NRL talking points & highlights: Thank you Warriors, Brisbane’s wooden spoon & Johnston steals top try scorer

Broncos 16-32 Cowboys

The Brisbane Broncos claimed their first ever wooden spoon after defeat to the North Queensland Cowboys on Thursday at Suncorp Stadium. 

Despite leading 12-0 early on with Payne Haas and Darius Boyd, in his final NRL game scoring but trailed at half-time and also saw Kotoni Staggs depart with an ACL injury which will keep him out of Origin before the Cowboys sealed victory late on. 

For North Queensland, it was a fitting way to mark captain Gavin Cooper’s final game where he kicked the final goal after Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow linked up with Valentine Holmes for a length of the field try. 

In a historically poor season for the Broncos, Staggs, Haas and Herbie Farnworth stood out while Kyle Feldt, with a hat-trick against Brisbane, finished his best scoring campaign with 19 tries and Scott Drinkwater claimed 19 try assists. 

Stat of the match: 660 – Darius Boyd with 337 and Gavin Cooper with 323 have played a combined 660 NRL matches in their illustrious careers. 

 

Titans 36-6 Knights

Gold Coast Titans finished their season in impressive style by thrashing the Knights on Friday to claim their first top-eight victory of 2020. 

AJ Brimson and Ash Taylor shone, both grabbing doubles with the former in contention for an Origin debut for Queensland after a seventh try in just nine games. 

For Newcastle they continued their win-loss run since round 15 and will now travel to play the Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium in Sunday’s elimination final. 

The Titans finished ninth, after winning the wooden spoon last year and Brimson and halfback Jamal Fogarty had impressive seasons with David Klemmer and Kurt Mann shining for the Knights.  

Stat of the match: 4 – Newcastle only won four matches away from home in the regular season against Wests Tigers, Canberra, Manly and South Sydney. 

 

Rabbitohs 60-8 Roosters

South Sydney’s Alex Johnston stunningly finished as the NRL’s top try scorer as he grabbed five tries in a sensational thrashing of Sydney Roosters. 

Three of his tries came in the final 10 minutes as the Rabbitohs recorded their biggest ever win over their arch rivals and Cody Walker also impressed with  three try assists, two tries and two line breaks. 

For Trent Robinson, it was his side’s worst defeat under him and the club’s heaviest loss since a 60-14 thrashing against Canterbury in 2010. 

The win means Souths will now host Newcastle in the elimination final on Sunday (6:05am) and the Roosters will travel to play minor premiers Penrith on Friday (10:50am). 

Stat of the match: 1937 – The last time Souths scored 60 points in a match was in 1937 when they thrashed University 63-0 in round 1.  

 

Bulldogs 0-42 Panthers

Penrith finished an impressive regular season with a comprehensive victory against Canterbury on Saturday at ANZ Stadium. 

Brent Naden and Kurt Capewell both scored twice with Jarome Luai claiming for try assists as the Panthers eased to victory despite resting Dylan Edwards, Viliame Kikau and Stephen Crichton. 

Due to Brisbane’s earlier loss, Canterbury avoided the wooden spoon but saw Jayden Okunbor (suspected ACL rupture) and second-rower Raymond Faitala-Mariner (ankle) depart early. 

The Bulldogs will look to improve on a disappointing campaign but Faitala-Mariner and Jake Averillo two of their best players and Penrith will continue their season on Friday as they host the Roosters in the qualifying final (10:50am). 

Stat of the match: 14 – Jarome Luai has been involved in 14 tries in his last six matches with five tries and nine try assists. 

 

Sharks 28-38 Raiders

Canberra Raiders will go into the finals full of confidence after an outstanding win against Cronulla, with Tom Starling continuing his fine form. 

The young hooker scored one try and had a hand in three others with Sam Williams also contributing 14 points from a try and five goals as he captained the side in his maiden appearance of the season.

For the Sharks, Briton Nikora crossed twice and Ronaldo Mulitalo grabbed his 11th of a promising campaign in a topsy-turvy affair. 

These sides will face each other again on Saturday (8:40am) with Canberra hosting the elimination final. 

Stat of the match: 10 – Cronulla finished the season with 10 wins, 10 defeats and a points differential of 0, the first time parity has happened since Newcastle in 1989.

 

Wests Tigers 24-28 Eels 

Two tries in the final 15 minutes sealed a top-four place for Parramatta in an entertaining clash against Wests Tigers on Saturday. 

Reed Mahoney and Will Smith turned the game around to ensure the Eels finished third and earned a possible second chance in the finals. 

It was not the end Benji Marshall, who went off with knee and rib injuries and Chris Lawrence, who is retiring after 253 games for the club would have wanted, particularly after three quickfire tries from Tommy Talau, Asu Kepaoa and Luke Brooks have given them an eight-point lead. 

Wests Tigers ended the season in 11th as they failed to improve on last year’s ninth place but centre Luciano Leilua and hooker Harry Grant impressed but the campaign carries on for the Eels who play Melbourne in the qualifying final on Saturday (10:35am). 

Stat of the match: 277 – Only Robbie Farah’s 257 appearances for the Wests Tigers is more than Benji Marshall’s 257 and Chris Lawrence’s 253 matches for the club.  

 

Warriors 40-28 Sea Eagles

New Zealand Warriors ended an eventful campaign with a big victory against Manly at Central Coast Stadium on Sunday. 

They trailed 12-0 early on but hit back with 26 unanswered points but secured the points late on as Adam Keighran scored a hat-trick and Eliesa Katoa and Patrick Herbert grabbed doubles to fittingly mark the end of Adam Blair’s NRL career. 

For the Sea Eagles, they threatened a comeback with Abbas Miski crossing twice shortly before the break but were well beaten and have conceded an average of 34 points per game since round 12.

Living away from their families, the Warriors have had a remarkable season, only two wins off the finals with Tohu Harris, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Sione Katoa impressing while Daly Cherry-Evans still claimed 20 try assists in a poor season for his side. 

Stat of the match: 331 – Adam Blair played 331 NRL matches in his career as he appeared for Melbourne, Wests Tigers, Brisbane and the Warriors. 

 

Dragons 30-22 Storm 

A youthful Melbourne side just fell short against St George Illawarra Dragons in the final regular season game of 2020 on Sunday. 

Despite having plenty of players who had barely featured this campaign, the Storm raced into an early lead with tries from Paul Momirovski, Sandor Earl, Chris Lewis and Isaac Lumelume before the Dragons’ experience eventually told. 

For the Dragons, Tyson Frizell grabbed two tries in his final match before moving to Newcastle and two of their best players this season, Matt Dufty and Zac Lomax both crossed. 

St George will be looking to play to their potential under new coach Anthony Griffin in 2021 while the Storm’s season will continue on Saturday as they entertain Parramatta Eels in the qualifying final (10:35am). 

Stat of the match: 547 – Melbourne’s side consisted of just 547 NRL matches between them, with only Craig Bellamy-coached Baby Broncos of 2002 with 456 games, a less experienced side.


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