THE FINALS: Around the grounds
Friday 21 September 2012 12:53 PM
Just hours to go until the action rolls again with four teams remaining in contention for grand final glory in the NRL, NYC and New South Wales Cup while the English Super League finals landscape is down to six teams.
With North Queensland and Canberra eliminated last weekend, the NRL play-offs are playing right up to regular season form with the top four sides all lining up in this week’s preliminary finals.
After winning in week one, Canterbury-Bankstown (1) and Melbourne (2) have been lying in wait to find out which sides they’ll face.
The Manly Sea Eagles won in controversial circumstances, a 22-12 victory over the Cowboys at Allianz Stadium last Friday night setting up a mouth-watering encounter with the Storm at AAMI Park tonight (9.45pm kick-off NZ time; live on SKY Sport 2).
Last Saturday night’s second sudden-death affair proved a bridge too far for the Raiders as they fell 16-38 to a revived South Sydney; the reward for the Rabbitohs was a showdown with the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium tomorrow night (9.45pm kick-off NZ time; live on SKY Sport 2).
Stats from last week’s matches were:
SEA EAGLES v COWBOYS
Sea Eagles 22 (Michael Oldfield 2, Brett Stewart, Jorge Taufua tries; Jamie Lyon 2 conversions, penalty)
Cowboys 12 (James Tamou, Antonio tries; Johnathan Thurston 2 conversions)
Halftime: 12-6 Sea Eagles
Referees: Shayne Hayne and Ben Cummins
Team stats(Sea Eagles numbers first)
Metres gained: 1387-1538
Line breaks: 5-4
Missed tackles: 37-36
Off loads: 13-16
Most tackles: Sea Eagles – Anthony Watmough 39; Cowboys – Dallas Johnson 46
Most missed tackles: Sea Eagles – Kieran Foran 9; Cowboys – Brent Tate, Dallas Johnson 5
Most runs: Sea Eagles – Jorge Taufua, Anthony Watmough 20; Cowboys – James Tamou 19
Most metres: Sea Eagles – Jorge Taufua 268; Cowboys – James Tamou 226
Most line breaks: Sea Eagles – Jorge Taufua 3; Cowboys – Antonio Winterstein, James Tamou 2
Most tackle breaks: Sea Eagles – Jorge Taufua 11; Cowboys – James Tamou 8
Most off loads: Sea Eagles – Jorge Taufua, Anthony Watmough 3; Cowboys – James Tamou 7
Most errors: Sea Eagles – Jorge Taufua, Anthony Watmough 2; Cowboys – Johnathan Thurston 4
RABBITOHS v RAIDERS
Rabbitohs 38 (Andrew Everingham 2, Adam Reynolds, Sam Burgess, Dyylan Farrell, Greg Inglis tries; Adam Reynolds 5 conversions, 2 penalties)
Raiders 16 (Sam Williams, Sandor Earl, Blake Ferguson tries; Josh Dugan 2 conversions)
Halftime: 20-10 Rabbitohs
Referees: Matt Cecchin and Tony Archer
Team stats (Storm numbers first)
Metres gained: 1638-1124
Line breaks: 6-6
Missed tackles: 22-48
Off loads: 14-9
Most tackles: Rabbitohs – Sam Burgess 27; Raiders – Shaun Fensom 57
Most missed tackles: Rabbitohs – Dave Taylor 5; Raiders – Josh McCrone 9
Most runs: Rabbitohs – Sam Burgess 21; Raiders – Blake Ferguson 16
Most metres: Rabbitohs – Greg Inglis 203; Raiders – Josh Dugan, Sandor Earl 128
Most line breaks: Rabbitohs – John Sutton 2; Raiders – Sam Williams 3
Most tackle breaks: Rabbitohs – Sam Burgess 10; Raiders – Sam Williams 6
Most off loads: Rabbitohs – Issac Luke 4; Raiders – Joel Thompson 2
Most errors: Rabbitohs – Dave Taylor 2; Raiders – Blake Ferguson 4
While the NRL finals have run to form, the reverse has been the case to a significant degree in the NYC play-offs.
Both top-ranked sides are out after back-to-back losses. Not only that, they were also eliminated by the bottom two sides, the Bulldogs pounded 46-20 by eighth-placed St George Illawarra and the second-placed Vodafone Junior Warriors downed 10-26 by the seventh-ranked Sydney Roosters.
That followed turn-ups in the opening week when the Bulldogs and the Vodafone Junior Warriors had both been beaten by the lower ranked sides in the top four – Wests Tigers and Canberra – while the Roosters and the Dragons had beaten the fifth and sixth placed teams.
The upshot is that the Tigers (4) will take on the Roosters (7) and the Raiders (3) will meet the Dragons (8) as part of a triple header at ANZ Stadium tomorrow night. The Tigers play the Roosters at 5.05pm NZ time and the Raiders meet the Dragons at 7.05pm with the NRL clash between the Bulldogs and the Rabbitohs to follow at 9.45pm (all matches live on SKY Sport 2).
NEW SOUTH WALES CUP
Only two of the top four sides are still alive for the New South Wales Cup’s preliminary finals at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday.
The Bulldogs, minor premiers, will take on Newtown (7) while Newcastle (3) will meet Balmain Ryde Eastwood (8).
The Tigers advanced to the third week with another upset, eliminating Wentworthville (4) 29-20 last weekend while the Jets caused another upset with their 32-30 win against North Sydney (2).
ENGLISH SUPER LEAGUE
Big score-lines were the theme in the opening week of the English Super League’s play-offs.
Wigan (1) sparked a march of clear-cut victories by swamping disappointing Les Catalans(4) 46-6, Vodafone Warrior-bound Thomas Leuluai scoring a try for his current Warriors while former Newcastle centre George Carmont bagged a hat-trick.
St Helens (3), with ex-Vodafone Warrior Lance Hohaia at standoff, engineered an impressive 28-6 win over Lancashire rival Warrington (2) to move through to week three with Wigan. Having won the Challenge Cup just a few weeks ago, Warrington couldn’t stay with Saints on the day, former Kiwi and Vodafone Warrior Francis Meli one of their scorers as was ex-Kiwi Iosia Soliola.
Leeds (5) was unimpressive in the first half of its local derby against Wakefield (8), leading just 12-10 at halftime but put it all together with a 30-point second half effort to win 42-20. Ex-Vodafone Warrior Ali Lauitiiti scored for Wakefield.
In the final play-off, Hull FC (5) destroyed Huddersfield (6) 46-6 after leading 12-0 at halftime. Hull was again guided in the halves by former Vodafone Warriors Aaron Heremaia and Brett Seymour, Heremaia among the try scorers.
In this weekend’s matches, Les Catalans Dragons host Leeds tomorrow morning NZ time and Warrington is at home to Hull FC on Sunday morning. As the top qualifier, Wigan will be able to choose its opponent in week three from the winners of this weekend’s matches.