Monday Morning Halfback: Round 16

Two longstanding streaks came to an end over the weekend, Steve Matai continued his impressive resume of big hits while Queensland retained the Women's Interstate Challenge shield for a 17th consecutive year.

Cowboys' streak comes to an end

North Queensland's 11-match winning streak ended with a dramatic second-half capitulation against the Sharks at 1300SMILES Stadium. Everything looked to be under control early in the game with the home side racing to an 18-point lead at home. 

But the Sharks found and exploited some defensive frailties in the middle of the Cowboys defence to run in 24 unanswered points in the second half to stop the steak dead in its tracks.

When asked whether his side missed Johnathan Thurston's presence against the Sharks, North Queensland coach Paul Green replied "It doesn't matter. He didn't play; it's not worth talking about."

Cowboys centre Kane Linnett admitted his side missed their leader. "Yeah [we missed Thurston's composure] probably towards the end. He comes up with some of the big plays and the boys jump on the back of that." 

Cowboys enforcer James Tamou says Saturday's 24-18 loss was a "wake-up call" that his side needed after the most unconvincing of 11-game win streaks came to an end at the hands of the Sharks.

North Queensland played their fair share of 'get out of gaol free' cards over the three perfect months which was underscored by nail-biter after nail-biter.

"We were trying to play too hard when we just needed to build pressure. 11 in a row, it's been a long 11 weeks and it's definitely a wake-up call," Tamou said.

While Thurston may have indeed been able to calm his side and guide them home, the Cowboys will have learned a lot from the loss.

Scoring streak is over

In cricket, Australians refer to 87 as the "devil's number" because it is 13 away from a century. It proved unlucky for South Sydney halfback Adam Reynolds, whose remarkable point scoring streak came to an end on Friday night. 

The Rabbitohs' No.7 had scored a point in every one of his 86 games since making his NRL debut against the Roosters in Round 1, 2012. The streak ended in game 87, just 20 minutes into his side's clash with Manly when he copped a blow to the head while making a tackle and was subsequently ruled out of taking any further part in the game through the concussion rule. While South Sydney went on to win the game, their playmaker failed to score a point for the first time in his career.

Matai's bell-ringer

Earlier this year, Darren Lockyer was commentating on the Women's Test match when he labelled Kiwi Ferns back-rower Teuila Fotu-Moala 'The Jukebox', "because the hits just keep on coming".

After Steve Matai's contender for hit of the season on Rabbitoh Dave Tyrrell on Friday night, it wouldn't be the worst nickname for Manly's original hitman. 

The Sea Eagles centre is no Dexys Midnight Runners; he has a long list of big hits since his debut in 2005. Perhaps only The Beetles have had more No.1 hits. 

"At the time I was that winded. Somebody asked if I was OK and I couldn't talk. I didn't even see him coming," Tyrrell said after the game. 

Based on his colleague's tweets, his latest hit just rocketed to No.1 with a bullet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women's game showcased

The Queensland side retained the Nellie Doherty Cup for the 17th straight year after surviving a second-half onslaught from New South Wales to escape with a 4-4 draw at 1300SMILES Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The game – streamed live to a healthy audience on NRL.com and later replayed on Fox Sports – was a tense, gritty contest underscored by desperate, frantic defence including a couple of massive hits.

While both sides were disappointed with their handling errors, the contest was a good, tough endorsement for the women's game.

"It was just a hard defensive game," lock Tarah Westera told NRL.com. 

"We had nine debutants and we really missed having our half [Ali Brigginshaw], but they lost [fullback Sam Hammond] early and didn't have the experience we had, so it was pretty even.

"Our defence was awesome though."

Queensland has still never lost to the Blues, but at the full-time siren, several New South Wales players embraced as if they had won. The NSW side has come a long way and both states will be keen for the next encounter.

Celebrating Trumper

Sunday marked 100 years since the great cricketer Victor Trumper passed away. Trumper was a man of principle, whose stature and belief were instrumental in the introduction of rugby league to Australia.

NRL historian Terry Williams has penned an interesting recount of Trumper and his influence to Australian sport for NRL.com, it is well worth the read.