Round 1 wrap: Nofoaluma stars
Newcastle, Blacktown Send Season off to Flyer
The Intrust Super Premiership NSW got off to a fitting start on Friday afternoon, when the Newcastle Knights and Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles played out a 28-28 draw at McDonald Jones Stadium. It was a promising sign for the competition, which saw nine draws in season 2017.
The season opener wasn’t the only close encounter, either; while the Dragons’ clash with Mounties could easily have been levelled with a late penalty goal, the Wyong Roos needed a last-minute Paul Momirovski field goal to edge in front of the Newtown Jets.
Soosemea, Davis Grab First Hat-tricks
It took just two games for a player to notch up a hat-trick in the Intrust Super Premiership, with a classy trebly coming for Lewis Soosemea in the Warriors’ win over the North Sydney Bears. The haul included an impressive cross-field effort for his second in the 64th minute, before he grabbed his third just three minutes later.
Soosemea would not be the only player to take a treble, however; Wentworthville centre Nathan Davis complete the same feat in the Magpies 32-24 upset of the Panthers on Sunday. Adding in Davis's six goals, it resulted in a 24-point individual haul.
Nofoaluma Stars as Wests make Winning Return
The Western Suburbs Magpies marked a successful return to the Intrust Super Premiership NSW, defeating the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 32-10 at ANZ Stadium. The Magpies, who last took part in the competition in 2012, were heavily stacked with NRL talent and shut out the Bulldogs in the second half, in an effort which is sure to please coach Brett Hodgson. The wealth of experience in the Magpies outfit didn’t hurt their NRL affiliate’s chances, either; the Wests Tigers stole two competition points from the Sydney Roosters in an upset 10-8 victory.
In a highlight of the Magpies’ win, David Nofoaluma scored a double after being surprisingly dropped for the Round 1 clash. Nofoaluma, who played every game for the Tigers last season and scored eight tries, returned to the NRL team sheds later in the afternoon to lead the team song after the memorable win.
Cleeland Injury Makes Matters Worse for Dogs
The Bulldogs were unable to get their season off to a winning start in either senior grade on Saturday – and an untimely injury to star Intrust Super Premiership five-eighth Josh Cleeland is sure to rub salt into the wound. The 2017 Five-Eighth of the Year left the field midway through the second half in a worrying sign for the club.
The official word is that Cleeland has suffered a high ankle sprain, although a likely return date will not be set until he goes for scans. It is likely to force a reshuffle for next week, with Nu Brown one contender to take the No.6 jersey.
McQueen Comes Back, Calls upon Former Souths Colleagues
It was an opposite fortune for six–time Queensland Origin representative Chris McQueen, who made his return from a neck injury in the Magpies’ season opener. McQueen spoke with NSWRL.com.au about the comeback.
“It was pretty scary,” McQueen said. “Injuries happen and I got a lot of advice before the surgery, so I was never in doubt that I could get back on the field.”
After the game, McQueen was spotted talking with Roosters five-eighth Luke Keary, who himself is currently sidelined with a broken jaw. Just 10 minutes later, he was seen with former coach and current NRL Referees High Peformance Coach Michael McGuire. Both Keary and McGuire were with McQueen at the South Sydney Rabbitohs when they won the NRL Telstra Premiership in 2014 – and perhaps their advice could see the second-rower begin his path back to the top.
Differential Penalty Costs the Dragons
Early on in the St George Illawarra Dragons’ clash with Mounties, it looked like having a similar result to their last meeting; after Jai Field scored the match-winner in the dying moments of the 2017 elimination final, he opened the scoring two minutes into yesterday’s encounter. Mounties came back, however, and when they led 22-20 with less than three minutes remaining, it was still anyone’s game.
When the referee blew his whistle in front of the posts late in the game, the home side looked to have been handed the win on a platter – leading many onlookers to scratch their head when the quick tap was taken. Coming from a scrum, however, it was a differential penalty – a rule which rarely has an impact on modern Rugby League – and the penalty goal attempt could not be taken.
While the Dragons will be disappointed with their first-round hit-out in the Intrust Super Premiership, the club had better success in the NRL on Thursday night. A key part of that game was former Mounties prop Paul Vaughan, who was at WIN Stadium to take in the lower grade.
O’Meley Makes Wyong Return
Round 1 saw several junior reps and Holden Cup stars make their debuts in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW, and one of those was Wyong winger Nick O’Meley.
O’Meley, son of NSW True Blues and NSW Under-18 coach Mark O’Meley, spoke with NSWRL.com.au in February about the feeling of being back at his junior club.
“Being my junior club, it was quite welcoming,” O’Meley said. “I’ve enjoyed it, being home, training with everyone. It’s been physical, hard, as expected.”
The young winger was presented his debut jersey by the Roos’ elder statesman and captain Mitch Williams, who himself had a good day out at Morry Breen Oval.
Sold-out Penrith Makes Memorable Atmosphere
In the wise words of Penrith supremo Phil Gould, the people out West “love their Sunday footy.” That fact was proven true on Sunday afternoon when the full house sign went up at Panthers stadium – and in an even more pleasing sight, many made their way into the ground for the NRL's two curtain-raisers.
The 21,500-strong home crowd had a mixed afternoon before the NRL game, first watching the Panthers defeat the Eels 26-18 in the Jersey Flegg Cup before the defending premiers went down to Wentworthville 32-24 in the Intrust Super Premiership. The Panthers' entertaining comeback in the NRL clash, however, was sure to justify the price of admission.