Around the grounds
Tuesday 31 July 2012 10:32 AM
Three of the top eight teams all lost to teams outside the top half of the competition in the NRL’s 21st round.
Melbourne went down 18-26 to St George Illawarra, Cronulla was pipped 21-20 by 15th-placed Penrith and on Monday night bottom-placed Parramatta caused a huge boil-over by beating fourth-placed Brisbane 42-22.
Two other top eight sides – North Queensland and Wests Tigers – were losers as well in clashes against higher-ranked opponents Canterbury-Bankstown and South Sydney, the Cowboys losing 18-32 to the Bulldogs (well-placed to snare the minor premiership) and the Tigers being crushed 6-32 by South Sydney.
Apart from the Vodafone Warriors’ heart-breaking 22-24 defeat by Manly – their third straight tight loss – other matches resulted in Gold Coast wiping the Sydney Roosters 36-16 in Sydney and Newcastle trouncing the Raiders 36-6 in Canberra.
The Bulldogs retain top spot on 32 points with the Rabbitohs moving into second place on 30. The Storm (28) slipped to third after their fifth straight defeat and their sixth loss in seven games, the Broncos (26) dropped to fifth on points differential behind the Cowboys and Manly is also on 26 in sixth place.
Cronulla, without a win in its last four starts, has dropped down to seventh on 25 and the Titans have climbed to eighth, displacing the Tigers who are now 10th.
Individual highlights of the round included hat-tricks for St George Illawarra’s Brett Morris and Canterbury-Bankstown’s Ben Barba and 62 tackles by Canberra loose forward Shaun Fensom.
The Vodafone Junior Warriors are in much the same position in the NYC as the Bulldogs are in the NRL.
With five rounds to go, the John Ackland-coached side is on 31 points, two clear of Penrith and seemingly well-poised to close out a second straight minor premiership.
The Panthers, who still have to play the leaders in Auckland, have fluffed their lines lately with three losses in their last four outings while the Vodafone Junior Warriors have won six in a row.
While the Vodafone Junior Warriors overran Manly 42-22 on Sunday, Penrith lost 24-30 to Cronulla on Saturday night.
Canberra beat Newcastle 36-28 to lie third on 30 points while Canterbury-Bankstown is fourth on 29 points after a 28-30 upset loss to the Cowboys.
The top eight is rounded out by Wests Tigers (28), the Sydney Roosters (28), St George Illawarra (25) and South Sydney (25).
The Dragons beat Melbourne 24-12, the Roosters accounted for Gold Coast 30-16, South Sydney beat the Tigers 36-30 and Brisbane toppled Parramatta 42-26.
NEW SOUTH WALES CUP
The Auckland Vulcans had a bye last weekend, the two points moving them to 20 but still four points outside the top eight.
There was another change at the top of the table following unexpected losses for both Canterbury-Bankstown and Windsor. As a result, the North Sydney Bears leap-frogged both to grab top spot on 30 points after their 58-6 dismantling of winless Western Suburbs.
The Bulldogs were beaten 22-10 by Wentworthville – the team the Vulcans face in Auckland this Saturday - and Windsor fell 10-16 to the Mounties.
In other matches the Illawarra Cutters shut out Newcastle 22-0 – former Vodafone Warrior Leeson Ah Mau was a try scorer – Newtown beat Balmain Ryde Eastwood 36-18 and Manly accounted for Cronulla 30-20. Former Vodafone Junior Warriors winger Adam Henry scored for Newtown while New Zealander Josh Davis was among Balmain’s scorers.
After 21 rounds North Sydney, the Bulldogs and Windsor hold the top three spots followed by Illawarra, Wentworthville, Newtown, Newcastle and Balmain Ryde Eastwood.
ENGLISH SUPER LEAGUE
Nothing has changed at the top of the English Super League table with Wigan, Warrington, St Helens and Les Catalans retaining their positions.
Wigan stayed top with a comfortable 40-16 victory against Castleford with former Vodafone Warrior Epalahame Lauaki scoring twice for the Warriors and veteran New Zealand centre George Carmont grabbing one try.
Second-placed Warrington was similarly convincing in beating troubled Bradford 50-22 with former Kiwi prop David Solomona one of the Wolves’ scorers while St Helens remained third with a 46-12 rout of the out of form Huddersfield. Former Vodafone Warriors Lance Hohaia and Francis Meli both scored for Saints.
Victory was hard earned for Les Catalans, the Dragons battling at home to beat the bottom-placed London Broncos 19-12.
Leeds missed a chance to stay in touch with the top four after plummeting to a shock 18-38 loss in a local derby against Wakefield. Hull FC, with former Vodafone Warrior Aaron Heremaia again at halfback, battled to beat the Salford City Reds 34-26 and Hull Kingston Rovers just edged Widnes 32-26.
The top eight after 22 rounds is: Wigan 36, Warrington 33, St Helens 30, Les Catalans 30, Leeds 26, Hull FC 26, Huddersfield 22, Hull Kingston Rovers 21.
AUCKLAND CLUB COMPETITION
The Fox Memorial’s top four was confirmed on Saturday but not without some debate.
Mount Albert, Glenora and Point Chevalier were locked in as the top three sides going into the final round of the regular season but Papakura, Marist and Howick all had a shot at the final spot for the play-offs.
Papakura started the round fourth on points differential ahead of Marist with Howick one point back on sixth.
All three teams won but Marist romped into fourth place when it blitzed an under-strength Point Chevalier line-up 94-0. Papakura finished fifth after beating Bay Roskill 46-26 and Howick, last year’s champion side, was sixth following a 36-22 victory over second-placed Glenora.
Mount Albert rounded off its minor premiership success with a 50-24 win against Otahuhu and Northcote beat Manurewa 34-22.