Blues Shine Brightly at Auckland Nines
Rain couldn't dampen the spirits of a passionate crowd, with a host of talented players from NSW taking centre stage in an action-packed day at the Auckland Nines.
Jack Bird, Josh Dugan, Ryan Hoffman, James Tamou, Greg Bird and Jake Mamo were just a small collection of stars featuring in the best talent on show.
Determined to go one better after last year's grand final loss in the Nines decider, Bird brought his A-game to steer the Cronulla Sharks to win both games and stand alone on top of their pool.
"We were unlucky last year," Bird told nswrl.com.au. "If we play well in this competition it lays the platform for the year ahead. This it where it starts."
VB Blues superstar James Tamou powered the North Queensland Cowboys who sit in a four-way tie in their pool.
"We've come with the mindset of not knowing what to expect on the field but we have high expectations," Tamou told nswrl.com.au.
The surprise packets of the tournament, the Manly Sea Eagles, remain undefeated after crucial spirited performances from NSW Cup stand outs Jayden Hodges and new acquisition, Nathan Green.
Although unexpected, Green delivered the grubber kick to set up the match-winning try on the final play for Manly.
"I didn't know I had the kick in the game either," Green told nswrl.com.au. "I saw the kick was on and it was the final play of the game, so I gave it a crack and luckily we came away with the win."
The action continues tomorrow in the final Day 2 of the Auckland Nines, and it's assured that the very best of NSW will be on show yet again.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 14 d Sydney Roosters 13
Melbourne Storm 14 d Parramatta Eels 4
North Queensland Cowboys 28 d Newcastle Knights 12
Penrith Panthers 23 d Wests Tigers 7
New Zealand Warriors 34 d Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs 8
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 11 d Brisbane Broncos 8
Canberra Raiders 28 d St George Illawarra 20
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 23 d Gold Coast Titans 12
Jillaroos 11 d Kiwi Ferns 4
Parramatta Eels 14 d Sydney Roosters 11
Melbourne Storm 18 d South Sydney Rabbitohs 12
Newcastle Knights 15 d Penrith Panthers 14
Wests Tigers 13 d North Queensland Cowboys 12
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 15 d New Zealand Warriors 12
Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs 15 d Brisbane Broncos 13
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 17 d St George Illawarra Dragons 8
Gold Coast Titans 26 d Canberra Raiders 15