The winners of the 2015 NRL Auckland Nines are the South Sydney Rabbitohs! Full wrap of their win further on in the article.
Some teams had no chance to make the finals and merely played for pride, whilst others looked to consolidate their finals spots with wins.
The action started with a surprise loss for the Eels to the Dragons that opened up the chance for the Illawarra club to make the finals. It was not be though, as they needed Manly to beat the Newcastle Knights but they were unable to do so.
Those results saw the Eels and the Knights progress into the quarter finals.
In the Waiheke group, the Storm needed a win against the Bunnies but it was not to be, with the Bunnies rampant and putting the Storm away. That ended their hopes of a finals berth and meant that defending champions the North Queensland Cowboys would make it to quarter finals if they won, which they did.
It meant the Bunnies went through the group stage undefeated and thus asserting their dominance on the competition, as the Cowboys joined them in the quarter finals.
The Hinua group hinged on how the Raiders would perform against the winless Titans and with every opportunity to make it, it was the Titans who finished the competition on a high, blowing the Raiders away. That meant the Raiders could not make the finals.
Prior to that clash, the Tigers and Warriors did battle, a contest that saw the side across the Tasman prevail and quite convincingly.
In the Piha group, the equations were quite simple. Regardless of results, the Roosters and the undefeated Cronulla Sharks were through. With the Bulldogs & Broncos losing back-to-back games on Day 1, they were playing for pride against each other and it was the Broncos who won. The Dogs being the only side to not win a game in the tournament.
This led to the quarter finals where the Cowboys and Eels had a hard-fought battle, that saw the Eels prevail courtesy of a Corey Norman solo effort.
The attention then turned to the Souths and Knights clash and it was expected to be a close game but it was far from it. Instead, Souths ran away with it and pulverised the Knights.
Perhaps the most entertaining quarter final was between the Sharks and Warriors that saw the home team surprisingly knocked out, leaving their fans bitterly disappointed. But it was a hard-fought Sharks win and one they deserved.
The last quarter final was another one-sided affair as the Tigers left their worst game for last, as they were blown away by a quality Roosters side.
Much like the quarters, the semis featured one blow-out and one hard fought contest. The blow-out was the surprising one, as Souths, much like in the quarters, decimated their opponents. This time, the unlucky recipients of that were the Parramatta Eels.
The second semi final was closer and it was the Sharks that prevailed over the Roosters, a great achievement for the Sharks who have dealt with so much turmoil and disruptions in recent years.
The final. You could smell the anticipation and feel the atmosphere in the air. Both sides came to play and to win and it went down to the wire….to golden try, in fact. The first time in this years’ tournament. The Sharks, who defended resolutely and brilliantly for so long, were unable to hold on, with Matt King scoring in the corner after more than 10 minutes of extra time to grant the South Sydney Rabbitohs the victory. Thus, they are the 2015 NRL Auckland Nines champions!
Now for a full list of today’s results from the group stage and finals:
St George Illawarra Dragons 12 (Marshall, Kiti Glymin & Crook) def. Parramatta Eels 10 (Radradra & Robinson; Goals: Sandow 1/2).
Newcastle Knights 20 (Randell, Roberts, Mata’utia & Clydsdale; Goals: Mullen 1/4) def. Manly Sea Eagles 17 (Leary bonus try, Wiliame & Gutherson; Goals: Gutherson 1/1).
South Sydney Rabbitohs 24 (McQueen, Tyrrell, Luke, Reddy & Crichton; Goals: Reynolds 2/5) def. Storm 4 (Munster).
North Queensland Cowboys 14 (Feldt, Taumalolo & Moga; Goals: Lui 1/2) def. Penrith Panthers 8 (Jay & Smith; Goals: Davis 1/2).
New Zealand Warriors 22 (Kata 2, Henry, Lolohea & Vatuvei; Goals: Johnson 1/5) def. Wests Tigers 8 (Cherrington & Lawrence).
Gold Titans 38 (Elgey & Roberts bonus tries; Hoffman 2, Hazard, Elgey, Roberts; Goals: Mortimer 4/6) def. Canberra Raiders 13 (Cornish bonus try, Waqa; Goals: Ahearn 2/2).
Cronulla Sharks 20 (Bird, Leutele & Sauiluma; Goals: Gardner 1/1) def. Roosters 14 (Taukeiaho 2, Langi; Goals: Hastings 1/3).
Brisbane Broncos 13 (Nikorima & Nikorima bonus tries; Goals: Milford 2/2) def. Canterbury Bulldogs 0.
Parramatta Eels 17 (Norman bonus try; Faraimo, Norman; Goals: Sandow 1/2 & Robinson 1/1) def. North Queensland Cowboys 11 (Granville bonus try, Morgan; Goals: Morgan 1/1).
South Sydney Rabbitohs 36 (McQueen bonus try; King, Lowe, Burgess & Reddy; Goals: Reynolds 3/3 & Burgess 1/1 def. Newcastle Knights 6 (Mamo; Goals: Mullen 1/1).
Cronulla Sharks 14 (Gardner & Heighington bonus point tries; Gardner 2/2) def. New Zealand Warriors 12 (Kata, Laumape & Vatuvei).
Sydney Roosters 22 (Pearce 2, Maloney & Stapleton; Goals: Maloney 3/4) def. Wests Tigers 4 (Naiqama).
South Sydney Rabbitohs 37 (Crichton bonus try; Goodwin 2, King, Luke & Reynolds; Goals: Reynolds 4/7) def. Eels 6 (Moeroa; Paulo 1/1).
Cronulla Sharks 10 (Ayshford & Feki; Goals: Gardner 1/2) def. Roosters 4 (Tuivasa-Sheck).
South Sydney Rabbitohs 18 (Grevsmuhl, King, Goodwin, McInnes; Goals: Reynolds 1/2) def. Cronulla Sharks 14 (Bird, Feki & Holmes; Goals: Holmes 1/2).
New Zealand Kiwi Ferns 8 (Woodman & Vaughan) def. Australia Jillaroos 4 (J-S Hoepper).
New Zealand Kiwi Ferns 16 (Vaughan & Maaka bonus tries; Fisu; Goals: 1/3) def. Australia Jillaroos 4 (Hodges).
Australia Jillaroos 8 (Hancock, Hodges) def. New Zealand Kiwi Ferns (Vaughan bonus try; Goals: 1/1).
Finally, the Nines gave all fans the opportunity to see the next generation of stars making their mark. The Sharks Jack Bird and Valentine Holmes, the Roosters Sio Siua Taukeiaho, the Eels John Folau, the Warriors Solomone Kata and Tuimoala Lolohea, the Dragons Euan Aitken and more.
All of the above are slated for first-grade opportunities at some point this year.