All posts by Thomas Beauchamp

Raiders Survive Dragons’ Comeback Scare

The Canberra Raiders have further improved their impressive record against the St George Illawarra Dragons through a 22-16 victory in the nation’s capital.

Although the infamous Canberra hoodoo was officially broken in 2014, the Raiders once more had too much strike power for the Dragons in their first game back at GIO Stadium.

Nick Cotric continued his run of form against the Dragons, scoring the first try of the clash for the fourth year in a row.

Bailey Simonsson doubled the Raiders’ lead ten minutes later on the other side of the field, outleaping Mikaele Ravalawa to cross for his second try of the season.

Both sides kept things relatively tidy for the remainder of the half, completing at over 85% through the first 30 minutes.

However, the Dragons discipline began to fade with minutes to go until the break.

Capitalising on a mid-field mistake, George Williams scooted through the non-existent Dragons’ defence to score in the final minute of the half, giving his side an 18-0 lead.

The first chance of the second half fell to the Dragons but fullback Matt Dufty was unable to clean up a Ben Hunt banana kick to score the Saints’ first points of the match.

Jarrod Croker would have no such troubles, crashing onto a Jack Wighton kick to score his first four-pointer of the season.

Matt Dufty then replied, making up for his earlier blunder to reduce the margin to 18.

Thoughts of a comeback were then amplified by Zac Lomax, who sent Jason Saab through the line before backing up to score the try himself.

Lomax has scored 62 of the Dragons 122 points so far this season.

When Euan Aitken sent Matt Dufty away to score untouched with a minute to go, the small Canberra crowd was provided with a grandstand finish.

But there was to be no fairytale win for the Dragons who were left to rue an abysmal first half.

The Raiders will be counting the cost of the win with Elliot Whitehead and Emre Guler suffering leg injuries while Sia Soliola was sent to hospital with a suspected fractured cheekbone.

Canberra coach Ricky Stuart said that he was proud of his team’s ability to stave off the late comeback after a tough few weeks of travel but demonstrated some concern over the growing injury toll.

“We had a short turnaround, for them to back up with all those injuries in the middle and show that energy at the back end of the game, why wouldn’t I be happy?” he stated.

For the Dragons, Paul McGregor was ‘filthy’ with his team’s first half performance but said that the improvements he saw in the second period would provide them with a platform off which they could build for the coming weeks.

The Raiders have jumped the Tigers into sixth position and will take on Melbourne next Saturday, while the Dragons will enjoy a nine-day turnaround before facing Manly next Sunday.

NRL News Player of the Game:
3 Points – George Williams – Tough to choose a standout player of the match, but Williams’ efforts in the first half put the Raiders in a position to survive the late scare. One try, one try assist and a line-break for the Englishman.

2 Points – Cameron McInnes – Monster night defensively for the Dragons’ rake who had 66 tackles, with no missed tackles. Also had 16 runs for over 120 metres.

1 Point – Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad – The man dubbed ‘CNK’ has been relatively quiet for the Green Machine this season, but had a solid night tonight with 260 running metres on 33 runs and a try assist to boot. Other standout performances came from Euan Aitken, Zac Lomax and Nick Cotric.

Storm strike against demoralised Warriors

Melbourne Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen

The New Zealand Warriors have had a less than ideal start to life after Stephen Kearney following a 50-6 battering at the hands of a ruthless Melbourne Storm outfit.

Interim Warriors coach Todd Payten was faced with the unenviable task of facing a fired-up Storm lineup in the first game of his head-coaching career.

Against the odds, the Warriors dominated the early stages of the match but were unable to capitalise on the momentum and favourable field position.

Instead, Paul Momirovski opened the account for Melbourne after twelve minutes.

He capitalised on a Josh Addo-Carr break to score in his first game since swapping clubs with Harry Grant.

Momirovski’s wing partner Suliasi Vunivalu then doubled the Storm’s advantage, strolling over off the back of a Ryan Papenhuyzen run.

The depth of both sides took a blow early with the Warriors losing Karl Lawton.

The Storm would then lose Cameron Munster, who suffered an MCL injury and luckless forward Christian Welch failed his HIA.

Ironically, it took 27 minutes for the Storm to register a single tackle inside the Warriors 20-metre line.

It only took four tackles for Ryan Papenhuyzen to cement Melbourne’s lead by scurrying over from dummy half.

Paul Momirovski then crossed for his second of the night to push the advantage out to 22 points despite having just 49% possession through the first half.

Todd Payten’s first NRL halftime speech reaped rapid returns in the second half with Patrick Herbert cashing in on the back of a slick backline shift.

But the Warriors joy was short lived as Ryan Papenhuyzen slid through for his second before Suliasi Vunivalu added two more tries to secure his first hat trick of the year.

When Brandon Smith snuck over with eighteen minutes to go, the scoreline began to get ugly.

Josh Addo-Carr then put the icing on the cake with seven minutes remaining after chasing down a Cameron Smith kick to bring up the half-century for Melbourne.

Speaking after the game, a brutally honest Todd Payten questioned his side’s commitment to the cause after a tough week for the club.

“Tonight’s performance was an indication of exactly where we are at,” Payten said.

“We’re a team that needs to have a sniff to kick on with it and if things go against us, we’re not tough enough to dig ourselves out of it.”

The bluntness had Payten questioning the commitment of his players.

“I question whether we had players who were willing to put their body on the line and fight hard for their teammates.”

For Melbourne, Craig Bellamy labelled his side’s attack as ‘clinical’ and praised his side’s effort in what was a ‘topsy-turvy week’.

He also praised the Warriors for the sacrifices they continue to make in order to ensure the competition can continue with sixteen teams.

The Warriors will advance to face the out-of-form Broncos next week, while the Storm will be challenged by Trent Robinson’s Roosters on Thursday night.

NRL News Player of the Game:

3 Points – Ryan Papenhuyzen – Been relatively quiet this year but has always looked threatening.

Finally exploded tonight for two tries and a try assist.

2 Points – Jahrome Hughes – Big return for the halfback, just three weeks after breaking his hand.

Didn’t score a try but registered four assists in the demolition job.

1 Point – Paul Momirovski – Exciting signs for Tigers and Storm fans alike, with Momirovski crossing for two tries and laying one on too.

Could’ve had another try with a late intercept but was run down by Tuivasa-Sheck.

Melbourne Storm halfback Jahrome Hughes

Brilliant Rabbitohs Crush Hapless Warriors

South Sydney Rabbitohs hooker Damien Cook

The South Sydney Rabbitohs have defeated the New Zealand Warriors 42-12 in a high-scoring affair at Bankwest Stadium.

Entering the clash at two wins apiece, both teams were desperate to claim another two points to avoid losing touch with the top eight sides.

The Warriors got the jump on the Rabbitohs in the seventh minute.

The returning David Fusitu’a ran onto a floated cut out ball from Blake Green to score in his first game back from his two-week quarantine period.

However, it wasn’t long until Souths struck back as Campbell Graham beat five Warriors defenders in a jinking run to the line just four minutes later.

Both clubs then went inches away from landing the next blow as a Braidon Burns knock on denied a circus try for the Bunnies.

While for the Warriors, Campbell Graham’s scrambling defence prevented them from touching down at the other end of the field.

The defining moment of the first half came through a Dane Gagai intercept.

This resulted in Kodi Nikorima being sent to the sin-bin and Adam Reynolds crossing for his 29th career try.

Cody Walker then capitalised on the man-advantage by placing an inventive grubber for Burns to score his second of the night.

Walker didn’t remain in the good books for long though, as he became the fourth person to be sent to the bin across the two games played so far in Round 6.

The Rabbitohs weren’t deterred however.

Alex Johnston scored off the back of a delectable Latrell Mitchell cut-out pass to give Souths a sixteen point lead entering the break.

Damien Cook restarted the scoring in the second period as he silenced any talk of his quiet resumption from the COVID hiatus.

He scooted out of dummy half to send Walker over the line.

Cook then crossed for a four pointer of his own, spinning out of dummy half to further secure the win for the Bunnies.

With the result decided, the scoring slowed down considerably with just two tries in the last half-hour of play.

Souths crossed via Johnston while the Warriors ended their scoring drought via Agnatius Paasi with five minutes left to play.

The win propels South Sydney into the top eight for the first time since the season resumption.

It also sees the Bunnies improve their recent record against the Warriors to ten wins out of their last eleven clashes.

The straight-shooting Wayne Bennett was pleased with the performance of his backline.

Bennett praised Latrell Mitchell’s input into the potent South Sydney attack.

“I still don’t think he’s at his best yet, but he’s going in that direction and gaining consistency” Bennett stated.

On the other end, Stephen Kearney was visibly ‘disappointed’ and ‘frustrated’ with his team’s performance.

Kearney lamented the inability of his side to create enough chances to win the game as well as not holding out on the defensive end.

“What disappointed me tonight was just the softness of the tries… and we didn’t show enough toughness to mount a challenge” he said.

The task doesn’t get any easier for Kearney’s Warriors next week as they travel south to face Melbourne, whilst the Bunnies will play Penrith on Thursday Night.

NRL News Player of the Game:

3 Points – Damien Cook – Was involved across the park tonight and looked to be back to his best running out of dummy-half.

Set up one try and crossed for one of his own.

2 Points – Latrell Mitchell – Another solid performance for Latrell to add to his fullback resume.

The long cut-out ball is quickly becoming his signature play and he demonstrated it to perfection to send Alex Johnston over in the first half.

1 Point – Cody Walker – All three of these guys were expected to thrive under the new rules and you could easily swap them around here and there would be little objection.

Cody was exceptional with one try and one try assist in addition to a nice involvement in the first Burns try.

Souths are a much better team with Walker on the park.

South Sydney Rabbitohs fullback Latrell Mitchell

Hiku hat trick sees Warriors sink wounded Cowboys

New Zealand Warriors half Kodi Nikorima





The New Zealand Warriors have defeated the North Queensland Cowboys 37-26 in a see-sawing affair at Central Coast Stadium.

Entering the forty-first clash between the two clubs at twenty wins apiece, both sides were eager to display their attacking prowess in front of the small crowd gathered in Gosford.

In his debut match, Cowboys junior Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow was forced to shift to fullback early in the match.

Usual Valentine Holmes suffered an ankle injury in a tackle from Jamayne Taunoa-Brown.

It was a less than ideal start for the debutant, who was caught out of position as the Warriors landed the first strike through Patrick Herbert.

The man nicknamed ‘The Hammer’ soon hit back with a nice floated ball to Holmes playing on the wing.

Kyle Feldt then capitalised on a clumsy defensive error from Peta Hiku to give the Cowboys the lead.

Despite scoring the least points of any side in the league through four rounds, the Warriors had no attacking dramas in this clash.

Kodi Nikorima flew through a gaping hole to send Elisea Katoa crashing over for the second try of his young career.

Peta Hiku then redeemed his earlier mistake by constructing a try from some lacklustre build-up play.

He beat Esan Masters one-on-one to give the Warriors the lead at the break.

Returning to the field, it took the Cowboys less than two minutes to erase their five-point deficit in the second half as Justin O’Neill finished off a silky shift from the scrum.

In the spirit of the match, both teams then traded blows.

Adam Pompey crossed in the forty-fifth minute before Francis Molo crashed over three minutes later.

However, the toll of the cowboys impounding injuries slowly began to mount.

With Jordan Maclean joining Holmes on the sidelines, the Warriors seized the opportunity to push ahead through two more tries to Peta Hiku.

When Karl Lawton crossed with ten minutes to go to give the warriors a thirteen-point advantage, the result was all but confirmed.

A late Kyle Feldt four-pointer proved little more than a consolation try.

Speaking to the media post-game, Warriors coach Stephen Kearney was pleased with the way his team rebounded from last week’s loss.

Though he conceded that tonight’s performance was far from polished.

“We were disappointed in last week’s performance, so to come out against a quality side like the Cowboys and perform the way we did was a positive… (but) we made it awfully hard for ourselves at times”.

In the game in which he passed the late Graham Murray as the most capped Cowboys coach, Paul Green expressed his disappointment of his team’s defensive resilience.

“We’re building new combinations, and with that comes (a lack of) confidence.

“You only build confidence through experience… but the bottom line is that we’ve got to be tougher mentally”

Both teams leave Gosford with two wins and three losses, with the Warriors advancing to play South Sydney next Friday while the Cowboys will play the Tigers on Saturday evening.

NRL News Player of the Game:

3 Points – Kodi Nikorima – Was seemingly in everything tonight with a try assist at a crucial stage in each half. Performances like these will solidify his spot in the side over Chanel Harris-Tevita.

2 Points – Blake Green – Has been quiet this season but chimed in for three try assists tonight, including a beautiful chip kick to open the Warriors affair.

1 Point – Peta Hiku – Crossed for three tries, including two in the second half when the result was in doubt.

Special mention also goes to Josh McGuire, who made 49 tackles in addition to 177 running metres on 17 carries.

New Zealand Warriors centre Peta Hiku.

Rampaging Roosters Embarrass Baby Broncos

Sydney Roosters veteran winger Brett Morris

The Sydney Roosters have demolished the Brisbane Broncos, racking up a record-breaking 59-0 score line in what was the Broncos’ biggest loss in their thirty-three-year history.

The Roosters suffered a pre-game setback with star fullback James Tedesco missing the flight to Brisbane after failing the NRL’s tight biosecurity testing.

Despite the loss of their most potent attacking weapon, the Roosters were the first to strike, taking advantage of an Anthony Milford error to score through Josh Morris.

They extended their lead with their very next possession, marching downfield and scoring on the opposite side of the field as Joseph Manu finished a sweet left-to-right shift.

The Roosters completed all twelve of their opening sets, completing their first eight before the Broncos could complete three.

Victor Radley cashed in on the extra possession, running through a gap left by debutant Corey Paix and crashing over Jamayne Isaako for the third try of the match.

The Roosters then backed up their attacking efforts on the defensive end as Brett Morris continued his scrambling antics from last weekend to ruin the Broncos only line-break of the half.

Angus Crichton continued the onslaught as the Broncos defence began to capitulate, before Kyle Flanagan finished a Victor Radley break to make it 28-0 after thirty-two minutes.

A Luke Keary field goal put the icing on a sweet first half for the Roosters, entering the sheds with twelve more completed sets, a 40% advantage in possession and 644 more running metres.

It took little over four minutes for Isaac Liu to restart the party in the second half, handing the ball to Keary to run fifty metres and push the margin past thirty.

Brisbane finally demonstrated some semblance of defensive resolve through a strong ten-minute stand, but that ended as Jesse Arthars was sent to the sin-bin in the fifty-fifth minute.

That paved the way for Lindsay Collins to stroll over before Angus Crichton burrowed his way through some soft line-defence.

Daniel Tupou was quiet on the try-scoring front for most of the match but was ultimately responsible for bringing up the half century after strolling over with nine minutes to go.

It was the first time that the Broncos have been kept to nil at Suncorp Stadium, but the Roosters weren’t finished yet.

With Brett Morris scoring to extend the margin to 59, the Roosters condemned the Broncos to their largest ever losing margin, beating the 58-0 shellacking they received in last year’s finals series.

After the game, Roosters coach Trent Robinson was pleased with the way his side set up the win in the first half, crediting his forwards for laying a great platform for his backs to run off.

“We came with a good attitude to start the game… it was nothing spectacular, but we showed some good execution” he said.

Meanwhile, Broncos coach Anthony Seibold admitted that his side was ‘totally outclassed’ and acknowledged the striking similarity of this week’s performance to last week’s loss to Parramatta.

“It was like Groundhog Day… we just had no field position or possession, and it didn’t look like we were going to defend any errors we made” he stated.

Brisbane face another tough challenge next week against Manly on Thursday night, while the Roosters advance to play the Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon.

NRL News Player of the Game:

3 Points – Brett Morris – Was thrust into the fullback role after the loss of Tedesco and wound back the clock with a vintage performance that included two tries and three try assists.

Played as close to Tedesco’s calibre as Trent Robinson could have hoped.

2 Points – Victor Radley – One try, two try assists and one line break for the man they call ‘The Inflictor’. Looked dangerous all night until suffering a gruesome arm injury in the closing stages.

1 Point – Luke Keary – Steered the side around to perfection in the absence of James Tedesco.

Capped off the night with a try and two try assists.

Sydney Roosters utility Victor Radley

Cowboys Run Rampant on Despondent Titans

North Queensland Cowboys hooker Reece Robson






The North Queensland Cowboys heaped further misery on the winless Gold Coast Titans this season. 

They racked up a 36-6 score line in a dominant performance at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

In a game that largely mirrored last night’s clash at Suncorp Stadium, both teams kept it close throughout the first half.

Eventually, it was the Cowboys’ class that shone in the second as they ran away with the win.

Titans fans were left fearing the worst after the Cowboys burst out of the gates to hold 81% of the possession over the first ten minutes.

This led to Ben Hampton crossing for his third try of the season.

Despite a lack of ball, the Titans were able to fight back with Brian Kelly leaving Kyle Feldt for dead after a savage piece of footwork.

The Cowboys then regained the lead through Justin O’Neill in the 22nd minute following a length of the field run from Kyle Feldt.

A Dale Copley line break led to the sin-binning of Mitchell Dunn in the 26th minute, but the Titans couldn’t convert.

Rather, the Cowboys took the two following an errant Ash Taylor dropout to take a 14-6 lead into the break.

After the intermission, the Titans found themselves in a vicious cycle whereby poor discipline led to greater fatigue, creating space for Reece Robson to cause havoc.

In one five-minute stretch, the Cowboys’ reserve hooker was able to break the Titans’ line twice.

He crossed for two tries that ultimately put the game out of reach for Justin Holbrook’s men.

Jason Taumalolo was particularly damaging in the latter stages of the second half, finishing with his trademark 294 running metres, including 126 post-contact metres.

Val Holmes put the icing on the cake for the Cowboys, sending Ben Hampton and Kyle Feldt away for late four-pointers to seal the deal.

The Cowboys finished with a whopping 66% possession for the game, forcing the Titans to make 185 more tackles throughout the eighty minutes.

Speaking after the game Cowboys coach Paul Green conceded that his side’s attack was ‘clunky’ at times,

Though he was happy to see them create enough opportunities to win the match.

“Having such a big break, you’re not sure how the players are going to get back into the groove, so to win like that was pleasing”, Green said.

On the other hand, Justin Holbrook refused to admit that the same-day travel had affected his side.

Instead, he blamed a general lack of match awareness for the minimal possession they received.

“(The travel) played no part. There was nothing wrong with our preparation, we have just got to play smarter”, Holbrook stated.

The Cowboys will advance to take on the Sharks next week, while the Titans will host Michael Maguire’s Wests Tigers at Suncorp Stadium.

NRL News Player of the Game

3 Points – Reece Robson – Came onto the field late in the first half and broke the game open in the second period, adding some much needed spark to cross for two tries and seal the game for his club.

2 Points – Valentine Holmes – Was tough to split Holmes and Robson, but the former NFL convert was clinical in his third game back, chiming in with three try assists and a near perfect 5/6 off the boot.

1 Point – Jason Taumalolo – Was quiet in the first half, but absolutely dominated a fatigued Titans pack in his second stint to seal the game. Made a break straight through the middle to set up Robson’s second try.

North Queensland Cowboys hulking forward Jason Taumalolo


Panthers turn on the heat to scorch the Dragons

Penrith Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary

The Penrith Panthers have staged a late comeback to condemn the Dragons to their second home loss to start the season.

The Dragons led the see-sawing affair 28-18 with just twelve minutes remaining before a four-minute flurry from Penrith saw the Saints’ lead evaporate.

The Panthers exploded out of the gates to lead by twelve after just fifteen minutes courtesy of a dummy-half scoot from Api Koroisau to start.

This was followed by a sweet Nathan Cleary show-and-go that left Ben Hunt and Tyrell Fuimaono clutching for air.

Led by new recruit Zane Tetevano, the Penrith forward pack simply poured through the middle third, doubling the Dragons’ run metres over the first twenty minutes.

Players were given some relief from the oppressive conditions with a drinks break after twenty minutes.

Little seemed to change for the Dragons as Isaah Yeo split the defence before passing inside to an unmarked Dean Whare.

However, in a game-changing moment, the pass was sensationally intercepted by Matt Dufty who raced away to score a ninety-metre effort and complete a twelve-point swing in his fiftieth NRL appearance.

Seemingly inspired by Dufty’s antics, the Dragons further turned the momentum through a beautiful cutout pass from Corey Norman.

He made up for his earlier defensive deficiencies by sending Jordan Pereira down the sideline to set up a try for Brayden Wiliame.

Zac Lomax was the next to cross, capitalising upon an errant offload from Josh Mansour to give the Dragons a 16-12 half time lead, despite having just 40% possession.

After the break, a deft grubber from Nathan Cleary appeared to regain control of the game for Penrith through a Brent Naden try.

However, following his relegation from the squad last week, Matt Dufty again provided the spark the Dragons needed as he crashed over from short range.

When Corey Norman dived on Ben Hunt’s banana kick four minutes later, the Dragons looked to have the match on ice with less than twenty minutes to go.

In keeping with the volatile nature of the match, it wasn’t long until the momentum swung one final time.

Viliame Kikau ran over Issac Luke off the back of a hail-mary offload from Josh Mansour.

It was then up to the man with the magic touch, Stephen Crichton, to ice the match.

After scoring within seventeen seconds of entering the field last week, Crichton raced onto an inside ball from Nathan Cleary before combining with Liam Martin for the game winner.

Speaking post-game, Dragons coach Paul McGregor condemned his side’s discipline, agreeing that the Dragons gave away a golden opportunity to post their first win of the season.

“We had complete control with 16 mins to go… it’s not good enough,” McGregor said.

“Last week, we had three opportunities with the line open that we didn’t finish and today we led at halftime… we’re making it hard (for ourselves).”

In comparison, Ivan Cleary admitted his team were well below par tonight, but will happily accept another tight win to start the year.

“I was worried the whole second half… we just didn’t have the edge we needed to have… but you’ve just got to find a way to win those sorts of games, especially early in the season” he said.

Penrith will advance to play Melbourne at AAMI Park next week, while the Dragons will head South to the nation’s capital in search of their first victory of the season.

NRL News Player of the Game:

3 Points – Nathan Cleary – The Panthers’ half was simply superb, steering his side around shrewdly for the second week running. Chimed in for a try, try assist, line break and line break assist.

2 Points – Apisai Koroisau – Quickly putting his hand up as an early contender for buy of the year as he crossed for a try and made 38 tackles.

1 Point – Matt Dufty – Lost his fullback spot to Zac Lomax over the off-season but did his future selection chances no harm tonight as he crossed twice and seemed to be the Dragons’ enigma, bringing them to life twice when hope appeared lost.

Pangai Jr. and the Broncos Spoil Cowboys’ Homecoming

Brisbane Broncos forward Tevita Pangai Jr.

The Brisbane Broncos have ruined North Queensland’s housewarming party, prevailing 28-21 in the first match at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

Eight of the past eleven Queensland derbies had been decided by less than four points.

There was to be no repeat dosage for the 20000 strong crowd who attended the game in spite of the ongoing coronavirus scandal that has rocked the NRL.

The contest was dominated by Brisbane’s much touted forward pack, with Thomas Flegler, Payne Haas, David Fifita, Tevita Pangai Jr. and Patrick Carrigan all running for over 100 metres.

Jason Taumalolo and Jordan McLean were the only Cowboys to match their counterparts, running for 156 and 112 metres respectively.

It was far from an ideal start for the Cowboys, who put the ball out on the full from the opening kick-off, before losing Justin O’Neill in the opening minutes after a Pangai Jr. high tackle.

Broncos rake Jake Turpin opened the account with an audacious dummy, fooling two Cowboys defenders to stroll over for the first try at the new stadium in the eleventh minute.

Valentine Holmes lost the ball on his first touch back from the NFL and dropped a bomb in the opening stages, but later found his groove to open the Cowboys scoring.

The try came on the back of a sweet right-to-left shift that had fans and commentators alike reminiscing on his breakout 2017 campaign with the Sharks.

The game then descended into the end-to-end, fast-flowing style of play that clashes between these two sides are renowned for, with Kotoni Staggs and Kyle Feldt each crossing the line as the Broncos entered the sheds as 12-9 leaders.

Staggs was particularly impressive in the first period, linking up nicely with new recruit Brodie Croft before leaving the field early in the second half with cramps.

Following an early try from Pangai Jr., the Broncos gained the ascendency early in the second half through their completion rate, which sat above 85% through fifty minutes.

The game’s defining moment then came in the fifty-seventh minute, with David Fifita breaking through the Cowboys’ right-side defence and stepping past Valentine Holmes to score a sixty-metre epic.

Two late tries to Gavin Cooper and Ben Hampton threatened to provide the thrilling finish that fans were expecting, but a late Bunker reversal ended the Cowboys’ chances of a comeback.

Speaking after the game Broncos coach Anthony Seibold credited his side’s preparation, labelling tonight’s victory was one of the proudest of his career.

“I was really confident with the guys knowing and executing their roles… and there’s some really good signs that we’ve made a considerable improvement over the pre-season” Seibold said.

On the other side, Paul Green was unsurprisingly unimpressed with the Cowboys’ performance in what he described as an otherwise ‘great night’ for the region.

“Our starts to both halves weren’t good enough… we need to start like (how we finished) and not let the scoreboard affect our effort” he stated.

Brisbane will move on to face South Sydney at an empty Suncorp Stadium next week, while North Queensland will travel to Sydney to battle the Bulldogs.

NRL News Player of the Match:

3 Points – Tevita Pangai Jr – It was tough to single out any of the Broncos forwards tonight, but Pangai was the main man in the Broncos’ sixteen-point second-half run that sealed the game, running for 115 metres, setting up the Isaako try and scoring one of his own. The hit on O’Neill was the only negative point for ‘TPJ’, who may have difficulties with the judiciary this week.

2 Points – Payne Haas – Nothing special from Haas on the attacking front tonight, but he played over seventy minutes on an extremely warm Townsville night, running for 199 metres and making twenty-eight tackles. At just 20 years old, this kid could be special this season.

1 Point – Jamayne Isaako – A late mistake at the back to gift a try to Ben Hampton was the only sour moment in an otherwise solid night for Isaako at the back. He was in the seventeen jersey when teams were announced on Monday, but following tonight’s performance and the Jack Bird ACL injury, Isaako has booked his spot in the starting side for the foreseeable future.

What We Learned from the Canterbury Cup Decider

Newtown Jets 2019 Canterbury Cup success

While all eyes were focused on the stellar performances of the Roosters and the Raiders last week, many Rugby League supporters missed the enthralling finish to the Canterbury Cup competition.

After controversy over the league’s decision to overlook the idea of holding the game as a curtain-raiser for the Raiders preliminary final, Bankwest Stadium would host the Newtown Jets and the Wentworthville Magpies – two teams that extraordinarily made the big dance from seventh and eighth on the ladder respectively.

With the scores locked at 14-all at full-time, the Magpies secured the first lead of extra-time with a field goal, before an outlandish team effort from the Jets secured the 20-15 victory.

So, as the Jets progress to face the Burleigh Bears in this week’s State Championship, here are five things we learned from the epic finale of the Canterbury Cup.

  1. The System is a Winner

Many involved in the creation of rugby league’s junior pathways were eager to discover the potential success of the new competition format in 2019 after the dissolution of the Holden Cup for Under 20’s.

This season – topped off by the exhilarating grand final – has proven that the NRL and the ARLC have got the recipe spot on.

One only has to look at the score sheet from Sunday’s decider to see the solid mix of youth and experience that the competition combines, with Newtown’s Ronaldo Mulitalo, Scott Sorensen and William Kennedy appearing alongside the established NRL names of Josh Hoffman and George Jennings for Wentworthville.

The competition’s new format has enabled great potential for individual growth for younger players as they line-up with and against stars of the present and the past.

This was exemplified by the Western Suburbs Magpies, whose stars of the future were provided with the opportunity to play alongside the trio of Josh Reynolds, Robbie Rochow and Chris McQueen in 2019.

Between them, they had over 400 games of first-grade experience for seven different clubs.

  1. The Future is Bright for Cronulla

When analysing the line-up of their feeder club Newtown, it is evident that the future is bright for the Cronulla Sharks as a wealth of young talent makes its way through the club’s development systems.

While Matt Moylan is expected to hold onto the number one jersey for 2020, Jets fullback and man-of-the-match William Kennedy will undoubtedly begin to pressure John Morris into providing him with more first-grade experience after a stellar performance on the big stage.

Kennedy combined with fellow Sharks’ prodigy Ronaldo Mulitalo for the Jets’ first try of the game and led his team in running metres with 248 metres gained across sixteen carries.

With the departure of his brother Jayden to Newcastle, Blayke Brailey is set to feature in the number nine jersey for the Sharks in 2020 as he made 48 tackles and played the full ninety minutes. At halfback, Braydon Trindall had a strong game, kicking fourteen times for 392 metres and slotting three conversions including a clutch goal to send the game into extra time.

In the engine room, Sharks development players Jaimin Jolliffe and Toby Rudolf combined for 76 tackles at an efficiency rate of 92.7%.

  1. Billy Magoulias is a Future Star:

Only adding to Cronulla’s pool of young talent is the man dubbed ‘Gal Jr.’, Billy Magoulias.

Touted as the long-term replacement for the Sharks’ skipper, Magoulias made his NRL debut in Round 19, coming off the bench to help his team secure a two-point victory over North Queensland.

While the lock-forward is known for his consistent work ethic on defence and hard-hitting runs in attack, it was Magoulias’ playmaking skills that caught the eyes of many in the Canterbury Cup Grand Final.

He grubbered through for Scott Sorensen to score the Jets’ second try of the match, before Magoulias had a major role in the match-defining play by placing a perfectly weighted chip kick onto the chest of Tyrone Phillips who sent William Kennedy racing away to score.

With Wade Graham on the left edge and Briton Nikora patrolling the right, Magoulias should round out a back row that is set to become a part of one of the league’s most potent forward packs in 2020.

  1. The Eels are Flush with back-line Talent:

While Cronulla are evidently stacked with future stars, the Magpies’ line-up proved that the Eels possess considerable depth in positions one through seven.

Should Dylan Brown or Mitchell Moses miss any time through injury or potential representative duties in 2020, the Eels will be well covered in the halves by Jaeman Salmon and Rhys Davies.

Salmon was provided limited NRL experience in the early stages of 2019 and showed glimpses of promise, while Davies has excelled in reserve grade, tallying 136 points and 15 try assists across 28 appearances this season.

Out wide, Greg Leleisiuao was tipped to challenge Maika Sivo for the starting wing spot to start this season but was narrowly overlooked in favour of the Fijian flyer.

He has done his case for future selection no harm with 12 tries, second only in the Magpies outfit to Bevan French.

Likewise, Ethan Parry has impressed in attack and defence with nine tries, six line-breaks and an average of 98 metres gained per game.

His moment of the final came in the 44th minute as he shrewdly came across in cover defence to block a pass that would have led to the Jets taking the lead.

  1. Extra-Time is the Way to Go:

While golden point provided us with the thrilling finals conclusions to the 2015 Grand Final and 2010 qualifying final between the Roosters and the Tigers, it has come under fire in 2019 for producing results that have a greater reliance on luck than skill.

Golden point for the finals was scrapped in 2016, less than a year after Jonathan Thurston’s history-making field goal at ANZ Stadium. In its place, the NRL has re-introduced the ten-minute extra-time period, as was seen in the famous 1989 NSWRL decider between Canberra and Balmain.

Should Sunday’s decider have been determined by Golden Point, the game would have reached its conclusion with Jaeman Salmon’s 82nd minute field goal, robbing fans of the opportunity to witness one of the all-time great Rugby League grand final plays.

By providing oppositions with the right of reply following a field goal, the NRL is hoping to produce fairer results that don’t detract from the excitement and suspense of Golden Point.

This game proved exactly that.

Will we see extra-time in this week’s NRL decider? Only time will tell.

Thomas Beauchamp is a Journalism Student at the University of Technology Sydney. You can follow him on Twitter at @T_Beauchamp23.