Six games, six moments: Round 9
Kangaroos 20 def. Kiwis 10
The Moment: Benji Marshall looked to get something happening for the black-and-whites down the right edge when trailing 10-6 with just 13 minutes left in this one-off VB Test. He hit second-rower Bronson Harrison who crunched into Aussie pairing Johnathan Thurston and Ben Creagh 35 metres out from the Kangaroos’ try line. But in the collision the ball spewed loose; lightning-fast thinking from prop Ben Hannant saw it tossed to fullback Billy Slater who raced 30 metres through the disorientated Kiwis’ defence to score the match-winner. That Slater had already worked up a full head of steam when he took the ball confirmed his tremendous ability to read games and react on the spur of the moment.
Country 18 def. City 12
The Moment: A 12-all scoreline with just one minute remaining didn’t quite tell the story on a chilly night in Albury, with the City side crossing three times to Country’s two. But then the ‘home’ side squared the ledger in spectacular fashion to steal the game in the dying stages. City fullback Jarryd Hayne chipped ahead for centre Michael Jennings near halfway on tackle four. But Country’s Chris Houston fielded the kick on the full, evaded the chasers and linked with flying winger Akuila Uate who sprinted 60 metres to deliver the knockout blow.
Storm 29 def. Broncos 22
The Moment: Boy! Cooper Cronk sure knows how to spoil a party… Just when rookies Jack Reed (62nd minute) and Dane Gagai (71st minute) scored spectacular solo tries to drag the Broncos back on an even footing with the Storm at Suncorp Stadium, the gritty No.7 seized back the advantage with a towering field goal four minutes from time. But there’s more than just luck involved in this play in the modern game. The Storm had ploughed their way down field, positioning themselves left of centre. On tackle four, rather than the last, Cameron Smith passed right to Cronk who, with little pressure from the opposition, drilled the kick over from 43 metres out. The visitors scored a scrappy try at the death but Cronk’s one-pointer was the difference.
Warriors 34 def. Titans 14
The Moment: Titans coach John Cartwright’s game plan appeared to fall on deaf ears against the Warriors at Skilled Park – and that was certainly the case when the Gold Coast were guilty of conceding the simplest try of the 2011 season. Down 16-8 with eight minutes remaining in the first stanza, the home side failed to listen to the refs’ call when tackling Warriors back-rower Elijah Taylor close to their tryline. Although fullback Preston Campbell and centre Esi Tonga brought down Taylor, neither managed to hold on to their opponent long enough for the tackle to be deemed effected. At least, that was the refs’ opinion. And Taylor thought so too; he bounced to his feet, gestured to the officials for guidance – then crashed through Scott Prince’s last-gasp effort. The try rocketed the visitors to an imposing 22-8 halftime lead, with their first win on the Gold Coast a mere formality.
Dragons 22 def. Cowboys 8
The Moment: Conceding a length-of-the-field try instead of potentially wrestling the lead away from the injury-ravaged and fatigued Dragons was a bitter pill for the Cowboys to swallow. Trailing 6-2 the visitors had the Red V fully extended in the 27th minute, forcing four repeat sets of possession. Dummy-half Aaron Payne passed wide for five-eighth Ray Thompson who passed quickly for his outside man without looking. Trouble was opposition back-rower Beau Scott had rushed up off his tryline and took a gift intercept. Although quickly collared, Scott offloaded to winger Brett Morris who showed exceptional pace to score. Incredibly, it was just his second try of the 2011 season.
Sea Eagles 20 def. Raiders 0
The Moment: It may only have been the Raiders (apologies Canberra fans) but Brett Stewart finally gave his game a long rein in his return from a five-game absence at the back for the Sea Eagles. He bagged his sixth three-try haul in 122 career first grade games and his second – scored shortly after halftime after he was shifted to the wing after complaining of a twinge in his injured knee – saw him notch his 100th in the maroon and white. While his second-half four-pointers were good finishing efforts, his first try in the 22nd minute off a Kieran Foran inside ball was trademark ‘Snake’. It showed a noticeable return to confidence and would have put the spluttering Titans on notice for their must-win clash at home on the Gold Coast next Monday night.
The views in this article are the authors’ and not necessarily those of the clubs or the NRL.
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