All posts by ricky

State of Origin 3 – NSW bash QLD into submission

NSW has crushed Queensland in Origin 3, belting, bashing and breaking the Maroons into submission in a riveting Game 3 at Suncorp in Queensland.

The final score 18-4 to the Blues.

Greg Bird and Paul Gallen were the missing ingredient for a much enthused NSW Blues side. All the talk about the two Cronulla Sharks players injecting some physical punch – was right on the mark. Bird could really not be faulted. He ripped through Queensland with his tackles and finally the Blues had someone that the Maroons had to peek at – as they hit the ball up. Bird was so impressive at pivot, that teammate Adam Dykes may lose his spot at the Sharks. NRL News had Greg Bird for man of the match by a long shot.

Gallen was in a similar mood, passionate all game and setting up the final try.

With second phase play the plan for the NSW Blues, many errors saw them apply plenty of pressure to themselves. Fortunately rock solid defence kept them on top and the petrol was in the tank at the end – as Queensland had 4 players out of the game with injury.

Probably the only NSW player to have an off night was halfback Brett Kimmorley who was pulled from the field with 25 minutes to go – the Sharks halfback surely had injury niggles as he wasn’t at his sharpest tonight and had trainers check him over early in the night.

Jarryd Hayne had another stunning match out wide, defusing every bomb and working in small spaces in attack to score a brilliant first try. The combination with Matt Cooper was impressive, as both players were always in sync.

Debutant Hazem El Masri also impressed, providing perfection with his conversions and not letting anyone down with his defence.

Finally the NSW forwards get the last lot of kudos – with Willie Mason shining at prop, busting the line most times and regularly offloading. Kite impressed, as did the under pressure Luke Bailey.

The pressure really was on this NSW side, and that probably helped them in the end. They simply wanted this game much more than the Maroons. Their physical approach used by Qld in games 1 and 2 – was incorporated by NSW and this ultimately won them the match. Queensland weren’t durable enough to handle the heat and this eroded their reserves as the night wore on.

It sets the scene for another good series next year, with the claimed Queensland dynasty certainly beatable.

New South Wales 18
Tries: Jarryd Hayne, Matt King, Hazem El Masri
Blues: Hazem El Masri 3

Queensland Maroons 4
Tries: Justin Hodges
Goals:

Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Referee: Paul Simpkins
Crowd: 52,182

NRL News Around the Grounds with Grubber

1. Ben Kennedy:
Perhaps the most intriguing story this week was the reaction to the signing of BK for a $3 contract. That’s right. The reaction to the signing. Not the signing itself. The response from non-Manly fans (which describes a lot of people) and Manly Haterz was quite bizarre. The Grubber encountered a number of NRL followers who felt angered by the decision. Others said that it was “wrong” and still others argued that it was a “Manly rort”. I cannot understand any of that. Two parties, the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles and Ben Kennedy, freely contracted for a sum agreed by both parties. Kennedy didn’t sign under duress. He wasn’t extorted (in fact he actually negotiated the fee up from $1). BK is free to what he likes. Despite long stints at Canberra and Newcastle he bleeds Maroon and White these days. He was also said to be unhappy with the way Dragons fans treated his son at the semi-final last year, which is perhaps his motivation for returning. At any rate, the message is clear. Stop whining about Kennedy. He probably won’t play, but if he does he’ll do so as someone who was legitimately registered and signed. Get over it.

2. Origin:
Will I watch it? Sure, it’s tradition. Will I care? Not really, and if any player misses so much as a single club match as a result of injury through this game it will be a tragedy. To fix this going forward one of either two things must happen: 1) Scrap the dead rubber (although I cannot see Channel Nine agreeing to that or 2) Allow players selected for Origin to play for their club the weekend before.

NRL Round 17 Teams and Lineups

FRIDAY
BRISBANE BRONCOS v GOLD COAST TITANS at Suncorp Stadium, 7.30pm
BRONCOS: Karmichael Hunt, Steve Michaels, Darius Boyd, Justin Hodges, Brent Tate, Darren Lockyer (captain), Michael Ennis, Ben Hannant, Shaun Berrigan, Petero Civoniceva, David Stagg, Dane Carlaw, Tonie Carroll. Interchange: Greg Eastwood, Corey Parker, Brad Thorn, Dave Taylor, Ian Lacey, Nick Kenny (two to be omitted).
TITANS: Preston Campbell, Matt Petersen, Luke O’Dwyer, Brett Delaney, Smith Samau, Josh Lewis, Scott Prince (captain), Luke Bailey (captain), Nathan Friend, Ian Donnelly, Michael Hodgson, Mark Minichiello, Luke Swain. Interchange: Matthew Hilder, James Stosic, Gavin Cooper, Clint Amos, Kris Kahler (one to be omitted).
Referee: Steve Clark

WESTS TIGERS v PENRITH PANTHERS at Telstra Stadium, 7.30pm
TIGERS: Daniel Fitzhenry, Beau Ryan, Dean Collis, Paul Whatuira, Taniela Tuiaki, John Morris, Robbie Farah, Todd Payten (captain), Dene Halatau, Bryce Gibbs, Liam Fulton, Chris Heighington, Chris Lawrence. Interchange: Ben Galea, Stuart Flanagan, Bronson Harrison, Keith Galloway, Danny Galea (one to be omitted).
PANTHERS: Richie Williams, Geoff Daniela, Michael Jennings, Luke Lewis, Nick Youngquest, Brett Firman, Craig Gower (captain), Joel Clinton, Keith Peters, Frank Puletua, Frank Pritchard, Tony Puletua, Nathan Smith. Interchange: Tim Grant, Junior Moors, Bryan Norrie, Peter Wallace, Matt Adamson (one to be omitted).
Referee: Ben Cummins

SATURDAY
SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS v MELBOURNE STORM at Bluetongue Stadium, 5.30pm
RABBITOHS: David Peachey, Nathan Merritt, Nigel Vagana, Shannon Hegarty, Paul Mellor, Ben Rogers, Jeremy Smith, Peter Cusack (captain), Stuart Webb, Roy Asotasi (capt), Luke Stuart, David Fa’alogo, Dean Widders. Interchange: Isaac Luke, Shane Rigon, Manase Manuokafoa, Jaiman Lowe.
STORM: Billy Slater, Matt Geyer, Matt King, Anthony Quinn, Steve Turner, Greg Inglis, James Aubusson, Ben Cross, Cameron Smith, Brett White, Clint Newton, Ryan Hoffman, Dallas Johnson. Interchange: Jeff Lima, Adam Blair, Jeremy Smith, Sam Tagataese.
Referee: Jared Maxwell

NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS v NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS at Dairy Farmers Stadium, 7.30pm
COWBOYS
: Matt Bowen, Ashley Graham, Scott Minto, Paul Bowman, Ty Williams, Jason Smith, Johnathan Thurston (captain), Shane Tronc, Aaron Payne, Carl Webb, Steve Southern, Justin Smith, Sione Faumuina. Interchange: David Faiumu, Ben Farrar, Matthew Bartlett, Ray Cashmere, Matt Scott (one to be omitted).
WARRIORS: Wade McKinnon, Patrick Ah Van, Todd Byrne, Simon Mannering, Manu Vatuvei, Michael Witt, Grant Rovelli, Ruben Wiki, Nathan Fien, Steve Price (capt)ain, Louis Anderson, Logan Swann, Micheal Luck. Interchange: George Gatis, Lance Hohaia, Wairangi Koopu, Epalahame Lauaki, Sam Rapira, Evan Tuimavave (two to be omitted).
Referee: Tony Archer

MANLY SEA EAGLES v SYDNEY ROOSTERS at Brookvale Oval, 7.30pm
SEA EAGLES
: Brett Stewart, Michael Robertson, Steve Bell, Steve Menzies, Chris Hicks, Travis Burns, Matt Orford (captain), Jason King, Michael Monaghan, Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Glenn Stewart, Luke Williamson. Interchange: Glenn Hall, Sione Finefeuiaki, Mark Bryant, Jack Afamasaga, Adam Cuthbertson (one to be omitted)
ROOSTERS: Amos Roberts, John Williams, Joel Monaghan, Mitchell Aubusson, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Setaimata Sa, Craig Wing, Nate Myles, Heath L’Estrange, Danny Nutley, Anthony Tupou, Craig Fitzgibbon (captain), Braith Anasta. Interchange: David Shillington, Lopini Paea, Danny Williams, Ashley Harrison.
Referee: Gavin Badger

SUNDAY
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS v CANBERRA RAIDERS at WIN Stadium, 2pm
DRAGONS
: Ben Hornby (captain), Jason Nightingale, Chase Stanley, Matt Cooper, Josh Morris, Rangi Chase, Jamie Soward, Justin Poore, Simon Woolford, Dan Hunt, Beau Scott, Chris Houston, Ben Creagh. Interchange: Adam Peek, Corey Payne, Lagi Setu, Ben Ellis, Keith Lulai (one to be omitted).
RAIDERS: William Zillman, David Milne, Marshall Chalk, Colin Best, Bronx Goodwin, Terry Campese, Todd Carney, Troy Thompson, Lincoln Withers, Scott Logan, Neville Costigan, Josh Miller, Glen Turner. Interchange: Ryan Hinchcliffe, Dane Tilse, Trevor Thurling, Nigel Plum, Joe Picker, Ben Jones. (two to be omitted).
Referee: Sean Hampstead

CRONULLA SHARKS v BULLDOGS at Toyota Park, 3pm
SHARKS
: David Simmons, Mitch Brown, Ben Pomeroy, Fraser Anderson, Luke Covell, Adam Dykes, Brett Kimmorley (captain), Luke Douglas, Kevin Kingston, Craig Stapleton, Paul Gallen, Lance Thompson, Greg Bird. Interchange: Ben Ross, Jacob Selmes, Reece Williams, Isaac De Gois.
BULLDOGS: Luke Patten, Hazem El Masri, Daryl Millard, Willie Tonga, Cameron Phelps, Ben Roberts, Brent Sherwin, Mark O’Meley, Corey Hughes, Willie Mason, Sonny Bill Williams, Andrew Ryan (captain), Reni Maitua. Interchange: Adam Perry, Nick Kouparitsas, Kane Cleal, Jarrad Hickey.
Referee: Shayne Hayne

MONDAY
PARRAMATTA EELS v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS at Parramatta Stadium, 7pm
EELS
: Luke Burt, Jarryd Hayne, Ben Smith, Timana Tahu, Eric Grothe, Brett Finch, Tim Smith, Josh Cordoba, Mark Riddell, Fuifui Moimoi, Nathan Hindmarsh (captain), Chad Robinson, Daniel Wagon. Interchange: PJ Marsh, Ian Hindmarsh, Feleti Mateo, Aaron Cannings, Krisnan Inu (one to be omitted)
KNIGHTS: Kurt Gidley, James McManus, George Carmont, Brad Tighe, Adam MacDougall, Jarrod Mullen, Luke Walsh, Mitchell Sargent, Danny Buderus (captain), Adam Woolnough, Steve Simpson, Cory Paterson, Reegan Tanner. Interchange: Michael Young, Chris Bailey, Jesse Royal, Kade Snowden, Zeb Taia, Josh Perry, Cooper Vuna, Nathan Hinton, Daniel Abraham (five to be omitted).
Referee: Paul Simpkins

NRL Tables (Power Rankings) Round 16

‘The Grubber gives NRL News readers all his notes from the weekends games. The Bulldogs shoot to the top of the Grubbers ‘Power Rankings NRL Ladder’ and are hitting form at the right time. The same goes for the Broncos, as their nursery was let loose in Penrith – routing the hapless Panthers. This is how the NRL Power Rankings Table looks after Round 16, NRL 2007:

1. Bulldogs: Were simply awesome against the Roosters and were led ably by SBW and a resurgent Brent Sherwin. Will take some stopping in the coming weeks and a top 4 four finish is well within their grasp. Power score 8.5/10, Odds that anyone other than Willie Mason attacked Blues Coach Graham Murray in the media: 1000-1 .

2. Brisbane Broncos: Looking the team most likely to able to post a big score. Have done well to survive and thrive during the Origin period and have well and truly recovered from a terrible start to the season. Power score: 8/10, Odds of Seventycentsalitre ever turning down another $300,000 contract: 100-1.

3. Wests Tigers: Really turned up against recent rivals Canberra and through good go forward and some enterprising half play they came away with the win. Power score: 7.5/10, Number of punters who would have backed the “Draw at 80 minutes” option in this game: Heaps.

4. South Sydney Rabbitohs: Came back strongly in the second half to overcome horrible ref decisions. Probably one of their better wins of the season despite the Origin devastated opposition. Should draw much confidence from recent performances. Power score: 7/10, Odds of Jeremy Smith retaining his number 7 jersey next year: 300-1.

5. New Zealand Warriors: Continued their streak with a patchy performance against very weak opposition. Still need to make better use of their quality second-phase play. Power score: 7/10, Odds that Mark Geyer will use the late appearance of the Warriors at the Gold Coast game as another reason to try and have them kicked out of the NRL: 2-1.

6. Canberra Raiders:
Reasonably unlucky for the second week in a row. Have made a habit of winning these tight ones in recent years and so will hope that the last two losses aren’t enough to keep them out of the 8. Power score: 6.5/10, Odds of snow falling during a Canberra home game this year: 2-1.

7. Manly Sea Eagles: Continued their mid-season slide against the Dragons and will need a solid win this weekend to convince supporters that they are the real deal this year. Must consider replacing Monaghan with Ballin in order to give Orford more freedom and control. Power score: 6.5/10, Number of commentators who managed to correctly pronounce the names of the Manly side last weekend: 0.
8. St George-Illawarra Dragons: Youngsters really stepped up against Manly and commitment and desperation got them them the win. Creagh is one of the three best players in the NRL right now. Power score: 6/10, Odds that the Roosters would take back Soward right now if they could: 2-1.
9. Gold Coast Titans: Praise and expectation finally caught up with them and they were woeful in defeat against a shaky Warriors side. Will do better when flying under the radar. Power score: 6/10, Odds of Preston Campbell putting in another display like that any time soon: 20-1.

10. Newcastle Knights: Scoreline probably flattered them against Souths. Were short of their three best players however and will hope that this weekend beings a solid 80 minute performance. Power score: 6/10, Number of exotic try celebrations to be performed again by Adam "Needles" McDougall again this year: 0.


11.
Sydney City Roosters: Were mere bowling pins to be scattered in the wake of the SBW wrecking ball performance. Will rate themselves a good chance against Manly this weekend though if they can improve ruck area play. Power score: 5.5/10, Likelihood of Nick Politis taking over the coaching role himself this year: 3-1

12. Penrith Panthers: Were made to look ordinary against Bennett’s Babes and key off field issues have clearly take their toll on the Panthers. Capable of far more than they are producing. Power score: 4/10, Odds of Matt Elliot and Craig Gower lasting out the season: 1000 -1.

Bye Teams:

Melbourne Storm: Will be torn between on the one hand wanting to continue momentum and their winning ways and on the other getting a possible slump well out of the way before the finals. Seem to possess the mental fortitude this year to win the competition but Brisbane and Canterbury loom as threats.

Parramatta Eels: Remain on track for a top 4 finish and should back themselves to grab the number 2 spot ahead of Manly.

North Queensland Cowboys: Haven’t quite put it together yet, however any side with Thurston and Bowen is capable of doing some damage. Will look to cement their tough at home reputation so as to fight for a top 4 spot.

Cronulla Sharks: Still struggling to put points on the board. Halves combination doesn’t seem the answer for them right now and depending on the performance of the Kimmorley-Bird duo may wish to try their luck with that pairing in place of the UK-bound Dykes.

Yours in League,

The Grubber

(NRL News would like to thank ‘The Grubber’ for his continued sideline eye, bringing all of us the NRL Power Rankings Table / Ladder – see if you can guess which team The Grubber supports? Email NRLfeedback@gmail.com)

State of Origin 3 Talk Heats Up

As we move closer to tomorrow nights State of Origin 3 at Suncorp Stadium, there has been plenty of talk out of the NSW Blues camp regarding coach Graham Murray.

The rumor mill is in overdrive, talking about player revolts, unhappiness and poor game plans. This could actually be a ploy to fire up the NSW Blues side even more, at this stage it’s unclear. Some sources point to Willie Mason starting the uprising against Graham Murray, but really it could all be a PR stunt.

The NSW Blues will need every ounce of passion, skill and even some luck to take the victory from Suncorp tomorrow night. While Queensland Maroons have secured the series victory, I can’t recall a Game 3 with so much attention and interest riding on the result.

Interestingly Chris Close and Queensland Maroon sources have brought up the 2000 Series Origin in which NSW under Wayne Pearce won the series 3-0. The final game seeing a blowout scoreline and the now famous Bryan Fletcher ‘grenade’ post try celebration. Chris Close led the charge of unhappiness over the ‘disrespectful’ showing.

With Choppy bringing up old baggage and the NSW camp possibly using PR to fire everyone up – at least it makes for a very interesting game.

While the game is in Queensland and the Maroons will be Origin favourites – NRLnews.com seems to think the NSW Blues can still get the cash. Some poor referee calls and bad bounces have seen the NSW Blues miss some chances in Game 1 and 2 and surely the luck must fall their way this time around.

Prediction NSW by 4 points.

Bulldogs Blitz Luckless Roosters

Bulldogs 38 def Sydney Roosters 6
(Monday, July 2, 2007)

The Bulldogs have continued their winning ways and disposed of the Sydney Roosters in ruthless style tonight at Telstra Stadium, Homebush.

It was good to see 20,000+ fans check in to Telstra as Monday night football continues to be a big winner for the NRL. Considering the cold weather and the extensive Fox TV coverage, it’s pleasing to see the faithful turn out in big numbers and it’s a good advantage the NRL has over rival codes who don’t have a similar product.

Injured half Mitchell Pearce made it hard for the Roosters early, with his injury causing the youngster to miss 2 penalty kicks for touch – with one resulting in an early Bulldogs try. These two critical early mishaps really forced the Roosters on to the back foot for most of the game. Had possession and completions been allowed to play out here, we really could have seen a different footy game.

The Roosters did well to hang on during the first half. As the Bulldogs got more possession, Sonny Bill Williams got into his zone and simply was impossible to stop. If two defenders came in on SBW, then he would basketball lob or reverse flick it to his outside or inside men. He was just in one of those moods.

While Jarrad Hickey and Sonny Bill Williams scored for the Dogs, the Roosters finally got a decent possession swing but were only able to jag 1 try. They were penalised for a double movement in one instance and bombed a certain try in another, so they could have led at half time.

When the second half got underway the Bulldogs got a much better roll on in the forwards. Hickey and Kouparitsas were both having good games, but reserves Morrin, Brideson and Wheatly were super strong for the Dogs. So much so I feel Folkes may even keep some of these fringe guys on the bench moving forward this season.

The Roosters kept hanging on for grim life, but as the Dogs forwards rolled on – you then had SBW carving out wide and Cameron Phelps bagging a double for the night and playing strongly in all areas. The other big plus for the Dogs was the combination and kicking games of Ben Roberts and Brent Sherwin. Shifty was back to his deft best with the kicks and Roberts took the pressure off nicely when needed.

The Roosters, while beaten comprehensively really won’t be too devastated with the result. Had Mitchell Pearce been fully fit and not made crucial early errors and become a passenger in defence – this could have been a different game. Craig Wing looked eager and played his best game in a while and I continue to like the look of Roosters sub forward Lopini Paea. For the last few weeks Paea has been a runaway train, the big man reminds me of the Penrith forwards of 2003 – he hits the line so hard and busts it with ease. Keep your eye on this man!

Last mention is for referee Jarred Maxwell, he literally got every call right tonight. Kept discipline in the game and went to the video and sideline men only when needed. Top showing from the ref with only 21 games under his belt.

Next week the Bulldogs head over to Sharkville to play Cronulla and the Roosters have the killer road trip to Brookvale where they face a real uphill battle against Manly.

To see the full Steve Folkes – NRL Media Press ConferenceClick Here

To see the full Chris Anderson – NRL Media Press ConferenceClick Here

NRL Points Table and Ladder

With one NRL game remaining in Round 16, with the Roosters and Bulldogs battling it out in Monday Night NRL Rugby League – here is how the NRL Points Table and Ladder looks so far:

W L B +/- Pts
1 Storm 13 2 1 195 28
2 Sea Eagles 11 4 1 96 24
3 Eels
9 6 1 69 20
4 Cowboys 9 6 1 -61 20
5 Tigers 8 7 1 7 18
6 Titans 8 7 1 -9 18
7 Broncos 7 8 1 73 16
8 Sharks 7 8 1 69 16
9 Warriors 7 8 1 35 16
10 Rabbitohs 7 8 1 -4 16
11 Knights 7 8 1 -127 16
12 Bulldogs 6 8 1 -4 14
13 Raiders 6 9 1 -37 14
14 Dragons 5 10 1 -106 12
15 Roosters 5 9 1 -109 12
16 Panthers 4 11 1 -87 10

Matt Adamson may return for Panthers

Penrith Panthers assistant trainer Matt Adamson has been registered by the Panthers and Matt Elliott has hinted he may use the former Panther and Raider in the 2007 team lineup.

It would be a massive case of ‘back to the future’ – with Adamson being involved in the last clean out at Penrith many years ago. Back in those days, the stories were legendary with former Panthers boss Roger Cowan allegedly handing out redundancy notices to players as they left training. The former Panthers boss ruled with an iron first, and players such as Adamson were pushed out of the club in hard times.

After spending time in the UK Super League, Matt Adamson played a season at the Canberra Raiders under Elliott and has reportedly been training with the Panthers first grade squad for some time in 2007. His fitness and commitment would not be questioned, his durablility would be the only factor – with the big forward having plenty of knee and injury problems during his latter career.

A guy like Matt Adamson would certainly give the Panthers the experience and direction they need. Even limited game time for Matt Adamson would give coach Elliott a team man capable of carrying out instructions and leading by example.

With so many middle aged NRL players heading to the UK Super League, it would certainly be refreshing to see an elder statesmen in the NRL and show his bag of tricks to the kids.

NRL Monday Wrap

As the Dragons wake up fresh from a confidence building win over Manly, surely the struggling Penrith Panthers can take confidence from the fact that the two cellar dwelling clubs are only a few wins from the top 8.

With a win this coming weekend, the Dragons could be 2 points outside the Top 8 – amazing considering the headlines the club has received.

Over the weekend, Matt Elliott has admitted that even the coaching staff at Penrith need to lift their game, quite a valid point considering that John Lang had the Panthers performing much better in previous years.

It does seem the clean-out process happens so much quicker within NRL clubs these days; just take the Panthers and the Roosters. Not one, but 3 or 4 players moving on mid season and leaving the clubs to battle on with junior players – it used to take 2 or 3 years to rebuild a club, these days a 12 month turnaround is aimed for.

The Parramatta Eels are a team flying under the radar this year, to the delight of Eels staff and personnel – the Eels have been quietly winning, but keeping well out of the headlines. Something most teams hope for. Under Hagan, this just might be the tonic the Eels need come finals time.

In other news at the Eels, boom centre Kris Inu is said to be a strong preacher of religion. So much so, that he has considered taking a few years off to follow his religion before returning to League. The Eels also welcome back Timana Tahu this weekend for their big clash with the Knights at Parramatta Stadium next Monday night. Hagan having to find a spot for the former Australian rep, with Kris Inu and Ben Smith performing outstandingly this year.

Tonight we see the Roosters face the Bulldogs at Telstra Stadium and the struggling Roosters will get a lift from the fact the Dragons knocked over the high flying Eagles yesterday. The Dogs without Andrew Ryan, Willie Mason and Hazem El Masri will be a tad underdone and need to be on their game to keep the Roosters at bay.

Sunday NRL – Tigers and Dragons win

Both winners in todays NRL games went against the tipping trend. With the last placed Dragons upstaging front runners Manly and the home loving Raiders getting done over by the Wests Tigers who needed a win to keep in touch with the top teams. The Raiders saw Todd Carney return, and the young half had immediate impact busting the line and setting up a Raiders try early. The Tim Sheens team changes seem to have made the desired impact, with the Tigers looking good once they got out of their own half. Things got spiteful too, with Logan and Galloway going toe to toe after a disagreement in the ruck. First, on to the Dragons / Manly game –

Dragons 26 def Manly 22
It was a gutsy, nail-biting win for the Dragons and their fans – with the struggling red and whites finally getting some nice attacking plays together to score enough points to hold Manly at bay. The Dragons needed every point, as the tiring Saints let the Manly side back into the match – mostly due to poor right hand edge defence from the Dragons.

Most times that Manly probed the Dragons right side, they had success – coach Hasler would be frustrated that Orford and Monaghan didn’t send plenty more plays down this side. Alternatively the Dragons seemed to thrive on second phase play today, with even Steve Menzies regularly offloading in risky situations. It cost them dearly, with at least 2 Dragons tries coming from wayward offloads or risky passes.

Manly may have just taken things a little lightly coming into todays game. The Dragons at Oki were certainly up for a big one and full credit to Housten, Poore and Hunt – the big 3 up front really having a massive game. Ben Creagh was his busy self, getting involved in everything – but it was probably the exquisite display by new Dragons halves pairing Chase and Soward that cut the Manly side up. The footwork from Rangi Chase centre field and the always scheming Soward was a sight to see – troubling the Dragons bigger men middle field most of the game.

The young, unexperienced Dragons side got the wobbles late – when they realised they might actually win the match. Orford and Monaghan stepping up and playing with the urgency they needed to show probably 30 minutes earlier to really give the Manly side a chance.

It’s not all bad news for the Manly side, as they face the Roosters at Brookvale and should be in the mood to put a big score on the struggling Bondi side.

The Dragons stay at home to face the Raiders in a match they will be confident of winning.

Wests Tigers 22 def Canberra Raiders 16
Wests Tigers got tough and broke a two-match losing streak and now see themselves back in the top eight with a 22-16 win in the ACT over the Raiders.

After taking consecutive losses to the Titans and Broncos in the previous two gams, the Tigers scored four tries to three and defended stoutly for a strong win.

The win means the Tigers move ahead of the Titans on the NRL ladder, while the Raiders sit 13th after slumping to three straight losses.

Rock solid goal-line defence in the first half laid the foundation for the much needed win as the Tigers continually repelled the Raiders’ attack in the final 20 minutes of the first half.

In total the Raiders were tackled 38 times inside the 20m line during the opening half, and the Tigers spent 66 per cent of the half stuck in their own territory.

The Raiders were not helped by two injuries to key players throughout the match – the Raiders playing much of the second half with just 15 fit men after Michael Weyman left the field with a suspected fractured leg and captain Alan Tongue hobbled off early after falling awkwardly in a tackle.

The Tigers ran in two tries to one in the opening half to take a 10-4 lead into half-time, but the Raiders had come back got level by the 52nd minute.

Canberra scored first with a try to David Milne in just the second minute of play, but the Tigers hit back through tries to Paul Whatuira (13th minute) and John Morris (17th minute) to take a lead into the break.

Tries came thick and fast as the second half began, a Chris Lawrence try for the Tigers followed by a double to the Raiders through Milne and Dane Tilse.

Dane Tilse’s try levelled the scores at 16-16, but Paul Whatuira’s second try then allowed the Tigers to go ahead by six points and they held on grimly in the final stages of the match.

In Saturday Night NRL, the Warriors beat off the Titans on the Gold Coast and the baby Broncos put in a big display to beat the hapless Panthers in Penrith.