The North Queensland Cowboys were in demolition mode on Friday night as they bulldozed the South Sydney Rabbitohs 44-18 in Townsville.
Cowboys forward Gavin Cooper scored first in the fifth minute off a simple back-line move. Souths levelled a few minutes later when forward Chris Grevsmuhl charged over near the uprights, but from then on the Cowboys were firmly in the saddle. Johnathan Thurston led the stampede, kicking, regathering, crossing then converting in the 15th. When Justin O’Neill scored in the 27th the Cowboys were ahead 18-6. The second half was mostly one-way traffic. Kyle Feldt, Ethan Lowe, Antonio Winterstein and Michael Morgan all scored tries, and Justin O’Neill claimed a double in the 67th to complete a memorable 100th game. Consolation tries by Sam Burgess and the returning Adam Reynolds (off an intercept) made Souths score-line look more respectable but it was a joyless outing for them. Thurston converted six of the eight tries on his way to topping 1000 points for a single club. Only Andrew Johns (for the Newcastle Knights) had achieved that mark before. – JM
Panthers frustrate desperate Roosters in the wet
Penrith started strong at Allianz on Monday night with flying winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak scoring in the 7th minute. Penrith then were handed a penalty close to the uprights and Jamie Soward opted to take the two. The Roosters hit back in the 19th with a try from 18-year-old Latrell Mitchell, who used to his strength to penetrate flimsy defence close to the line. In the appalling conditions players had to make snap decisions to exploit rare openings. Penrith’s 20-year-old five-eighth Te Maire Martin was next to spot and seize his opportunity, beating the Rooster’s defence to cross the line.
The Roosters clawed back some of the deficit with a try to Blake Ferguson close to half-time. Penrith consolidated to stop another assault on the line and went to the sheds leading 14-10. Penrith got a flyer of a second-half start when centre Waqa Blake ran a brilliant, weaving 50 metres for a solo try in the 46th minute. Mitchell then gave the Roosters a glimmer of hope when he went over for his second try in the 60th minute to reduce the deficit to four, but the team was unable to deny Penrith a gritty win. A feature of the night was the youth of the star performers: Watene-Zelezniak is 21, Waqa Blake 20, Latrell Mitchell just 18, Te Maire Martin 20. Martin’s counterpart, Jayden Nikorima, is only 19. Their teams may be struggling, but the coaches must be feeling optimistic about improvement. – JM
Eels slip past the Sea Eagles at Brookvale
The Parramatta Eels scored three late tries to grind out a 22-10 victory over the Manly Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval on Thursday night. The first half featured vigorous, hard-hitting defence and on both sides with Michael Gordon starting the scoring for the Eels with a penalty goal. The Sea Eagles responded with a flick pass to the inside from winger Tom Trbojevic to Jamie Lyon who ran through a broken defence to score untouched.
Manly pushed their lead out through a penalty goal and again looked like scoring until Trbojevic was run down by Beau Scott. Soon after the Eels struck back when Brad Takarangi scored off a Corey Norman chip kick into the corner. The teams went in 8-all at half-time. The Eels might have scored first in the second half when Brad Takarangi dived on a grubber kick but were denied on review by the bunker. Manly then took the lead when Lyon converted a penalty.
The last 15 minutes was all the Eels, with Michael Jennings bagging a double in his 200th game. His first followed a Clinton Gutherson flick pass that allowed Issac De Gois to grubber into the in-goal for Jennings to score. His second came when he dived on the ball after an uncharacteristic Brett Stewart fumble. The Eels finished off the game with some individual brilliance from Semi Radradra who ran around Jamie Lyon to score in the corner after a personal three-game try drought. – JW
Bulldogs surrender to determined Warriors
New Zealand’s Warriors defeated the Canterbury Bulldogs 24-20 at Wellington Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Warriors took the lead through tries to David Fusitua and Blake Ayshford, but an injury to star full-back Roger Tuivasa Shek took the edge off the 8-0 lead. Bulldogs winger Sam Perrett equalised with a double in the 23rd and the 27th minutes. The Dogs’ new recruit Kerrod Holland then went over in the final minute of the half and converted to give his side a six-point lead going into the second half. The Warriors came out strongly, both Wright and Lolohea scoring in the first 10 minutes to give the Wellington side the lead at 18-14. Ayshford crossed again in the 64th minute to extend the lead to 24-14. The Bulldogs kept fighting though, and Holland gave them a glimmer of hope when he scored, and converted, five minutes from the end. The Warriors defended gallantly however to thwart the Bulldogs. – JM
Match reports by Jesse Mullens and James Wardell
Photo of Gavin Cooper crossing for the Cowbys by Scott Davis for NRLPhotos.