It was a battle of perhaps the two most inconsistent teams in the NRL. Both teams have had their highs and lows thus far in 2007, but it would be the Eels who would triumph in this one. The game was exciting with end to end action. At various stages it appeared that either team was gaining the ascendancy; however that would change throughout. After 60 minutes the scores were locked at 14-14 only to see the Eels finish the stronger. Ian Hindmarsh proved to be an unlikely hero, kicking a field goal to put them ahead by 7 points late in the contest. He capped off a strong game with a try in the dying stages. The score doesn’t really reflect the close battle and it could have gone either way. The Eels have now won three in a row and are gaining some consistency, while the Panthers remain a mystery.
The game was billed as ‘big brother versus little brother’. Big brother Brisbane was expected to be too strong after a return to form in the previous week. The Titans had other ideas and put in a dominant and exciting performance worthy of a finals team. A huge crowd saw the Broncos make fundamental errors and the Titans managed to capitalize. A 12-6 halftime lead was blown out to 22-6 early in the 2nd stanza and the Titans managed to hang on for an impressive performance. On a sour note, the Titans lost Michael Henderson to a late injury that will see him ruled out for the season. He had played strongly and scored a try prior to being stretchered off. Brisbane are in serious trouble, especially with the representative season just around the corner. Six players were chosen for the International on Friday night, adding further strain to a squad that is struggling.
The Dragons got off to an ideal start in this one, scoring an early try that gave them a 4-0 lead. The Storm were the hot favourites and eventually started to get on top, despite not playing near their best. The Dragons improved from the previous week, working hard in defence which frustrated Melbourne who were struggling to get over the line. A late Anthony Quinn try finally sealed the game after the Dragons had worked hard to stay in touch. The Storm are still nowhere near the best and the Dragons have now lost four straight. Israel Folau scored his 8th try for the season while Matt King and Cameron Smith put in their best performances of the season thus far. Josh Morris was brilliant for the Dragons at fullback, scoring a scintillating try as well as saving a few.
The Sea Eagles have remained undefeated with a hard-fought thriller against the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs were horrendous in the first half but somehow managed to take a 6-4 lead into the break. They were guilty of simple errors and attempting to off-load in difficult situations. Manly struggled to get over the line, and all signs were pointing to a Bulldogs win if they managed to improve in the second stanza. They got off to an ideal start when Sonny Bill Williams scored a great try to extend the lead to 12-4. Manly hit back minutes later and stole the match courtesy of a brilliant chip and chase try put on by stand-in halfback Michael Monaghan, who laid on the try for Steven Bell.
New Zealand Warriors 34 def North Queensland Cowboys 14
An inspiring performance from captain Steve Price has led to an emphatic win for the Warriors over the previously undefeated Cowboys. Price was at his best in both attack and defence and really should have been chosen in the Australia squad in the upcoming test. The final scoreline doesn’t truly reflect the game that was played. Scores were locked at 10-10 at halftime before some brilliant play along with a touch of luck provided the Warriors with further points and momentum. The Cowboys who have a number of players injured, struggled to get back into the match, allowing New Zealand to secure an impressive win. The Warriors are a different team at home and are ensuring that the trip across the Tasman is difficult for all teams.
There was plenty of emotion surrounding the Knights after the retirement of the great Andrew Johns. Meanwhile, Souths were looking to bounce back after a tough loss against the Bulldogs in the previous week. The game didn’t let anyone down, providing plenty of excitement despite an incredibly high error count, particularly in the second half. The Knights fought back from 16-10 down early in the second half. Jarrod Mullen was superb, showing he can lead his side for a long time to come. He got plenty of support from Kurt Gidley who was heavily involved and finished with a personal tally of 15 points. Souths showed glimpses of their best form and had an opportunity to seize the match in the second half; however they will be ruing the amount errors they committed which allowed Newcastle back into the contest.
Wests Tigers have finally got a result to go their way, winning a golden point thriller against the Sharks. The game never reached any great heights as the Sharks concentrated on their defence and stifled the Tigers’ attack in front of a big crowd at Campbelltown Stadium. With the Sharks leading 12-6 late in the game and controlling possession, they seemed to be on track for a hard-fought victory. Unfortunately for them it was an error that allowed the Tigers back into the game. An errant pass from Sharks hooker Kevin Kingston was intercepted by Benji Marshall who raced away 70 metres to score the try that leveled the game. The Tigers had scored in the first minute of play and had to wait more than 70 minutes for their second try. After both teams missed field goal attempts the game headed into extra time. It only took a few minutes before the game was decided. A stripping penalty was awarded against Lance Thompson, allowing Marshall to convert the penalty goal from near point-blank range.
This was easily the most entertaining match of the round. Both teams continued their struggles defensively which allowed for some brilliant attacking football. The Roosters struck first; however it was the Raiders who gained the ascendancy with tries just before and just after halftime, blowing the game wide open. A 26-12 lead ballooned out to 32-12 just 2 minutes after the break when Todd Carney scored his second try. The Roosters then began an incredible fightback, slowly clawing their way back into the game. An Anthony Tupou try bridged the gap to 32-28 and all signs were pointing to an amazing Roosters victory. Unfortunately for them the comeback was stalled due to some simple errors that let the Raiders off the hook. The Roosters dropped the ball over the line twice and failed to execute a simple pass on another occasion, failing to capitalize on the opportunities they had. They remain winless on the bottom of the ladder.