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What a weekend of footy! Upsets, a golden point thriller, and a send off that no one saw coming.
Lets’ check out all the highlights from Round 20 of the NRL.
Sydney Roosters 20 – Manly Sea Eagles 10
Not quite the thrashing we all thought was going to happen.
After the debacle of the Pride Jersey saw seven Sea Eagles players stand down for this match, it should have ended in a cricket score. But the rest of the Manly pack put in a surprisingly solid performance against a full-strength Roosters on Thursday night, eventually going down by only ten points.
The tricolours were on the board early and were 12-0 up after 20 minutes. Manly hit back through Andrew Davey, but Joey Manu returned serve shortly after and went to the break leading 18-6. A Sam Walker penalty goal just after half time extended the Roosters lead out to 14, and that’s where their scoring stopped. Manly debutant Alfred Smalley crossed for a try with minutes to go for a 20-10 finish.
The win keeps the Roosters in eighth spot, but could prove costly for the Roosters, with JWH and Egan Butcher both put on report, and Lindsay Collins leaving the match after a head knock. Manly now find themselves in tenth and desperate to get back into finals contention.
Melbourne Storm 24 – New Zealand Warriors 12
Normality has been restored. Everyone, as you were.
The Storm were back in the winner’s circle, avoiding their fifth loss in a row with a four tires to three win over the Warriors on Friday night.
It was a close first half with two tires a piece and a conversion the only difference with the Storm taking a 10-8 lead into the break. Jahrome Hughes scored just after half tine and extend the lead by eight, and Nick Meany crossed shortly after for a 22-8 lead. Edward Kosi grabbed his and the Warriors third try of the night, but in the end it wasn’t enough to get the win in front of their home crowd.
It will be an anxious wait for the Melbourne, with injured fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen’s understudy Nick Meaney leaving the field early with a shoulder injury. Big NAS and Josh King also found themselves on report for an alleged elbow to the head and eye gauge respectfully, but both received downgraded sop ill not miss any matches.
The Storm are now back in the top four, with the Warriors slipping down to 13th.
Parramatta Eels 34 – Penrith Panthers 10
I told you Parramatta would get the win! But I don’t think anyone would have predicted Nathan Cleary getting sent off!
We knew when these two sides came back together we were in for a show – but no one expected that!
The good Eels got off the bus on Friday night and put on a huge upset against the Panthers. Already missing Jarome Luai and Stephen Crichton, Penrith’s night became even harder in the 18th minute when star playmaker Cleary was marched for a dangerous tackle on Dylan Brown. Trailing 12-4 at the time, the wheels well and truly fell off and the scoreboard blew out to 30-4 by half time.
To the Panther’s credit, they managed to regroup and refocus after the break and won the second half 6-2. But it was too little too late for the final result, with the damage from the first half too big to overcome.
Penrith are still sitting pretty in first spot, but now have an anxious wait to see what Cleary will cop at the judiciary. The win sees the Eels move up to sixth spot, as well as earn the bragging rights to be the only side to have beaten the Panthers this year. Twice.
Canberra Raiders 36 – Gold Coast Titans 24
The Green Machine have kept their finals hopes alive after their seven tries to four victory on Saturday up on the Gold Coast. It was Canberra’s third win in a row and moves them up to ninth on the ladder.
Matt Timoko opened the scoring in the fourth minute for the visitors, with Brian Kelly returning serve shortly after. Canberra’s Nic Cotric then bagged himself a double, but the Titans hit back right before the half time siren when Tanah Boyd crossed and went to the sheds trailing the Raiders 16-12.
The second half saw Canberra storm home scoring four tries and only letting in two.
The forwards were enormous for the Raiders, with Joseph Tapine, Josh Papalii and Hudson Young putting in huge performances. Adam Elliot was on track for another solid hit out but left the match early with a hip injury. The Raiders will have to wait and see how severe it is.
The Titans had a strong first half but fell off in the second. They now find themselves in last position and praying not to win the spoon.
Cronulla Sharks 21 - South Sydney Rabbitohs 20
Was anyone else exhausted after this epic battle?!
After both sides throwing everything they had at each other, the Sharks took out an absolute thriller on Saturday night, with Nicho Hynes kicking the winning field goal in the 87th minute in front of a sold out SportsBet Stadium.
As expected, the match was fast and tough with not much splitting the sides. With only three minutes to go in regular time, Cronulla were leading 20-14. When Tevita Tatola scored for the Bunnies and Latrell Mitchell converted, the game was sent to golden point.
Latrell Mitchell had three unsuccessful attempts at field goal and Cronulla’s Matt Moylan two. But after South’s Tom Burgess was sent off in the 86th minute for a high shot on Ronaldo Mulitalo, the Sharks were gifted beautiful field position for Hynes to break the deadlock.
Cronulla are loving life sitting in third position, while the Bunnies will be disappointed with the loss that sees them slip down to seventh.
Wests Tigers 32 - Brisbane Broncos 18
I told you they would come out firing this week!
Haven’t these guys well and truly moved on from Michael Maguire? After getting robbed last week against the Cowboys, the Tigers made sure they got the win this round against the Broncos this round.
Wests are finally giving their fans something to cheer about, putting in another brilliant performance and stunning Brisbane with a five tries to three victory.
It was a tough first half, with both sides heading to the break levelled at 12-all. But the visitors streaked away in the second half, too strong and too determined. There is an anxious wait for both sides with Brisbane’s Pat Carrigan put on report for an alleged hip drop tackle on the Tigers Jackson Hastings. Hastings left the field and was seen after the game on crutches, and both players are expected to be sitting on the sidelines for a while.
The win sees the Tigers off the bottom of the ladder and moving to 15th, while the Broncos remain just outside the top four.
Canterbury Bulldogs 24 – Newcastle Knights 10
And here’s another team that doesn’t seem to be missing their old coach Trent Barrett!
The Bulldogs continue to show the NRL world what they are capable of, downing the Knights four tries to two up at Newcastle and securing back-to-back wins.
Canterbury has played with a lot of heart this season, and it is finally turning into wins. Matt Burton was once again in fine form, while Jacob Kiraz had a top day out against his old club, scoring a hat trick. The Bulldogs are growing in confidence every week and hold on to 12th spot.
On the flip side, the Knights were close to disastrous. Missing superstar Kalyn Ponga the home side were well off the pace, lacking in attack and direction. The loss sees them remain in 14th spot and counting down the weeks until they can forget about the season completely.
North Queensland Cowboys 34 – St George Illawarra Dragons 8
The Cowboys shook off their near loss against the Tigers last week with a 26-point thrashing of the Dragons at Kogarah. They remain in second spot ion the ladder and are laser focused on the finals.
It was a tight first half, with the visitors taking a 10-8 lead into the break. But the Cowboys came back from the sheds firing, scoring four tries in the second half and keep the Red V scoreless.
Jeremiah Nanai was once again in top form, grabbing a double and causing headaches for the home side. Scott Drinkwater also joined the double party, and Reuben Cotter made a successful return from injury after missing the past five rounds with a hamstring injury.
Ben Hunt tried like he always does, but the Dragons fell off the pace after the break and put a huge dent in their final’s chances. Coming eleventh and facing a tough run home, it’s going to be a real uphill battle to make the top eight.
And it will be interesting to see what punishment Jaydn Su’A receives, after he was placed on report for pulling Cowboy’s Luciano Leilua’s hair during a tackle.
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