World Club Series: SYDNEY ROOSTERS 38 ST HELENS 12 at DW Stadium

By STEVE MASCORD

THE overall record of expanded World Club Championship matches was left at 60-8 in favour of the southern hemisphere by this 2016 opening night mismatch – but Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson launched an impassioned defence of the concept.

The St Helens-Roosters clash at Langtree Park marked the 40th anniversary of the firsrt clash between the Australian and British champions – involving the same clubs at the Sydney Sports Ground in ’76 – and by halftime the NRL team had racked up a 22-0 lead.

World Club Challenge games were adjudged to have such potential that in 1997 the Super League competitions merged mid-season but those from the Australasia won 48 of the 56 matches played. Since the revival of the idea last year, NRL sides have been successful in all four games.

“I don’t think questioning it is a good idea. It’s about loving it and investing some time,” said Robinson following a match in which the performances of young halves Jayden Nikorima and Jackson Hastings was a feature.

“It’s awesome to go to St Helens and Wigan and Leeds.

“It’s here to stay. We want to promote the players between England and Australia. There’s some great English players down in the NRL as well.

“We have to continue the concept. The fans love it, They’re turning up.”

The Roosters’ 13-a-side season got off to the worse possible start when the kick-off in front of 14,008 fans at Langtree Park was allowed to go dead.
World Cup ebay

But after some determined defence from St Helens the Roosters hit cruise mode, making light of the absence of Mitchell Pearce, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Boyd Cordner and the departed Michael Jennings, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and James Maloney.

Boom centre Latrell Mitchell beat four players on a dime in the lead-up to the opening touchdown of the game, for prop Kane Evans, while Nikorima overcame an early head knock to star.

St Helens coach Keiron Cunningham described both Nikorima and Mitchell as future superstars.

“There’s been a lot written in the last month but we’ve always been confident about what’s ahead,” said Robinson.

“I thought we came up with stuff that usually takes a few months.”

One selection surprise was the omission of Wigan recruit Joe Burgess from the Roosters squad. “He’s a very good player who will play a lot of NRL,” said Robinson.

“But he’s only been with us five or six months. He’s probably a little bit short but Latrell developed well over the off-season.”

Cunningham said: “The difference was the outside backs of the Roosters … it’s unfortunate the scoreline blew out the way it did.”

Nikorima was not made available to the media after the match.

SYDNEY ROOSTERS 38 (A Guerra 2 K Evans D Copley D Tupou S Kenny-Dowall B Ferguson tries J Hastings 5 goals) beat ST HELENS 12 (D Peyroux 2 tries L Walsh 2 goals) at Langtree Park. Referee: Ben Thaler. Crowd: 14,008

NRL round five 2014: PARRAMATTA 25 BRISBANE 18 at Suncorp Stadium

By STEVE MASCORD

SIX hundred and thirteen days after their last away away, Parramatta were teased, prodded and eventually rewarded by football fate at Suncorp Stadium.
Coach Brad Arthur was in the job for the first time when the Eels beat Parramatta at the same venue in July 2012.
During an enthralling 80 minutes on Friday night before 32,009 fans, there were times when the Eels looked certain to fall short, and others when victory seemed inevevitable.
In the end, it wasn’t until halfback Chris Sandow kicked a 42-metre field goal with five minutes left that the away drought was assured of ending.
Earlier, hooker Nathan Peats had forced his way over from dummy half after former Bronco Corey Norman bent back the home side’s defence on the previous tackle.

Brisbane has claimed the lead for the first time 11 minutes into the second session. Halfback Ben Hunt had burst into the clear, dummied outside to Ben Barba, and crossed near the posts for a converted try.
The seesawing continued nine minutes later, Parramatta fullback Jarryd Hayne beating Josh Hoffman one-on-one and the video referees clearing the Eels of obstruction in awarding the try.
Brisbane took four minutes to reclaim the ascendancy, when Parra winger Ken Sio fumbled a bomb. The video officials painstakingly checked possible knock-ons in the air by Alex Glenn and Todd Lowrie before giving prop Josh McGuire the touchdown.
With a minute left in the fist half, Parramatta were sitting pretty after scoring two sizzling tries which piloted them to a 10-0 lead – 613 days after their last away win.
At 24 minutes, prop Peni Taripo and halfback Chris Sandow combined over 50 metres, Sandow’s pass being knocked down by Broncos winger Daniel Tupou in the north-eastern corner.
The ball was snapped up by centre Will Hopoate who scored, Sandow unable to convert from the touchline.
The second blue-and-gold try was even more eye-catching.
Winger Semi Radradra was involved in the start and also finished off the 85-metre movement.
Hopoate and ex-Bronco Corey Norman also chimed in but Radradra produ dd the star turn as he powered down the left wing, ignored the support of Willie Tonga, and stumbled through Ben Barba’s attempted tackle to score.
Video referees Steve Clark and Grant Atkins ruled the ball had not touched the ground while Barba had a hand on Radradra, allowing the try, and Sandow’s goal brought up that 10-point advantage.
But iconic Broncos centre Justin Hodges was not happy to clock-watch.
Darting out of dummy half, Hodges palmed off Norman, sucked in two of his team-mates and then off-loaded one-handed to winger Dale Copley.
With a clear run to the line, Copley did his job and Corey Parker’s conversion narrowed the margin to four for the break,
Before kickoff, the Eels lost prop FuiFui MoiMoi to a badly cut leg.


Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

NRL round three 2014: SYDNEY ROOSTERS 30 BRISBANE 26 at Suncorp Stadium

By STEVE MASCORD
MITCHELL Pearce and Boyd Cordner on Friday night did their bit to decimate Brisbane’s Friday night economy.

With 1:45 left in the Broncos-Sydney Roosters epic at Suncorp Stadium, most of the 33,381 crowd was eying a bar on nearby Caxton Street and after that, destination unknown with the home side headed to a famous victory, leading the premiers 26-24.

But halfback Pearce found second-rower Cordner arrow towards the left upright and the 11th hour try ruined – and probably ended – the nights of many. For the Broncos, the operation was a success but the patient died during a breakneck second half when the lead changed every few minutes.

A brisk first half finished at 12-12. Brisbane halfback Ben Hunt, taking the ball on the blindside in the south-western corner, threw a dummy and glided over for the opening try in the sixth minute, which was duly converted by Corey Parker.

But former Rooster Martin Kennedy lost the ball from the kickoff in a thunderous tackle And ex-team-mate Michael Jennings scored from the next set. Jennings stepped inside Dale Copley with apparent ease, James Maloney tying the scores on 10 minutes.

Roosters prop Sam Moa seemed to be stopped well short of the line five minutes later but his formidable leg drive propelled him across the stripe, grounding the ball for a converted try despite the attentions of several defenders. The premiers seemed to be on a roll and they were sternly tested for an extended period at Brisbane launched incessant waves of attack at the southern end they defended.

Hunt’s kick was fumbled by Anthony Minichiello under his own posts and Sam Thaiday pounced, saluting a rapturous crowd after planting the ball in the in-goal.

Parker snaffled an easy goal and that was the sum total of the first half’s scoring.

Sydney Roosters replacement Kane Evans was reported for a high shot on Matt Gillett in the 30th minute and Jake Friend went off for concussion assessment not long afterwards.
When an in-goal divot delayed a Sydney Roosters line dropout just after halftime, Parker walked over and put the turf back in place.

His immediate reward for the sense of urgency was his team reclaiming the lead, via his own penalty goal after 44 minutes,

Anthony Minichiello had been penalised for delaying tactics in front of his own posts; “that’s three in a row,” Parker told Shayne Hayne, “someone’s got to go.”

But Brisbane’s shifting of gears was more lavishly rewarded when Hunt cut out Copley with a pass that found winger Lachlan Maranta, who dashed over in the north-eastern corner.

Parker’s missed touch line conversion left a six-point Broncos advantage – but it didn’t last long.

Parker complained defender Josh Hoffman was obstructed by decoy Mitch Aubusson as Tricolours centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall crossed out wide. “He held him up for half a second – which was the difference between Hoffy getting him and not.”

Video referees Luke Patten and Steve Clark disagreed, flashing the green light for a converted try which again tied the scores.

The Broncos then seemed to won the game with a merciless one-two punch. First, Jack Reed forced his way over off Josh Hoffman’s pass, then Hunt was rewarded for an outstanding evening by scrambling over for a four-pointer of his own.
SYDNEY ROOSTERS 30 (B Cordner M Jennings S Kenny-Dowall S Moa R Tuivasa-Sheck tries J Maloney 5 goals) bt BRISBANE 26 (B Hunt 2 L Maranta J Reed S Thaiday tries C Parker 3 goals) at Suncorp Stadium. Referees: S Hayne/ C James. Crowd: 33,381.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

THE JOY OF SIX: NRL Round 17 2015

The Joy Of SixTHE BEAST IS COMING FOR YOU

SO David Klemmer accidentally knocked out a NSW staffer who was holding a tackling bag? If he is on the field for a kick-off on Wednesday, Maroons players are best advised to stay out of his sight. The Beast Of Belmore has revealed he spots an opposition player from 30 or more metres away and tries to cause as much damage as possible by running over the top of him in such situations. “Whoever I see, I try to spot someone and run as hard as I can at them,” Klemmer told Triple M in the aftermath of the Belmore triumph last Monday. “I’ve probably got someone lined up to run at before the kick-off. As soon as I get it, I’m going straight for him.”

DOING THE RIGHT THING

THE silence flawlessly observed for Phil Walsh before the weekend’s three NRL games made your correspondent proud to be involved in rugby league. Such unity, such empathy. Now, if I add a ‘but’ to that, someone is bound to take it the wrong way. I’ll just say this: Danny Jones, James Ackerman and Zane Purcell died playing rugby league this year. Ackerman was honoured at two NRL games. I would like to have seen the whole comp observe a minute’s silence for each of them. Sometimes NRL clubs seem culturally isolated from the rest of rugby league – particularly overseas – while identifying themselves more closely with big time leagues in other sports. To reiterate, I fully support the solidarity shown regarding Walsh – maybe we can honour the three we lost on grand final day.

RISE FOR ALEX

IN a manner of speaking, I have a small inkling of how Cameron Smith feels after Sunday night’s 60 Minutes program. I covered the game in which Alex McKinnon was injured, for radio and for the newspaper. Like Cameron, I misread the situation completely. When people told me Alex’ treatment was “just precautionary” and that he reacted the way he did because he “got a fright”, I foolishly believed them. Fox’s Andy Raymond showed himself to be, frankly, a better journalist in the way he reported on the injury. Like Smith, I focused too much on the short term – in my case, trying to get a quote in the paper. I did that – but the quote was another well-intentioned smother. I am sorry for my performance and my decisions that night, which do not stand up to scrutiny. I wish I could change them. I’m sure Cameron feels the same.

IT’S LATE O’CLOCK

TEAMS are fined if they are late onto the field for a match but what if the game starts late? Who gets fined then? This was the dichotomy highlighted by St George Illawarra officials when they were told by the TV floor manager  to stay in the sheds an extra five minutes at WIN Stadium on Saturday night.  No-one could argue with the point made, either. Still at Wollongong, while the commentators sought to honour the days of the Steelers, it was a boy from the local suburb of Windang – North Queensland centre Kane Linnett – who was the hero for the visitors. Asked if Linnett was feeling the cold as much as his tropical team-mates, NQ captain Gavin Cooper said:  “He can wear a singlet because he’s got that much hair over his back.”

AS AN EXAMPLE….

I AM indebted to reader “Pete” for this example of why the idea of restricting representative suspensions to representative games is an intellectual miscarriage. “So Justin Hodges could go out on Wednesday night in his last origin game before retirement and cause absolute mayhem and cop six million demerit points and be suspended for next year’s origin series that he won’t be playing in anyway yet not miss any club games?” A million demerit points? I told you a trillion times not to exaggerate, Pete. Expect the Ennis loophole to be closed as soon as 9am Thursday. Suspensions will expire at the start of the following round.

MATE AGAINST STATE

ORIGIN shmorigin. The real rugby league grudge match was played over the weekend – and get ready with you “red zone” puns. Russia defeated the Ukraine 34-20 in neutral Belgrade to move a step closer to qualifying for the 2017 World Cup. “Russia was a really tough opponent,” said Ukraine coach Gennardy Veprik, no doubt echoing the thoughts of millions of his countrymen. Present at the game was RLIF chairman Nigel Wood, who will take part in something called the Founders Walk from July 19 to 24. Participants will walk 193km from St Helens to Hull, taking in the grounds of all the original Northern Union clubs from 1895.

Filed for SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

NRL round two: WESTS TIGERS 42 GOLD COAST 12 at CBUS Super Stadium

By STEVE MASCORD

WESTS Tigers coach Michael Potter feared fullback James Tedesco‘s potential-laden season  was over almost before it began.
Fans of the joint venture – even those with sunburn at a sweltering CBUS Super Stadium – went pale when the 21-year-old play motionless after a first half collision during the 42-12 pizzling of Gold Coast.
“I thought ‘oh no’ – I shat myself,” Potter told Fairfax Media. “You think it’s his knee. My first message to the runners was ‘check onTeddy’.”
But a grinning Tedesco‘s said after terrorising Gold Coast with 140 metres gained, nine tackle breaks and a line break: “It was never the knee.
“I copped a knock in the personals. There was a fair bit of pain down there but I was OK before long.”
Some water to the affected area also helped … “I waited for the cameras to be off me first.”
Up 12-6 at halftime, Wests Tigers belted an inexplicably poor Gold Coast after the break to bury the memory of last week’s heavy loss to St George Illawarra.
Wests Tigers centre Chris Lawrence suffered a hamstring injury in the first half and will have scans today.
The oppressive conditions could not have been more different to those in Wigan where he set multiple records, but veteran winger Pat Richards yesterday helped Wests Tigers bury Gold Coast on what was accurately marketed as “White Hot Sunday”.
Temperatures in the middle of the newly renamed CBUS Super Stadium topped 40 degrees; drinks breaks and an extended halftime would have done little to assuage the distress of the 34 players .
Richards, returning to the NRL after a stellar eight years in Super League, scored his first try after four minutes and another in the 31st, and booted goals from all over, in a dominant performance from the joint venture.
The game was only four minutes old when Richards scored the first of his tries, from a simple overlap, in the north-western corner. He was unable to convert but had no trouble three minutes later when Tedesco crossed much closer to the posts after a kick from a sharp-looking Luke Brooks.
Wests Tigers looked to have taken an early stranglehold at 17 minutes, replacement Marty Taupau charging at the line and appearing to have grounded the ball one-handed. But after repeated viewings, video referees Bernard Sutton and Andrew Dunemann chalked off the try.
“They’ve had a look at it and they’ve found he was short of the line and then lost it,” referee Gerard Sutton told Wests Tigers captain Robbie Farah.
Hooker Farah responded: “What? They had to look at it 15 times! It’s inconclusive.”
While travelling well on the scoreboard, the joint venture side lost centre Lawrence with less than quarter of the game played. Cory Paterson, who replaced him in the centres was among his side’s best.
After replacement Sauaso Suu was booked for diving at the legs of Titans kicker Aiden Sezer, the five-eighth showed no ill-effects when he crossed in the 23rd minute off a Greg Bird break and converted himself, leaving the home side closer than it probably deserved to be.
But after the outstanding Tedesco executed a try-saving ankle-tap on Albert Kelly, Wests Tigers extended their lead when Richards scored in similar circumstances to
his first with nine minutes remaining in the half, outdoing his previous effort by converting from the sidelines.
Former Titan Boden Thompson then hammered in another nail in the shadows of halftime by fielding Braith Anasta’s bomb for a try confirmed by the video referees.
Paterson was denied a try when the ball bounced off the posts two minutes into the second half; Bird fumbled but replays showed Wests Tigers’ James Gavet getting a hand to Steeden.
But less than another 60 seconds elapsed before late inclusion David Nofaluma scored after some smart lead-up by Brooks; shortly before the second drinks break, Tapau made up for his ealier near miss by steamrolling over for another.
The crowd was told a collarbone injury to Titans five-eighth Bird was not serious but coach John Cartwright was afterwards not completely sure of the prognosis.
“It’s an impact injury … he’s a quick healer,” Cartwright said.

WESTS TIGERS 42 (P Richards 2 L Brooks D Nofoaluma M Taupau J Tedesco B Thompson tries P Richards 7 goals) bt GOLD COAST 12 (A Kelly A Sezer tries A Sezer 2 goals) at Cbus Super Stadium. Referee: G Sutton/D Munro. Crowd: 12,038.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

NRL round two: BRISBANE 16 NORTH QUEENSLAND 12 at Suncorp Stadium

By STEVE MASCORD

THERE were 42,303 people at Suncorp Stadium but few would have been more relieved at Brisbane hooker Andrew McCullough’s winning try against North Queensland than Broncos prop Josh McGuire.

Nearing a half century of tackles, McCullough celebrated the decision of Australia captain Cameron Smith not to take his jersey next year by backing up a Dale Copley break to dive over with six minutes left in the Queensland derby, securing a 16-12 win.

“I was on the bench and I started choking one of our water runners, I was that excited,” Samoan international McGuire said.

And with good reason; the 106 kg 24-year-old was reported twice – the second offence allowing the Cowboys to take a lead – and was responsible for a Ben Hunt try in the 60th minute being disallowed.

He was booked first for a high tackle on Gavin Cooper and again for diving at the legs of Robert Lui, leading to Cowboys replacement Ashton Sims telling the referees: “He could have broke (sic) his leg”

Of the first incident, McGuire said: “I’ll just cop it on the chin, it was unlucky, it was an accident”. When asked about the second, he claimed to be unaware of the rules regarding challenges on kickers.

“I just sprinted out of the line and he jumped. I didn’t realise he jumped. I didn’t know the rules, to be honest. I thought you could tackle them as long as you wrap your arms.”

But McGuire’s most costly infraction looked like being standing in front of team-mate Ben Hunt when the halfback dashed over for what could have been the winning try in an enthralling struggle.

Without consulting the video referees, on-field officials Ben Cummins and Gavin Reynolds ruled defender Tariq Sims had been illegally obstructed.

“I probably got lazy and didn’t push through fast enough,” McGuire recalled. “I’m a front rower, I don’t get to decide what happens there. I just push up and if he passes me the ball, I take it.

“If he doesn’t, it goes out the back.”

North Queensland attacked right to the death in a mistake-affected, but thrilling contest before a crowd that has put the NRL attendance average for the young season back on track.

Brisbane lock Matt Gillett was put over by Ben Barba early, Cowboys captain Johnathan Thurston responded with a converted try of his own and then new five-eighth Josh Hoffman’s kick allowed Daniel Vidot to put the home side ahead 10-6 at the break.

Hoffman, whose agent pressed for a release when Barba was signed in the off-season, broke his media silence after the game.

He was lavish in his praise of Barba, saying: “”He brings that x-factor. He’s got a good voice. His talk … it’s great to have someone like that behind you at the back.

“From being behind there (I know) the forwards, they’re going to need a lot of talk from a fullback. It’s good having that sort of player behind him.”

Asked about his newfound prowess as a tactical kicker, Hoffman said: “”I’ve been looking at a few YouTube videos of Darren Lockyer. He’s got that big left foot. It’s just trying to bring my own thing to the jersey.”

Cooper allowed NQ to draw level nine minutes into the second half, when a kick was tapped down to him by Kyle Feldt, and the 10-10 deadlock was broken by Thurston the second time McGuire was booked.

“It was a great contest, I don’t think it was a particularly great game,” said North Queensland coach Paul Green.

BRISBANE 16 (M Gillett D Vidot A McCullough tries C Parker 2 goals) beat NORTH QUEENSLAND 12 (J Thurston G Cooper tries,Thurston 2 goals) at Suncorp Staidum. Referees: B Cummins/G Reyolds. Crowd: 42,303.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

JOY OF SIX: round one 2015

The Joy Of SixBy STEVE MASCORD

SEEING RED OVER MOSES
WHAT if Dallas Donnelly pulled up outside an NRL ground in his time travelling Delorian and went inside for a gander? What would he make of a competition where you are sent to the sin bin for punching someone but stay on the field for a deadset coat-hanger? How can we be SOFTER on an offence now than we were in the seventies? It defies logic. The ban on referee comments stifled the debate on Saturday night surrounding Mitchell Moses’ shot on William Zillman. Set of Six will debate it; Moses should have been sent off. Flailing fists deter parents from letting their kids play rugby league – do we think mum wants little Johnny to do his best rag doll impersonation every weekend?
BATTLE AHEAD
WELL may Phil Gould and Penrith oppose an external draft – they have more juniors than most other clubs. But one donatechange in the game that has gone un-noticed over the summer has been the rebranding of the state leagues, aside from NSW and Queensland. The South Australian Rugby League is now NRL South Australia – and so on. They are wholly owned subsidiaries of the Moore Park HQ. No doubt, the aim is to do the same with the NSWRL, the QRL and the CRL. The NRL wants to be to rugby league what the NBA is to basketball – that is, just about everything. It will take care of all development and clubs will be shells focused only on winning first grade matches and attracting fans. Set of Six likes the idea.
COCKY FOWLS NOT SCARED OF FOULS
LOTS of things have changed this season by according to Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan, one thing hasn’t. “It’s a little bit faster, sides are trying to find their feet. Sides don’t want to give away too many penalties away – bar the Roosters. They were quite happy to give penalties away and then defend ‘em.” The Roosters do not like accusations they deliberately give away penalties. Flanagan nominated Trent Robinson’s team, South Sydney and Parramatta as sides who had “put their hand up” over the weekend. The Sharks boss wasn’t sure how he’d feel going to Remondis Stadium last night for his first game back from suspension. “Surprisingly, I’m pretty calm about the whole thing,” he said. “It’s not about me. I’ve got a job here to do and I’ve just got to get on with it.”
HELLO 2015
SOME random observations about our first taste of premiership football for the year. One, the game IS faster and there IS amazonless wrestling, and the crowds like it. Friday night at Pirtek Stadium, particularly in the first half, was a revelation; the word “fickle” just isn’t in the dictionaries of western Sydney. Your correspondent was at Headingley, where they sing all night, eight days previously and the local Blue and Gold Army outdid their British cousins easily. A bulked-up Anthony Milford in the halves is a gamble. We won’t get reliable forward pass rulings until there are chips in the balls. Dane Gagai and Joey Leilua could be the centre pairing of the year. Pat Richards could easily realise his ambition of playing in the 2017 World Cup. Live free-to-air TV coverage on a Sunday should have happened years ago.
THE SHAFT FOR SHILLO AND SHANNON
TRENT Merrin was only “dropped” for Monday Night Football if you don’t count the game against Warrington, which he also started from the bench. He was in the starting side for round 26 last year, though – we checked. Two men who WERE dropped, by any definition, are big Canberra forwards David Shillington and Shannon Boyd. They were named in Canberra’s first grade side on Sunday – Shillington in the starting front row – but played NSW Cup. Coach Ricky Stuart admitted the hot conditions were in his mind but “there’s a few other reasons – nothing untoward in regards to the two boys. We made the decision earlier in the week.” Stuart reckons the quicker rucks this year mean “dropped balls and penalties are making a big difference between winning and losing.’
CARNAGE IN FRANCE
Dwrq4E1421835700EVEN a broken rib for Todd Carney took a back seat to the scoreline in the Catalans-Salford Super League game over the weekend. The match finished in a 40-40 draw – which in the Australian premiership would make it the highest scoring drawn game ever, beat three matches which finished 34-34.. In England, there’ve been higher scores in draws – and there almost certainly have been in France, too. After a tackle by Lama Tasi, Carney – who missed the opening two rounds through injury – tweeted: “Just got home from the hospital, Broken Ribs Fingers crossed I won’t be out for long.” Dragons coach Laurent Frayssinous said the tackle was illegal. “It is not acceptable that there is a late tackle on Todd Carney that has left him in the hospital with a broken rib,” he told reporters. Oh, and the penalty which gave Salford a late draw was a tad controversial, too.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD