All the headlines from a bumper weekend of semi-final football in the NSWRL's junior representative competitions.
Dragons upset Minor Premiers to advance through to Grand Final
The fifth-placed St George Dragons have pulled off an incredible upset after defeating Minor Premiers Newcastle Knights 26-10 in theHarvey Norman Tarsha Gale Cup Semi-Final.
The Dragons set the tone early after running in three unanswered tries in the first 10 minutes through Ryshe Faamausili, Stella Tijou and Reuben Cherrington.
Newcastle hit back soon after with back-to-back tries coming through Tori Brazier and Kasey Gaukroger. Tylah Vallance converted one from two to bring her side within striking distance at 14-10.
From there, it was all the Dragons as they ran in three more first half tries as Courageous Afoa bagged herself a double and Reuben Cherrington scored her second for the day.
After an all-out attacking half of footy, defence was clearly the focus for the second half as neither side scored another point for the match, bringing the final score to 26-10 and ending what was a promising season for the Knights.
Sydney Roosters book spot in the big dance
The second Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale Cup Semi-Final saw Sydney Roosters Indigenous Academy comfortably defeat Illawarra Steelers 22-4 at H.E. Laybutt Field in Sydney.
A first half double to Roosters winger Charlize Lloyd-Phillips and a try to Ruby Smith saw the Roosters lead 12-0 heading into halftime.
It was much of the same at the start of the second half as the Zoe Cass and Keilee Joseph both ran in tries to give the Chooks an unassailable 20-0 lead. Smith was successful with a penalty goal in the 41st minute and the game looked out of reach for the second-placed Steelers.
Determined not to be held scoreless, Steelers winger Annabel McDonald crashed over with two minutes remaining bringing the final score to 22-4 and securing a Dragons vs Roosters Grand Final next weekend.
Eels win low scoring battle of the west
Parramatta Eels have secured their spot in the UNE Harold Matthews Cup Grand Final after defeating arch-rivals Penrith Panthers 14-6 at H.E. Laybutt Field in Sydney.
Suliasi Aho opened the Eels account after just six minutes although the Panthers hit right back through Billy Scott. With both kickers failing to convert, scores were locked at 4-4 heading into halftime.
Despite the Panthers best defensive efforts, the Eels scored tries in quick succession through Joshua Alhazim and Yehya Ayache in the 40th and 47th minutes. Ethan Sanders missed both conversions although he had a chance to redeem himself in the 48th minute off the back of a penalty, and this time he wouldn’t be denied, bringing the final score to 14-6.
With the Grand Final being played at Leichhardt Oval, the Eels will be feeling very confident as they take on Minor Premiers Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.
Undefeated Sea Eagles fly high in Semi-Final
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles have continued their unbeaten 2021 season after defeating Western Suburbs Magpies 32-12 in the UNE Harold Matthews Cup Semi-Final at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney.
Sea Eagles winger Eli Sagala opened their account after only six minutes and TJ Herring’s conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
The two sides went back and forth, and it was Solomone Saukuru who cracked the game open in the 18th minute. Soon after, the Magpies found themselves in front after winger Ofele Lene crashed over in the 22nd minute.
With the Magpies in the lead, the Sea Eagles proved why they are the competition benchmark after a four-pointer to Latu Fainu opened the flood gates. The Sea Eagles ran in four more unanswered tries stretching their lead out to 32-8 after 48 minutes.
The Magpies would have the final say of the game through Faaletino Tavana who went over in the 53rd minute bringing the final score to 32-12 and locking in a Sea Eagles vs Eels Grand Final next weekend.
Penalty goal helps Raiders edge out Sea Eagles
Canberra Raiders have booked their spot in the UNE SG Ball Cup Grand Final with a 20-18 victory over Manly Warringah Sea Eagles on Saturday.
With the Raiders finishing the season as the most potent attacking side in the competition, and the Sea Eagles finishing as the best defensive side, the first Semi-Final proved to be an entertaining one.
The green machine certainly lived up to their regular season form and came out firing, piling on all of their three tries in just nine minutes. Mitchell Spencer was able to convert all three and the Sea Eagles soon found themselves down 18-0.
It was uncharacteristic of the Sea Eagles although they showed plenty of fight to claw their way back into the game. Daniel O’Donnell crashed over in the 14th minute and Jamie Humphreys converted to bring them within 12 points.
Mitchell Spencer kicked a penalty goal in the 24th minute in what would be the Raiders’ final points of the match.
Manly hooker Daniel O’Donnell bagged himself a double 10 minutes later and Humphreys converted to bring the score to 20-12 at halftime.
Defence was impressive from both sides in the second half with only Manly scoring through fullback Kaeo Weekes, after he was able to capitalise on a quick play the ball by throwing a dummy and crashing over on the left edge. Humphreys again converted to make the score 20-18, and there would be no further points scored in the second half as Canberra made their way through to next week’s Grand Final.
Steelers edge closer to Premiership glory after defeating Roosters in points fest
Illawarra Steelers have defeated Sydney Roosters 42-32 to book a spot in the UNE SG Ball Cup Grand Final next weekend.
The Roosters opened the scoring at H.E. Laybutt Field through winger Kyron Fekitoa after seven minutes. With the Roosters in the lead, the Steelers began to wrestle back momentum as they piled on four unanswered tries. The Roosters hit back through Jordan Swann who brought the score to 24-10 at the break.
Fekitoa and Steelers five-eighth Junior Amone both scored hat-tricks for the match and further tries to Corey Ross, Ethan King from the Roosters and Tyrell Sloane for the Steelers kept the scoreboard ticking over. With plenty of exciting footy on show from both sides, it was the goal kicking of Alexander Lobb from the Steelers, who kicked seven from seven, which helped push his side out to a 10-point lead.
Illawarra Steelers will now face off against Canberra Raiders in next week’s Grand Final.