Dogs of war
Canterbury have a perfect record after they accounted for Penrith with an after the buzzer conversion winner. It was a dramatic finish as the Dogs stole victory with the last set of the game, Mose Mbye’s try after pass after pass finally unlocking the Panthers’ defence and setting it up for rookie Kerrod Walters to win from the tee. The best part was Walters’ confident TV interview after he slotted the kick. The kid is not short of moxy, that is for sure. The Bulldogs were 14 points down but rallied back to break Penrith’s hearts. It was tough on the Mountain Men, who have been soilid but pipped by slim margins by Canberra and now Canterbury in the first two games.
Like the Dogs, Brisbane have started the season on fire, taking care of Parramatta and the Warriors so far. The Broncos have continued on from their excellent 2015 and the World Club Series, where they smashed Wigan. Anthony Milford was sensational and his partnership with Ben Hunt continues to grow. Jack Reed marked his return to NRL action with a great long-range try. The injury to winger Corey Oates is a worry though, as the big unit has been in brilliant form. The Warriors? Well, what can you say about them. The Kiwi side was slightly better than in round one, at least competing in the first half, but just not good enough again. Andrew MacFadden will be nervous. There has been even calls for misfiring halfback Shaun Johnson to be dropped. The Warriors remain the NRL‘s enigma.
While off the field the dramas roll on for the Eels, the western Sydney side got the much-needed win they desired on the field. Knocking off last year’s grand final winners is no mean feat, but it was a 20-16 result Parramatta thoroughly deserved. Parra had Kieran Foran on debut but it was their forward pack that made the difference as they grinded out a close victory. The Cowboys gave away far too many penalties and couldn’t find a final try they needed in the dieing stages of the game. Unfortunately for the Eels Nathan Peats injured his elbow, adding to the crocked list that already includes Corey Norman.
Souths roll on
Crisis? What crisis? For all the talk of South Sydney being an unhappy camp before the season started, and Luke Keary and Russell Crowe going at it at Coffs Harbour, the Rabbitohs have proved the critics wrong and look a squad united. After embarrassing the Roosters in round one they have pulled Newcastle’s pants down in round two. It took the Knights 78 minutes to even trouble the scoreboard as Souths piled on try after try in the 48-6 rout. Sam Burgess was again effective, running for 149 metres, making nine offloads and four tackle breaks. God how the Rabbits are loving having him back. Even without halfback Adam Reynolds, Souths are flying and looking ominous, while it’s going to be a long old season for the Knights. Nathan Brown has some job on his hands at Hunter Stadium, that’s for sure.
The Ricky Stuart-revolution in the Australian capital continues as the Raiders secure back-to-back wins. It was another close encounter for the men in green, Sam Williams’ field goal proving the difference 21-20 over the Roosters. Considering Canberra did it without their first-choice halves Blake Austin and Aiden Sezer, and they lost Lachlan Croker and Shaun Fenson during the game to injury, it was some achievement. Josh Hodgson was brilliant for the Raiders and his 40-20 late on was crucial to set Williams up. The Roosters’ horror run in Canberra continues, as they haven’t won there in six years, and they are still to register a win in 2016. The Tricolours are struggling with their inexperienced halves but at least this was an improved performance from round one, when they were totally outclassed by Greg Inglis and co.
No Billy Slater? No problem. Melbourne’s star fullback dropped out just before kick-off but it didn’t matter as Curtis Scott filled in perfectly on debut and the Storm remained unbeaten. The Titans were brave but couldn’t go with Melbourne as they shifted into second gear in the second half. Cameron Munster was threatening and Will Chambers was a handful with the ball as the Storm made it two from two. With Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith pulling the strings, as they have done for eons, Gold Coast couldn’t match them. Some good news has come for the Titans in the form of halfback Kane Elgey pleding his future to the club.
St George Illawarra slumped to their second straight defeat in a derby match that they were never really in. Cronulla dominated from start to finish, scoring three tries in seven minutes right before half-time to blow their opponents out of the water. A penalty goal was all the Red V could muster over 80 minutes, as the Sharkies piled on two more tries in the second half. With Josh Dugan injuring a hamstring, it was a tough old afternoon for the Dragons. Again their attack faltered, which was a familiar theme in 2015 as well. Things aren’t going to get any easier for St George Illawarra next weekend either as they face Souths next. If they don’t buck up a thrashing will be on the cards.
Many tipped Wests for the wooden spoon in 2016 after the bitter fallout between Jason Taylor and Robbie Farah, and the loss of star players like Marty Taupau. But the Tigers have started the season in great shape, adding the scalp of Manly to their round one win over the Warriors. Again it was a deserved win for the joint venture, Mitchell Moses and James Tedesco sparking the Tigers to a 36-22 result. At this rate Tedesco is a shoe in to be the NSW fullback come Origin time. The Sea Eagles were poor once again, making too many mistakes and lacking combinations are crucial times. They rallied late to threaten Wests somewhat but a leaky defence proved too costly. While there’s all smiles at Leichhardt, questions will start to be asked of Trent Barrett at Brookvale. With each loss the call to bring back former coach Geoff Toovey will only grow from the Manly faithful.