Weekend wash-up: Round 25
Manly v Melbourne
Friday night’s brawl between the Sea Eagles and the Storm denied Manly due recognition for their outstanding achievement in winning all 10 games at Brookvale Oval for 2011. It was the first time in 15 years that the Sea Eagles had won every game at Brookie and the biggest crowd to watch a game on the northern beaches since 1997 roared their approval. Only a Billy Slater try in the final minute of play prevented Manly from inflicting a nil score on the Storm for the first time since the 2008 grand final.
Parramatta v Sydney Roosters
Seemingly headed for their worst season since 1972, the Eels claimed more unwanted history last Friday night when they suffered their third golden point loss for the year. They became only the second club to play four golden point games in one season (Canberra were the first, winning four from four in 2006) and the first to lose three games in the over-time period in the one year. The Eels are also the first team to lose three games by a single point since Cronulla in 2007. Parramatta’s unimposing record in golden point is 10 games for two wins, six losses and two draws.
Canterbury v Newcastle
The freakish try-scoring ability of Canterbury fullback Ben Barba carried him to new heights last Saturday night when his second four-pointer propelled him to a record season’s tally for a Bulldogs’ No. 1. It was no ordinary effort, either, as Barba miraculously dragged in a Jonathon Wright kick and touched down millimetres inside the dead-ball line. Barba’s 19th try for 2011 eclipsed the 1999 record of Rod Silva and brought him within two of the NRL’s leading tryscorer Nathan Merritt.
Canberra v Penrith
The Canberra Raiders might not have managed to send retiring captain Alan Tongue out on a winning note in his final game at Canberra Stadium but at least the 12-year veteran scored a try in his final game on home soil. It was Tongue’s first four-pointer of the season and the 31st of his career. Tongue was not the only player to end a lengthy try-drought last Saturday night. Panthers halfback Luke Walsh touched down for the first time in 42 games.
North Queensland v Cronulla
North Queensland halfback Johnathan Thurston joined the select band of 40 players to have scored 1,000 points at premiership level when he converted the second try scored by talented front row rookie Jason Taumalolo at Dairy Farmers Stadium last Saturday night. Thurston, one of the favourites to win the Dally M Medal next week, is also closing in on 1,000 points for the Cowboys. His eight points against the Sharks took him to 963 for the club.
St George Illawarra v Warriors
St George Illawarra winger Brett Morris returned to his best try-scoring form with a four-pointer that few other players could have scored against the Warriors. Morris tip-toed inside the touch-line midway through the first half to level the scores after the Warriors had taken an early 10-0 lead. The four-pointer took him to 19 tries from 18 appearances at WIN Stadium, figures that are beginning to resemble the impact of Brett Stewart at Brookvale Oval.
Brisbane v South Sydney
If Sunday’s game at Suncorp Stadium turns out to be the last time that veteran Broncos captain Darren Lockyer lines up against South Sydney, the Rabbitohs will be a relieved outfit. In 13 games against Souths, Lockyer walked from the field a winner 12 times. His only loss to the Rabbitohs took place in Perth earlier this year, when the Broncos went down 16-12. Sunday’s result gave Lockyer his 100th victory as Brisbane captain. Only Allan Langer (120) won more games as Broncos’ captain.