NRL Finals – Week 1

New Zealand Warriors could not keep up with a rampant Gold Coast Titans outfit as they went down 28-16 at Skilled Park.

But it was the Warriors who made the early running with a try after just seven minutes when livewire hooker Aaron Heremia dashed in between two defenders for the first score of the match.

The Titans levelled the scores when William Zillman, standing in for the injured Preston Campbell, just about managed to ground Scott Princes’ deft grubber kick.

A devastating 12 minute period just before half time saw the home side add three tries through Zillman, Clinton Toopi from another Prince kick and veteran five-eighth Mat Rogers who sliced through a tiring Warriors defence to help his side to a 22-6 half time lead.

A Prince penalty after half time extended the Titans’ lead but also caused them to relax slightly which the Warriors took full advantage of.

The visitors closed the gap with tries from Joel Moon and Manu Vatuvei to give them cause for hope until Titans speedster Kevin Gordon put the game beyond doubt when he raced over with 15 minutes remaining.

A dramatic late Sean Kenny-Dowall try grabbed Sydney Roosters a thrilling 19-15 win over Wests Tigers at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Wests Tigers had dominated proceedings from the outset and only led 10-2 at the break, despite seeing Gareth Ellis cross three times.

A miraculous strip from Todd Carney denied him a first with a determined Roosters defence and an unnecessary Benji Marshall punch on Mitchell Pearce putting paid to his second and third attempts.

Against the run of play, Carney opened the scoring with a penalty to the Roosters but with the Tigers dominating the encounter it was no surprise when Lote Tuqiri crossed in the corner to re-take the lead.

Beau Ryan swivelled his way over with four minutes remaining of the half to push the Tigers out to 10-2.

The second period continued in much the same vein and when Blake Ayshford latched on to a loose Roosters pass to sprint in for the Tigers’ third, it looked as if the game was all over.

But with Carney to the fore, the Roosters clawed their way back into the game with a try from skipper Braith Anasta.

Carney was involved for his side’s second try when he burst through the defence to put Mitchell Pearce over before converting to close the gap to just one point at 15-14.

Despite some desperate attacking, it looked as if the Tigers had done enough until Anasta let fly with a huge field goal to send the game into extra time.

Both sides missed relatively easy field goal attempts during a draining ten-minute spell which ended when Kenny-Dowall seized on a loose Liam Fulton pass to sprint over and grab the win.

The Tigers suffered another blow with the loss of inspirational five-eighth Benji Marshall to a knee injury.

In-form Canberra held on to record a spirited 24-22 win at Penrith.

Terry Campese crossed for the Raiders’ first until Panthers fullback Michael Gordon levelled the scores with a try of his own.

Powerful forward Dane Tilse barged his way over under the posts for Canberra’s second before Bronson Harrison plucked Daniel Vidot’s batted ball back for their third.

Croker’s third conversion had the visitors ahead 18-12 at the break.

Winger Reece Robinson raced his way over after the break to open up a considerable 12-point lead for the Raiders until Sandor Earl weighed in with two spectacular tries to cut the lead to just two points.

Unfortunately for the Panthers ever-reliable kicker Gordon was not able to land the conversion and the Raiders held on for the victory.

St George ran in four tries and kept Manly scoreless as they dispelled their preliminary finals hoodoo with an emphatic 28-0 victory at Kograh.

The Dragons grabbed the lead after nine minutes when Ben Hornby did just enough to ground a pinpoint Jamie Soward grubber.

The Sea Eagles pressed but at no point were they able to penetrate a staunch home defence and with Soward kicking back to back penalties they were able to establish a healthy 10-0 lead.

Two more penalties from Soward’s boot edged the home side further ahead at 14-0 but the game seemed to be dwindling as a spectacle.

That was until centre Matt Cooper lit the game up with two tries in three minutes before Mark Gasnier turned on the afterburners to race in for the Dragons’ fourth and the game’s final try of the day.

SEMI FINALS

Friday

Canberra Raiders v Wests Tigers

Saturday

Sydney Roosters v Penrith Panthers

Both games will be live and exclusive on Premier Sports on Sky channel 433, the home of NRL in the UK.

Check www.premiersports.tv for listings.

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