Warrington prop heads down under and signs two-year deal with the Dragons

Mike Cooper

In a growing list of English-based rugby league players to join the NRL, Warrington Wolves prop Mike Cooper is the latest to join that list – signing a 2-year deal with the St George Illawarra Dragons.

Cooper, who is 24, will start his tenure at the Dragons at the end of the 2013 season, before returning to Warrington once the two years is over, as part of a deal with Warrington.

Cooper is a solid runner of the ball and a hard hitter in defence, and received advice from former NRL forward Adrian Morley about the benefits of a move to the NRL – an opportunity that Cooper is pleased to have.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do since the age of 16. Being a Warrington lad, I’m very proud to have been a part of what the club has achieved over the last couple seasons with the recent success in the Challenge Cup and in reaching the Grand Final,” said Cooper.

“The next step for me is to test myself in Australia and gain some experience. I’m fully aware it’s going to be big learning curve for me; I’ll be back at square one again really but it’s something that really excites me.

“There were a couple of clubs that we were speaking to within the NRL having watched the last couple of seasons. St George Illawarra is a club with a great heritage; this along with the big names involved with club and the pictures of where they are based at Wollongong ,ticked all the boxes for me.

“I am greatly appreciative of Simon, Tony and Warrington as a club for allowing me to go. I’m 100% focussed on this season with Warrington and the ambition is to win all three trophies this year with this club. My focus is purely on the Super League and Warrington come the end of the season is when I’ll start to concentrate on what’s happening in Australia.”

Tony Smith, the club’s head coach who is a former Illawarra Steeler and Dragon himself, are pleased to see Cooper receive such an opportunity.

“I’m pleased for Mike and we are pleased as a club to support him in his desires to add to his career tuition. We are happy to assist him in developing himself as a player and we hope this opportunity will be of benefit to both Mike and this club at some stage in the future,” said Smith.

“Mike has expressed that he has no wish to play for any other English or Super League club however he does have a desire to go and test his wares in the NRL and he’s been fortunate to be given that opportunity by St George Illawarra.”

The Dragons are just as excited to have signed the English forward, with CEO Peter Doust looking forward to seeing the young, talented prop in action from next year.

“Mike is a rising young forward in the English Sper League who was keen to further develop his career in Australia,” said Doust.

“A number of people based in England have recommended Mike to us and he is a good value proposition for us over the next two seasons”.

Rd 8 NRL Teams

Team lists as they come in will be available here. Another week in the NRL means another week of team lists being released, this time for Rd 8. Some great clashes coming up – what’s your pick of the round?

Brisbane Broncos v South Sydney Rabbitohs (#NRLbrisou)
Suncorp Stadium; Friday May 3. Kick-off: 7:35pm.

Broncos: 1. Corey Norman 2. Lachlan Maranta 3. Jack Reed 4. Justin Hodges 5. Josh Hoffman 6. Scott Prince 7. Peter Wallace 8. Ben Hannant 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Sam Thaiday (C) 11. Alex Glenn 12. Matt Gillett 13. Corey Parker

Interchange: 14. Ben Hunt 15. Scott Anderson 16. David Hala 17. Josh McGuire

Coach: Anthony Griffin.

Rabbitohs: 1. Greg Inglis 2. Nathan Merritt 3. Beau Champion 4. Bryson Goodwin 5. Andrew Everingham 6. John Sutton 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Dave Tyrrell 9. Issac Luke 10. Roy Asotasi 11. Chris McQueen 12. Ben Te’o 13. Sam Burgess.

Interchange: 14. Nathan Peats 15. Jason Clark 16. Ben Lowe 17. George Burgess 18. Jeff Lima 19. Justin Hunt.

Coach: Michael Maguire.

Canterbury Bulldogs v Wests Tigers (#NRLcbywst)
ANZ Stadium; Friday May 3. Kick-off: 7:35pm.

Bulldogs: 1. Ben Barba 2. Mitch Brown 3. Josh Morris 4. Tim Lafai 5. Sam Perrett 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Trent Hodkinson 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Michael Ennis (C) 10. Martin Taupau 11. Tony Williams 12. Frank Pritchard 13. Greg Eastwood.

Interchange: 14. Dene Halatau 15. Josh Jackson 16. James Graham 17. Dale Finucane 20. Tim Browne (One to be omitted).

Coach: Des Hasler

Tigers: 1. James Tedesco 2. Marika Koroibete 3. Joel Reddy 4. Bodene Thompson 5. Matt Utai 6. Curtis Sironen 7. Jacob Miller 8. Aaron Woods 9. Robbie Farah (C) 10. Jack Buchanan 11. Liam Fulton 12. Adam Blair 13. Sean Spence.

Interchange: 14. Ben Murdoch-Masila 15. Eddy Pettybourne 16. Sauaso Sue 17. Tim Simona 18. Ava Seumanafagai.

Coach: Mick Potter.

Melbourne Storm v Canberra Raiders (#NRLmelcan)
AAMI Park, Melbourne; Saturday May 4. Kick-off: 5:30pm.

Storm: 1. Billy Slater 2. Sisa Waqa 3. Will Chambers 4. Justin O’Neill 5. Mahe Fonua 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith (C) 10. Bryan Norrie 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Tohu Harris.

Interchange: 14. Jason Ryles 15. Junior Moors 16. Slade Griffin 17. Lagi Setu 18. Kenneath Bromwich (One to be omitted).

Coach: Craig Bellamy

Raiders: 1. Reece Robinson 2. Sandor Earl 3. Jack Wighton 4. Blake Ferguson 5. Edrick Lee 6. Terry Campese (C) 7. Josh McCrone 8. Tom Learoyd-Lahrs 9. Matt McIlwrick 10. Brett White 11. Joel Edwards 12. Jake Foster 13. Shaun Fensom.

Interchange: 14. Anthony Milford 15. Joe Picker 16. Dane Tilse 17. Paul Vaughan 18. Jarrad Kennedy 19. Shaun Berrigan (Two to be omitted).

Coach: David Furner

Parramatta Eels v North Queensland Cowboys (#NRLparnql)
Parramatta Stadium; Saturday May 4. Kick-off: 7:30pm.

Eels: 1. Jarryd Hayne 2. Ken Sio 3. Ryan Morgan 4. Api Pewhairangi 5. Vai Toutai 6. Luke Kelly 7. Chris Sandow 8. Mitch Allgood 9. Matt Keating 10. Fuifui Moimoi 11. Reni Maitua (C) 12. Kelepi Tanginoa 13. Joseph Paulo.

Interchange: 14. Kaysa Pritchard 15. Darcy Lussick 16. Peni Terepo 17. Matt Ryan.

Coach: Ricky Stuart

Cowboys: 1. Matt Bowen 2. Ashley Graham 3. Brent Tate 5. Kane Linnett 5. Kalifa Fai Fai Loa 6. Johnathan Thurston (C) 7. Michael Morgan 8. Matt Scott (C) 9. Rory Kostjaysn 10. James Tamou 11. Tariq Sims 12. Glenn Hall 13. Dallas Johnson.

Interchange: 14. Ray Thompson 15. Gavin Cooper 16. Scott Bolton 17. Joel Reithmuller 18. Ashton Sims 18. Jason Taumalolo.

Coach: Neil Henry.

New Zealand Warriors v Gold Coast Titans (#NRLwargld)
Mt Smart Stadium; Sunday May 5. Kick-off: 2pm (AEDT).

Warriors: 1.Kevin Locke 2. Bill Tupou 3. Jerome Ropati 4. Ben Henry 5. Manu Vatuvei 6. Thomas Leuluai 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Sam Rapira 9. Nathan Friend 10. Russell Packer 11. Feleti Mateo 12. Simon Mannering (C) 13. Todd Lowrie.

Interchange: 14. Ben Matulino 15. Jacob Lillyman 16. Elijah Taylor 17. Pita Godinet 18. Ngani Laumape (One to be omitted).

Coach: Matthew Elliott

Titans: 1. William Zillman 2. Kevin Gordon 3. Brad Takairangi 4. Jamal Idris 5. Anthony Don 6. Aidan Sezer 7. Albert Kelly 8. Luke Douglas 9. Beau Falloon 10. Luke Bailey 11. Greg Bird 12. Mark Minichiello 13. Nate Myles

Interchange: 14. David Taylor 15. Mark Ioane 16. Ryan James 17. Sam Irwin 18. Steve Michaels (One to be omitted).

Coach: John Cartwright.

Newcastle Knights v Cronulla Sharks (#NRLnewcro)
Hunter Stadium; Sunday May 4. Kick-off: 2pm.

Knights: 1. Darius Boyd 2. James McManus 3. Dane Gagai 4. Timana Tahu 5. Akuila Uate 6. Jarrod Mullen 7. Tyrone Roberts 8. Kade Snowden 9. Kurt Gidley (C) 10. Willie Mason 11. Robbie Rochow 12. Alex McKinnon 13. Chris Houston.

Interchange: 14. Travis Waddell 15. Neville Costigan 16. Adam Cuthbertson 17. David Fa’alogo 18. Korbin Sims (One to be omitted).

Coach: Wayne Bennett.

Sharks: 1. Michael Gordon 2. Nathan Stapleton 3. Ben Pomeroy 4. Jonathan Wright 5. Beau Ryan 6. Todd Carney 7. Jeff Robson 8. Andrew Fifita 9. John Morris 10. Ben Ross 11. Luke Lewis 12. Wade Graham 13. Paul Gallen.

Interchange: 14. Chris Heighington 15. Jayson Bukuya 16. Issac De Gois 17. Anthony Tupou.

Coach: Shane Flanagan

Sydney Roosters v Penrith Panthers (#NRLsydpen)
Allianz Stadium; Sunday May 5. Kick-off: 3pm.

Roosters: 1. Anthony Minichiello 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Michael Jennings 4. Shaun Kenny-Dowall 5. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 6. James Maloney 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Sam Moa 11. Mitchell Aubusson 12. Sonny Bill Williams 13. Boyd Cordner.

Interchange: 14. Daniel Mortimer 15. Martin Kennedy 16. Aidan Guerra 17. Luke O’Donnell.

Coach: Trent Robinson

Panthers: 1. Matt Moylan 2. Travis Robinson 3. Lewis Brown 4. Dean Whare 5. David Simmons 6. Tom Humble 7. Luke Walsh 8. Sam McKendry 9. Kevin Kingston (C) 10. Tim Grant 11. Sika Manu 12. Matt Robinson 13. Nigel Plum

Interchange: 14. Adam Docker 15. Nathan Smith 16. James Segeyaro 17. Clint Newton.

Coach: Ivan Cleary

St George Illawarra v Manly Sea Eagles (#NRLsgiman)
WIN Jubilee Oval, Wollongong; Monday May 6. Kick-off: 7pm.

Dragons: 1. Jason Nightingale 2. Brett Morris 3. Chase Stanley 4. Matt Cooper 5. Daniel Vidot 6. Jamie Soward 7. Nathan Fien 8. Dan Hunt 9 Mitch Rein 10. Jack Stockwell 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Ben Creagh (C) 13. Trent Merrin.

Interchange: 14. Bronson Harrison 15. Matt Prior 16. Jack de Belin 17. Damien Cook 18. Michael Weyman 19. Will Matthews (Two to be omitted).

Coach: Steve Price.

Sea Eagles: 1. Brett Stewart 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Jamie Lyon (C) 4. Tom Symonds 5. David Williams 6. Kieran Foran 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Brenton Lawrence 9. Matt Ballin 10. Brent Kite 11. Anthony Watmough 12. Justin Horo 13. Glenn Stewart.

Interchange: 14. Peta Hiku 15. David Gower 16. Jamie Buhrer 17. Jesse Sene-Lefao 20. Esikeli Tonga 22. George Rose.

Coach: Geoff Toovey.

Ricky’s Team of the Week: Rd 7

Here we again, another installment of the Team of the Week, this time for Rd 7. We saw some players debut and some unheralded players stand up. Who would be in your top 17 of the week? Do you agree with this top 17? Post your comments on the site or via Twitter.

1. Matt Moylan – When a player makes their debut, there are often nerves and they look rather jittery – in the case of Matt Moylan, this wasn’t the case. A solid performance on debut by the youngster and he’ll have an opportunity to produce a similar performance over the coming weeks.

2. Darius Boyd – Often criticised for not doing enough in games, Darius Boyd has started the season surprisingly well and is slowly starting to perform solid combinations with his halves. He does cop his fair share of criticism but with some solid showings over the next few weeks before Origin, he may get some naysayers off his back.

3. Will Chambers – He returned from union, played out of his skin and then very nearly had his career cut short due to a rare blood illness – but fast forward to 2013 and Will Chambers is hitting the form that saw him touted as a possible Origin chance last season, bagging a double in Melbourne’s win over the Warriors.

4. Bryson Goodwin – Produced one of the best defensive displays to date, nullifying the effects of Manly centre Jamie Lyon, widely regarded as the best centre in the game right now.

5. Edrick Lee – A youngster with speed to burn and my word did he show that speed. Very agile and powerful for a big winger, too – all the traits you want to see in a youngster that will only get better.

6. Jarrod Mullen – Doing his chances for Origin no harm, after a top performance for the Knights in their win. Composed, kicking with efficiency and accuracy, and starting to get to the consistent level Knights fans have been craving from him for some time.

7. Luke Walsh – Dropped to the NSW Cup earlier this season and criticised rather often for not doing enough in games as a half, Walsh played his best game in recent times, with his passing, running and kicking game on fire. Panthers fans will now hope for some consistency.

8. Aiden Tolman – Every team has a workhorse prop and for the Bulldogs, it’s Aiden Tolman. Perhaps unlucky to have not played Origin for NSW in recent years, the front-rower produced another brilliant effort and will surely come in contention for an Origin spot.

9. John Sutton – Just for the purposes of the team, Sutton is here at hooker – but it was not that long ago that some Souths fans were worried about Sutton going to the next level with his game. Since Adam Reynolds burst onto the scene, though, we’ve seen Sutton’s game improve ten-fold to become a key part of the Rabbitohs cog moving forward.

10. Matthew Scott – Regarded as one of if not the best prop in the game right now, Scott continually shows why he is given such praise, with a barnstorming effort of meters, tackles and leadership – something the Cowboys will need moving forward.

11. Matt Gillett – Form is a rare thing in the NRL and often hard to find, but if you’re Matt Gillett and firing on all cylinders, it does both you and your team a world of good. Gillett is in arguably the best form of his career and backed it up with a two-try effort for the Broncos in their win this week.

12. Anthony Watmough – Having only just got over a niggling rib complaint, Anthony Watmough continues to justify his standing as an elite back-rower in the game (even if not all NRL fans like him), with a top-notch display for Manly. A shoe-in for the NSW side to be picked over the coming weeks.

13. Boyd Cordner – Earning a maiden rep jersey in the City/Country clash a few short weeks ago, Cordner is a player that has thrived under new coach Trent Robinson at the Roosters and it shows in his form, with a fantastic display of attack and defence for the club.

14. Justin Hodges – Regarded as one of the game’s best centres, Justin Hodges shows why that is the case week in and week out, as he bamboozles defenders almost at will with a mix of great footwork and a deadly fend. One-on-one, defenders can often have a hard time stopping him.

15. Tohu Harris – Another young player that has come a long way in just a short period of time, it was not that long ago that Harris earned his maiden international cap for NZ. An under-rated piece to the puzzle for the Melbourne Storm, Harris complements the likes of more experience players Ryan Hoffman and Kevin Proctor well.

16. Tim Grant – He may have started the year out of form but Penrith prop Tim Grant has really taken his game to another level, producing a brilliant display in attack, an effort that would have done his chances for Origin no harm at all.

17. Shaun Johnson – The Warriors may not have had the best start to the season but one player who is performing well and doing so consistently, is that of Shaun Johnson. His kicking game has been a joy to watch this year – he’s currently joint leader in 40/20’s this season – and some of his exploits on the field leading to tries have been brilliant to see.

That marks the end of this edition of Ricky’s Team of the Week. Any queries, questions, responses or disagreements/agreements, post them via the comment section on the site or via a Twitter message.

Penrith snap five-game losing streak with comfortable win over poor Eels outfit

Luke Walsh

It was a game that Penrith were seeking to win as they looked to snap their five-game losing streak and they did just that – defeating the Parramatta Eels 44-12, in a dominant display by often criticised halfback Luke Walsh and debutant Matt Moylan.

Dumped to the NSW Cup just a few weeks ago, you would not have thought that Walsh was the same player, with his kicks proving to be efficient and accurate and setting up the Panthers win.

The loss was compounded for the Eels with an injury to Tim Mannah, one that Ricky Stuart said post-game might be a broken leg/fibula, with the prop and club captain to undergo scans on it tomorrow.

The game was also the battle of the halves at one stage, as both Luke Walsh and Chris Sandow set up tries and then kicked 40/20’s, but in the end, based on the overall result, it was the Panthers execution and ultimately Luke Walsh that got the better of Sandow.

With a few injuries hitting their side, Penrith Panthers coach Ivan Cleary was confident that the players he brought in could get the job done.

“The thing about injuries, what comes with it is opportunity,” Cleary said.

“The reality is a lot of our squad could probably chop and change with each other.

“That probably happened a little bit tonight, a couple of players got their opportunities and certainly did a good job.”

Moylan, who was fantastic on debut, received praise from his coach.

“I could hardly fault him.

“But the reality is he’ll have another game next week and when that game starts no-one will be worrying about this game.”

Ricky Stuart is never one to hide his feelings and emotions, with the Parramatta Eels coach singling out two of his players for praise and no others – youngsters Kelepi Tanginoa and Vai Toutai.

“It’s embarrassing when your two best players are an 18 and 19-year-old trying to learn how to play the game at a first grade level and one of those is a winger,” he said.

3. Luke Walsh
2. Matt Moylan
1. Tim Grant

Cowboys squad member passes away in Mackay aged just 20

Alex Elisala

It is the kind of news that no NRL fan wants to hear but the North Queensland Cowboys were dealt the tough task of having to confirm that Alex Elisala, a club squad member, passed away earlier today at Mackay Hospital, aged just 20.

It was only this year that Elisala became a full-time member of the Cowboys squad and he made his first international appearance for Samoa very recently also .

Coming through the Cowboys ranks, he played in a total of 69 games for the club in the Holden Cup competition – the second most by any Cowboy – and also represented Queensland in the inaugural U20’s State of Origin match.

The club are distressed by the news of Elisala’s passing, remembering him as a talented player, a well-liked player and someone who will be missed.

“This is an extremely sad time for our club, particularly for our players who trained and played alongside Alex in both our NYC and NRL teams,” Cowboys CEO Peter Jourdain said.

“Alex joined our club four years ago, had a distinguished career in our NYC squad and was already excelling in his first year as a full-time member of the NRL squad.

“He was undoubtedly one of the brightest young talents at the Cowboys.

“Alex was extremely well liked by everyone at the club and his jovial but dedicated presence in and away from football will be deeply missed by all.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Alex’s family and his friends.

“Our players and staff have met this morning to support each other and with the help of the NRL, we have begun to provide professional counselling as they try to come to terms with Alex’s passing.

“We request everyone to respect the sensitive nature of this situation and the privacy of all concerned.”

Smith praises his side’s defence as Warrington romp home to an easy victory

Micky Higham

They say that defence wins games and for Warrington Wolves coach Tony Smith, that was an area of his side’s game that impressed him most, as he praised his side’s defensive effort in a comfortable 32-4 win over the Bradford Bulls.

Producing some poor defensive displays over the last few weeks, Smith was pleased to see that his side heeded the work that had been done to improve it, to keep Bradford to just the one try.

“To concede just four points in a Super League game and against a top-eight side is pretty good going, and the try we did concede came after 21 tackles in a row,” said Smith.

“Today showed the grittiness we have had in the past and we have been working hard on that aspect of our game, so that was pretty pleasing

“Bradford are a hard-working team and were never going to give us any free passages, but as a team we felt if we were patient and didn’t panic about the scoreline or the conditions or amount of defence we had to do, we would be ok.

“There were some really excellent plays within the game and I love watching those sorts of plays like most people do.

“Joel (Monaghan) bringing down the ball and getting it down in the corner was pretty special and the interchange of passing was terrific at times.

“Attacking wise, I thought Micky Higham was really good and Ben Currie and Trent Waterhouse were doing really well and coming up with some really big plays.”

Despite the heavy loss, Bradford Bulls coach Francis Cummins was largely happy with the effort of his side, but lamented their missed opportunities throughout the game.

“I thought we probably lacked a little composure and missed some opportunities but the effort was there again but you need more than effort to beat the bigger teams,” said Cummins.

“Teams like Warrington have definitely got the experience that I can’t give to my team just yet but you have to deliver it on the day against the bigger teams.

“I’m frustrated we lost our way a bit and a little annoyed with our composure and not sticking to what we wanted to do but all credit to Warrington.

“We had some opportunities when we took three or four wrong options and they got a roll on which made the difference.”

Leeds record big win but McDermott wants better ball control from his players

Kallum Watkins

They may have won the game convincingly but a key factor for Leeds coach Brian McDermott, was that at times, his side could not hold onto the ball, something that left the coach frustrated at points throughout the game.

McDermott went as far as to say that he believes as it stands, his side is not in great form, despite the fact that they are winning games.

“I wouldn’t say we are in form,” McDermott said.

“Results might suggest that, but I don’t think we are where we need to be.

“We defended really well but we have to be better. I’m not going to say there is more to come, but we have to be better.

“There are better teams than us with the ball at the moment and we have to change that. This was tougher than the scoreboard suggests. Physically, that was a tough game.”

Sandercock was also rather critical of his side, lamenting their slow overall play and the fact that they seemed to be labouring around in attack.

“The play-the-ball speed was ridiculously slow and we couldn’t get a quick one. Leeds’ lines were set and their line speed was unbelievable. And full credit to them,” said Sandercock.

“The score didn’t reflect how hard we played and how competitive we were. But that’s rugby league. Leeds have some class players and they can hurt you at any time of the game.”

Bulldogs get season back on track with an ugly win over the Sharks

Aiden Tolman

Winning a game does not have to be pretty by any means and when there is a run of consecutive losses, you take whatever win you get, precisely what the Canterbury Bulldogs did – as they recorded a 24-8 victory over the Cronulla Sharks.

Far from being the electrifying team we saw in 2012, the Dogs started the game rooted to the bottom of the ladder but with this win, it moves them in the right direction – with coach Des Hasler highlighting the importance of the victory.

“It was a pretty important two points for both sides today and I’m just pleased we were able to prevail,” Hasler said.

Hasler did not hold back previously, labelling his side’s play in past games as “diabolical” and know that in order to make the finals, there is still a lot of work for his side to do.

“For us, that’s what we need,” in-form Dogs five-eighth Josh Reynolds said.

“We can go away with some positives but obviously we’ve got a lot of things to work on.”

What perhaps cost Cronulla the victory, was their lack of execution and the blown opportunities – something captain Paul Gallen lamented.

“It’s like all our losses really – we’re in every game,” Gallen said.

“We almost beat ourselves – simple errors.

“Two-on-one passes for tries – it’s not good enough for first grade.”

Coach Shane Flanagan was honest about his side’s lack of execution and was disappointed with the overall effort.

“We had our chances in the first half, that’s for sure. We had two really clear opportunities,” he said.

“And our skill level was poor in the first half.

“They should’ve been tries.

“I feel like we’re our own worst enemy and we gave (the match) to them today.”

3. Aiden Tolman
2. Trent Hodkinson
1. Todd Carney

Injury decimates the Titans as they lose to the Knights in a convincing manner

Jarrod Mullen

The questions on the minds of fans will be what if our players were not injured, as the Gold Coast Titans went down at home to the Newcastle Knights, losing the game 30-6.

The Titans side was hit by injury early on before losing three players in total, with Luke O’Dwyer (broken jaw), Matt Srama (broken hand) and Ashley Harrison (ankle) all going off the field, forcing the Titans to play a large chunk of the game with just 14 fit men.

It took its toll, as the fresh, energetic Knights side led by a resurgent Jarrod Mullen steamrolled the Titans side, as he and Darius Boyd took it upon themselves to guide the Knights to a victory.

Whilst not putting the blame solely on the injuries sustained by the trio, Titans coach John Cartwright said it played a part, as well as his side’s poor ball control.

“On a day like that, to lose three players in the first 20 minutes it’s not ideal,” Cartwright said.

“But at 12-6 with 25 minutes to go, I thought there was a big shift in momentum there. I thought that we did get back to our starting halves and that made us a little bit more stable.

“But from that point we just came up with some errors. Some bad kicks and some errors, and it was a shame the scoreboard got out to that, because the score wasn’t a reflection of that game.

“I thought at 12-6 – with everything that went against us – I really thought it was going to be a tight game. The momentum shifted and just from that moment we lost our way a little bit.

“We sort of spoke at half-time that we nearly had to play the perfect half of football with only one front-rower on the bench, we couldn’t give them any cheap ball or any cheap possession, but unfortunately that’s what we did.”

Titans captain Greg Bird echoed those sentiments, praising his side for never giving in despite the loss of three players early on.

“Ten minutes in, I looked up and we were three players down. It all happened so quick and no one, I guess out on the field really knew what had happened because we weren’t making any subs after that,” Bird said.

“A few players got moved around, I guess that’s what happens when you lose any one player but with three I guess we made quite a few shufflings.

“We went back to our most original structure as we could at half-time, but just ran out of gas at the end.

3. Jarrod Mullen
2. Darius Boyd
1. Albert Kelly

Noble sees good signs from Salford side in win over Castleford

Ryan McGoldrick

It may not have been the best overall game by Salford given the high-scoring, narrow 34-30 win over the Castleford Tigers, but Reds coach Brian Noble saw enough good signs in the win, to know that they are going places.

It was a late try to Ryan McGoldrick that stole victory from the jaws of the Tigers, in a game that saw a total of 12 tries scored by both sides.

“I’m really pleased for the players,” he said.

“We finished on the right side of a basketball-style game and it was thrilling and exciting.

“We had to show plenty of character to defend like we did in the last five minutes.

“We did a lot of good things going forward, though I know there is work to do after looking at the league ladder.

“But it can be cured in time and we need to start raising the bar. At times we looked good with the ball.”

Danny Orr, the Tigers interim head coach, says that when you concede 34 points, you do not deserve to win as he criticised aspects of his side’s overall game.

“We didn’t deserve to win and to concede 34 points was disappointing.

“We were outmuscled and our kicking game was terrible in the first half.”

There was also critcism levelled by some at Rangi Chase, whose error led to the final game-winning try for Salford, but Orr refused to point the finger at him.

“Rangi is a world-class player, as we could see from the things he did out there tonight,” said Orr.

“You can only admire him and I’m not going to tell him to change his game.

“He knows that pass probably wasn’t on but we did not help ourselves and got in an arm wrestle. We did not perform and self-destructed.”