NRL News apologises for the delay in results and articles over the weekend, however our preparations for the regular season in 2 weeks is well underway. We look forward to covering all games in depth and ranking your teem weekly, along with our view of the NRL world each and every day of the week.
NRL Preseason Trial Game Results (Wk 2, Feb 21/22 2009)
Storm 32 d Knights 24
Greg Inglis stole the show in this one, putting on a strong display to get the Melbourne side home over the Knights. The Storm were near full strength with their stars performing well, the likes of Slater looking slick and health – plus their new replacement for Israel Folau, a young Wille Isa formerly with the Panthers promises plenty under the guidance of Craig Bellamy. The Knights looked nervous and underdone, however to be fair they had very little possession in this match. Luke Walsh was a little unsure in the halves, however Aku Uate was a solid performer for the Newcastle side.
Titans 40 d Sharks 16
The Sharks weren’t at full strength for this one, however their confidence may have taken a dent as the Titans side ran riot in Darwin. The Gold Coast side look fit, healthy and very well drilled. Sure, this is only a trial game – but even on this short showing of their talent, the attack and iron clad defence paints them as strong challengers for the NRL 2009 title. The jury is still out on the Sharks, as their new recruits weren’t on show and the likes of Paul Gallen remained sidelined for this clash. Coach Ricky Stuart wasn’t too concerned with the hit-out, however John Cartwright was extremely happy with his teams defensive showing.
Broncos 30 d Raiders 16
The main concern out of this game was the injury to Karmichael Hunt, who may have torn stomach muscles putting him out for the first few NRL rounds. Israel Folau made his debut for the Brisbane side and was a threat all game, impressing Ivan Henjack. Peter Wallace was another stand-out at halfback and the Broncos genuinely looked refreshed and keen to impress their new coach in this match. Canberra were good in patches, pivot Terry Campese continues to build on his reputation in the halves and new buy Bronson Harrison performed well in the forwards.
Eels 18 d Panthers 10
A low scoring affair where both sides failed to click into top gear. Both the Eels and Panthers were near full strength, however each were testing new halves pairings. The Eels rolled out Jarryd Hayne at pivot who had a mixed bag of a game, Hayne scoring tries but making some minor positional and handling errors to even out his affair. For the Panthers, it was Sammut and Graham at 6 and 7 for the most part – but the young pairing failed to gel and may not be continued by coach Matt Elliott. Hard to guage both sides on this showing, but will no doubt need to speed their preparations up if they want to foot it with the likes of the Titans, Dragons and Broncos on early trial form.
Dragons 24 d Bulldogs 12
The new Saints kept their momentum going and are building a good aura around them just prior to the season proper. Returning half Matt Head steered his side around well and looks to have finally shrugged off concerns about his knee. The Bulldogs performed admirably considering they rolled out 8 new faces in the side under Kevin Moore, but for the Dragons – this time it was their grinding ability that got them home. Strong defence will have Wayne Bennett feeling confident and again the players turned on the enthusiasm as they continue their rebirth.
NZ Warriors 32 d Cowboys 28
In a high scoring and close affair, it was ‘diamonds or stones’ flanker Manu Vatuvei that stole the show for the Warriors late. Stacey Jones was a nice performer for the Warriors, showing no signs of slowing down but both sides were flashy in attack which sounds alarm bells for opponents in 2009. The Cowboys biggest problem remains defence it seems, with some poor lapses. The Warriors had several key members turning out, with Steve Price, Brent Tate and new face Joel Moon all getting through the match. Willie Tonga settled in well for the Cowboys and looks to be a good buy for them, the former Eels and Bulldogs centre showing flashes of his former Origin brilliance to get over the line. The Cowboys forwards seemed to go well, however did get tired after a lack of possession at stages in this game.
Roosters 16 d Wests 12
The return of Anthony Minichiello was the talk of this game, the former Australian fullback playing well – but sources at the game suggest the injury riddled star may still have problems with his lower back. Apart from playing superbly, Mini copped a massive hit from an opponent in his own goal area and took an age to get back to his feet. The Bondi boy waiting for a teammate to come and help him on to his feet, suggesting the strength in his back might not yet be 100%. The Wests Tigers had plenty of chances in this game and certainly were the better side in patches, but seemed unable to convert anything into points. Coach Brad Fittler was simply happy to get a shot of confidence after the win, the Roosters boss happy and surprised by how well Mini burst back onto the field. Half Mitchell Pearce looked good and the Roosters were just happy to bounce back from their horror spanking at the hands of the Dragons last week. For the Tigers, coach Sheens was happy with Benji Marshall and his adaption to the halfback position, but was frustrated by the refereeing display at various points, which didn’t allow his side to employ their usual open brand of football.