Walk the line – NRL Ruck fiasco

With plenty of talk in NRL circles about the ruck, wrestling in the tackle and markers not square – the major problem actually seems to be the tackled player regularly walking forward off the mark to play the ball quicker.

Most matches now we see players walk and crawl forward hoping it will remove the tacklers quicker.

The problems created from this are two fold; it virtually gives the markers no chance of getting square, removing their chance of a fair shot at the dummy half or first receiver. It also greatly reduces the 10m distance between the attacking and defendng teams – making the game more of a slugfest and less of a spectacle for viewers.

Years ago, any advancement off the mark would result in an instant penalty. Even some of the old chesnuts, such as: planting the ball before the player gets to his feet and falling over as the ball is played – regularly go unpunished at present.

I understand that the game needs to flow and too many penalties are frustrating – but the state of the ruck at the moment is a debacle and needs to be addressed.

NRL News

NRL Table after Round 19, 2007

After Round 19 of the NRL, the competition ladder looks even more interesting. The Bunnies, Titans and Newcastle will be desperate for a win this week to keep in touch. Meanwhile the Cowboys need to keep winning, as their points difference is so bad they can’t afford a table tie with any other Top 8 team at present. Wests Tigers face the Cowboys on Monday night at Leichhardt in what should be a must see match. The Eels will challenge Manly for a more secure spot in the top of 8 and the Roosters, Dragons and Raiders amazingly have a chance to make things interesting if they are able to upset their rivals and sneak onto 18 points. The Bunnies will face the Titans in another clash that will shape the Top 8, as do the Warriors and Knights – a massive road trip for Newcastle.

1
Storm 16 2 1 271 34
2
Sea Eagles 14 4 1 189 30
3
Eels 11 7 1 55 24
4
Cowboys 10 8 1 -69 22
5
Broncos 9 9 1 78 20
6
Warriors 9 9 1 69 20
7
Bulldogs 9 9 1 44 20
8
Tigers 9 9 1 -18 20
9
Rabbitohs 8 10 1 -8 18
10
Titans 8 10 1 -80 18
11
Knights 8 10 1 -150 18
12
Sharks 7 11 1 49 16
13
Raiders 7 11 1 -61 16
14
Dragons 7 11 1 -74 16
15
Roosters 7 11 1 -183 16
16
Panthers 5 13 1 -112 12

Blood, Sweat and Eels

Parramatta Eels 20 def Brisbane Broncos 16

The Parramatta Eels were pushed all the way tonight by the Broncos babes in the final NRL match for Round 19. A controversial turning point coming midway through the second half when Eel Jarryd Hayne was accused of ‘playing dead’ after a collision with Sam Thaiday, as the Broncos came home with a full head of steam.

Touted as specials for a large win, the Eels started solidly through an impressive and physical forward platform. It was something unexpected from the Eels, immediately targeting the centre of the field – an area where the Broncos were at full strength.

The plan worked, with Nathan Cayless and the Hindmarsh brothers piercing the Broncos line at will leaving some decent defenders in their wake.

The Eels had plenty of possession in the first half, coupled with half a dozen line breaks the tries came. Firstly to Kris Inu after a pin point kick from Tim Smith – the Eels half back has been criticized at times for being ‘kick happy’ – however few can question the pin point accuracy of his kicking.

The Eels early stranglehold on the game continued, quick play the balls and constant thrust from the forwards – allowed some nice plays to be executed out wide. The next 4 pointer coming from a nice combination between Tahu and Inu – setting up Nathan Hindmarsh for the final pass and what looked like easy times for the Eels.

Into half time at 14-0 down, Wayne Bennett’s instructions to the Broncos were to ‘stick to your own role’. Brisbane began to trust in each other and improved defence turned the field position their way. What followed was a massive momentum shift. The 3rd quarter of the match was all Brisbanes, their forwards clawed their way back – on the back of Dave Taylor and Sam Thaiday the Broncos left the Eels in their wake.

When Shaun Berrigan scurried over for the Broncos, even at 14-6 the Eels began to get a little nervous and lost total rhythm. The Broncos continued to have success centre field, totally dominating the forward battle. When Sam Thaiday burst through the line and was tackled by Jarryd Hayne – the Broncos looked certain to score from the ensuing play and only trail by two points. After tackling Thaiday – Jarryd Hayne lay motionless, looking to be knocked out from the heavy clash. Referee Jarred Maxwell stopped play immediately and Parramatta was able to re-compose themselves and prevent the Broncos onslaught.

Plenty of talk came out of the game around the Jarryd Hayne concussion – Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett and captain Petero Civoniceva suggesting heavily after the game that Jarryd Hayne had taken a dive for his team.

Its an interesting one, Hayne didn’t look to have direct head contact with Thaiday – rather his head got caught in Thaiday’s groin region. Either way – this particular moment changed the way. Brisbane’s momentum was suddenly shifted back to Parramatta.

The Eels marching down field and virtually scoring from their first attacking set in the Broncos end. Tim Smith turning it back inside for an angle running Ian Hindmarsh – nicely slicing through and scoring under the posts.

To the Broncos credit, they continued to chip away – Shaun Berrigan again the instigator – scoring a spectacular try in the corner. It literally was the absolute corner – Berrigan having half his body in mid air outside the field of play and somehow grounding the ball within 1 millimetre of the corner junction. Candidate for try of the year this one.

It meant a 3 nervous minutes for the Eels – with a 4 point margin the difference. Some settled plays and a smart kick for touch from Finch was enough to do the job.

Nathan Hindmarsh was the Fox Sports man of the match, however halves pairing Tim Smith and Brett Finch had impressive touches, Finch heavily involved in play particularly with some great defensive injections.

The Broncos were served by lead man Petero Civoniceva, getting through plenty of work and showing the Brisbane youngsters the way. Dave Taylor had a huge impact on the side when on the field – directly targeting Tim Smith on the Eels edge, he gave the Broncos the momentum. Finally Shaun Berrigan was close to best player on ground in the second half, two tries and plenty of zip from dummy half drove the Eels backwards on several occasions.

The Eels while happy to get the 2 points, will have plenty to work on before facing Manly at home this coming Sunday and the Broncos will be better for the new positional structure – as they face the post-desperate Cronulla Sharks at Suncorp. In the injury ward, the Eels will rush to throw Ben Smith in bandages after receiving another heavy knock to his fragile nose – the big centre playing most of the match covered in blood, with trainers eventually setting up the Hanibal Lector mask for him making things extremely messy. The Broncos have not reported injuries and Jarryd Hayne will be monitored after his collision.

NRL News

NRL Judiciary: McKinnon Ok, 4 Charged

The NRL Match Review Committee has today cleared NZ Warriors fullback Wade McKinnon over apparent knees to the back of Wests Tiger player – Taniela Tuiaki.

Referee Paul Simpkins was insistent that McKinnon had deliberately led with the knees – however as many thought, the contact was minimal and the review committee agreed – totally exonerating the custodian.

The Warriors will breathe easier knowing their fullback remains on deck – with McKinnon probably ranking in the Top 5 NRL players for 2007 form. Teammate Jerome Ropati however was cited by another incident involving Tuiaki, however he can escape suspension with an early plea.

Also cited were Gold Coast Titan pair – Ian Donnelly (grapple) and Nathan Friend (High Shot).

The Sea Eagles also had Jack Afamasaga charged over a grapple tackle, he will also be free to play against old club Parramatta should be take the early plea.

NRL News

Motivation and Success Blog

NRL News Form: Eels v Broncos

OVERVIEW:
While the Brisbane Broncos are missing custodian Karmichael Hunt, Justin Hodges, Brent Tate and captain Darren Lockyer – leaving them light-on in the backline. Apart from the missing Sam Thaiday, the Broncos forward pack is full strength and ready to take up the slack tonight.

For the Parramatta Eels they have their giant centre Ben Smith back from a leg gash, but are still missing Daniel Wagon and Luke Burt for tonights clash. The Eels have been fortunate to be blessed with good depth in the backs and have covered for the Burt loss well – injecting sensation Jarryd Hayne into the custodian role.

RECENT FORM:
The Brisbane Broncos currently sit in 5th spot on the NRL Table after fighting back from shocking early season form and have now managed a stretch of five wins in succession, however their mettle will be tested – as they will certainly miss the the skill and experience of a representative backline not only tonight but continuing into the lead-up to the NRL Top 8 Finals.

For Parramatta their coach Michael Hagan has spoke about improving their away win record (currently 3 from 5) as the Eels move towards the finals, his other areas of concern is the Eels in-ability to build pressure in attack during the past month. With such a classy and varied backline, the Eels have been able to get enough line breaks recently but have been unable to convert these efforts to points. The Eels managing just 5 tries in their previous 2 outings (Knights and Souths). Fortunately for the Eels they have chipped away quietly at the NRL Table and have managed to hold down a top 4 spot without attracting too much media attention.

PLAYER MATCH-UPS:

HOOKER:
Shaun Berrigan (Broncos) VS Mark Riddell (Eels)

The face off between these two elder statesmen of the hooking role will have a significant impact on the match. For the Eels, so often when Mark Riddell fires up – the Parramatta side lift behind him (in defence and attack) and for Brisbane, they will look to the experience of Berrigan to guide the younger crew around the park.

Berrigan has been pivotal in the Broncos revival since Bennett moved him to the position last season, with his zip and creativity out of dummy half causing havoc for opposition defences. A durable player who reads the game well in both defence and attack – Berrigan has been instrumental in much of the Broncos attack this season with his uncanny ability to dart from dummy half and pop a short pass to support runners.

In the Eels camp, the dual edge weapon of Mark ‘Piggy’ Riddell and PJ Marsh is almost impossible to contain. Riddell is dynamic close to the line, with his trademark bash and barge. The Eels also lift as a side when Piggy gets going – his roll forward and fearless charges are inspirational to the Parramatta side. A side often critised for lack of passion – they will look to Riddell and Finch to talk it up.

HALVES
Michael Ennis (Broncos) vs Tim Smith (Eels)

For journeyman Michael Ennis, he has come a long way after a shattering leg injury early last year and frequently changing clubs of late. Now a pivotal utility in the Broncos arsenal, his kicking game is now even more important after the loss of Lockyer and he is another experienced campaigner that will add starch to a young squad.

Tim Smith since nabbing the rookie of the year award in 2005, has really been trying to find his niche in the Eels side. He has done well considering personnel changes to the Eels forwards and coaching ranks over the past few years – but he seems to be developing a good link with halves partner Brett Finch. He has started attacking the line more this year and has a talented kicking game at times compared to the level of Andrew Johns. Currently ranking sixth for NRL try assists in 2007, Smith is critical to the Eels in attack.

TIP:
PARRAMATTA EELS
While plenty are talking the Broncos down after losing their entire backline, Wayne Bennett won’t be hanging himself just yet. A crowd upwards of 25,000 at least can be expected and the Queenslands will hope the Eels attitude plays into their hands. The Eels will have appreciated the hard clash with the Bunnies last week and would hoped to have honed their rusty skills since the BYE and the Knights debacle. The Broncos will lack a little in attack with their playmakers missing, the Eels should have enough to do the job tonight – if they fail it will certainly raise some questions about their ability in the NRL Finals.

NRL News

Brad Fittler can equal coaching record

Newly appointed Sydney City Roosters coach Brad Fittler can equal the record number of wins set by a newly appointed mid season coach this week when the Roosters take on the Melbourne Storm in Sydney.

The chance to equal the record set by Peter Sharp at Manly in 1999 with 3 wins – comes against the highly fancied Melbourne Storm outfit, the Storm are currently on a 7 game winning streak and miles ahead of the NRL pack.

Fittler may use the blueprint from enemies South Sydney against the Storm – with the Bunnies the only team to even trouble Melbourne in recent weeks. The Rabbitohs all but had the Storm beaten in Gosford recently with an agressive style defence that frustrated the Storm and forced them to kick for most of their points.

The Roosters players have obviously responded well to Fittler at the helm and Freddy will be keen for things to continue – as the young coach is assessed by Nick Politis and his boys for a possible role next year and beyond at Bondi.

Following this week against the Storm, the Roosters have the following run home:

Round 21: Warriors (Home)
Round 22: Wests Tigers (Away)
Round 23: Titans (Away)
Round 24: Panthers (Home)
Round 25: Rabbitohs (Away)

On current form, the Roosters should be able to take at least 2 wins (4 points) from this group of matches. Leaving them on 20 points at seasons end – surely enough for the Sydney City club to retain Fittler moving into 2008.

NRL Table as Finals Approach

The NRL Table now sees a stack of teams jammed up on 20 and 18 points. Plenty of NRL teams will hope the Brisbane Broncos lose to the Parramatta Eels tonight – keeping the lower half of the Top 8 an achievable goal for the teams on 18 points.

Amazingly the Newcastle Knights, South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Gold Coast Titans still have a chance to sneak into the NRL Top 8 Finals. Seemingly gone with some recent losses, if these clubs can get it together in the weeks ahead – the opportunity is still there.

The North Queensland Cowboys stutter against the Bunnies will motivate the Eels even more – as the Parramatta club can get a leg up to achieving a Top 4 spot should they defeat the Broncos tonight.

Looking back in the pack, the Sydney Roosters under Brad Fittler have now moved to 16 points. No, its not a mistake – the Sydney Roosters now join the Sharks and the Raiders on 16 points. Something unthinkable only a few weeks ago. The Roosters are mathematically a chance of making the finals, should they win all their remaining games.

W L B +/- Pts
1 Storm 16 2 1 271 34
2 Sea Eagles 14 4 1 189 30
3 Eels 10 7 1 51 22
4 Cowboys 10 8 1 -69 22
5 Broncos 9 8 1 82 20
6 Warriors 9 9 1 69 20
7 Bulldogs 9 9 1 44 20
8 Tigers 9 9 1 -18 20
9 Rabbitohs 8 10 1 -8 18
10 Titans 8 10 1 -80 18
11 Knights 8 10 1 -150 18
12 Sharks 7 11 1 49 16
13 Raiders 7 11 1 -61 16
14 Dragons 7 11 1 -74 16
15 Roosters 7 11 1 -183 16
16 Panthers 5 13 1 -112 12

South Sydney Stamp Top 8 Claims

Rabbitohs 20 defeated Cowboys 14

RABBITOHS coach Jason Taylor and co-captain Roy Asotasi both described rookie hooker Issac Luke as “a superstar in the making” following his man of the match performance in the Rabbitohs 20-14 win over the Cowboys today.

In his run-on debut Issac Luke, who team mates nicknamed ‘Uncle Bully’ for his toughness – constantly tormented the Cowboys defence out of dummy half and was a rock in the defence in the middle of the park, an effort that earned him the Rabbitohs players’ player award and the Channel Nine man of the match honours.

Luke scored his first NRL try in his first game in the Rabbitohs no.9 and Taylor said he had a big future ahead of him as long as he kept working hard on his game.

“Issac had another good game for us, we need to keep his feet on the ground, but I thought he was the difference today,” Taylor said. If only the Bunnies had the hooker in place last week against the Eels, it could have made a difference to the side that has struggled in attack at times.

“When I brought him into first grade for the first time against Melbourne I was looking for a little bit more in attack. I didn’t know if he was ready and he was so nervous he was tired after one minute. Today when I pulled him off after about 25 minutes he wasn’t happy to get replaced so that is a good sign.”

Asotasi has acted as a mentor to Luke since he joined the club at the end of last year.

“He is a superstar in the making,” Asotasi said.

“He gives us that go forward he is so quick off the mark. We’ve got to keep his feet on the ground, he’s a fellow Kiwi and we have to look after each other.”

The Cowboys opened the scoring through an Ashley Graham try in the 15th minute for an early 4-0 lead. That was until Luke’s co-run-on debutante halfback Eddie Paea sliced through the Cowboys defence from close range for his first NRL try in the 22nd minute. With Nathan Merritt’s conversion the Rabbitohs led 6-4.

From there Souths looked the side most likely to score again but a Merritt penalty goal, after Carl Webb was penalised for a high shot on Paea, in the 40th minute was the only addition to the score and the Rabbitohs went to the break leading 8-4.

The NRL’s leading tryscorer Cowboys fullback Matt Bowen struck soon after the break for his 17th try in 18 games this year. And when Johnathan Thurston landed the conversion North Queesland led 10-8 after 45 minutes.

Luke then scored the Rabbitohs second try of the game in the 55th minute after a series of short passes on the Cowboys line to give the home side the lead 12-10. Five minutes later Paea put Ben Rogers through a hole from a scrum on the 50m line and the Souths five-eighth showed good pace to score his side’s third try. Merritt landed the conversion and Souths led 18-10 in the 61st minute.

Cowboys centre Scott Minto scored to peg the score back to 18-14 with 10 minutes to play which set the scene for a nerve-racking finish. Another penalty goal from Merritt, after Webb was penalised for holding down Luke in the play-the-ball, put the Rabbitohs a converted try clear and a 20-14 lead and that is the way things stayed until the full-time siren.

A loss would have had the Rabbitohs behind the eight ball in the race for the eight but now they remain well and truly in the hunt.

“We needed a win to stay in touch with the eight,” Taylor said.

“It’s exciting for our fans and exciting for our players and that’s what we set out to do at the start of the season. We wanted to be in contention for the top eight towards the end of the season and we are. For the fans and everyone associated with the club that’s very exciting.”

South Sydney Rabbitohs 20 (Eddie Paea, Issac Luke, Ben Rogers tries; Nathan Merritt 4 goals)

defeated

North Queensland Cowboys 14 (Ashley Graham, Matt Bowen, Scott Minto tries; Johnathan Thurston goal)

Crowd – 10,022.

NZ Warriors eyeing NRL Finals Spot

Warriors 28 def Wests Tigers 16

The NZ Warriors were flamboyant and precise today; as they disposed of the Wests Tigers on their own turf. A comprehensive display from the Kiwi side, winning 28 points to 16 and virtually sewing the game up before half time.

Plenty of possession in the first half was just the tonic the NZ Warriors needed to keep their impressive form run going – a momentum roll that became way too big for the Wests Tigers to control.

65% possession at one stage had the Warriors lining up to get involved, with George Gatis the instigator from dummy half – running for plenty of metres and positioning the big forwards Steve Price and Ruben Wiki beautifully – for them to plow over the advantage line on every play.

The Tigers obviously had a plan to stick to Wade McKinnon like glue, which they did – however the man power that McKinnon was sucking in – left plenty of gaps for Grent Rovelli and Michael Witt to press through and position their support play to perfection.

It was quality football from the NZ Warriors and an enjoyable style to watch when compared with last nights games of much lower standard. The away win for the Warriors proves their ready for NRL Top 8 Finals football in 2007 and won’t be just making up the numbers. Their injury list isn’t hurting them and they have hit form at the opportune time.

The Wests Tigers were their own enemy in some parts of the game today, minor mistakes compounding the Warriors juggernaut. Failing to find the dirt quickly near the in-goal resulting in costly drop-outs, pushed passes and dropped ball kept the possession pressure against the Campbelltown side all day.

The Tigers refused to take the Warriors on mid field and who could blame them, the Warriors were hitting with maximum impact – even winger Manu Vatuvei had Tigers running for cover as he steamed ahead. As the Tigers tried to go round the Warriors the mistakes came; the Kiwi side jamming in nicely to snuff out most raids.

Robbie Farrah at half back continues to leave such a vacant hole at hooker for the Tigers; the man tipped to oust Danny Buderus at NSW Origin level for the hooking role is wasted away from his natural spot. Don’t get me wrong, he is a ball player and has the instincts of a half back – but this guy is a possible Australian hooker one day! Use him in his god given role!

The only negative for the Warriors today was pivot Michael Witt breaking his conversion record, reaching 28 successive goals – dating back to 2005 the classy pivot had not missed a kick. His 3rd kick today was from the sideline and he managed to nail it and keep the record in tact, only missing out – as he sprayed his next easier conversion to left hand side.

The NZ Warriors are now 4 wins from 9 games in Australia this 2007 NRL season, a much better record than in previous years. They take on strugglers Newcastle in Auckland next week and on current form – they will not only get the win, but improve their points difference out of sight.

For the Wests Tigers who are already on 20 points, while the loss is not ideal – it’s certainly not the end of the world. Sheens will need to get some structure and confidence back into his side – most importantly prop up their struggling forward pack as the Tigers face the force of the North Queensland Cowboys. Its another home game for the Tigers, but one they must win against a top 4 side to give themselves a chance of finishing higher in the NRL top 8.

NRL News Saturday Results

Generic NRL Super Saturday Results – More articles and in depth discussion to follow during the weekend.

Dragons 38 def Panthers 20

ST George-Illawarra capped Mark Gasnier’s long-awaited NRL return with a hard-fought 38-20 victory over Penrith at CUA Stadium.
The star five-eighth was solid in his first game of the season after suffering a ruptured pectoral muscle in the Dragons Charity Shield pre-season game in March.
His most telling moment came in the dying seconds when he sent Jason Nightingale over for his second and the Dragons’ seventh try of the night.
It was one of three late tries by the away team which ended a spirited fightback from the bottom-placed Panthers, and left the Dragons – temporarily at least – within two points of the top eight.
Gasnier admitted he was rusty in his comeback.
But after spending the past 18 rounds watching his teammates from the sidelines, the 26-year-old could hardly hide his joy of getting through his comeback match unscathed.
“It was just fun to be back with the guys,” Gasnier said.
“Now I can go back and surf tomorrow morning feeling guilt free, and get back to the way life used to be.
“I didn’t expect to set the world on fire tonight, there’s a lot of rust there, but it’s something that’s going to come with playing football.
“The good thing is I get to play next week, it’s something I’ve been looking forward to for about 18 weeks.
“I’ve missed a lot of football the past three or so years, so I don’t really take it for granted much more.
“I think the past two years I’ve enjoyed my football a lot more than what I did when I was younger.
“I probably took it a little bit for granted when I was younger, but I really appreciate it now.”
The Dragons rebounded well from their heavy defeat against the New Zealand Warriors last week to claim their third win from four games.
They looked to have the game in their keeping after charging to a 22-10 lead after two tries – to Josh Morris and Rangi Chase – within three minutes before and after half-time.
The Panthers, though, clawed back to 22-20 down with 20 minutes to play when Richie Williams scored against his former club and then Nick Youngquest touched down from a Peter Wallace kick – the fifth try on the night coming from a boot.
They had their chances to take the lead soon after, but came up short, allowing the Dragons to seal the result with tries to Matt Cooper, Ben Creagh and Nightingale in the final 12 minutes.
“We created enough opportunities to win that game quite easily,” said Panthers coach Matt Elliott after his side’s sixth loss in seven games left the club rooted to last place.
“And when we didn’t take those opportunities, the opposition went down the other end of the field and took theirs.”
Williams, who endured a rocky ride with the Dragons to start the year before joining Penrith mid-season, was “stoked” to get a try against his former club.
“To get the victory would have been sweet, obviously we didn’t, but oh well,” he said.
Adding further to the Panthers woes, Luke Lewis (groin) and fullback Michael Gordon (hamstring) both suffered injuries.
AAP


Melbourne Storm 34 def Raiders 6

SEETHING Canberra coach Neil Henry accused referee Jared Maxwell of having a “pre-conceived idea” about his team’s match with Melbourne Storm at Olympic Park.
Canberra lost 34-6 to the competition front-runner and while Henry admitted the better side had won, he said his team was hard done by around the ruck area.
“Did Jared Maxwell have a good game in my opinion? We got beat by a very good side but no he didn’t,” Henry said.
“In my opinion did he have a pre-conceived idea how this game should go? Yes he did.
“They got leap-frogged up the field a number of times.
“It’s hard enough to come here as it is but when well in the game (the penalty count is) 7-1 … I thought it was very lopsided.”
But Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy said Maxwell could have blown up more penalties and accused Canberra of repeatedly being offside as it pressured Storm’s kickers.
The final penalty count was 8-5 and Bellamy believed there should have been a greater disparity.
“He (Maxwell) could have gone a little further and blew the pea right out of the whistle but he didn’t.
“You don’t want a thousand penalties in a game but I thought they could have been penalised a little bit more.
“They went right to the edge there tonight.
“You have a look at the kick pressure, two or three of them were offside nearly every kick pressure.
“They get called offside but the referee should be penalising them.”
It provided an interesting end to an otherwise fairly standard match, during which Melbourne proved it could play below par and still win comfortably.
It was Storm’s seventh successive victory and maintained its four-point buffer over second-placed Manly, and kept the Raiders winless in Melbourne since 2000.
Backing up from the Monday night shellacking of Newcastle, Storm looked flat early on and put itself under pressure with a spate of uncharacteristic errors and only led 16-6 at the break.
Canberra, who is outside the eight, also deserved credit as it toiled hard and out-enthused the home side in the chilly seven degree conditions.
Melbourne scored six tries, with five-eighth Greg Inglis in his first game back from a knee injury suffered during Origin, collecting a double.
Halfback Cooper Cronk set up two through his kicks.
The first came five minutes into the match as he put a perfectly-weighted 40m kick through which sat up just over the try-line, with veteran winger Matt Geyer winning the race to the ball.
His second was similar, seven minutes into the second half, with fellow winger Steve Turner collecting the spoils which opened the lead out to 22-6.
One of the other tries of the night was scored by tearaway teen Israel Folau, who showed he has pace to match his power.
The giant 18-year-old ran on to a pass and palmed off one defender, stepped out of a tackle and then stepped around another defender in a 30m dash to the line.
Inglis’s knee flared again while fullback Billy Slater suffered a knock to the ankle however neither injury was rated seriously.
Bellamy said he was satisfied with his side’s performance.
“We got off to a good start but then we lost our way with some handling, we just couldn’t get out of our half.
“The second half ended up into a grind but I was happy with the way we grinded.”
AAP


Roosters 20 def Knights 17

SYDNEY Roosters continued Brad Fittler’s unbeaten record as coach with a late 20-17 win over a courageous Newcastle Knights at EnergyAustralia Stadium.
Centre Mitchell Aubusson stepped over the tryline with three minutes remaining to hand rookie coach Fittler his second win from as many games since taking over the duties from Chris Anderson.
“It’s good fun as a coach,” said a cheeky Fittler after the tense win.
“It was a great finish and great that they kept believing.
“I watched it (the game) a bit more closely, the first one I was a bit more excited.
“(But) there’s not much you can do up there (in the coach’s box), you can pass on the messages but no one listens.”
But as Fittler continued smiling his way through the coaching journey his Newcastle opposite Brian Smith had to put on a brave face as he fielded his most depleted Knights side of the season with injured New South Wales Origin stars Danny Buderus, Steve Simpson and Jarrod Mullen all sidelined and prop Adam Woolnough a late withdrawal due to a virus.
The news only gets worse too with talented young back rower Zeb Taia injuring the AC joint in his shoulder.
Newcastle led 12-10 at half-time but the Roosters struck early in the second half through Lopini Paea before Knights winger Cooper Vuna hit back to complete his double and level scores 16-all in the 55th minute.
Rookie Knights halfback Luke Walsh booted a 66th minute field goal to grab a 17-16 lead and raise hopes of an against-the-odds win but the Roosters – with seven Origin experienced players and a Kiwi international – had the nerve to rally at the death.
Smith felt his side deserved the victory but lacked the experience to dominate down the stretch and close out the result.
“We did not dominate enough to feel completely comfortable (with a one-point lead) but at the back end I thought we had done enough to win,” said Smith.
“If you don’t dominate the game you run the risk of losing it.
“We have a lot of young fellas in that team and guys who are not comfortable in first grade dealing with that sort of pressure down the stretch.
“We were a bit stiff not to get the cash tonight.”
The Roosters victory keeps alive slim finals hopes, moving to 16 competition points but remaining in 15th place due to an atrocious for and against record.
More importantly, with Penrith losing to St George-Illawarra, they hold a handy four-point gap over the last-placed Panthers to ease pressure of claiming the wooden spoon in their centenary season.
But Fittler is refusing to consider both finals and wooden spoon chances.
“It’s the one thing I’ve promised myself, not to look at the ladder,” said Fittler.
“Just keep plugging along.
“(I’ll look at the ladder) at the last round, or the week before that.”
Centre Sia Soliola is the Roosters’ only concern after he suffered a fractured eye socket late in the game and could miss four weeks.
AAP

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