Nigel Wall, NRL.com
Sea Eagles 34 def. Broncos 10
The Moment: A 20-minute swoop by the Sea Eagles quickly erased the hard-fought 10-4 half-time lead of Anthony Griffin’s baby Broncos and put to bed the first game of the Friday night Suncorp Stadium double-header. The Sea Eagles executed four sublime tries from the 50th minute; just when fans thought Jamie Lyon’s ‘specky’ mark of a Daly Cherry-Evans bomb to draw level was surely the game’s special moment, up stepped Kieran Foran who combined with fullback Brett Stewart in the 63rd minute to notch a candidate for try of the year. The Kiwi wonder kid took the ball at first receiver 30 metres out and delivered what’s become one of his trademark plays – a banana kick off the outside of his right foot for fullback Stewart in front of the goal posts. While Foran’s kick was executed to perfection, Stewart’s pick-up and pass for Cherry-Evans was freakish. He scooped it up half-volley on the second bounce then popped a right-handed, no-look offload as he was falling, with DC-E on the spot to cross for his second try in four minutes and a 28-10 lead. Are the Sea Eagles flying under the radar? No way Des: not with play like this.
Watch Brett Stewart's freakish assist for Daly Cherry-Evans
Bulldogs 28 def. Titans 6
The Moment: Oh the pain. When your side spends most of a first half of football camped up the opposition’s end and gains a clear territorial advantage (639 metres to 529) but heads to oranges down 16-nil on the scoreboard, that’s gotta hurt. That’s the world Titans coach John Cartwright was left inhabiting after his side dominated the Bulldogs in the opening 40 and got over the opposition tryline a bunch of times but simply couldn’t convert. Symptomatic of their night (and their lack of fortune) came in the 20th minute when skipper Scott Prince charged over – geez, he was halfway to the deadball line! – yet was denied by ’Dogs defenders David Stagg and Ben Barba. Ultimately though, completing just 12 of 20 sets (55 per cent), making 13 errors and missing 18 tackles… you deserve to be behind on the scoreboard.
Watch the Bulldogs v Titans highlights
Knights 8 def. Eels 6
The Moment: Knights captain Kurt Gidley leapfrogged Jarryd Hayne as next in line for a New South Wales Origin call-up with a telling display in his first game since injuring his shoulder a month ago. Gidley started the game at fullback but showed his utility value when he slipped into the halves to cover for Jarrod Mullen after the halfback tore a pectoral muscle with half an hour elapsed. The Knights led 8-6 with 20 minutes remaining but the Eels clearly were finishing the stronger in the rain-affected clash – and had it not been for Gidley’s head-on, one-on-one tackle on Justin Horo in the 75th minute the two competition points would have been squandered. With plenty of Eels’ bodies in motion, Horo received the ball third man off the ruck down the left edge just 10 metres out. He had a full head of steam and a try looked a formality – but Gidley made a perfect defensive read, wrapping around the Eel like a python and hauling him to ground just two metres out. Nine times out of ten, against all oppositions, Horo would have scored.
Watch the Knights v Eels highlights
Cowboys 20 def. Roosters 6
The Moment: Giant Cowboys winger Kalifa Faifai Loa should have been credited with a try assist for his involvement in James Tamou’s crucial 60th-minute four-pointer that shot the home side out to a 14-6 lead. With the game either side’s for the taking, Cowboys interchange James Segeyaro took a penalty tap six metres out from the Roosters’ tryline and turned the ball inside to a lumbering Tamou who hit Roosters’ defenders Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Mitchell Pearce and Anthony Minichiello just short of his objective. In came KFL, planting his hands firmly on his prop team-mate’s back and forcing him over the line. Full marks to the rookie: had he made contact with any of the Roosters’ defenders video ref Steve Clark would have ruled ‘No Try – Penalty’ (for interference) instead of pressing the button for the green light. Pays to know the rules, hey guys?
Watch Tamou crash over for the Cowboys' crucial try
Storm 14 def. Sharks 8
The Moment: Colin Best has been a try-saver for the Sharks more times than we can remember so to throw him the blame for their narrow defeat would be unfair. Mind you, he might even have trouble catching that! (Sorry Besty.) But that’s the harsh reality here. With the scores tied 8-all and with nine minutes remaining the Sharks launched an energetic raid inside the Storm half. On tackle three a second-man play saw five-eighth Wade Graham loft a spiral pass wide for Best down the left edge. It seemed pinpoint – but the veteran was left impersonating a croquet gate as the ball skittled between his legs and rolled over the touchline near halfway. From the scrum the Storm battled downfield, and gained a lucky dividend. Gareth Widdop’s last-tackle grubber kick from close range found the boot of Sharks interchange Stuart Flanagan, rebounded into Scott Porter’s calf and landed perfectly for Widdop to regather. Meanwhile Sharks winger Stewart Mills had dashed inside to cover Widdop’s kick; the Storm five-eighth simply offloaded to unmarked winger Sisi Waqa who bagged his second try of the night and secured a close-call victory.
See Best's unfortunate blunder and Widdop's smart work for the final try
Dragons 24 def. Wests Tigers 18
The Moment: The Dragons were clearly toying with the Tigers after forward interchange Trent Merrin crashed over from close range for a 10-nil lead after 22 minutes; it allowed their bluebloods to draw more blood. The Tigers weren’t helped by fullback Wade McKinnon’s injury-forced withdrawal before kick-off, which triggered a reshuffle that badly affected the black-and-golds’ defensive continuity: centre Tim Moltzen shifting to fullback, winger Mitch Brown moving to left centre and Beau Ryan starting on the left wing. Certainly Dragons’ fullback Darius Boyd was quick to spot potential vulnerability. From the restart of Merrin’s try Boyd took the ball on tackle two and drifted laterally to the right, sucking Mitch Brown off his line and picking up team-mate Mark Gasnier who raced 40 metres, drew fullback Moltzen and gifted Jason Nightingale free passage to the tryline for a 16-nil lead. Any side behind on the scoreboard early against the Dragons in 2011 is long odds of taking them down, despite the premiers’ increasingly alarming trait of conceding substantially more of their points in second halves. The Tigers’ two late tries made it 15 four-pointers conceded in second stanzas by the home side, compared to just five tries conceded in opening 40s.
Watch Boyd send Gasnier clear for Nightingale's try
Panthers 22 def. Rabbitohs 10
The Moment: When an attacking player falls to ground and slams his fist into the turf, and there’s conjecture over whether he had control of the football in the lead-up to awarding a crucial try, it’s fair to say the player has given himself up. That was certainly the case at Centrebet Stadium with the home up 16-10 with 10 minutes remaining. Interchange Masada Ioesefa looked to grasp a Lachlan Coote pass 10 metres out but fumbled; however, the ball dropped onto the No.14’s boot and dribbled into the in-goal. The lack of urgency from the Rabbitohs, including Chris McQueen who simply jogged alongside the ball rather than ground it, indicated they sided with Ioesefa in assuming the play would be pulled up. Not Panthers fullback Coote though – he dived on the ball and claimed the try. The issue was sent upstairs to rookie video ref Paul Mellor, who incredibly gave the green light. But it looked like a knock-on for all money, even allowing for the belated contact with the foot. Certainly Ioesefa never had control of the football. Moral? Play the whistle.
Watch the Panthers v Rabbitohs highlights
• The views in this article are the author’s and not necessarily those of the clubs or the NRL.