AROUND THE GROUNDS | Intrust Super Premiership Rd 3
Tail Between Legs of Former Bulldogs
The highly-anticipated clash between Mounties and the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs was made so by the off-season transfers between the two clubs – although only Brad Abbey and Craig Garvey lined up against their old side. The pair looked certain to get one over their former teammates early in the contest, combining for the side’s first try in the first minute before Garvey laid on a second, but it would be the Bulldogs who came from behind for their second win of 2018.
The victory came via doubles to Renouf To’Omaga and Reimis Smith – and the latter has fond memories in the nation’s capital. It was GIO Stadium where Smith debuted in the NRL in 2016, scoring two tries as a late replacement for the Origin-bound Josh Morris, and with more four-pointers he will push for a second appearance in the top grade.
Wyong Get out of Jail… Again
An extraordinary come-from-behind win for the Wyong Roos would be many onlookers’ highlight from Round 3, with the 2017 grand finalists overcoming an 18-2 half-time deficit to sink the Western Suburbs Magpies 23-22. With scores level in the dying stages, it was halfback Mitch Cornish who calmly slotted the field goal to claim two competition points.
It is the second time in three weeks that the Roos have added a single point at the death to win, with Paul Momirovski making the most of his chance against the Jets in Round 1. Wyong, however, have been patchy at best in their three games to date; in between the two one-point wins was a 42-6 drubbing at the hands of Mounties, and coach Rip Taylor will be asking for more from his men.
Tigers unite to Support Lower Grade
Having suffered a heartbreaking 9-7 defeat at the hands of the Brisbane Broncos on Friday night, you could have forgiven Wests Tigers players for not wanting to get out of bed on Saturday morning. Yet by the time the Western Suburbs Magpies’ Round 3 clash with Wyong rolled around, the players were back at Campbelltown Sports Stadium to take in the Intrust Super Premiership.
Chris Lawrence, Josh Reynolds, Luke Brooks, Russell Packer, Corey Thompson and Kevin Naiqama were among the players present in the stands, along with coach Ivan Cleary, who spoke with Nine’s Wide World of Sports at half-time. Unfortunately for Cleary’s men, however, they must have been experiencing de ja vu at full-time, when yet another last-minute loss cruelled the Western Suburbs club.
Dragons off the Mark, Leave Bears Winless
The competition’s two teams yet to register a point met in Shellharbour on Saturday afternoon, but it was the home side which would come away with the points, accounting for North Sydney with a 22-4 win.
The Dragons, highly fancied for the premiership in 2018, got the win in scrappy conditions; an error-riddled contest which also saw 30 missed tackles for the home side and 44 for the Bears. It wasn’t pretty, but it gets St George Illawarra off the bottom of the ladder – where the Bears will sit for another week.
Luai Demands NRL Opportunity
In the hours following the news about Nathan Cleary’s knee injury, speculation about the Panthers’ replacement was rife – and when Intrust Super Premiership five-eighth Jarome Luai was kept in the team for Saturday’s clash with the Warriors, many believed it was a sign that he would be overlooked for NRL duties. If that were the case, he did his best to change head coach Anthony Griffin’s mind with a match-winning performance at St Marys Leagues Stadium.
The Samoan international was at the centre of everything for the Panthers, laying on the side’s first two tries before scoring his own late in the game. While his defensive effort against the Warriors’ Blake Ayshford was partially to blame for a try earlier in the contest, his attacking prowess will help his case for an NRL debut in Round 4.
Tough Start for Flanagan Junior
Highly-rated youngster Kyle Flanagan had his first taste of regular-season open-age Rugby League on Sunday afternoon and while his Jets didn’t come away with the desired outcome, he will be pleased to get the first game under his belt. Flanagan, alongside halves partner Jesse Marschke, pulled the strings for the Jets, who overcame a poor start to come within striking distance of the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles.
Unsurprisingly, Flanagan’s father and Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks head coach Shane was in attendance at HE Laybutt Fields, while a number of Manly players were on hand to watch the Sea Eagles take the home-ground win.
Blacktown Top Table for First Time
The Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles, who first entered the Intrust Super Premiership for the 2017 season, will be pleased to look at the ladder at Round 3’s end – and see their club at the top of it.
With a Round 1 draw and two successive wins, the Sea Eagles sit alone at the top with five competition points. Losses for the Western Suburbs Magpies and Mounties secured their place, along with an impressive Round 3 win over Newtown.
Partially to thank for the Sea Eagles’ early-season form are their young players, many of whom won the Holden Cup for Manly last year. Sea Eagles fans will be hoping the likes of Manase Fainu, Taniela Paseka and Tom Wright can repeat the effort for Blacktown this season.
Brooks, Moses Reunite at Ringrose
As one of the final two games of the round took place at Ringrose Park, it was watched by housemates and former teammates Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses.
The pair, who took charge of the Wests Tigers at NRL level until midway through the 2017 season, took in the Magpies’ home game, with Eels playmaker Moses supporting his club mates. Unfortunately for the Magpies, it was an afternoon to forget; they let slip a 10-6 half-time lead to lose the game 24-16.