The stars of NSW were on show again in an enthralling final Day Two of the Auckland Nines tournament, entertaining a passionate crowd desperate for the Warriors to claim an historic victory at home.
VB Blues stalwart Ryan Hoffman powered the Warriors throughout the tournament, capitalising on their energetic domestic support to reach the final and come so close to celebrating a momentous win.
“It shows the passion Auckland has for us and rugby league,” Hoffman told nswrl.com.au The Kiwis love having a good time and they’re certainly showing it this weekend.”
Leaving fans wanting more, Hoffman suggested bringing State of Origin to New Zealand.
“I’d love to see Origin over here because you know they’d pack it,” Hoffman said. “Imagine an Origin out here.
“We take it to Melbourne because there’s an NRL team there – well there’s also an NRL team in Auckland. I’d love to see it happen.
“Origin is such a fantastic product of rugby league. Why wouldn’t we try to showcase it wherever we can?”
Savouring an outstanding 22-4 triumph over the Warriors, new offseason acquisition, Mitch Cornish was instrumental in the Parramatta Eels’ confidence-boosting Nines success.
Greg Bird and David Mead were also key for the surprise packets of the tournament, the Gold Coast Titans, achieving an impressive semi-final result.
The high-octane Newcastle Knights backline that ignited their NSW Cup Premiership run last season, starred again for their side. Aiming to play a big part in the Knights’ NRL bounce-back season in 2016, Nathan Ross, Jake Mamo and Jaelen Feeney enhanced their first-grade aspirations, who were scintillating for the Knights to reach the final stages before bowing out in the quarter final against the eventual victors, the Eels.
“That’s three quarter final exits in a row now at the Auckland Nines,” Ross told nswrl.com.au. “We started off scrappy at the beginning of the tournament but strung a couple of wins together. Hopefully it’s good signs for what’s coming this year.”
With the 2016 Auckland Nines done and dusted, the countdown is on to the season kick off – and it’s set to be a blockbuster year of exciting rugby league for NSW fans.
Day Two Results
Sydney Roosters 26 d Melbourne Storm 7
Parramatta Eels 24 d South Sydney Rabbitohs 11
Newcastle Knights 21 d Wests Tigers 16
North Queensland Cowboys 15 d Penrith Panthers 11
Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs 14 d Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 8
New Zealand Warriors 15 d Brisbane Broncos 8
Gold Coast Titans 24 d St George Illawarra Dragons 12
Canberra Raiders 18 d Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 6
Parramatta Eels 12 d Newcastle Knights 8
Melbourne Storm 14 d North Queensland Cowboys 6
Warriors 16 d Canberra Raiders 8
Gold Coast Titans 24 d Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 4
Parramatta Eels 17 d Melbourne Storm 8
Warriors 22 d Gold Coast Titans 4
Parramatta Eels 22 d Warriors 4
TEAM OF THE TOURNAMENT