Monday night’s Anzac Cup clash between St George Illawarra Dragons and Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium was an appropriately gruelling contest.
The Dragons’ narrow win, 20-18, allowed them to break out of the NRL cellar but did little for their differential, still the League’s second worst at -81. The first half was all the Dragons, who scored three tries while holding the Roosters scoreless. Skipper Gareth Widdop opened the scoring with a two-pointer then crossed for a try in the 21st minute. Clever back-line play then sent Jason Nightingale to score in the corner. The Roosters made too many mistakes, compounding that in the 38th when loose passing allowed Kalifa Faifai Loa to intercept then sprint 60 metres to score under the posts.
The second half saw the Roosters come out of the sheds like a different team, lifting to play more expansive football and give their fans some hope of a comeback. They scored quickly, debutant five-eighth Ryan Matterson kicking high for Roosters captain Jake Friend to score close to the uprights in the 44th minute. The Dragons’ only second half points came from a 50th minute penalty goal that ultimately proved to be the Roosters’ undoing. Latrell Mitchell and Matterson crossed in the 57th and the 74th, with Jackson Hastings completing a hat-trick of conversions for the night. In desperation the Roosters laid on some razzle dazzle but that simply wasn’t enough to get the job done. JM
Cowboys at home turn Eels to jelly
The North Queensland Cowboys ran away with a 32-16 victory against the Parramatta Eels in Townsville on Saturday night to remain undefeated at home. The Cowboys came out firing in the first half with some heavy hits then scored first through Gavin Cooper off an inside ball from Johnathan Thurston. Lachlan Coote then scored, crashing over the line off a pass from Michael Morgan. A penalty goal by skipper Johnathan Thurston took the Cowboys to 14-0 at half-time.
The Eels came out of the gates fast in the second half, testing the Cowboys defence. Semi Radradra swooped on a loose ball to run the entire field to open the Eels scoring in the 47th. He scored a second try soon after, gathering a Kieran Foran grubber kick and crossing in the corner to close the gap. The rampaging Eels took the lead three minutes later when Michael Jennings intercepted to run the length of the field to score. Michael Gordon converted from the sideline to secure a two-point lead. The Eels’ valiant fightback withered when Corey Norman was sin-binned in the 66th for a professional foul. The imbalance opened the floodgates for the Cowboys, who ran in three tries (Antonio Winterstein and a double to Michael Morgan) to swamp the Eels 32-16. JW
Angry Broncos sweep Souths aside
The Brisbane Broncos defeated the South Sydney Rabbitohs 30-8 in a fiery encounter at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night. The Broncos showed their intent early when Corey Oates crossed but the try was disallowed because Sam Thaiday was seen to run a decoy line. A Corey Parker penalty goal opened the scoring for the Broncos then Kodi Nikorima crossed for a try with a sneaky run from the back of the scrum. Ben Hunt stepped through the defensive line just before half-time to give the Broncos a 14-0 lead at the break.
The mood of the game changed soon after the restart when Sam Burgess flopped heavily onto Joe Ofahengaue, sparked some niggle that lasted till the end. Greg Inglis scored first points for Souths off the back of quick hands and a couple of fends, then a penalty goal narrowed the gap. But the Broncos had their backs up and went on a rampage. Corey Oates started with an acrobatic try in the corner, then Jordan Kahu and Corey Parker followed to extend the lead to 30-8. JW
Other round 8 results:
Canterbury Bulldogs 21 – 20 Gold Coast Titans
Canberra Raiders 60 – 6 Wests Tigers
Cronulla Sharks 20 – 18 Penrith Panthers
Newcastle Knights 10 – 26 Manly Sea Eagles
Melbourne Storm 42 – 0 NZ Warriors
Photo of Sam Burgess being tackled by Jack Reed (left) and Anthony Milford from the South Sydney Rabbitohs’ website.
Match reports by James Wardell and Jesse Mullens