Sharks capitalise on Eels errors to cruise to victory

Paul Gallen

Hopeful of bouncing back after a poor finish to their game last week, the Parramatta Eels were optimistic that a win against the Cronulla Sharks was possible. However, as the game illustrated, constant errors and penalties let them down and it was the Cronulla Sharks who came out victorious.

After a disappointing back end to their loss against the Titans, the Sharks aggressive nature and solid line speed put the Eels players under pressure resulting in constant errors.

The Sharks themselves were not saints in this regard nor in the penalties stakes but they capitalised on the Eels errors and made better use of the opportunities presented to them than the Eels.

With both clubs celebrating the life of departed rugby league player Jon Mannah by playing for the Johnny Mannah Cup, it was an emotional game in many respects for some.

The first half was mostly about sturdy defence as the Sharks went into half-time with a 12-6 lead courtesy of tries to Jayden Brailey and Sosaia Feki. David Gower scored the Eels sole try.

The Eels had their opportunities to score more points in the first half and early in the second but forced passes and indecisiveness in attack proved their downfall in attack as they failed to build any momentum.

New Sharks recruit James Segeyaro played towards the back end of the second half and gave away a penalty with his first involvement in the game but he will get better as the weeks go by.

The Eels now have some soul searching to do ahead of two tough away trips to Canberra and New Zealand before they return home for an Easter Monday clash v the Wests Tigers.

Sharks coach Shane Flanagan was impressed with his side’s performance and praised their sturdy resolve in defence.

“Our defence was tremendous; very tough,” Flanagan said post-game.”

“They’re a good footy side and they threw a lot at us especially in the first half but we stood up to it and showed what we were about.”

Although the Eels lost, the effort was there from the side but the errors and lack of execution cost them in the end and coach Brad Arthur lamented that notion.

“When you put that much effort into a game, you probably need to come away with a better result than that,” he said.

“With completions around 60% and having to make an extra 70 tackles, we just didn’t give ourselves a chance.

“We lacked composure and a bit of patience.”

Eels captain Tim Mannah echoed  his coach’s sentiments and know that the club have let themselves down in attack for two straight weeks.

“Defensively, I thought the boys had a real crack but we just shot ourselves in the foot and let us down in attack the last two weeks,” Mannah lamented.

Player of the Game:

3. Paul Gallen

2. Siosaia Vave

  1. Andrew Fifita

Cronulla Sharks 20 (Brailey, Feki, Maloney tries; Maloney 4 goals) defeated Parramatta Eels 6 (Gower try; Gutherson goal) at ANZ Stadium. Half time: Sharks 12-6. Crowd: 17,003.

Manly on song as they crush tame Bulldogs outfit

Daly Cherry-Evans

Whilst the Manly Sea Eagles might be on a high in recent weeks, the same cannot be said for their opponents the Canterbury Bulldogs who were comprehensively beaten 36-0 by the Manly side at Lottoland on Saturday afternoon.

Led by an array of tricks from halfback Daly Cherry-Evans, Manly were rampant against the Bulldogs who had no answer for his brilliance.

Their 26-nil first-half romp set up the victory before the club took their foot off the accelerator with the win sewn up.

With Manly firing, it was a stark contrast for the poor Bulldogs side who looked stilted in attack with the lack of a kicking game to apply pressure on the Manly defence.

Manly’s first points came after a deft grubber through the Bulldogs defensive line by Cherry-Evans, to which centre Dylan Walker reacted quickest to pounce and score.

It got worse just minutes later as an offside penalty led to a try to the hard-running Curtis Sironen to extend Manly’s lead.

Despite being denied a try through Jake Trbojevic, Manly scored again soon after through Brian Kelly before Cherry-Evans and Tom Trbojevic combined with a well-crafted play to allow the fullback to score.

Two further tries to Apisai Koroisau and Akuila Uate – a try which came off a kick from Cherry-Evans uncanny left foot kick – giving Manly a resounding 36-0 win.

An uninspiring effort by his Bulldogs side, coach Des Hasler conceded that his side was flat and lacked enthusiasm.

“We really couldn’t get into it,” Hasler said post-game.

“We were flat, they out-enthused us and we were down in energy right across the park so that’s disappointing,” Hasler said after the game.

“We didn’t help ourselves at all and consequently they brought plenty of that… and I guess you could liken it to a bit of an old ambush, couldn’t you?”

With a short turnaround ahead of their next fixture, Bulldogs captain James Graham knows his side needs to get out there and make amends.

“Thursday can’t come around soon enough,” he said. “It’s a short turnaround but I actually think that’s a good thing considering the situation that we’re in tonight.”

“It’s a short turnaround but I actually think that’s a good thing considering the situation that we’re in tonight.”

Despite the comprehensive nature of their win, Manly coach Trent Barrett believes that they can still improve.

“We were pretty determined to back up last week’s win and it was an outstanding defensive effort again I thought,” Barrett said after the game.

“We can still improve; I thought we turned over a little bit too much ball, but there are some things that we can be really happy with. We’ve just got to keep going; we haven’t achieved anything but we’re on the right track. What they have been doing is paying off.

Player of the Game:

3. Daly Cherry-Evans

2. Tom Trbojevic

  1. Marty Taupau

Sea Eagles 36 (Brian Kelly 2, Dylan Walker, Curtis Sironen, Tom Trbojevic, Apisai Koroisau, Akuila Uate tries; Dylan Walker 4 goals) def. Bulldogs 0 at Lottoland. Half-time: 26-0. Crowd: 9,610

Late Raiders surge not enough as Kahu field goal proves the difference

Andrew McCullough

A see-sawing affair at Suncorp Stadium has seen the Brisbane Broncos prevail 13-12 over the Canberra Raiders after an unlikely field goal from Jordan Kahu gave the Broncos another win this season.

In a rather scrappy affair throughout, the conditions were not easy to play in as rain over the course of the day produced a waterlogged pitch that made making metres difficult.

It was a special game for the Broncos but particularly for hooker Andrew McCullough, who played in his 200th game – the youngest forward to reach the milestone.

He produced a brilliant performance, racking up a phenomenal 61 tackles and scoring a try to boot.

It was a defensive juggernaut in the first half from both sides as they toiled, tried and tested the opposition lines but failed to produce any tries.

Instead, the only points scored before the break was courtesy of two penalty goals, one for either side.

The Broncos burst out of the blocks, though, as first McCullough and then Darius Boyd got on the scoresheet to go up 12-2.

Canberra’s never-say-die attitude was rife again, however, as Jordan Rapana proved why many regard him as one of the game’s elite wingers with a lovely, soaring finish in the corner.

They then scored again after quick hands and a slick play down the right-hand side opened the Broncos defence up, leading to Blake Austin scoring the try.

Soon after, though, the unlikely field-goal hero in Kahu stepped up as from 30m out, he let fly with his kick that ricocheted off the inside post to make it over.

In a game that neither side perhaps deserved to lose, both teams can hold their heads high for different reasons.

Always the modest type, McCullough tried to deflect attention from his 200th game but admitted he was proud to reach the milestone.

“It wasn’t about my milestone or anything, I just wanted to win the game,” said the in-form hooker.

“In saying that, the milestone played on my mind a little bit this week.

“To get to 200 is very special to me. I just wanted to play my best for a great bunch of teammates and I feel I did that.”

Coach Wayne Bennett was also pleased with McCullough’s milestone and praised his performances so far in 2017.

“Andrew has been one of our best players every game this season. He’s been a wonderful player for the club throughout his whole career,” Bennett said.

“Everyone knows he gives his best all the time and nothing changed on Friday night.

“I’m just pleased the boys could get the win and do it for him.

Another talking point out of the game was a crucial intercept taken by 18-year old Raiders winger, Nick Cotric.

It was an intercept that drew praise from all corners of the Raiders dressing room for his calm, collected composure.

“Coming up with a play like that at Suncorp Stadium at that crucial time just shows that he’s ready for first grade and he’s got a long career ahead of him,” Josh Papalii said.

“He’s not a quiet kid, he’s got a lot of energy. Especially when he’s around the halves he’s always going to be a bit chirpy but it’s good to have another personality in the team and we’re all about that.”

Player of the Game:

3. Andrew McCullough

2. Jordan Rapana

  1. Adam Blair

Brisbane Broncos 13 (McCullough, Boyd tries; Kahu 2 goals; Kahu field goal) def. Canberra Raiders 12 (Austin, Rapana tries; Croker 2 goals) at Suncorp Stadium. Crowd: 29,370. Holden Cup: Broncos 24-16.

Panthers find their form as they brush aside the Knights

Corey Harawira-Naera

Whilst the effort is there on the part of the Newcastle Knights, the consistency is not and that was the telling factor as their opponents, the Penrith Panthers, ran rampant and blew them off the park.

The Panthers ended up resounding 40-0 winners on the back of solid games from veteran hooker Peter Wallace, halfback Nathan Cleary and debutant Corey Harawira-Naera.

The comfortable victory was a great way to steel themselves for next week’s clash against competition heavyweights, the Melbourne Storm.

Twice already this year, the Panthers have managed to keep a team scoreless, having prevented the Tigers from scoring any points in Rd 2.

The signs were there that it would be a long night for the Knights, as Penrith scored after just three minutes through winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.

The tries continued to flow for the Panthers as Harawira-Narea, Tyrone Peachey and Dean Whare all scored before the break to give the Panthers a 22-0 lead at half-time.

Despite their best efforts to produce something, anything, the Knights indecisiveness, lack of execution and ill-discipline robbed them of any chance to produce points.

Cleary then got a try of his own at the back end of the game as he shrugged off several defenders to round out the commanding win.

Young debutant Harawira-Naera was a surprise packet for many and when he was told by coach Anthony Griffin that he had gotten the nod to play, he was over the moon.

“He (Griffin) made me sleep on it Wednesday night and then Thursday morning I come in for captains run and he gave me the official word,” Harawira-Naera said.

“I was mentally prepared but couldn’t have done it without the boys and the coaching staff.

“Once I left the room I was jumping up and down.”

The young utility drew praise from Griffin for a solid debut and start to his career.

“I was really happy for him, he got a late call-up on Thursday and he’s been one of our unsung heroes in the under-20s and Intrust Super Premiership the last few years and works extremely hard on the training paddock,” Griffin said.

“It was great to give him that opportunity and it was lovely to see him play well and enjoy a win like that tonight.”

Player of the Game:

3. Corey Harawira-Naera

2. Peter Wallace

  1. Nathan Cleary

Panthers 40 (Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Corey Harawira-Naera, Te Maire Martin, Tyrone Peachey, Peter Wallace, Dean Whare, Nathan Cleary tries; Nathan Cleary 6 goals) defeated Knights 0 at Pepper Stadium. Crowd: 10,567. Half-time: Panthers 22-0.

Sharks forward duo sign new deals

Wade Graham

Two hugely influential players in their own right at the Cronulla Sharks, both Wade Graham and Matt Prior have signed new deals to remain with the club.

Graham, touted by many as the next Sharks captain, has extended his stay with the club until the end of 2019, having joined the Sharks in 2011.

The representative back-rower is pleased to have his future sorted and secure and wants to focus on the footy ahead.

“Another 2 years at the club, so I’m excited to get it done,” Graham said.

“Bit of security on my future and now we can look forward to focusing on this season.”

As for Prior, he surprised many upon joining the Sharks with his 2016 efforts earning him the club’s Player of the Year award.

Still only 29, Prior has much to offer the game and the Sharks club and with 180 total games to his belt – 60 of which have come at the Sharks – he is also excited at what is ahead.

“It’s a massive relief,” Prior said.

“Took a couple of weeks to get it done but glad that we can now focus on the footy.”

Matt Prior


Roosters unbeaten run to start season continue with win over Bunnies

Michael Gordon

Despite a sloppy performance, the Sydney Roosters ended up winning 20-6 in a comfortable fashion to go 4-0 to start the season. 

In control from the outset for much of the game, errors and sloppiness crept into the Roosters game that could have seen more points scored.

Souths were not at their best in attack and it showed, as they were repelled often and could not gain any ascendancy on the other side of the ball in defence either.

The signs from Cody Walker continue to be encouraging, though, as yet again, he was the club’s best player despite the loss.

Indecision and poor judgment was the Bunnies downfall, with back-line players often caught on the last tackle running the ball.

The Bunnies started the stronger of the two teams before the Roosters wrestled back the momentum and completed an impressive 19 of 21 sets in the first half.

Two quick tries then followed for the Tricolours with in-form halves Luke Keary and Mitchell Pearce both involved before Michael Gordon slotted a penalty goal to give the Roosters a 14-0 lead at the break.

The loss of Sam Burgess due to a concussion ended up being one of the telling factors as Souths lost crucial go-forward in light of other forwards performing poorly.

Souths did start the second half strongly as debutant Sitiveni Moceidreke scored a try but the Roosters scored again later in the half through Daniel Tupou.

Despite execution not at its best, the 4-0 start is the Roosters best to a season in 21 years.

Not one to beat around the bush, Roosters coach Trent Robinson was tough on his side for a lack of execution.

“We were exceptional in ‘D’ and average in attack,” Robinson said post-game.

“We worked hard to defend what they were going to throw at us.

“They had lots of options and I thought we defended it well [but] we were in a rush in the second half to get our attack on when we needed to be a bit more patient, build it for five minutes. We wanted to defend on our line like that then try and score at the end of that set.”

With a lot of discussion recently about concussion and teams being fined for breaching the rules in place, the Bunnies followed the protocols and thus Sam Burgess did not return to the field.

“Sammy was obviously concussed there,” his coach Michael Maguire said after the game.

“The assessment was made. He came off after they assessed him and had an understanding of what went on [from] the sideline. We checked him again at half-time and the doctor basically came and said he won’t go back out so that was the call.”

Player of the Game:

3. Michael Gordon

2. Latrell Mitchell

  1. Luke Keary

Sydney Roosters 20 (Mitchell, Gordon, Tupou tries; Gordon 4 goals) defeated South Sydney Rabbitohs 6 (Moceidreke try; Reynolds goal) at ANZ Stadium. Half time: Roosters 14-0.

Taumalolo to stay a Cowboy for life signing a whopping 10-year deal

Jason Taumalolo

Whether you believe a long-term deal is a good thing or a bad thing, there is no denying that the re-signing of Jason Taumalolo by the North Queensland Cowboys is a tremendous boost for the club not only this season but moving forward.

The whopping 10-year deal will make Taumalolo a Cowboy for life, running until the end of the 2027 season.

Since joining the club’s pathways at 14 years old, Taumalolo has fought hard to achieve elite status and is on his way there after winning last year’s Dally M and continuing his impressive form this year so far.

The man himself knows the Cowboys are the right team for him and a place where he feels at home.

“I’m very proud and honoured to be able to say that I’m staying a Cowboy for life,” Taumalolo said.

“This club – including my teammates, the coaching staff, and the people that are its heart and soul –mean the world to me, as do our amazing members and fans.”

The opportunity to finish up as a Cowboy was too good for the hulking forward to refuse in the end.

“One of the greatest pleasures of being a professional rugby league player with the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys is running out on to our home ground at the start of the game and hearing that roar,” Taumalolo continued.

“I started this amazing journey as a young kid in the academy program in a Cowboys jersey and I’ll finish up in one.”

Retaining him was crucial given the heavy interest in Taumalolo from other clubs was rampant. Though the club know that his signature is one that will boost their side moving forward.

“On current form, Jase is one of the best players in the competition and given his age we felt the longer that we could secure him for, the better for everybody,” said Cowboys General Manager of Football, Peter Parr.

“It (the deal) gives Jase good security and the club knows that it’s secured the best young forward in the game for a considerable period of time.

“We wanted a win-win in this deal – as we do with every player negotiation – and that’s what we’ve got.”

He took a while to find his mojo but under coach Paul Green, he has found a new lease on life and a reason to impress every week.

Green, who has watched him develop in recent years, knows just how special a player he is and is excited to have retained him at the club.

“I’ve been privileged to have watched Jase mature into an extremely talented footballer and it’s been a pleasure to see him improve year in, year out,” Green said.

“He’s extremely coachable, always wants to improve and has been integral to our recent success. This new deal is fantastic news for Jase, for our club, for our partners, for our members and fans, and for his current and future teammates.”

Taumalolo also thanked everyone involved in his career to date from his family, friends, the fans, the club, its staff and his management team.

“All these people have been instrumental in my career, and I have shared successes with all of them,” Taumalolo said.

“Holding aloft that NRL Premiership trophy with JT, Thumper, Greeny and Parrie and the rest of the boys is a memory I’ll have forever,” Taumalolo said.

“I’m also very grateful to Pacific Sports Management, especially Chris Orr, who I linked with as a young teenager. They’ve been with me the whole way and are a crucial part of my team.”

Boost for Storm as workhorse lock re-signs

Dale Finucane

Their back-row stocks are slowly depleting with the departure of Kevin Proctor to the Gold Coast Titans for the current season and Tohu Harris to the Warriors next year but the Storm have retained a crucial piece, re-signing Dale Finucane until the end of 2021.

Cementing the lock spot as his own, Finucane’s workhorse like nature has impressed fans alike as he powers through his work like there is no tomorrow.

Joining the club at the start of last year, Finucane has played in 53 games for the Storm and 119 games overall in his NRL career.

His good, consistent form, saw him named as a part of the leadership group at the club in 2017 and the man himself is excited to continue in Melbourne.

“I’ve loved every minute of my two seasons at Storm, so while it was a big decision for me to make, it was ultimately an easy one to sign on,” Finucane said.

“Four more years in the purple jersey is something I am really excited about and I can’t wait to help this team continue to chase ultimate success.

“Hopefully, the purple army will be out in force to support us this season and we can try to make 2017 a memorable one.”

His toughness, determination and grit are just a few traits that fans, team-mates and the club love about him as Storm’s Director of Football Frank Ponissi mentions.

“Dale typifies what a Melbourne Storm player is, he is one of the toughest players we’ve had at the Club and sets a high standard for his teammates to follow.

“He has been elevated to our senior leadership group this season and brings so much to the table for the way he conducts himself both on and off the field.

“We’re excited to have Dale and his partner Maddie remain in Melbourne for the next four years.”

NRL Teams Rd 4

Another week, another round of games. Each team has surprisingly won at least one game this season and there have been numerous upsets. Can the upsets continue in Rd 4 or will the favourites come out on top?

South Sydney Rabbitohs v Sydney Roosters (#NRLsousyd); ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park; Thursday March 23. Kick-off: 8:05pm.

Rabbitohs: 1. Cody Walker 2. Alex Johnston 3. Siosifa Talakai 4. Robert Jennings 5. Bryson Goodwin 6. John Sutton 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Thomas Burgess 9. Robbie Farah 10. Jason Clark 11. Angus Crichton 12. Kyle Turner 13. Sam Burgess (C).

Interchange: 14. Damien Cook 15. Anthony Cherrington 16. Robbie Rochow 17. Zane Musgrove 18. David Tyrrell 19. Tyrell Fuimaono 20. Cameron Murray 21. Sitiveni Moceidreke.

Coach: Michael Maguire.

Roosters: 1. Michael Gordon 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Latrell Mitchell 4. Joseph Manu 5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall 6. Luke Keary 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend (C) 10. Dylan Napa 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Mitch Aubusson 13. Aidan Guerra.

Interchange: 14. Isaac Liu 15. Zane Tetevano 16. Ryan Matterson 17. Connor Watson 18. Chris Smith 19. Paul Carter 20. Blake Ferguson 22. Mitchell Cornish.

Coach: Trent Robinson.

Penrith Panthers v Newcastle Knights (#NRLpennew); Pepper Stadium, Penrith; Friday March 24. Kick-off: 6pm.

Panthers: 1. Matt Moylan 2. Dean Whare 3. Waqa Blake 4. Tyrone Peachey 5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 6. Te Maire Martin 7. Nathan Cleary 8. James Tamou 9. Peter Wallace 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 11. Bryce Cartwright 12. Isaah Yeo 13. Trent Merrin.

14. Peta Hiku 15. Leilani Latu 16. Viliame Kikau 17. Sitaleki Akauola 18. Moses Leota 19. Tim Browne 20. Dylan Edwards 21. Corey Harawira-Naera.

Coach: Anthony Griffin.

Knights: 1. Brendan Elliott 2. Ken Sio 3. Dane Gagai 4. Peter Mata’utia 5. Nathan Ross 6. Brock Lamb 7. Trent Hodkinson (C) 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Danny Levi 10. Josh Starling 11. Sione Mata’utia 12. Jamie Buhrer 13. Mitch Barnett.

Interchange: 14. Luke Yates 15. Jack Stockwell 16. Sam Stone 10. Jacob Saifiti 18. Jacob Gagan 19. Joe Wardle 20. Josh King 21. Anthony Tupou.

Coach: Nathan Brown.

Brisbane Broncos v Canberra Raiders (#NRLbrican); Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane; Friday March 24. Kick-off: 8:05pm.

Broncos: 1. Darius Boyd 2. Corey Oates 3. James Roberts 4. Tautau Moga 5. Jordan Kahu 6. Anthony Milford 7. Ben Hunt 8. Korbin Sims 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Adam Blair 11. Sam Thaiday 12. Matt Gillett 13. Josh McGuire.

Interchange: 14. Alex Glenn 15. Tevita Pangai Jr. 16. Herman Ese’ese 17. Jai Arrow 18. Benji Marshall 19. George Gai 20. David Mead 21. Jonas Pearson.

Coach: Wayne Bennett.

Raiders: 1. Jack Wighton 2. Nic Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker (C) 4. Joey Leilua 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Blake Austin 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Junior Paulo 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Shannon Boyd 11. Josh Papalii 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Luke Bateman.

Interchange: 14. Adam Clydsdale 15. Iosia Soliola 16. Clay Priest 17. Dave Taylor 18. Jordan Turner 19. Scott Sorenson 20. Dunamis Lui 22. Joseph Tapine.

Coach: Ricky Stuart.

Manly Sea Eagles v Canterbury Bulldogs (#NRLmancby); Lottoland, Brookvale; Saturday March 25. Kick-off: 4:30pm.

Manly: 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Dylan Walker 4. Brian Kelly 5. Akuila Uate 6. Blake Green 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Brenton Lawrence 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Martin Taupau 11. Frank Winterstein 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic.

Interchange: 14. Lewis Brown 15. Nate Myles 16. Jackson Hastings 17. Addin Fonua-Blake 18. Shaun Lane 19. Jarrad Kennedy 20. Matthew Wright 21. Billy Bainbridge.

Coach: Trent Barrett.

Bulldogs: 1. Brad Abbey 2. Brett Morris 3. Josh Morris 4. Brenko Lee 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Moses Mbye 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Michael Lichaa 10. James Graham (C) 11. Josh Jackson 12. Greg Eastwood 13. David Klemmer.

Interchange: 14. Sam Kasiano 15. Danny Fualalo 16. Adam Elliott 17. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 18. Craig Garvey 19. Matt Frawley 20. Francis Tualau 21. Reimis Smith.

Coach: Des Hasler.

Parramatta Eels v Cronulla Sharks (#NRLparcro); ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park; Saturday March 25. Kick-off: 7pm. 

Eels: 1. Bevan French 2. Semi Radradra 3. Michael Jennings 4. Brad Takairangi 5. Josh Hoffman 6. Clint Gutherson 7. Corey Norman 8. Suaia Matagi 9. Kaysa Pritchard 10. Tim Mannah (C) 11. Manu Ma’u 12. Frank Pritchard 13. Beau Scott (C).

Interchange: 14. Nathan Brown 15. Daniel Alvaro 16. David Gower 17. Siosaia Vave 18. Rory O’Brien 19. Cameron King 20. Kirisome Auva’a 21. Jeff Robson.

Coach: Brad Arthur.

Sharks: 1. Jack Bird 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Kurt Capewell 4. Ricky Leutele 5. Valentine Holmes 6. James Maloney 7. Chad Townsend 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Matt Prior 11. Luke Lewis 12. Wade Graham 13. Paul Gallen (C).

Interchange: 14. Jayson Bukuya 15. Chris Heighington 16. Jeremy Latimore 17. Joseph Paulo 18. Tony Williams 19. Gerard Beale 20. James Segeyaro 21. Edrick Lee.

Coach: Shane Flanagan.

Gold Coast Titans v North Queensland Cowboys (#NRLgldnql); Cbus Super Stadium, Robina; Saturday March 25. Kick-off: 9pm (AEDT).

Titans: 1. Tyler Cornish 2. Tyronne Roberts-Davis 3. Dale Copley 4. Konrad Hurrell 5. Daniel Vidot 6. Kane Elgey 7. Ash Taylor 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Tyrone Roberts 10. Ryan James (C) 11. Kevin Proctor (C) 12. Chris McQueen 13. Agnatius Paasi.

Interchange: 14. Ryan Simpkins 15. Nathaniel Peteru 16. Leivaha Pulu 17. Joe Greenwood 18. Max King 19. Karl Lawton 20. Paterkia Vaivai 21. Max King.

Coach: Neil Henry.

Cowboys: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Javid Bowen 4. Kane Linnett 5. Gideon Gela-Mosby 6. Michael Morgan 7. Johnathan Thurston (C) 8. Patrick Kaufusi 9. Jake Granville 10. Scott Bolton 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Coen Hess 13. Ethan Lowe.

Interchange: 14. Ben Hampton 15. John Asiata 16. Shaun Fensom 17. Sam Hoare 18. Corey Jensen 19. Ben Spina 20. Enari Tuala 21. Braden Uele.

Coach: Paul Green.

Wests Tigers v Melbourne Storm (#NRLwstmel); Leichhardt Oval; Sunday March 26. Kick-off: 4pm.

Tigers: 1. James Tedesco 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Kevin Naiqama 4. Michael Chee-Kam 5. Moses Suli 6. Mitch Moses 7. Luke Brooks 8. Aaron Woods (C) 9. Matt McIlwrick 10. Ava Seumanufagai 11. Sauaso Sue 12. Chris Lawrence 13. Elijah Taylor.

Interchange: 14. Tim Grant 15. Josh Aloiai 16. Joel Edwards 17. Matt Ballin 18. Justin Hunt 19. Kyle Lovett 20. Jamal Idris 21. Junior Tatola.

Coach: Andrew Webster.

Storm: 1. Billy Slater 2. Young Tonumaipea 3. Will Chambers 4. Cheyse Blair 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Ryley Jacks 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cam Smith (C) 10. Jordan McLean 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenny Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane.

Interchange: 14. Christian Welch 15. Tim Glasby 16. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 17. Vincent Leuluai 18. Mark Nicholls 19. Joe Stimson 20. Justin Olam 21. Brodie Croft.

Coach: Craig Bellamy.

St George Illawarra Dragons v New Zealand Warriors (#NRLsgiwar); UOW Jubilee Oval, Wollongong; Sunday March 26. Kick-off: 6:05pm.

Dragons: 1. Josh Dugan 2. Nene Macdonald 3. Euan Aitken 4. Tim Lafai 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Gareth Widdop (C) 7. Josh McCrone 8. Russell Packer 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Joel Thompson 13. Jack de Belin.

Interchange: 14. Tariq Sims 15. Leeson Ah Mau 16. Jacob Host 17. Kurt Mann 18. Jai Field 19. Taane Milne 20. Luciano Leilua 21. Hame Sele.

Coach: Paul McGregor.

Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (C) 2. Tuimoala Lolohea 3. David Fusitu’a 4. Solomone Kata 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Ata Hingano 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Albert Vete 9. Issac Luke 10. Jacob Lillyman 11. Bodene Thompson 12. Ryan Hoffman (C) 13. Simon Mannering.

Interchange: 14. Erin Clark 15. Charlie Gubb 16. Sam Lisone 17. Bunty Afoa 18. James Gavet 19. Ligi Sao 20. Blake Ayshford 21. Kieran Foran.

Coach: Stephen Kearney.


Ricky’s Team of the Week Rd 3

Jordan Rapana

A round of surprises and upsets, there were equally surprising performances as some players bounced back whilst others failed to perform. Focusing on those that excelled, the Team of the Week will throw up some interesting names! Also, just note, players may appear slightly out of position based on the points system that we utilise. For example, if there is no centre to have accumulated points but three wingers have done so, we will move a winger into the centre position.

So without further adieu, here you go. Ricky’s Team of the Week for Rd 3:

  1. Tom Trbojevic – Taking over the fullback role from the retiring Brett Stewart, Trbojevic had a slow start to the season but is kicking on and making inroads into opposition defences. A remarkably talented player, he shapes as a genuine elite fullback in years to come.

2. Michael Gordon – An early surprise packet form wise, Gordon has been a breath of fresh air for the Roosters. Calm, composed and experienced at the back, he has made his presence felt as he guides the Roosters towards wins and potential success.

3. Josh Morris – With several young guns in the Bulldogs backline, Morris and his brother Brett are needed to step up and guide them and the veteran centre did that with an impressive display in Rd 3.

4. Jordan Rapana – A phenomenal game from Rapana against the Tigers as he made breaks for fun and was quite literally unstoppable against a poor Tigers defence. His statistics from this game were remarkable.

5. Alex Johnston – Under tough scrutiny from many Souths fans, Johnston has so far made a good transition to fullback in 2017 and performed well for the club since Inglis’ injury. Consistency is the key, however.

6. Shaun Johnson – Enjoying perhaps one of his best starts to the season individually, the Warriors overall performances might make it seem as if they are struggling but that is through no fault of Johnson who is making the most of what is presented to him.

7. Mitch Pearce – Some want him back in Origin, others do not. However, his form continues and his partnership with Keary develops further, Origin selection may be a mere formality.

8. Jordan McLean – Talk about consistency and McLean is one of the first names on the list this season. Tremendously talented, he is a huge reason as to why the Storm is able to control a game and make efficient meterage in the opposition defensive line.

9. Tyrone Roberts – Switched around somewhat throughout his career and in the Rd 3 clash, Roberts move to fullback was perhaps the winning formula even though he started the game at hooker. He was in everything and proved his worth and value to the Titans side.

10. Tim Mannah – An unsung hero of the Eels forward pack despite their recruits coming in. A hard worker, a tireless player and a genuine leader, Mannah sets the bar for his fellow Eels props with commitment, determination and will power.

11. Josh Papalii – At present, he is the form back-rower of the competition. Just when you think he cannot do anymore, he has another spectacular game. His partnership on the edges with his inside and outside men is a big reason behind his success.

12. Josh Jackson – Another elite back-rower in the game, Jackson is highly rated by Dogs fans and is a consistent performer in their forward pack. A hard worker in his own right, his form on the edge is a key for the Bulldogs.

13. Jamie Buhrer – One of Knights key recruits ahead of 2017, Buhrer has so far lived up to the expectation and helped guide the younger forward pack around. Playing big minutes himself and leading from the front, his leadership and his resolve playing a part in a rejuvenated Knights outfit.

14. Brenton Lawrence – Having overcome his back injury, Lawrence is turning heads and impressing Manly fans once more with strong carries and hard running, producing the goods with big metres and opportunistic tries as a result.

15. Junior Paulo – A bullocking man mountain, Junior hits the line as hard as you will see from any prop and his presence his felt in attack. An enforcer of the Raiders forward pack, his metres set the tone for the rest of the forwards.

16. Chris McQueen – Another versatile player, McQueen had a shift to the centres in Rd 3 and was a strong performer as he scored two tries and made several breaks. Whilst not a noted try-scorer, when he has the chance to score, he makes the most of it.

17. John Asiata – A surprising selection perhaps but with much of the focus on other forwards in the Cowboys side, the work-rate and commitment of Asiata can often go unnoticed. His efforts off the bench give a boost to the Cowboys at any point in the game.

Player of the Week: Jordan Rapana.

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