NRL Ladder and Points Table Round 18

The NRL table movers and shakers continue to be the Brisbane Broncos, now on 20 points and entrenched in the Top 8. The NZ Warriors also continue their late run up the NRL table – now on 18 points and with a healthy for and against.

The major losers this week on the NRL Table are the Cronulla Sharks and the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Both the Bunnies and the Sharks made things much harder by losing this week, remaining on 16 points and the Bunnies now have a sorry looking points differential.

For the Full NRL ladder and points table after Round 18 – Click Here

Melbourne Machine Rolls Knights

Melbourne Storm 44 def Newcastle Knights 0

The well oiled NRL machine that is the Melbourne Storm threw a party tonight for former Knights Clint Newton, Anthony Quinn and for the 50th game of Steve Turner.

It was oh so sweet for Clint Newton, not only to get a win over his former club and coach Brian Smith; but to touchdown for a late try to rub salt into the wounds.

It was a carbon copy of last Monday nights NRL game, only this time the Knights were the team half a yard off the pace. From the outset the Knights lacked timing, discipline and ruck muscle to stop the Storm rolling forward.

The Knights tried hard to slow each play the ball, but the wrestling matches were being lost and penalties followed – 3 inside the first 5 minutes against the Knights.

For the Storm, they were their usual clinical selves. Crisp passing and initially deep backline movements were the winners for the Storm, scoring tries near the edges. As the game wore on, the gaps opened in the middle and the Storm took full advantage – blowing the score right out and virtually allowing them to put the cue in the rack for the rest of the regular NRL season in 2007. They could sit back and not win a game and still make the top 2 at this stage.

Cameron Smith and Dallas Johnson were rested at various stages and coach Craig Bellamy hinted at possibly resting Smith and others from upcoming games where possible.

The Knights need to lick their wounds quickly, as what was going to be a training run against the Roosters next week – now looks a tough ask; with Freddy injecting new life into the Bondi club. The Storm remain at home to the Raiders in Round 19.

Bob Fulton Darryl Brohman 2GB Feud

2GB Continuous Call members Bob Fulton and Darryl Brohman are reportedly not talking over heated words exchanged recently over Darryl Brohmans decision to sue Les Boyd over the elbow from Boyd that broke Brohmans jaw in Origin.

Darryl Brohman is reported to be in crisis talks with 2GB power brokers to work out a solution; as his co-worker Bob Fulton has repeatedly called him a ‘coward’ and someone that doesn’t have wider NRL respect.

Watch this footage (with audio coverage) of Bob Fulton and Darryl Brohman giving it to each other:

Jason Taylor verbals Michael Hagan

By John Chelsea

Everyone has finally seen how much Jason Taylor wanted the coaching job at Parramatta this year; when yesterday he let loose at Michael Hagan in front of least a dozen bystanders at Parramatta Stadium.

It started to heat up early on, when Jason Taylor and his Rabbitohs wanted to use the warm-up facilities at the Southern end of Parramatta Stadium. This is the area Parramatta themselves have warmed up on for years – so there were two problems, Parramatta usually prefer this area and due to recent heavy rains; this council parkland was closed anyway.

Jason Taylor obviously read into it all too much; thinking conspiracy he simply ordered his team to jump the fence and train on the closed park (Old Kings Oval). (Even though Parramatta officials had offered South Sydney access to the Stadium itself to warm-up.)

So the mood was a firey one from early on, much credit must now be given to Tony Archer for keeping the two sides apart. It would have been very easy for this game to boil over like the Roosters / Sharks match on Saturday night.

When Parramatta held on to defeat Souths 18-12 in a thriller – the NRL post match media conference was set to be an emotional one. It didn’t disappoint. As Jason Taylor caught sight of Michael Hagan he locked on and unloaded verbally “How f*cked are you?” Taylor lashed out. (Believing that Hagan was responsible for the warm-up conspiracy). Taylor kept going “Brian Smith’s rebuilding what you f….d up in Newcastle!” raged Taylor.

Hagan replied: “At least we won without Joey (Andrew Johns) today.”

The Eels coach’s comment was in response to Taylor previously questioning Hagan’s ability to coach wins at the Knights without star player Johns. (At an NRL awards night)

Taylor was always going to be up against it after losing the match, winners are grinners and even the best sledger couldn’t dig themselves out of this one.

Both coaches refused to elaborate more deeply on the matter and club bosses Denis Fitzgerald and Shane Richardson later weighed into the debate.

However, it seems crystal clear that Jason Taylor obviously has a complex over Michael Hagan and the Eels and badly wanted the win not just for his team but for himself – as the amount of fireworks that exploded from young Taylor yesterday suggests he badly wanted to be captain of the Eels ship.

Parramatta Eels outlast Rabbits

Parramatta Eels 18 def South Sydney 12

The Eels withstood a late flurry from South Sydney at Parramatta Stadium today to hang on 18-12 in a fairly defence oriented game from both sides.

It was a game where the Eels were dominant in the first half and should have led by more than their 14 points, after a staggering 65% possession rate and a completion stat that read 95%.

Timana Tahu was back and at his best for the Eels, initially putting his fierce shoulder into the defence then scoring a scintillating solo try; the second of the day for the Eels. Tahu looked to be moving freely and to be sure; coach Hagan rested the star centre early – pulling him off with 15 minutes to go.

The Eels first try was scored by the late returning Nathan Cayless, after a nice bomb catch, hang and pass in the air from Kris Inu. Nathan Cayless sniffing around to get the offload and reach out to score near the posts.

Both sides started cautiously; but the Eels grew in confidence with some possession off the back of some shocking calls from referee Tony Archer. There were some real mind boggling decisions for boths teams today which will have referees both Robert Finch doing some over time.

When Souths did have the ball in the first half, they looked very predictable in attack. Playing a much deeper line this week, the Souths runners were easily picked and tagged by the Eels defence – rushing and shutting down most raids.

The second half was a different story, the Eels coming out initially and playing like millionaires and not respecting the ball. Their incomplete sets giving Souths some momentum and the thrust they needed – Shane Rigon scurrying over from dummy half on 50 minutes to make a game of it.

The Eels went into their shells a little, but finally were able to execute a nice backline play to put Joel Reddy into the corner. The Eels had threatened with similar plays all day, but this time they pulled it off. Missing the kick proved a worry for the Eels – the score 18-6 with still half an hour to go.

When Souths finally stopped going side to side in attack and attacked the line on the fringe, Ben Rogers busted through and setup Nathan Merritt for a nice score and a heart stopper finish for the locals.

Parramatta able to hang on for several sets in defence to turn South Sydney away and just hold out for the win. For the Eels Kris Inu was a clear man of the match, the young Kiwi rep was dangerous with the ball most of the day and pulled off some try savers for the home side. He was ably helped by fellow junior ranks team mate Jarryd Hayne, playing at fullback the NSW Origin rep was busy all day – rushing up to make some seriously heavy tackles that snuffed out multiple South Sydney raids. Michael Hagan will be happy with the improved defence the Eels showed after last weeks debacle.

For South Sydney, the halves pairing again performed well Ben Rogers and Jeremy Smith, the only criticism being their final tackle kick options – too many times they made it easy for Parramatta by kicking dead or not giving runners enough time to chase. Shane Rigon was also hard for the Eels to stop as was the always impressive Roy Asotasi who was tireless for the Rabbits.

After the match there were reports of a verbal slanging match between Jason Taylor and Michael Hagan – reportedly over warm-up facilities. We’ll pass on a full report as the information comes to hand.

Warriors Kill off Dragons revival
NZ Warriors 44 def St George Illawarra 16

NEW Zealand Warriors reignited their finals hopes with a crushing 44-16 win over St George-Illawarra in Auckland today.

The Warriors were never headed after running in three tries in the opening 13 minutes before cruising home to bring the Dragons’ two-game winning streak to an abrupt end.

The convincing win helped erase the disappointment of last week’s controversial loss to the Cowboys and lifted the Warriors back into the NRL top eight.

“It is getting down to the business end of the year … it’s just important we prepare as well as we can every week,” Warriors coach Ivan Cleary said.

“It’s pretty obvious we needed to win today.

“We had a good run a couple of weeks ago and it was disappointing last week. It was important to get into a good frame of mind for this game.”

After a horrendous start in which they gave up three unanswered tries to the Cowboys last week, the Warriors made sure they were ready to go from the opening whistle today.

Centre Simon Mannering opening the scoring after just four minutes as the home side ambushed the Dragons, and by the time the Kiwi international had his second on the half hour the game was as good as over at 26-0.

“We were obviously disappointed with our start last week,” Warriors captain Steve Price said.

“We have got to get that consistency because it is that tight at the moment that you don’t want to look back and have any regrets by not turning up.”

The disappointment was obvious on the face of Dragons coach Nathan Brown, his side’s slim finals hopes now all but extinguished.

They threatened an unlikely comeback when Josh Morris scored four minutes after the break to close to within 32-16, but the home side kicked away again when Evarn Tuimavavae went over under the posts six minutes later.

“They were too good for us at the start of the game. They were a bit hungrier than we were and got off to a great start,” Brown said.

“It was good play by the Warriors, it was just dumb play by us – dumb kicking.

“When we kick the ball for them to score two length-of-the-field tries, it’s poor play by us.

“Our attack has been good in the last three weeks, now our defence has gone a bit backwards, which has been a bit disappointing.”

Despite his side’s dire predicament, Brown refused to give up.

“The season is not dead and buried, but it just makes it hard, that is all,” Brown said.

The Dragons sustained another injury blow with prop Justin Poore damaging his shoulder, while back-up hooker Ben Ellis strained his hamstring.

Warriors five-eighth Michael Witt continued his hot streak with the boot as he landed eight goals from as many attempts, taking his tally of successful kicks to 25.


Raiders crush Titan hopefuls
Canberra Raiders 56 def Gold Coast Titans 10

CANBERRA has a fighting chance of making the NRL final eight after a stunning 56-10 demolition of Gold Coast Titans.

The Titans had taken an 10-6 lead midway through the first half thanks to centres Luke O’Dwyer and Brett Delaney but from there it was all one-way traffic with the Raiders amassing 50 unanswered points.

The forwards, especially man of the match Troy Thompson, laid a solid foundation for halfback Michael Dobson who racked up 18 points through a cheeky try and seven goals.

For the Titans the loss was compounded by an injury to skipper Scott Prince.

The halfback came from the field early in the second half with a recurrence of the collarbone injury that he suffered in last weekend’s loss to Brisbane.

Despite the dominant win Raiders coach Neil Henry was far from overjoyed with the result, offering praise and criticism of his side in equal doses.

He said the half-time score of 24-10 was not a fair symbol of the closeness of the first half.

“Realistically, we hadn’t been great,” Henry said.

“Our kicking game wasn’t great in the first half and to their credit Todd (Carney) and Dobbo (Dobson) took that on board and territorially we were much better in the second half.

Skipper Alan Tongue, who put his season on the line by playing with damaged knee cartilage, admitted there were plenty of smiles in the dressing shed.

“In the context of the season we needed to win and to win with a healthy score like that is going to do the confidence a lot of good,” he said.

An exasperated Titans coach John Cartwright accepted the loss as an experience most teams had to go through in a competition as tight as the NRL.

“A scoreline like that doesn’t come down to one or two areas,” Cartwright said.

“When the game got out of reach the most disappointing thing (is that) the floodgates just opened and there’s no excuse, there’s no reason to get a score line like that against you.

Skipper Luke Bailey was equally frustrated.

“I don’t know if they played real flash, I think we just played pretty terrible,” he said.

“I think it was the worst defensive effort in the second half we’ve had all year.

“They’re a big side and you can’t be on the back foot when you’ve got the size of those fellas coming at you.

Bailey said the loss of Prince didn’t affect the result.

“Whether Scotty Prince was fully fit today or not we would have lost because the forwards lost it through the middle.”

The Raiders levelled the score in the 34th minute through a try to hulking prop Michael Weyman, his first of the season.

From there Canberra ran away, eventually piling on 10 tries to move to 16 points on the ladder and just two shy of the struggling Titans who have now lost three games in a row and face the increasingly desperate Bulldogs on Friday night.

For Canberra the win was vital but it now has to keep winning and against superior opposition.

In the next four rounds it has matches against Melbourne Storm, North Queensland and the Bulldogs.


NRL Table Tremors

The NRL Table got some shudders through it tonight as the Panthers upset the Bulldogs and the Sharks were beaten comprehensively by the maligned Sydney Roosters at Aussie Stadium

Penrith Panthers 30 def Bulldogs 20

When the Bulldogs had three stars pull out before kick-off it must have given the Panthers a glimmer of hope; as Sonny Bill Williams, Mark O’Meley and Willie Tonga all sat out tonights clash. As they did last week, the Panthers started strongly and looked energetic early.

However, the Bulldogs got some points on the board in the first half and looked to be overhauling the persistent Penrith side as time wore on. The Panthers as has been the case for much of 2007, couldn’t get many passes to stick and couldn’t get luck to fall their way early on.

At half time it was 3 tries to 1 in favour of the Bulldogs, only poor kicking from Hazem El Masri giving the Panthers some hope.

It must have been some speech by Matt Elliott and co at half time, as the Panthers came out firing, putting on a tonne of points and looking solid in all departments.

They had plenty of success attacking the Bulldogs left hand edge; Geoff Daniella looking the goods, as did Nick Youngquest as the two wide men ran hard at the line and pulled off some lovely short passing in limited space.

It was catching on for the Panthers, Tony Puletua began wide running and getting his big arms free and it was yet another strong showing for Peter Wallace – we’ve said it before, but this kid will play for Australia no doubt. Fortunately Elliott has him playing first grade these days.

While the Panthers were in overdrive with some great second phase play on most sets, the Bulldogs were withering away. Injuries galore for the Dogs will have Steve Folkes getting little sleep.

Big Willie Mason looks to have broken his wrist and will miss at least 4 weeks by early reports, winger Cameron Phelps is in the wars again – this time with a fractured eye socket. Replacement Dogs forward Aaron Wheatley also getting hurt, with a dislocated shoulder.

It was some deserved spoils for the Panthers, they do still look flaky in defence – as when the Bulldogs did mount a charge it was always battle stations – to their credit they scrambled and countered well.

The Dogs always had a tall ask with so many injuries and fortunately for them they have some decent depth in the forwards and will need it by the looks of things.

Sydney Roosters 23 def Cronulla Sharks 12

Ricky Stuart vs Brad Fittler – the former allies, at war and the junior partner came off with the spoils.

It was a totally different Roosters side tonight, lively, eager and dominant in defence. Facing the tough Sharks defence, the Roosters employed their best defence line and proved extremely tough to penetrate all night. The Sharks tries coming from kicks.

Fittler had reshuffled the positions for the Roosters and setup what most thought was the best look for the side. Anasta at pivot, Wing at half and Harrison starting at lock.

With the Roosters looking the goods for most of the first half, even with less possession that the Sharks – the Cronulla side managed to stay in touch on the scoreboard. A last second try by Dave Simmons could have easily drove a knife into the heart of the Roosters as the hooter went.

As the second half wore on and the Roosters realised they were a chance of winning, their confidence grew big time. Anthony Topou was dynamic and hard to stop on most runs, piercing the line and find support several times.

It was the structure that really set the win up for the Roosters tonight. In previous weeks they have been a little unsure of themselves, Fittler has obviously put some routine and process in place for the team.

It was a match with plenty of feeling, two major punch ups giving the crowd plenty to cheer for. There will surely be some suspensions after a few hits were put on report.

Amos Roberts continues to struggle with form, him being the only Rooster not to really have an impact tonight – however if the Roosters continue playing like this, it will make things easier for the former flyer.

The Sharks were sadly similar to how they have been in recent weeks. Fairly solid in defence, but lost in attack. They rarely threatened through the hands and obviously got frustrated with things – lashing out and giving away plenty of penalties.

The Sharks needed this win badly, they now have lost 4 on the trot and face the toughest run home of any other top 8 hopeful.

I would hate to be around Ricky Stuart for the next 24 hours.

Manly maul Tigers at Brookvale

Manly 34 def Wests Tigers 4

It was built up to be the clash of the round, but a comprehensive display by Manly all but shut out a Wests Tigers team that had little direction in attack.

As so often is the case, the Tigers really needed to score early to get their confidence up – unfortunately for them, Manly went in after only a few minutes. 3 back to back penalties from Steve ‘Terminator’ Clark had Manly attacking the Tigers line constantly with Glenn Stewart barging over from point blank range.

The majority of the first half then turned into an arm wrestle. Poor kicks from Manly allowed the Tigers to stay in the hunt, plenty of Orford 5th tackle options would reach Fitzhenry on the full and gifted the Tigers good field position.

The Tigers seemed focused on many set plays; they tried a wrap around and kick for winger try on the first tackle – narrowly missing a try, as a wide Chris Lawrence was beaten by the ball over the deadball line. These moves look great when a try ensues, but are absolute game killers when possession is lost on the zero or first tackle.

If these moves didn’t hurt the Tigers enough, Manly’s best player in 2007 – Michael Monaghan’s brilliant try seconds before half time did plenty of damage. From 5 metres out, Monaghan beat 5 Tigers players to send the home side to a comfortable lead at the break 12-4.

The Sea Eagles machine clicked into 5th gear in the second half, piling on 28 points without reply – with recently maligned Jamie Lyon finding some form and putting veteran Steve Menzies into some holes to score. The Manly win was even more impressive considering they had some late changes, Mark Bryant starting at prop and some minor changes on the bench also.

There’s no doubt Manly had spoken about the ‘Most overrated NRL team tag’, however coach Des Hasler didn’t want to talk about that too much. He instead put the focus on Jamie Lyon and was impressed how Lyon answered the call of his critics this week with a good game.

Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens criticised his teams lack of direction in attack. The Tigers do suffer without Robbie Farrah at hooker, and Dene Halatau didn’t have his best game at dummy half – regularly putting pressure on his teammates with some poor passing.

The Tigers face the Warriors next week in a home game for the Western Suburbs side. Manly head over to Cronulla to face the Sharks.

Broncos hold off Cowboys in Townsville
Brisbane 24 def Cowboys 16

The Brisbane Broncos have held off a strong second-half fightback from the Cowboys to hang on to a 24-16 win at Dairy Farmers Stadium.

The Brisbane Broncos set up their win with an strong first half performance. Taking a 24-4 lead into halftime. In the second half, a Matt Bowen led Cowboys tried valiantly to steal the points, coming back bigtime into the contest with several second-half tries.

Simple errors in possession while in the Broncos half cost North Queensland dearly, as they camped in Broncos territory late in the game but just couldn’t stop the Broncos from clinching a fifth straight victory.

Brisbane began the game with a try to Dane Carlaw in under 10 minutes. Darren Lockyer setting up the try, sending a nice ball to the hard running Dane Carlaw who went to score.

Broncos halfback Michael Ennis was penalised for a late tackle on Johnathan Thurston, and the Cowboys were soon on the board as some quick hands allowed Ashley Graham to cross in the corner.

Another great passing move led to the visitors’ next try, with Karmichael Hunt performing a wrap-around before sending winger Steve Michaels clear.

Brisbane extended the gap to 18-4 with some more Lockyer brilliance, with the star pivot shrugging off an attempted tackle from Thurston to break the line before putting Hunt in.

It got worse for North Queensland when they lost Jason Smith to a badly sprained ankle, before the Broncos moved upfield with a penalty and scored through a ducking and weaving Corey Parker.

Parker converted the try himself to continue a perfect goal-kicking effort and give the near-faultless Brisbane a 20-point halftime advantage.

The Cowboys’ woes continued after the break, with Thurston seemingly scoring a try only to be disallowed by video referee Tim Mander because of an obstruction.

But the home side soon reduced the deficit as Matt Bowen drifted across-field before linking up with Scott Minto who sent Graham over for his second.

Bowen then scored a superb solo try to put the Cowboys within striking distance, with Graham’s sideline conversion making it 24-16.

North Queensland continued to push for the win with Bowen sparking more free-wheeling attacking plays, but the Broncos’ defence held firm

Chris Anderson: Pushed?

The talk may be shifting away from Chris Anderson to Brad Fittler and even Phil Gould – but what really happened at the Roosters?

So far the media has been fairly kind to the Roosters and Anderson since the two parted ways earlier this week. When NRL clubs and coaches part ways – most times the divorce gets very messy and everyone knows about it.

Chris Anderson cited health reasons for his departure this week and after a horror 2007 season; few could argue that Anderson hadn’t aged another 10 years in his 6 months at the Roosters.

After suffering a heart attack during an Australian Kangaroo’s game in 2001, there is no question Anderson needs to look after himself. Did the media really buy the story that Anderson quit? Were they scared to disagree with the health reasoning from Anderson? Well, the truth is anyones guess.

However there has been some mail coming out of the Roosters camp suggesting that the decision may not have been made entirely by Chris Anderson. After poor results continued to ensue, it is rumored that Roosters management and some of the Roosters players spoke privately regarding the situation at Bondi. It is not known who approached who – but the comments were centered around Anderson and his apparent ‘laid back’ approach to training and match planning.

Some players argued his style seemed a little outdated; however the Roosters board persisted with Chris Anderson until the recent flogging by Manly.

Apparently soon after the Manly thrashing; Roosters management approached Chris Anderson and discussed his future. Anderson was to be sacked on the Thursday this week (July 12th). It is not known whether Anderson ambushed the Roosters by resigning earlier or whether it was an agreed move by the two parties.

Either way, it’s obvious that Nick Politis and his boys continue to have strong involvement at most levels within the Roosters ranks. The whole situation made worse, as bitter inner city rivals South Sydney continue to go from strength to strength – on and off the field.

As the dust settles and Freddy Fittler takes over; many are waiting for Gus Gould to get involved with the club once again. Gould has stated publicly “Freddy is his own man, and I won’t be discussing NRL with him” – however, this would be a silly approach from Gould and there is no question his experience would be valuable to both Freddy and the Roosters. (Surely privately the former mates would be helping each other out)

Fittler apparently has 8 weeks as caretaker to prove himself; even if the budding coach succeeds and is able to secure a role for next year and beyond – fireworks will surely fly, if the day comes when Nick Politis has to sack one of Bondi’s favourite sons.

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