Both winners in todays NRL games went against the tipping trend. With the last placed Dragons upstaging front runners Manly and the home loving Raiders getting done over by the Wests Tigers who needed a win to keep in touch with the top teams. The Raiders saw Todd Carney return, and the young half had immediate impact busting the line and setting up a Raiders try early. The Tim Sheens team changes seem to have made the desired impact, with the Tigers looking good once they got out of their own half. Things got spiteful too, with Logan and Galloway going toe to toe after a disagreement in the ruck. First, on to the Dragons / Manly game –
Dragons 26 def Manly 22
It was a gutsy, nail-biting win for the Dragons and their fans – with the struggling red and whites finally getting some nice attacking plays together to score enough points to hold Manly at bay. The Dragons needed every point, as the tiring Saints let the Manly side back into the match – mostly due to poor right hand edge defence from the Dragons.
Most times that Manly probed the Dragons right side, they had success – coach Hasler would be frustrated that Orford and Monaghan didn’t send plenty more plays down this side. Alternatively the Dragons seemed to thrive on second phase play today, with even Steve Menzies regularly offloading in risky situations. It cost them dearly, with at least 2 Dragons tries coming from wayward offloads or risky passes.
Manly may have just taken things a little lightly coming into todays game. The Dragons at Oki were certainly up for a big one and full credit to Housten, Poore and Hunt – the big 3 up front really having a massive game. Ben Creagh was his busy self, getting involved in everything – but it was probably the exquisite display by new Dragons halves pairing Chase and Soward that cut the Manly side up. The footwork from Rangi Chase centre field and the always scheming Soward was a sight to see – troubling the Dragons bigger men middle field most of the game.
The young, unexperienced Dragons side got the wobbles late – when they realised they might actually win the match. Orford and Monaghan stepping up and playing with the urgency they needed to show probably 30 minutes earlier to really give the Manly side a chance.
It’s not all bad news for the Manly side, as they face the Roosters at Brookvale and should be in the mood to put a big score on the struggling Bondi side.
The Dragons stay at home to face the Raiders in a match they will be confident of winning.
Wests Tigers 22 def Canberra Raiders 16
Wests Tigers got tough and broke a two-match losing streak and now see themselves back in the top eight with a 22-16 win in the ACT over the Raiders.
After taking consecutive losses to the Titans and Broncos in the previous two gams, the Tigers scored four tries to three and defended stoutly for a strong win.
The win means the Tigers move ahead of the Titans on the NRL ladder, while the Raiders sit 13th after slumping to three straight losses.
Rock solid goal-line defence in the first half laid the foundation for the much needed win as the Tigers continually repelled the Raiders’ attack in the final 20 minutes of the first half.
In total the Raiders were tackled 38 times inside the 20m line during the opening half, and the Tigers spent 66 per cent of the half stuck in their own territory.
The Raiders were not helped by two injuries to key players throughout the match – the Raiders playing much of the second half with just 15 fit men after Michael Weyman left the field with a suspected fractured leg and captain Alan Tongue hobbled off early after falling awkwardly in a tackle.
The Tigers ran in two tries to one in the opening half to take a 10-4 lead into half-time, but the Raiders had come back got level by the 52nd minute.
Canberra scored first with a try to David Milne in just the second minute of play, but the Tigers hit back through tries to Paul Whatuira (13th minute) and John Morris (17th minute) to take a lead into the break.
Tries came thick and fast as the second half began, a Chris Lawrence try for the Tigers followed by a double to the Raiders through Milne and Dane Tilse.
Dane Tilse’s try levelled the scores at 16-16, but Paul Whatuira’s second try then allowed the Tigers to go ahead by six points and they held on grimly in the final stages of the match.
In Saturday Night NRL, the Warriors beat off the Titans on the Gold Coast and the baby Broncos put in a big display to beat the hapless Panthers in Penrith.