St George Dragons delivered Souths Rabbitohs their first loss of the season 8-6 in a rain-affected Sunday afternoon match overshadowed by an injury to Sam Burgess.
The match was stopped for what seemed like an eternity as Burgess, who had ducked into a tackle while trying to crash through for a try, lay immobile while being assessed by medical staff. Burgess, clearly distressed by the possibility of serious neck injury, was able to move his limbs but complained of sharp pain around his upper spine.
The medi-cab eventually removed him from the field, rain still pelting down, to a nervous ovation from a respectful crowd. Controversy later erupted over the broadcast and television commentary as the cameras lingered on his anguished mother, weeping in the stands. Good news emerged in the morning though when medical examination cleared him of serious damage and he was able to tweet an optimistic message to worried fans.
Initial scan results are positive. Thank you all for messages of support – feeling extremely lucky tonight. A few days of rest now. Sam
— Sam Burgess (@SamBurgess8) March 20, 2016
Gareth Widdop scored the first points of the game in the 7th minute with a penalty goal. The Dragons lead was short-lived as Alex Johnston scored in the corner for South Sydney minutes after, and Bryson Goodwin converted the try to make the score 6-2.
In the 22nd minute, Jason Nightingale who was celebrating his 200th game, scored in the corner for the Dragons off a pin-point kick from Gareth Widdop to make the score 6-all. The Dragons took the lead in the 30th minute through a penalty goal in front to take the lead, before halftime, 8-6.
In the 51st minute Sam Burgess suffered his injury. The score remained tantalisingly close, and the Rabbits did not abandon hope, pressing forward until the last minute when Greg Inglis, suffering a brainsnap, squandered his team’s last chance on a futile – and missed – field goal. He clearly thought the scores were level – the the horror of his teammates.
The Dragons secured their first win of the season at the undefeated Rabbitoh’s expense.
Melbourne Storm v New Zealand Warriors
Earlier in the day, the Melbourne Storm defeated the New Zealand Warriors 21-14, for the first time at Mount Smart since 2012. Both sides were evenly matched with the scores being locked up 14 all until the 77th minute. Cooper Cronk took control and slotted a field goal to give the storm a one point lead.
The Warriors made a last ditch effort to score in the final play but lost possession for Marika Koroibete to pick the ball up and score for the Storm. Melbourne’s tries were scored by Kenneath Bromwich, Cameron Munster and Marika Koroibete with Cameron Smith kicking four goals and Cooper Cronk scoring a field goal. The Warriors try scorers were Tuimoala Lolohea, Solomone Kata and Jonathan Wright with Shaun Johnson kicking one goal. – James Wardell
Panthers upset Broncos at Pepper Stadium
The Penrith Panthers upset competition favourites Brisbane Broncos 23-22 at Pepper Stadium on Saturday night, with Debutant Te Maire Martin kicked the winning field goal with three minutes remaining.
After leading 22-6 in the first half, the Broncos looked set for their third win of the season, but Penrith surged back with 17 unanswered points in a thrilling game.
Brisbane opened the scoring in the second minute with Anthony Milford breaking the line through some soft defence from Jamie Soward. Milford was at it again soon after, attracting Bryce Cartwright in defence close to the line before giving an inside ball to Darius Boyd to take the score to 10-0 after the conversion.
The Panthers scored their first try off an unexpected fourth tackle grubber from five-eighth Tyrone Peachey that gave Peta Hiku his third try of the season grounding the ball close to the dead ball line.
The Broncos forwards were heavily involved with the ball in hand and were given great field position in the Panthers’ 20 when Bryce Cartwright knocked on. In the 30th minute Sam Thaiday broke the line then offloaded for Ben Hunt to touch down, taking the score to 16-6 after the conversion. Milford scored a second try off a second-man play from Thaiday, putting on a left-foot step that fooled a tired Panthers’ defence.
The Panthers managed to narrow the gap slightly heading into half-time when a short ball sent Bryce Cartwright over line to take the score to 22-12 after Soward’s conversion.
The second half was scoreless for 17 minutes before a kick from Soward deflected off Brisbane’s Josh Maguire, allowing Jeremy Latimore to chase through and ground the ball, putting Penrith within four points at 22-18.
Penrith let some chances go begging close to the line but maintained the pressure, eventually forcing a try in the corner for Te Maire Martin after some great work from Cartwright. Soward was unable to convert, leaving the score level at 22-22. Soward had a chance when Andrew McCullough was penalised for a high tackle but missed a penalty from 31 metres out.
An error from Ben Hunt in the 76th minute gave the Panthers good field position for a field goal attempt. After working the ball up to Brisbane’s 10-metre line, Soward looked set to kick before passing it back to the 20-year-old to kick the one-pointer.
The Broncos head home next week for an all-Queensland grudge match against the North Queensland Cowboys. Penrith will hope to get their second win of the season when they take on St George Illawarra Dragons at Wollongong. – Andrew Cullen
Penrith: tries to Peta Hiku, Bryce Cartwright, Jeremy Latimore and Te Maire Martin; Jamie Soward converted three and Te Maire Martin kicked one field goal. Brisbane: tries to Anthony Milford (two), Darius Boyd and Ben Hunt, Corey Parker converted two, Jordan Kahu one.
Eels dominate Bulldogs in tough contest
The Parramatta Eels dominated the Bulldogs on Friday at ANZ stadium, 20-6. In a classic battle of the West, the Eels defied the off-field dramas rocking their club to lodge an early claim to premiership contention.
The opening 10 minutes belonged to the Bulldogs, who kept pressure on the Eels’ try line but Parramatta’s defence held firm. Then the tide turned and Eels made the most of a probing kick when the flying Semi Radradra provided an incredible flick pass that allowed Michael Jennings to cross for a try in 12th minute. The conversion was good, taking the score to 6-0.
The physical contest continued with impressive defence from both sides ensuring the teams went in for half time with the score unchanged.
A penalty against David Klemmer in the 50th minute gave the Eels an easy two from in front: 8-0. Soon after the Bullldogs looked to have scored in the right corner, but a pass from Sam Kasiano was ruled forward by the bunker.
In the 67th minute Corey Norman dummied his way through the Dogs’ defence, then passed to Semi Radradra who scored under the posts. Radradra then showed some individual brilliance, wheeling through the line and racing away to give himself a double for the night – 20-0.
In the 76th minute Will Hopoate ran hard to cross the line for the Dogs, but the game was already lost. The conversion took the score to 20-6, the final score.
Cowboys thrash hapless Roosters
The North Queensland Cowboys dominated the Roosters on Thursday night with a record 40-0 win at 1300SMILES Stadium.
The Townsville team came out of the gates firing with their forwards laying the platform for two tries in the first 15 minutes by Kane Linnett and Antonio Winterstein. Captain Johnathan Thurston made no mistakes with the conversions, taking the score to 12-0.
The Roosters struggled in the wet conditions: halves Jayden Nikorima and Jackson Hastings failed to lay the ground for any concerted attack though Kiwi international Shaun Kenny-Dowall occasionally broke through the Cowboys’ line. But their defence held for most of the rest of the half until an error allowed Lachlan Coote to score next to the goal post. Half-time score – 18-0.
The Cowboys were relentless in the second half, their halves pairing of Michael Morgan and Thurston guiding the team to run in 22 unanswered points. Tries by Scott Bolton, Michael Morgan, Jason Taumalolo and Kyle Feldt took the final score to 40-0.
The Roosters’ night went from bad to worse when they lost Ian Henderson for the season when he fractured a fractured leg in the last minute of play. – James Wardell
Top photo of Rabbitoh’s Josh Dugan from the NRL Official Facebook page.