Melbourne and Manly remain undefeated in the NRL whilst other teams begin to fight for a spot in the top 8.
Melbourne Storm have remained undefeated with a tough victory over the Penrith Panthers. Once again, the Storm weren’t at their best and nearly had the game stolen in the dying stages. Despite not being at their best they were still too strong for the inconsistent Panthers. Cameron Smith, who was playing his second game in as many nights, put in a superb individual performance, crossing for two tries and kicking five goals. He was well supported by halfback Cooper Cronk who also scored a double. The Storm gradually built up a 24-8 lead in the second half and appeared to be cruising towards another victory. However, the Panthers mounted a late charge and clawed their way to within just 4 points with under 10 minutes remaining before Smith sealed the result with his second try.
The Sharks are quickly gaining a reputation based on their strong defence. For the second time this season they held their opposition scoreless which is a brilliant effort in the modern game. The Raiders were clearly off their game, making simple errors and giving away a number of silly penalties. The Sharks eventually wore them down and took the game away from Canberra. Centre Ben Pomeroy grabbed a hat-trick, crossing for the Sharks’ first three tries that gave them a comfortable 18-0 lead at half time. Canberra struggled with their attack, with many raids breaking down due to simple errors. Their form away from home remains a major concern for coach Neil Henry. Meanwhile, Ricky Stuart will be very pleased with how his troops are going. Halfback Brett Kimmorley was impressive and the overall performance of the team has many pointing to them as the dark horse of the competition.
Manly remain at the top of the ladder with another strong victory. Once again the win was based on the Sea Eagles’ amazing effort in defence. Only the Bulldogs have scored more than 10 points in a game against Manly. They got off to an amazing start with a double to flying fullback Brett Stewart in the opening 5 minutes. The writing was on the wall for the Titans who seemed to be struggling after an emotional win over the Broncos the previous week. To their credit they fought hard to stay in the game and had plenty of possession and field position to score points. Unfortunately, they were unable to cross the line due to some brilliant scrambling defence. Manly extended the lead to 18-0 just before halftime thanks to a clever kick from Matt Orford on just the second tackle. The Titans certainly weren’t expecting a kick and Chris Hicks won the race for the ball to score Manly’s third try. The second half was a tough struggle with just the one try scored. Manly held solid to walk away with another satisfying victory.
The Bulldogs have come away with an exciting come-from-behind victory over the Eels at Parramatta Stadium. Clashes between the two teams in recent years have been memorable and this match wasn’t any different. The Eels dominated the first half and took a 16-12 lead into the break. The lead probably should have been greater, but the Bulldogs landed a crucial blow right on halftime when Trent Cutler latched onto a Daniel Holdsworth grubber kick. It was the spark they were looking for and was definitely a momentum changer. The game was level at 18-18 midway through the second half after Willie Mason charged through for an inspiring try. The scene was set for a classic finish and it was the Bulldogs who managed to come up with the big plays. Holdsworth nailed a field goal to put the Bulldogs in front and Hazem El Masri put them further ahead with a late penalty goal, sealing a great victory. The Eels will be disappointed with the loss but will take heart from what was a strong team effort.
It was the night Newcastle farewelled their favourite son. The new Eastern grandstand was named after the great Andrew Johns prior to the game in front of a capacity crowd. A Knights victory would have been fitting, however the Broncos had other ideas. With five out of their seven test players backing up it was going to be a difficult task for Brisbane, but they came away with a win against all odds. The game was in the balance throughout, with the Broncos always finding a way to sneak ahead. They led 16-10 at halftime but the Knights hit back to level things up through a Todd Polglase try. Broncos winger Darius Boyd scored the winning try with 18 minutes remaining and they managed to hang on for the win despite the Knights throwing everything at them. Petero Civoniceva had a typical hard-working game and captain Darren Lockyer was again instrumental in the win after playing superbly in the Test match on Friday night.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 10 def North Queensland Cowboys 6
Season 2007 is starting to look very much like 2006 for the Cowboys. They again came out of the blocks strong, but have stumbled to their second straight defeat. Injuries are mounting and the team overall seems to be struggling, relying on individual brilliance to win games. South Sydney continued their resurgence with a tough win in Townsville. The Cowboys scored first and took a 6-4 lead into the break; however they were clearly not at their best. South Sydney defended admirably on their own line and hit the front through a Nathan Merritt try in the second half. They then managed to repel a wave of Cowboys attack, holding on for a very impressive win in one of the toughest road encounters in the NRL.