Young guns outdo seasoned veterans
Johnathan Thurston was meant to be the headline act, but the legendary halfback was overshadowed by a couple of much younger teammates on day one of the Downer NRL Auckland Nines.
Speed freaks Gideon Gela-Mosby and Kalyn Ponga combined for eight tries on the opening day as the Cowboys booked their spot in the quarter finals.
Despite tormenting opposition defences, Ponga was quick to shift the praise to his teammates.
"I'm just playing off the back of everyone else really. The boys are helping me heaps," Ponga said after the win over Canberra.
"It kind of helps that I'm playing on the wing. I thought it'd be similar to Sevens or touch which I played a bit of in the past. It kind of suits us outside backs more so than big forwards."
Ponga will head into day two of the Nines two tries behind Gela-Mosby and predicted the try-scoring machine would go close to breaking Bevan French's record haul of eight tries last year.
"Everyone knows that if you see Gideon in space you give the ball to him. I got lucky in that last game, but I'll be looking for Gideon."
Veteran centre Justin O'Neill echoed his sentiments.
"Gideon has got some incredible wheels on him. He's got speed to burn and he's pretty handy with the ball when he needs to be," he told NRL.com.
"If he's got enough room then give him the ball. It's good to see some of the talent come through. There's a lot of skill in them and they back themselves as well which is good to see."
Thrilling finish keeps Canberra in the hunt
Scott Sorensen was the man of the moment as his last-gasp try saw the Canberra Raiders down the Rabbitohs in the most thrilling finish of the day.
Trailing 12-11 with barely any time left on the clock, Sorensen finished off a slick move down the left edge to help secure a crucial win for the Green Machine.
"I was just in the right spot at the right time. I saw a little bit of room, backed up and was lucky enough to get the ball in my hands. It felt good to cross the line and score the winning try," he told NRL.com.
"It doesn't really matter how far behind you are or how much time is left on the board because you're never really out of the game."
Rivalry not lost on recruit
Roosters recruit Paul Carter has been there as a Rabbitoh and now he knows what it's like to be on the other side of the fence of the east-Sydney derby.
In what his first hit-out for his new club, Carter confirmed that just because they were on neutral ground it didn't mean there was any halt in hostilities between the two storied clubs.
"Going into any game against Souths is going to be ultra competitive and we always want to win. There's always going to be that rivalry between the two clubs no matter when and where we play them," he told NRL.com.
"I just kept my cool and played to the game plan. It was good to get the win against them.
"There wasn't much banter between us. There's no bad blood between any of us and I actually get on really well with the boys. It's great to be able to play against them but I'm really enjoying my time at the Roosters and I'm grateful to be here."
Try or no try?
Rabbitohs skipper Bryson Goodwin has lamented referee Tim Roby's decision to deny him a try in the dying stages of his side's 14-7 loss to the Roosters.
The Bunnies were down by one point with two minutes remaining when Goodwin's effort was rubbed out for a double movement.
"As a footy player I thought it was a try, but I don't know because I haven't seen the replay," he told NRL.com.
"The ref said it wasn't a try so we can't change the call.
"I didn't think the ball touched the ground at all, it was all in one movement. I thought it was a try but the scoreboard says different. We probably win the game from there if it's given, but we have to move on."