Manly secure rare home win in clash v Bulldogs

Manly Sea Eagles fullback Tom Trbojevic

Needing someone to step up, Tom Trbojevic delivered at the clutch for the Manly Sea Eagles in their 18-6 win over the Canterbury Bulldogs.

The first half was one dominated by the Bulldogs. They had the possession, the field position but failed to capitalise.

It proved costly as a second-half blitz and period of dominance of their own, saw Manly record a much-needed win.

The Sea Eagles hit the lead with an early penalty goal but the Bulldogs would score the first try and their only points.

Michael Lichaa passed back on the inside and Reimis Smith did the rest, bustling his way over.

Try as they might before and after, despite all their possession, the Dogs could not crack the Manly line again.

The game then turned on its head as Manly dominated possession and the Bulldogs errors began to climb.

Manly’s first try came off an attacking scrum as Trbojevic outpaced Kerrod Holland to score.

Soon after, a second try for Trbojevic came, as Brian Kelly popped a lovely late offload for the fullback to simply fall over the line.

Forced to do a mountain of defence, the Dogs line eventually cracked again.

Addin Fonua-Blake scoring a rare NRL try as he crashed over off a Daly Cherry-Evans short pass.

The win was the first for Manly at Lottland (named McGrath Foundation Stadium for this week due to Women in League round) in seven starts.

With defence so crucial in today’s game, Trent Barrett praised his side’s resolve to keep the Dogs at bay.

“Our first half set it up really, down to 12 men, the defensive effort in the first half they just kept turning up and turning up,” he said.

“I think we only had one good ball set in the first half and on the wrong end of possession and 7-3 penalties.

“To come in at 6-4, was a real good result for us.

I knew if we had enough good ball we’d score enough points. Credit to the players, they did a terrific job.”

Player of the Game:

3. Tom Trbojevic

2. Addin Fonua-Blake

  1. Daly Cherry-Evans

 

Moses Parts the Red V

Parramatta Eels halfback Mitchell Moses celebrating

A very unexpected and one-sided affair at ANZ this evening saw the bottom of the ladder Parramatta Eels defeat the St George Illawarra Dragons 40 points to 4.

The Dragons have now fallen to their third straight loss and fifth in six weeks, leaving fans with a knot in their stomach heading into the finals.

The affair seemed to go Parramatta’s way from the very beginning with Jarryd Hayne scoring his first of three tries in only the third minute.

It was Mitchell Moses with a beautiful cut out pass for his first of four try assists.

After copping an accidental boot to the face, Hayne was left with bandages across the face in his best The Mummy impersonation but that didn’t stop him from scoring the second try for the evening.

A Kane Evans offload followed by a Michael Jennings flick pass to  Hayne saw Moses grab another try assist for Jarryd Hayne to crash over the try line.

It was only the second try of the evening but was a perfect representation of the dominance Parramatta were looking to display.

A trickle of errors and stream of penalties saw the Dragons seriously back pedalling and matters only got worse when Cameron McInnes was sent to the sin bin with just under 15 minutes remaining in the half.

Parramatta immediately went on the attack which ended up seeing Gareth Widdop up the tunnel with a dislocated shoulder and possible long stint on the sideline.

With a man down and Widdop out, Parramatta struck through George Jennings who steam rolled a weakened Dragons defense.

Parramatta kept the pressure strong, forcing errors and keeping their near 65% possession alive.

With just three minutes until the half time siren, Jaeman Salmon – the rookie in only his second NRL game – put a bomb in the air which flustered the defenders to allow for Jarryd Hayne’s first hattrick since Round 1, 2013.

Mitchell Moses proving to be sweet with his conversions again, saw the Parramatta Eels lead the Dragons 22-0 at half time.

The second half seemed to be much more positive as a Red V fan with Luciano Leilua out-hustling Michael Jennings for a kick return to score the Dragons’ first points of the game.

Unfortunately, for the Dragons, their goal kicker in Widdop was on the sideline so Ben Hunt’s attempt was waved away giving Parramatta a still comfortable 18 point lead.

Uncharacteristically, the Eels hit back almost immediately with a flying Clint Gutherson jumping off a Mitchell Moses grubber kick.

An injury scare almost soured the effort, however, the Parramatta captain shook off any concerns and continued to put together one of his best performances this season.

Mitchell Moses wasn’t happy with a 24 point lead and in the 51st minute, he put together one of his best individual tries almost as if the assists weren’t enough for him.

The 23 year old looked reborn as he faked Matt Dufty – the try scorer in the last minute victory for the Dragons against Parramatta just 6 weeks prior.

The night only seemed to get worse for the young fullback with two knock-ons to keep Parramatta’s possession percentage in the higher figures.

Siosaia Vave crashed over a tired and deflated Dragons defense with 3 minutes to go to sum up the night perfectly. T

he man of the hour, Mitchell Moses, slotting his 6th conversion for the night to bring Parramatta’s grand total to 40.

It was a forgettable evening for the Dragons as the Eels kept their hopes of avoiding the wooden spoon well and truly alive.

The Eels are off the bottom of the ladder for the first time since round 1. 

Despite the Eels win, Widdop’s injury was a big talking point but Dragons coach Paul McGregor did not say much.

“We will know a lot more tomorrow afternoon,” was all the coach could muster when asked about it.

Although they need to look at themselves and regroup, Cam McInnes says the players still believe in their abilities.

“Individually, we need to have at ourselves,” he said.

“But we’ve got a great team here. People might want to write us off, but we’re not fazed at all.

We’ve got three games left and if people want to say ‘it’s scary not to be in the (top) four’, well, we will be back. We have all the confidence in the world.”

Each Eels player did their part but coach Brad Arthur admits that the make-up of the side is not necessarily set in stone.

“Who knows? We’ve got plenty of options,” Arthur said.

“Jarryd is floating around there, Guth’s going there, it gives us a bit of flexibility and a bit of unpredictability with our backline.

“Normy was blowing a touch there at the end but he just likes to get his hands on the footy and [fullback] takes him away from having to worry about too much organisational stuff and just play a bit of footy.

“He did well.”

Arthur also praised rookie half Salmon in just his second NRL game.

“I thought young Jaeman warmed into the game well,” Arthur continued.

He was good physically, which was always going to be the test for him. I thought they did okay.”

Player of the Game:

3. Mitchell Moses

2. Jarryd Hayne

1. Nathan Brown

Comeback kings strike again as Panthers beat Titans

 

Gold Coast Titans prop Ryan James

 

Somehow, the comeback kings have done it again; the Penrith Panthers winning after being behind, this time against the Gold Coast Titans. 

How they are always doing it is anyone’s guess but it has many questioning their premiership credentials against more elite sides.

In a game that went to extra-time, it was villain-turned-hero in Nathan Cleary that shone brightest.

Missing what is usually an easy conversion by his standards, the miss pushed the game to golden point.

But it all came full circle as Cleary, calmly as you like, slotted the winning field goal and gave Penrith a 17-16 win at Cbus Super Stadium.

In a week mired with turmoil of sorts for the Panthers; the sacking of Anthony Griffin, the rumours around Ivan Cleary and much more, they somehow found a way to win.

It was a first-up win as an NRL coach for Cameron Ciraldo although his side has much to improve on.

Slow starts have killed them in 2018 and this game was no different.

The Titans got on the scoreboard first when Ryan James powered over from close range.

The Panthers did, however, hit back, when Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Cleary and Waqa Blake all combined to with the latter scoring.

Both sides shot themselves in the foot a few times in the ensuing plays, especially the Titans who could have scored soon after.

They would eventually get their next try, though, as a Panthers error gifted a try to Titans winger Philip Sami.

Another soon followed as Anthony Don took a simple interception and coasted away to score and give the Titans a 16-6 lead.

In a match largely dominated by the Titans, the Panthers side were lucky to be in it at all.

Two quick tries followed, however, as the comeback kings somehow got it back to 16-all.

First, a Dean Whare break through brittle Titans defence saw Cleary score.

Before a run play on the last went through the hands and it was Dallin Watene-Zelezniak who levelled things up.

Cleary may have gone on to miss the conversion but he certainly did not miss the field goal.

Ciraldo praised his side for their resolve and half Cleary for how he has handled himself amid speculation this week.

“I didn’t think we were playing well enough, to their credit they are just a talented group,” the rookie coach said.

“They pulled it out at the end there and I am so glad to the bloke sitting next to me for him to win it for us after the week he’s had, not of his own doing.

“The way he has handled himself this week, I couldn’t be prouder of him and I’m just so happy that he had the chance to win us the game and he nailed it.”

Player of the Game:

3. Ryan James

2. Nathan Cleary

  1. Reagan Campbell-Gillard.

Roosters hit top spot after win over arch rivals Souths

Sydney Roosters halfback Cooper Cronk

One of the oldest, fiercest rivals in Australian rugby league history, the Sydney Roosters v South Sydney Rabbitohs clashes are always lively. 

Last night was no exception as it was the Roosters who came out on top in a defensive slog to win 18-14.

The win moves the Roosters into first place for the first time in 2018 after a steady climb up the ladder.

Souths night was hampered by the early loss of Alex Johnston who left the field with a hamstring injury.

They would score the first points in the game, however, with Adam Reynolds slotting a penalty goal to put Souths up 2-0.

The first try would go to the Roosters; Victor Radley hitting the line, spinning and popping a miracle ball for James Tedesco to score.

A further penalty goal extended the Roosters  lead but Reynolds had plans of his own.

Grubbering ahead, he regathered his own kick and converted to boot, before Mitchell kicked another penalty goal.

Evenly poised at half-time, it was the Roosters who led 10-8.

The Roosters would go further ahead when Joseph Manu scored on the back of a length of the field run from Blake Ferguson.

Another penalty goal put the Roosters up 18-8 but the Bunnies would grab a late try to make it interesting.

Hymel Hunt was the scorer after a behind-the-back pass by Braidon Burns.

Although his side might be first at the moment, Roosters coach Trent Robinson says they are not the only favourites.

“No, you can’t change within a night,” Robinson said.

“We haven’t been there all year. It’s insignificant, that’s changed three weeks in a row hasn’t it? Within eight days we’ve had three [favourites].

“We are where we want to be, probably would have liked to have been there earlier in the season, but we are where we want to be now and are getting better.

“But there is room for improvement, we’re not done yet.”

The injury to Johnston has Souths back-line depth even skinnier than it was, something that coach Anthony Seibold knows cannot be controlled.

“We are under the pump a bit with our outside backs so we don’t have too many options to be fair,” Seibold said.

“Gags hasn’t done any reps all season at fullback and young Tyrell, we pulled him up two days ago and he hasn’t trained with us for months.

“For him to do a good job on Latrell Mitchell … that’s why I am really proud of the effort of the guys tonight.”

Player of the Game:

3. Cooper Cronk

2. James Tedesco

  1. Thomas Burgess

Warriors move up to sixth after win over Knights

New Zealand Warriors forward Adam Blair

Desperate to break a run of four straight losses at home, the New Zealand Warriors have moved up to sixth after a win over the Newcastle Knights.

In a rather dominating and impressive display, the 20-8 win is a timely boost for the Warriors at the business end.

Celebrating Issac Luke’s 250th game, it was one to remember for the enigmatic hooker.

Despite the best efforts of fellow 250-gamer, Knights halfback Mitch Pearce, it was not to be for the Novocastrians.

It was the Knights who hit the lead first, as Ken Sio weaved in and out past defenders before carrying three of them over to score.

The slow start failed to phase the Warriors who eventually found their mojo and whipped themselves into submission.

A pass from Gerard Beale that popped up produced a rare try for the barnstorming Adam Blair.

A second try soon followed as David Fusitu’a bulldozed over Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga to score in the corner.

The timely try and subsequent conversions gave the Warriors a handy buffer.

Try as they might, the Warriors could not score again for a while but five-eighth Blake Green changed all that.

Slicing through some wafer-thin defence, Green weaved in and out to score.

The only further points came courtesy of a late penalty goal to give the Warriors a 20-4 win.

Although his side produced a sound performance to win, Stephen Kearney wants more from his side.

“The polish with our attack, I just don’t think that’s quite where we want it yet,” Kearney said.

“I thought our attack was probably just tinkering on really clicking tonight.

“We’ve probably been a little bit like that over the last month.

“To me it’s a bit of individual skill and detail so that’s the focus for us, particularly this week.”

He praised his side’s defence but wants to a more clinical attack in the coming weeks before finals.

“I think defensively over the last couple of weeks we’ve shown what we are capable of and that’s got to be the base standard for us,” Kearney continued.

“That’s definitely the area of improvement, the polish in our attack.”

The reason for the Warriors win according to Knights coach Nathan Brown; their back three. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Ken Maumalo and Fusitu’a.

“We didn’t handle their back three as good as we’d have liked. Roger [Warriors skipper Tuisava-Sheck] had a bit of a day out and the two big wingers are big powerful men,” Brown said.

“Back threes play such a big part in our contests today and Roger is up there as good as any and the two wingers, they’re big, big men, so they’ve got a good nucleus there to really build some momentum if they have their best players in the field.

Player of the Game:

3. Adam Blair

2. David Fusitu’a

  1. Blake Green

New deal for Warriors hulking winger Fusitu’a

New Zealand Warriors winger David Fusitu’a

David Fusitu’a has come a long way in a few short years and good form has seen the New Zealand Warriors re-sign him until the end of 2023. 

With his new deal set to put Fusitu’a in elite company as a 10-season Warriors player, it is his current form that has everyone talking.

That form has seen his fellow peers place him as the second best winger in the game based on the 2018 players poll.

It was a no-brainer for the Warriors club who have seen just how good Fusitu’a has become since his 2014 debut.

“Retaining David was a priority for us and we’re thrilled to see him staying here long-term,” said Vodafone Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney.

“There’s no question he has made tremendous progress, especially over the last two seasons.”

Even more pleasing from Kearney’s perspective is that Fusitu’a is justifying his selection on a weekly basis.

“He provides wonderful value for us in all respects,” said Kearney.

“He’s a player the club has put a lot of work into to develop into a high-quality footballer and he is repaying the faith we have always had in him.”

Fusitu’a was just grateful the club believed in him.

“I’m thankful to the club for having faith in me,” he said.

“I grew up always wanting to be a part of the Vodafone Warriors and I’m committed to seeing this club succeed and doing something special here.

“This is where I want to be.”

Cowboys notch just sixth win of 2018 in derby win

North Queensland Cowboys lock Jason Taumalolo

Needing a win to try and avoid the wooden spoon, the North Queensland Cowboys got their wish with an entertaining win over rivals, the Brisbane Broncos.

In a game that saw Sam Thaiday become just the 33rd player in Australian rugby league history to play 300 games, the Cowboys spoiled his party.

They went on to win 34-30 in an entertaining contest at 1300 Smiles Stadium.

It was the Cowboys who came out all guns blazing as Gideon-Gela Mosby and Jason Taumalolo scored to give them a 14-2 lead.

Gela-Mosby was the quickest to react to a grubber and Taumalolo pounced on a loose ball after a Broncos error.

The game then took a turn in the Broncos favour.

James Roberts raced away for a 55 metre intercept try before the Broncos were then given an eight-point try.

Matt Lodge bustled over for a rare try and was collected by Cowboys fullback Te Maire Martin’s knees post-try.

Grant Atkins made did not hesitate, immediately awarding the eight-point try and giving the Broncos a 16-14 lead.

Two penalty goals for the Cowboys; one to Johnathan Thurston and a remarkable mid-field torpedo from 55m out from Kyle Feldt gave them the lead at half-time.

As the battle of the wrestle reigned supreme early in the second half, it was a penalty goal that tied things up for the Broncos.

Two quick tries for the Broncos then saw them go twelve points up.

Korbin Sims scored another try to continue his rich vein of form before Tevita Pangai Jr. capitalised on good lead-up play.

This should have been the icing on the cake in the eyes of many but the return of the Cowboys starting forwards changed the game.

The comeback was on as the Cowboys shifted right as a lovely Justin O’Neill pass saw Feldt score in the corner.

In just the next set, Gavin Cooper crashed over, the conversion reducing the deficit to just two points.

The home crowd then erupted when a Thurston grubber bounced deviously away from Anthony Milford, with Coen Hess there to pounce.

That would be all she wrote for the Cowboys to claim their much-needed win.

Cowboys coach Paul Green praised the experience of his forward pack in getting back into the contest.

“It’s probably an area where the Broncos have some good forwards but they don’t have as much experience as some of our guys,” he said.

“Those guys did an enormous job for us, not that stats are everything but if you look at their run metres, it was really good to see and Johnno and Te Maire and those blokes got on the back of those.”

Even with the lead his side had, Broncos coach Wayne Bennett knew the game was far from safe but did praise his side’s effort.

“No, never against the Cowboys, they always have that ability to come back,” Bennett said.

“I wouldn’t have thought we did enough until the fulltime siren went.

“The effort was there, I’m not critical of our effort, but 46 per cent ball control [in the first half] and all the things that we could have done so much better and they just kept turning up.”

Player of the Game:

3. Jason Taumalolo

2. Tevita Pangai Jr.

  1. Johnathan Thurston

Bateman the latest to test himself in NRL after signing with Raiders

Wigan Warriors utility John Bateman

An English international and successful with the Wigan Warriors, John Bateman will head to the NRL in 2019 after signing with the Canberra Raiders. 

The 24-year old has played in more than 150 Super League games and joins the Raiders on a 3-year deal from 2019.

After the success of fellow Englishmen Elliott Whitehead and Josh Hodgson, the Raiders will hope Bateman can have a similar effect.

Able to cover both centre and back-row, Bateman is a player that the club praised.

“John is a wonderful talent who has the ability and skill set to play a number of positions,” Raiders recruitment and High-Performance Director Peter Mulholland said.

“We’ve already seen the success of both Elliott Whitehead and Josh Hodgson transitioning from the Super League to the NRL and we see John as being a player who can make a similar impact in this competition.”

“At 24, he’s got the perfect mix of experience and youth and we’re really looking forward to seeing him in green in 2019.”

Bateman admits that Wigan did their best to keep him at the club but his desire to play in another league prompted his move.

“This has been an incredibly tough decision for me to make as I have enjoyed my time at Wigan so much but, ultimately, I have always had the desire to play in the NRL at some point in my career so this opportunity something I didn’t want to turn down,” Bateman said.

“Wigan did all they could, in my opinion, to keep me here but I was always upfront with them regarding my motivation to play in a different competition.”

It is not all doom and gloom for Wigan fans, however, as the completion of his Raiders deal will see them return to Wigan.

Wigan aimed to get the best deal for all parties and are pleased with the outcome of Bateman’s departure for now and eventual return.

“John was adamant that he wanted to try his hand in the NRL and, once it became clear to us that he couldn’t be persuaded, we wanted to ensure that the Club gained the best deal in these set of circumstances,” Chairman Ian Lenegan said.

“I believe we have done so.

“Despite John’s experience, he is still only 24-years old and, throughout our discussions, he has made it clear to us that he is determined to return to Wigan in the future.

He will do so as a better player then, entering the peak years of his career, so we will look forward to welcoming him back to the Club.”

Nightingale the latest to hang up the boots at season’s end

St George Illawarra Dragons winger Jason Nightingale

The retirees list for 2018 would make one hell of a team and St George Illawarra Dragons winger Jason Nightingale will now join that list.

After a career spanning 12 seasons, all with the Dragons, the Renown United junior decided it was the right time to hang up the boots.

With 265 NRL games to date, a 2010 premiership win, 33 Tests for New Zealand and appearances at the 2012 NRL All-Stars and 2011 World Club Challenge, Nightingale has done it all.

Known as ‘Gypsy’ among his peers and by fans, his debut came in round 8, 2007.

Since then, he has so far scored 110 tries to date for the club and can still add more to the total.

The time was right for Nightingale to retire and he knows he leaves the game having achieved all he can.

“It’s a very proud and solemn day for me to be announcing the end of the career,” Nightingale said.

“I am extremely grateful for everything that the Dragons and the game has done for myself, and what I’ve been able to achieve.”

With his NRL journey now close to an end, Nightingale thanked all of those who have helped him on his way over the years.

“There are so many people to thank for what’s been a special journey,” the Kiwi international continued.

“From Renown United through to the junior reps to now, through the highs and lows and great successes I’ve had, I’m just so thankful for this incredible journey.”

Winning a grand final is always a huge accomplishment and that stands out for Nightingale in his career.

“The 2010 grand final win was the highlight for me and my family,” he continued.

“There are so many fond memories from that day and the season as a whole.

“Although now is great time to reflect, there are still plenty of memories to be made this season yet.”

Now that he has made his decision, he will dedicate more time to his wife and family, grateful for their selfless support of his career.

“However, I’m also look forward to more family time with my second child on the way.

“My wife Bianka has sacrificed a lot for my career.

“She’s been selfless by supporting me throughout my career, while also building one of her own.”

The plaudits were endless as Dragons Chief Executive Officer Peter Doust praised Nightingale and his club career.

“Jason has always represented himself, his family and the Dragons with distinction and has always been committed to supporting the club’s visions both off and on the field,” Doust said.

“He is an outstanding role model who typifies the club’s values and we have been privileged that he has remained loyal to the Dragons for so long.

“He signed eight contracts to remain at the Dragons.”

Also praising him was Dragons coach Paul McGregor who pointed out the success he has had in his career.

“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up and Gyspy typifies that,” McGregor said.

“He’s very tough and very committed.

If you look at his career, what he’s done season after season is quite incredible.”

“He’s been fortunate enough along the way to avoid too many injuries and has represented his country with pride every time he’s donned the Kiwis jumper.

McGregor has been associated with Nightingale for many years and has enjoyed watching him grow and develop as a player and a person.

“I’ve known Jason for a very long time so I feel very privileged to have had the honour as a head coach to watch this young man develop into a father, a husband,” continued McGregor.

“He is one of the best clubmen we’ve had over a long period of time.”

New Raiders deal for Lui

Canberra Raiders prop Dunamis Lui

Playing in all 20 games so far this season, Dunamis Lui has earned a new three-year contract with the Canberra Raiders. 

With the departures of both Shannon Boyd and Junior Paulo, retaining experience like Lui was key for the Raiders.

“Dunamis has shown wonderful commitment and professionalism to return from a serious knee injury and play every match for the club this season,” Raiders Recruitment and High-Performance Director PeterMulholland said.

“He’s an experienced first grade player who will be a valuable part of our squad in the next three seasons.

“Dunamis has been a consistent performer for us this year and we are looking forward to him continuing on his good form with the club.”

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