Eels hard-hitting back-rower re-signs at the club

Tepai Moeroa

In the eyes of many Eels fans, Tepai Moeroa is on the rise and his form on the straight and narrow and they will have the chance to see continue that sort of form and rise, as the hulking back-rower re-signed until the end of 2019.

Joining the club at just 14 in 2010, it is all Moeroa has known when it comes to the sport of rugby league and club coach Brad Arthur knows how crucial it is to keep the local talent.

“Tepai is a gifted athlete and a consistent performer who adds a great deal of power to our forward pack,” Arthur said.

I’m looking forward to seeing him take his performance to the next level this season.”

Whilst Moeroa admitted in an earlier news report that there was interest from overseas – Japanese rugby union to be specific – the Eels were the club he wanted to stay at.

“There was interest in going overseas for rugby, but once I’ve accomplished what I want to do in rugby league, then I’ll maybe look at popping over to rugby,’’ Moeroa said.

“I wanted to stay at Parra, so it’s good to get it all sorted and get it done.’’

Veteran Cowboys prop to see out career with the club

Matt Scott

Rarely does a player play out his entire career with one club nowadays but a man who will have that honour is veteran Cowboys prop Matt Scott.

Putting pen to paper on a new 2-year deal, the QLD and Australian representative will have played at the Cowboys for 16 seasons at the completion of his deal having debuted as an 18-year old in 2004.

The extension until the end of the 2019 season has the 31-year-old excited about what lies ahead.

“I’m truly thrilled to be extending my time at this great club for a further two seasons,” Scott said.

“I’ve had so many great experiences here, taken the field with some wonderful players and made lifelong friends.

“To be able to continue on this journey with the Cowboys means the world to me and I look forward to getting through my rehab and giving the Cowboys my all for the next couple of seasons.”

Regarded as one of the elite props of the game for some years now, the club is also excited to retain a player of Scott’s calibre.

“Matt has been in the top handful of props in the NRL for well over a decade,” said Peter Parr, the Cowboys General Manager of Football.

“He’s represented his state and country over 20 times apiece, led the Cowboys to their maiden premiership and has represented this club on and off the field to the highest standard since he first made the move north.

“We’re rapt that Matt will extend his time here and I know the young crop of young and emerging forwards really look up to him and will learn much from him over the next three years.”

NRL Teams Rd 5

Another week and another Teamlist Tuesday. Some big games on the horizon as certain teams crave a crucial win whilst others look to continue impressive starts to the season. With a fair share of upsets already in 2017, can we expect to see more? 

So, without further adieu, here are the teams for Rd 5 of the NRL Telstra Premiership:

Canterbury Bulldogs v Brisbane Broncos (#NRLcbybri); ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park; Thursday March 30. Kick-off: 8:05pm.

Bulldogs: 1. Brad Abbey 2. Brett Morris 3. Josh Morris 4. Brenko Lee 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Matt Frawley 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Michael Lichaa 10. James Graham (C) 11. Josh Jackson 12. Greg Eastwood 13. David Klemmer.

Interchange: 14. Sam Kasiano 15. Danny Fualalo 16. Adam Elliott 17. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 19. Renouf Toomaga 20. Craig Garvey 22. Francis Tualau 23. Reimis Smith.

Coach: Des Hasler.

Broncos: 1. Darius Boyd (C) 2. Corey Oates 3. James Roberts 4. Tautau Moga 5. Jordan Kahu 6. Anthony Milford 7. Ben Hunt 8. Korbin Sims 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Adam Blair 11. Matt Gillett 12. Sam Thaiday 13. Josh McGuire.

Interchange: 14. Alex Glenn 15. Tevita Pangai Jr. 16. Herman Ese’ese 17. Jai Arrow 18. Benji Marshall 19. George Fai 20. David Mead 21. Kodi Nikorima.

Coach: Wayne Bennett.


Sydney Roosters v Manly Sea Eagles (#NRLsydman); Allianz Stadium, Moore Park; Friday March 31. Kick-off: 6 pm. 

Roosters: 1. Michael Gordon 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Latrell Mitchell 4. Joseph Manu 5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall 6. Luke Keary 7. Mitch Pearce 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend (C) 10. Dylan Napa 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Mitch Aubusson 13. Aidan Guerra.

Interchange: 14. Issac Liu 15. Zane Tetevano 16. Ryan Matterson 17. Connor Watson 18. Paul Carter 19. Chris Smith 20. Blake Ferguson 21. Kane Evans.

Coach: Trent Robinson.

Manly: 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Dylan Walker 4. Brian Kelly 5. Akuila Uate 6. Blake Green 7. Daly Cherry-Evans (C) 8. Brenton Lawrence 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Marty Taupau 11. Curtis Sironen 12. Frank Winterstein 13. Jake Trbojevic.

Interchange: 14. Lewis Brown 15. Jackson Hastings 16. Nate Myles 17. Addin Fonua-Blake 18. Shaun Lane 20. Matthew Wright 21. Jarrad Kennedy 22. Lloyd Perrett.

Coach: Trent Barrett.


North Queensland v South Sydney Rabbitohs (#NRLnqlsou); 1300 Smiles Stadium, Townsville; Friday March 31. Kick-off: 8:05 pm.

Cowboys: 1. Lachlan Coote 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Javid Bowen 4. Kane Linnett 5. Gideon Gela-Mosby 6. Michael Morgan 7. Johnathan Thurston (C) 8. Patrick Kaufusi 9. Jake Granville 10. Scott Bolton 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Ethan Lowe 13. Jason Taumalolo.

Interchange: 14. Ben Hampton 15. John Asiata 16. Coen Hess 17. Shaun Fensom 18. Sam Hoare 19. Kalyn Ponga 20. Corey Jensen 21. Ben Spina.

Coach: Paul Green.

Rabbitohs: 1. Alex Johnston 2. Braidon Burns 3. Robert Jennings 4. Siosifa Talakai 5. Bryson Goodwin 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Thomas Burgess 9. Robbie Farah 10. Jason Clark 11. John Sutton 12. Kyle Turner 13. Sam Burgess (C).

Interchange: 14. Damien Cook 15. Angus Crichton 16. Zane Musgrove 17. Robbie Rochow 18. Sitiveni Moceidreke 19. Anthony Cherrington 20. Cameron Murray 21. Tyrell Fuimaono.

Coach: Michael Maguire.


Cronulla Sharks v Newcastle Knights (#NRLcronew); Southern Cross Group Stadium, Cronulla; Saturday April 1. Kick-off: 3 pm.

Sharks: 1. Valentine Holmes 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Jack Bird 4. Ricky Leutele 5. Gerard Beale 6. James Maloney 7. Chad Townsend 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Matt Prior 11. Luke Lewis 12. Wade Graham 13. Paul Gallen (C).

Interchange: 14. Jayson Bukuya 15. Chris Heighington 16. Jeremy Latimore 17. James Segeyaro 18. Joseph Paulo 19. Kurt Capewell 20. Edrick Lee 21. Sam Tagataese.

Coach: Shane Flanagan.

Knights: 1. Brendan Elliott 2. Ken Sio 3. Peter Mata’utia 4. Dane Gagai 5. Nathan Ross 6. Brock Lamb 7. Trent Hodkinson (C) 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Danny Levi 10. Josh Starling 11. Sione Mata’utia 12. Jamie Buhrer 13. Mitch Barnett.

Interchange: 14. Luke Yates 15. Jack Stockwell 16. Sam Stone 17. Jacob Saifiti 18. Jaelen Feeney 19. Joe Wardle 20. Jacob Gagai 21. Anthony Tupou.

Coach: Nathan Brown.


Canberra Raiders v Parramatta Eels (#NRLcanpar); GIO Stadium, Canberra; Saturday April 1. Kick-off: 5:30 pm. 

Raiders: 1. Jack Wighton 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker (C) 4. Joey Leilua 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Blake Austin 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Junior Paulo 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Shannon Boyd 11. Josh Papalii 12. Iosia Soliola 13. Clay Priest.

Interchange: 14. Adam Clydsdale 15. Luke Bateman 16. Dave Taylor 17. Joseph Tapine 18. Jordan Turner 19. Scott Sorenson 20. Dunamis Lui 21. Zac Santo.

Coach: Ricky Stuart.

Eels: 1. Bevan French 2. Semi Radradra 3. Michael Jennings 4. Brad Takairangi 5. Josh Hoffman 6. Clint Gutherson 7. Corey Norman 8. Suaia Matagi 9. Kaysa Pritchard 10. Tim Mannah (C) 11. Manu Ma’u 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Beau Scott (C).

Interchange: 14. Nathan Brown 15. Daniel Alvaro 16. Frank Pritchard 17. Siosaia Vave.

Coach: Brad Arthur.


Melbourne Storm v Penrith Panthers (#NRLmelpen); AAMI Park, Melbourne; Saturday April 1. Kick-off: 7:30 pm.

Storm: 1. Billy Slater 2. Young Tonumaipea 3. Will Chambers 4. Cheyse Blair 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Ryley Jacks 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cam Smith (C) 10. Jordan McLean 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenny Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane.

Interchange: 14. Christian Welch 15. Tim Glasby 16. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 17. Joe Stimson 18. Mark Nicholls 19. Tui Kamikamica 20. Jeremy Hawkins 21. Suliasi Vunivalu.

Coach: Craig Bellamy.

Panthers: 1. Matt Moylan (C) 2. Dean Whare 3. Waqa Blake 4. Tyrone Peachey 5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 6. Te Maire Martin 7. Nathan Cleary 8. James Tamou 9. Peter Wallace 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 11. Corey Harawira-Naera 12. Isaah Yeo 13. Trent Merrin.

Interchange: 14. Peta Hiku 15. Leilani Latu 16. Viliame Kikau 17. Sitaleki Akauola 18. Moses Leota 19. Tim Browne 20. Sione Katota 21. James Fisher-Harris.

Coach: Anthony Griffin.


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

Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (C) 2. Blake Ayshford 3. David Fusitu’a 4. Solomone Kata 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Kieran Foran 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Charlie Gubb 9. Issac Luke 10. Jacob Lillyman 11. Bodene Thompson 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Simon Mannering.

Interchange: 14. Nathaniel Roache 15. James Gavet 16. Sam Lisone 17. Ligi Sao 18. Albert Vete 20. Bunty Afoa 21. Mason Lino 22. Ata Hingano.

Coach: Stephen Kearney.

Titans: 1. Tyrone Roberts 2. Tyronne Roberts-Davis 3. Dale Copley 4. Konrad Hurrell 5. Daniel Vidot 6. Kane Elgey 7. Ash Taylor 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Ryan Simpkins 10. Ryan James (C) 11. Kevin Proctor (C) 12. Chris McQueen 13. Leivaha Pulu.

Interchange: 14. Karl Lawton 15. Nathaniel Peteru 16. Chris Grevsmuhl 17. Joe Greenwood 18. Max King 19. Paterkia Vaivai 20. Anthony Don 21. Tyler Cornish.

Coach: Neil Henry.


Wests Tigers v St George Illawarra Dragons (#NRLwstsgi); ANZ Stadium; Sunday April 2. Kick-off: 4 pm.

Tigers: 1. James Tedesco 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Jamal Idris 4. Kevin Naiqama 5. Moses Suli 6. Mitch Moses 7. Jack Littlejohn 8. Aaron Woods (C) 9. Matt McIlwrick 10. Ava Seumanufagai 11. Josh Aloiai 12. Chris Lawrence 13. Elijah Taylor.

Interchange: 14. Tim Grant 15. Sauaso Sue 16. Michael Chee-Kam 17. Matt Ballin 18. Kyle Lovett 19. Justin Hunt 20. Joel Edwards 21. Junior Tatola.

Coach: Jason Taylor.

Dragons: 1. Josh Dugan 2. Nene Macdonald 3. Euan Aitken 4. Tim Lafai 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Gareth Widdop (C) 7. Josh McCrone 8. Russell Packer 9. Cam McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Joel Thompson 13. Jack de Belin.

Interchange: 14. Tariq Sims 15. Leeson Ah Mau 16. Jacob Host 17. Kurt Mann 18. Jai Field 19. Taane Milne 20. Luciano Leilua 21. Hame Sele.

Coach: Paul McGregor.


 

Ricky’s Team of the Week Rd 4

Coen Hess

Another entertaining round of footy as some teams are left with genuine soul-searching to do as others continue to fly high and soar above the rest of the pack. Momentum is everything in rugby league as is confidence and with so many good performers enjoying a rich vein of form, just who cracks our team of the week for Rd 4. 

Just note, as per the last few weeks, because the players named are done so based on the allocated points we hand out for our own awards throughout the year, some players will be named out of position to accommodate for that and to ensure total consistency with our team.

Well, stick around and find out because we shall not keep you waiting any longer. Here it is, Ricky’s Team of the Week for Rd 4:

  1. Tom Trbojevic – After a slow start, Tommy Turbo has found his feet and he put in another impressive performance. The heir to the fullback throne at Manly, the position is one that many expect him to hold for years to come. The scary part is, as good as he is, he will only get better.

2. Jordan Rapana – It would be safe to say that Rapana has continued his 2016 form to establish himself as one of the elite wingers in the game. Despite some inconsistencies from the Raiders, his game rarely falters as he continues to score tries and prove a handful for opposition defences.

3. Josh Dugan – A rare entry for Dugan in a team of the week this season who despite his club’s good form, has been overshadowed by performances from team-mates. Not this week. A strong, confident performance from Dugan will have fans hoping it can continue as they look to maintain their form.

4. Michael Gordon – A surprise packet so far in 2017, Gordon is just what the doctor ordered for the Roosters. His sleek, confident play has the Roosters firing on all cylinders and his link-up play with 5/8 Luke Keary and centre Latrell Mitchell is a joy to watch as a fan.

5. Josh Addo-Carr – Another surprise performer in 2017, Addo-Carr has so far filled the shoes of Marika Koroibete perfectly. His speed and hard work are on display every week and he was rewarded with a runaway try for his efforts.

6. Johnathan Thurston – The game’s elite half is back in business. After a slow grind, Thurston had the ball on a string and produced the goods in a masterful display of class, precision and finesse as he racked up the stats in the club’s win v the Titans.

7. Daly Cherry-Evans – Another player coming more into his own this year, the man nicknamed DCE has been under some pressure since the departure of Kieran Foran but he is starting to handle that and the captaincy. A masterclass on his part as he laid the ball on to all parts of the ground with feet and hands.

8. Paul Vaughan – You could make an argument that Vaughan is currently the form prop of the competition with seemingly no end in sight to his consistency. Playing solid minutes and making the most of them, he is leading the Dragons pack forward and propelling them towards success.

9.  Cameron Smith – For his leadership and smarts under pressure, Cam Smith makes the team this week. The defining moment in his side’s win over the Tigers was a 40/20 he kicked that turned the tide of the game when the Storm’s back was against the wall. He has always had that instinctive play in him and that one was no different.

10. Adam Blair – At times criticised for pushing an offload or making a silly error, Blair continues to run hard and hit hard and establish himself as a key player in the Broncos forward charge. Whilst not as flashy or gifted  as others, he has the courage of a lion and every team needs that.

11. Coen Hess – What a revelation Hess has been this year! Initially slated for minimal time off the bench, he has exploded out of the blocks and performed consistently whether it has been from the bench or starting in the absence of others.

12. Corey Harawira-Naera – An impressive debut has many asking just who CHN is. A hulking edge player, he made the most of the opportunity and gave coach Anthony Griffin plenty to think about as he dismantled the opposition defence, picking them apart at will.

13. Paul Gallen – Yet another workhorse-like performance from the Sharks veteran who ran hard, tackled hard and produced the goods all day against the Eels. A neat little 1-2 saw him nab a try assist and line-break assist as well.

14. Scott Bolton – Stepping up in the absence of Matt Scott, many believe Bolton is a genuine Origin contender and if he continues to play as he is, he may well be. Accustomed to coming off the bench, he has lost none of the spark and fire that sees him perform strongly off the bench in years past.

15. Andrew McCullough – Milestone games can be bogey ones for many players but McCullough was standing tall at the end of it, as his side not only won but he also got on the scoresheet with a lovely show and go from dummy half. One of the genuine workhorses of the league.

16. Siosaia Vave – In what was a game to forget for the Eels in many regards, the impact and punch off the bench from Vave was a rare highlight. His first game with the club after off-season surgery, Vave showed that he has a spot in the team and that he can make an impact.

17. Nelson Asofa-Solomona – Perhaps one of the biggest back-rowers you will see yet so incredibly mobile, the man they simply call NAS is a huge specimen but puts his frame to good use. Hard to tackle and bring down, he shrugs off defenders with ease and makes running the ball look like child’s play.

Player of the Week: Coen Hess (North Queensland Cowboys).

Sharks capitalise on Eels errors to cruise to victory

Paul Gallen

Hopeful of bouncing back after a poor finish to their game last week, the Parramatta Eels were optimistic that a win against the Cronulla Sharks was possible. However, as the game illustrated, constant errors and penalties let them down and it was the Cronulla Sharks who came out victorious.

After a disappointing back end to their loss against the Titans, the Sharks aggressive nature and solid line speed put the Eels players under pressure resulting in constant errors.

The Sharks themselves were not saints in this regard nor in the penalties stakes but they capitalised on the Eels errors and made better use of the opportunities presented to them than the Eels.

With both clubs celebrating the life of departed rugby league player Jon Mannah by playing for the Johnny Mannah Cup, it was an emotional game in many respects for some.

The first half was mostly about sturdy defence as the Sharks went into half-time with a 12-6 lead courtesy of tries to Jayden Brailey and Sosaia Feki. David Gower scored the Eels sole try.

The Eels had their opportunities to score more points in the first half and early in the second but forced passes and indecisiveness in attack proved their downfall in attack as they failed to build any momentum.

New Sharks recruit James Segeyaro played towards the back end of the second half and gave away a penalty with his first involvement in the game but he will get better as the weeks go by.

The Eels now have some soul searching to do ahead of two tough away trips to Canberra and New Zealand before they return home for an Easter Monday clash v the Wests Tigers.

Sharks coach Shane Flanagan was impressed with his side’s performance and praised their sturdy resolve in defence.

“Our defence was tremendous; very tough,” Flanagan said post-game.”

“They’re a good footy side and they threw a lot at us especially in the first half but we stood up to it and showed what we were about.”

Although the Eels lost, the effort was there from the side but the errors and lack of execution cost them in the end and coach Brad Arthur lamented that notion.

“When you put that much effort into a game, you probably need to come away with a better result than that,” he said.

“With completions around 60% and having to make an extra 70 tackles, we just didn’t give ourselves a chance.

“We lacked composure and a bit of patience.”

Eels captain Tim Mannah echoed  his coach’s sentiments and know that the club have let themselves down in attack for two straight weeks.

“Defensively, I thought the boys had a real crack but we just shot ourselves in the foot and let us down in attack the last two weeks,” Mannah lamented.

Player of the Game:

3. Paul Gallen

2. Siosaia Vave

  1. Andrew Fifita

Cronulla Sharks 20 (Brailey, Feki, Maloney tries; Maloney 4 goals) defeated Parramatta Eels 6 (Gower try; Gutherson goal) at ANZ Stadium. Half time: Sharks 12-6. Crowd: 17,003.

Manly on song as they crush tame Bulldogs outfit

Daly Cherry-Evans

Whilst the Manly Sea Eagles might be on a high in recent weeks, the same cannot be said for their opponents the Canterbury Bulldogs who were comprehensively beaten 36-0 by the Manly side at Lottoland on Saturday afternoon.

Led by an array of tricks from halfback Daly Cherry-Evans, Manly were rampant against the Bulldogs who had no answer for his brilliance.

Their 26-nil first-half romp set up the victory before the club took their foot off the accelerator with the win sewn up.

With Manly firing, it was a stark contrast for the poor Bulldogs side who looked stilted in attack with the lack of a kicking game to apply pressure on the Manly defence.

Manly’s first points came after a deft grubber through the Bulldogs defensive line by Cherry-Evans, to which centre Dylan Walker reacted quickest to pounce and score.

It got worse just minutes later as an offside penalty led to a try to the hard-running Curtis Sironen to extend Manly’s lead.

Despite being denied a try through Jake Trbojevic, Manly scored again soon after through Brian Kelly before Cherry-Evans and Tom Trbojevic combined with a well-crafted play to allow the fullback to score.

Two further tries to Apisai Koroisau and Akuila Uate – a try which came off a kick from Cherry-Evans uncanny left foot kick – giving Manly a resounding 36-0 win.

An uninspiring effort by his Bulldogs side, coach Des Hasler conceded that his side was flat and lacked enthusiasm.

“We really couldn’t get into it,” Hasler said post-game.

“We were flat, they out-enthused us and we were down in energy right across the park so that’s disappointing,” Hasler said after the game.

“We didn’t help ourselves at all and consequently they brought plenty of that… and I guess you could liken it to a bit of an old ambush, couldn’t you?”

With a short turnaround ahead of their next fixture, Bulldogs captain James Graham knows his side needs to get out there and make amends.

“Thursday can’t come around soon enough,” he said. “It’s a short turnaround but I actually think that’s a good thing considering the situation that we’re in tonight.”

“It’s a short turnaround but I actually think that’s a good thing considering the situation that we’re in tonight.”

Despite the comprehensive nature of their win, Manly coach Trent Barrett believes that they can still improve.

“We were pretty determined to back up last week’s win and it was an outstanding defensive effort again I thought,” Barrett said after the game.

“We can still improve; I thought we turned over a little bit too much ball, but there are some things that we can be really happy with. We’ve just got to keep going; we haven’t achieved anything but we’re on the right track. What they have been doing is paying off.

Player of the Game:

3. Daly Cherry-Evans

2. Tom Trbojevic

  1. Marty Taupau

Sea Eagles 36 (Brian Kelly 2, Dylan Walker, Curtis Sironen, Tom Trbojevic, Apisai Koroisau, Akuila Uate tries; Dylan Walker 4 goals) def. Bulldogs 0 at Lottoland. Half-time: 26-0. Crowd: 9,610

Late Raiders surge not enough as Kahu field goal proves the difference

Andrew McCullough

A see-sawing affair at Suncorp Stadium has seen the Brisbane Broncos prevail 13-12 over the Canberra Raiders after an unlikely field goal from Jordan Kahu gave the Broncos another win this season.

In a rather scrappy affair throughout, the conditions were not easy to play in as rain over the course of the day produced a waterlogged pitch that made making metres difficult.

It was a special game for the Broncos but particularly for hooker Andrew McCullough, who played in his 200th game – the youngest forward to reach the milestone.

He produced a brilliant performance, racking up a phenomenal 61 tackles and scoring a try to boot.

It was a defensive juggernaut in the first half from both sides as they toiled, tried and tested the opposition lines but failed to produce any tries.

Instead, the only points scored before the break was courtesy of two penalty goals, one for either side.

The Broncos burst out of the blocks, though, as first McCullough and then Darius Boyd got on the scoresheet to go up 12-2.

Canberra’s never-say-die attitude was rife again, however, as Jordan Rapana proved why many regard him as one of the game’s elite wingers with a lovely, soaring finish in the corner.

They then scored again after quick hands and a slick play down the right-hand side opened the Broncos defence up, leading to Blake Austin scoring the try.

Soon after, though, the unlikely field-goal hero in Kahu stepped up as from 30m out, he let fly with his kick that ricocheted off the inside post to make it over.

In a game that neither side perhaps deserved to lose, both teams can hold their heads high for different reasons.

Always the modest type, McCullough tried to deflect attention from his 200th game but admitted he was proud to reach the milestone.

“It wasn’t about my milestone or anything, I just wanted to win the game,” said the in-form hooker.

“In saying that, the milestone played on my mind a little bit this week.

“To get to 200 is very special to me. I just wanted to play my best for a great bunch of teammates and I feel I did that.”

Coach Wayne Bennett was also pleased with McCullough’s milestone and praised his performances so far in 2017.

“Andrew has been one of our best players every game this season. He’s been a wonderful player for the club throughout his whole career,” Bennett said.

“Everyone knows he gives his best all the time and nothing changed on Friday night.

“I’m just pleased the boys could get the win and do it for him.

Another talking point out of the game was a crucial intercept taken by 18-year old Raiders winger, Nick Cotric.

It was an intercept that drew praise from all corners of the Raiders dressing room for his calm, collected composure.

“Coming up with a play like that at Suncorp Stadium at that crucial time just shows that he’s ready for first grade and he’s got a long career ahead of him,” Josh Papalii said.

“He’s not a quiet kid, he’s got a lot of energy. Especially when he’s around the halves he’s always going to be a bit chirpy but it’s good to have another personality in the team and we’re all about that.”

Player of the Game:

3. Andrew McCullough

2. Jordan Rapana

  1. Adam Blair

Brisbane Broncos 13 (McCullough, Boyd tries; Kahu 2 goals; Kahu field goal) def. Canberra Raiders 12 (Austin, Rapana tries; Croker 2 goals) at Suncorp Stadium. Crowd: 29,370. Holden Cup: Broncos 24-16.

Panthers find their form as they brush aside the Knights

Corey Harawira-Naera

Whilst the effort is there on the part of the Newcastle Knights, the consistency is not and that was the telling factor as their opponents, the Penrith Panthers, ran rampant and blew them off the park.

The Panthers ended up resounding 40-0 winners on the back of solid games from veteran hooker Peter Wallace, halfback Nathan Cleary and debutant Corey Harawira-Naera.

The comfortable victory was a great way to steel themselves for next week’s clash against competition heavyweights, the Melbourne Storm.

Twice already this year, the Panthers have managed to keep a team scoreless, having prevented the Tigers from scoring any points in Rd 2.

The signs were there that it would be a long night for the Knights, as Penrith scored after just three minutes through winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.

The tries continued to flow for the Panthers as Harawira-Narea, Tyrone Peachey and Dean Whare all scored before the break to give the Panthers a 22-0 lead at half-time.

Despite their best efforts to produce something, anything, the Knights indecisiveness, lack of execution and ill-discipline robbed them of any chance to produce points.

Cleary then got a try of his own at the back end of the game as he shrugged off several defenders to round out the commanding win.

Young debutant Harawira-Naera was a surprise packet for many and when he was told by coach Anthony Griffin that he had gotten the nod to play, he was over the moon.

“He (Griffin) made me sleep on it Wednesday night and then Thursday morning I come in for captains run and he gave me the official word,” Harawira-Naera said.

“I was mentally prepared but couldn’t have done it without the boys and the coaching staff.

“Once I left the room I was jumping up and down.”

The young utility drew praise from Griffin for a solid debut and start to his career.

“I was really happy for him, he got a late call-up on Thursday and he’s been one of our unsung heroes in the under-20s and Intrust Super Premiership the last few years and works extremely hard on the training paddock,” Griffin said.

“It was great to give him that opportunity and it was lovely to see him play well and enjoy a win like that tonight.”

Player of the Game:

3. Corey Harawira-Naera

2. Peter Wallace

  1. Nathan Cleary

Panthers 40 (Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Corey Harawira-Naera, Te Maire Martin, Tyrone Peachey, Peter Wallace, Dean Whare, Nathan Cleary tries; Nathan Cleary 6 goals) defeated Knights 0 at Pepper Stadium. Crowd: 10,567. Half-time: Panthers 22-0.

Sharks forward duo sign new deals

Wade Graham

Two hugely influential players in their own right at the Cronulla Sharks, both Wade Graham and Matt Prior have signed new deals to remain with the club.

Graham, touted by many as the next Sharks captain, has extended his stay with the club until the end of 2019, having joined the Sharks in 2011.

The representative back-rower is pleased to have his future sorted and secure and wants to focus on the footy ahead.

“Another 2 years at the club, so I’m excited to get it done,” Graham said.

“Bit of security on my future and now we can look forward to focusing on this season.”

As for Prior, he surprised many upon joining the Sharks with his 2016 efforts earning him the club’s Player of the Year award.

Still only 29, Prior has much to offer the game and the Sharks club and with 180 total games to his belt – 60 of which have come at the Sharks – he is also excited at what is ahead.

“It’s a massive relief,” Prior said.

“Took a couple of weeks to get it done but glad that we can now focus on the footy.”

Matt Prior

 

Roosters unbeaten run to start season continue with win over Bunnies

Michael Gordon

Despite a sloppy performance, the Sydney Roosters ended up winning 20-6 in a comfortable fashion to go 4-0 to start the season. 

In control from the outset for much of the game, errors and sloppiness crept into the Roosters game that could have seen more points scored.

Souths were not at their best in attack and it showed, as they were repelled often and could not gain any ascendancy on the other side of the ball in defence either.

The signs from Cody Walker continue to be encouraging, though, as yet again, he was the club’s best player despite the loss.

Indecision and poor judgment was the Bunnies downfall, with back-line players often caught on the last tackle running the ball.

The Bunnies started the stronger of the two teams before the Roosters wrestled back the momentum and completed an impressive 19 of 21 sets in the first half.

Two quick tries then followed for the Tricolours with in-form halves Luke Keary and Mitchell Pearce both involved before Michael Gordon slotted a penalty goal to give the Roosters a 14-0 lead at the break.

The loss of Sam Burgess due to a concussion ended up being one of the telling factors as Souths lost crucial go-forward in light of other forwards performing poorly.

Souths did start the second half strongly as debutant Sitiveni Moceidreke scored a try but the Roosters scored again later in the half through Daniel Tupou.

Despite execution not at its best, the 4-0 start is the Roosters best to a season in 21 years.

Not one to beat around the bush, Roosters coach Trent Robinson was tough on his side for a lack of execution.

“We were exceptional in ‘D’ and average in attack,” Robinson said post-game.

“We worked hard to defend what they were going to throw at us.

“They had lots of options and I thought we defended it well [but] we were in a rush in the second half to get our attack on when we needed to be a bit more patient, build it for five minutes. We wanted to defend on our line like that then try and score at the end of that set.”

With a lot of discussion recently about concussion and teams being fined for breaching the rules in place, the Bunnies followed the protocols and thus Sam Burgess did not return to the field.

“Sammy was obviously concussed there,” his coach Michael Maguire said after the game.

“The assessment was made. He came off after they assessed him and had an understanding of what went on [from] the sideline. We checked him again at half-time and the doctor basically came and said he won’t go back out so that was the call.”

Player of the Game:

3. Michael Gordon

2. Latrell Mitchell

  1. Luke Keary

Sydney Roosters 20 (Mitchell, Gordon, Tupou tries; Gordon 4 goals) defeated South Sydney Rabbitohs 6 (Moceidreke try; Reynolds goal) at ANZ Stadium. Half time: Roosters 14-0.