The Raiders 38 slamming Warriors 12 to get themselves back into the winners circle, pivot Terry Campese putting in a good showing in time for Origin consideration tomorrow night. Canberra snapped a 4 game losing streak and it was their defence that will talked about this week, finally getting some cohesion in their line and playing with total commitment. It’s surprising to see the Raiders remain reluctant to use boom rookie Josh Duggan, but while they are winning, who could argue. For the NZ Warriors, it might be time for concern over the ditch. The Warriors have the players and the skill level, but seem to be doing things at 90% and are simply not desperate enough. It’s a tough road trip to the ACT sure, but coach Cleary needs to find the driving force for his team. Outcast Nathan Fien should be reconsidered somewhere in the lineup consistently, as his passion is badly needed right now.
Titans 18 pip Manly 17 in Robina, the resurgent Manly tried their best and nearly stole the show here. The Gold Coast getting home on a controversial penalty decision in the final minutes. Manly skipper Matt Orford kicking a field goal near 10 minutes out from time, that looked to be enough – but to their credit, the home side kept coming at them. The different in this game looked to be in the last tackle kicking options, Orford (apart from the field goal) still strugging for distance and choice. Coach Hasler was furious at the decision and made it known in the press conference, however his side made things hard – only scoring once in the second half through an Orford barge over. Manly looking long shots for the title now 11 weeks into 2009.
In other NRL news, leaks from within the Origin selection group have suggested that the NSW Camp are about to make the biggest mistake of the series and are set to leave out Michael Ennis from the team. Ennis the robust and passionate rake, was a player made for Origin and he really should have been the first picked. Robbie Farah could have been slotted in on the bench if necessary. Leaving 2 reserve forwards and possibly Craig Wing as the utility on the bench.
The other concern for the NSW, is the centres. With Jamie Lyon and Michael Jennings firming as starting centres, surely there can be no way Matt Cooper is left out of the mix? Michael Jennings deserves a shot, his ability to create magic from anywhere is much needed. For Lyon, while in career best form, the Manly man probably doesn’t deserve to get the nod given his poor attitude to representative fixtures. Cooper must be the man, he has proven it year after year in Origin and his defence is second to none on the fringe.
Back to NRL, with the half way mark of the season approaching, the Top 8 has become a little clearer. With the Bulldogs, Dragons and Broncos the stand-outs, the big firmers in recent weeks have been the Knights and the Panthers.
The Knights have a great blend of talent across the park and are well coached, for the Panthers they have the X-Factor that few teams have. On their night, Penrith can really turn it on and blow teams away like they did to the Roosters. Sure, the Chooks were bad – but Penrith is starting to find some cohesion, probably coming with Walsh and the in-fighting is starting to settle down.