I got it wrong last week when I thought all the Super Rugby teams were having a break once the Lions tour started, I didn’t realise that these two games were been played this weekend, I just hope everyone still put their tips in on the games.
On Friday night the ACT Brumbies hosted the Melbourne Rebels in Canberra, it started as a tight arm wrestle where both teams played some tight 5 footie. Through the home teams class the Brumbies went into halftime leading 10-3 but lost starting scrumhalf Nic White to a shoulder injury. It made little difference losing their playmaker to the Brumbies in the second half as Colby Faingaa, Henry Speight and Clyde Rathbone stepped up to assume responsibility and steer the boys home and extend their lead at the top of the conference and temporarily lead the comp which should ensure that the Brumbies play finals for the first time since 2004. Again it was played in front of a disappointing crowd of only 11,055 so now watch all the band wagon supporters come running when they get a home final in a few weeks time, that is of course if they can put their hot chocolates down and make the trip out to Bruce Stadium.
Sunday Afternoon saw the Western Force host the NSW Waratahs in Perth in a rare day game, who would have ever thought that fans would want to see rugby played during daylight hours. With a dry fast track and both teams out of finals contention they should have had no excuse to not play exciting expansive rugby. It seems the Waratahs came to Perth with this in mind and had two tries in the opening half to lead 22-8 at halftime. In the second half it was good to see the Tahs hand starts to debutants Liam Winton, Adam Colman, Richard Aho and Terrence Hepetema in a game that will be remembered as much for the Melee and handbags at twenty paces as for any exciting rugby. By fulltime it was the Tahs 28-13 and both teams would have been looking forward to a beer or ten at the Cottesloe with it been a Sunday arvo of a long weekend in Perth.
On Friday night we saw the Parramatta Eels host the Sydney Roosters at Wanderland, in a week where Parramatta told 12 players that they were going to be let go at the end of the season it was always going to be a hard game against the transit loungers who have performed above expectations this year mainly due to their good young coach Trent Robinson. At halftime the Roosters we up 24-12 and had played some entertaining footie. In the second half the teams fired up and played one of the more entertaining halves of football with the Roosters getting home 38-24 in front of a good size crowd to gain the Jack Gibson Cup that is contested when these two sides play at Parramatta. The biggest concern to come out of the game for NSW fans is the hamstring injury to Jarryd Hayne that is likely to rule him out of Origin 2 at this stage.
Late Saturday afternoon saw the Newcastle Knights host St George Illawarra Dragons at the Castle and it was a game that never got to any great heights with the Knights kicking two penalty goals in the first half to lead 4-0 at halftime. In the second half the Knights crossed the stripe through Joey Leluia but Josh Dugan crossed for two tries to steer the Dragons to a 14-8 and extend the record of winning in Newcastle, the Dragons haven’t lost in Newcastle since 2002 and also made it four in a row over the Knights since Wayne Bennett left the Dragons for the Knights.
Saturday night saw the North Queensland Cowboys host the Canterbury Bulldogs in Townsville and the Cowboys were again without their master and commander in Jonathon Thurston and were rolled by the Doggies 36-26 with Bennie Barba scoring two tries. This will again increase the pressure on besieged cowboys coach Neil Henry who seems to be getting hammered from all parts with talk that Trent Barrett has been sounded out by Cowboys management if results do not improve by the end of June. The Cowboys seem to be paying the price for letting two dummy halves go in the off season in Aaron Payne and James Segyaro and trying to bring in two inexperienced kids to replace them.
Sunday arvo Footie saw the NZ Warriors host the Manly Sea Eagles across the Deetch in Auckland and the Warriors made it three wins in arrow beating Manly 18-16 with Konrad Hurrell scoring the match winner. The turnaround in the Warriors in the last month after having Penrith put 60 past them is remarkable and puts them on the fringe of the eight which would have been unthinkable after the loss at Penrith. Manly were in the contest for a long period but the Warriors got home on the back of a very vocal home crowd who provided the best sign seen in the crowd this year “Our Johnston will pop your Cherry” It doesn’t get any better than that for signs from the crowd even if there will be cries of “you can’t write that”……
At the foot of the mountains the Penrith Panthers hosted the Wests Tigers with both teams managing to put a side on the field just as both clubs have been hammered by injuries. Penrith got away early before the Tigers struck back to make it 18-8 at halftime. In the second half both teams were guilty of some basic handling errors before the Tigers scored twice to record a 20-18 win with a team of kids. Both teams will benefit from the current injury problems they are facing as it has forced them to blood a heap of talented kids that will be that much better this time next year from the experience of playing first grade.
Sunday night Footie saw the Melbourne Storm host the Cronulla Sharks at AAMI Park and in the opening half it was all the Strom with Melbourne leading 28-0 at halftime on the back of some strong work from Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk. At half time Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy made the choice to rest Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk for the second half and the storm were a little less effective in the second half but went on to win 38-4 with Beau Ryan getting Cronulla’s lone try which doubled as his 50th NRL try for the funny man who could crack jokes at a funeral I reckon.
In Monday night footie the Canberra Raiders will be hosting the Brisbane Broncos at Canberra Stadium, with the Broncos getting smashed by the Warriors in Brisbane last Monday and it expected to be colder than a penguins knob in the nation’s capital it’s hard to see anything but a Raiders win here. The Broncos are in desperate need of a superstar preferably in the halves but may struggle as there is not an out and out superstar half coming off contract this year which may force them to look at Rugby Union for a replacement.
What can you say, “Ha we won” Queensland seem to pay the price for taking injured players into the game as Cameron Smith, Jonathon Thurston and Darius Boyd were clearly hampered by injury and it showed in their performance. Greg Inglis had a quite game and NSW showed more ticker than they have for 5 years but will need to be two steps better when they go to Lang Park in a couple of weeks. NSW will have to improve their ball control and work on their set pieces as Queensland grow an extra leg and head when they play at Lang Park and will be smarting after Paul Gallen had the stones to stand up to Nate Myles in an Origin match, with what Myles has got away with against NSW in the last couple of years he should have got more than two straights to the head.
On Friday night we saw the Essendon Bombers play Carlton at the MCG and in the first half it was all the Blues with them leading 41-22 at halftime. But it just wouldn’t be a long weekend in Australia without a comeback and the Bombers came home with a wet sail in the second half getting home 77-72 in front of a crowd of nearly 83,000. Both of these teams will be in the finals and this game was played with that level of intensity for a long period of the game and I would say that both coaches would be happy with the commitment and input from their respective teams.
Saturday arvo saw the Greater Western Sydney Giants host the Geelong Cats at Homebush and the Cats must have had a huge night out in Kings Cross on Friday night as they only won 157-98. The Giants will look at this as an improvement as they have been rolled by 100+ quite a few times this season. The cats would have treated this as a mid-season trip to Kings Cross and I hope the boys had a good night out in Sydney town after a game that was played with less intensity than the Cats train with on a weekly basis.
The Adelaide Crows host the Sydney Swans at Footie Park in Adelaide. If you have ever wanted to see the perfect game of AFL well you only had to watch the Swans play in this game, they were as good going forward and scoring as they were in defence and absolutely smothered the Crows to win 127-50 with the Swans having 11 different goal scorers and could have handed out 22 best on ground awards after the game. Coach John Longmire was interviewed after the game and he was quoted as saying “it doesn’t get any better than that” and he was going to give the team the week off after the performance. For a team that is based in a rugby league and rugby union stronghold they are continuing to play competitively and blood young players to let the team evolve and reinvent itself to continually play consistent football.
Saturday night the Gold Coast Suns host the North Melbourne Kangaroos on the holiday strip and the Gold Coast continued their improvement at this level by beating the Kangaroos 66-51. This is another game that the Kangaroos will have expected to win but have dropped and will probably miss the finals as a result. Like the Cats the Kangaroos would have treated the trip to the Gold coast as a mid season trip and got done for playing the game with the same attitude. If the Kanagaroos want to play finals these are the games that they need to win
Sunday arvo saw St Kilda host the West Coast Eagles at Docklands and the Saints got away to an early lead to lead going into halftime 43-31. In the second half the Eagles settled and showed their class to get home 84-80 to continue their inconsistent season after losing to the Tigers at home last Monday night and continue the Saints season of woe that is going from bad to worse with an aging roster.
Monday Arvo Action will see the Melbourne Demons play the Collingwood Magpies at the MCG and somehow Mark Neeld is still coaching the Melbourne Demons at this stage. Unless Nathan Buckley gave the boys a leave pass for the long weekend it’s hard to see this been anything other than a percentage game for the Pies who could even hand debuts to a couple of younger players in this game with the injury troubles that they have had this season.
Have a good week and get out to watch the Lions if you can