NRL’s Anzac Round sees nail-biting finishes

Adam Blair under attack by the South Sydney defence in the Round 8 match at ANZ Stadium.
Adam Blair under attack by the South Sydney defence in the Round 8 match at ANZ Stadium.

Controversy raged around Anthony Milford’s match-winning field goal for the Broncos to broke an Anzac Round deadlock 25-24 at ANZ Stadium last Friday.

Meanwhile, Aaron Woods had a blinder against his Wednesday morning Bulldogs coffee-mates and potential new teammates on Sunday afternoon. The Tigers came from behind with a late try to Kevin Naiquama for an 18-12 win.

The Anzac Day match at Moore Park saw a dour, but closely contested match between the Sydney Roosters and St George Illawarra Dragons. Roosters half Mitchell Pearce secured the win with his first NRL drop goal – 13-12.

Brisbane Broncos v South Sydney Rabbitohs

The Rabbitohs posted first points in the ninth minute when Broncos winger David Mead spilt a bomb to give Damien Cook a clear run to the line. The Broncos levelled almost immediately, Corey Oates diving into the corner off the back of a set backline play – 6-all. The Rabbitohs nosed ahead with a penalty goal by Bryson Goodwin but Oates ran in again off a James Roberts break for a 10-8 lead. Corbin Sims extended the lead after gathering the ball as it ricocheted off an opposition player. Milford’s conversion, and a penalty minutes later, put the Broncos ahead 18-8 at at half-time.

The Rabbitohs ran hot after the break, scoring three tries during a golden 15 minutes to take the lead at 24-18. The Broncos answered with a Tautau Moga try, converted by Milford, to level the score and set the game on a knife-edge. Milford’s field goal in the 77th minute was all the Broncos needed to seal the win but sparked outrage among the Rabbitohs’ fans. At first glance it certainly looked as if Milford had knocked on, but slow motion replays suggested Milford had both hands on the ball and was in control of it.

Wests Tigers v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

Front-rower and captain Aaron Woods ran and off-loaded at will during this match, his best of the season (his form has been as up and down as the Tigers’ contract talks). Woods was ably supported by David Nofoaluma, who looked sharp in attack, scoring a try in the corner in the ninth minute of play.

Marcela Montoya even the score at 6-all after spinning out of a tackle, but the Tigers qiuickly edged ahead through a penalty goal. A penalty goal by Mitchell Moses after Bulldog Josh Reynolds was caught offside near his own line sent the Tigers to the sheds with a 10-6 lead.

Some Bulldogs razzle-dazzle after the break – the ball went through six pairs of hands in a run from the half-way line – sent Kieran Holland across despite a desperate Kevin Naiquama tackle. A penalty goal by Holland in the 57th minute put the Dogs ahead, but the Tigers weren’t giving up. First Moses slotted home a penalty goal then Naiquama redeemed himself by scoring the winning try off a Luke Brooks grubber that was conveniently bounced into his grasp by a Bulldog. Moses’ conversion took the score to 18-12. – Caroline Layt

League news flashes

The Wests Tigers this week went some way to bolstering their depleted ranks for the 2018 season by signing Bulldogs five-eighth Josh Reynolds and Kiwi international Ben Matulino. The Bulldogs earlier this season announced that Reynolds, who debuted with them 2011, was no longer wanted. “Josh has proven himself time and time again to be an incredibly competitive and passionate player and we look forward to him bringing that attitude to the club,” Tigers coach Ivan Cleary announced.

The Tigers certainly needed someone to provide a spark in the backline after both James Tedesco and Mitchell Moses decided to leave. Tigers supporters’ despair at the additional loss of captain Aaron Woods, who is to join the Bulldogs, should have been lifted a bit by the three-year signing of Matulino who can turn on a touch of mongrel in the forward pack when it is needed. Matulino has been a solid performer for the Warriors and Kiwi squads, a point noted by Tigers’ CEO Justin Pascoe.

While club rosters enter the usual mid-year turmoil, Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga is sticking with the tried and tested for the test against New Zealand on May 5 in Canberra.  Apart from Greg Inglis, who is out for the season with an injury, Meninga has stayed loyal to his 2016 Four Nations team, saying they deserved to be rewarded for last year’s winning effort. Will Chambers will replace Inglis at centre position and Darius Boyd will wear the number one jumper.

Some commentators felt Billy Slater should have been returned to the squad but Queensland coach Kevin Walters has made it clear he is happy for Slater to continue rebuilding his form for Melbourne Storm in the lead-up to Origin 2017. Former Kangaroo Justin Hodges, however, has suggested that Slater’s long absence may have effectively ended his representative career, saying Boyd and Corey Oates deserve to hang on to their places.

The May 5 test will be captain Cameron Smith’s 50th game for Australia, equalling the great Clive Churchill, but he will still be nine games behind Darren Lockyer.

The Dragons, who started the season very strongly, suffered a major blow in their Anzac Day match with the Roosters at Allianz Stadium, losing Gareth Widdop. The star five-eighth Widdop fell clumsily in a tackle damaging the medial ligament in his left knee. The Dragons may struggle to remain at the top of the ladder without the English import’s spark in the back line and his goal-kicking ability. They face a tough battle when they meet the Storm, who share top spot with them. – News briefs compiled by Jesse Mullens

Other Round 8 results

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 20 – 18 Canberra Raiders in Canberra

Parramatta Eels 18 – 12 Penrith Panthers at ANZ Stadium, Homebush

Gold Coast Titans 16 – 12 Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at Cronulla

North Queensland Cowboys 24 – 12 Newcastle Knights in Townsville

Melbourne Storm 20 – 14 New Zealand Warriors in Melbourne

Sydney Roosters 13 – 12 St George-Illawarra Dragons at ANZ Stadium

Photo shows Adam Blair under attack by the South Sydney defence in the Round 8 match at ANZ Stadium. NRL image from the Broncos website.

About Caroline Layt 34 Articles
Caroline is a journalism student at Macleay and she enjoys writing for the Hatch. Having completed her diploma of journalism in 2017, she is now working towards attaining her bachelor. Caroline also writes for Inside Sports - The Women's Game and she can be followed on Twitter @CarolineLayt