Around the grounds
Wednesday 15 August 2012 12:59 PM
Canterbury-Bankstown has the 2012 NRL minor premiership all but gift-wrapped.
With three rounds to go the Bulldogs (36 points) have a four-point lead after beating Brisbane 22-14 on Sunday with Melbourne second on points for and against ahead of South Sydney, which slipped up 6-23 to Manly on Friday night to lose second spot.
Defending champion Manly has found form at the right time of the year, putting together an impressive display to shut down South Sydney while brilliant fullback Ben Barba was again the outstanding individual as the Bulldogs beat the Broncos. He collected another double to lift his try tally for the season to 19 (he also made 12 tackle breaks) while Brisbane hooker Andrew McCullough produced an astonishing defensive effort with 62 tackles.
Also finding better touch again is Melbourne, its 24-16 win against Gold Coast providing signs the Storm are getting back into the groove. Fullback Billy Slater was imposing with a try, eight tackle breaks and three line breaks while hooker Cameron Smith was superb with 126 metres from 13 runs, 12 tackle breaks and 41 tackles.
Wests Tigers had a vital 22-12 win over St George Illawarra on Saturday night to retain eighth spot, fullback Tim Moltzen with a hat-trick and Benji Marshall putting on a quality show with three try assists.
North Queensland’s 52-12 romp against the Vodafone Warriors on Saturday night kept alive its hopes of a top four spot, winger Ashley Graham scoring three tries to give him 18 for the season. The Cowboys completed 31 of 38 sets, the Vodafone Warriors only 16 of 30.
On Sunday, Canberra maintained its top eight bid with a 20-10 triumph over Penrith. The Raiders now sit 10th on 24 points, two points off eighth place although their points for and against stands at minus 43.
Moving ahead of them into ninth spot on Monday night was Newcastle, which had a comprehensive 26-4 home win over Cronulla. Chris Houston made 62 tackles for the Knights while their back five all made big metres, especially Akuila Uate (165) and Darius Boyd (162).
In a match which didn’t have a bearing on the top eight Parramatta recovered from an 18-22 deficit soon after halftime to score three unanswered tries to win 36-22. One of the Roosters’ scorers was former Vodafone Junior Warrior Adam Henry.
The NYC is set for a tight finish with three rounds to go.
After holding the competition lead in recent weeks the Vodafone Junior Warriors slipped to third after their tough 28-32 defeat by North Queensland.
That enabled Canberra and Canterbury-Bankstown to overtake them in their matches on Sunday, the Raiders moving to first on 34 points with a 28-22 win against Penrith and Canterbury-Bankstown joining the Vodafone Junior Warriors on 33 points with a 38-32 success against Brisbane (the Bulldogs second on points for and against).
Fourth spot belongs to Wests Tigers, sitting on 32 points after a 10-6 win against St George Illawarra. Penrith falls to fifth on 31 points, the Sydney Roosters are sixth on 30 after savaging Parramatta 42-12, South Sydney seventh on 29 with an 18-14 win against Manly and the Dragons eighth on 27 despite their loss.
In the other matches in the round Melbourne beat Gold Coast 20-14 and Newcastle swamped Cronulla 44-24.
NEW SOUTH WALES CUP
Canterbury-Bankstown’s outstanding all-round season is underlined by its performance in the New South Wales Cup.
The Bulldogs won the NSW Cup premiership last year and are now in first place on the ladder in their quest for the minor premiership while the club’s first-grade side leads the NRL table and its NYC team is running second.
Last weekend the Bulldogs shredded Manly 56-0 with former Junior Kiwi Drury Low scoring three tries.
North Sydney lost the competition lead when it was held to a 16-16 draw by Newtown while third-placed Windsor pumped hapless Western Suburbs 60-8 and Wentworthville moved up to fourth by beating Illawarra 36-12.
Newcastle is fifth after beating the Mounties 28-14 (former Kiwi Junior Sa’u one of the Knights’ try scorers) and Balmain Ryde Eastwood remained in the top eight despite being upset 28-26 by the Auckland Vulcans. Steve Waetford, Ivan Penehe, Aiden Smith, Visesio Setefano and Upu Poching scored tries for the Vulcans.
The Vulcans remain 11th on 22 points, four points outside the top.
ENGLISH SUPER LEAGUE
Wigan’s lead in the English Super League has been cut to just one point after a decisive 10-30 loss to nearest rival Warrington last weekend.
Top four sides St Helens and Les Catalans also lost. Saints remain third despite a shock 32-33 defeat by Wakefield (a Francis Meli hat-trick wasn’t enough for Saints) but the Dragons slipped to fifth after crashing 10-30 away to Hull FC. With Leeds crushing Widnes 68-24 there are now three clubs on 30 points, Leeds claiming fourth ahead of the Dragons.
In other matches Huddersfield beat Salford 30-20, Bradford edged Hull Kingston Rovers 32-26 and the London Broncos had a 42-20 success against Castleford (Michael Witt kicking seven goals for the Broncos). The result lifted them off the bottom of the table, ahead of Widnes on points for and against.
AUCKLAND CLUB COMPETITION
Auckland’s top two sides Mount Albert and Glenora will meet in the Fox Memorial grand final at Trusts Stadium in Waitakere City on Saturday.
Glenora won the right for a showdown with the Lions after grinding to a 16-10 win over Papakura in last weekend’s major semi-final.
The Sharman Cup grand final pits Mangere East against Papatoetoe, Papatoetoe reaching the decider after just outpointing border rival Otara 24-22 in their major semi.
And Hibiscus Coast plays Waitemata in the Phelan Shield decider. Waitemata qualified with a 28-18 result against the Waiheke Rams.
The Sharman Cup grand final kicks off at 11.00am this Saturday, the Phelan Shield decider is timed to start at 12.45pm and the Fox goes off at 3.00pm.