NRL – Round 14
With this being Origin week, the NRL competition held an abbreviated round of matches with The Eels, Souths, Cowboys, Bulldogs, Manly and Dragons all sitting out with the bye.
This short week kicked off in Melbourne with the Storm and Tigers producing a tough spectacle. Minus their ‘big three’ due to Origin duty with Queensland Melbourne struggled to match their typical threatening style of play. The Tigers on the other hand work well together, and looked every bit the dominant unit that has strung together so many wins of late.
A quick brace of tries in less than five minutes to Tuquri and Utai took the lead out to 10-2 after both teams went to the sheds with an unlikely two all scoreline. The Storm hit back with ten minutes to play but as was the case for most of their night, were unable to orchestrate another to win the match.
Newcastle hosted Canberra in the second match of the round, with the visitors looking the better of two error prone teams. Newcastle have struggled of late, and failed again to produce the goods and pushed their losing streak to five games. Canberra regained some faith after losing to the Tigers in such poor fashion last week. Although some of their points came off the back of Knights poor play, the Raiders used the possession to turn their extra chance into points. The final score was Canberra 32 Newcastle 16.
The Sharks got back to their winning ways with a victory over the Titans. Both sides were without their respective Origin reps, however the Titans were dealt a cruel blow before the match even began when their playmaker Scott Prince declining to play due to a back problem.
The Sharks scored four tries, including one to 15 year veteran Colin Best in his 250th first grade appearance. Despite missing play maker Carney, Cronulla, through five-eighth Chad Townsend, lead throughout the match and always looked like the better team. The win puts them solidly within the top eight.
Brisbane and the Roosters played in muddy conditions on Sunday. Brisbane, as is normal, were missing a host of players on Origin duty. Despite this, they played in a fashion well deserving of their second placing on the competition table. The sides swapped tries early in the match with the scores at 16 to 12 to the Broncos.
Some bad calls by the officials led to a Brisbane try, but the Tricolours kept the game within reach until late; at one stage pushing to take it to golden point extra time. However NSW reject Peter Wallace, who played an outstanding match throughout led the Queensland side home, laying on two tries in the closing stages, notching up a 40-22 win.
The Warriors traveled to West Sydney for their confrontation with Penrith and former coach Ivan Cleary. The Warriors opened the scoring through Manu Vatuvei when he dived on the loose ball after an uncharacteristic mistake by Panther’s fullback Lachlan Coote.
A second try came early in the first half when Shaun Johnson grubbered through to setup Vatuvei’s second. Poor kicking options by the Panthers had the match looking lopsided until Penrith hit back with an intercept try, then followed up with a well constructed four pointer after a string of penalties went their way.
A mistake by James Maloney gifted the ball to the Panthers yet again, who made the most of the wet weather to open up down the Warriors flanks. Scoring three tries to two in the first half the Panthers took to the sheds ahead 16-12.
The second half saw a dominant performance by the Warriors forward pack, and kickers Maloney and Johnson. Both of whom continually pegged Penrith back into their end of the field. The big Kiwi pack also made easy meters up the middle in the testing conditions. The pressure eventually took its toll on the home side with a pressured kick leading to a fumble being pounced on by Konrad Hurrell, who raced untouched to the line.
James Maloney made his way through a gap to score an unlikely try that went upstairs to be confirmed by the video ref after a hint of a second movement. Classy passing between Steve Rapira and Faleti Mateo led to another line break and yet another four pointer to the visitors when Kevin Locke finished the movement.
The Warriors taking out the win in emphatic style over their old coach 30-16.