Eight games, eight moments: Round 2
Panthers 20 def. Eels 6
The Moment: When Jarryd Hayne’s on he’s really, really on. But one of the few criticisms of the Eels superstar is that sometimes he pushes plays and tries too hard to make things happen. Trailing the buoyant Panthers 10-nil at halftime there was no doubt the home side needed to be next to post points, and Hayne was the go-to man. Shortly after the break the Eels attacked down the right edge near halfway. Five-eighth Daniel Mortimer threw a long pass that found Hayne left of centre-field. The fullback had but a split second to make a decision but instinct told him something was on; he floated the ball across the face of a close-in decoy support, hoping to get the man outside of him into space. Trouble was his two supports – prop Fuifui Moimoi and second-rower Taniela Lasolo – probably weren’t the ideal collaborators. The ball spilled in front of Lasolo (who was adequately covered by the defence anyway) and was swooped upon by Panthers winger Michael Gordon who sprinted away for an out-of-reach 16-nil lead.
Broncos 20 def. Raiders 4
The Moment: It was the play of the season so far when Jharal Yow Yeh finished a dazzling Broncos’ raid in the 62nd minute that left the Raiders with no way back on their home turf. With seemingly nothing on, Broncos lock Corey Parker made a dash from halfway. He was met by four Raiders defenders on the 40-metre line but showed great strength to twist backwards and pop an offload to Sam Thaiday, who hot-potatoed it to centre Jack Reed. The rookie advanced 10 metres before passing to right winger Yow Yeh who in the one motion caught and kicked ahead between two Raiders defenders. The speedster then won the race for the beautifully weighted ball that sat up nicely in the in-goal for a highlights reel four-pointer.
Storm 40 def. Titans 12
The Moment: A double for Billy Slater saw the mercurial No.1 usurp Matt Geyer as the all-time leading tryscorer for the Storm (now 114 four-pointers… and rising). The milestone came in the 65th minute, courtesy of English international Gareth Widdop’s second try assist of the evening. Widdop received the ball 35 metres out from his own line, made mince meat of his opposite Luke Capewell with a nice step, dashed ahead, then fed the ball back inside to Slater leaving ‘The Kid’ with an uninterrupted 30-metre passage to the line – and a 40-nil lead.
Wests Tigers 20 def. Warriors 12
The Moment: Gaining the ascendancy is everything in rugby league. That’s why referee Allan Shortall’s incorrect decision to rule a Wests Tigers grounding of the football, at the cost of a Warriors first-blood try in the 14th minute, undoubtedly sticks in the craw of Warriors coach Ivan Cleary. Without a point on the board, Warriors fullback Wade McKinnon stabbed a grubber into the in-goal; Tigers’ centre Blake Ayshford appeared to have it covered but the ball spewed free, backwards, with new Warriors recruit Feleti Mateo diving on the spoils for what appeared a fair try. Trouble was ref Shortall blew his whistle to call up the play, ruling Ayshford had grounded the ball. He hadn’t. Four certain points – maybe six even – gone begging.
Knights 34 def. Cowboys 22
The Moment: As a collective group the Cowboys’ defence against the Knights was woeful. But no player was lacking in application more than rookie James Tamou. Last week Tamou stamped himself a bit of a find with a masterful display in attack that included a dominant and decisive try against the Broncos. And we gave him an appropriate rap. This week, Tamou’s defence demands scrutiny – in particular, his feeble jumper grab of Knights interchange Cory Paterson, who strolled over for the simplest of tries in the 25th minute. Tamou’s ineffectiveness hauled the home side onto the back foot at 12-nil down, and they never recovered.
Bulldogs 28 def. Rabbitohs 19
The Moment: Poor old Rhys Wesser; what’s a guy supposed to do? With the Bunnies up 19-18 with less than 10 minutes remaining, blockbusting Bulldogs centre Jamal Idris put team-mate Steve Turner into space down the right edge. The winger galloped downfield but was grassed by Wesser in copybook ‘legsy’ style six metres out. With his fatigued team-mates little more than jog-trotting back onside, Wesser looked to push the envelope on what the refs might put up with as an acceptable length of time to hang on to a tackled player. But he did more than push – he ripped the envelope clean open. Wesser was sin-binned and less than a minute later from the ensuing penalty Ben Barba teased Chris Sandow and Nathan Merritt on the left edge with a lovely delayed pass that gifted Tim Lafai a (winning) try on debut.
Sea Eagles 27 def. Roosters 16
The Moment: Just as well Kieran Foran and Mitchell Pearce are good mates. Otherwise Foran’s ruffling of the Rooster’s head after scoring a crucial try in the 50th minute could have sent the feathers flying at the SFS. The Roosters had just seized the advantage with an early second-half try that saw them ahead 16-14 when the energetic Sea Eagles kept the ball alive on the last tackle 10 metres from their opponent’s try line. Foran passed a long spiral ball left to centre Tony Williams, who was contained by the sliding Roosters’ cover. Contained… but not wrapped up; quick-thinking Foran ran around in support as ‘T-Rex’ freed his ball-carrying arm and popped the simplest of offloads. It hoodwinked a bemused Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Foran was over in the corner with hardly a finger on him.
Sharks 16 def. Dragons 10
The Moment: A four-point halftime lead on a sodden Toyota Stadium might have given the committed Sharks players and their dedicated fans great heart – but a 10-point lead seized at the death of the first section of play had them truly believing in an unlikely victory. And it all boiled down to a Nathan Gardner gamble. Inside the last 60 seconds the Sharks received a penalty when No.7 Wade Graham was checked following through a short attacking kick. Some Dragons’ dissent saw the visitors marched 10 metres with an almost gift two points on offer. But fullback Gardner raced to the mark, took a quick tap and scrambled out some metres. With one play left in the half the ball swept to the right, where five-eighth Albert Kelly drifted across-field and fired an inside ball to the gun barrel straight-running Anthony Tupou. A 10-nil lead in those conditions, coupled with the Sharks’ brutal defence and excellent completions (85 per cent), was always going to be tough to reel in.
* The views in this article are the authors’ and not necessarily those of the clubs or the NRL.