AROUND THE GROUNDS | ISP Rd 6
BRENNAN KEEPS A KEEN EYE
Guiding the Penrith Panthers to Intrust Super Premiership honours last season, Garth Brennan returned to Panthers Stadium in Round 6 – though this time as the opposition’s NRL coach.
Sporting the Gold Coast Titans’ colours, Brennan emerged from the Stadium’s tunnel well before his side’s NRL clash with the Panthers, watching with intrigue as his former chargers careered to victory over the ISP Bulldogs.
Ironically, it was a day of homecomings for many on show in the match also.
A premiership-winner with the ISP Panthers in 2017, new Bulldogs fullback Mason Cerruto returned to Penrith for the first time since he departed at the end of last season. Cerruto joined fellow Panther-turn-Bulldog Jack Nelson in looking to bring down their former club.
But it was ex-Bulldogs pairing Adam Keighran and Andy Saunders who had the last laugh – the Panthers running out eventual 34-16 victors on the afternoon.
BRACEY BEARS ALL
Channel 9's Wide World of Sports host – and North Sydney’s ‘Number 1 ticket holder’ – James Bracey was on hand as the Bears played their first game of 2018 at the historic North Sydney Oval.
On what was ‘Old Bears Day', Bracey was presented the club’s ticketing honours, all before Shane Millard’s men staged a remarkable come-from-behind win – overturning an 18-point deficit to snatch an unlikely 25-24 win in the match’s closing stages.
18-year-old halfback Dean Hawkins’ 80th-minute field goal ensured the Bears claimed the inaugural Jason Taylor Cup against the ladder-leading Magpies.
DEZIE’S EARLY PREZZIE
Darren ‘Dezie’ Nicholls kicked off his birthday celebrations a day early, leading the Dragons to a fourth-consecutive Intrust Super Premiership NSW win.
Turning 29 on Sunday (15 April), Nicholls played a steady hand in his side’s 20-16, Round 6 victory over the 2017 Grand Finalists.
Mat Head’s side now boasts a 4-2 record, unbeaten since their Round 2 defeat at the hands of the Newtown Jets.
JETS WIN BIG ON KNIGHTS’ HORROR DAY
Newtown’s 58-4 win over the Newcastle Knights was the biggest winning margin of 2018, and the equal-biggest winning margin for any club since Round 18 of the 2017 season.
The 11-tries-to-one, 54-point victory over the Knights all-but mirrored Penrith’s 54-0 win against Blacktown in 2017 – a day where then-Panthers halfback Darren Nicholls tallied 18 points of his own with one try, and seven goals.
For the Jets in Cessnock, this time it was their No.7 who hauled 18 points.
Touted halfback Kyle Flanagan enjoyed a day to remember, scoring a four-pointer and kicking seven goals from 11 attempts in his side’s third win of the season.
WARRIORS BOUNCE BACK
The Warriors shook off the ill-effects from their shock 32-0 drubbing at the hands of the Wests Magpies in Round 5, scoring a big 34-4 win over the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles at Mt Smart Stadium in Round 6.
Captain Mason Lino lead from the front, scoring a try and kicking five goals, in a fine attacking display from last year’s preliminary finalists.
The Warriors will now prepare for an enticing Round 7 clash with the Dragons next Saturday (21 April).
TIGHT AT THE TOP
At the end of Round 6, a staggering five teams sit level on 8 competition points – a further four teams just one win off the pace on 6 points.
Wests and Canterbury-Bankstown missed their chances to go to the top of the ladder on a would-be 10 competition points, with losses to the Bears and Panthers, respectively.