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

FIVE METRE GAP: Round 21

Hamish NealLike the way of the five metre gap in defence, reviewing the points from the NRL you may have missed from round 21.

It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly went wrong for Canberra as they were humbled 68-4 by the reigning title-holders the Melbourne Storm on Sunday. Trebles to wingers Sisa Waqa and Mahe Fonua suggest a flimsy defence out wide but the Raiders were also exposed in the middle of the ruck and in the air. One would wonder what benefit a video session would even have for the Green Machine given they face a rampant Roosters outfit next. Sometimes teams just need to (cliché alert) put it behind them without reflecting as they normally would and change their weekly preparation.

Friday night’s draw in Newcastle saw some monumental efforts including four players who topped 50 in the tackle count. Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough made 67 tackles in his 52 minutes on Hunter Stadium. Opposition forward Chris Houston made 62 tackles but he had 20 more minutes on the park. Brisbane’s Josh McGuire (51) and Corey Parker (55) were the other two players to crack the half-century.

As the Cowboys ran away with a 30-12 win in Townsville and the Rabbitohs had injury problems with John Sutton’s ankle concern they also had some defensive issues with centre Bryson Goodwin a target of North Queensland in attack. Goodwin, 27, was forced into making 22 tackles as the Cowboys attacked Souths’ line with eight more sets of possession than their opponents.

In another of the weekend’s big wins Penrith fullback Matt Moylan suffered a horror night as a steady stream of Roosters try-scorers breezed in for the seven tries that made up their 42-6 win. 22 year-old Moylan, who has been the subject of much attention due to the ongoing debate about the second-tier salary cap, missed five tackles in the Panther’s eleventh loss of the season.

Facing a fifth loss in succession, Gold Coast were able to dispatch the abject Wests Tigers on Sunday afternoon at Skilled Stadium. A make-shift halves combination saw the Titans add some extra force in attack and defence as representative back-rower Ashley Harrison was named to play next to Aidan Sezer. Using the extra bigger players on the edges and with players like Luke Douglas and Dave Taylor making 16 hit-ups each (despite starting off the bench), John Cartwright’s men were able to ride roughshod over a short-handed Tigers who started the game without Aaron Woods up front and then saw Robbie Farah suffer a dislocated knuckle .

 

THE WRAP: NRL Round Five

NRL logoBy STEVE MASCORD
WHAT constitutes a slump? And how to teams get out of them?
North Queensland, St George Illawarra and Brisbane are three of which much is expected in our competition each year. Over the three weeks in the lead-up to round five, they had just victories between them.
All had wins over the weekend, relieving scrutiny and pressure on their coaches and players. It’s four years since a side with a 1-4 record has made the finals
“It’s more of a confidence thing,” Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough tells NRL.com in the wake of a 32-12 win over Gold Coast.
“Obviously, we’ve been copping it in the paper. It’s all part of the Broncos standard which is probably a good thing. It just comes with the territory.
“But we’re going along alright.”
Criticism can be used as a motivator, McCullough says. It’s down to the individual. “You can go either way with that.
“Hook (coach Anthony Griffin) is always on us about how good you’re going and how bad you’re going. You just believe what they (coaching staff) have to say. If they say something, you listen.”
The big area where the Broncos have improved? “Just composure. We’ve got to back ourselves. The games we lost … the Roosters put 50 on Parra, they beat us 8-0. Manly? We let ourselves down after leading that game. Melbourne, we went well there.
“So we’re not going as bad as people think.”
North Queensland coach Neil Henry said after the 30-0 shutout of Penrith on Saturday that it was a little early in the year to have “must win” games – but the Cowboys were at the point of “please, please win”.
“I wouldn’t say it was a good way (to win) but there’s points on the board, a clean sheet and that’s pleasing,” said centre Brent Tate.
“Sometimes you’ve got to win them like that to kickstart you.
“I just thought our ball control at times is still really letting us down. We put a lot of pressure on them defensively. We’re stil a little off with our attack but that will come.
“If we toss ball control like that up against good teams, you can’t hold them out no matter how good your defence is.
“The fe
Tate doesn’t know why his men have hit an early-season wall. “You can’t explain that sort of thing, it just happens,” he says.
“The feeling I have is that we need to improve. I think that’s the feeling across the board.”
For whatever reason, coach Steve Price has borne the brunt of the Dragons winless opening three weeks. That turned around against Sydney neighbours Cronulla in round four and the revival continued against Steel City rivals Newcastle on Sunday.
At Sharks stadium, says five-eighth Jamie Soward, “we were under the pump and needed to come out and stand up for ourselves.
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