Around the grounds - Cowboys help out
Monday 23 July 2012 11:48 AM
NorthQueensland's 29-16 20th-round win over Wests Tigers in Townsville tonight (Monday) helped the Cowboys' top four push and also did the Vodafone Warriors favour.
If the eighth-placed Tigers had won they would have moved to 24 points, four clear of the ninth-placed Vodafone Warriors and four other teams also on 20 points.
But the Cowboys' triumph means the Vodafone Warriors are exactly where they were at the start of the round - still in ninth and still two points behind the Tigers.
It means a Vodafone Warriors win over Manly in Perth on Saturday and a Wests Tigers loss against South Sydney the following day would put the Vodafone Warriors back into the top eight.
While the Vodafone Warriors face a huge challenge in their 2011 grand final rematch the Tigers are also under severe strain after tonight's trip to Townsville.
They lost fullback Tim Moltzen with a hamstring injury in the warm-up and then in the first half they had Curtis Sironen forced off with a dislocated shoulder and Chris Lawrence with a calf injury. Late in the match interchange prop Ben Murdoch-Masila also had to leave the field with a tibia problem.
With so many injuries the Tigers did well to stay in a razzle-dazzle contest. It was 16-16 at halftime before the Cowboys scored early in the second spell to lead 22-16, a margin they just managed to defend for much of the half. Finally Matt Bowen sealed victory with a late field goal before Gavin Cooper's extra late try blew the margin out to 13 points.
The match completed a round in which Newcastle, Gold Coast and Canberra have all put themselves back in contention for the top eight after upset wins.
With the Knights converting a 0-18 deficit into a 24-19 victory, Canberra trouncing Cronulla 36-4 and Gold Coast stunning Brisbane 14-10 there are now five teams on 20 points.
The result in Townsville means six teams are within two points of each other hunting down the eighth spot with faltering Cronulla (25 points) – two losses and a draw in the last three weeks – and Manly (24) not far away either.
The Titans kicked off the run of upsets on Friday night, defying some injury issues to beat the Broncos 14-10 in front of 20,000-plus spectators at Skilled Park. There was a school of thought that Brisbane was feeling the effects of its previous outing a week earlier against the Vodafone Warriors when the two teams slugged it out in a gruelling battle on a heavy surface.
The following night the Knights were looking down the barrel at 0-18 after 16 minutes against the Vodafone Warriors but drew back to 12-19 at halftime and added two more tries in the second half to win 24-19.
And on Sunday, Canberra unleashed on Cronulla which, only a few weeks ago, seemed destined to lock up a top four spot for the finals. After half an hour the Raiders led 24-0, the Sharks played right out of it in front of their home crowd. Two more tries in the second half took Canberra well clear and up to 20 points.
The shock results didn’t end there with bottom of the ladder Parramatta stunning Melbourne 16-10 at Parramatta Stadium in coach Stephen Kearney’s farewell match on Saturday night.
The round opened with a high-quality finals-like encounter between Manly and Canterbury-Bankstown on Friday night, ex-Manly coach Des Hasler returning to Brookvale Oval guiding the Bulldogs and expected to receive plenty of flak from aggrieved fans.
The match was a beauty, the Bulldogs making just the one line break but hanging together superbly to repel Manly’s advances, clinching the result 20-12 when the brilliant Ben Barba scored his second try of the night in the 78th minute. Earlier ex-Roosters and Kiwi winger Sam Perrett had scored the Bulldogs’ other try.
On Saturday night the South Sydney Rabbitohs were superior to a game St George Illawarra side, winning 36-14 with winger Nathan Merritt scoring three tries. The result pushed the Bunnies up to third on the table with 28 points but it could come at a cost with fullback Greg Inglis on report for an ugly shot on St George Illawarra’s Dean Young.
In Sunday’s second match, the Ivan Cleary-coached Penrith Panthers collected just their fifth win of the season, beating the Sydney Roosters 28-16 to move to 14 points, two clear of bottom-placed Parramatta. Former Vodafone Junior Warrior Matt Robinson scored his first NRL try for the Panthers. The Roosters are 14th on 17 points.
Penrith had a 38-20 victory over the Sydney Roosters on Sunday to move back on level terms with the Vodafone Junior Warriors on 31 points but they remain second on points differential.
The Vodafone Junior Warriors stay top for the second week running after accounting for Newcastle 24-14 on Saturday night.
With their 48-22 triumph over Manly, the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs are now third helped by Canberra’s 28-36 defeat by Cronulla.
In other matches Gold Coast beat Brisbane 29-16, St George had a 28-16 victory against South Sydney and Melbourne edged Parramatta 28-22. On Monday night Wests Tigers beat North Queensland 36-20 to move to fourth.
The top eight is currently: Vodafone Warriors 31, Penrith 31, Canterbury-Bankstown 29, Wests Tigers 28, Canberra 28, Sydney Roosters 26, St George Illawarra 23, South Sydney 23.
NEW SOUTH WALES CUP
The Auckland Vulcans missed an opportunity to stay in contention for a top eight spot when they lost 26-34 to the Illawarra Cutters on Mount Smart Stadium No 2 on Saturday.
Goal-kicking proved costly. Both sides scored six tries but DJ Collier was able to convert only one while the Cutters kicked five goals. Collier scored one of the Vulcans’ tries with Vodafone Warriors squad members Ivan Penehe (two), Pita Godinet and Ukuma Ta’ai also scoring along with winger Willie Peace.
In the round’s most significant result previous competition leader Windsor was upset 22-14 by Newcastle which enabled Canterbury-Bankstown to climb back to top spot with two points from its bye.
Elsewhere Balmain Ryde Eastwood tipped Manly over 32-10, the Mounties over-powered Newtown 30-4, Wentworthville fell 24-30 at home to North Sydney and Cronulla had an unconvincing 36-28 victory over winless Western Suburbs.
The top eight teams are: Canterbury-Bankstown 29, Windsor 28, North Sydney 28, Newcastle 24, Balmain Ryde Eastwood 24, Illawarra 23, Wentworthville 22, Newtown 22. The Vulcans are 11th on 18 points.
ENGLISH SUPER LEAGUE
Wigan and Warrington maintained their one-two positions but Les Catalans slipped back to fourth in the latest round of English Super League matches.
Wigan was predictably untroubled in beating the bottom-placed London Broncos 44-6 with fullback Sam Tomkins amassing 28 points from four tries and six goals.
Warrington dominated the first half to lead Castleford 30-0 at the break and 34-0 soon after but then fell into a hole as the Tigers put together a run of 26 points. They had a sniff but the Wolves regrouped to score the last try of the match to win 40-26.
In Perpignan, Les Catalans, starting the round in third spot, faced St Helens in the toughest match of the round.
The Dragons worked their way to a 15-10 halftime lead. Former Vodafone Warrior Lance Hohaia, playing in the halves for St Helens, dazzled home side defenders with a solo try and his long pass gave another former Vodafone Warrior Francis Meli a try wide out. Later a Hohaia bomb created St Helens’ final try as they won 20-15 to move to third on the table.
In other games, Leeds was too good for Bradford in the second half, breaking out from a 6-6 halftime score-line to win 34-16, lowly Widnes pumped Salford City 46-8 (former Vodafone Warrior Patrick Ah Van scoring twice for Widnes) and Wakefield spanked troubled Huddersfield 35-14.
In the final game of the round on Monday night, Hull FC prevailed in thew Humberside derby beating Hull Kingston Rovers 32-18 at Craven Park. Former Vodafone Warrior Aaron Heremaia was switched from hooker to halfback replacing another former Vodafone Warrior Brett Seymour.
The top eight teams are: Wigan 34, Warrington 31, St Helens 28, Les Catalans 28, Leeds 26, Hull FC 24, Bradford 23, Huddersfield 22.
AUCKLAND CLUB COMPETITION
The fight for the fourth spot in the Fox Memorial play-offs will go right down to the last round of regular season matches next Saturday.
Defending premiers the Howick Hornets gave themselves a chance of taking the last spot after springing a huge upset by beating table-topping Mount Albert 22-16 at Fowlds Park last weekend. It’s the second time the Hornets have beaten the Lions this season.
It enabled them to climb to 17 points, just behind Papakura and Marist on 18 points.
Papakura could have sealed a play-off berth with victory over second-placed Glenora but was just held out 16-14 after leading 14-10 at halftime. While Marist wasn’t convincing in beating bottom-of-the-ladder Manurewa 34-28 the result lifted the Saints to 18 points, leaving them fifth on points differential.
Papakura has the better draw in the final round taking on eighth-placed Bay Roskill in a Maori Television fixture at Birkenhead War Memorial Park.
Marist is away to third-placed Point Chevalier at Walker Park while Howick is at home at Paparoa Park to Glenora. The Hornets can make only if they beat the Bears and both Papakura and Marist lose.
In other matches last weekend, Point Chevalier crushed Otahuhu 52-24 and Northcote beat Bay Roskill 30-20.