Jason Taumalolo was a standout for the North Queensland Cowboys in their trial win over Brisbane. Copyright: Charles Knight/NRL Photos. Credit: Charles Knight/NRL Photos Copyright: Charles Knight/NRL Photos
Your one-stop shop for all the match reports from the weekend's first round of NRL trial matches.
St George Illawarra made a strong start to their pre-season campaign on Friday night, with new halves duo Gareth Widdop and Sam Williams combining well in a 60-16 drubbing of a combined Illawarra and Mudgee outfit. Williams, former Rabbitoh Dylan Farrell and Charly Runciman all scored twice, while Nathan Green bagged a hat-trick as the Dragons came through the trial unscathed by injury.
Meanwhile on Friday an old face impressed in his first performance in Cronulla colours, with Eric Grothe Jr carrying three Manly defenders over the line to score in the Sharks' 24-12 win over last year's grand finalists. Sea Eagles centre Steve Matai picked up a foot injury in the match.
On Saturday night the Canberra Raiders – led by rookie Mitch Cornish at halfback and Josh McCrone at hooker – earned a 20-12 win over a Melbourne Storm side missing the 'big three' of Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith and Billy Slater. New recruit Joel Romelo was one of Melbourne's best performers, splitting his time between hooker and the halves.
Wayne Bennett got a good look at the next generation of Knights players as Newcastle ran out 52-12 winners over the First Nations Goannas in their Festival of Indigenous Rugby League match, with new signing Michael Dobson combining well with fellow half Tyrone Roberts.
The Wests Tigers managed to secure a win and a loss on Saturday night, with something close to their full-strength team overpowering the Panthers 32-8 while a reserve outfit was hammered 60-14 by the Parramatta Eels in Alice Springs. A broken ankle to Tigers utility Dene Halatau soured their strong display against Penrith – who played without new halves Jamie Soward and Peter Wallace – while Chris Sandow showed some good signs in the Eels' win.
Hard-running back-rowers Tariq Sims and Jason Taumalolo stole the show for the Cowboys in their trial against Brisbane, with North Queensland triumphing 32-8 in Paul Green's first match in charge. The news got worse for the Broncos as Jordan Kahu suffered a knee injury late in the game, having already undergone two knee reconstructions in recent years.
Titans forward Ryan James suffered a shoulder injury on Sunday as the Gold Coast finished strongly to overpower a young Warriors side, scoring 32 unanswered points after trailing 18-4 during the first half.
Sam Perrett, Drury Low and Tyrone Phillips were all given the chance to audition for the Bulldogs' fullback role in their trial against the Rabbitohs at Belmore on Sunday, but it was their opponents who came out on top with Souths taking a 28-20 win.
On Wednesday night Sam Rapira leads a Warriors outfit in a trial against Wigan. Full squad lists here.