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Around the Grounds | Junior Reps Elimination Finals

The opening week of the NSWRL Junior Representatives Finals Series has tossed up plenty of thrilling action and results. 

Sharks power to dominant Harold Matthews Cup win

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks have booked their Semi-final spot in the Harold Matthews Cup after an impressive 28-4 win over Parramatta Eels at St Marys Leagues Stadium.

The Sharks were led admirably around the park by their forward pack, including prop Max Araullo, back-rower Jasper Catton and lock Alex Challenor, while fullback and captain Chevy Stewart had a strong game from the back.

The Sharks needed only a minute to open the scoring on the back of a powerful surge from prop Araullo. Five-eighth Ashton Simmonds put up a kick shortly afterwards that was spilled in-goal by the Parramatta defence and centre Jayze Tuigamala pounced on the scraps to score. Stewart landed the conversion for a 6-0 lead.

A 60-metre run from Stewart put his team on the attack and it wasn’t long before Challenor was taking advantage of the situation. The Sharks lock burst on to a dummy-half pass from Blake Woodger after spotting space back inside before charging towards the line to crash over next to the posts. Stewart landed the conversion to extend the lead to 12-0.

The Eels had their chances in the first 40 minutes but were unable to capitalise. Lock Kobi Hurford came close after a nice ball from five-eighth Blaize Talagi but unfortunately lost possession when he was tackled close to the line.

Things went from bad to worse for Parramatta when winger Luke Maroun left the field after showing plenty of desperation in defence to shut down an attacking raid. It wasn’t long before the Sharks had another crack after Catton unleashed a big run that was backed up by Challenor.

The very next play, halfback Bryce Sait fired a pass out for winger Richard Whalebone to step back inside and past the defence to score. Stewart couldn’t land the sideline conversion, but the Sharks were well in control at 16-0.

The Eels needed something special to spark them and centre Michael Gabrael provided that with arguably the try of the match. Latching on to a pass from halfback Lorenzo Talataina from 60 metres out, the Eels centre brushed off a tackle from Albert Litisoni before standing up Stewart on his way to the line to give them some hope at 16-4.

The Sharks had other ideas and well-deserved tries to Catton and Araullo put the exclamation point on an impressive performance and left them only one win away now from a Grand Final.

Click here for the Harold Matthews Cup Elimination Final results


Bulldogs rally for gutsy SG Ball Cup victory

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs winger Jordi Mazzone scored a stunning try to steer his team into a SG Ball Cup Semi-final after a hard-fought 16-14 win over Balmain Tigers at St Marys Leagues Stadium.

The Bulldogs showed plenty of fight to rally from a 10-0 deficit midway through the first half and then even more resolve to defend their line as a gallant Tigers outfit fought right to the very end.

The game was ultimately decided midway through the second half when Bulldogs halfback and captain Joseph O’Neill put a cross-field kick across which sat up nicely for Mazzone to pluck out of the air and sprint away from the defence to score.

The Bulldogs had scraped into the finals series in sixth position and got off to a slow start after Tigers No.7 Jonathan Ibrahim put back-rower Leo Nasio over the line with a nice short ball to take a 4-0 lead.

The Tigers backed that effort up a short time later when five-eighth Emmanuel Di Bartolo fired a well-timed, cut-out pass for winger Joseph Delle to score in the corner. Prop Tony Sukkar landed the sideline conversion and the Tigers were in control at 10-0.

The Bulldogs needed a spark and fullback Joash Papalii – who had already made one daring and impressive run up the sideline - answered the call when he switched to dummy-half with Braye Porter coming off the bench to take over the duties at the back.

Porter did well to strip the Tigers of possession one-on-one as they were carting the ball off their own line just before half-time and Papalii gave his side some hope after burrowing his way over from dummy-half to close the margin to 10-4.

It was Papalii again who stepped up when play resumed after launching another dash out of dummy-half to grab his second try of the match. Jonathan Sua made no mistake with the conversion and the scores were locked up at 10-all.

Mazzone then had the Bulldogs fans at the ground cheering loudly after his long-range effort with Sua adding the extras for a 16-10 lead.

The Tigers scored an impressive try of their own after Di Bartolo released Delle down the sideline and the winger shrugged off Porter in defence before outsprinting Mazzone to score. Sukkar was unable to land the tough conversion from the sideline to leave the score at 16-14.

That set up a frantic final 10 minutes with both sides having their opportunities to score, but it was the Bulldogs who held on to advance to the Semi-finals next week.

Click here for the SG Ball Cup Elimination Final results.


Knights hang on for thrilling Tarsha Gale Cup win

Newcastle Knights have made it through to a Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale Cup Semi-final after a thrilling 22-20 win over St George Illawarra Dragons at Ringrose Park.

The match went down to the very final play with the Dragons pressuring the Knights line before a long pass from fullback Cassey Tohi-Hiku to her outside players with the try-line beckoning went to ground.

Until that point, it had been an absorbing battle between the No.6’s with Knights’ Jesse Southwell, the younger sister of Harvey Norman NSW Sky Blues star Hannah Southwell, going toe-to-toe with Dragons’ Luisa Yaranamua.

The Knights were the first to score after halfback Matilda Jones put a rampaging Mercydes Metcalf over the line, with Southwell converting for a 6-0 lead. Unfortunately, they came up with an error from the kick-off which provided the Dragons with a chance to get straight back into the match.

Back-rower Tyla Amiatu made the Knights pay when she barged her way past the goal-line defence to reduce the deficit to 6-4 and then the Dragons took an 8-6 lead after Tohi-Hiku fired a long pass for Angel Mikaere to score in the corner.

The back-and-forth action wasn’t over yet with Knights winger Kasey Gaukroger scoring just before half-time to put the Knights back in front at 10-8.

Southwell stepped up in the second half to put back-rower Tori Brazier over the line before landing the conversion for a 16-8 lead. She then produced arguably the play of the game when she double-pumped a perfectly executed short pass to put Jules Kirkpatrick into a hole, with the Knights lock making a tremendous, searching run to outsprint the defence and score. Southwell added the extras to have the Knights in charge at 22-8.

Yaranamua returned serve when she put a rampaging Amiatu over for her second try of the day and converted to leave the score at 22-14. She then set the scene for a grandstand finish after putting Bulou Buiniqio over for a try and landed the extras again to reduce the margin to 22-20.

The Dragons’ luck ran out when Yaranamua was forced to leave the field for a HIA after getting her head into the wrong spot while attempting to tackle Southwell and the Knights held on for a thrilling win.

Click here for the Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale Elimination Final results.

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.