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Penrith Panthers get past determined Tigers outfit

Penrith Panthers half Jarome Luai

The Penrith Panthers were able to grind out a hard-fought 19-12 win against a fired up Wests Tigers at Bankwest Stadium.

High shots from Luke Garner and BJ Leilua putting a dampener on a nail-biting game to finish up the match.

The Panthers had the opportunity to move up to second with a win, while the Tigers needed a win to guarantee another week in the top eight.

It would be the Panthers with the first blow.

Viliame Kikau landing a huge hit to force a Tigers error just 10 seconds in.

Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai then combined to send Stephen Crichton over after just two minutes.

Cleary had his kicking boots on Saturday, sinking his first attempt for an early 6-0 lead.

The Tigers held on with some astute defense, despite the Panthers continuously attacking the goal line.

Matt Eisenhuth capitalized on the fortuitous scoreline for the Tigers, charging over from close range to score after 28 minutes.

A knock to Moses Mbye saw Adam Doueihi kicking, with the fullback sinking the first attempt to tie it at 6-6.

The Tigers piled on the pressure, with Reynolds forcing an error to scamper up field and put his side in great position.

Two plays later, a quick tap-on from Mbye sent Tommy Talau over for his third try in two weeks.

Doueihi missed his conversion attempt, with the score walking into half-time at 10-6.

It would be a repeat start for the Panthers in the second half, as a cheeky grubber kick saw Crichton dive over for his second try.

Cleary made no mistake, curling his attempt over the black dot to make it 12-10.

Twelve minutes later, a high shot from Api Koroisau on Luciano Leilua saw sparks fly.

Joey Leilua, rattled by his brother being taken off, sparked a bit of a shoving match with Koroisau as he tried to apologize.

That seemed to liven up the game, with both teams laying down some huge hits over the final twenty minutes.

Nathan Cleary kicked a field goal from 25 metres out to give Penrith a 13-12 lead with eight minutes left.

Api Koroisau then scampered through the Tigers defensive line to set up Dylan Edwards to finish the scoring for the Panthers.

Cleary finished his good night with the boot, converting for what was the 19-12 win.

The action was not done there though, with BJ Leilua sent to the sin bin for a dog shot on Dylan Edwards with two minutes left in the game.

Luke Garner then collected Edwards with the last play of the game, sparking an all in scrum that was put on report.

The win saw Penrith temporarily jump into second, with the Tigers sitting in eighth pending results this weekend.

Both teams are back at Bankwest next week, with the Tigers against the Rabbitohs while Penrith take on Cronulla.

Although Panthers coach Ivan Cleary was disappointed with certain incidents in the game, he did enjoy the physical contest.

“We want to play by the rules and I thought we handled ourselves in some fiery exchanges pretty well,” Cleary said.

“There were a couple of disappointing incidents but it was a tough game, both sides put a lot into it.”

Some costly errors by Leilua are not acceptable in Michael Maguire’s book and the Tigers coach said he will talk to his centre.

“He was emotional and he gave away penalties, you just can’t do that,” Maguire said.

“He is aware of it. He has been around long enough. He knows what he has to do. I will talk to Joey.”

NRL News Player of the Game 

3. Jarome Luai

2. Matt Eisenhuth

1. Stephen Crichton

Hulking Wests Tigers forward Matthew Eisenhuth

Dragons spine sinks the Titans

St George Illawarra Dragons fullback Matt Dufty

The St George Illawarra Dragons have outclassed an injury-hit Titans side to win back-to-back games for the first time this season. 

In what had been, by some, billed as the battle of the wooden spoon, the Dragons put themselves two points clear of the Gold Coast Titans with a comfortable (20-8) win.

The spine of the Dragons looked the goods in the greasy conditions, while the Titans lost three players during the game.

The Titans took an early penalty goal after Ash Taylor was taken out late, just two minutes into the game.

That would  be it for the Titans on attack, as the Dragons controlled the next 78 minutes of the game.

Matt Dufty nearly went screaming through the line shortly afterwards off a seven-tackle restart, just being dragged back.

Dufty would set Zac Lomax up for the opening try; a beautiful cut out pass sending Lomax straight through untouched after 18 minutes.

Lomax continued his superb start to the season from the kicking tee, converting to make it 6-2.

Mikaele Ravalawa had a mixed day with his hands, but sealed his contract extension this week with a try in the right corner.

Corey Norman created it with a beautiful looping cut-out pass to Ravalawa, with Lomax converting for a 12-2 lead.

Arguably, the Dragons should have been up further, but errors inside the red zone kept the Titans sniffing around.

A penalty goal to Lomax on halftime saw the Dragons go into the sheds at 14-2.

The second half was a drag for both sides, with handling errors continuing to plague both sides.

The Titans lost Corey Thompson to concussion symptoms, despite passing a HIA earlier in the first half.

Injuries to Young Tonumaipea and Phillip Sami did not help the cause for the Titans, with a major reshuffle on the edges required.

The Dragons initially took advantage with that a great left side play from Adam Clune, sending Jordan Pereira over in the corner.

Lomax kicked the conversion from right on the left sideline to create what would be an unassailable 20-2 lead with 28 minutes left.

The next 26 minutes would be clunky in offence for both sides, with red zone errors becoming the norm.

Ravalawa could have had three tries, however some errant passing and sloppy hand cost him and the Dragons.

A late consolation try to Tanah Boyd would give the Titans the smallest of chances, however the Dragons held firm to run out 20-8 winners.

It leaves Mary McGregor with a little bit of job security after his ultimatum two weeks ago.

Justin Holbrook’s side, albeit injury hit, were able to hold themselves in the game for the full 80.

The Titans will follow up next week against Brisbane, while the Dragons must take on a red hot Sydney Roosters.

NRL News Player of the Year 

3. Matthew Dufty

2. Zac Lomax

  1. Adam Clune
St George Illawarra Dragons centre Zac Lomax

Mighty Melbourne Storm outclass noble Newcastle Knights

Melbourne Storm captain and hooker Cameron Smith









Two premiership contenders fought a tough battle at Central Coast Stadium, with the Melbourne Storm proving too strong in the final minutes to defeat the Newcastle Knights 26-12.

Melbourne were coming off a comprehensive win against South Sydney last week.

Meanwhile,  the Knights announced themselves as premiership contenders with a win against the Canberra Raiders.

Melbourne were without Jahrome Hughes, as Ryley Jacks came in at halfback for the first time this year.

It would be the Canadian international who opened the scoring after five minutes.

Jacks would capitalize off an opportunistic grubber in-field from Josh Addo-Carr.

Addo-Carr’s kick caught the Newcastle defense ball-watching in the in goal to score his first of the year.

A successful conversion from Cameron Smith would see the score move to 6-0 after as many minutes.

The next twenty minutes would be a grind for both sides, with Newcastle holding stout as the Storm peppered the goal line with repeat sets.

A rare attacking chance for the Knights in the 20th minute saw Ponga go through the defensive line of the Storm.

Only some resolute defence from Ryan Papenhuyzen was able to stop the Knights fullback millimetres out.

Cameron Smith played an outstanding game, setting up the next two tries.

First with a beautiful long ball from dummy half to Suliasi Vunivalu, who beat three Knights to get the ball down in the right hand corner.

A Smith conversion sent the Storm up 12-0, with the Knights reeling in defense.

Ten minutes later, Smith sent Tino Faasuamaleaui over from close range just left of the posts to further put the sword into the Knights defense.

Smith converted the try he set up to make it 18-0, as a penalty goal from Kalyn Ponga right on half time sent the game into the break at 18-2.

Melbourne kept steady in all aspects for the first ten minutes.

However ,a gift error from Suliasi Vunivalu gave the Knights a golden opportunity to which they took full advantage of.

A Kurt Mann grubber saw Bradman Best score his 5th try this season.

Kalyn Ponga misses the conversion from out wide to keep the score at 18-6.

The Knights had fans on the edge of their seats six minutes later.

Some great lead up play from Mitchell Pearce, Kalyn Ponga and Bradman Best saw Edrick Lee score in the left hand corner.

Ponga drilled the conversion attempt, setting up a tantalizing twenty minutes with the score at 18-12.

That would be as close as the Knights got, with Kalyn Ponga bombing a certain try by ignoring a 4-on-1 opportunity just minutes later.

Melbourne took advantage of that with a penalty goal after David Klemmer took out Dale Finucane right in front.

At 20-12 and with minutes left, the Knights could not muster up the grit to find a break.

Brandon Smith would live up to his nickname and burrow his way over from close range to put the game to bed for Melbourne.

Cameron Smith would keep his perfect kicking record, converting the final shot at goal as Melbourne ran away 26-12 winners on the Central Coast.

With three games left in round 5, the Knights give the Parramatta Eels a little breathing space at the top of the table.

Melbourne, conversely close the gap to the Eels, keeping the pressure on at the top of the table.

NRL News Player of the Game

3. Cameron Smith (MEL)

2. Dale Finucane (MEL)

  1. Tim Glasby (NEW)
Melbourne Storm lock Dale Finucane