St George Illawarra Dragons beat the Newcastle Knights 30-18 in front of a solid crowd at Hunter Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Dragons’ first half performance was impressive. Kalifa Faifai Loa exposed the weakness of the Knights’ defence when he crossed in the corner in the second minute of the game. Back rower Jacob Host followed with a try on debut in the ninth minute then Marshall set Euan Aitken up for a try.
The Knights briefly woke from their slumbers in the 30th minute, when Nathan Ross, with very little room to move, was given the ball by Brendan Elliot. Ross scored what could be the try of the year. Ross accelerated towards the corner for 10 metres then launched himself high into the air to fly over a closing Dragons defender like superman before reaching down one-handed to ground the ball before he crossed into touch – still well above the ground. Tim Lafai and Marshall then each crossed for a try, taking the score to 22-6 at half-time.
The Dragons added just one more try, through Joel Thompson in the 45th minute, before effectively putting up the shutters for the night. The Knights closed the gap slightly with Sione Mata’utia and Mitchell Barnett crossing in the last 15 minutes, but they never looked likely to cause an upset. The Dragons might have been 10 more points in the clear had Gareth Widdop not had a shocker of a night, converting just two of seven attempts at the posts. Marshall, however, was back to his best, making three try assists and scoring an individual try by slicing through flimsy Knights’ tackling.
Bulldogs unleash Morris to savage Broncos
A returning Brett Morris helped the Canterbury Bulldogs demolish the Brisbane Broncos 40-14 at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night. Morris scored a hat-trick in his return from a nine-month recovery from a knee injury. The Broncos looked tired for most of the encounter but that didn’t stop young Queensland winger Corey Oates from scoring the first try in the 23rd minute. That was the only try the Broncos could muster until the 61st minute. The Bulldogs were ravenous in attack and provided plenty of highlights. Tony Williams scored a well-earned try in the 29th minute after returning from a reserve grade stint. The next try was a little bit of humour after big Sam Kasiano performed a Nathan Ross impersonation, diving over the line on the half-time siren.
Though it remained close at half-time the Dogs came out with a point to prove. Morris went over for his first in the 45th then Dave Klemmer crossed for a rare try eight minutes later. Morris scored again in the 57th and got his third in the 70th, but even his heroics were shaded by the fastest player in the game. James Roberts streaked 90 metres downfield off an intercept to boost flagging Bronco spirits, then Anthony Milford also scored for the Broncos, but it was a futile gesture on a night when Kasiano managed to cross twice in another memorable cameo for the Dogs.
Storm survive second-half comeback by Tigers
Everything went the Melbourne Storm’s way through the first half at AAMI park on Sunday afternoon. The Storm were clinical and businesslike as they set about building an unanswered 26-point lead before the break. Felise Kaufusi scored a double in the first 20 minutes then Tohu Harris crossed in the 24th. The highlight for the Storm was Marika Koroibete’s 93-metre run to score between the posts against his old team just three minutes later.
The Tigers redeemed themselves in the second, coming close to embarrassing the Storm, who seemed to be on the back foot until the end. Fullback James Tedesco, who had a blinder for the Tigers after that lethargic first half, went over in the 43rd minute. Luke Brooks showed some individual brilliance by fooling the Storm defence with a dummy, some fancy footwork and determination to get the ball over the line. Suddenly the Tigers were on a roll. Tim Simona crossed in the 57th and David Nofoaluma followed in the 65th and it seemed the Tigers were in with a chance, needing just one converted try to level. But Cooper Cronk took his chance to snap a field goal in the 76th minute. The Tigers had a chance to storm the line but conceded a 79th minute penalty which Cameron Smith gratefully converted to give his side a 29-20 victory. Smith’s boot was once again central to the Storm’s victory; he converted all four tries and both penalty opportunities. – Jesse Mullens
Penrith Panthers 28 – 26 South Sydney Rabbitohs
Cronulla Sharks 19 – 18 New Zealand Warriors
Canberra Raiders 30 – 22 Gold Coast Titans
North Queensland Cowboys 30 – 26 Manly Sea Eagles
Photo of Benji Marshall showing his footwork from the Dragons Twitter feed.