All posts by rcurran

Warriors admirable season cruelled as Sharks lock in a finals berth

Cronulla Sharks forward Siosifa Talakai

The Cronulla Sharks big men have led the way to another finals berth with a late try to the revelatory Toby Rudolf stealing the game from the resilient New Zealand Warriors in a 22-14 nail-biter.

Both teams were coming in to this match still not guaranteed a position in the Top Eight and – with only two rounds to follow – all bets were off.

For the Sharks, they needed to get their season back on track after a humiliating shellacking from Newcastle in the previous round. For the Warriors it was simple mathematics – they must win.

Again, both teams had their fair share of possession in the opening exchanges before Sione Katoa opened the scoring in the 12th minutes.

The try was assisted ably by the former Warrior Shaun Johnson with an oh-so-perfect long-range grubber.

The magic of SJ was on display, as the mercurial half went about dismantling his old colleagues.

Despite the handling errors of each team (10 errors a-piece in total), the Sharks were again able to find the line 18 minutes later through another Shaun Johnson kick to go up by two scores.

But, as they’ve shown have shown all year, the Warriors refused to lie down and hit back almost immediately through some brilliance from their evergreen captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

He laid on a sweet offload for a rampaging Jack Murchie.

The score would remain 12-6 heading into the sheds with the game very much in the balance and it was certainly game on when the Warriors scored first points in the second half.

Recently re-signed centre Peta Hiku repaid the faith, showing off his strength and silky hands to give Adam Pompey a clear run at the sideline.

Despite the unfavourable sideline position, young gun Chanel Harris-Tevita was able to slot the conversion, locking the game up at 12-12 with half an hour to play.

The Warriors would then take the lead with a long-range penalty goal before digging in for the rest of the game.

It looked like the Warriors would be able to keep their finals hopes alive, absorbing wave after wave of attack from the Sharks big men, before a determined Toby Rudolf run broke their hearts in the 73rd minute.

A late try to Ronaldo Mulitalo rubbed further salt in the wound and sealed a finals spot for the Sharks with two rounds left to go, ending the dreams of four other teams (Tigers, Manly, Titans and Warriors) in one fell swoop.

Score

Cronulla Sharks 22 (Katoa, Rudolf, Mulitalo 2) def New Zealand Warriors 14 (Murchie, Pompey)

Conversions

Shaun Johnson 2/4

Chanel Harris-Tevita 2/2

Penalty Goals

Shaun Johnson 1/1

Chanel Harris Tevita 1/1

NRL News Player of the Match

3 Points – Siosifa Talakai

2 Points – Shaun Johnson

1 Point – Toby Rudolf

Cronulla Sharks half Shaun Johnson

Tedesco outshines returning star and Papalii injured as the Roosters hold off Raiders

Sydney Roosters fullback James Tedesco

The Sydney Roosters have welcomed back Sonny Bill Williams in style, downing the Canberra Raiders in a comprehensive 18-6 victory.

It took until the last quarter of the game but Rugby League fans worldwide finally were able to witness the return of the great SBW to the National Rugby League after six years in the international wilderness of the 15-man game.

But it was the Roosters number one that lit up the nation’s capital on Saturday night, with the current King of Bondi, James Tedesco proving why he’s the first name picked each week and each Origin.

Tedesco would open the scoring in just the fifth minute with a now expected unstoppable run at the line, after (rightfully) deciding he should go himself.

The results speak for the themselves.

While alarm bells must have been ringing for last year’s runner-ups, Ricky Stuart’s men started hitting back immediately and gained the upper hand in the following five minutes of play.

Their roll culminated with an outstanding piece of individual brilliance from the sadly departing John Bateman.

He chased his own grubber to plant the ball down and bring the Raiders right back in to the game.

The Raiders, and the NRL, are losing a talent.

The match remained in the balance at half-time, despite a leaping Daniel Tupou providing Easts with a handy four-point lead.

Josh Papalii left the field with an AC joint injury and didn’t return, which should surely send a shiver down Ricky’s spine.

A frenetic first half with the promise of more to come and the return of SBW.

This was a grand final rematch that had you on the edge of your seat.

Surprisingly, it was a 42 metre penalty goal from Kyle Flanagan that resulted in the first points of the second half – after fourteen minutes.

Luke Keary was almost nowhere to be seen in his returning game up to this point.

Sonny Bill would finally enter the field in the 58th minute to rapturous boos from the Canberra faithful.

The 35-year-old professional looked every bit a player who has barely played Rugby League in six years.

It was only minutes after the frantic first touches of SBW that Tedesco regathered his own grubber to storm home for try number two.

Up by two converted tries, with less than 20 minutes remaining, few teams are able to claw back a victory from the resilient Sydney Roosters.

True to form, their defense was impeccable, shrugging off the best efforts of a Raiders team that seemed closer to the answers 12 months ago.

The Roosters record their 12th win of the season and temporarily move to third on the ladder, pending the results of the Warriors and Eels game tomorrow afternoon.

Canberra, meanwhile, will go back to the drawing board as they remain on fifth, two points adrift of the top four and only three games remaining in the regular season.

As for Sonny Bill, the great man managed four runs and six tackles in 14 minutes before limping off with about eight minutes left to run in the game.

Cobwebs dusted, you’ll get ’em next time big fella.

Score

Sydney Roosters 18 (Tupou, Tedesco 2) def Canberra Raiders 6 (Bateman)

Conversions

Jarrod Croker 1/1

Kyle Flanagan 2/3

Penalty Goals

Kyle Flanagan 1/1

NRL News Player of the Match

3 Points – James Tedesco

2 Points – Siosiua Taukeiaho

1 Point –  Freddy Lussick

Sydney Roosters forward Sio Siua Taukeiaho

Seve’s season severed as Storm seal Manly’s semi-final struggle

Melbourne Storm hooker and captain Cameron Smith

A ruthless Melbourne Storm have welcomed back a host of stars in a match that the Manly Sea Eagles never threatened to control, emerging 30-6 winners.

The victory has come at a cost, with centre Marion Seve suffering a suspected ACL injury in a regular hit up early in the game.

The loss was softened somewhat by the fair debut of Isaac Lumelume, who was a late inclusion at the expense of Brenko Lee, and the hat-trick heroics of PNG sensation Justin Olam.

Melbourne came in to this game off the back of a 14-0 loss to Parramatta.

Regardless of key absences, few sides keep Melbourne to nil and it was surely a point of bruised ego for the disciplined Bellamy outfit.

With aforementioned stars returning, Manly would have to find an extra gear, reeling from a month in which they had lost the four games leading to this match-up.

This fifth loss will surely have coach Des Hasler sweating on the fitness of star Tom Trbojevic, who statistically raises their win rate astronomically with his presence alone.

It wasn’t long before Melbourne hit the lead, with super-sub Nicho Hynes called in earlier than expected and delivering a peach of a pass to Justin Olam for his first try.

Manly mounted a brief fightback with two big men combining.

Marty Taupau showing some of the silky skills he brings to front row, giving a beautiful short pass to the revelatory Addin Fonua-Blake for his third try of the season.

The Manly celebrations were short-lived though,  with returning

Captain Cameron again proving why he is still the hottest property on the market at 37 with an inch-perfect 60 metre kick that saw Josh Addo-Carr sprint in for his first of two tries.

From there, it seemed there was nothing the hapless Manly Sea Eagles could do to stop the rampaging Storm on their way to securing second place on the ladder.

Hulking prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona crashing over less than five minutes later.

The second half would see Olam plant the ball over the line twice more to put the game far beyond reach, condemning Manly to another season without playing finals football.

Addo-Carr would rub it in with this length-of-the-field effort from the Storm in the dying minutes of the game.

Score

Melbourne Storm 30 (Olam 3, Addo-Carr 2, Asofa-Solomona) def Manly Sea Eagles 6 (Fonua-Blake)

Conversions

Cameron Smith 3/6

Reuben Garrick 1/1

NRL News Player of the Match

3 Points – Cameron Smith

2 Points – Justin Olam

1 Point – Josh Addo-Carr

Melbourne Storm centre Justin Olam

ACL fears for Green and Taumalolo hobbled as Cowboys go down against Knights in dour affair

Newcastle Knights utility Kurt Mann

An underwhelming Newcastle Knights performance has managed to eke out a victory over the beleaguered North Queensland Cowboys who now slump to their eighth loss in a row.

The Cowboys last win coincidentally came against the Newcastle Knights where the 12 point margin was reversed.

The victory is the third in a row for the Knights who now look comfortably placed for their first finals berth since 2013, sitting seven points clear of the perennially ninth-placed Wests Tigers.

However, the victory has come at a cost for the Hooker hampered Knights.

It appears as though mid-season recruit Blake Green has played his last game of the season for the Newcastle Knights (and possibly career) after just three appearances, leaving the field in the 18th minute with a likely torn ACL.

The injury forced the mercurial Kurt Mann in to his preferred position of Five-Eighth while Phoenix Crossland came off the bench to play big minutes at Hooker.

With the season likely over for Green, Coach O’Brien will once again have big decisions to make for the number nine jersey.

After going up early with a Hymel Hunt putdown, the Knights appeared unable to turn good possession and field position in to points, with Pearce alternating between uninspired bombs or flat-out mistakes.

The forward pack was outstanding though, with David Klemmer leading the way – making 32 tackles and 246 metres in 23 runs over 58 minutes.

Mitch Barnett and Jacob Saifiti filling in for his injured twin also had strong performances.

The lack of execution meant the only other points accrued in the first half were acquired through a 29th minute penalty goal to Kalyn Ponga.

The Knights went in to the break only 8-0 up despite a glut of possession.

The second half commenced in similar fashion to the first, except for Mitchell Pearce remaining in the sheds, sin-binned in the final seconds of the first half for a professional foul (offside tackle).

Still, Newcastle were able to roll forward on the back of a rumbling pack and give the Knights an opportunity for points.

However, it was the Cowboys defense that kept the game to a very tight scoreline despite the onslaught and a sin-binning of their own for Mitchell Dunn.

There was a momentary glimpse of hope when Cowboys go-to man Jason Taumalolo returned to the field from his breather.

His second stint would prove painfully brief – the big man hobbling off with a suspected calf tear only minutes in to his return.

Jake Granville worked hard to bring his side back in to the game, his dummy-half scurries finally able to afford the Cowboys desperately needed field position.

It wouldn’t amount to much however, after a Kalyn Ponga pass in the dying minutes saw Enari Tuala dive over in the corner to seal the match 12-0.

Score

Newcastle Knights 12 (Hunt, Tuala) def  North Queensland Cowboys 0

Conversions

Kalyn Ponga 0/2

Penalty Goals

Kalyn Ponga 2/3

NRL News Player of the Match

3 Points – Kurt Mann

Started the game at Hooker and then moved in to the Five-Eighth role when Green left the field.

Would alternate between the two roles for the rest of the game and kept a level head when Ponga and Pearce were deteriorating.

2 Points – David Klemmer

Big dog Klem gets the two points on this one. “Led from the front” as they say with massive numbers.

Not to mention the zero errors, zero missed tackles and nine kick metres in 58 minutes.

1 Point – Kalyn Ponga

If it seems odd to only give one point to the man who assisted both tries, I’d argue that’s a bit of what we’re getting from Ponga in 2020.

An undeniably talented who needs to be consistently good for 80 minutes.

One error, two tackles and three misses isn’t great, even at fullback.

Newcastle Knights prop David Klemmer

 

Bulldogs one step closer to the wooden spoon after comeback falls short against Tigers

Wests Tigers winger David Nofoaluma

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs fans will be left scratching their heads after another spirited performance failed to produce results against their Western Sydney rivals the Wests Tigers in a one-point nail-biter.

Meanwhile, the Tigers will be hoping the win keeps their fledgling finals hopes alive, sitting at ninth, two wins off the trot with six rounds remaining in the regular season.

The Sunday afternoon Bankwest encounter always promised to be an entertaining affair and the match lived up to its billing despite the mistake-riddle performances.

The scoring opened early when the versatile Moses Mbye was delivered a simple stroll-over after another bullocking Luciano Leilua run in the sixth minute before converting his own try.

The Dogs would hit back soon after with Nick Meaney to go level after 14 minutes and put the pressure back on a Tigers outfit that has struggled with mental fortitude in recent weeks.

However, in a wild eight-minute run, the Tigers were able to pile on three tries through a double to Garner and a deserving try to the perennially brilliant David Nofoaluma who carved up Canterbury all afternoon.

Wests were leading 22-6 and it appeared the Dogs were in for even more punishment until a Kieran Foran-inspired fightback would see Marcelo Montoya and debutant Matt Doorey cross the line, reducing the deficit to just a single converted try before the break.

After the oranges, both sides were able to test the opposition without finding a killer blow to kickstart the second half of action.

That was until around the 15th minute of the resumption when both sides injected super sub variants – Jeremy Marshall-King for the Bulldogs and Josh Reynolds for Wests.

While Reynolds failed to inspire (3 runs for 41 metres and 2 missed tackles), Jeremy Marshall-King appeared a man on a mission.

He provided try assists to Aiden Tolman and Kerrod Holland to give Canterbury the lead for the first time with 12 minutes left.

Disappointingly, Kieran Foran would leave the field with 10 minutes left are innocuously rolling his ankle on the Bankwest turf while walking to the line.

However, the Tigers were saved the ignominy of a 16-point collapse when a barn-storming Joey Leilua reminded everyone of his talent.

He fended off weak defense to give the Tigers a chance to win with a field goal – duly delivered by the returned half Luke Brooks.

Wests Tigers 29 (Mbye, Garner 2, Nofoaluma, J. Leilua) def  Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 28 (Meaney, Montoya, Doorey, Tolman, Holland)

NRL News Player of the Match

3 Points – David Nofoaluma

Ran for more than 250m, racked up 13 tackle busts along with 3 line breaks a Try Assist and a Try.

Had a hand in most of the Tigers good work and terrorised the Bulldogs defenders with elusiveness. Increasingly demanding to be noticed in the mix of New South Wales wingers come Origin time.

2 Points – Kieran Foran

Kieran Foran once again dragged the Bulldogs kicking and screaming back in to contention when it looked like the game was getting away from them.

Endlessly frustrating watching his undeniable brilliance only to see him again fail to finish due to unfortunate injury.

1 Point – Jeremy Marshall-King

Rattled after losing his starting Number 9 role to Sione Katoa, Marshall-King seemed determined to prove his worth, jumping out of the blocks immediately to give the Bulldogs the lead.

Disappointing his team could not hold on for the result.

Canterbury Bulldogs half Kieran Foran

Munster injured as hapless Bulldogs dismantled by under-strength Storm

Despite flashes of promise throughout the first half, an uninspired Canterbury Bulldogs failed to capitalise when given opportunities, going down 41-10 to a professional Melbourne Storm side.

The storm were without stars Cameron Smith, Ryan Papenhuyzen and Dale Finucane, all missing from the teamsheet,

Against the re-shuffled Storm outfit, there would never be a better opportunity for the cellar-dwelling Bulldogs to pull off a David-and-Goliath ambush of the minor premiership favourites.

In the pre-game, Lachlan Lewis spoke of their need to start well and contain the Storm wingers.

It seemed their preparation was apt, with alarm bells going off early, as both Josh Addo-Carr and Suliasi Vunivalu threatened the leaky Canterbury edges.

Despite those early danger signs, the Bulldogs had the better of possession in the opening 10 minutes, with newly crowned fullback Nick Meaney threatening out wide.

However, it was a Lachlan Lewis harbour bridge pass that saw Josh Addo-Carr streak away for Melbourne’s first points.

An avalanche of points would follow, kicked off when Munster linked up with Nicho Hynes to see the young fullback go over for a four-pointer.

Two minutes later and Hynes would pay it forward, putting Justin Olam through a hole to run 40 metres for Melbourne’s third try in six minutes.

It didn’t look like it was going to get any easier for the hurting Bulldogs when Kenny Bromwich crashed over shortly after, but the try was called back due to a penalty in the lead-up

The relief was short-lived however, when Bromwich again crossed the white stripe.

He wouldn’t be denied this time, with Melbourne racking up their fourth try.

Further pain was heaped upon the struggling Bulldogs when centre Jake Averillo was ruled out with a hip injury.

The Dogs would hit back almost immediately however, with a Kieran Foran juggle to Tim Lafai, scoring his first try back in Canterbury colours in the 28th minute.

The sides would remain scoreless until the half, bar a last-second field goal from Cameron Munster.

Coming out of the break, it would be the Dogs who posted first points, with Reimis Smith the grateful recipient of an inch-perfect Foran bomb.

It seemed a comeback was on the cards only moments later when Dallin Watene-Zelezniak was denied only by the fingertips of Munster.

The Bulldogs match plan would start going astray though, when halfback Lachlan Lewis was sent to the bin for a high shot on Munster.

The already under-strength Storm would face another blow, when Cameron Munster’s heavily-strapped knee twisted awkwardly under the weight of Canterbury captain Josh Jackson.

The mercurial five-eighth hobbled from the field with 26 minutes left and wouldn’t return.

Further Bulldogs errors compounded the Bulldogs pain.

Attacking Melbourne’s line, a wayward pass from Josh Jackson saw Suliasi Vunivalu sprint from his wing.

Utilising a touch of soccer skills, chased the ball down for a try in the 55th minute, putting the Storm beyond three converted tries.

The Storm would cross again on the very next set, when the impressive fill-in custodian Nicho Hynes combined with the right edge to put Vunivalu over the try line, only to be held up by Raymond Faitala-Mariner.

However, it was straight through the hands to the left to see Kenny Bromwich go over for his second.

An error-riddled final 15 saw both sides slow down the tempo of play until Addo-Carr pounced on a fortunate ball to put the game to bed with less than two minutes on the clock.

The win sees Melbourne temporarily reclaim first place on the ladder, while the luckless Bulldogs remain in last on just four points.

The Storm will be sweating on the severity of Munster’s injury, however it seems certain he will miss their crucial clash with the defending premiers next week.

The Bulldogs, on the other hand, will be desperately searching for how to avoid their fifth wooden spoon ahead of their local derby with the Wests Tigers.

Melbourne Storm 41 (Addo Carr 2, Hynes, Olam, K. Bromwich 2, Vunivalu) def Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 10 (Lafai, Smith)

NRL News Player of the Match

3 Points – Cameron Munster

Munster dominated the Bulldogs edges and pierced their middle before his injury in the second half.

A try assist, line break assist and 12 runs in 54 minutes put the Bulldogs to bed before he left the field with a knee injury that could see him miss the next few weeks.

2 Points – Nicho Hynes

The 24-year-old Central Coast product was a stand-out filling in for the rested Ryan Papenhuyzen.

He scored a try, ran for more than 160 metres, notched up four tackle busts, a line break and a line break assist.

Unafraid to run the ball, Hynes also linked up well with smart passes, particularly putting Olam through a beautiful hole to see the PNG favourite bag a meat pie.

1 Point – Kieran Foran

Again the bright spot in a dismal side. Foran produced the goods to provide the assist for both tries for the Bulldogs.

Dug in and did the hard work as always. Canterbury looked lost when the ball went Lachlan Lewis’ way in the second half.

Melbourne Storm fullback Nicho Hynes