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South Sydney Rabbitohs 16
Canterbury Bulldogs 14
Sydney Football Stadium
Report by TONY MEGAHEY,
Rugby League Week (Vol. 30, No. 5)
|HOW IT WAS WON: Souths'
early-season hunger was greater than the Bulldogs, as was their enthusiasm. The biggest
front row in the premiership rotated four men to match the Bulldogs' pack, and in a game
decided by seconds and centimetres, the finishing brilliance of Darrell Trindall and Craig
Wing secured a "photo finish" win.
IT WAS LOST: With the game looking safe, the Bulldogs gave away vital possession with
a penalty, a dropped ball and a scrum lost against the feed. When the pressure mounted in
the second half, it didn't help last year's runners-up that a couple of their key men were
well below their best.
THE GAMEBREAKER: Trindall set up a spectacular
first-half try and handled twice in the final movement, which saw Wing plunge over in the
corner as the timekeeper was getting set to reach for the siren.
STICKY TRICKY: Feisty halfbacks Ricky
"Sticky" Stuart and Darrell "Tricky" Trindall exchanged punches at the
scrumbase early in the match and continued to niggle each other all afternoon.
SUPER SIX: Souths took the ball 99 metres in six
tackles in the 68th minute after Stuart had lost the ball on the Rabbitoh line. Souths
spent the remainder of the match camped in Canterbury territory, eventually completing
their great escape a minute from time.
KEY PLAY: With the Bulldogs looking certain to close
it out, Willie Talau was penalised and then "binned" for holding back a Rabbitoh
support player, giving Souths possession and a sniff of victory.
THEY SAID IT: "We won our first game last
season against Auckland, in Auckland, and finished third-last. We aren't getting carried
away," said Souths skipper Scan Garlick. "The halves can't do the business
unless the front-rowers give them the time and space and up front we did that today,"
offered Mark Carroll. "They got us for enthusiasm. The circumstances were there for
Souths today but it'll he different next time," said Bulldog hooker Jason
MIXED BAG: Big forward Matt Parsons showed plenty of
heart, but almost cruelled Souths' chances with a string of mistakes in the dying stages.
RARITY: Darren Smith, last season's leading
tryscorer and one of the game's best opportunists, lost the ball with the line open, while
Stuart twice lost the ball in his own quarter.
SIZE ISN'T EVERYTHING: Weighing in at well under
80kg, Wing more than matched the previous night's deeds by another lightweight,
Parramatta's Luke Burt. Both are in first grade to stay.
SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS 16 (Brett Rodwell, Sean
Garlick, Craig Wing tries; Darrell Trindall 2 goals) defeated CANTERBURY BULLDOGS 14
(Bradley Clyde, Rod Silva tries; Daryl Halligan 3 goals). Scrums: South
Sydney Rabbitohs 9-7. Penalties: South Sydney Rabbitohs 9-8. Crowd:
9673. Goalkickers: South Sydney Rabbitohs - Darrell Trindall 2 from 3.
Canterbury Bulldogs - Daryl Halligan 3 from 3. Referee: Sean
WHEN THEY SCORED: 8 min: Souths 6-0 (Brett Rodwell
try, Darrell Trindall goal). 20 min: 6-all (Brad Clyde try, Daryl Halligan
goal). 31 min: Canterbury 12-6 (Rod Silva try, Daryl Halligan goal). 46 min:
Canterbury 14-6 (Daryl Halligan goal). 49 min: Canterbury 14-12 (Sean Garlick try,
Darrell Trindall goal). 79 min: Souths 16-14 (Craig Wing try).
Canterbury Bulldogs 14
St George-Illawarra Dragons 16
Report by TONY MEGAHEY,
Rugby League Week (Vol. 30, No. 6)
|HOW IT WAS WON: After a
welter of Dragon mistakes, Craig Smith was penalised and put on report for allegedly using
his knees in a tackle, allowing Daryl Halligan to level at 18-all. Sustained Bulldog
pressure then saw prop Barry Ward stand out of a scrum and send Willie Talau across for
HOW IT WAS LOST: The Dragons
slaughtered two tries with the line open, twice lost scrums against the feed, kicked out
on the full and conceded penalties in easy range for the radar-like Halligan.
THE GAMEBREAKER: Nuggety prop Barry Ward was the man
of the match. He powered over from close range late in the first half, stood at
five-eighth to bust tackles and gave the ball to Talau on a platter for the match-winning
try. Two long-range goals by Halligan - who is yet to miss in '99 - were also crucial.
THE BIG TACKLES: New father of twins, Jason
Hetherington, put together two more little rippers when he made crunching ball-and-all
tackles on Dragon attackers set to score.
KEY PLAYS: The old combination of Ricky Stuart
hitting Bradley Clyde with those familiar spiral passes that led to tries, and Stuart and
Darren Britt contriving for two scrum wins against the feed.
DRAGON DISASTERS: Trent Barrett described the
afternoon as his worst in football as the combination of two specialist five-eighths
continued to falter. Playing two right centres - Mark Coyne and Paul McGregor - hasn't
worked either. The outside backs continue to alternate, with Coyne going to the wing and
Timmins playing alongside McGregor.
POOR PREPARATION: Another Mundine pre-game outburst
again put pressure on everybody at Kogarah, including the players and officials. Opposing
players have little time for the $600,000 man who demands respect but offers little in
return. Humility isn't in his vocabulary.
IN SPITE OF IT ALL: For all their mistakes, the
Dragons still made enough breaks to win the game. Their pace and flair is the envy of
plenty of teams, and when it "gels" somebody is going to cop a hiding.
Saints could quite easily have won both their games.
WISECRACK: "Tell 'The Man" to switch to
boxing and give everybody a break," was one Bulldog's advice for Mundine.
CHANGES: Somebody with a profile in the Saints'
backline has to move, be dropped or make concessions as David Waite's task to accommodate
and keep everybody happy becomes more difficult.
A TIP: Shift Mundine to centre or fullback and let
him play like Andrew Walker at the Roosters. Play Barrett in his best position at
five-eighth where he will find form and confidence
THEY SAID IT: "Barrett is not a halfback, but
as a five-eighth he can be good enough to play for Australia," offered Ricky Stuart.
"You can't manufacture blokes for the most important positions on the field.
You can't play a specialist halfback as a five-eighth, either. I'm no five-eighth
neither is Langer, Taylor or Toovey."
THE HEAT: On a day where the beach would have been a
far better option than the football field, players suffered severe weight loss and even
wingers had to be spelled.
CANTERBURY BULLDOGS 24 (Daryl Halligan, Barry Ward, Willie Talau tries; Daryl
Halligan 6 goals) defeated ST GEORGE-ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 18 (Jamie Ainscough 2,
Anthony Mundine tries; Wayne Bartrim 2, Brad Mackay goals). Scrums:
Canterbury 11-9. Penalties: 6-all. Crowd: 13,497. Goalkickers:
Canterbury - Halligan 6 from 6. Dragons - Bartrim 2 from 4, Mackay 1 from 1. Referee:
WHEN THEY SCORED: 15 min: Canterbury 2-nil (Daryl Halligan goal). 19 min:
Dragons 4-2 (Jamie Ainscough try). 22 min: Canterbury 8-4 (Daryl Halligan try, goal). 29
min: Canterbury 14-4 (Barry Ward try, Daryl Halligan goal). 35 min: Canterbury 14-6 (Brad
Mackay goal). 39 min: Canterbury 14-12 (Anthony Mundine try, Bartrim goal). 45 min:
Canterbury 16-12 (Daryl Halligan goal). 58 min: Dragons 18-16 (Jamie Ainscough try, Wayne
Bartrim goal). 64 min: 18-all. (Daryl Halligan goal) 77 min: Canterbury 24-18 (Willie
Talau try, Daryl Halligan goal).
Canterbury Bulldogs 28
Newcastle Knights 26
Report by JIM MARR,
Rugby League Week (Vol. 30, No. 7)
|HOW IT WAS WON: Throw in
one crunching tackle, a couple of tasty pieces of Rod Silva magic then turn up the heat
for half an hour. That was the recipe for an unbelievable result, given everything
that had happened over the previous 50 minutes.
IT WAS LOST: Still not really sure. One moment the Knights were cruising, threatening
to run up another of those embarrassing scorelines then they lost the plot. Coach
Warren Ryan suggested that the workload in the first 20 minutes, during which referee
Brian Grant caned his charges 8-0 in the penalties, finally caught up with the Knights.
"WELCOME TO AUSTRALIA": Ricky Stuart's
post-match message for former NFL player Greg Smith. The NRL debutant made two
costly errors which helped Canterbury's cause no end as they stormed back from 24-4 down.
HARD TO BELIEVE: The way Stuart and fellow Canberra
recruit Bradley Clyde are battling to impose themselves in Bulldogs colours. Nobody
at Stadium Australia could recall as many Stuart passes failing to find their mark, but
the feisty halfback wasn't looking for excuses. "My passing was the problem. It
wasn't anything to do with combinations, it was me, mate," he conceded.
TURNING POINT: A great 65th-minute tackle on the
unfortunate Smith which turned the ball over on Newcastle's quarter line. Troy Stone
knocked the winger off balance and Steve Reardon bashed him on the way to Silva's second
STAR TURN: Silva is a special player, one of a
handful who can change the shape and direction of a match. He was instrumental in pulling
this one out of the fire, slicing through centrefield to put his team in position for
their first touchdown; turning Smith and Peter Shiels inside out and upside down for
another; then finishing the movement that got the 'Dogs to within snapping distance.
CANTERBURY BULLDOGS 28 (Rod Silva 2, Stephen Hughes,
Daryl Halligan tries; Daryl Halligan 6 goals) defeated NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS 26 (Steve
Walters, Peter Shiels, Lenny Beckett, Andrew Johns tries; Andrew Johns 5 goals).
Scrums: 5-all. Penalties: Canterbury 11-4. Crowd: 26,341.
Goalkickers: Canterbury - Daryl Halligan 6 from 7. Newcastle - Andrew Johns 5
from 5. Referee: Brian Grant.
WHEN THEY SCORED: 6 min: Newcastle (Steve Walters
try, Andrew Johns goal). 16 min: Newcastle 6-2 (Daryl Halligan goal). 19 min: Newcastle
6-4 (Daryl Halligan goal). 28 min: Newcastle 12-4 (Peter Shiels try, Andrew Johns goal).
32 min: Newcastle 18-4 (Lenny Beckett try, Andrew Johns goal). 43 min: Newcastle 24-4
(Andrew Johns try, goal). 51 min: Newcastle 24-10 (Stephen Hughes try, Daryl Halligan
goal). 62 min: Newcastle 26-10 (Andrew Johns goal). 63 min: Newcastle 26-16 (Rod Silva
try, Daryl Halligan goal). 66 min: Newcastle 26-22 (Rod Silva try, Daryl Halligan goal).
69 min: Canterbury 28-26 (Daryl Halligan try, goal).
Melbourne Storm 26
Canterbury Bulldogs 17
Report by DAVID MIDDLETON,
Rugby League Week (Vol. 30, No. 8)
|HOW IT WAS WON: Planning,
patience, power and persistence all played their part in one of the Storm's finest
victories at Olympic Park. The plan was to get around Canterbury's compressed defence with
snappy play from the outside backs. Bai, Ross and Geyer contributed with their slick hands
at the back. The patience shone through in the second half when the NRLs newest team
looked like falling to another powerful second-half performance by the 'Dogs. The
power was supplied by Glenn Lazarus and his able lieutenants Wayne Evans and Robbie
Kearns, who ensured the Storm's troopers kept advancing. The persistence was
personified by halves Hill and Kimmorley, who kept plugging away at the Canterbury line
and ultimately found their way through the maze.
IT WAS LOST: The modern game is littered with examples of teams who have relaxed after
achieving a seven-point "buffer". The Bulldogs appeared to "drop off"
after Ricky Stuart landed a 64th minute field-goal and the Storm pounced.
THE KEY PLAY: An incredible burst by Marcus Bai, who
was released on the left flank by some ball movement that would have done Rugby's Ella
brothers proud. With the cover defence honing in on their target, Bai had no right
to score, but his in-and-away beat Rod Silva and balance and strength did the rest.
Melbourne were back in business just two minutes after Stuart's field-goal.
A FAIR-DINKUM LEGEND (AFL): While Geelong were
performing heroics at the MCG across the road, Canterbury's Hazem El Masri was doing
likewise for the Bulldogs. His leap to claim a Ricky Stuart bomb midway through the
second half was pure Cazaly A Lebanese Rugby League winger claiming a spectacular mark in
Melbourne? We loved to see that!
TEST PREVIEW?: Did Olympic Park fans witness a
preview of next month's Anzac Test with Richard Swain up against Jason Hetherington?
If Swain has his way, he'll be lining up for the Kiwis against Australia at
Homebush on April 23. Swain, whose mother is a New Zealander, announced his
eligibility to play for the Kiwis last week and turned on another blinder against the
incumbent Australian hooker.
THE BEST COMEBACK SINCE... At 30-something, the
career of Melbourne skipper Glenn Lazarus appeared to be on the decline last year.
After a broken ankle in 1997 and another period on the sidelines late in the 1998 season,
most fans expected Lazarus' career to be winding down. Someone forgot to tell the
big fella, who was among the Storm's best last Friday. Every one of his 20 tackles
packed a punch and he kept his team on the front foot whenever Canterbury threatened to
gain the upper hand. Lazarus would not look out of place in a NSW or Australian
jersey again in 1999.
FATTY'S FEARLESS FORECAST: Channel Nine's Paul
Vautin may be proved guilty of going off early, but he is now on the record that he
believes we may have seen the 1999 premiers in action last Friday night. And he
wasn't referring to the 'Dogs ...
MELBOURNE STORM 26 (Marcus Bai 2, Robbie Kearns,
Brett Kimmorley, Scott Hill tries; Matt Geyer 3 goals) defeated CANTERBURY BULLDOGS 17
(Corey Hughes, Rod Silva, Hazem El Masri tries; Hazem El Masri 2 goals; Ricky Stuart field
goal). Scrums: Canterbury 11-7. Penalties: Canterbury 4-2.
Crowd: 13,297. Goalkickers: Melbourne - Matt Geyer 3 from 6.
Canterbury - Hazem El Masri 2 from 4. Referee: Paul McBlane.
WHEN THEY SCORED: 9 min: Melbourne 2-0 (Matt Geyer
goal). 13 min: 2-all (Hazem El Masri goal). 16 min: Melbourne 6- 2 (Robbie Kearns try). 27
min: 6-all (Corey Hughes try). 36 min: Canterbury 12-6 (Rod Silva try, Hazem El Masri
goal). 53 min: Canterbury 12-10 (Marcus Bai try). 61 min: Canterbury 16-10 (Hazem El Masri
try). 64 min: Canterbury 17-10 (Ricky Stuart field goal). 66 min: Canterbury 17-14 (Marcus
Bai try). 71 min: Melbourne 20-17 (Brett Kimmorley try, Matt Geyer goal). 75 min:
Melbourne 26-17 (Scott Hill try, Matt Geyer goal).
Canterbury Bulldogs 20
Brisbane Broncos 16
Report by GLENN JACKSON,
Rugby League Week (Vol. 30, No. 9)
|HOW IT WAS WON: The
Bulldogs' up-and-in defence severed the Broncos' attacking options. Combine that with the
Broncos' prolonged dose of lost confidence and there were few ways Brisbane could get over
the line. In the end they had to rely on an intercept, a dummy-half bust and a bomb
for their points. Ricky Stuart, Bradley Clyde and Darren Smith have proved
outstanding recruits for the Bulldogs.
HOW IT WAS
LOST: Canterbury exploited the Broncos' sliding defence, and might well have won by
more than four points.
KEY PLAY: With just 15 minutes left on the clock and
the scores locked at 12-all, Ricky Stuart dabbed a delightful grubber through for Rod
Silva to score under the posts. The try broke the Broncos' spirit, and eventually
BRAD'S BOTTLER: Bradley Clyde had by far his best
game in a Canterbury jersey. His damaging runs kept the Bulldogs going forward and
laid the foundations for the win. Livewire fullback Silva wasn't far behind.
THEY SAID IT: "The guys now believe they can
beat the Broncos and that's a hell of a confidence and morale booster," offered
Canterbury coach Steve Folkes on Brisbane's shattered aura of invincibility.
"They're disappointed but they'll get over that," lamented Broncos coach Wayne
Bennett. "It's a different type of disappointment to what they had two weeks ago
against Melbourne, when they were embarrassed."
DEJA VU: A week previously Chris Walker was held up
over the line and forced to wait an eternity for the video decision on a try which would
have put the Broncos two points behind the Sharks. Last Friday night, Walker was
again forced to wait after he touched the ball down in the corner. This time,
though, he was given the green light.
BYE BYE BELMORE: There may have been 75,000 empty
seats, but the Bulldogs still managed to break their previous home ground attendance
record of 27,804, with more than 30,000 pouring through the turnstiles at Stadium
Australia despite the constant threat of rain.
CANTERBURY BULLDOGS 20 (Troy Stone, Darren Smith,
Rod Silva tries; Hazem El Masri 4 goals) defeated BRISBANE BRONCOS 16 (Wendell
Sailor, Gorden Tallis, Chris Walker tries; Darren Lockyer 2 goals). Scrums:
Canterbury 5-4 Penalties: Canterbury 4-3. Crowd: 30,360. Goalkickers:
Canterbury - El Masri 4 from 4. Brisbane - Lockyer 2 from 3. Referee:
WHEN THEY SCORED: 5 min: Brisbane 6-0 (Wendell
Sailor try, Darren Lockyer goal). 30 min: 6-all (Troy Stone try, Hazem El Masri
goal). 38 min: Canterbury 12-6 (Smith try, Hazem El Masri goal). 46 min:
12-all (Gorden Tallis try, Darren Lockyer goal). 65 min: Canterbury 18-12 (Rod Silva
try, Hazem El Masri goal). 71 min: Canterbury 18-16 (Chris Walker try). 75
min: Canterbury 20-16 (Hazem El Masri goal).
Cronulla Sharks 22
Canterbury Bulldogs 8
Report by GLENN JACKSON,
Rugby League Week (Vol. 30, No. 10)
|HOW IT WAS WON: Cronulla
shot to a 14-2 lead at the break and then withstood a huge amount of pressure as the
Bulldogs clawed back into the game. In the end the Sharks were more solid in defence
and always looked more likely to score. They didn't have a bad player on the night.
HOW IT WAS LOST: The Bulldogs had mountains of possession in
the second half but failed to capitalise, scoring only once. The rain, which fell
just before halftime, didn't help but their attack still lacked direction without Craig
KEY PLAY: With Cronulla leading 14-8 and the match
in the balance, Canterbury halfback Ricky Stuart gave referee Paul McBlane a gobful and
was penalised. The Bulldogs were just starting to gain some momentum, but when Mat
Rogers potted the two points the game was all but over.
GAMEBREAKER: Rogers did his Test chances no harm
with an outstanding display. He set up a try for Adam Dykes with a delightful chip
and was strong in all facets of play.
ROUNDABOUT: Sharks fullback David Peachey left the
crowd bemused with an extraordinary run just before halftime. He picked up the ball
from dummy half and proceeded to run around - almost in circles - for at least 10 seconds,
before being tackled a couple of feet from where it all began.
TIGHT FIT: Cronulla officials were ecstatic when
20,793 crammed into Shark Park for the game, a new ground record. There was little room to
swing a rat, let along a cat, on the hill. For the record, the ground's capacity is
WATCHING HIS WALLET: It was clear Bulldogs coach
Steve Folkes wasn't happy with the performance of referee Paul McBlane. Just how
badly he felt was clouded by the NRLs tough penalties for criticism of officials.
"I haven't got 10 grand to spare," was his response when asked about McBlane's
THEY SAID IT: "To me, I always felt we had them
under control," was Sharks coach John Lang's assessment of the proceedings.
"The plan was to be more patient. We realised that it could take 70 minutes to
get them. But they didn't listen to me," said Folkes.
CRONULLA SHARKS 22 (David Peachey, Adam Dykes, Chris
McKenna tries; Mat Rogers 5 goals) defeated CANTERBURY BULLDOGS 8 (Stephen Hughes
try; Hazem El Masri 2 goals). Scrums: Canterbury 7-4. Penalties:
Cronulla 8-3. Crowd: 20,793. Goalkickers: Cronulla - Mat
Rogers 5 from 6. Canterbury - Hazem El Masri 2 from 2. Referee: Paul McBlane.
WHEN THEY SCORED: 20 min: Cronulla 6-0 (Adam Dykes
try, Mat Rogers goal). 23 min: Cronulla 6-2 (Hazem El Masri goal). 33 min: Cronulla 12-2
(Chris McKenna try, Mat Rogers goal). 38 min: Cronulla 14-2 (Mat Rogers goal). 57 min:
Cronulla 14-8 (Stephen Hughes try, Hazem El Masri goal). 63 min: Cronulla 16-8 (Mat Rogers
goal). 75 min: Cronulla 22-8 (David Peachey try, Mat Rogers goal).