Well NRL News couldn’t get the hot tip prediction right, but we certainly were close. Plenty of mail for South Sydney in this game and they didn’t disappoint. It was 2 tries a piece in the end, with goal kicking the difference (Merritt missing 2 attempts) – as the Bunnies led for 70 minutes of the game.
Melbourne missing some stars and backing up from Origin – the Bunnies were the dominant side, with Melbourne struggling with tackle 5 plays. The Storm kicked to the Bunnies on the full almost 70 percent of the time which is rare for them. On the other hand, the Storm rarely make handling mistakes with a virtually clean sheet in terms of sets.
Ben Rogers was the early hero for Souths, having a good game through dynamic kicking and a whirlwind try assist to Buddy Gordon. An around the back basketball style pass by Rogers was close to the ‘try of the year’ in terms of flashiness this had it all.
Another try on half time to Merritt in the corner and Souths looked like winners. Paul Mellor was in vintage form, the giant winger out sprinting Steve Turner of all people to hold him up over the line.
It was an arm wrestle in the second half as both teams belted each other, the defence of Souths again superb as they had to defend over 70 tackles more than the Storm during the game.
Melbourne remained calm and to their credit they score two late tries and converted them to just sneak away with the points. Melbourne did extremely well without some stars, but I feel Souths have shown the way to beat these guys with rushing in your face defence. The punishment frustrated the Storm and made them hesitant at times.
Souths badly needed the points and will need a strong run here to the finals to guarantee a spot in the money period.
Manly 56 def Roosters 0
It was a training run over at Brookvale with Manly flying back into form over the Reserve Grade standard Sydney Roosters.
Some early fumbles and 2 horror calls within the first 5 minutes from Gavin Badger really opened the cracks for the Roosters and they were never able to fight back.
Manly were ‘on’ and their promising side finally showed the attack they have craved. Slick passing movement, good commuincation and organisation by the halves was key. Matt Orford celebrated the return to form with a triple bag of tries in front of 10,000 at Brooky.
This is the big win Manly needed and may just be the launchpad for the semi finals. Manly have got their losses out of the way and could be nicely placed come final time.
Concern for fullback Brett Stewart who continues to limp occasionally, not doubt their is a problem with his leg and he may be playing with injections as the same happened at Origin level – he was having discomfort at times in the match.
Jamie Lyon continues to be a passenger for Manly, the former UK Super League legend has simply not been able to have an impact in NRL or Origin this year. At pivot and at centre, so it doesn’t seem to be a positional issue.
The Roosters can officially kiss 2007 good bye, with simply no chance of making the finals now. Nick Politis will have aged 10 years this season and will be just about ready to swing the axe over at Bondi.
Cowboys 18 def Warriors 12
North Queensland remain firmly entrenched in the NRL top four after holding out the previously in-form New Zealand Warriors 18-12 in a lacklustre match in Townsville tonight.
But the win may have come at a cost, with Queensland Origin hero and playmaker Johnathan Thurston leaving the field early in the second half with a hip flexor injury.
Looking troubled throughout the match, Thurston handed over goalkicking duties to Ashley Graham after forward Sione Faumuina scored a brilliant match-sealing solo try seven minutes after halftime.
The Cowboys captain, who earlier spent periods in the first half defending on the wing, left the game for treatment minutes later, returning to the Cowboys bench for the remainder of the contest.
Coming off the bye and with Thurston, forward Carl Webb and fullback Matt Bowen returning from Queensland’s successful State of Origin defence, the Cowboys led 18-0 after 47 minutes and looked set for a comfortable win against a fumble-prone opposition.
But tries to Warriors wingers Patrick Ah Van (62nd minute) and Manu Vatuvei (74th) sent a scare through Dairy Farmers Stadium, as the Cowboys repelled several late Warriors raids to clinch their 10th win of the season.
Earlier, the Cowboys made the most of poor Warriors ball control to post a 12-0 halftime lead, with tries to Graham and Webb, his first for the season.
The loss breaks a three-game winning streak for the Warriors (7-9 win-loss), who have had an extended stay in Queensland, opting to remain in the country instead of flying home after last weekend’s game on the Gold Coast against the Titans.