NRL Teams Round 21, 2009

With the NRL finals so close you can smell it, many teams are fighting for their chance to stay in the race. See how your team, players and squad line up for Round 21 of the National Rugby League 2009:

FRIDAY

ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA v MELBOURNE at WIN Jubilee Oval, 7.35pm

DRAGONS: Darius Boyd, Brett Morris, Beau Scott, Chase Stanley, Wendell Sailor, Jamie Soward, Ben Hornby (capt), Justin Poore, Nathan Fien, Michael Weyman, Dean Young, Ben Creagh, Neville Costigan. Interchange: Dan Hunt, Matt Prior, Luke Priddis, Jarrod Saffy, Nick Emmett, Jon Green (two to be omitted)

STORM: Billy Slater, Steve Turner, Will Chambers, Greg Inglis, Joseph Tomane, Brett Finch, Cooper Cronk, Brett White, Cam Smith (capt), Jeff Lima, Sika Manu, Ryan Hoffman, Dallas Johnson. Interchange: Ryan Hinchcliffe, Scott Anderson, Aiden Tolman, Matt Cross.

Referees: Jared Maxwell, Matt Cecchin

GOLD COAST v NORTH QUEENSLAND at Skilled Park, 7.35pm

TITANS: William Zillman, Kevin Gordon, Esi Tonga, Brett Delaney, David Mead, Preston Campbell, Scott Prince (capt), Matthew White, Nathan Friend, Michael Henderson, Luke Bailey (capt), Mark Minichiello, Brad Meyers. Interchange: Aaron Cannings, Will Matthews, Josh Graham, Kayne Lawton.

COWBOYS: Matthew Bowen, Michael Bani, Ty Williams, Willie Tonga, John Williams, Grant Rovelli, Johnathan Thurston (capt), Shane Tronc, Anthony Watts, Matthew Scott, Carl Webb, Scott Bolton, Steve Southern. Interchange: Travis Burns, Steve Rapira, Antonio Kaufusi, James Tamou, Manase Manuokafoa, Dayne Weston (two to be omitted).

Referees: Tony Archer, Ashley Klein

SATURDAY

CANBERRA v BRISBANE at Canberra Stadium, 5.30pm

RAIDERS: Josh Dugan, Daniel Vidot, Jarrod Croker, Joel Monaghan, Phil Graham, Terry Campese, Josh Mccrone, Dane Tilse, Alan Tongue (capt), Troy Thompson, Glen Turner, Bronson Harrison, Nigel Plum. Interchange: Joel Thompson, Travis Waddell, Josh Miller, Trevor Thurling, Daniel Joyce (one to be omitted)

BRONCOS: Karmichael Hunt, Antonio Winterstein, Steve Michaels, Justin Hodges, Dale Copley, Darren Lockyer (capt), Ben Hunt, David Taylor, Andrew McCullough, Joel Clinton, Lagi Setu, Ben Teo, Corey Parker. Interchange: Alex Glenn, Tonie Carroll, Ashton Sims, Josh Hoffman, David Hala (one to be omitted)

Referees: Jason Robinson, Gerard Sutton

NEWCASTLE v SYDNEY ROOSTERS at EnergyAustralia Stadium, 7.30pm

KNIGHTS: Kurt Gidley (capt), Keith Lulia, Junior Sau, Adam MacDougall, Akulia Uate, Ben Rogers, Jarrod Mullen, Mark Taufua, Isaac DeGois, Richie Fa’aoso, Steve Simpson, Zeb Taia, Matt Hilder. Interchange: Scott Dureau, Cory Paterson, Marvin Karawana, Wes Naiqama, Shannon McDonnell, Danny Wicks (two to be omitted).

ROOSTERS: Sam Perrett, Anthony Minichiello, Mitchell Aubusson, Setaimata Sa, Iwi Hauraki, Ben Jones, Mitchell Pearce, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Jake Friend, Lopini Paea, Sia Soliola, Willie Mason, Craig Fitzgibbon (capt). Interchange: Stanley Waqa, Shane Shackleton, Riley Brown, Nick Kouparitsas

Referees: Steve Lyons, Alan Shortall

PENRITH v WARRIORS at CUA Stadium, 7.30pm

PANTHERS: Jarrod Sammut, Junior Tia Kilifi, Michael Jennings, Brad Tighe, Michael Gordon, Wade Graham, Luke Walsh, Frank Puletua, Paul Aiton, Matthew Bell, Trent Waterhouse, Gavin Cooper, Nathan Smith. Interchange: Adam Woolnough, Tim Grant, Joseph Paulo, Maurice Blair, Shane Elford, Frank Pritchard (two to be omitted).

WARRIORS: Wade McKinnon, Kevin Locke, Jerome Ropati, Joel Moon, Manu Vatuvei, Isaac John, Stacey Jones, Sam Rapira, Ian Henderson, Russell Packer, Simon Mannering, Jacob Lillyman, Micheal Luck (capt). Interchange: Lance Hohaia, Evarn Tuimavave, Lewis Brown, Ben Matulino.

Referees: Ben Cummins, Brett Suttor

SUNDAY

CRONULLA v PARRAMATTA at Toyota Stadium, 2pm

SHARKS: Nathan Stapleton, Blake Ferguson, Ben Pomeroy, Matt Wright, Luke Covell (capt), Blake Green, Scott Porter, Kade Snowden, Corey Hughes, Johnny Mannah, Luke Douglas, Grant Millington, Reece Williams. Interchange: Jak Afamasaga, Bryan Norrie, Mitch Brown, Terence Seu Seu.

EELS: Jarryd Hayne, Luke Burt, Krisnan Inu, Joel Reddy, Eric Grothe, Daniel Mortimer, Jeff Robson, Nathan Cayless (capt), Matthew Keating, Fuifui Moimoi, Nathan Hindmarsh, Joe Galuvao, Todd Lowrie. Interchange: Kevin Kingston, Broderick Wright, Ben Smith, Tim Mannah.

Referees: Jared Maxwell, Bernard Sutton

SOUTH SYDNEY v BULLDOGS at ANZ Stadium, 3pm

RABBITOHS: Nathan Merritt, Jamie Simpson, Colin Best, Beau Champion, Fetuli Talanoa, John Sutton, Chris Sandow, Luke Stuart, Issac Luke, Roy Asotasi (capt), Ben Lowe, Eddy Pettybourne, David Faalogo. Interchange: Craig Wing, Shannan McPherson, Michael Crocker, Scott Geddes, Dave Tyrrell (one to be omitted).

BULLDOGS: Luke Patten, Hazem El Masri, Josh Morris, Jamal Idris, Bryson Goodwin, Ben Roberts, Brett Kimmorley, Ben Hannant, Michael Ennis, Michael Hodgson, Gary Warburton, Andrew Ryan (capt), David Stagg. Interchange: Chris Armit, Greg Eastwood, Yileen Gordon, Jarrad Hickey

Referees: Gavin Badger, Ashley Klein

MONDAY

WESTS TIGERS v MANLY at Sydney Football Stadium, 7pm

TIGERS: Shannon Gallant, Taniela Tuiaki, Blake Ayshford, Chris Lawrence, Beau Ryan, Benji Marshall, Tim Moltzen, Bryce Gibbs, Robbie Farah (capt), Todd Payten, Gareth Ellis, Danny Galea, Corey Payne. Interchange: John Morris, Alan Schirnack, John Skandalis, Simon Dwyer, Dean Collis (one to be omitted).

SEA EAGLES: Michael Robertson, Tony Williams, Ben Farrar, Steve Matai, David Williams, Jamie Lyon, Matt Orford (capt), Jason King, Matt Ballin, Josh Perry, Anthony Watmough, Glenn Hall, Glenn Stewart. Interchange: Chris Bailey, Brent Kite, George Rose, Shane Rodney, Heath L’Estrange (one to be omitted).

Referees: Shayne Hayne, Matt Cecchin

Bunnies burn Roosters at ANZ

South Sydney NRL 2009The attacking form of the South Sydney Rabbitohs has continued, with the Jason Taylor coached side romping home 40-20 over the woeful Roosters – despite a slight lapse in defence from Souths midway through the game.

Brad Fittlers side missed a scary 47 tackles as Jamie Simpson ran in a triple for Souths, the win continuing the recent good form for the Bunnies as they make a late charge for the NRL Finals.

While the Roosters are no chance of the semi’s, the simple fact that they face the prospect of the wooden spoon would surely have been motivation enough – but again, missed tackles, basic errors and limited structure in attack saw them crab across field too much – making them easy pickings for the rushing Rabbits defence.

The only good news for the Bondi boys was the safe passage of Anthony Minichiello who returned and got through the game in one piece. His replacement in recent years Sam Perrett remained in the custodian role and rewarded his coach by again having a strong showing.

Revolving hookers Issac Luke and Craig Wing played their roles beautifully for Souths, with the strong John Sutton running and passing ideally as he has in the past few weeks.

Such is the form of Craig Wing, that Jason Taylor needs to find room in the starting side for the NSW representative. Wing rotated from rake to pivot tonight and was dynamic in both positions, getting a try for himself and looking dangerous on most touches.

The other confidence booster for the Rabbitohs was the good kicking of Sutton and Sandow, the two halves have improved their game off the boot and continued to give their side good thrust and field position tonight.

The ultimate test will come next week when Souths face a Bulldogs side licking their wounds, if they can shut out the Belmore boys – the Bunnies are sitting ideally for the finals and will like their chances in the weeks ahead.

Moyso: Mezera cop this bullet

Tomas Mezera Perkins Whincup V8 Supercars Decision OfficialsOur new columnist Dave Moyso backs up this week with a follow-up article on last weeks V8 discussion. In his eyes, similar to NRL officials the men behind the decisions in V8’s are also off the mark – getting it totally wrong in relation to the Whincup and Perkins collision just a few weeks back. It seems V8 Official Tomas Mezera has gone to the utmost length to justify his decision; but our man Moyso was there to tell us just whats happening behind the scenes; 

The assassination of John F. Kennedy took place on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas. Kennedy was fatally wounded by gunfire while riding with his wife in a Presidential motorcade.

The ten-month investigation of the Warren Commission and other government investigations concluded that the President was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald.

The assassination is still the subject of widespread debate and has spawned numerous conspiracy theories and alternative scenarios. Some of these conspiracies centre on what is known as the magic bullet. A single bullet that had to do amazing things if the initial government enquiry and official explanation for President Kennedy’s assassination is to be believed.

The problem is the facts just don’t support the theory. The bullet had no marks from clothing threads despite traveling through multiple layers and types of cloth. It wasn’t marked with blood or any type of human tissue despite supposedly traveling through 2 people – President Kennedy and Governor Connally and had no pieces of clothing attached.

What has this tragic event got to do with Supercar driving standards boss Tomas Mezera I can hear you asking. Well, much like this magic bullet, Tomas now wants us to believe that he has data from Jack Perkins and Jamie Whincup’s cars to support his original decision not to penalise Whincup for running into Perkins and spinning him off.

Apparently what I’m now calling the ‘magic data theory’ has Jamie arriving at the corner in Townsville at the same speed and braking at th same point as the previous lap before he whacked young Jack and that is supposed to be the magic proof that Jamie was not at fault.

The big hole in this theory is that no matter how fast or slow the data says you were going, it doesn’t show that there just happened to be another car in the way when you came lumbering into the corner.

It’s that simple. You can fluff it up with theory and try and justify the incident, but we can all see and we can all watch the youtube footage. It’s as plain as day as to what happened, there was no trees in the way or long fuzzy Zapruder style footage like the Kennedy assassination. It was clear cut and right in front of everyone.

Now we have Wollerman, again another official of dubious distinction who apparently claims that they had made the decision that these types of incidents would be looked at after the race with all footage and data. So a fundamental and hugely significant change to how on track incidents are judged and dealt with has been brought in prior to Townsville and it appears none of the usually very well informed commentators on Seven had any idea about the change and obviously judging by Whincup’s comments and reaction he certainly had no idea of it either nor did Jack Perkins obviously.

So just to clarify now the rules appear to be that it is incumbent on the lapped car to not only get out of the way of the race leaders but that any contact that results from what ever the leaders need to do to get passed them is entirely the lapped car’s responsibility and the passing car is without fault.

If this is the case it opens up a huge range of issues for any regular front runner who finds themselves a lap down. Basically according to Mezera and Wollerman, now if you happen to go a lap down, let’s say due to a flat tyre or extended pit stop your race is literally over as you have zero rights on the track to attempt to un lap yourself as the leaders now appear to have absolute right of way on track and are no longer under any apparent form of race regulation once a car is in a lapped position.

So if you drop a lap at say Bathurst early in the race, then bad luck, you’re day’s over as you have zero rights in any passing situation against anyone on the lead lap.

Well done Tomas and Peter, because of your attempts to defend stupid decisions you have managed to throw the entire sport into disarray with what now appear to be a set of unworkable and unenforceable rules.

Mezera got it wrong and everything that has followed, all the claims of supporting bits of data or the officials changing the rules before the event is nothing more than blatant arse covering. You know it and so does everyone else.

Dragons continue to fly high

The high flying Dragons continue their solid NRL form, crushing the NZ Warriors today in Auckland to sit alone – 4 points clear atop the NRL Ladder.

The Sydney side getting home 29-4 and essentially ending a forgettable season for the NZ Warriors who are now unable to make the Top 8 finals for 2009.

With a crowd of around 13,507 on hand at Mt Smart Stadium, and conditions fairly dry – there was plenty of ball movement. The Dragons however, had the game all wrapped up by the halftime break. Speedster Brett Morris getting another try scoring double to continue his run amongst the leading try scorers in the NRL. His tally now at 17 tries in 16 games.

Even in the 2nd stanza, the Warriors continued to fumble and bumble their way through their attacking movements. They simply had no answer to the Dragons, who were by now in cruise control.

It was ideal early for the Saints, with attacking weapon Brett Morris getting over the line to setup a strong start after pulling down a cross-field kick from Jamie Soward.

The NZ side did have a few impressive early moments, they too showing their wares soon after the Morris try – with Mr Consistency Simon Mannering flicking a nice ball to centre Joel Moon who crashed over.

Soward sent over a 16th minute penalty goal and Morris was again back over the tryline soon after, and the attacking wave continued with Chase Stanley next up – making the most of an overlap down the left edge.

Despite plenty of ball in latter stages of the first half – the Warriors were painful to watch, rarely making the most of any chances and continuing to frustrate themselves. However the tough in your face defence of the Dragons should be credited with some of the kudos for keeping the Warriors off the boil.

The second half was briefly an armwrestle, before Soward scooped up a loose grubber from the Warriors to scamper down field and score for the away side.

Soward put the icing on the Dragons cake with a drop goal 4 minutes from fulltime and this was backed up by a tearaway try for Darius Boyd, his first for the St George Illawarra side.

Wests Tigers keep finals hopes alive

Tim Moltzen Wests Tigers 2009The Tim Sheens coached Tigers continued their recent good form in the ACT today, their battle for the NRL top 8 continuing after a victory over Canberra 25-4 – their strong win consigning the Raiders to the cellar and ending their hopes of a miracle semi’s push.

Wests now sit perched in 10th spot and are only 2 competition behind the spluttering North Queensland side.

This was the Tigers 3rd win in a row, the Western Sydney club also have a favourable run home with 3 of their next 4 matches against teams lower on the ladder.

The shining light for the Tigers today surely Tim Moltzen, the speedy half scoring twice and putting in a good showing next to his partner in crime Benji Marshall.

For the Canberra side, too much dropped ball and some unlucky calls early on saw them become frustrated. They needed to win this game and their remaining 6 matches to see a possible finals birth.

Wests were at their usual plucky best in attack, scoring some good early tries and really turning the screws on the Raiders in their own backyard.

The cold and wet track was supposed to help the locals, but the Radiers couldn’t deal with them as well as the pumped up Tigers – with some punters saying Wests could be following their path to glory in 2005 when they won a stack of games in the back end of the season and finals to take the prize.

Storm overrun stale Sharks

A flurry of tries in the second half have kept the Storm in the top four for another week, accounting for the Sharks with a 30-10 win at Olympic Park.

Still injury depleted with Dallas Johnson, Ryan Hoffman and Greg Inglis all late scratchings, the Storm were determined to better last week’s lacklustre performance.

The first half was a far cry from the visual splendour Storm fans are usually used to. There were 20 errors between the two teams and nine penalties.

The referees were under intense pressure and the crowd groaned at the numerous interesting decisions.

A highlight for the half was also the only score, a back of the hand flick pass by Billy Slater finding Brett Anderson out on the wing.

Both teams defences held up well but the Sharks threw away many of their opportunities with a disappointing 57% completion rate for the half.

Jeff Lima will have a nervous wait after he was put on report for a crusher tackle on Matthew Wright, however both coaches said it was an accident at the post-match press conferences.

Both teams had a half to forget with the Storm up 4-0.

The second half started on a more positive note for the Storm after a line drop-out infringement by the Sharks gifted Smith a penalty kick right in front.

The less than impressive standard of play continued until Ben Pomeroy danced around the Melbourne defence. He was brought down and the ball came loose, after much bouncing around and some dubious passes, Luke Covell ended up with a benefit of the doubt try.

With the game level at 6-6, the intensity lifted and for the second time in the night, Trent Barrett and Brett White had a heavy collision. Concussed, Barrett tried to play on but stumbled and was taken from the field.

Minutes later, Joe Tomane measured his jump to perfection and scored from a kick in-goal.

Smith converted to put the Storm up 12-6.

Sensing the match may be slipping from their grasp, Barrett came back on to give his team much needed direction.

His return did little as the floodgates opened and the Storm scored four tries in 11 minutes.

Ryan Hinchcliffe, back from suspension, scored courtesy of a neat inside pass by Brett Finch and
Anderson scored his second for the night.

Will Chambers and Smith joined in on the try-scoring frenzy while the Sharks could only manage a consolation try to winger Blake Ferguson.

Put simply, the Storm lifted and the Sharks just couldn’t go with them.

The mid-field work by Sika Manu was exemplary, the strong-bodied forward showing why he is one of the most difficult players to bring down in the NRL.

Both Scott and Brett Anderson had good games while the return of Smith and Finch provided some irresistible go-forward in attack.

The only concern for the Storm would be both Smith and Tomane’s inaccuracy in front of goals which they’ll no doubt need for next week’s blockbuster game against the Dragons.

Storm 30 (Tries: B. Anderson 2, Tomane, Hinchliffe, Chambers, Smith; Goals: Smith 2, Tomane) def. Sharks 10 (Tries: Covell, Ferguson; Goal: Covell)

Crowd: 10,533

NRL Round 20, 2009

Penrith pip Cowboys in Qld

The Penrith Panthers have hung in to outlast the unlucky North Queensland Cowboys 28-20 to keep their 2009 NRL Finals hopes well and truly alive in Townsville tonight.

It was again their little livewires, Michael Jennings and Jarrod Sammut who shone throughout the night – adding plenty of spark and thrust to the Panthers as they withstood an early storm to eventually topple the Cowboys.

The game quality was poor in patches with both sides dropping plenty of ball, but the Cowboys were able to keep their noses in front most of the night on the back of a penalty count that frustrated the Panthers no end.

North Queensland had their usual razzle dazzle from Thurston and Bowen, but it was big Carl Webb that impressed at times with vintage runs from the big man. Big Webb was also johnny on the spot to nab a late try – continuing his try scoring form in recent weeks.

Suspension and injury forced the Cowboys to use yet another hooker, with Watts sidelined for his brawl with Robbie Farah and regular no.9 Aaron Payne unavailable – it was up to firey Travis Burns to play rake tonight and he looked good in patches for his side.

Willie Tonga was another who shone, the Origin centre scoring a nice try and defensively playing well for the homeside.

But the Panthers continue to hang tough, despite missing Lewis, Civoniceva and Pritchard they shone – with superstar Michael Jennings again striding out several times in open pastures to thrill Penrith fans on virtually every touch of the ball.

Putting aside some discipline concerns, the Panthers were served well through their forwards. Waterhouse warmed the task, having a much better second half and Mr Consistency Nathan Smith putting in yet another honest nights work to keep his team motoring along.

The win sets Penrith up nicely for the run to the finals, they face the NZ Warriors at CUA Stadium, Penrith next week and will surely fancy themselves at home. Following that, they have some nice matchups and really only need to win 3 of their remaining 6 to secure a finals birth.

The Cowboys alternatively leave themselves exposed, now requiring possibly 4 wins from the final 6 games to get themselves in the frame.

NRL Round 20, 2009

Eels put Dogs to cleaners

Parramatta Eels Hayne Bulldogs Round 20 2009The Parramatta Eels have put back to back wins together, tonight defeating the heavily fancied Bulldogs side 27-8 at ANZ Stadium in front of over 30,000 fans.

The plucky Eels were on the short turn around from their win over the Storm last Monday but came out fired up and put two early tries on the Dogs to rattle their cage.

An impressive effort to Luke Burt early in the corner off a Mortimer stab kick was the start the Parramatta side wanted, backed up by a sweeping movement that saw Eric Grothe Jnr score on the Bulldogs left edge defence.

The Dogs to their credit hung tough early, awaiting some possession and when the Eels coughed up ball – Canterbury unleashed Jamaal Idris constantly at Kris Inu to good effect.

Idris eventually busting through to get the Dogs on the board.

Soon after a smart kick from Ben Roberts exposed the jammed in Eels defence, Roberts stabbing the ball in behind Grothe for Bryson Goodwin to score untouched.

The usually accurate Hazem El Masri had an off night with the boot and couldn’t convert any of the Dogs touchdowns.

With the scores 10-8 to the Eels at halftime, it looked like the Dogs were building nicely and would roll in the second stanza, but it wasn’t to be.

A committed Eels side with consistent offloads was killing the Canterbury side. Despite a handful of possession early, the Bulldogs couldn’t break the Eels line – this game, the only time in 2009 the Dogs have been kept to single digits in attack.

As the Parramatta side turned away wave after wave of Dogs probing attack, they eventually got their shot off the back of a penalty and through replacement hooker Kevin Kingston they got on the board to setup a handy lead.

Kingston running from the play the ball, pulling a nice show and go to scramble 10m to score near the posts.

As the Eels edged away, their confidence grew – Mortimer coming into his own with ball in hand and the hot form of custodian Jarryd Hayne continuing, the flashy back looking unstoppable when he got any touch of the ball.

With the Eels ahead by 12 points, a Burt field goal stretched them to 13 points with just over 10 miuntes to go, but they weren’t finished there.

A late barnstorming run from cult figure Fui Fui Moi Moi saw the big bopper hit the burst 10m out from the Dogs line and bust through 4 defenders to leap over and score. The big prop leaving the likes of Hannant and Eastwood in his wake as he capped off a strong game for his side.

The Bulldogs were served well by half Brett Kimmorley, but otherwise were frustrated in attack when they couldn’t seem to piece together the last tackle play at crucial times. As the game wore on, their error rate crept up as they tried to up the ante as did their penalty count against.

The Eels while probably out of finals contention are mathematically a chance, but face the prospect of winning 5 of their last 6 games, starting with the Sharks at Toyota Park next weekend.

The Bulldogs need to be cautious in their shot for a Top 2 finish, with the Gold Coast Titans breathing right down their necks. If the Dragons beat the Warriors in Auckland, new Zealand tomorrow – the Saints will sit 4 points clear on top of the 2009 NRL Ladder with  6 Rounds remaining.

NRL Round 20, 2009

Luke Burt could leave Eels

Eels Luke Burt deal signing transferVeteran Eels utility Luke Burt has been the latest Parramatta player subject to transfer discussion after initial focus centred around Kris Inu being shopped around to free up salary cap dollars for the Western Sydney club.

Burt debuted for the Eels in 1999 as an 18 year old, his classy play and long blonde locks earning comparisons with former Eels – Peter Sterling and Paul Taylor.

Establishing himself as a fullback, Burt had on-going battles with the likes of Clinton Schifcofske, Wade McKinnon and even the man some say Burt is very similar to Brett Hodgson.

A one club man, Burt looks likely to be squeezed out of the Eels as they attempt to wrap up young talent in Jarryd Hayne and Daniel Mortimer and bring in big names Justin Poore, Shane Shackleton and Timana Tahu.

While initial talk at the club was around the out of form Kris Inu being shopped around, the rumour mill has gone into overdrive regarding Luke Burt this week.

Some suggest the Wests Tigers may be interested in the utility value of Burt and others are saying that a stint in the UK for larger dollars will be more up Luke Burts alley.

Regardless, the Parramatta veteran has been in solid form in recent weeks and despite some poor goal kicking look relatively safe as the club transitions to a new era with many veterans coming off contract in the years ahead.

Apart from Burt and Inu, the likes of Nathan Cayless and Eric Grothe are two other senior players on decent dollars that may be placed under the microscope as the Eels try to free up cash and continue their bold bid for the likes of Jonathan Thurston for 2011.

Titans merciless with Broncos

The Gold Coast Titans turned it on in front of a large home crowd at Skilled Park, Robina to blow away an undermanned Broncos outfit last night 34-18.

Kicking off Round 20 of the 2009 NRL, the Titans have the Top 8 finals in their sights and weren’t about to take their foot off the gas as the approached the unrecognizable Brisbane side.

The Titans are now unbeaten at home for the entire 2009 NRL season and look to have a roster that will challenge for the title at the business end of the year.

The Coast opened the game with a bang; forward Mark Minichiello scoring after 10 minutes, Origin forward Ashley Harrison then cruising over just prior to the 15m mark, with improving forward Michael Henderson next and boom prospect Kevin Gordon getting his share of the action on the half hour mark.

The game over at halftime with the Titans leading 22-2 over the young Broncos.

The rewarding part for the Coast and their coach John Cartwright would be the continued impressive form of Scott Prince. The veteran half was involved in most of the tries and orchestrated things brilliantly.

It seems only injury can derail the Titans quest for their first semi-final NRL appearance.

The home side chose to rest Harrison, Friend and Minichiello in the final stages of the match as they bore slight injuries. This gave Brisbane some breathing space and the Cory Parker led side ran in some tries to make things respectable.

Antonio Winterstein heavily involved in the Brisbane points, with the Broncos eventually patching things up to lose by 34-14.

The Titans now sit on 28 points and are virtually ensured of a finals place. Their effort in the weeks ahead could see them confirm a Top 4 spot – ensuring a home final at Robina, which would be an ideal hunting ground for them.

The Broncos obviously hammered by injury; continue to spiral out of contention, their race for the finals looking too much to ask at this stage. Along with Penrith, punters believe the Brisbane side will be the ones to drop out of the race for the final 2 spots.