Around the grounds
Sunday 8 July 2012 8:22 PM
While the Vodafone Warriors made the most significant move of the round by breaking into the top eight by displacing Wests Tigers, there was no question Canberra produced the extraordinary display of the weekend.
It came when they travelled to enemy territory to face table-topping Melbourne at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
While the Storm admittedly went into the match without the influential Cameron Smith on the back of Origin III, it was still a major surprise to see them capitulate so meekly at home against a side with such a poor away record.
That the Raiders could score 20 points in each half – and hold Melbourne scoreless in the second half – to win 40-12 was remarkable. Wingers Edrick Lee and Sandor Earl – Earl just arrived from Penrith – both scored doubles.
With Canterbury Bankstown beating Wests Tigers on Friday night, Melbourne now leads the Bulldogs by just two points.
The Dogs weren’t at all flash in the first half, their completion rate running at less than 50 per cent and the scoreboard showing the Tigers leading 10-4. In the second half, though, the Bulldogs surged back with five tries to win 32-20. Josh Reynolds and New South Wales centre Josh Morris both snared a brace of tries.
Without Robbie Farah, the Tigers battled to control the game although Benji Marshall produced an astonishing banana kick for Beau Ryan’s try. While Ben Barba was again electric for the Bulldogs, up front Englishman James Graham was astounding in the 60 minutes he was on the field, gaining 207 metres from 24 runs and also making 33 tackles.
In Canberra’s win, fullback Reece Robinson was outstanding with 187 metres, two try assists and a line break and up front loose forward Shaun Fensom had an astounding game with 198 metres from 22 runs and 36 tackles.
With two decisive winning margins provided by the Raiders and the Vodafone Warriors on Saturday, there was more to follow in Sunday’s matches.
In the earlier kick-off at ANZ Stadium, South Sydney had too much power and class for Newcastle to win 34-14. Sam Burgess and Issac Luke were both in exceptional form for the Rabbitohs as they moved to fourth (for about an hour until Manly had beaten Parramatta).
The Sea Eagles were never likely to be tested by Parramatta and when they led 40-6 humiliation was in store for the Eels. By then right winger David Williams had scored four tries in the opening 40 minutes. In the end the Eels made a late run again – as has been their style – to eventually lose 24-40.
The 18th round wound up on Monday night with Cronulla hosting the Sydney Roosters. A depleted Cronulla side had victory in sight leading 14-8 until a converted Aidan Guerra try in the 77th minute locked it up at 14-14 to take the contest into golden point extra time.
Field goal attempts rained down - five from each side - but most didn't come close to threatening the posts, the two teams playing it out for a 14-14 draw. The one point lifted the Sharks into third spot on 25 points.
Just as the Vodafone Warriors made the big move of the round in the NRL, so did the Vodafone Junior Warriors in the NYC.
They were given a helping hand when Melbourne upset Canberra 34-30, just withstanding a withering finish by the Raiders. That result meant the Vodafone Junior Warriors knew a win against Gold Coast would enable them to leap above Canberra to take second spot on the table – and they did just that, winning 38-22 to sit just two points behind the Panthers (who had the bye this round).
In other games in this week’s round, Canterbury-Bankstown beat Wests Tigers 22-16 on Friday night, in Sunday’s matches South Sydney had a 24-16 win against Newcastle and Manly beat Parramatta 24-22 and on Mondayt night Cronulla and the Sydney Roosters drew 14-14.
Penrith, the Vodafone Junior Warriors, Canberra, Canterbury-Bankstown, Wests Tigers, the Sydney Roosters, South Sydney and Newcastle make up the top eight.
NEW SOUTH WALES CUP
The Auckland Vulcans remain right in the top eight race in the New South Wales Cup following their important 22-18 win over the Newtown Jets.
The result leaves then ninth on 18 points just one behind the Illawarra Cutters.
The Cutters provided one of the round’s most impressive displays in beating third-placed North Sydney 38-20.
The outstanding performance belonged to Canterbury-Bankstown in a battle between the top two sides. The round started with Windsor leading the competition but the Bulldogs bit the Wolves 50-18 with former Junior Kiwis Drury Low and Martin Taupau scoring for the Dogs.
In other matches Wentworthville crushed Cronulla 42-6, Newcastle rolled Manly 44-12 (Aucklanders Siuatonga Likiliki and Marvin Filipo scoring for Newcastle) and Balmain Ryde Eastwood had a thrilling 38-36 win against the Mounties.
The Bulldogs lead the competition followed by Windsor, North Sydney, Wentworthville, Newcastle, Newtown, Balmain Ryde Eastwood, Illawarra and the Vulcans.
ENGLISH SUPER LEAGUE
The Castleford Tigers produced a major upset by trouncing the Huddersfield Giants 52-6 in one of five English Super League matches played on Sunday.
The Giants were in fourth spot at the beginning of the round while the Tigers languished in 12th place, third to last in the competition.
It mattered not to the Tigers as they led 22-6 before adding 30 unanswered points in the second half, the result sending the Giants spiralling down to sixth spot.
And Widnes, running 13th, came close to an even bigger shock result on the back of a hat-trick by former Vodafone Warrior Patrick Ah Van. The Vikings were facing glamour club St Helens and looked to be within reach of a famous victory when they led 23-18 with a minute to play.
But Saints, with former Vodafone Warrior Lance Hohaia at halfback, broke Widnes hearts with a last-minute try wide out and converted from the side-line for a 24-23 win. It lifted Saints to third spot.
Competition leader Wigan rediscovered its best form after stumbling to troubled Bradford a week earlier. Up against Wakefield, the Warriors won 52-10 on the road with Sam Tomkins and New Zealander George Carmont each scoring trebles.
At Craven Park, Hull Kingston Rovers went down 22-24 to the Salford City Reds. Former Vodafone Warrior Joel Moon scored for the Reds while ex-Vodafone Junior Warrior Constantine Mika crossed for a try for Hull KR.
In the remaining game played on Sunday, Bradford again disregarded the grave financial crisis facing the club with a second straight win, beating the London Broncos 44-12.
In the only match played on Friday night, Leeds continued its form revival with a 21-6 win over Hull FC.
AUCKLAND CLUB COMPETITION
The top three sides Mount Albert, Glenora and Point Chevalier all had clear-cut victories to firm up their campaigns ahead of the Fox Memorial play-offs starting in the first week of August.
They have a big break on the chasing pack, Mount Albert now on 28 points after trouncing Manurewa 64-24, Glenora beating Marist 40-10 to go to 24 points and Point Chevalier on 21 after a 34-16 victory over Howick.
Papakura is fourth on 16 points with Marist also on 16 but fifth on points differential.
Papakura edged 22-16 in the tightest match of the round while last year’s beaten grand finalist Otahuhu crashed to a 12-34 loss to Bay Roskill.