All posts by Callum Urquhart

Great Britain end their dreadful Oceania tour with a loss to Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea half Watson Boas

The final match of the 2019 Rugby League Calendar is here. Papua New Guinea Kumuls vs Great Britain Lions.

Both teams have not won a game this year and will want to end the season on a positive note.

Kickoff

From the very first kickoff, Luke Page took the hitup.

From this hitup, St George Illawarra Dragons forward, James Graham would go down and he left the field only 1 minute into the game.

15 minutes in, Great Britain clocked the first points onto the scoreboard.

On a spread to the left, Warrington Wolves half, Gareth Widdop threw a cutout to Hull FC back, Jake Connor.

Connor drew and passed to Warrington Wolves back, Blake Austin who dived over in the corner for first points.

Widdop’s conversion from the left sideline was shanked across the face and the lead remained 4-0.

England five-eighth Gareth Widdop

With less than 20 minutes left in the half, Great Britain were back inside the 10 metre line.

Josh Hodgson dummied left and ran through himself to score the GB Lions’ second unanswered try.

Widdop converted from the right side to make the lead 10-0.

With 10 minutes left in the half, it looked like Edene Gebbie had possibly scored PNG’s first try in the corner.

The video ref would deny him, however, because he was deemed to have grounded the ball on the touch in goal line.

The Great Britain Lions brought the ball out to the 20 metre line for the 7 tackle set.

As the buzzer went for half time, the Kumuls just got one last play the ball in time.

PNG player Edwin Ipape

Edwin Ipape faked to go down the short side and busted the defence on his own through the middle.

Ipape ran all the way to the endzone and planted the ball down to finish off his 63-metre effort from dummy half!

Kyle Laybutt converted from almost right in front to lower the deficit to 6-10.

Half Time

Papua New Guinea 6 – 10 Great Britain

6 minutes into the second half, PNG were 30 metres out on the 4th tackle.

Gebbie from dummy half put in a grubber through the line and there was no lions fullback at home.

Watson Boas raced through and got to the ball first for the try to level the scores.

Rhyse Martin split the sticks from the far left side to take the lead 12-10!

With less than half an hour left, PNG were inside the 10 metre line.

Laybutt put a kick through that ricocheted off of a Great Britain player.

Papua New Guinea utility back Justin Olam

The ricochet landed perfectly for Justin Olam to sprint into it and score the try!

Martin landed the conversion from the far left side to make the lead 18-10!

Only 3 minutes later, PNG were back inside the 10 and had a chance to keep the points flowing.

Boas put a kick through but it didn’t make it through the line.

On the ground, Boas picked it up and handed it off to South Sydney Rabbitohs utility back Alex Johnston who sprinted around the defence to score.

 

Martin missed the conversion so the lead remained 22-10.

With 15 minutes left in the game, PNG were at midfield on the last tackle.

England prop James Graham

Wartovo Puara gave it to Laybutt who bombed it for Jonny Lomax to catch.

Lomax knocked it on and Nixon Putt capitalised on it to score and make it a 3-score game.

Martin nailed the kick from the right side after hitting the post to make the lead 28-10.

Full Time

Papua New Guinea 28 – 10 Great Britain

PNG women pick up first ever international win over England

Here we are, the final day of the 2019 Rugby League season. To start, we have a women’s test match as the Papua New Guinea Orchids face the England Lionesses.

The women’s England beat Papua New Guinea last week 24-10 so Will England go 2-up over PNG or will PNG avenge last week’s loss?

Kickoff

From the very first set, Rhiannon Marshall busted the PNG defence up the middle only getting stopped 10 metres out.

The very next play, England went on the short side to Tara-Jane Stanley to get the first points of the test match.

Stanley missed the conversion so the score remained 4-0, 2 minutes in.

10 minutes later, PNG would give away two penalties for a high tackle, and then for holding down in the tackle.

Stanley kicked the penalty goal from right in front, 30 metres out to make the lead 6-0.

5 minutes later, England made an error, 30 metres out from their own line.

PNG capitalised on this field position as they spread it right  only for Carol Humeu to barge over.

Erswin Kaiat didn’t get enough power on the kick from the far right side and the deficit remained 4-6.

With 15 minutes left in the half, PNG had great field position again.

They had a massive overlap left and brought it that way to send Belinda Gwasamum over the stripe.

This try took the lead for the Orchids and Kaiat extended it by kicking the goal from the far left side and making the lead 10-6.

This score remained until half time.

Half Time

Papua New Guinea 10 – 6 England

Copying England from the first half, PNG scored points in the very first set of the second half.

After getting field position due to a penalty, Roswita Kapo barged over just to the left of the posts to make it a 2-score game!

Kaiat converted from almost right in front to make the lead 16-6.

Discipline really dropped in this half with constant errors and penalties.

20 minutes into the half, England started a spread to the left side where they had an overlaps.

Instead of passing, Emily Rudge powered over with three defenders on her back to score!

Stanley shanked the kick to the right so the deficit remained 16-10.

With 12 minutes left and a converted try the difference, England were 30 metres out and needed points soon.

From dummy half, Jodie Cunningham went short side to Georgia Roache who sent Naomi Williams flying into open space for a 30 metre run to the try line.

From the right sideline, Stanley nailed the conversion and levelled the scores at 16-all.

Both sides traded errors and it was an arm wrestle as to who was going to make the error to cost their team the game.

England knocked on 40 out from their own line and PNG had good field position with 90 seconds left.

30 metres out, Shirley Joe dummied through the line and beat the fullback to score herself to win the game for PNG.

Kaiat didn’t get the length on the kick but it didn’t matter as the Orchids were victorious for an historic win.

Full Time

Papua New Guinea 20 – 16 England

PNG have achieved their first ever women’s international victory.

They defeated England in an extremely physical affair which saw Joe score the buzzer beater!

England will be trying to improve for next year as the PNG team will end the season as winners.

Great Britain continue to struggle in their Oceania tour against the Kiwis

New Zealand halfback Kieran Foran

The second match of our triple header comes as part of Great Britain Lions’ Oceania tour.

They’ll be taking on the New Zealand Kiwis in New Zealand. This is the first of two clashes between the 2 sides with the next one next week in Christchurch.

The only late change is Brandon Smith has been dropped so Kodi Nikorima started at hooker.

Kickoff

We had some great free-flowing football with no errors in the first 5 minutes.

6 minutes into the game, Kieran Foran would go down with a shoulder injury.

The worst fears were confirmed; Foran suffered a dislocated shoulder and may face a lengthy stint on the sidelines.

A couple minutes later, the Kiwis opened the scoring with a penalty goal from the boot of the Brisbane Broncos winger, Jamayne Isaako.

10 minutes later, the Lions received a penalty close to the Kiwis line.

Warrington Wolves half, Gareth Widdop added the 2 points for the penalty goal to level the scores at 2-all.

English half Gareth Widdop

Completions were 100% at this points and they remained like this until the 25th minute, when Kenny Bromwich dropped it.

The rest of the half was filled with errors and penalties as we went into the break 2-all.

Half time

New Zealand 2 – 2 Great Britain

After a try-less first half, both teams would be looking for some better attack in the second stanza.

10 minutes in, we got exactly that with the Kiwis with possession, 5 metres inside their own half.

Warriors fullback, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck dummied through and went himself!

The fullback got to him but he threw a magical flick pass out the back to Jamayne Isaako who scored in the corner for the first try of the game.

New Zealand Kiwis fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

Isaako hooked the goal across the face so the lead remained 6-2.

On the very next set, 25m out on the last tackle, Nikorima gave it to Marshall to put the kick in.

It was a lacklustre kick but Sharks second rower Briton Nikora ran through and toed it along the ground for the try.

On video review, it was revealed that Nikora just knocked the ball on before his first kick. The game remained a 1 score game.

A few minutes later, Great Britain gave away a penalty which gave New Zealand great field position.

10 metres out, on the 4th tackle, they gave it to BulldogssSecond rower, Corey Harawira-Naera for the hitup.

He carried 4 defenders with him as he powered his legs for 10 metres to score the try.

The video ref confirmed it and they had a 10-2 lead.

New Zealand Kiwis back-rower Corey Harawira-Naera

Jamayne Isaako converted from just to the left to make the lead 12-2.

With 20 minutes left, we had our first flare-up of the game.

James Graham was in the thick of it but the penalty would go to Great Britain for a late shot on him which made tempers flare.

Just a minute later, tempers flared again but this time it was Raiders second rower John Bateman vs Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

The ref had a word with both captains and gave the warning of using the bin.

A few minutes later, Corey Harawira-Naera was taken off for a HIA.

With 10 minutes left, Great Britain received a penalty in great field position, only 5 metres out.

St Helens prop Alex Walmsley took the hit up, only for Briton Nikora to strip it in a 3-man tackle.

Nikora lost it and Warrington Wolves Hooker, Daryl Clark picked it up and went over for the try.

Great Britain hooker Daryl Clark

Gareth Widdop converted from the left side to lower the deficit to 12-8.

With less than 4 minutes left, Huddersfield Giants winger, Jermaine McGillvary dived over in the corner to level the scores and gave them a chance to win the game.

However, the video ref denied the try due to McGillvary dropping it in goal.

The kiwis held on for the rest of the game.

Full time

New Zealand 12 – 8 Great Britain

Great Britain lose their second out of two games in their Oceania tour.

They’re still in New Zealand to face the Kiwis again next week in Christchurch.

Will the Kiwis go 2-0 or will the Lions finally win a match on their tour?

Find out next week on Saturday Night, 8PM local time.

Fiji dominate Samoa in their Oceania Cup match

Fiji back-rower Viliame Kikau

We’re back with more offseason tests. To kick off the action today, Toa Samoa take on the Fiji Bati in the first match of our Eden Park triple header!

If Samoa win, they win division B of the Oceania Cup. They will be promoted to division A next year if this happens.

If Fiji win, it’s down to next week’s game between Fiji and PNG.

The only late change was that Bunty Afoa is benched and Dunamis Lui is starting lock. Kickoff was 2:20PM local time.

Kickoff

The game kicked off and Fiji’s first set ended with an error from Samoa. Another repeat set ended up with Joe Lovodua dummying and going from an offload to get first points within 7 minutes!

Brandon Wakeham converted from right in front to make the lead 6-0. Fiji went back-to-back on the next set as they scored through D’Rhys Miller.

Wakeham converted again, this time from the left sideline, for the 12-0 lead.

Fiji kept the points flowing with Vil Kikau and Joseph Ratuvakacereivalu crossing the stripe for tries.

Brandon Wakeham remained perfect off the boot for the 24-0 lead, 25 minutes in.

Samoa centre Tim Lafai

2 minutes later, Samoa finally got their first points through the Dragons centre, Tim Lafai.

Jarome Luai brought it left and held up the pass perfectly for Tim Lafai to dummy his way through. Lafai converted for the 24-6 scoreline.

With a few minutes left in the half, normal transmission resumed as the Panthers big second rower, Vil Kikau flew over for a double to get Fiji’s fifth try of the half.

Brandon Wakeham converted again for the 30-6 lead. The Fijians held onto this lead until the half time break hit.

Half time

Samoa 6 – 30 Fiji

To start the second half, Fiji gave away a penalty in the first set. In this penalty, Taane Milne would get the worst of a head clash and be taken off for a HIA.

10 minutes later, Manly Winger Jorge Taufua opened the second half scoring.

Jarome Luai brought it left and gave it to Tim Lafai who sucked in the winger and gave it to Taufua to score in the corner.

Samoan winger Jorge Taufua

Lafai hooked the conversion so the score remained 10-30.

Just following the kickoff, Jorge Taufua dropped it and handed Fiji great field position.

They spread it left and Braydon Wiliame threw a beauty of a flick pass to Isaac Lumelume to score.

Brandon Wakeham missed his first goal so the score remained 34-10.

10 minutes later, from just inside their own half, Fiji decided to spread it left.

An offload sent Brayden Wiliame into space. Wiliame went outside to Lumelume to beat the first defender and then it was sent back inside to Wiliame.

He then beat the last defender and was still able to score.

Fijian utility back Kevin Naiqama

Siti Moceidreke hit the post on the conversion so the lead remained 38-10.

In the following set, they punted it downfield but Ronaldo Mulitalo knocked it on.

From the scrum, they spread it right and Kevin Naiqama dummied and powered over himself for the 42-10 lead.

Siti Moceidreke converted from the right side for the 44-10 lead.

To finish the game, with less than 2 minutes left, Jorge Taufua crossed for the double for some constellation points.

Tim Lafai hooked the kick to keep the score 14-44 with less than a minute left.

The scoring didn’t stop though, as Jorge Taufua offloaded to Ronaldo Mulitalo who kicked for himself and scored on the buzzer.

Tim Lafai missed again so the full time score to 18-44.

Full time

Samoa 18 – 44 Fiji

Fiji have won their first game of the 2019 Oceania Cup and Samoa have finished their campaign with one win and one loss.

Next week, Fiji take on PNG in the match to decide who is promoted to Division A.

If Fiji win, they earn promotion. If PNG win by 45 or more, they qualify for Division A.

However, If PNG win by 44 or less, Fiji qualify as well.

Tonga stun the Lions in the first game of their Oceania tour

Great Britain are heading south for a tour of Oceania and it started last night. Tonga vs Great Britain at Waikato Stadium in New Zealand.

Kickoff

To start the game, the kickoff went out on the full off the boot of Tuimoala Lolohea!

We had some great free-flowing international footy in this game.

Both sides had chances but the defence of Mate Ma’a Tonga and the Great Britain Lions held up strong for a long time.

We had everything from big hits to linebreaks to great second phase footy in our nil-all period which lasted half an hour!

30 minutes in, on the last tackle, Sione Katoa stepped around from dummyhalf and put a grubber through which was toed backwards by the Lions.

Lachlan Coote took heavy contact when he recovered the ball and he knocked on.

Tui Lolohea picked it up and gave it John Asiata who passed to Michael Jennings to get first points in the game! Sio Siua Taukeiaho converted for the 6-0 lead!

On the buzzer, Tonga had the ball, 30 metres out.

Refusing to let it die, they kept it alive and kept the second phase going until Will Hopoate went to the sideline and offloaded inside to Michael Jennings.

Jennings put a kick through and Sione Katoa got to it to extend the lead!

Sio Siua Taukeiaho converted from the left sideline to make the lead 12-0!

Half Time

Tonga 12 – 0 Great Britain

6 minutes into the second half, Great Britain were sent to the bunker for the first time.

They would be denied the try as David Fusitu’a got the ball to ground before any Great Britain chasers could get to it.

Following this, we went almost 20 minutes without any scoring before the Lions gave away a penalty after which, Sio Siua Taukeiaho kicked the penalty goal to make the lead 14-0!

England back-rower John Bateman

With 10 minutes left on the clock, John Bateman powered his way over for the Great Britain Lions’ first points of the game!

Gareth Widdop added the 2 for the 14-6 scoreline. Tonga held on for the rest of the game with the 14-6 score.

Full Time

Tonga 14 – 6 Great Britain

Tonga have come out and out on a great performance against one of the world’s best.

Great Britain lose the first game of their tour. Tonga win their first end of season test.

Great Britain will continue their tour against the New Zealand Kiwis next week.

Tonga will play the final Oceania Cup game against the Australia Kangaroos next week.

2019 Grand Final day preview

Newtown Jets player Scott Sorenson in first-grade

We now kno who will play who in each game on 2019 grand final day.

The day will mark the end of all regular season club games for the main Australian competitions and this will take place live and free on channel 9.

INTRUST SUPER CHAMPIONSHIP

NEWTOWN JETS VS BURLEIGH BEARS

To kick off the day in Sydney, the Intrust Super Championship game will see the Newtown Jets take on the Burleigh Bears.

The Bears finished the Intrust Super Cup regular season 3rd on the ladder with 17 wins and 6 losses.

They had to beat the Wynnum Manly Seagulls and the Sunshine Coast Falcons to qualify for the Grand Final.

Triumphant in the ISC grand final, the Burleigh Bears defeated the Wynnum Manly Seagulls 28-10 to qualify for the championship game.

On the other hand, the Newtown Jets finished 7th on the ladder in the Canterbury cup with 11 wins, 1 draw and 10 losses.

Newtown Jets fullback Will Kennedy

Even though they were heavy outsiders, they would go on a magical run through the finals.

This started off with a 44-20 win over the Mount Pritchard Mounties.

The following week, they defeated the 3rd place Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs with a late try to advance to the prelims.

In the preliminary final, they defeated the minor premiers, the St George Illawarra Dragons, to advance to the grand final.

The clash against the Wentworthville Magpies was an epic.

After the culmination of 80 minutes, we didn’t have a winner. 14-all with 10 minutes of extra time to play.

2019 Intrust Super Cup winners Burleigh

The Magpies took the early lead with a field goal but William Kennedy would score the game winning try in extra time.

Will the Newtown Jets continue their underdog run through the finals?

Will the Burleigh Bears be the first QLD team to win the championship since 2015?

HOLDEN WOMENS PREMIERSHIP

BRISBANE BRONCOS VS ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS

Following the Intrust Super Championship, the second Holden Women’s Championship winner will be decided.

The Brisbane Broncos have been the powerhouse of the NRLW since its conception.

They proved this earlier in the year by defeating the St George Illawarra Dragons In Round 1, 14-4.

Following this was a 20-0 win over the Sydney Roosters in round 2 but they would suffer their first ever loss in round 3.

Brisbane Broncos women’s team

This was a 10-8 loss to the New Zealand Warriors. These results were enough to get the Broncos the minor premiership.

The St George Illawarra Dragons on the other hand, came into this season with the wooden spoon of the previous season to their name.

Even with this, they came into the season as premiership favourites.

They started the season in round 1 with the Broncos leaving a 14-4 dent in their premiership favourite hopes.

However, they turned this around with a 26-6 win over the New Zealand Warriors and a 24-16 win over the Sydney Roosters.

This got them into second position on the ladder by for and against points.

St George Illawarra women’s team

Will the defending premiers and minor premiers of the Brisbane Broncos emulate the men of 1992 and 1993 and go back-to-back?

Will the Dragons make good of the preseason premiership hopes?

TELSTRA PREMIERSHIP

SYDNEY ROOSTERS VS CANBERRA RAIDERS

The main event of the day, the Telstra Premiership grand final.

The Sydney Roosters host the Canberra Raiders in a must-see clash to decide the 112th Telstra Premiership winner.

The Sydney Roosters came into the season as heavy favourites to go back-to-back to win the premiership.

They proved that this could very well come true in the regular season as they finished 2nd on the ladder with 17 wins and 7 losses.

In the first qualifying final, they laid on an attacking masterclass against the 3rd place South Sydney Rabbitohs at the SCG.

2018 premiers Sydney Roosters

They ran away with the 30-6 win to earn a bye and a ticket to the preliminary finals.

In the preliminary finals, they matched up with the minor premiers, the Melbourne Storm at the SCG.

Though it wasn’t as high-scoring as the qualifying final, they showed their defensive capabilities for a 14-6 win to earn a spot in the grand final.

The Canberra Raiders came into the season with many people having them in the bottom 8.

Not many people will have expected the resurgence of the former powerhouse we had in the 80s and 90s in the days of Ricky Stuart and Laurie Daley.

They proved the doubters wrong and finished 4th on the ladder with 15 wins and 9 losses.

Canberra Raiders’ players

In the second qualifying final, they faced the 1st placed Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park.

A late game winning try from John Bateman gave them a bye and a home preliminary final.

In the preliminary, they proved to be as tough as a brick wall defensively to win 16-10 and book a spot in the grand final.

Will the Sydney Roosters be the first team to go back-to-back since the 1992 and 1993 Brisbane Broncos?

Will the Canberra Raiders win their first premiership since 1994?

All of our questions will be answered live and free on Channel 9 on Sunday.

Shane Flanagan to the St George Illawarra Dragons

Former Cronulla Sharks coach Shane Flanagan

In 2013, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) launched an investigation into the Sharks supplements program.

The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks used this program during the 2011 season.

At the time, the head coach was Shane Flanagan and he was the one who lead the program.

The NRL caught the Sharks using illicit substances during this program and subsequently handed many players and staff members lengthy bans.

It was not until 2018 that the NRL found out that Shane Flanagan had sent over 50 emails to the Sharks management.

The ban strictly prohibited this.

Due to these emails, the NRL de-registered Shane Flanagan from coaching in the NRL.

John Morris would take over as the Sharks head coach in 2019 as Flanagan fought to be able to coach again.

This was successful as after the 2019 season, the NRL re-instated Flanagan into coaching in the NRL.

St George Illawarra Dragons coach Paul McGregor

This was with a clause that Flanagan can not be a head coach until 2022.

Flanagan has been signed by the St George Illawarra Dragons to be the assistant coach to Paul McGregor.

Many different news sites reported this throughout the week as well as NRL 360 on Monday night.

Buzz Rothfield said that this signing was due to Phil Gould’s assessment and report on the Dragons.

Will Shane Flanagan help lead to the Dragons to a top 8 finish?

Maybe even a premiership? We will see next year.

Roosters hold off Storm to make NRL grand final

Sydney Roosters centre Latrell Mitchell

Roosters vs Storm. The grand final rematch in the grand final qualifier. Minor premiers vs defending premiers.

One team will go on to the big dance and one will go home. The Storm got the better of the Roosters in their most recent meeting but this time, it’s at the SCG, the Roosters stomping ground.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves suspended and Suliasi Vunivalu injured. Kenny Bromwich plays his 150th NRL game and Cooper Cronk playing for his career.

KICKOFF

The game started in unique fashion as Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Sio Siua Taukeiaho were both sin binned for slapping each other after the first tackle!

From this, Latrell Mitchell would open the scoring with a penalty goal for a 2-0 lead after 1 minute.

Both teams would have attacking opportunities but the Roosters would get the first try after 15 minutes.

Daniel Tupou caught a high bomb above his head in the in-goal area.

Three Storm players almost held him up for the handover but Tupou got the offload out the back for Cordner to score.

Sydney Roosters winger Daniel Tupou

Latrell Mitchell sliced the kick so the score remained 6-0 after 15 minutes.

Both teams would keep having attacking opportunities but no one would crack.

With 5 minutes left in the half, Jahrome Hughes would be caught offside so Mitchell would kick the penalty goal.

The Roosters lead 8-0 with 5 minutes left until half time. The Roosters would hold on to this lead until the half.

Sydney Roosters back-rower Boyd Cordner

HALF TIME

ROOSTERS 8 – 0 STORM

Early in the second half, Zane Tetevano was put on report for a dangerous tackle on Ryan Papenhuyzen.

10 minutes later, Storm would finally crack the defence.

After a lot of great field position, an under ball to Nelson Asofa-Solomona would see the mammoth of a man reach out to give Melbourne their first points.

Cameron Smith converted for the 8-6 scoreline.

Melbourne Storm back-rower Kenny Bromwich

With 25 minutes left, Mitch Aubusson would go down with a nasty head clash with Kenny Bromwich’s hip. He failed the HIA.

15 minutes later, James Tedesco would go over on the right side to get the Roosters a 6 point lead.

Mitchell converted for the 14-6 score but in the try, Bromwich accidentally headbutted Ryan Papenhuyzen in the chin.

He would go off with his jaw bleeding. Roosters held on to win it.

Melbourne Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen

FULL TIME

ROOSTERS 14 – 6 Storm

The Melbourne Storm’s 2019 season is over with that win and for the first time in 4 years, the minor premiers are not in the grand final.

The Sydney Roosters will head to ANZ stadium next week to play against the Canberra Raiders.

Will the Green Machine break their 25-year drought or will the Chooks be the first team to go back-to-back since the 1992 and 1993 Broncos?

We will find out in 8 days.

Mass changes in Brisbane?

Brisbane Broncos utility back Anthony Milford

The Brisbane Broncos season ended horribly with a 58-0 loss to the Parramatta Eels in the elimination finals.  

Mass changes have taken over Red Hill during the offseason in an attempt to repair their broken 2019.

New signings

One change that looks set in stone is Brodie Croft heading north to Brisbane.

On Thursday Morning, Croft and Anthony Seibold (Brisbane Broncos coach) met up for about an hour at a cafe on Stanley Street in Sydney.

A picture of Anthony Seibold and Brodie Croft leaving the cafe backs this up.

“Brodie Croft is Brisbane’s number one recruitment target for next season” James Hooper said as he reported on the meeting during NRL 360.

According to Hooper, the Broncos only have approximately $100k remaining in their salary cap for the 2020 season.

Potential new Bronco Brodie Croft

“If they do some shifting of players, then things could free up”, Hooper said.

Suggestions that Croft would be leaving the Melbourne Storm arised after the storm dropped him from the side after their 18-22 loss to the Canberra Raiders.

This change made way for Ryan Papenhuyzen to get into the starting side.

Who will make way?

The Broncos told Jack Bird that he is free to negotiate with other clubs.

James Hooper reported earlier in the week that there is little to no appetite for him.

The Broncos may have to look at other options to make space. According to Hooper, these options are Matt Gillett and Alex Glenn.

Brisbane Broncos back-rower Matt Gillett

Reportedly,the Broncos told Matt Gillett that he will start on the bench in 2020.

This has people believing that he has not taken this well and may want to look around for another club.

Alex Glenn seems a much more viable option though.

The Penrith Panthers are showing interest in the Broncos veteran.

This is most likely due to a lack of money.

“He’s had his current contract for this season essentially cut in half if he wants to stay at the Broncos”, Hooper said.

Captaincy, a controversial choice?

Another major change is reportedly set to be made.

The Broncos will reportedly hand down the captaincy from Darius Boyd to Matt Lodge and Patrick Carrigan.

Brisbane Broncos prop Matt Lodge

This was reported by Peter Badel earlier in the week and again by NRL 360 on Thursday night.

This is possibly due to a psychology test conducted by the Broncos where Matt Lodge and Patrick Carrigan scored the highest.

Conclusion

All in all, the Broncos appeared to have recognised that the problem in 2019 was leadership.

They are attacking this by trying to buy Brodie Croft and give the captaincy to Matt Lodge and Patrick Carrigan.

Will these changes turn around the Broncos and return them to the powerhouse they formerly were, or give them another horror season in 2020?

Only the future will tell.

Raiders make first grand final in 25 years with win over Rabbitohs

Canberra Raiders forward Josh Papalii

Both the Canberra Raiders and South Sydney Rabbitohs went into this game playing for their season and a spot in the grand final.

We have John Sutton playing for his career and Elliott Whitehead and Damien Cook playing their 100th NRL games.

All in all, there is a lot riding on this game. That is probably why this is the biggest home crowd the Raiders have ever had.

Kickoff

It took 15 minutes for first points in the game. The master of the strip, Josh Hodgson, executes it perfectly 20 metres out.

A few tackles later, Hodgson laid a kick into the in goal from an offload from Elliott Whitehead.

The late replacement for James Roberts, Corey Allan cleaned this up but lost it in his own in goal and Jarrod Croker jumped on it for the 6-0 lead.

5 minutes after the try, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad was held too long by the defence and the Raiders elected to take the 2. J

Croker hooked the penalty goal to the right for the 20m dropout. The score remained 6-0 after one quarter of the game.

A bit later, Souths would get a scrum in great field position and Cody Walker looked certain to score but for a wonderful try-saving strip by Josh Hodgson!

Canberra Raiders hooker Josh Hodgson

However, this would be nullified by Souths 2 minutes later when Dane Gagai went over near the right sideline from a scrum after a John Bateman knock on.

Adam Reynolds converted for 6-all scoreline after half an hour.

Hulking Rabbitohs prop Tevita Tatola would crash over the line.

He would be denied by the bunker because three Raiders would stopped him short for the handover.

We went into the half-time break at 6-all.

HALF TIME

RAIDERS 6 – 6 RABBITOHS

The second half kicked off and the Raiders started quickly and brilliantly.

Wighton bombed it on last for Nicoll-Klokstad to bat it backwards.

The in-form custodian would recover it and lose the ball but managed to get a foot to it before it hit the ground.

He would miraculously recover this kick and go over in the left corner to score.

Croker hit the post on the conversion so the scores remained 10-6 to the Raiders after 45 minutes.

Canberra Raiders centre and captain Jarrod Croker

5 minutes later, from a grubber return, Adam Doueihi was hit high by Josh Papalii.

As the contact was with the shoulder, Papalii was put on report for the high tackle. The Souths doctors took Doueihi off the field for a HIA test.

Straight after, Sam Burgess went high on Croker. In this contact, Burgess hurt his bicep and they took him off the field.

Both Doueihi and Burgess would return with 15 minutes to play.

With 15 minutes left, Joey Leilua would succumb to a left leg injury and would come off the field.

A few minutes later, Wighton went down clutching his right shoulder but would tough it out and stay on the field.

South Sydney Rabbitohs halfback Adam Reynolds

On the next tackle, Reynolds would intercept it and run 60 metres before Nicoll-Klokstad stopped him.

Nicoll-Klokstad gave away a penalty on the tackle following the break and the refs sent him to the sin bin.

With 6 minutes left and Nicoll-Klokstad watching on from the sin bin, Papalii beat 4 tackled to barge over under the posts!

Croker converted from directly in front to make the lead 16-6 with 5 minutes left.

As we ticked into the final minute, Campbell Graham went over to give the Rabbitohs one last chance.

South Sydney Rabbitohs forward Sam Burgess

Reynolds hooked the goal from close to the left sideline which meant the Rabbitohs were down 16-10 with 1 play to win it. The Raiders held on to win the game!

FULL TIME

RAIDERS 16 – 10 RABBITOHS

The Rabbitohs 2019 season is over, John Sutton’s career is over and George Burgess is off to England.

On a more positive note, the Canberra Raiders have held on to make their first grand final in 25 years!

Who will meet the Raiders next week at ANZ stadium? We will find out tomorrow night.