Bulldogs Ruin Easter For Bunnies And Saints March Over Roosters
I hope everyone had a very happy Easter! An extra, extra long weekend served up a smorgasbord of Rugby League action kicked off by a tasty double header on Good Friday and capped by the traditional Anzac Day clash between the Roosters and Dragons. Melbourne were defeated by the Warriors while another surprise occurred at Parramatta Stadium on Saturday when the Eels snatched a last minute victory against the Titans. With State Of Origin just around the corner the battle lines between states are being drawn and NSW desperately need to stop the Cane Toad invasion.
BULLDOGS 36 – RABBITOHS 24
If you like tries (and who doesn’t), South Sydney matches certainly cater for you in that department. Unfortunately, they let in more than they score. It started horribly for the Bunnies with the kick-off going out on the full and even though they posted first points the Doggies responded times four. They remained well in the chase due to some poor goal kicking from Bryson Goodwin and were down only 20-6 at the break. Chris Sandow and Chris McQueen got them to within four points early in the second half but the Bulldogs replied with a flurry of late tries to push the lead out to a commanding 36-16. Nathan Merrit was not content with the scoreline and ran in a late try to make the scoreboard slightly more respectable at 36-24.
The big news out of this match was the possible season-ending injury to Sam Burgess, which came from an awkward tackle that resulted in his ankle getting twisted out of shape.
Ben Barba was sensational and was unlucky to not bag a hat trick when a fumble from Souths had him run 100 metres only to be called back to what the ref interpreted as a knock on from Andrew Ryan.
Next Round – RABBITOHS vs. SHARKS (FRIDAY 29/04 at 7:35PM at ANZ Stadium)
ROOSTERS 10 – DRAGONS 24
Camouflage jerseys, worn by the Roosters, were not enough to stop the Dragons continuing their indomitable run towards September’s big game. Mark Gasnier flew high to get the Red Vs on the board midway through the first half and this was the only try scored during the opening forty. The second half had Darius Boyd cutting through the line early for the Dragons and this was followed by Justin Carney jumpstarting the Roosters attack from a set play to score out wide. Down 12-4, the Tri-Colours needed to find some mongrel to stay in touch but Brett Morris decided that this would be the moment to post his first try of the season and the Dragons again were comfortable with an 18-4 lead. The final twenty created some hope for Eastern Suburbs fans when Mitchell Pearce made a break off a misdirected pass and proceeded to run in an important try with 13 minutes remaining. Down by 8 the Roosters needed to score twice to steal this away from St George-Illawarra and attempted to create some space out wide and up the middle but were unable to find that much-needed spark to crack the Dragons’ defence. It all became a moot point though when Ben Creagh scored in the 75th minute, closing out the Roosters with a 14-point lead.
Next Round – TITANS vs. ROOSTERS (SATURDAY 30/04 at 5:30PM at Skilled Park)
SEA EAGLES 22 – PANTHERS 16
Manly continued an under the radar run of wins at Brookvale on Friday night. Michael Oldfield opened the scoring tally when he crossed in the 15th minute and this was followed by another four pointer 13 minutes later when Steve Matai scored as he charged onto a slick inside pass from a set scrum play to bring the score to 10-nil. Panthers fans must feel like they are on a rollercoaster with their team firing one week and bombing the next but David Simmons rectified the scoreboard, after a 38-minute onslaught from the Sea Eagles, to grab a try before half time and go into the break down by a converted try. The second half saw tries to Steve Matai and Michael Robertson, which had the margin out to 18 points, and Panthers fans had reason to despair with only 10 minutes remaining. Timana Tahu and Nigel Plum ran in two late tries to make the score seem a little more respectable but those who watched the game would be aware of how little the Mountain Men offered throughout the game.
TIGERS 18 – BRONCOS 31
A couple of massive bets on the Tigers had them positioned as favourites to win this game but the Broncos offered much better value at the pushed out odds. Almost 20 minutes of footy produced little in attack but eventually Jharal Yow Yeh broke the drought with a leap to the heavens and a quick trip back to earth to plant the ball down. From that point Brisbane continued the barrage and posted two more tries through Alex Glenn and ‘Slammin’ Sam Thaiday to get them out to a 16-nil margin. Tim Moltzen, who looked out of place at fullback, managed to cross before half time to give punters and fans some hope for the second half but this was quickly squashed when Peter Wallace scored and Darren Lockyer hooked over a field goal to give the Broncs a lead of 25-6. The second stanza was promising for the Tigers when they came out and posted a couple of quick tries in succession to get the score back to a very attainable margin but they failed to continue on with it. The final icing on the cake was Darren Lockyer showing Benji Marshall he may have old legs but with that comes an old head and with the exceptional skills he has acquired over his career he snatched the final try of the match.
SHARKS 12 – COWBOYS 30
Cronulla just can’t seem to catch a break. Not did they have to deal with Albert Kelly’s suspected broken leg, gun fullback Nathan Gardner rolled his ankle very early in the match and that set an ominous tone for Sharkies fans. Even with this set-back the Shire boys showed a resolve that kept them well in the game for the first forty minutes, aiming up in defence and nearly scoring the first try of the match before it was pulled back for a Paul Gallen forward pass. Gavin Cooper, running off of a Thurston pass, slotted through some tired defence to light up the scoreboard and Thurston then punctuated the first half with a penalty goal that had the Cowboys in front 8-0 at the break. The Cowboys owned the Sharks in the second half scoring a try every ten minutes and ending their disturbing trend of defending out a lead. Luke Douglas and Paul Gallen both crossed the chalk to at least get Cronulla on the board but unfortunately they went away with a loss this round despite putting in a valiant performance.
RAIDERS 12 – KNIGHTS 22
Well Canberra definitely got off on the right foot scoring the first try and showing fairly good control throughout the first half, and actually went in to break leading 12-nil. Josh Dugan returned with gusto and was strong in his kick returns and even set up the Raiders second try for Joel Thompson… but that was the first half. In the second forty minutes the Knights were piggy-backed up the field thanks to eight Canberra mistakes and two favourable penalties, which helped them to score four unanswered tries and snatch away victory from the Green Machine, who really looked the goods this week despite going down 22-12. The Tigers play the Raiders next week in Canberra and Tim Sheens better be prepared for a Green Wash.
EELS 24 – TITANS 18
There are last minute victories that can turn around a season for teams lacking direction and this could possibly be one of them with the Eels snatching the two competition points on the buzzer. Parramatta’s record without Jarryd Hayne is abysmal and his teammates really needed to prove to themselves and fans that they are not a one-man team and for the first half they did just that keeping pace with a solid looking Titans outfit. They went tit for tat in the scoring department with Steve Michaels crossing first for the Titans before Jacob Loko returned serve in a similar play at the other end. Greg Bird was too strong close to the line to tally up the next try and after some poor plays Jeff Robson redeemed himself with a four pointer of his own to bring the half time total to 10-12 in favour of the away team. The Titans probably received a good verbal from Coach Cartwright and came out firing after the break to extend the lead to 16-10. Joel Reddy got the Eels back to within 2 points, and some serious scrambling in defence from the Titans followed as the Eels launched a flurry of attacking plays. The real kicker came from a last minute bomb that had players falling over each other to secure the pill. Shane ‘on the spot’ Shackleton was the man to grab the ball dropping to the turf and snatching a much-needed win as the siren sounded in the background. On a side note, complaints have been made from concerned citizens about the Eels new theme song, ‘Love Shack’.
STORM 14 – WARRIORS 18
Warriors came out to plaaay! On Anzac day, in the bitter cold of Melbourne (which is probably warmer than Auckland), a band of New Zealand brothers rose up and stood toe-to-toe against an unstoppable force… the Storm. The game started in Storm style with the home team posting a very quick try in the first three minutes, which came from ‘most awesome buy of the season’ Beau Champion. In a very un-Stormish remainder of the half they not only failed to cross again, they allowed the Warriors the opportunity to jump out to an 18-6 lead with tries to Krisnan Inu, Jacob Lillyman and Michael Luck. The second half was an arm wrestle of over the top proportions with the Storm catching up early with a third try in as many weeks to Cooper Cronk getting them to 14-18 down, but this was as close as they would get. Melbourne may have lost their ‘mojo’ this week but the Knights better beware next week.