Poms in Oz: James Graham and Bulldogs win Minor Premiership
James Graham has won the Minor Premiership with Canterbury after beating Sydney Roosters 42-10 at ANZ Stadium.
The result looked never in doubt from the first minute, when Josh Morris scored the game’s first try after only 45 second.
Josh Jackson’s hat trick only added to the Roosters’ woes, while Frank Pritchard, Kris Keating and Dally M Medal winner Ben Barba also scored tries.
The Roosters replied with two tries from Tautau Moga and Anthony Minichiello to reduce their deficit to two points (Braith Anasta missed his first conversion attempt) but the Bulldogs got a roll on in the second half from which the away side couldn’t respond.
Chris Heighington and Wests Tigers missed out on the play offs as Gareth Widdop’s Melbourne Storm won 26-6 at Leichardt Oval.
The Tigers never looked like winning as the Storm’s Sika Manu opened the scoring with the first of his two tries on the 15 minute mark.
Kevin Proctor increased the Storm’s lead before Benji Marshall scored to give the Tigers a lift just before half time.
However two tries in the space of eight minutes from the Storm ended the Tigers’ hopes of a comeback. Bryan Norrie and Ryan Hoffman were the try scorers.
Jack Reed’s Brisbane Broncos sneaked into the play offs after a 19-12 win over Penrith.
The Broncos fell behind after half an hour due to a Josh Mansour try, but Peter Wallace made sure Brisbane put themselves on the score board just after half time.
Ben Te’o put Brisbane into the lead before the Panthers levelled the scores up again through Lachlan Coote.
However the Broncos made sure the game was won in the final minutes, as firstly Alex Glenn collected an offload from Corey Norman to score a vital try, before Wallace landed a drop goal two minutes from time to complete a seven point win.
Sam and Luke Burgess were part of the Souths side that beat Newcastle 18-6 at Hunter Stadium.
Souths were always in control as Roy Asotasi and Greg Inglis scored tries early in the match before Newcastle replied through Darius Boyd.
However as the game entered its final quarter, John Sutton wrapped the match up with a try that put Souths out of reach of the Knights.
The only Englishman to miss out on the play offs was Chris Heighington, as his Wests Tigers failed to reach the top eight play offs finishing 10th in the NRL ladder.
However Canterbury, Melbourne and South Sydney , all containing Englishmen James Graham, Gareth Widdop, Sam and Luke Burgess respectively, finished in the top three.
Jack Reed’s Brisbane finished just inside the play off places in eighth position.
The NRL scrapped the McIntyre Eight finals system earlier this season and have adopted the system currently used by the AFL. This is a similar version to the current Super League play off system, where the top four and bottom four are split into two brackets for the first round.
The only difference is the NRL do not have Club Call, and instead teams follow a pre-determined pathway that does not guarantee a repeat fixture until at least the Grand Final.
NRL playoff fixtures week one:
Canterbury Bulldogs (1) v Manly Sea Eagles (4) on Friday, September 7
Melbourne Storm (2) v South Sydney Rabbitohs (3) on Saturday, September 8
North Queensland Cowboys (5) v Brisbane Broncos (8) on Saturday, September 8
Canberra Raiders (6) v Cronulla Sharks (7) on Sunday, September 9