes of Luke Keary, Dylan Napa and Latrell Mitchell all stood up.

A flurry of tries kicked things off for the Roosters but the errors followed their attacking play.

With an 18-0 half-time lead, the Roosters were flying high. It was the Bulldogs, however, who started the second half stronger.

Mbye showed off his kick return skills before Matt Frawley laid the ball on a platter for centre Josh Morris to score.

That was as exciting as it would get for the Bulldogs, though. Man of the hour James Tedesco, who caused problems all night, broke the line and halfback Cooper Cronk scored his first try for the Tricolours.

Despite some good effort by the Bulldogs, it is their attack that is still, at times, struggling to make an impact.

”It’s becoming frustrating that’s for sure,” Pay said.

”We have some new players at the club, some new structures we’re working on, and in the end it is going to take time.

”But we want to make sure we’re putting in performances we’re happy with each weekend as well. We certainly need to be better.”

Bulldogs captain Josh Jackson echoed the sentiments of his coach.

”It’s frustrating, we’re a better footy team than what we dished up there tonight,” Jackson said.

Player of the Game:

3. James Tedesco

2. Cooper Cronk

  1. Latrell Mitchell


NRL Teams Rd 2

Another week and another round of teamlists. After a few upsets in round 1, some teams will be keen to get their seasons back on track. For others, cementing their existing spot is the key. Just who can win and will there be more upsets? We shall soon find out. 

In the meantime, here is a comprehensive list and breakdown of all 16 NRL teams across eight NRL games:

Cronulla Sharks v St George Illawarra Dragons (#NRLcrosgi); Southern Cross Group Stadium, Cronulla; Thursday, March 15. Kick-off: 8:05 pm. 

Sharks: 1. Valentine Holmes 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Josh Dugan 4. Ricky Leutele 5. Aaron Gray 6. Matthew Moylan 7. Chad Townsend 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Matt Prior 11. Jayson Bukuya 12. Wade Graham 13. Paul Gallen (C). 

Interchange: 14. Kurt Capewell 15. James Segeyaro 16. Avagalu Seumanufagai 17. Joseph Paulo

Reserves: 18. Kurt Dillon 19. Trent Hodkinson 20. Jesse Ramien 21. Jack Williams.

Coach: Shane Flanagan.

Dragons: 1. Matthew Dufty 2. Nene Macdonald 3. Euan Aitken 4. Tim Lafai 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Gareth Widdop (C) 7. Ben Hunt 8. James Graham 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Tariq Sims 13. Jack de Belin. 

Interchange: 14. Luciano Leilua 15. Kurt Mann 16. Leeson Ah Mau 17. Hame Sele.

Reserves: 18. Jeremy Latimore 19. Zachary Lomax 20. Reece Robson 21. Blake Lawrie.

Coach: Paul McGregor.

Ricky’s View: Although the Sharks do need to bounce back from their opening round loss, the Dragons looked composed and collected against the Broncos. The Sharks are a tougher proposition but I can see the Dragons in a close one, potentially golden point.

Sydney Roosters v Canterbury Bulldogs (#NRLsydcby); Allianz Stadium, Moore Park; Friday, March 16. Kick-off: 6 pm. 

Roosters: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Latrell Mitchell 4. Joseph Manu 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Luke Keary 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend (C) 10. Sio Siua Taukeiaho 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Mitchell Aubusson 13. Isaac Liu. 

Interchange: 14. Dylan Napa 15. Zane Tetevano 16. Ryan Matterson 17. Victor Radley.

Reserves: 18. Reece Robinson 19. Mitch Cornish 20. Nat Butcher 21. Lindsay Collins.

Coach: Trent Robinson.

Bulldogs: 1. Moses Mbye 2. Brett Morris 3. Josh Morris 4. Will Hopoate 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Matthew Frawley 7. Kieran Foran 8. Aaron Woods 9. Michael Lichaa 10. David Klemmer 11. Josh Jackson (C) 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 13. Danny Fualalo.

Interchange: 14. Adam Elliott 15. Aiden Tolman 16. Greg Eastwood 17. Jeremy Marshall-King.

Reserves: 19. Asipeli Fine 20. Kerrod Holland 21. Renouf Toomaga 23. John Olive.

Coach: Dean Pay.

Ricky’s View: The Dogs put in a determined showing against a formidable Storm outfit but fell short. With the Roosters looking to hit their straps and record a win, I think they will have too much for the Dogs in the end.

Brisbane Broncos v North Queensland Cowboys (#NRLbrinql); Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane; Friday, March 16. Kick-off: 8:05 pm (AEDT) and 7:05 pm (local).

Broncos: 1. Darius Boyd (C) 2. Corey Oates 3. James Roberts 4. Jordan Kahu 5. Jamayne Isaako 6. Anthony Milford 7. Kodi Nikorima 8. Matthew Lodge 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Tevita Pangai Jr. 11. Alex Glenn 12. Matt Gillett 13. Josh McGuire.

Interchange: 14. Sam Thaiday 15. Joe Ofahengaue 16. Korbin Sims 17. Tom Opacic.

Reserves: 18. Todd Murphy 19. Sam Tagataese 20. Jonus Pearson 21. George Fai.

Coach: Wayne Bennett.

Cowboys: 1. Ben Hampton 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Justin O’Neill 4. Javid Bowen 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Te Maire Martin 7. Johnathan Thurston (C) 8. Matt Scott 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Ethan Lowe 13. Jason Taumalolo.

Interchange: 14. John Asiata 15. Coen Hess 16. Scott Bolton 17. Corey Jensen.

Reserves: 18. Kyle Laybutt 19. Michael Morgan 20. Francis Molo 21. Enari Tuala.

Coach: Paul Green.

Ricky’s View: The Broncos were poor last week and need a big performance here but the Cowboys are flying high after a win against a tough Sharks outfit. The Broncos are at home and these two teams usually put on great spectacle but the Cowboys just have too much across the park. Again, a narrow win but the Cowboys to get home.

New Zealand Warriors v Gold Coast Titans (#NRLwargld); Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland; Saturday, March 17. Kick-off: 3:05 pm (AEDT) & 5:05 pm (local).

Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (C) 2. David Fusitu’a 3. Peta Hiku 4. Solomona Kata 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Blake Green 7. Shaun Johnson 8. James Gavet 9. Issac Luke 10. Adam Blair 11. Isaiah Papali’i 12. Tohu Harris 13. Ligi Sao. 

Interchange: 14. Sam Cook 15. Leivaha Pulu 16. Sam Lisone 17. Bunty Afoa.

Reserves: 18. Jazz Tevaga 20. Anthony Gelling 21. Agnatius Paasi 22. Mason Lino.

Coach: Stephen Kearney.

Titans: 1. Michael Gordon 2. Anthony Don 3. Dale Copley 4. Konrad Hurrell 5. Philip Sami 6. Kane Elgey 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Jai Arrow 9. Nathan Peats 10. Leilani Latu 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Ryan James (C) 13. Bryce Cartwright. 

Interchange: 14. Mitch Rein 15. Max King 16. Will Matthews 17. Morgan Boyle.

Reserves: 18. Keegan Hipgrave 19. Joe Greenwood 20. Jai Whitbread 21. AJ Brimson.

Coach: Garth Brennan.

Ricky’s View: Perhaps one of the harder games of the round to pick, given both teams can be really good or really bad. Both showed what they are capable of in respective wins but whose bubble will burst first? I have gone back and forth with this one but think the Titans might get the dessert on this occasion.

Penrith Panthers v South Sydney Rabbitohs (#NRLpensou); Penrith Stadium; Saturday, March 17. Kick-off: 5 pm. 

Penrith: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Josh Mansour 3. Waqa Blake 4. Tyrone Peachey 5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 6. James Maloney 7. Nathan Cleary 8. James Tamou 9. Peter Wallace (C) 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Isaah Yeo 13. Trent Merrin.

Interchange: 14. Corey Harawira-Naera 15. Sam McKendry 16. Moses Leota 17. James Fisher-Harris.

Reserves: 18. Sione Katoa 19. Tim Browne 20. Dean Whare 21. Christian Crichton.

Coach: Anthony Griffin.

Rabbitohs: 1. Alex Johnston 2. Richie Kennar 3. Dane Gagai 4. Greg Inglis (C) 5. Robert Jennings 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Doueihi 8. Thomas Burgess 9. Damien Cook 10. Sam Burgess 11. John Sutton 12. Angus Crichton 13. Cameron Murray. 

Interchange: 14. Tyrell Fuimaono 15. Mark Nicholls 16. George Burgess 17. Tevita Tatola.

Reserves: 18. Robbie Farah 19. Jason Clark 20. Hymel Hunt 21. Vincent Leuluai.

Coach: Anthony Seibold.

Ricky’s View: Another tough one to pick given the unpredictability  of the two teams but you have to pick someone, right? Given the Panthers are at home, you would pick them, even more so with Adam Reynolds out for the Bunnies. Something within me says pick the Bunnies, though. So I have. Fingers crossed.

Melbourne Storm v Wests Tigers (#NRLmelwst); AAMI Park, Melbourne; Saturday, March 17. Kick-off: 7:35 pm. 

Storm: 1. Billy Slater 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Will Chambers 4. Curtis Scott 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Brodie Croft 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith (C) 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Dale Finucane.

Interchange: 14. Tim Glasby 15. Kenny Bromwich 16. Christian Welch 17. Sam Kasiano.

Reserves: 18. Young Tonumaipea 19. Joe Stimson 20. Billy Walters 21. Brandon Smith.

Coach: Craig Bellamy.

Tigers: 1. Tuimoala Lolohea 2. Corey Thompson 3. Esan Marsters 4. Kevin Naiqama 5. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak 6. Benji Marshall 7. Luke Brooks 8. Russell Packer (C) 9. Pita Godinet 10. Ben Matulino 11. Chris Lawrence 12. Robbie Rochow 13. Elijah Taylor. 

Interchange: 14. Matt McIlwrick 15. Alex Twal 16. Michael Chee Kam 17. Matt Eisenhuth.

Reserves: 18. Josh Aloiai 19. David Nofoaluma 20. Tim Grant 21. Tyson Gamble.

Coach: Ivan Cleary.

Ricky’s View: The Tigers are flying high after an upset round 1 win against the Roosters but it is hard to see them doing the same against a Storm side who were rampant against the Bulldogs. It may not be the blow-out some would predict but the Storm should win this one comfortably.

Manly Sea Eagles v Parramatta Eels (#NRLmanpar); Lottoland Oval, Brookvale; Sunday, March 18. Kick-off: 4:10 pm. 

Manly: 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Brad Parker 4. Brian Kelly 5. Akuila Uate 6. Lachlan Croker 7. Daly Cherry-Evans (C) 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Marty Taupau 11. Joel Thompson 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic. 

Interchange: 14. Jackson Hastings 15. Shaun Lane 16. Lloyd Perrett 17. Kelepi Tanginoa.

Reserves: 18. Matthew Wright 19. Lewis Brown 20. Jack Gosiewski 21. Frank Winterstein.

Coach: Trent Barrett.

Eels: 1. Bevan French 2. Josh Hoffman 3. Jarryd Hayne 4. Michael Jennings 5. Kirisome Auva’a 6. Corey Norman 7. Mitch Moses 8. Daniel Alvaro 9. Cameron King 10. Tim Mannah (C) 11. Manu Ma’u 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Nathan Brown. 

Interchange: 14. Beau Scott (C) 15. Brad Takairangi 16. Suaia Matagi 17. Kane Evans.

Reserves: 18. Will Smith 19. Kenny Edwards 20. David Gower 21. Kaysa Pritchard.

Coach: Brad Arthur.

Ricky’s View: Both sides will want a win to get their season back on track and history favours the visitors. The Eels have won their last six games against the Eels and on that basis alone, despite playing away, I’m backing the Eels to win in another closely contested match.

Canberra Raiders v Newcastle Knights (#NRLcannew); GIO Stadium, Canberra; Sunday, March 18. Kick-off: 6:30 pm. 

Raiders: 1. Jack Wighton 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker (C) 4. Joseph Leilua 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Blake Austin 7. Sam Williams 8. Iosia Soliola 9. Siliva Havili 10. Shannon Boyd 11. Josh Papalii 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Luke Bateman.

Interchange: 14. Aidan Sezer 15. Junior Paulo 16. Dunamis Lui 17. Charlie Gubb.

Reserves: 18. Craig Garvey 19. Michael Oldfield 20. Royce Hunt 21. Jack Murchie.

Coach: Ricky Stuart.

Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Shaun Kenny-Dowall 3. Sione Mata’utia 4. Tautau Moga 5. Nathan Ross 6. Connor Watson 7. Mitchell Pearce (C) 8. Herman Ese’ese 9. Slade Griffin 10. Jacob Lillyman 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 12. Aidan Guerra 13. Mitch Barnett. 

Interchange: 14. Brock Lamb 15. Chris Heighington 16. Jamie Buhrer (C) 17. Daniel Saifiti.

Reserves: 18. Ken Sio 19. Jacob Saifiti 20. Daniel Levi 21. Luke Yates.

Coach: Nathan Brown.

Ricky’s View: Another interesting clash here, with two sides having very different objectives for winning. The Raiders need to bounce back and the Knights want to cement their winning streak and confidence. The Knights were the better side in their round 1 fixture with Mitchell Pearce steering them around the park.
They look a controlled, composed outfit when he steers the ship and I’m backing him to do the same and lead the Knights to a second victory to open the season.


Sydney Roosters young, talented trio

Sydney Roosters centre Latrell Mitchell.

Retaining young, junior talent is imperative in rugby league and the Sydney Roosters have moved swiftly to re-sign three of theirs. 

Latrell Mitchell, Joseph Manu and Nat Butcher have all re-signed until the end of the 2020 season.

The young trio have all progressed through the club’s junior grades winning either SG Ball titles or Holden Cup titles.

Mitchell has enjoyed an impressive start to his rugby league career, scoring 29 tries in his 48 NRL games to date.

The chance to continue learning off coach Trent Robinson and the senior players influenced Mitchell’s decision.

“I’m very proud to represent the Roosters,” Mitchell said.

The Club means a lot to me, and I’m learning so much from Robbo, the coaches and senior players around me, so I’m glad that I’ll continue to be part of the team here.”

Involved with the club since the age of 17, there was no thought of leaving for Manu who loves the club.

“I’ve been with the Roosters since I was 17, and I love it here,” Manu said.

We’re a tight group and I’m looking forward to continuing to work hard with Robbo and my teammates to keep improving my game.”

Captain of the Roosters 2016 Holden Cup winning side, Butcher’s aim is to keep developing and work hard for that elusive first-grade spot.

“I’m really happy to have re-signed with the Roosters,” Butcher said.

“I know there’s a lot of improvement in me, and I’m focused on continuing my development and hopefully securing my opportunity to play some good football for the Club.”

Retaining the young trio is a boost for the club and they all drew praise from Roosters recruitment manager Adam Hartigan.

“In their own right, Latrell, Joey and Nat are outstanding young men,” Hartigan said.

“Their work ethic precedes them and they are terrific contributors to the Roosters both on and off the field.”

“Their best football is still ahead of them, and its great news for the Roosters to have Latrell, Joey and Nat locked in to the Club’s long-term plans,” he added.


Storm juggernaut rolls on with opening round win v new-look Bulldogs

Melbourne Storm utility back Cameron Munster.

Fresh off a long-off-season, the Melbourne Storm have shown no signs of showing down as kickstarted their 2018 campaign with a solid win over a new-look Canterbury Bulldogs side at Optus Stadium in Perth.

Despite the loss of Billy Slater due to an injury he sustained at the World Club Challenge and the loss of key personnel this off-season, that did little to stop the Storm’s desire to win.

The Storm’s record in the opening round of the season is remarkable; they have won fourteen straight round 1 games.

Although the Bulldogs looked the goods with a new attacking style and structure under coach Dean Pay, it was not enough to topple a side that boasts talent in almost every position.

Deputising at fullback for the Storm, Cameron Munster proved that he is on the cusp of becoming an elite player with a starring display for the Storm in their 36-18 win.

Equally impressive was Moses Mbye for the Bulldogs, who has made the shift to fullback for 2018. The decision was justified as he made a good break early on and continued to perform strongly.

It was the Bulldogs who opened the scoring as Kieran Foran showed his running skills, taking the line on and finding a barnstorming Raymond Faitala-Mariner who sliced through a gap to score.

The Storm forwards would not be outdone, however, as Nelson Asofa-Solomona showed his class with a great offload for Ryley Jacks to score, who was deputising in the halves.

It was then that the Munster show made an appearance. After the two clubs cancelled each other out with tries to Curtis Scott and Brett Morris respectively, Munster mad his presence felt.

Chiming in brilliantly from the back, he laid on lovely plays and passes to provide both winger Josh Addo-Carr and back-rower Kenny Bromwich with tries to which both capitalised.

Despite the Bulldogs best efforts and with all the momentum, in the end, a second try to Addo-Carr was the icing on the cake as he raced away to score off a Bulldogs fumble.

There was nothing but praise for Munster and the way he performed in the Storm’s opening win by Storm coach Craig Bellamy.

“He didn’t even have a touch there for a while but when he had a few, he caused some problems,” Bellamy said.

“He’s a very, very talented player. No matter where he plays, he’s always going to have a real impact. He was one of our best tonight. He turned the game for us.

“At the moment, probably, No.1 is his best position because he’s probably played there more. The more time he gets at the No.6, he will be able to play that position as well as he plays fullback. It’s pretty exciting to see what he’s doing.”

Despite their loss, Dogs coach Dean Pay believes his side showed enough to perform consistently in 2018.

”I thought we had some good periods there, the period before half time they rolled up the field too easy,” Pay said

”Where we finished our sets and where we were kicking didn’t help us too much, there were definitely some promising signs there that we can play some decent football. We had some opportunities we didn’t take as well. There are some things there we need to fix as well.

”I thought there were some good things. Kieran [Foran] was quite good. Moses Mbye was good at the back. He played really well. Raymond Faitala-Marine on the edge was good and got through 80 minutes.’

Player of the Game:

3. Cameron Munster

2. Raymond Faitala-Mariner

1 .Josh Addo-Carr

Storm 36 (Addo-Carr 2, Jacks, Scott, K. Bromwich, Vunivalu tries; Smith 6 goals) def. Bulldogs 18 (Faitala-Mariner, B. Morris, Frawley tries; Mbye 3 goals) at Perth Stadium.

Warriors snap 22-year losing streak in Perth to defeat Rabbitohs

New Zealand Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson.

Hoodoos, they are a thing in rugby league and the New Zealand Warriors and their fans can finally say they have broken the Perth curse.

Playing in their 10th match in Perth dating back to 1996, the club managed to claim their first win in the country’s Western-most capital.

In the end, it came somewhat easily, as their new free style of play gave them the win on the back of some fantastic play by half Shaun Johnson.

New recruit Blake Green contributed significantly to that, as his structure and composed nature allows Johnson to play his natural game; that is, taking the line on regularly.

Despite the win, the same inefficiencies about the Warriors defence started to irk fans as Cody Walker scored a simple opening try for the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Sparked into action by their bad defence, the Warriors scored two quick tries; first to newcomer Isaiah Papali’i who pounced on Johnson’s kick before quick hands saw David Fusitu’a score his first try of the game in the corner.

The teams seemingly went tit-for-tat but as the Warriors pulled away, the deficit was too much for the Rabbitohs to claw back.

Although they worked their backsides off and did score two late tries courtesy of doubles to both Richie Kennar and Cody Walker, it was not enough.

Perhaps more well-known for his high-octane, speedy efforts with ball in hand during attacking raids, it was the defence of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck that drew all the praise after the Warriors win.

“I thought he came up with some tremendous tackles early in the game,” Kearney said of Tuivasa-Sheck.

“Constantly put himself in the contest.

“That’s what you expect from Roger. He sets himself such a high standard. It’s not often he doesn’t deliver.”

For the man nicknamed RTS, it was simple. Do it for the team.

“It was just something I had to do for the team, it presented itself and I didn’t want to miss,” Tuivasa-Sheck said.

“We’ve been talking about playing with a lot of energy and just after that tackle I was just trying to give the team energy and (was) trying to build from that. It was a good moment.”

Wests Tigers upset Sydney Roosters in dramatic late win

Wests Tigers winger Corey Thompson.

If there was ever a time when a rugby league miracle took place, it is likely to have been yesterday afternoon when, against all the odds, the Wests Tigers miraculously defeated the much more fancied Sydney Roosters.

It was a fairytale finish as the Tigers raced up the other end with minutes on the clock and it all led to an acrobatic finish from new recruit Corey Thompson.

The Tigers win spoiled the party for James Tedesco, who was booed every time he touched the ball against his former club.

Perhaps, in hindsight, the Roosters will regret taking the penalty goal to lock the scores up at 2-all when they had a man advantage after Luke Brooks was sent to the sin-bin.

The game also saw the return of the Wests Tigers prodigal son, Benji Marshall. Initially slated to play off the bench, he was thrust into the starting five-eighth role when Josh Reynolds was ruled out pre-game.

The first half was a rather dour and scrappy affair as both teams tried to make the most of their chances but lacked execution and the application.

Two tries would follow in the second half; the first on a simple overlap to Roosters winger Blake Ferguson before the magic happened for the Tigers via Thompson.

With a new team and a new culture, Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary praised recruit Corey Thompson for his role in the win.

”I think he epitomises what we’re trying to build here,” Cleary said

Cleary said that Thompson’s form and attitude go all the way back to November when he began training well and then playing well in the trials to justify his selection.

”The way he played today is basically the way he started training back in November. He’s done well in the trial games,” Cleary continued.

Although his side did lose, Roosters coach Trent Robinson was not too displeased but he would like to see the new club combinations click sooner rather than later.

”I thought we tried to do what we wanted to do in attack but there wasn’t enough combinations and high errors,” he said.

”I thought they worked hard to get some stuff on. We were building as the game went on in that second half.”

Player of the Game:

3. Corey Thompson

2. Blake Ferguson

  1. Elijah Taylor

Cowboys celebrate Thurston’s 300th in style with solid win

Jake Granville

A North Queensland Cowboys legend, Johnathan Thurston has put the team on the map and given them renewed hope that every year can be a good year. 

Although he played a quieter hand in what was his 300th NRL game (his 271st for the Cowboys), his team-mates did enough around him to get him a win in his milestone match.

In what was a rather scrappy affair from both sides, in the end, the score finished 20-14 in favour of the Cowboys.

The Cowboys started with the early momentum as they firstly kept pressure on to force repeat sets before they came close on two occasions, only for Jason Taumalolo and Te Maire Martin to be held up.

The first points of the game would come soon after when a lovely weighted pass from Thurston found a bullocking Justin O’Neill who would not be denied a try.

Things then went from bad to worse for the Sharks; the kick-off went dead and off the ensuing set, is was a similar play as the first, only Jake Granville was the passer and Coen Hess the scorer.

In true Sharks fashion, however, their grit shone through and they fought their way back to score courtesy of Josh Dugan who pounced on a Chad Townsend grubber.

The Sharks joy was short-lived, though; the Cowboys scored again as key winger Kyle Feldt did it himself, dodging two defenders before powering over to score.

With the score at 14-8 at the break, it was anyone’s game but it was again the Cowboys who would start the stronger despite scoring no points.

The Sharks did score the first points of the second half as a Ricky Leutele intercept led to a James Segeyaro try.

It was short-lived as veteran combination Thurston and back-rower Gavin Cooper combined for the forward to get over the line and score and that was all she wrote.

Despite the scrappy affair, Thurston was pleased with his side’s ability to get the win but knows they do have to improve.

”We have a lot to work on, but it was good to see some mental toughness from the team to stay in there and defend on the back of our errors pretty well, but still a lot to work on,” Thurston said.

Those sentiments were echoed by Cowboys coach Paul Green.

”There was a lot to like about our performance … the things we didn’t get right are not too difficult to fix up, it’s probably a little bit of game awareness there,” Green said.

”The hard part was we were creating some opportunities and we were just probably getting a little too excited at the chances we were seeing and turning the footy over.”

North Queensland Cowboys 20 (Cooper, Hess, Feldt; G: Thurston 2/5) def. Sharks 14 (Dugan, Segeyaro; G: Townsend 3/3).

Player of the Game:

3. Jake Granville

2. Josh Dugan

  1. Coen Hess


Late Pearce field goal gives new-look Knights opening win

Kalyn Ponga

The Newcastle Knights have gotten off to the perfect start in their 2018 campaign, recording a thrilling golden point win over the Manly Sea Eagles to take the game out 19-18. 

With the game in the balance and the minutes dwindling down, Mitchell Pearce, as cool as a cucumber, slotted a field goal from close range and sealed an opening round win for the club.

With all their key off-season signings playing and all performing well, the win would have pleased the 23,500 fans at McDonald Jones Stadium.

The game went to golden point after Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans calmly kicked a pressure penalty goal to lock things up at 18-all.

The game started with a frenetic pace as Kalyn Ponga got his Knights career off to a perfect start with a lovely run and break for a try.

That lead lasted mere minutes, however, as Jorge Taufua hit back for Manly to make the score 6-all.

The two sides traded further tries as fellow Knights recruit Slade Griffin burrowed his way over before Apisai Koroisau and Shaun Lane combined for Manly to go into half-time at 12-all.

Manly’s first lead of the game came courtesy of a try to Brian Kelly who showed some crafty ball skills but again, Newcastle hit back to take the lead again after Lachlan Fitzgibbon’s try.

Player of the Game:

3. Kalyn Ponga

2. Shaun Lane

  1. Herman Ese’ese

FT | Knights 19 (T: Ponga, Griffin, Fitzgibbon G: Ponga 3/3, FG: Pearce 1/1) Sea Eagles 18 (Lane, Kelly, Taufua; G: Cherry-Evans 3/3).

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