Double trouble as Ferguson stars for Eels

Parramatta Eels winger Blake Ferguson

For only the second time since 1999, the Parramatta Eels led by Blake Ferguson have started the season 2 for 2 in a polar opposite season start from 2018.

You can almost forgive the fans for their celebrating after such a disastrous season the year before but the faithful had little to celebrate early on in the competition against their rivals Canterbury Bulldogs in front of 20,134 fans at ANZ.

20 minutes into the first half, the Bulldogs were well in control of the match with 75% of the possession and 10 points on the board.

The Eels made them fight hard to get there but Kieran Foran finally broke the defence 14 minutes in, pouncing onto a unique but well executed floater from Lachlan Lewis to score his first try in almost a year.

Just four minutes later, the Bulldogs were on the board again after a loose carry from Maika Sivo found the boys from Parramatta defending their goal line once again.

The Fijian winger was definitely welcomed to first grade football by the Bulldogs after a poor defensive read saw Reimis Smith put one in the corner.

When their defensive wall started showing moments of weakness, the Eels were able to finally regain some possession and complete a set.

With the ball was finally controlled in their hands, they showed their strength on attack as Ferguson nabbed his first try for his new club.

The veteran winger combined with a cheeky inside ball from his fullback to grab Parramatta’s first points of the day.

Mitchell Moses converted and just 3 minutes later was back converting another.

Clint Gutherson was the try scorer this time off a Reed Mahoney tackle break that saw the two in open space.

The teams went to the sheds practically neck and neck and fans of both teams were on the edge of their seats in anxiety for the second half.

Much to the dismay of Bulldogs fans, the Eels picked up exactly where they left off though as  Gutherson scored his second try of the afternoon with Ferguson supporting him this time.

The Bulldogs struggled to catch up to the Eels and when things began to look promising again they fell apart for a disastrous 10 minutes.

Two intercept tries – one for Ferguson for his double and one for Shaun Lane for his first try at the club.

The Eels led by 20 with 30 minutes to go and looked to have the game all but wrapped up.

The remaining 30 minutes saw some strong defensive efforts and in the 63rd minute Bulldogs’ recruit Dylan Napa scored his first try for his new club.

In doing so, he powered over Gutherson to put the ball down.

The Dogs continued to try and claw their way back into the competition with the clock quickly running down however Dylan Brown, in a fantastic second NRL performance, got himself 4 points for his first career try.

There were definitely promising signs for the Canterbury Bulldogs as they put together a far more impressive 80 minutes than that of the week before.

However, the positive signs for Parramatta were far too over powering.

The blue and gold trot home to Parramatta with 2 doubles and the 2 points.

The recruits for the club stood up loud and proud to silence any doubters about recruitment issues from Brad Arthur and the young 18 year old from New Zealand still cool as a cucumber securing his spot in first grade footy.

As the best winger last year, many thought a change of club for Ferguson would dampen his 2019 achievements.

If the start of the season is anything to go by, it will have no such effect, as the winger drew praise from Eels coach Brad Arthur.

“He’s been great. He’s 106-107 kilos and when he came, he said he’d like to play around that 101-kilo mark,” Arthur said.

“But he’s strong and he’s good to have around the group.

“The boys just like sitting there next to him in the sheds because he breeds confidence.”

After a second loss to the start the year, Bulldogs coach Dean Pay be forced to bring out some selection changes to try and buck their fortunes.

“We’ll address that during the week and see where we need to be better with some of our players – see how our second grade went today,” Pay said.

“There’s a few guys putting some pressure on there.”

NRL News Player of the Match

3. Blake Ferguson

2. Clinton Gutherson

1. Shaun Lane

Keary masterclass sees Roosters hold off spirited Sea Eagles

Sydney Roosters half Luke Keary

Undermanned in the halves with Cooper Cronk out, Luke Keary stepped up and led the Sydney Roosters to a win over the Manly Sea Eagles.

The opening half was all about the Keary masterclass as his four try assists toppled Manly and gave the Roosters a 22-0 lead at the interval.

The first half illustrated the dominance of Manly, who were out-matched and out-muscled in the forwards and had only 37 percent possession.

An early misjudgment from Manly gifted the first try to the Roosters; it was Brett Morris to capitalise off Keary’s kick.

A 40/20 from Latrell Mitchell soon followed that led to a repeat set and ultimately a second Roosters try.

Keary showed his cut-out skills with a sublime pass for winger Daniel Tupou to score, just as the heavens opened.

The wet weather did not dampen the Roosters attacking play, though.

Keary took the line on himself, held off defenders and offloaded for a try to captain Boyd Cordner.

Tupou’s second try came later as the Roosters marched down the field and the hulking winger soared highest from a Keary chip.

The second half saw a much improved Manly side come onto the field.

Winning the half 16-0, they were led by some of their younger stars in Reuben Garrick and Manase Fainu.

Fainu scored a try of his own to kick things off with a dart from dummy half to get over the line.

Garrick then took an inside pass down the field for a break and found Jake Trbojevic who scored Manly’s second.

Despite their best efforts in the second half, Manly only managed a third try, a mere consolation, to Moses Suli.

A spirited performance, however, as the Roosters look to avoid second half fade-outs.

Manly coach Des Hasler believes that a win is not too far away for his side but they need to fix some basic errors first.

“There’s a few areas in our game that we need to work on and that’s our time and possession in field position,” Hasler said.

“I thought we were a little careless in that regard and that’s what they [Roosters] did well.”

“They built pressure and it lasted and were able to build points off that.

“We have to stay at the other end longer and execute better and with the ball in field position.”

Roosters coach Trent Robinson was pleased with his side’s overall execution in the first half.

“I thought execution with stuff we wanted to get on was very high,” Robinson said.

“Execution of the try-scoring plays, our kicking and end of sets were very good.

“Defensively we were rock solid. I thought there was a good base there.”

NRL News Player of the Game

3. Luke Keary

2. Reuben Garrick

  1. Boyd Cordner

Panthers hold on for narrow victory over Knights

Penrith Panthers prop James Tamou

In a slow, dogged, determined affair, the Penrith Panthers have prevailed over the Newcastle Knights 16-14. 

As the momentum ebbed and flowed, both teams struggled to get a stranglehold on the game.

Two penalty goals were the only points for a while with scores locked at 2-all.

It would be Penrith who got on the try scoresheet first, however, through forward James Fisher-Harris.

This did not last long as a cut-out pass from Kalyn Ponga found a flying Edrick Lee who flew over the line to score.

After a tough sideline conversion, Ponga and the Knights had the lead.

Penrith would hit back through new recruit Frank Winterstein shortly after. A crossfield kick found Malakai Watene-Zelezniak who batted it back for the second-rower to score.

The Panthers then extended their lead further when Isaah Yeo got a try of his own, despite leaving the field earlier due to concussion.

Not a team to write off, however, the Knights were committed to finding points and a win.

The points came when Mitch Barnett powered his way over near the posts to make for an interesting final minutes.

In the end, the Knights attack could not further penetrate the Penrith line as the Panthers scored their first win of the season.

Admitting that his side still does not have their mojo, Cleary wants his side to learn how to put sides to the sword.

“When we got to 16-8, I really felt we could have gone on with it a bit more, but we couldn’t get that done and ended up giving me a few more grey hairs by the end of the game,” the Penrith coach said.

“But we got there in the end.

“We’re still trying to find our groove as a team.

“The boys have played together for a bit but obviously with a new coach, we’re doing things slightly differently.”

Knights coach Nathan Brown believes his side played relatively well but lacked the finesse and finishing in key moments.

“I just thought there were a couple of key moments, and they came up with those big plays and we didn’t come up with them,” Brown said post-match.

“Last week, we came up with them and we beat a very good side, and this week we didn’t quite come up with them and we just went down to a very good side, and that’s pretty much where I saw the game.”

NRL News Player of the Game

3. James Tamou

2. Nathan Cleary

  1. Mitch Barnett


Sharks celebrate a Gallen milestone in style with win over Titans

Gold Coast Titans forward Jai Arrow

Equalling the Cronulla Sharks club record of 328 games held by Andrew Ettinghausen, a win was the icing on the cake as they overcame the Gold Coast Titans. 

A true loyalist to the club for the past 17 seasons, Gallen has been through the highs and lows and capped off the milestone in style.

His Cronulla side eased to a 20-6 win, even if, at times, their play seemed rather scrappy.

Although his minutes may not have been as high as previous years, his other forwards were able to pick up the slack.

Remarkably, three tries were disallowed or prevented before the opening try was scored in the 16th minute.

Two were against the Titans – to Jai Arrow and Ryan James – and a third was a case of good Titans defence, with Josh Dugan pushed out of bounds.

The first try soon came, though, as Sione Katoa took a cut-out pass from Shaun Johnson and did the rest.

His second soon followed and, much like the first, he had a clear passage to the line to race over and score.

The Sharks third try was, in some ways, calamitous, yet it produced the desired result.

Prop Andrew Fifita took the line on, offloaded, only for his offload to go astray.

In attempting to retrieve the errant offload, Tyrone Peachey knocked on, Fifita scrambed and grubbered backwards to Josh Dugan.

With an open line and clear pasture in front of him, Dugan simply cruised over to score quite an interesting try.

Hoping to buck the trend, it was not to be, as the Sharks looked rampant in the first half.

Impressing since being handed a back-row spot, Briton Nikora burst onto a short pass from Matt Moylan to score his first NRL try.

The Titans got their just rewards in the second half, however, as two consecutive line breaks resulted in a try for winger Brenko Lee.

Despite the Titans second loss and with just six points to their name so far, there is one shining standout in the team.

His name is Jai Arrow. His herculean effort did not go unnoticed and was praised by many, including coach Garth Brennan.

“Jai Arrow did everything he could out there to try and get us that result and he can hold his head up high, that’s for sure,” Brennan said.

“He’s special, isn’t he. He had a breakout season last year and he has done that again today.

“He is passionate, he doesn’t say a lot, he leads with his actions and that is why he is such a big part of our football team.

“If everyone else showed as much passion as Jai Arrow showed today the result is probably different.”

Also drawing praise was Nikora, who has been a by-product of the Sharks system and someone Morris has seen first-hand for a while.

“I saw that evolve at the start of the year,” Morris said.

“I think with Briton being a Kiwi, they have teamed up pretty well since Shaun arrived and I know what Brit can do.”

“I have seen him come through our system and those lines he can run have been evident there for the last few years so I have just been waiting for the time that he hit a hole like he did today.”

NRL News Player of the Game

3. Jai Arrow

2. Briton Nikora

  1. Sione Katoa

Broncos win fierce Queensland derby as Taumalolo faces nervous wait

Brisbane Broncos forward Tevita Pangai Jr.

The Brisbane Broncos may have won the game but the big talking point is the possible MCL injury to North Queensland Cowboys powerhouse, Jason Taumalolo. 

Coming off a tremendous individual performance in the opening round, many anticipated that Taumalolo was primed to do it again.

Sadly, that did not happen, as around the halfway point of the first half, he suffered a knee injury, potentially an MCL.

Although the severity is unknown, Cowboys coach Paul Green says he does not know the extent of it just yet.

“I’m not going to speculate until we find out exactly what we’re dealing with,” Green said.

“He’s got a medial issue. Don’t know how bad it is yet.”

Ultimately, Taumalolo or not, it was the Broncos who had most of the running and ascendancy in this now fierce rivalry.

Tevita Pangai Jr. kickstarted what was a sublime performance with a strong run that led to Jack Bird and Corey Oates to combine.

The winger scoring his 46th try at Suncorp Stadium to open the scoring.

There was just one other try scored in the first half and that belonged to centre James Roberts.

A crossfield kick saw Jamayne Isaako fly highest to bat the ball down for Roberts to score.

The second half began and in just a short eight minutes, it was all she wrote with no chance of comeback for the Cowboys.

Second tries for James Roberts and Corey Oates and a bulldozing effort by Pangai Jr. all but sealed the Broncos win.

It was Pangai Jr.’s try that had many taking note, however, with many already picking him as a potential NSW Origin candidate.

There were two late consolations for the Cowboys through Jordan Kahu and and Justin O’Neill, although that is all they were.

In the end, the Cowboys were soundly beaten and have some work to do if they are to go toe-to-toe with the big guns.

Green admits that his Cowboys side were just physically dominated and never recovered from there.

“Early in there physically, we just weren’t in the contest and we didn’t go with them,” Green said.

“They beat us to the punch early. Physically, they got on top and we just weren’t prepared to go with them.

“At the back-end of the game, we showed a bit of impact when we decided to go forward.”

The challenge has been set for Pangai Jr. by Broncos coach Anthony Seibold; it is time to play like this every week and be consistent.

“Tevita was really good,” Seibold said.

“He started from the bench last week and was probably a bit disappointed to start from the bench, so he made every post a winner tonight. I thought he was very dominant in the first half which was pleasing.”

“The challenge for ‘T’ is to be consistent and back that up week-in and week-out.

“I just want to see him reach his potential and be the best version of himself as a footy player.

“He has done a lot of hard work, and the performance staff have done a really good job to get him in the physical shape that he is in. ”

NRL News Player of the Game

3. Tevita Pangai Jr.

2. Thomas Flegler

  1. Corey Oates

Fijian flyer reigns supreme as Storm beat Raiders

Melbourne Storm winger Suliasi Vunivalu

It was all about the flying Fijian in Suliasi Vunivalu as the Melbourne Storm maintained their undefeated start to 2019 with a win over the Canberra Raiders. 

Playing away from home at GIO Stadium, the 22-10 victory was led by a hat-trick for Vunivalu.

Making plays or running great lines, this was Vunivalu’s first hat-trick since late 2017.

After a nice play down the right, Vunivalu opened the scoring for the Storm to kickstart their early dominance.

Just ten minutes later, he was in again for the Storm, this time winning the race off a Brodie Croft grubber.

Then, within 30 minutes, he finished off some good play by Curtis Scott to grab his third and hat-trick.

As the game wore on, the Raiders slowly fought their way back into the contest and even had a period of dominance.

New English recruit John Bateman enjoyed his stellar start, darting across field and finding Jarrod Croker for the Raiders first try and points.

Just when it looked like the Raiders would score again, the Storm needed just one chance to put it all to bed.

Nelson Asofa-Solomona proved the adage that big men are ‘too big and too strong’ and powered his way over to score.

A second Croker try provided the faintest hope for the Raiders but it was not to be.

The win puts the Storm on top and makes five wins on the trot against Canberra.

Although his side lost, Raiders coach Ricky Stuart says it was the smaller things that cost his side and they can be fixed.

“There was a couple of little team errors rather than team structure and they’re easily fixed,” Stuart said.

“Nicky [Cotric] wasn’t in the line or Charnze [Nicoll-Klokstad] came up out of the line, they’re young guys, so those things are easily fixed.

“Structurally, overall, our defence [was good], take away a couple of those tries the one off the bomb where Jack [Wighton] threw the intercept like that is against the run of play.”

It was not all smiles for Storm coach Craig Bellamy, who was disappointed that his side let the Raiders back into the game in the fashion they did.

“It was really disappointing, we gave away a fifth-tackle penalty which basically turned the game,” Bellamy said.

“I thought we were pretty much in control and then they scored off that and we had to batten down the hatches.

“I have to give Canberra a lot of credit – it could have been easy for them to go away and say ‘this is a bit too hard tonight’ but they stuck to their guns and made us work for it”

NRL News Player of the Game

3. Suliasi Vunivalu

2. John Bateman

  1. Jesse Bromwich

Eels strengthen hooker depth with signing of McIlwrick


Now Parramatta Eels hooker Matt McIlwrick

Needing hooker depth following numerous circumstances, the Parramatta Eels have signed Matt McIlwrick for the 2019 season.

With Kaysa Pritchard granted indefinite leave and a recent injury to Will Smith, the need for depth behind Reed Mahoney was crucial.

Having been released by the South Sydney Rabbbitohs, McIlwrick did not play first-grade for the club.

Previously, he had played first-grade for the Canberra Raiders, Cronulla Sharks, Sydney Roosters and Wests Tigers.

Now at a new club in the Eels, McIlwrick jumped at the opportunity.

“It was a good opportunity,” McIlwrick said.

“I’ve heard good things about the club and I look forward to meeting the boys.”


NRL Teams Rd 2

Another week, another Teamlist Tuesday and another set of NRL Teams. Here are, NRL Teams Rd 2; what surprises are in store? 

Some teams soared, some teams sunk and some teams were exactly what we all expected.

But who can build momentum and who can get a season back on track?

No more waiting and here we go; NRL Teams for round 2 of the NRL Telstra Premiership:

St George Illawarra Dragons v South Sydney Rabbitohs (#NRLsgisou); Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Wollongong; Thursday, March 21. Kick-off: 7:55 pm.

Dragons: 1. Gareth Widdop (C) 2. Jordan Pereira 3. Euan Aitken 4. Tim Lafai 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Corey Norman 7. Ben Hunt 8. James Graham 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Jacob Host 12. Tariq Sims 13. Blake Lawrie.

Interchange: 14. Jeremy Latimore 15. Matt Dufty 16. Josh Kerr 17. Luciano Leilua.

Reserves: 18. Zac Lomax 19. Reece Robson 20. Mitch Allgood 21. Jonus Pearson.

Coach: Paul McGregor.

Souths: 1. Alex Johnston 2. Dane Gagai 3. Greg Inglis (C) 4. Braidon Burns 5. Campbell Graham 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Thomas Burgess 11. John Sutton 12. Sam Burgess 13. Cameron Murray.

Interchange: 14. Liam Knight 15. Mark Nicholls 16. Ethan Lowe 17. Kyle Turner.

Reserves: 18. Corey Allan 19. Connor Tracey 20. Rhys Kennedy 21. Mawene Hiroti.

Coach: Wayne Bennett.

Canberra Raiders v Melbourne Storm (#NRLcanmel); GIO Stadium, Canberra; Friday, March 22. Kick-off: 6 pm. 

Raiders: 1. Charnze Nicholl-Klokstad 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker (C) 4. Joey Leilua 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Jack Wighton 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Josh Papalii 9. Josh Hodgson (C) 10. Dunamis Lui 11. Joseph Tapine 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. John Bateman.

Interchange: 14. Siliva Havili 15. Ryan Sutton 16. Sia Soliola 17. Corey Horsburgh.

Reserves: 18. Sam Williams 19. JJ Collins 20. Bailey Simonsson 21. Jack Murchie.

Coach: Ricky Stuart.

Storm: 1. Jahrome Hughes 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. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane.

Interchange: 14. Brandon Smith 15. Christian Welch 16. Tui Kamikamica 17. Patrick Kaufusi.

Reserves: 18. Marion Seve 19. Albert Vete 20. Ryan Papenhuyzen 21. Billy Walters.

Coach: Craig Bellamy.

Brisbane Broncos v North Queensland Cowboys (#NRLbrinql); Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane; Friday, March 22. Kick-off: 7:55 pm. 

Broncos: 1. Darius Boyd 2. Corey Oates 3. James Robets 4. Jack Bird 5. Jamayne Isaako 6. Anthony Milford 7. Kodi Nikorima 8. Tevita Pangai Jr. 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Joe Ofahengaue 11. Alex Glenn 12. David Fifita 13. Matt Gillett.

Interchange: 14. Kotoni Staggs 15. Jaydn Su’A 16. Thomas Flegler 17. Shaun Fensom

Reserves: 18. Patrick Carrigan 19. Patrick Mago 20. Richard Kennar 21. Gehamat Shibasaki.

Coach: Anthony Seibold.

Cowboys: 1. Jordan Kahu 2. Nene Macdonald 3. Justin O’Neill 4. Tom Opacic 5. Javid Bowen 6. Te Maire Martin 7. Michael Morgan (C) 8. Matt Scott 9. Jake Granville 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Coen Hess 13. Jason Taumalolo.

Interchange: 14. John Asiata 15. Josh McGuire 16. Mitch Dunn 17. Francis Molo.

Reserves: 18. Ben Hampton 19. Jake Clifford 20. Corey Jensen 23. Enari Tuala.

Coach: Paul Green.

Cronulla Sharks v Gold Coast Titans (#NRLcrogld); Shark Park, Cronulla; Saturday, March 23. Kick -off: 3 pm. 

Sharks: 1. Matt Moylan 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Josh Dugan 4. Josh Morris 5. Sione Katoa 6. Shaun Johnson 7. Chad Townsend 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Matt Prior 11. Briton Nikora 12. Kurt Capewell 13. Paul Gallen (C).

Interchange: 14. Blayke Brailey 15. Aaron Woods 16. Jayson Bukuya 17. Jack Wiliams.

Reserves: 18. Scott Sorenson 19. Kyle Flanagan 20. Bronson Xerri 21. Braden Hamlin-Uele.

Coach: John Morris

Titans: 1. Michael Gordon 2. Anthony Don 3. Tyrone Peachey 4. Brian Kelly 5. Brenko Lee 6. Alex Brimson 7. Ryley Jacks 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Nathan Peats 10. Shannon Boyd 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Ryan James (C) 13. Jai Arrow.

Interchange: 14. Philip Sami 15. Moeaki Fotuaika 16. Max King 17. Bryce Cartwright.

Reserves: 18. Mitch Rein 19. Jai Whitbread 20. Leilani Latu 21. Jesse Arthars.

Coach: Garth Brennan.

Newcastle Knights v Penrith Panthers (#NRLnewpen); McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle; Saturday, March 23. Kick-off: 5:30 pm. 

Knights: 1. Connor Watson 2. Edrick Lee 3. Hymel Hunt 4. Jesse Ramien 5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall 6. Kalyn Ponga 7. Mitch Pearce (C) 8. David Klemmer 9. Danny Levi 10. James Gavet 11. Sione Mata’utia 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 13. Tim Glasby.

Interchange: 14. Kurt Mann 15. Aidan Guerra 16. Mitch Barnett 17. Herman Ese’ese.

Reserves: 18. Josh King 19. Jamie Buhrer 20. Mason Lino 21. Brodie Jones.

Coach: Nathan Brown

Panthers: 1. Dylan Edward 2. Josh Mansour 3. Dean Whare 4. Waqa Blake 5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 6. James Maloney 7. Nathan Cleary 8. James Tamou 9. Sione Katoa 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 11. James Fisher-Harris 12. Isaah Yeo (C) 13. Hame Sele.

Interchange: 14. Wayde Egan 15. Frank Winterstein 16. Moses Leota 17. Jack Hetherington.

Reserves: 18. Jarome Luai 19. Tim Grant 20. Liam Martin 21. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak.

Coach: Ivan Cleary.

Manly Sea Eagles v Sydney Roosters (#NRLmansyd); Lottoland, Manly; Saturday, March 23. Kick-off: 7:35 pm. 

Manly: 1. Brendan Elliott 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Moses Suli 4. Brad Parker 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Kane Elgey 7. Daly Cherry-Evans (C) 8. Toafofoa Sipley 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Martin Taupau 11. Joel Thompson 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic.

Interchange: 14. Manase Fainu 15. Jack Gosiewski 16. Corey Waddell 17. Kelepi Tanginoa.

Reserves: 18. Trent Hodkinson 19. Tevita Funa 20. Lloyd Perrett 21. Lachlan Croker.

Coach: Des Hasler.

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

Interchange: 14. Isaac Liu 15. Zane Tetevano 16. Lindsay Collins 17. Angus Crichton.

Coach: Trent Robinson.

Canterbury Bulldogs v Parramatta Eels (#NRLcbypar); ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park; Sunday, March 24. Kick-off: 4 pm. 

Bulldogs: 1. Will Hopoate 2. Christian Crichton 3. Kerrod Holland 4. Marcelo Montoya 5. Reimis Smith 6. Lachlan Lewis 7. Kieran Foran 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Michael Lichaa 10. Dylan Napa 11. Josh Jackson (C) 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 13. Adam Elliott.

Interchange: 14. Jeremy Marshall-King 15. Danny Fualalo 16. Corey Harawira-Naerea 17. Sauaso Sue.

Reserves: 19. Jack Cogger 20. Nick Meaney 21. Chris Smith 22. Ofahiki Ogden.

Coach: Dean Pay.

Eels: 1. Clint Gutherson (C) 2. Maika Sivo 3. Josh Hoffman 4. Brad Takairangi 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitch Moses 8. Daniel Alvaro 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Marata Niukore 13. Tepai Moeroa.

Interchange: 14. Jaeman Salmon 15. Tim Mannah 16. Kane Evans 17. David Gower.

Reserves: 18. Bevan French 19. Oregon Kaufusi 20. George Jennings 21. Andrew Davey.

Coach: Brad Arthur.

Wests Tigers v New Zealand Warriors (#NRLwstwar); Campbelltown Stadium; Sunday, March 24. Kick-off: 6:10 pm. 

Tigers: 1. Corey Thompson 2. Mahe Fonua 3. Paul Momirovski 4. Esan Marsters 5. Robert Jennings 6. Benji Marshall 7. Luke Brooks 8. Ben Matulino 9. Robbie Farah 10. Alex Twal 11. Ryan Matterson 12. Luke Garner 13. Elijah Taylor.

Interchange: 14. Russell Packer 15. Thomas Mikaele 16. Josh Aloiai 17. Michael Chee-Kam.

Reserves: 18. Moses Mbye 19. Josh Reynolds 20. Matt Eisenhuth 21. Chris McQueen.

Coach: Michael Maguire.

Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (C) 2. David Fusitu’a 3. Peta Hiku 4. Solomone Kata 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Adam Keighran 7. Blake Green 8. Agnatius Paasi 9. Nathaniel Roache 10. Bunty Afoa 11. Adam Blair 12. Tohu Harris 13. Lachlan Burr.

Interchange: 14. Jazz Tevaga 15. Sam Lisone 16. Leeson Ah Mau 17. Isaiah Papali’i.

Reserves: 18. Gerard Beale 20. Chanel Harris-Tavita 22. Issac Luke 23. Ligi Sao.

Coach: Stephen Kearney.


Eels hang on for tight victory over rivals Penrith

Parramatta Eels back-rower Shaun Lane

Bitter rivals on the field, it was the Parramatta Eels who came out on top against the Penrith Panthers with a 20-12 win.

After taking out the wooden spoon in 2018, the Eels have something to prove in 2019 to avoid much of the same.

Their campaign got off to the perfect start with a win, led by several of their big stars.

The loss was unfortunately soured by the loss of Nathan Brown who faces roughly 3 months on the sidelines with a pec injury.

The Eels would open the scoring through Marata Niukore, who pounced on a Brad Takairangi grubber and grounded the ball on the line.

Their lead was then extended when Michael Jennings scored a try that some fans saw as dubious.

Taking a short pass from back-rower Shaun Lane, Jennings bobbled and juggled and seemingly held onto the ball to score.

There was a suggestion that the ball grazed the arm of Dylan Edwards but the video referee saw otherwise and gave the try.

Young hooker Reed Mahoney then showed his hustle to score, bamboozling some defenders.

It was a case of deja vu from there as the Eels, who also led 14-0 this time last year, saw Penrith make a comeback.

The turning point came when Jennings was sin-binned for a high shot on Isaah Yeo.

Wayde Egan caught the Eels defence napping to dart over from dummy half.

This was soon followed by a rampaging James Tamou who just powered his way over to score.

At 14-12, the match was evenly poised. But who would take the step? Penrith or Parramatta?

In the end, the Eels got the last say as young gun Dylan Brown combined with Jennings for the centre to score his second.

Despite the loss, coach Ivan Cleary was optimistic about their season and was pleased with aspects of their performance.

“Our off-season has been really good,” Cleary said.

“We had, obviously, an issue for a period of about a week.

“But for the most part I’ve been really happy with how everything has worked.”

Eels coach Brad Arthur was blunt with his assessment on Brown who faces roughly three months on the sidelines.

“He’s not good. I think it’s his pec and that’s three months,” coach Brad Arthur said.

“It’s tough but we lost a couple at the start of the week when we thought they might play.

“But Kane Evans and David Gower came in and got an opportunity and didn’t let us down.”

NRL News Player of the Game

3. Shaun Lane

2. Marata Niukore

  1. Blake Ferguson

Taumalolo leads the way as Cowboys topple Dragons

North Queensland Cowboys forward Jason Taumalolo

Jason Taumalolo has yet again proved he is the game’s elite forward, guiding the North Queensland Cowboys to victory over the St George Illawarra Dragons.

Taumalolo, who amassed more than 301 metres, was a handful and a half for the Dragons defence who failed to contain him.

It was the perfect start for the Cowboys as life after JT begins, with their 24-12 victory giving them confidence moving forward.

After some early back-and-forth and missed opportunities, it would be the Dragons who would score first.

Capitalising on a Jordan Kahu error, the Dragons went down the field and scored through centre Euan Aitken.

Points still eluded the Cowboys for much of the first half; for, try as they might, they let themselves down or ran into sturdy Dragons defence.

Taumalolo’s first line-break then led to the opening Cowboys try.

After further good lead-up from Michael Morgan and Justin O’Neill, it was Javid Bowen who would score in the corner.

Former Dragon Nene Macdonald then gave his new Cowboys side the lead at half-time at 8-6, scoring in the corner.

As the game ebbed and flowed, the next points would come midway through the second half.

John Asiata showed off his silky skills and set up Morgan for a try of his own.

A second Taumalolo break saw another Cowboys try, with Te Maire Martin backing up to cross the line.

Battered by rain and winds, the Cowboys were hungry for more points and they got their reward.

A deft Morgan grubber found Justin O’Neill who reacted quickest to score.

There was a final consolation try for the Dragons courtesy of winger Jordan Pereira.

Cowboys coach Paul Green believes their club eventually found their mojo and that won them the game.

“I think when we got our game on tonight, that in particular was a bit of a feature for us,” Green said.

“I thought when John Asiata came on he made a real difference and straightened us up.

“Jason was very good. He was a handful as always but I thought we kept pressure on through that middle with all of our forwards, they were all pretty good.”

Although the Dragons have a new-look spine and made a change in the middle, coach Paul McGregor says that is no excuse for the loss.

“Certainly when you’ve got a change to your spine and then we moved Tyson Frizell into the middle, it’s going to take a little bit of time but that’s not an excuse,” McGregor said.

“If we go in at halftime with 50-50 possession, we’re fresh in the second half.

“If we play a little bit smarter to start the second half, it’s a different game.”

NRL News Player of the Game

3. Jason Taumalolo

2. Josh McGuire

  1. Michael Morgan


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