Pre-season: WIGAN 46 WARRIORS 22 at Waikato Stadium, Hamilton

By STEVE MASCORD

FOUR try winger Joe Burgess has forced his way into Wigan’s World Club Challenge team – and fellow greehorn Sam Powell will almost certainly join him in coach Shaun Wane’s 17.
Wigan did their best to sell the few remaining tickets for the title bout with Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium on Saturday week by scoring 30 unanswered second half points in a 46-22 belting of a badly understrength New Zealand Warriors at Hamilton’s Waikato Stadium.
Burgess – no relation to the South Sydney foursome – only got a start in the season opener against Huddersfield because of an injury to Josh Charnley but held his spot alongside the England star last night because of an eye-catching display.
Coach Shaun Wane said the 19-year-old had now virtually assured himself of taking on the Roosters. Powell, 21, was included last night mainly for experience but finished with 10 points in an assured display.
“He’ll probably be in the 17,” Wane added. “He went well today, I like him, he’s a good chance.”
Of local junior Burgess, he said: “It doesn’t matter to me how old he is. If he can do a job and handle a big game and I’m confident in him, I’ll play him. I’m pretty ruthless, I’m not worried who’s done well in the past.
“I’m really pleased Joe Burgess put his hand up. All the senior players are raving about him and I won’t have any qualms about puting him in.”
Wigan led 12-0 early, fell behind 22-16 by halftime in front of a modest midweek crowd – and then exploded in the second half with six tries. Burgess, a local Wigan junior who saw Pat Richards’ departure as an opportunity this season, completed his haul with a couple of minutes left.
But Warriors coach Matthew Elliott suggested the performance of the Super League and Challenge Cup holders did not indicate to him that they could rattle the club where he was formerly an assistant.
“That’s a hard one for me to comment on,” he said.
“If we had the 16 – actually there’s 18 guys who are fulltime players who aren’t playing – I would have been reasonably confident that the result would have been dramatically different.
“We knew when this match was scheduled … you’ve got to push your ego aside a little bit. We had to make a decision whether our focus was winning or giving everyone an opportunity.”
Feleti Mateo and Nathan Friend were late inclusions for a Warriors side including semi-professionals from local competitions. For Wigan, Matt Bowen was rested after halftime. O’Loughlin and Green would definitely play in Sydney, Wane said.

WIGAN 46 (J Burgess 4 J Hughes D Goulding G Dudson D Manfredi S Powell tries S Powell 3 M Smith 2 goals) beat WARRIORS 22 (C Townsend A Tuimavave-Gerrard N Peteru N Friend tries C Townsend 3 goals) at Waikato Stadium, Hamilton. Referees: B Cummins/G Sutton. Crowd: about 6000.
Final team lists:


Final team lists:WARRIORS: Jerome Ropati; Malo Solomona, Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard, Agnatius Paasi, Jarrod Wilson; Chad Townsend, Steve Waetford; John Palavi, Feleti Mateo, Ben Matulino, Sam Rapira (c), Nathan Friend, Jacob Lillyman. Res: Sam Lisone, Albert Vete, Jordan Baldwinson, Nathan Peteru, Paulos Latu, Jarrod Tua, Josh Tamaseu-Russell, Mason Tonks, David Bhana, Patrick Sipley, CSilva Havili, Jono Carl, Michael Sio, Mason Lino.
WIGAN: Matt Bowen; Joe Burgess, Darrell Goulding, Dan Sarginson, Josh Charnley; Sam Powell, Matty Smith; Tony Clubb, Liam Farrell, Jack Hughes, Gil Dudson, Michael McIlormum, Scott Taylor. Res: Dom Manfredi, Anthony Gelling, George Williams, Greg Burke, Eddy Pettybourne, Logan Tomkins, Dom Crosby, John Bateman, Ben Flower, Ryan Hampshire.
Referees: Ben Cummins/Geraerd Sutton

Origin I: NEW SOUTH WALES 14 6 QUEENSLAND at ANZ Stadium

By STEVE MASCORD

A FLURRY of punches aimed at the head of Queensland’s Nate Myles was described as “a great Origin moment” by New South Wales coach Laurie Daley – but is likely to earn his captain Paul Gallen a suspension.

After losing seven consecutive State of Origin series, the Blues scored a gripping 14-6 win in the opening match of the 2013 series in front of 80,380 fans at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium last night.

The flashpoint came a minute before halftime, when prop Gallen hit Myles – last year’s player of the series – with a swinging arm and then landed a series of blows on the Gold Coast forward.

Gallen later said the Blues were “sick of being bullied” while first-time coach Daley commented: “That’s a great Origin moment as far as I’m concerned.

“They’ve been pushed around and they’ve done it tough for a long period.”

Gallen said: “Nate’s been the dominant Origin forward of the past few series … I don’t have to tell you some of the things he’s done to our players.

#Origin1“We didn’t want to be pushed around. That’s all there is to it. We’ve had enough of being bullied … I think someone had to stand up to him.”

But the match review committee saw things differently, charging Gallen with grade two striking, which will result in a one match ban with an early guilty plea or two games with an unsuccessful challenge.

The star of the game for NSW was back rower Luke Lewis, who has battled injury in recent weeks and was consigned to bed by a virus in the two days leading up the game.

By comparison, Queensland five-eighth Johnathan Thurston seemed severely restricted by a groin injury throughout while talisman Greg Inglis was hardly sighted.

The Blues roared to a 14-0 halftime lead on the back of tries to fullback Jarryd Hayne in the fifth minute and  centre Michael Jennings in the 36th.

Parramatta’s Hayne scored a off a short pass from Cronulla’s Lewis while Sydney Roosters’ Jennings beat five defenders on a sizzling run to the line.

The Maroons were frustrated as they tried to lift themselves back into the game in the second half, with Cameron Smith penalised for a double movement before winger Darius Boyd crossed off Inglis with 19 minutes to go.

Daley hailed debutants James Maloney and Blake Ferguson but guaranteed interchange back Josh Reynolds he would keep his spot despite failing to get on the field.

Captain Smith said the rucks were quicker than they usually are in interstate football.

“We have to … pretty much do what they do,” said Smith.

“They get numbers in the tackle, they lie all over us in the ruck. It’s almost like we were playing a club style of footy, with the ruck interpretation.

“We’d get our numbers in there and we’d be up and out, rather than holding them down a bit longer which the referees allow at this level.”

Maroons coach Mal Meninga reckoned “everyone played well – we just got outgunned early”.

The series resumes at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on June 26. “We’re going to go up there, people in the street are going to hate us, they’re going to be ripping our heads off in game two,” said Gallen.
NEW SOUTH WALES 14 (J Hayne M Jennings tries J Maloney 3 goals) bt QUEENSLAND 6 (D Boyd try C Smith goal) at ANZ Stadium. Referees: S Hayne/A Klein. Crowd: 80,380.

Filed for: THE GUARDIAN

Team lists:
NEW SOUTH WALES: Jarryd Hayne (Parramatta); Brett Morris (St George Illawarra), Michael Jennings (Sydney Roosters), Josh Morris (Canterbury), Blake Ferguson (Canberra); James Maloney (Sydney Roosters), Mitchell Pearce (Sydney Roosters); Greg Bird (Gold Coast), Luke Lewis (Cronulla), Ryan Hoffman (Melbourne), James Tamou (North Queensland), Robbie Farah (Wests Tigers), Paul Gallen (capt, Cronulla).
Reserves: Trent Merrin (St George Illawarra), Andrew Fifita (Cronulla), Anthony Watmough (Manly), Josh Reynolds (Canterbury).
QUEENSLAND: Billy Slater (Melbourne); Darius Boyd (Newcastle), Greg Inglis (South Sydney), Justin Hodges (Brisbane), Brent Tate (North Queensland); Johnathan Thurston (North Queensland), Cooper Cronk (Melbourne); Ashley Harrison (Gold Coast), Sam Thaiday (Brisbane), Nate Myles (Gold Coast), Matt Scott (North Queensland), Cameron Smith (capt, Melbourne), David Shillington (North Queensland)
Reserves: Corey Parker (Brisbane), Matt Gillett (Brisbane), Ben Te’o (South Sydney), Chris McQueen (South Sydney).

Referees: Ashley Klein/Shayne Hayne.

NRL round eight : CANBERRA 24 MELBOURNE 20 at AAMI Park

By STEVE MASCORD

WHEN Canberra coach David Furner said after the stunning win over Melbourne that centre Blake Ferguson needed to “stay grounded”, he didn’t mean “off suburban rooftops”.

But the man who gave new meaning to the expression “on the tiles” by imbibing pineapple cruisers with Josh Dugan instead of training earlier this year is now down to earth enough to play State Of Origin, according to his captain.

Ferguson scored 16 points in Canberra’s shock 24-20 win over Melbourne at AAMI Park, a match that saw hooker Glen Buttriss play half an hour with compound fracture of the finger before a calf injury finally claimed him and the Raiders battle on with two reserves for most of the match.

It ended the Storm’s run of consecutive wins at 15, four short of the all-time record, and was the Green Machine’s third consecutive victory in Melbourne.

Ferguson was suspended for missing training with Dugan, fractured his cheekbone upon his return and then made his comeback as a late inclusion against North Queensland in round seven.

Melbourne simply couldn’t stop him on Saturday night..

“The way he defended, he was very strong and in attack he was palming them off as he scored a couple of tries as well,” said Campese, who answered “I think so” when asked if Ferguson was a NSW contender.

“You could tell during the week he wanted to get out there and have a big game. He prepared the best he has all year.”

Furner said of Ferguson “grounded, keeping grounded”. The man himself added: “I’ve still got to work on a few things. Everyone sees the tries and things but I see other things in my game I need to fix up.”

There were times yesterday they seemed destined to win but the short-handed Raiders just had too much heart in the end.

They lost Tom Learoyd-Lahrs to a foot injury in the opening three minutes and then Joe Picker was knocked out. Coach David Furner defended the decision to send him back on.

“Our medical staff assessed him there at halftime and did the necessary procedures to be able to use him,” said Furner.

“Losing Tommy there didn’t help, Joey getting knocked out, one thing after another.

“Young Buttriss, he’s got a compound fracture of the finger. They bandaged him up, he got through.

Ferguson’s second try, which he converted, made it 12-12 for halftime and then Jack Wighton (47 minutes) and Reece Robinson (53) gave the Raiders a 24-12 lead. Robinson followed up twin brother Travis from last Monday with a sizzling effort, right through the teeth of the defence over 80 metres from dummy-half.

Melbourne’s left-side defence of Justin O’Neill and Mahe Fonua will come under the blowtorch by Bellamy after they failed to contain Ferguson and Sandor Earl.

“There’s a bit of a feeling out there that we think we just have to turn up and because we’re playing at AAMI Park and we’re wearing a Storm jersey, it’s just going to happen for us,” said Storm captain Cameron Smith.

“Clearly it isn’t. We’ve nearly been rolled the last two games. We need a huge turnaround in our attitude.”

The tryscoring was even with hooker Smith missing two difficult sideline conversions. Smith and Bellamy were openly critical of Gareth Widdop kicking for Billy Slater in the dying minutes with a set to play out.

“I don’t know who the call was from,” Smith said “Bill was chasing and those guys had a bit of communication but it wouldn’t be a play that I would have put on.”
Bellamy added: “It was a poor play. I don’t know who called it.”

Furner fumed over Billy Slater’s first-half try, claiming an obstruction.

Campese said: “It’s definitely up there with one of the best wins I’ve been involved in.
“I can do a lot better than that, I know that much. That’s probably the worst performance I’ve ever put in
“I owe the boys a few beers after that.

“Beating Melbourne in Melbourne after 15 straight – we can beat anyone on our day

CANBERRA 24 (B Ferguson 2 J Wighton R Robinson tries B Ferguson 4 goals) bt MELBOURNE 20 (B Slater J Bromwich J O’Neill M Fonua tries C Smith 2 goals) at AAMI Park. Referees: A Klein/P Haines. Crowd: 15,464.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

NRL round eight: SOUTH SYDNEY 26 BRISBANE 12 at Suncorp Stadium

By STEVE MASCORD

GREG Inglis is already rated by National Rugby League players as the biggest star in their competition. What’s left for him, according to those who should know, is to get even better.

At halftime in the round eight opener against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium, the Broncos led by four and looked a real chance of causing a bunny boilover. In the 45th and 49th minutes, Inglis just destroyed them.

First, he launched himself at the tryline from close range and was about as easy to stop as a bullet. Souths regained the lead.

Then Inglis took the ball on his own tryline, charged upfield, offloaded to centre Bryson Goodwin and – on the next tackle – winger Nathan Merritt snuck down the blindside completing a 100 metre incursion over the space of around 60 seconds.

When five-eighth John Sutton waltzed over to the right of the posts in the 59th minute, referee Gerard Sutton commented: “Wow, that’s what you call putting your foot down all of a sudden.”

Inglis this week deposed Billy Slater as the top player in the game, according to the annual Rugby League Week players’ poll, with a vote of 35 per cent.

“He’s already been voted the best player in the game; as he gets better between now and the end of his career, he’s going to be our greatest ever,” former Australia captain Brad Fittler said in television commentary.

Another green-and-gold ex-skipper, Darren Lockyer, added: “Greg’s at his peak. Greg’s fitness is a big part of it. He’s running a lot more than what he used to.”

There were stretches of the first half when South Sydney looked to have events completely under their control. Then, almost without warning, fortunes swung dramatically and by halftime Brisbane held a 12-8 lead.

Souths’ first points came from a dubious fourth-minute penalty when Alex Glenn was found to have executed a shoulder charge on Adam Reynolds after he had hoisted a bomb. Replays suggested the contact had been minimal.

The bunnies showed the Broncos defence plenty of respect by opting for two points, with Reynolds unaffected by the challenge to the extent that he was easily able to slot the opening points.

Broncos halfback Peter Wallace was stung by a Reynolds hit not long afterwards – but got back his feet and played a key role in the home team’s first-half performance.

After a kick by Brisbane’s Matt Gillett went dead and a Souths break finished with the ball going to ground, Souths received a penalty when Scott Prince was found to have illegally interfered with Greg Inglis after a Sam Burgess bust.

Rabbitohs replacement Jason Clark arrowed at the tryline in the 15th minute, with Dave Hala desperately trying to hold him up.

But it was the boot of Brisbane fullback Corey Norman which played the biggest role in denying the try. Kicking a football from the grasp of a would-be tryscorer is illegal thanks to Matthew Ridge and Billy Slater, however.

“Have you considered a penalty try?” referee Shayne Hayne asked video referees Luke Patten and Chris Ward.

The did but settled on “no try” and a penalty to South Sydney. “They considered a penalty try but thought he still would have been held up,” Hayne told players.

Four minutes later, Clark got his try. Reynolds snatched up a poor pass from near his ankles, passed to John Sutton and the front rower neatly stepped Norman to cross near the posts. Reynolds goaled and things were going swimmingly for South Sydney.

Risky off-loads, however, were an apparent flaw in Souths’ game.

After a scramble for possession on the eastern side, Brisbane received a scrum-feed just over 10 metres out and halfback Prince scored quickly, skipping past a couple of defenders, before his conversion narrowed the margin to two.

That seemed likely to be the difference between the sides at halftime.

But when Andrew Everingham fumbled Wallace’s kick with a minute left until oranges, Brisbane centre Jack Reed came up with the ball in the north-western corner of Suncorp Stadium and came up with a try which the eyes in the sky approved.

After they ruled out Reed getting a hand to the ball in the air, Prince converted magnificently for an unlikely halftime lead.

Bronco Gillett had a try disallowed for obstruction in the 74th minute. He collided accidentally with team-mate Jarrod Wallace as he charged towards the line.

SOUTH SYDNEY 26 (J Clark G Inglis N Merritt J Sutton tries Reynolds 5 goals) bt BRISBANE 12 (S Prince J Reed tries S Prince 2 goals) at Suncorp Stadium. Referees: S Hayne/G Sutton. Crowd: 39,111.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

Final team lists:

BRISBANE: Corey Norman; Josh Hoffman, Jack Reed, Jordan Kahu, Lachlan Maranta; Scott Prince, Peter Wallace; Corey Parker, Matt Gillett, Alex Glenn, Sam Thaiday (c), Andrew McCullough, Ben Hannant. Res: Ben Hunt, Scott Anderson, David Hala, Jarrod Wallace.
SOUTHS: Greg Inglis; Nathan Merritt, Beau Champion, Bryson Goodwin, Andrew Everingham; John Sutton, Adam Reynolds; Sam Burgess, Ben Te’o, Chris McQueen, Roy Asotasi, Issac Luke, Dave Tyrell. Res: Nathan Peats, Jason Clark, Ben Lowe, George Burgess.

Holden Cup fulltime: Brisbane 24-20.