The Cronulla Sharks beat the Manly Sea Eagles 20-12 at Shark Park on Saturday to take top spot on the ladder for the first time in 16 years.
Manly hung in till the end of a tough match but the Sharks proved too much for the North Shore battlers. Statistically Manly might have won had they made the most of their possession and completed sets.
The Sharks set the tone from the start, racing out of the blocks early to send winger Sosaia Feki across the line in the 9th minute. A penalty goal by James Maloney increased the Cronulla lead in the 22nd, then Ben Barba broke through Manly’s defence in the 29th to send Valentine Holmes over and put the Sharks 12-0 ahead. Tom Trbojevic crossed the chalk for Manly as the siren sounded – 12-6.
Manly came back fighting and took the Sharks to the limit. Jamie Buhrer scored in the 46th minute and Brayden Wiliame crossed a few minutes later to lock things up at 12 all. Maloney broke the deadlock with a penalty goal in the 65th then Barba broke the hearts of Manly with a great try in the 72nd. Maloney had a good game, converting two tries and capitalising on both his penalty opportunities, strengthening his claims to the number 6 jersey for the NSW Blues in Origin.
Foran return fails to end Parramatta’s woes
The Melbourne Storm delivered a masterclass in defensive football to defeat the Parramatta Eels 18-6 at Pirtek Stadium on Monday night. The game marked the return of Parramatta’s star 2016 recruit, Kieran Foran, but it would have been unreasonable to expect him singlehandedly to turn the Eels’ fortunes around. He worked hard but the Storm simply proved too ruthlessly clinical for the beleagured Parramatta team.
The Storm winger Suiasi Vunivalu had a great game, crossing the line in the 7th and the 63rd minutes to deliver the best performance of the night. The other Storm winger, Marika Koroibete, also scored off a pinpoint kick by Blake Green in the 33rd minute. The Eels threw everything they could at the Storm but not even Semi Radradra could crack the Melbourne defence. The Storm’s Cheyse Blair crossed the line in the corner in the 70th minute to extend the visitors’ lead to 18-0. Only Cameron Smith’s sorry performance with the boot – he converted only one try – kept the Storm under 20. The Storm had eased off the throttle when the Eels finally managed to penetrate the defence in the 79th, when Michael Jennings flopped onto a neat grubber kick from Foran. Michael Gordon converted, but the game had been lost long before.
The Canterbury Bulldogs crowing as they pluck Roosters 32-20
The Dogs showed intent from the beginning at ANZ stadium on Sunday afternoon, scoring first in the sixth minute through winger Tyrone Phillips, who made it a double in the 30th. A strange ricochet and some good luck allowed Josh Reynolds to gather his own kick in the 33rd, put on some fancy footwork and dash 50 metres to score under the black dot. Kerrod Holland, bang on target all night, took the score to 18-0. The Roosters, whose lack of discipline cost them dearly, managed to score two tries against the run of play in the last three minutes of the half, going into the sheds at 18-10.
The Bulldogs were dominant immediately the game recommenced, taking a penalty given away by the Roosters then scoring through winger Curtis Rona, who took his record to 20 tries in 20 games at ANZ Stadium. Latrell Mitchell offered the Roosters some brief hope of a recovery when he scored in the 69th, but Phillips took the game well out of the hapless Roosters’ reach when he scored his third in the 72nd minute. Young sharp shooter Kerrod Holland was perfect with the boot and nailed home the advantage for the Dogs. In the dying stages Ryan Matterson went over for a brilliant try after some impressive play from Mitchell Pearce, but it was little consolation for a Roosters outfit that is still struggling to get out of a very deep rut. The Bulldogs have now gone back to back and the Roosters still struggle to get out of the rut.
Cowboys prevail in Queensland derby thriller
The North Queensland Cowboys beat the Brisbane Broncos 19-18 in Townsville on Friday night. The Broncos looked strong in the first half but it was the Cowboys who scored first, in the 12th minute. Australia and Queensland prop Matt Scott barged through the defence off a short ball for his first four-pointer of 2016. Then the Broncos took control. Matt Gillett scored in the 22nd, Jordan Kahu notched up a penalty goal in the 29th then Gillett crossed again in the 31st to stake his claim for Queensland Origin selection. When the teams went in at 12-6 the Broncos looked the goods.
When Jordan Kahu scored in the 42nd minute then slotted another penalty goal four minutes later to put the Broncos ahead 18-6 it seemed the Brisbane team was about to run away with the game, but the Cowboys never gave up fighting. Their persistence paid off in the 58th minute when full-back Lachlan Coote went over, followed soon after by Justin O’Neill. Johnathan Thurston, playing his 250th game for the Townsville team, made no mistake with the conversions to bring the Cowboys level with Brisbane. The game was played hard and both teams were fumbling by the end, but the Cowboys held together to give Thurston a chance to steal the lead. Despite a jarring tackle that left him wincing he managed to rise in time to gather the ball cleanly and put it over for the vital one-point lead. The Broncos squandered two opportunities to level, leaving the Cowboys worthy winners of a gruelling battle. – Jesse Mullens
Other round 11 results:
South Sydney Rabbitohs 34 – 24 St George Illawarra Dragons
Wests Tigers 20 – 12 Newcastle Knights
Gold Coast Titans 28 – 24 Penrith Panthers
Canberra Raiders 38 – 12 New Zealand Warriors
Photo of Johnathan Thurston falling short of the line by Scott Davis for the NRL.