Auckland Nines Wrap

Chooks rule the roost
The Sydney Roosters were crowned 2017 Auckland Nines champions on Sunday as they defeated Penrith Panthers 10-8 in an unlikely final at Eden Park. Both sides were rank outsiders, with the Panthers sending a squad which included 10 players who were yet to make their first-grade debut. The eventual champions lost their first game to one of the favourites, North Queensland Cowboys, before five wins on the spin saw them lift the trophy. It took a last minute try for them to see off Melbourne Storm in the semi-final though, as Connor Watson sent Bernard Lewis racing down the touchline to score the winner on the hooter.

Penrith won all of their games up until the final, with a 13-0 win over Parramatta Eels in the final four putting them into the final. They needed extra-time to defeat Manly Sea Eagles in the quarter-finals though, with Tyrone May grabbing the crucial try to secure a 20-16 win. In the final the Roosters raced into a 10-0 lead with tries from Daniel Tupou and Lewis, although a second-half comeback was sparked by Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Nathan Cleary, however Latrell Mitchell’s solitary conversion was the difference.

Player of the tournament
Connor Watson was at the heart of everything the champions did in attack, as he showed no signs of tiring in a brilliant weekend for the young halfback. He architected the try which put his side in the final, and if he can find that form in the NRL 2017 could be a good year for Watson and the Roosters. Kalyn Ponga deserves a special mention too, as he lit up the Cowboys attack with some brilliant individual efforts.

Try of the tournament
Gideon Gala Mosby came up with a spectacular moment in North Queensland’s quarter-final with Melbourne Storm, however it was in vain as they were ultimately beaten. Michael Morgan chipped to the wing for the young speedster and he looked to have missed an opportunity to score as he dropped the ball, but he managed to get a boot to the ball before it hit the ground and chased it down for an unforgettable try.


Moment of the weekend
There were plenty of awful conversion attempts, as drop-kicks were sent wide and short from all angles, including bang in front of the sticks. The one which caused all the talking points though managed to find its way over the sticks, although it didn’t count as Jordan Kahu was left red-faced. In the final minute of their quarter-final with eventual winners the Roosters, Brisbane Broncos scored a try which took them within a point of victory, and while Kahu converted the effort he didn’t do so in the allotted time. The shot clock reached zero and the Broncos were out of the tournament, which would have had a different winner if he would have paid attention to the countdown.






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