Category: NRL Rugby

NRL Rugby News

Oct 01

Melbourne Storm beat North Queensland Cowboys in 2017 NRL grand final – as it happened

12.13pm BST

Final thoughts

The Melbourne Storm lived up to their billing as hot favourites by putting on a near faultless performance tonight. Rocked by the early loss of Shaun Fensom – and hobbled by Johnathan Thurston’s absence – the Cowboys were always a step behind, the Storm’s defence keeping them away from their danger zone and forcing converted half Michael Morgan to bomb hopefully – and ultimately hopelessly.

12.08pm BST

Craig Bellamy and the Storm are now called onto the stage. Cameron Smith then takes his turn at the mic and praises the Cowboys for making the decider under trying circumstances. He thanks the crowd, and there is certainly a sizeable Storm contingent hanging about still. He then thanks the club staff and coaches and their families, and the families of the players.

“To all the players, not only the 17 here, but the rest of the group, it’s been a pleasure to be part of this year. It’s been hard work but we put to bed early what happened here last year.”

11.56am BST

Losing captain Gavin Cooper takes the stage and congratulates “Smith and Bellyache [Bellamy]” and the rest of the Storm. He praises the Cowboys’ supporters and tells his teammates he’s proud of their efforts. He wraps up wishing Cronk and Slater all the best.

11.54am BST

Slater named Churchill Medallist

I would have had Smith a nose ahead but can’t argue with the announcement just now that Billy Slater is this year’s Clive Churchill medal. What a comeback season he’s had when it looked as if his career was in jeopardy. He watched last season’s decider from the sidelines and now he’s up on the dais failing to hold back the tears. Today’s effort: 170m, one try and a try assist.

11.48am BST

Craig Bellamy is going between the players and the affection and gratitude the players feel towards him is so apparent. What an influence he has had on the Storm since taking over from Mark Murray in 2003.

11.45am BST

Cooper Cronk: “There are no fairytales in rugby league. It’s just about working hard and hoping the results come your way. I don’t know what I’d be if it wasn’t for the Storm. I’ve nothing but gratitude to the people who have played a part. The club has been a big influence on my career and me as a person. Melbourne Storm makes you bigger than you are, better than you are.”

On playing with Slater and Smith? “They are reliable. I don’t think Cameron Smith has thrown me a bad pass in my career. And Billy has never let me down. I’d like to think we inspired each other to keep working hard. Unfortunately this is the last time we’ll do it together.”

11.41am BST

Michael Morgan: “They are a very good side. The best at breaking a team down. Once they get ahead they really grind it out. We spoke about needing points early [in the second half] and we got that but we couldn’t sustain the pressure and they scored again.”

[A good season?] “I’m proud but it hurts. It now feels like a waste of a season to be honest. You’ve come this far and we were a little bit embarrassed tonight. But the score doesn’t reflect the effort we put in this season.”

11.37am BST

Billy Slater is collared for the first time today: “It’s a lot of hard work to be as consistent as we were all year It’s a great performance.”

Reflecting on missing last year’s grand final due to injury he lets a tear slip: “I didn’t know if I’d get back here. Whether my body would let me. It was the toughest thing to sit through last year, being helpless. I wasn’t going to let that happen today [as his daughter and son rush to embrace him].

11.35am BST

What a comprehensive win to the Storm who delightedly embrace as the Cowboys collapse in a heap. The Big 3 were simply outstanding.

11.32am BST

80 min: The Storm take their time with their final set and it’s Smith tackled with the ball as the hooter goes.

11.31am BST

79 min: Granville circles looking for an opening but none appears. Coote then kicks inside where Cronk claims the ball and dives to the deck just inside the field of play. Not bothering with rules Granville simply drags Cronk into the in-goal giving away a penalty.

11.29am BST

78 min: After taking a bomb Addo-Carr is driven over the sideline giving the Cowboys the ball from 25m out.

11.27am BST

77 min: Craig Bellamy has come down from his box to celebrate with his players on the sideline.

11.27am BST

A tough one from the left for a leftie, but Smith is having the kind of game that makes the difficult look easy.

11.26am BST

In centre field, Smith passes right to Cronk who passes straight back to Smith. Smith then finds Slater on the fly back on the inside. Slater races into the clear and though Coote brings him down, Harris finds himself with the ball and he makes a mighty long pass to his left and hits Addo-Carr on the chest. The wonderful winger as a five-metre trot to complete his try double!

11.22am BST

71 min: The game is at such a state that the commentators have time to muse on what Slater and Cooper might do after the game. Retire on top or play on.

Meantime, Morgan puts up another bomb that Vunivalu catches in his own in-goal. Granville smacks the ball out of his hand as he strolls forward to take the 20m restart. Penalty to the Storm.

11.20am BST

70 min: We enter the final 10 minutes with the result wrapped up. The Cowboys will do well now to keep the deficit to its current level.

11.19am BST

… and offloads to 19-year-old centre Curtis Scott who has a clear run to the line!

11.18am BST

66 min: That try, you’d imagine, has ended any hopes of a Cowboys comeback.

Yep, that’s for sure. Working the ball out from his own line, Linnett is tackled by Addo-Carr who pilfers the ball …

11.16am BST

Easy peasy for Smith who is firming as Churchill Medallist.

11.15am BST

Smith receives the ball at dummy half, the Cowboys’ line metres away. The Storm are lined up on the right deeper than the Mariana Trench. But Smith passes to Finucane at first receiver and he charges over between the attempted tackles of Cooper and Hampton!

11.12am BST

63 min: As the Storm prepare to feed a scrum 35m out, the crowd figure comes in: 79,722. “Well done,” says Rabbits Warren.

11.10am BST

61 min: But that’s a set they’ll wish they could take back. A tame five tackles before an even tamer crossfield kick on the last. Vunivalu catches with little pressure.

11.10am BST

60 min: The Cowboys keep the ball alive on the last and the Storm knock on trying to gain possession. A fresh set to the Cowboys from 20m out.

11.08am BST

58 min: A rare error by Smith who grubbers dead on the last.

The Cowboys are still in this. They’ve picked up the pace and a try now could really give the Storm the willies. And not in a way that would trouble Bob Katter.

11.07am BST

57 min: Munster is hit hard by Ben Hampton who lifts Munster and slams him on his back. Munster objects and there’s a bit of push and shove, Slater and Taumalolo holding each other by the collar. The Storm are awarded a penalty but I’m not sure why. Munster wasn’t hit high nor lifted above the horizontal.

11.04am BST

56 min: Cronk bombs and is hit by Taumalolo. I can think of better things to be hit by. A car, for instance. Coote takes the ball under enormous pressure and cops a knock. He gets to his feet slowly.

11.02am BST

55 min: Chambers stretches the Cowboys’ defence out wide after some excellent lead up work by Smith. He gets within 10m before passing inside to … Michael Morgan tracking back.

11.01am BST

53 min: Second half completion rates: 9/9 Cowboys, 4/4 Storm.

Oh dear, make that 9/10 for the Cowboys. Lowe attempts a silly offload just inside the Storm half when his team still had a couple of tackles up their sleeve.

11.00am BST

51 min: The intensity, which didn’t seem to be lacking, has lifted a notch. The crowd are really willing the Cowboys on. Not just because Melbourne as a ferris wheel (see earlier, pre-kick off comment) but because they want a game made of this.

10.58am BST

Lowe adds the extras giving Cowboys fans a little hope.

10.57am BST

From a tap on the Storm line Morgan draws Smith as he passes to Te Maire Martin on his inside. Martin has an age to step inside the first defender and run in an easy try!

10.54am BST

47 min: The Cowboys go left, they go right, and Feldt is tackled on the third before the Townsvillians are awarded yet another penalty for interference in the tackle (which sounds like something the ‘No’ crowd would have feared as a result of the Macklemore set). Surely the sin-bin must come into play?

10.53am BST

46 min: Here’s another penalty to the Storm for holding on. This one 10m out from their own posts. And as soon as they take the tap Slater holds down the tackled player and is penalised. Three on the trot.

10.52am BST

45 min: Granville finds Cooper who muscles to the half on the fourth tackle before the Storm are pinged for holding down too long. What can the Cowboys do with a rare full set inside the Storm’s 30m?

10.51am BST

44 min: More solid defence from the Storm forces the Cowboys to kick from their own half. Another huge swirling Morgan bomb, another catch from Vunivalu.

10.50am BST

42 min: The Cowboys run it on the last, scooting down the blindside before a short grubber than Addo-Carr snaffles safely. It didn’t work out, but that’s the kind of thing they’ll need to try more of this half if they are to have any chance.

10.48am BST

41 min: The Cowboys kick off, a mountain to climb.

10.47am BST

What hope the Cowboys, folks? It’s looking grim. Despite an excellent completion rate by the Cowboys, this is the largest half-time deficit in a decider since 2001 when the Knights led the Eels 24-0. They went on to win 30-24. For the sake of an exciting finish we can only hope for a similar second-half effort from the Cowboys.

But they’ll have to get over the advantage line a lot more often. Jason Taumalolo, for instance, has just 68 run metres for the first 40. Cameron Smith has 95.

10.34am BST

Some entertainment during the break.

Great grand final tries? Why not? I’ll be back in a sec…

10.32am BST

Hard to see the Cowboys winning from here. The Storm have been clinical and their big three have been instrumental. To think, Mark Murray brought them to the Storm all these years ago for about $5000 each. Reckon they’ve paid that off already.

The Cowboys have barely had an attacking set from inside the Storm’s 30m. The Storm’s defence has kept them at arm’s length all night. They’ll need something very special now.

10.29am BST

40 min: Just on the siren Kyle Feldt gets the crowd to its feet with to a tackle-busting run that sees him eat up 60m. But he’s brought down eventually and the two teams go to the sheds.

10.28am BST

From just to the right of the posts Smith makes it 18.

10.27am BST

Smith, in dummy half under the posts, passes right to Cronk. He takes advantage of a dummy run from Kaufusi to find Slater running in behind. Slater dummies to his right to get an edge on O’Neill and he runs it in for a try. The Storm flock to him like seagulls to an AAMI Park bathed in floodlights.

10.24am BST

37 min: Oh dear. Winterstein, on his own line, attacks a Smith grubber with gusto and he spills the ball in doing so. He could have waited and collected it in his in-goal in relative safety but his attempt to avoid a drop-out has resulted in giving the Storm a great chance to stick the knife in on the verge of halftime.

10.22am BST

36 min: Another high bomb from Morgan on the last that Vunivalu takes safely enough. The Cowboys’ last tackle options have been fairly predictable kicks but that’s mostly because they’ve never quite been close enough to run it, bar the once.

10.19am BST

33 min: On the last, 50m out, Cronk grubbers through the line and Chambers regathers. He keeps the ball alive and hands off to Slater. He’s tackled but finds a pass himself. Smith is then forced to dive on a loose ball and that’s the turnover. Had the Storm got the ball wide left they would have found themselves in more space than Sandra Bullock in Gravity.

10.17am BST

31 min: Cronk is collected in mid-air after kicking downfield. I missed who the tackler was but he was as late, and not politely late either. Should have been a penalty.

The Storm are right on top now and the Cowboys need to steady lest the game slips right away from them.

10.15am BST

From almost an identical position from where he took his first conversion Smith makes no mistake.

10.14am BST

The big three play a role into putting a big one over the line! Smith from dummy half, 20m out, passes right to Cronk who, after straightening the attack, passes right to Slater. He draws the defence and puts Kaufusi into a hole from a few metres out!

10.12am BST

27 min: On the last Cronk fires the ball inside to Smith who, seeing nothing on, dinks the ball into the in-goal where Coote is tackled cleaning up. Drop out. The pressure builds.

10.10am BST

25 min: By his standards, Cronk puts in an ordinary kick on the last that Feldt takes easily without a Storm player near him.

10.09am BST

24 min: Morgan’s angled kick across the face of goal is taken by Chambers in the in-goal and his quick restart gets the Storm to the Cowboys’s 30m on just the third tackle.

10.08am BST

23min: We’ve just had the game’s first penalty, this one to the Cowboys which gives them a good platform to hit right back.

10.07am BST

From 10m inside the right touchline Smith steers it over.

10.06am BST

It wasn’t Morgan, but Martin. And he did run into the ref but that is deemed nothing more than bad luck. Try it is!

10.05am BST

19 min: Morgan bombs from inside the Storm’s 30m and the ball is tapped sideways by Cooper but it falls into the arms of Will Chambers who comes back inside, beating three players, before he finds Addo-Carr on his inside. With a swerve he bursts into the clear and streaks away 70m to score what looks like a fair try!

We’re going upstairs. The Cowboys feel that Morgan was impeded form tackling Addo-Carr by referee Cechin.

10.00am BST

17 min: A half-bust by Smith gets the Storm over the half-way line before Cronk grubbers to the sideline. Munster collided with Smith in the buildup and went down but he appears to be okay.

Phi Withall writes in: “For possibly the first and last time I’m in agreement with the channel 9 commentary team. The impact of the [Fensom] injury has such a huge effect on his teammates. I’ve seen quite a few nasty injuries in kitchens and know how hard it is to keep on working when someone is suffering from a serious injury.”

9.59am BST

15 min: On the last, inside the Storm 10m, Morgan declines to kick, and instead fires a flat ball out to Linnett who arrives too early and is forced to catch and turn, backing into the defence. Turnover.

9.57am BST

13 min: After Slater is hammered on a kick return, the Storm turn it over on the half. Finally some field position for the Cowboys.

9.56am BST

12 min: The Storm pound the Cowboys’ line but here’s a relieving turnover for the Cowboys, Lowe coming up with the pill.

9.55am BST

11 min: Cronk on the Cowboys’ 30m runs right before he angles a devilish grubber back towards the post. Slater is tearing after it like a greyhound … And he might well have won the race too had the ball not hit the right post and rebounded into the arms of Ethan Lowe.

9.53am BST

10 min: Who flinches first? The Cowboys, says Wally Lewis, after Morgan grubbers across the touchline around the Storm 30m allowing both teams a breather.

9.52am BST

8 min: Some quick play-the-balls sees the Storm edge to the half from their own 10m before Smith almost pulls off a 40-20, but the bobbling ball is rounded up just inside the stripe.

9.50am BST

6 min: Morgan passes inside to Taumalolo who bends the line before being pushed back by three men in purple. Morgan bombs again, Slater takes.

The Storm have had the better of territory so far but neither team has yet to enjoy an attacking set inside the other’s 30m zone.

9.49am BST

A few pictures from the opening exchanges, prior to the injury break

9.48am BST

5 min: Fensom is finally leaving the field, on his back in the medicab. He gives the crowd the thumbs up as he goes.

The play back on, the Cowboys push up the right flank before a towering Morgan bomb almost gets away from Vunivalu who leans in to take it like someone about to topple into a swimming pool.

9.44am BST

4 min: Replays show that Coote did very well during that Bromwich bust. He had Bromwich running at him but he drifted to his right to cover a pass to Munster who was backing up, knowing that Granville was in position to take Bromwich. Seeing Coote do just that Bromwich decided to go it alone.

As may be obvious Fensom is still being treated.

So cruel on Shaun Fenson. His grand final over after 180 seconds #NRLGF

9.40am BST

4 min: Cronk goes to the line and, on the 30m line, puts Jesse Bromwich through a hole. He busts through the first attempts at tackle before he’s brought down on the 10m by Granville and he loses the ball as he hits the deck.

Cowboy Shaun Fensom has been injured in that tackle. Poor bloke. Opening minutes. The medicab is on the field and it appears Fensom has done something serious to his knee.

9.37am BST

3 min: Tohu ‘Tofu’ Harris busy for the Storm as they pummel the Cowboys and force them to kick from inside their own half.

9.35am BST

2 min: Coote gets a kick away, as he slips, after a reasonably expansive first set. Slater takes it safely but then slips himself as he approaches the defensive line.

9.34am BST

1 min: Cameron Smith kicks off and Scott Bolton takes the ball safely, no doubt saying “Thank God” to himself as he does so.

9.32am BST

Experienced NRL followers would have realised that the scheduled 7.15pm kickoff was never going to happen and they’ve been proven correct.

But at long last here come the two teams, first the Cowboys in their washed-out grey strip. Now the Storm – after a longish wait. Cameron Smith leads them out, slapping the hands of young fans leaning over the race. I like that. I often wonder why more players don’t do that. Costs them nothing in terms of effort and means a lot to the kids.

9.20am BST

For the Cowboys this game is about who’s not there. For the Storm it’s about who is. And this will be the 232nd (and last) match Slater, Cronk and Smith have played together. So far they have a win percentage of 73.2%. Incredible.

Cronk has yet to decide where he’s headed in 2018. There’s talk too that Slater will call it a day if the Storm win tonight. Cameron Smith, an iron man who is seemingly never injured, looks certain to go on and plague the opposition for at least another season.

9.15am BST

Now that the entertainment is done and dusted we can think again about the game. Here are the teams:

Final teams are in!#NRLGF #NRL

9.11am BST

Macklemore’s set has finished. I can’t say I’ve seen any resulting moral decay, like little boys suddenly downloading Barba Streisand songs on their mother’s smart phones or people proposing marriage to bridges or assorted public monuments. That said, I’ll be sure to inform you if anything like this starts to happen so you can beat the rush and head out to buy more baked beans and bottled water for your panic rooms.

9.06am BST

Macklemore is now performing Same Love. The lights are down, smart phones are raised.

This guy is good! @macklemore #NRLGF

I have honestly never been prouder to be an NRL fan hey. #NRLGF

9.04am BST

Here comes Macklemore in a silver jacket, white t-shirt, black jeans and boots. For some reason ex-Dragon Matt Cooper opened the dressing room door for him. Macklemore skips and dances from beneath the stands (where he high fives Johnathan Thurston) to centre stage around which a young crowd cheers enthusiastically.

Putting all the controversy aside I must admit he was an odd choice for the GF. A spoken word performance isn’t exactly the kind of thing that gets a crowd’s blood pumping is it? It’s not Cold Chisel is it?

JT and Macklemore high five! #9NRLFootyShow #NRLGF

8.55am BST

The pre-game entertainment will soon get underway. Now there’s no Tina Turner tonight but going by this photo the theme wasn’t all that different in 1990:

Pure gold. #NRL #NRLGF

8.49am BST

Craig Bellamy speaks to Channel Nine:

“We’re a little bit nervous. But that’s a good thing. It heightens the senses.”

8.44am BST

Crowd shot!

8.41am BST

The 2017 season has proven to be the last for a good number of players and a number of good players, and they are being appreciated now in front of the crowd.

Here’s the full list: Matt Ballin (Wests Tigers), Jeff Lima, Dane Tilse (Canberra Raiders), Ray Thompson, Ben Hannant (North Queensland Cowboys), Rory Kostjasyn, Anthony Tupou (Newcastle Knights), Jeff Robson, Isaac De Gois (Parramatta Eels), Feleti Mateo (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles), David Shillington, Daniel Vidot (Gold Coast Titans), Bryson Goodwin (South Sydney Rabbitohs), and Matt White (Melbourne Storm).

8.31am BST

There have been two lower grade grand finals played earlier today.

In the first of these, the Holden Cup (u20s) grand final, Manly came back from an early deficit of 14-0. Manly then got back to 14-all before the Eels retook the lead with a try taking them out to 18-14 with just over 10 minutes remaining. But in what would be the last play of the game, Manly hooker Manase Fainu found a charging Keith Titmuss who scored adjacent to the posts. Centre Tevita Funa then added the extras seconds before the full-time hooter.

RL:Penrith rout PNG for NRL interstate title

By Steve Zemek

SYDNEY, Oct 1 AAP – Penrith have spoiled Papua New Guinea’s Cinderella story with a 42-18 rout in the NRL Interstate Championship at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.

The NSW Cup premiers ran riot with the game effectively over at 38-2 at halftime after Tony Santini ran in four tries in the first 40 minutes.

The victory was yet another feather in the cap for coach Garth Brennan who was amassed two NSW Cup titles and an under-20s premiership win during his time at the foot of the mountains.

Brennan is one of the leading contenders for the vacant Gold Coast NRL coaching job and sent a loud and resounding message with the eight tries to three tries flogging.

The Hunters came into the match as the feelgood story after winning the first piece of silverware in last week’s Queensland Cup grand final against the Sunshine Coast.

However the side from the rugby league-mad island nation was outclassed and overpowered.

The Hunters struck first with a penalty goal through Ase Boas however former Manly outside back Santini ran in three tries in seven minutes to put his side on top.

Halfback Darren Nicholls was also outstanding, stretching the Hunters defence and crossing under the posts to make it 22-2 after 21 minutes.

After Panthers five-eighth Jarome Luai was sin-binned for a professional foul in the 67th minute, the Hunters ran in consolation tries through Adex Wera and Bland Abavu and Boas.

8.25am BST

A few years ago I wrote this piece about some of the more memorable Australian rugby league grand finals:

Related: The Joy of Six: rugby league grand finals

8.20am BST

With about an hour until kickoff the crowd is building. Will it be a sell-out tonight? Will it matter if it isn’t? TV ratings, I’m sure, will be through the roof:

#SunsetSunday @NRL #NRLGF

8.12am BST

There’s plenty to read ahead of the game. Why not Matt Cleary’s take on Cowboys’ enforcer Scott Bolton?

Related: Scott Bolton: the Cowboys enforcer charged with out-bullying Melbourne | Matt Cleary

Related: Josh Addo-Carr’s blistering form no surprise to those who watched him grow | Joe Gorman

8.05am BST

Good evening, folks.

Is it really a year since the Cronulla Sharks switched the porch light off, broke a long premiership drought and messed with the natural order to such an extent that (unless it was just a coincidence which, I suppose, we have to at least consider) it triggered a year of plague, pestilence and political putrescence across the globe?

It was fun while it lasted hey @Cronulla_Sharks fans… #NRLGF #NRL

2.11am BST

Paul will be here shorty. In the meantime, here’s his very own grand final preview:

Related: Melbourne overwhelming NRL grand final favourites but sport often surprises

Continue reading…

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Sep 30

Cronulla offer Cowboys clues about how to crack Melbourne’s culture club | John Davidson

Last year’s grand final winners showed up the Storm in certain departments. North Queensland should be encouraged

Unstoppable. Unbeatable. Outstanding. You’ve heard it all before when it comes to 2017’s minor premiers Melbourne. They’ve lost only four games all year and possess both the best attack and best defence, scoring more points and conceding the least, in the whole competition. Not only have they got three of the best players in the world in Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk, including at least one future Immoral in that troika, but they boast both the Australian and the New Zealand Test captain in their ranks.

Related: Melbourne overwhelming NRL grand final favourites but sport often surprises

Related: Scott Bolton: the Cowboys enforcer charged with out-bullying Melbourne | Matt Cleary

Continue reading…

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Sep 30

Macklemore to donate proceeds from Same Love to marriage equality campaign

His performance of the song at the NRL grand final has drawn the ire of conservatives, including Tony Abbott

American rapper, Macklemore, has pledged to donate the Australian proceeds from his track, Same Love, to the marriage equality campaign.

The artist revealed his plans on the eve of the rugby league final in Sydney, where he will perform the hit song.

Related: Malcolm Turnbull looks forward to Macklemore singing ‘gay anthem’

EXCLUSIVE: @macklemore has pledged to donate the Australian earnings of his song ‘Same Love’ to the Yes campaign. #AusPol #9News

Yesterday someone started a petition in Australia to ban me from playing Same Love at the #NRLGF. Today its #1 on iTunes. Love is winning ❤️

Continue reading…

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Sep 28

‘A disastrous result’: Bookmakers to lose many millions if Cowboys win

Underdogs the longest-priced NRL grand finalists since betting made legalSix times more bets taken on Cowboys than favourites Storm with one bookieAustralian bookmakers face a multi-million-dollar wipeout as North Queensland threaten to pull off the bi…

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Sep 27

Scott Bolton: the Cowboys enforcer charged with out-bullying Melbourne | Matt Cleary

The rugged North Queensland prop has the task of putting the frighteners on the Storm in Sunday’s NRL grand final

Scott Bolton has a certain look about him: slightly hang dog, a hint of stubble. It’s a old school look. He could be 27 or 42; he’s sort of ageless. It’s like he was never young, like his head has been carved from a mighty cedar or mountain redwood by Native Americans and left to sit on the plinth of his neck, defying the elements, impervious to pain, glaring at his enemies.

Related: NRL officials warn that referees are willing to use sin-bin in grand final

He’s approaching – if he hasn’t already reached it – ornament status

Related: Josh Addo-Carr’s blistering form no surprise to those who watched him grow | Joe Gorman

Continue reading…

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Sep 26

Josh Addo-Carr’s blistering form no surprise to those who watched him grow | Joe Gorman

The Melbourne star will contest – and likely have a big say in – Sunday’s grand final having taken confidence from playing in the Koori Knockout into the NRL

He has bamboozled opposition defences, impressed the experts and inspired supporters across the competition. For the man they call “the Fox”, Josh Addo-Carr, 2017 has been an almost perfect season.

He scored the winning try in his first home game for Melbourne Storm against Brisbane Broncos three rounds into the season. A week later, he scored a long range wonder try against his old club, Wests Tigers. And in the preliminary final last Friday night, he scored the Storm’s first try to set up a 30—0 victory over the Broncos. This weekend, he could be the player to decide the NRL grand final.

Related: Indigenous rugby league carnivals becoming the ‘saviour’ of the NRL | Joe Gorman

Continue reading…

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Sep 24

Cowboys stick to what they know best on impossible run to NRL grand final | Matt Cleary

North Queensland know that if they just carry on doing what they do, at worst they will give a good account of themselves; at best they’ll go all the way

Kane Linnett is the Graeme Bradley of his generation. Like the Dragons centre of the early 1990s, Linnett is the tall, unfashionable type with the odd, angular movements, the direct running lines and, to the layman’s naked eye, the lack of discernible skill. Unlike “The Penguin”, however, Linnett isn’t even a cult figure. He’s just Kane Linnett – straight man. And he’s in another grand final.

Related: Cowboys’ fairytale continues into grand final with upset win over Roosters

The story of the 2017 grand final is the imperial Death Star versus a rag-tag bunch of feisty rebels

Continue reading…

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Sep 23

Cowboys’ fairytale continues into grand final with upset win over Roosters

  • North Queensland Cowboys beat Sydney Roosters 29-16 at Allianz stadium
  • Cowboys become first team to make decider from eighth since Eels in 2009

North Queensland are 80 minutes away from an historic NRL premiership after advancing to the grand final with a 29-16 preliminary final upset of the Sydney Roosters.

The Cowboys will meet Melbourne at ANZ Stadium next Sunday in a David-versus-Goliath showdown. Paul Green’s men are the first team to make the decider from eighth since Parramatta in 2009, while no team has lifted the trophy from outside the top four in the NRL era. Melbourne, finishing minor premiers in a canter, haven’t lost a game in nine weeks.

Related: Spirit of Johnathan Thurston keeps North Queensland humming in NRL finals | Matt Cleary

Continue reading…

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Sep 23

Cowboys beat Roosters in NRL preliminary final – as it happened

  • Roosters 16-29 Cowboys
  • Cowboys through to the Grand Final after Morgan masterclass

12.48pm BST

Nothing short of a boilover, you’d have to say. The story is about the Cowboys, who are playing with both verve and steel at the most important part of the season. They’re genuinely getting better. Every plaudit you read about Michael Morgan this week will be deserved. It’s well worth forgetting about Johnathon Thurston for a brief second here – Morgan was every inch the superstar of tonight, and you can’t begrudge him his overwhelmingly deserved moment in the spotlight. He drove his team tonight – created nearly everything, kicked brilliantly, made huge tackles, and as they say, he iced the game with a composed field goal to finish off the Roosters.

Let’s deal with the Roosters. They seemed to play without any zip, drive, or enterprise – instead favouring a clinical approach that came up short. Could they have ad libbed a little more?

12.33pm BST

He converts! That’s full time – The Cowboys beat the Roosters 29 – 16. Wow. The Roosters exit with a whimper, the Cowboys just get better. What a story. Some thoughts to follow.

Here was Morgan’s field goal:

Clinical from the @nthqldcowboys.#NRLFinals#NRL

12.30pm BST

It’s a party now! Scott Bolton charges past Guerra, who attempted a one-on-one strip, and he crashes over! Incredible stuff. Lowe will attempt the shot at goal. 80 minutes gone…

12.28pm BST

78 mins: Still the Cowboys’ ball. They’re in total control here. The Roosters offering barely a whimper. 10 metres out, last tackle, and Glanville knocks it in-goal and they’ll get the repeat set! Shallow drop out, and it’s the Cowboys ball. They’re going to the Grand Final!

12.27pm BST

Well orchestrated, Glanville fires it to Morgan on the last, and he slots it under a bit of pressure! That should do it, you’d think. Only three minutes to go now. Morgan is a hero.

12.25pm BST

75 mins: Gordon drops it! They were 40 metres out, there was no pressure on him, and he drops it cold! They’ve been cautious all night, the Roosters, and North Queensland should be able to work it into a good field goal position.

12.24pm BST

74 mins: They set for a drop goal, North Queensland. Morgan is closed down, so he fires to Coote, who chips into the in-goal. It holds up, holds up, but Ferguson just shepherds it over. The Roosters will get the ball. Inches in it.

12.23pm BST

73 mins: Another good run from Taumololo gets North Queensland on the front foot. It goes through the hands before a grubber toward the posts. Tupou takes it, tries to stand up and he’s driven back in goal! Drop out Roosters!

12.21pm BST

71 mins: Taumololo gets up clutching his shoulder. He carries on. Morgan tries to kick it dead on the last but it bounces on its end and Ferguson has to bring it out. Nearly slips away too. They need to chance their arm here, the Roosters.

12.19pm BST

A look at the Feldt try

The finisher does it again!

Try @feldt092.#NRLFinals#NRL

12.19pm BST

The Cowboys lead by a converted try now, a huge turnaround. Ten minutes to go.

12.18pm BST

69 mins: And now a penalty to the Cowboys! It’s a strip. Cordner and Waerea-Hargreaves the culprits. Lowe will have a shot at goal. An easy one, just to the right of the uprights. Adjacent to the posts, as they’d say.

12.17pm BST

68 mins: Mitchell kicks it out on the full! Again! Straight from the kickoff. Dead in-goal. Unbelievable stuff here. Penalty Cowboys, they’ll get another shot at the Roosters’ line.

12.16pm BST

He converts! Roosters 16 – 20 Cowboys

The toughest kick in the game. Right foot, right touchline, he swings it in!

12.15pm BST

They just don’t stop, these Cowboys! Again, Morgan directs them towards the Roosters left edge. The Roosters looked set as the ball went through the hands, but Feldt had a little space and you’d have to say he overpowered Mitchell to slam the ball down with one hand. Did Mitchell give Feldt too much room? Probably. Lowe from the sideline now…

12.13pm BST

Is that a try? They sweep across field, it comes to Feldt – it’s a one-on-one between Feldt and Mitchell, and it’s a ridiculously close one between Feldt, the ball, the corner post and the sideline. It looks good – but it’s so, so, close. Does the point hit the ground first? Or the ‘fat’ part hit the sideline? I think it’s a try.

12.11pm BST

64 mins: Does O’Neill atone? He hits Ferguson low and hard and the Rooster coughs it up! The Cows are 20 metres out now, and Morgan picks it up on the half-volley. Of course he does. Centre field, four tackles left…

12.10pm BST

62 mins: Was that the boost, or the luck, the Roosters needed? Plenty of time left for the Cowboys to come back into it – it’s only two points after all. The Roosters march all the way down field and a mini-bomb from Keary leaves the Cowboys 98 metres from home after Coote takes the ball.

12.08pm BST

Totally against the run of play here. Crucial error from O’Neill, that one will hurt. The ball slipped from his grasp pre-contact in the tackle, and Taukeiaho shovelled it to Aubusson, who in-turn gave it to Ferguson. Too much power, and he went over. A try from an error. Can the Cowboys come back again?

12.06pm BST

Is this a try? O’Neill spills it, the Roosters spread it straight away and Ferguson goes over. They’re going to the video to check the put down. There’s no problem.

12.05pm BST

58 mins: Couldn’t be more even, this. Just as the Roosters started to exert some dominance, the Cowboys – as ever – respond. It really is anyone’s match, and I’d venture it will come down to playmaker decisions. So far, Morgan is man of the match by streets. He’s everywhere, and here puts up an ‘inside out’ torpedo that’s well taken by Michael Gordon.

12.02pm BST

Goal! Roosters 12 – 14 Cowboys

Lowe swings it in from the right side, about 15 metres in from touch. Cowboys back in from. This match rising to a crescendo here.

12.01pm BST

And they’re over. Straight after Taumololo’s run, Morgan gets the ball close to the line, has multiple runners outside him, throws the cutout pass and finds Linnett, who just slid to the outside of his defender and crashed over. Outstanding timing on the pass from Morgan there, who is having a brilliant game so far.

11.59am BST

54 mins: Taumololo, who’s enjoyed a spell on the sidelines, is back on now. He surges forward straight away and almost breaks the line…

11.59am BST

52 mins: A low, driving kick from Morgan nearly grabs a forty-twenty for his side but Gordon’s there to retrieve it. Meanwhile, Michael Morgan has been opened up and blood is positively pouring from his eye, courtesy of a Michael Gordon forearm. Actually a good opportunity for him to put a head bandage on. Every team needs one come finals time.

11.55am BST

48 mins: But an error from Ferguson working the ball out, who looked to be taken high. He spills it, and hands the Cowboys six tackles in good position. Quick hands from the Cowboys almost gives Winterstein a bit of space but he’s reeled in. A grubber toward the posts (the Cowboys like that play) then ricochets dangerously before the Roosters dive on it, and work it out of their end as normal.

11.53am BST

Goal! Roosters 12 – 8 Cowboys

Low and hard from Gordon, and straight through. The Roosters take the lead for the first time in the match.

11.52am BST

TRY! Roosters 10-8 Cowboys (Watson 46)

All Pearce here. 40 metres out, he takes it to the line, shows it inside, makes the defence hesitate, and sends Cordner through on the outside. Cordner draws Coote easily and gives it to the utility Connor Watson, who crosses the line. Brilliant from Mitchell Pearce there. Well backed up from Watson.

11.50am BST

45 mins: Quieter moment in the game as the Roosters work it forward, just settling into the next phase of the match now.

11.48am BST

43 mins: Great take from Keary, who dived low to intercept a Michael Morgan grubber that was in-goal bound. Replays show a slight bobble, but it was so infinitesimal as to deceive as all. The Roosters put together another solid set and the Cowboys work it out in-turn.

11.47am BST

No try. Joey was right. Latrell Mitchell ran the wrong angle, blocked his Cowboys counterpart, and it’ll be a penalty to the North Queensland side.

11.46am BST

41 mins: The Roosters are over, or are they? Ryan Matterson is over in the corner – he kicks the ball skyward in aggressive celebration – but Andrew Johns is sure there’s an obstruction. Let’s see.

11.45am BST

40 mins: Cowboys error straight away! Coen Hess drops the ball from the first hit-up of the half, handing the Roosters a great chance straight away.

11.36am BST

A look at Latrell Mitchell’s try too

Mitchell snatches the ball as the defence lets it go!#NRLFinals#NRL

11.35am BST

Well, the Cowboys roll on! They held the upper hand for the majority of the half; one largely played fairly conservatively from both sides.

Both dared the other to blink first in the cautious opening exchanges, with seven completed sets each before the first error. It was Morgan, who has been excellent so far, who fed Te Maire Martin who was able to skip outside Napa and deceive Pearce enough to evade his clutches, break the line and speed his way under the posts. It was reward enough for the visitors, who seemed fractionally more creative in attacking situations, with the Glanville-Morgan duo leading proceedings.

Hear from @michaelmorgan00 at HT of #NRLRoostersCowboys.#NRLFinals#NRL

11.27am BST

39 mins: A late Cowboys raid on the line comes to nothing after Glanville slipped a neat little ball inside. The tackle’s made, and that’s half-time. Some thoughts to follow.

11.26am BST

GOAL! Roosters 6-8 Cowboys

A very good kicker, Michael Gordon. He slots this about 10m in from touch. Was straight all the way.

11.25am BST

TRY! Roosters 4-8 Cowboys (Mitchell 37)

And the Roosters are over! Keary with the bomb toward the left side; Linnett tried to block Mitchell but then left his assignment. Mitchell evaded him then deftly took it in the corner to scoot over.

11.23am BST

33 mins: Morgan pushes the short pass about 20m out but it’s forward, and it’s dropped, and it’s more relief for the Roosters. They then get the relieving piggy-back

penalty, to the background of ironic cheers from the Roosters faithful. They’ll get a look the Cowboys line here.

11.19am BST

30 mins: But the Roosters drop it! The Cowboys back on the march again. They’ve disorganised the Roosters defence again here, and some broken play leads to Morgan chipping the ball toward the posts. It misses, but has Pearce made a play at it? Referee Sutton says drop-out, and it’s not overruled by the video. Another set for the men from Townsville.

11.17am BST

27 mins: The Cowboys roll downfield again and get a repeat set. Wouldn’t say the Roosters are on the ropes yet, but the Cowboys are dominating.

The Cowboys spread left and threaten the line again, but the ball hits the deck. A rest for the Roosters, who’ll work it out from their own line.

11.14am BST

GOAL! Roosters 0-8 Cowboys

Ethan Lowe adds the extras. The Roosters jittery here, the Cowboys playing with freedom.

11.12am BST

TRY! Roosters 0-6 Cowboys (Martin 22)

It was Morgan to Te Maire Martin, who stuttered, offered the show-and-go, and a terrible grab at air from Pearce allowed him through. Napa was the inside man and Martin got outside him with ease. He’s quick, the five-eighth, and he arced his way under the posts in a flash. Will soon be 8-0.

11.09am BST

21 mins: And the Roosters’ kick off is over the dead ball line on the full! They advance it up field and a rolled-in grubber grabs them a repeat set. Mitchell’s drop-out is long, but the Cowboys will get a good shot here.

11.08am BST

Goal! Cowboys 2 – 0 Roosters
21 mins: Lowe kicks it. Easy as you like. We have points.

11.06am BST

20 mins: A Waerea-Hargreaves high tackle gives the Cowboys a penalty. It’s 15 metres out from the Cowboys line and next to the posts. The Cowboys will take the two.

11.01am BST

14 mins: Pearce tries a second man play about 40m out with Keary the receiver. It’s beautifully read by that man Morgan and he smashes Keary ball and all. He’s started well, the Cowboys playmaker.

10.59am BST

12 mins: Still relatively risk-free here. Both sides going one-out, two-out from dummy half. No real incision. Everyone making their tackles. The Roosters probably shading it at the ruck – they seem to be achieving that roll-on with a little more ease than their opponents.

Both sides perfect through 10 minutes – feeling each other out.

Follow #NRLRoostersCowboys on the League Live app:

10.57am BST

9 mins: The Roosters recover and engineer some field position to allow another bomb for Pearce. This time it’s intended for Ferguson. He charges onto it and momentarily gathers it mid-air, but he can’t hang on to it under defensive pressure. Another change over The Roosters making fairly comfortable metres, though haven’t properly threatened yet.

No penalties or real mistakes either, which means one must be coming.

10.56am BST

7 mins: The Cowboys attack the left side for a couple of plays, but it comes to nought. O’Neill briefly wrestles with Aubusson but the latter repels him from the line. Glanville then tries to stab one of those grubbers in from dummy half, about a metre out, but the kick’s blocked by Aubusson’s deliberately outstretched foot. It rebounds into O’Neill’s arms but he spills the reflex attempt. Changeover.

Really hate to do this, but having just watched Richmond storm into the AFL Grand Final, it’s hard not to notice the markedly different atmosphere’s in these otherwise equivalent games. The SFS feels quiet.

10.52am BST

6 mins: Forty-twenty for the Cowboys! It’s Morgan. He caught the Roosters napping there, skimming one low and hard into the right touchline. They’re on the attack.

10.51am BST

5 mins: The Roosters with a slight territorial advantage here, allowing Pearce to hoist a few bombs from midfield, thought easily defused by the Cowboys back three. Cagey start, you’d say.

10.50am BST

4 mins: The Cowboys try to spin in wide on the fourth. It comes to nothing. Morgan’s fifth tackle roost is charged down, but it falls safely to Coote. He checks to see whether there’s six more – there’s not – and he gets his kick away. All very safe.

10.48am BST

2 mins: The Cowboys respond with a stead set of their own. They complete it with Morgan kicking to the right corner. Has Feldt picked up a leg injury? More on that as it comes to hand. Andrew Johns seems to think so…

10.47am BST

We’re away – the Roosters running towards the SCG, the Cowboys toward Paddington RSL. Both are likely to be there later on, regardless of the result. Strong, steady first set from the Roosters.

10.45am BST

Crowd Watch

Judging from this tweet, we can probably expect further media conniptions over Sydney’s preparedness to turn out for big matches. That whole upper tier is bare!

Kick-off is approaching!!! #NRLRoostersCowboys

10.39am BST


Sydney Roosters

The Roosters will be aiming for their seventh Grand Final appearance this century.#IMAROOSTER #NRLFinals #NRLRoostersCowboys

10.30am BST

Hello all, and a huge thanks for joining me here as we settle in for the second preliminary final (these used to be called ‘Final’) from Allianz Stadium (from here referred to as the SFS) between the Roosters and the Cowboys.

At the risk of spinning wildly into cliché, there’s a clear favourite-underdog prism here. The tri-colours finished high on the ladder, have had the week off, and will take the field with that double-edged sword of freshness as they attempt to book their place in next week’s decider. They’re a settled side, bolstered by an Origin-heavy, monster pack led by Jared Waerea-Hargreves, Dylan Napa and Boyd Cordner. Their resurrection this year has largely occurred on the back of Mitchell Pearce’s steady influence, and his combination with Luke Keary tonight will go a long way to deciding the contest. In short, the Roosters are as ready and primed as they could have hoped for.

Nth Qld Cowboys were putting in the hard yards at training today in preparation for their minor preliminary semi-final against Easts. #NRL

1.25am BST

Sam will be along shortly. In the meantime, have a read of how the Melbourne Storm booked their place in the 2017 grand final last night:

Related: Storm flex muscles in crushing win over Broncos to book place in NRL grand final

Continue reading…

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Sep 22

Storm flex muscles in crushing win over Broncos to book place in NRL grand final

Melbourne Storm beat Brisbane Broncos 30-0 at AAMI ParkBilly Slater scores double as Storm reach their third grand final in six yearsMelbourne are the first team into the NRL grand final after crushing Brisbane 30-0 in their preliminary final at AAMI P…

Permanent link to this article:

Sep 19

Not even Des Hasler’s successes with Bulldogs insulated him from his failings | Nick Tedeschi

For all his shortcomings, in the end it was the coach’s inability to recognise Canterbury’s history or value the importance of culture that undid him

He arrived in 2011 hot off a premiership win at Manly and hailed as a white knight but six years later Des Hasler leaves Belmore as one of the most unpopular figures in club history.

After dillying and dallying for a year – even extending his contract for two seasons just five months back – the Bulldogs finally moved on Hasler, axing him on Tuesday night.

Related: Corey Oates fitness in balance as Broncos star recovers from head knock

Continue reading…

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Sep 19

Corey Oates fitness in balance as Broncos star recovers from head knock

  • Brisbane not expected to make a call until Thursday’s captain’s run
  • ‘He is getting back to his usual self,’ says team-mate Ben Hunt

Brisbane forward Sam Thaiday says the jury is out on whether winger Corey Oates will return from a head knock in Friday night’s NRL preliminary final against Melbourne.

Oates is on modified training at the Broncos after a sickening first-half collision with team-mate Anthony Milford and being taken off on a medicab in last weekend’s 13-6 semi-final win over Penrith.

Related: Broncos edge Panthers but Corey Oates injured in brutal NRL semi-final

Continue reading…

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Sep 16

Cowboys shock Eels in boilover as unlikely finals run continues

Jason Taumalolo dominated with 236 run metres as well as 33 tacklesNorth Queensland now face Sydney Roosters for a place in the deciderNorth Queensland moved within 80 minutes of the unlikeliest NRL grand final appearance in modern history following a …

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Sep 10

Cowboys beat Sharks in NRL elimination final – as it happened

  • Sharks 14-Cowboys 15
  • Cowboys win thriller after field goal in extra time

9.30am BST

North Queensland 15 – Cronulla 14

A thrilling, draining game of finals football at the SFS sees North Queensland survive and Cronulla exit. It’s still surprising to think that Cronulla are going home after dominating the majority of the match, but North Queensland clung on through a lack of Cronulla ruthlessness, some luck, and some inspiration from their talismen, Taumololo and Morgan.

All smiles!#NRLFinals#NRL

9.20am BST

A boilover here at the SFS! North Queensland emerge victors in extra time after largely trailing all match, and the Sharks season is over! Some thoughts to follow.

9.18am BST

NRL: 2nd half extra time 0:34 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 15

Field goal range after Maloney makes a half break. They’re about 30 metres out trying to set it up. The noise rising from the crowd. The ball goes to Fifita and he comes up with the error! He coughed the ball up, he lost it. And that will just about do it for North Queensland!

9.13am BST

NRL: 2nd half extra time 1:23 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 15

Morgan goes for touch again. Gould says ‘no’ x8 times. Clock stops. The Sharks – just over a minute to go, they’ve got 70 metres to go. They go wide early. Tackled.

9.12am BST

NRL: 2nd half extra time 2:02 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 15

Solid from the Cowboys. Morgan drills it into the corner. They need to make something happen, Cronulla. They’re 38 out and Lewis goes for the corner – no field goal attempt? Two minutes to go.

9.11am BST

NRL: 2nd half extra time 3:40 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 15

Can Cronulla make their way out? Gallen makes a good run. So does Lewis. Good kick from Maloney. Cowboys have it 15 from their own line.

9.09am BST

NRL: 2nd half extra time 4:54 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 15

First time they’ve had the lead, North Queensland. They kick off. Draining stuff, this.

9.09am BST

Last play before 1st half of extra time and Morgan lands the field goal! He was 10 metres out, nails it, and that will be extra time. Five to go.

9.07am BST

NRL: 1st half extra time 2:03 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 14

More good defence from the Sharks. Morgan bombs from 35 metres out, Holmes takes it and is away! He steps off the right foot, loses his balance, and Holmes loses the ball! Replays show Coote got a hand in. Cowboys 40 metres out, six tackles.

9.05am BST

NRL: 1st half extra time 3:01 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 14

But Lewis loses the ball. He wasn’t expecting it, there was a bobble, and North Queensland come up with it. Scrum feed and they’ve got 80 metres to go.

9.04am BST

NRL: 1st half extra time 4:32 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 14

Sharks on top defensively. Was that a forward pass from Morgan? No. But then Te Maire Martin throws a forward pass. Sharks have a play the ball 45 metres out. Good range. Try or field goal? We’ll see.

9.03am BST

A reminder…

Five minutes of extra time each way, and if it’s even, then we go to golden point.

What a game #NRLSharksCowboys

9.01am BST

They clawed their way back in, North Queensland. Cronulla had a chance to win it at the end but Gallen, playing for the penalty(?), squandered it.

Will be a Sharks kick-off, Cowboys first use.

9.00am BST

NRL: 2nd half 1:54 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 14

Good defensive set from Cronulla. Holmes takes it on the full and sprints to his forty. Might be in range for a shot at field goal here. Still getting closer. Here it comes. Maloney’s charged down! They get six more. Gallen charges and goes close. He reaches out, he’s not close enough, then he loses the ball! They were one metre out, and he’s lost it! Cowboys ball.

8.57am BST

In the event of scores level at full time…

There’ll be five minutes of extra time each way before golden point. Let’s see.

8.56am BST

Lowe converts. It’s all square here.

8.55am BST

Penalty Cowboys

Right in front of the posts. Strip was the call. Replays show he just lost it cold. The Cowboys will take the two.

8.54am BST

NRL: 2nd half 4:30 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 12

More drama! The Cowboys, on the last, grubber low for the posts. Fifita tries to intercept it but succeeds only in knocking it on! Six more for the Cowboys. They’re coming hard here.

8.53am BST

NRL: 2nd half 6:36 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 12

High tackle Luke Lewis. Penalty Cowboys.

8.51am BST

NRL: 2nd half 6:52 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 12

Coote drops the ball after a sweeping backline move saw him with a 3-on-2. He goes one-handed and spills it. Leutele could have scooted away but dropped in himself. The Sharks are in midfield (to use union parlance), on the halfway line, and they stab it into touch. Curious move. Cowboys with the ball 10 out from their own line. Cronulla ahead by two. Just over seven minutes left.

8.49am BST

NRL: 2nd half 9:34 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 12

No dice for the Cowboys; their last tackle kick was a poor grubber easily taken by Cronulla in the field of play. Townsend gets a long kick away after a good defensive set from North Queensland, and it all feels very even.

I can’t watch @Cronulla_Sharks #NRLSharksCowboys

8.47am BST

NRL: 2nd half 11:45 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 12

Massive tackle from Granville sees Bird spill the ball and North Queensland have six tackles, 35 metres out from Cronulla’s line.

8.46am BST

This was Taumololo’s try earlier

One JT out.

The other JT produces a herculean effort to score!#NRLFinals#NRL

8.45am BST

NRL: 2nd half 13:37 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 12

Line break. The Cowboys had Cronulla pinned in their own area again before a Gallen offload gave Graham some space and he was clean through. Showed great pace for a second rower too. He kept it alive before it was shovelled to Bird who, unbalance and mid-losing the ball, put a grubber through that rolled dead. Breathtaking stuff.

8.43am BST

NRL: 2nd half 14:56 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 12

The Cowboys make 70 metres their bomb is taken by Feki.

8.42am BST

Game on!

8.41am BST

What a try from Taumololo, inspirational stuff. We looked at replays of tattooed arms and legs but we saw the point of the ball on the ground. Reminiscent of Fifita in the GF last year. Kick to come, should be an easy one.

8.40am BST

Going to the screen! Possible North Queensland try!

BARNSTORMING run from Taumololo sees him carry about five Sharks players over the line. The referee calls try and we’re having a look. It looks good!

8.39am BST

NRL: 2nd half 20:01 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 6

Fortunate for North Queensland. Te Maire Martin takes the ball to the line and pops a ball blind to no one in particular. Bird looks for an intercept but knocks it on. It means another set for North Queensland.

8.37am BST

NRL: 2nd half 21:23 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 6

Do the Sharks fans have an official trumpeter? I can hear one through the TV. Seems incongruous with everything League is about. Anyway, a classic controlled set from the Sharks after their fortunate try. Townsend kicks for the corner and finds touch. The Cowboys look fractionally deflated.

8.34am BST

A look at Bird’s try

The @Cronulla_Sharks extend their lead after @JackBird_1 pounces on a grubber!#NRLFinals#NRL

8.34am BST

Great kick from Maloney on the right touchline, swings back beautifully.

8.33am BST

Chad Townsend put through the grubber, and it puts even further scrutiny on the Leuteli incident earlier. Replays show a Cowboys player kneeing the ball in the tackle so there was a little interference, but as Tim Rogers once sung, How Much Is Enough?

Kick to come.

8.32am BST

To the screen! Possible Sharks try

Looks it, too. The Sharks surge down field, put a grubber through about twenty out and Bird flies on to the ball and grounds it. This will be a try.

8.30am BST

NRL: 2nd half 28:43 remaining Cronulla 8 – North Queensland 6

Maloney returns to an far more even contest now. The Sharks try to slither through some space on the left touchline but Feki can’t beat Feldt and he’s flung over the sideline. Bit more of a spring in their step,the Cowboys. Some huge defence sees the Sharks battling desperately to get out of their own 20. And on the last they concede a penalty! Leuteli makes a decent charge and looks to milk one by dropping it. Referee calls ‘strip’ and the Sharks are on the attack. Wow, small margins.

8.27am BST

And Lowe’s miss

Lowe swings it wide and the @nthqldcowboys trail by 2.#NRLSharksCowboys 8-6 after 50 minutes.#NRLFinals #NRL

8.27am BST

A look at the Cowboys’ try

The @nthqldcowboys find space on the edge!#NRLFinals#NRL

8.26am BST

Lowe misses

Tough kick – right footer on the right touchline, and he hooks it badly – missing to the left. Second rowers kicking is still very fun though.

8.25am BST

They make the most of the advantage! A long, looping ball from Morgan leaves Feldt with enough space to finish in the corner. Feki made an effort to bundle him out but Feldt’s too big, too strong. Double cut-out from Morgan; good option. Can Lowe even it up?

8.23am BST

NRL: 2nd half 33:12 remaining Cronulla 8 – North Queensland 2

Holmes breaks the line 40 metres out but Coote hauls him down. The Cowboys survive after a grubber makes its way in goal but is rushed out. Maloney’s nearly back but the Cowboys are on the charge.

8.21am BST

NRL: 2nd half 35:00 remaining Cronulla 8 – North Queensland 2

Cronulla solid again as Graham grubbers into the corner on the last. As the Cowboys go forward, it’s Morgan who nearly sends Coote through in the centre of the park with a jinking run and hand off before a highish shot from Holmes brings Coote down. Graham hammered Morgan high too, replays show.

Best photo! Sent to the bin for ill-discipline. Clearly the motivational quotes are working a treat down at the shire #NRLSharksCowboys

8.18am BST

NRL: 2nd half 38:10 remaining Cronulla 8 – North Queensland 2

They drop it. Second man play and the ball ends up with Winsterstein who took a hard straight line and it bounces off his chest. Demoralising stuff. The Sharks work it out now. A little hush around the ground.

8.16am BST

NRL: 2nd half 39:02 remaining Cronulla 8 – North Queensland 2

‘The Sharks have only scored four tries in their last five games in the second half’, says Phil Gould. Can the Cowboys reverse the momentum of the match and make a fast start? They’ll need to be far better than they were in the first half. And some luck! A good set followed by a bomb sees Wade Graham knock the ball on. Attacking set, full backline, 15 metres out.

8.13am BST

James Maloney in the sin-bin

Apologies for the omission earlier- James Maloney will spend the first 9 and a half minutes of the second half in the sin-bin after a professional foul on Ethan Lowe. The Cowboys winger was deemed to be impeded by Maloney when going for the ball with a try scoring opportunity beckoning, so Maloney will have a twenty minute half time break.

James Maloney goes to the sin-bin as Cronulla lead North Queensland 8-2 at the SFS. #NRLSharksCowboys #NRLFinals

James Maloney is a grub

8.03am BST

North Queensland will be absolute rapt to head to the sheds a try down. They were sloppy and wasteful next to Cronulla’s power and control. A big half time for Paul Green. I’m off for a coffee and will be back for the second half shortly.

Arrive at the brand-new SFS early today to receive your free Andrew Ettingshausen Tazo! #NRLSharksCowboys

8.01am BST

The Cowboys opt for the shot and Ethan Lowe makes no mistake.

7.53am BST

NRL: 1st half 5:10 remaining Cronulla 8 – North Queensland 0

Relative stability here sees a few completed sets from both teams, have North Queensland finally settled? They’ve been better these last ten minutes, even if they’re still lacking penetration. Gould comments that the Sharks have them in a ‘vice-like grip’.

The Sharks are pretty grubby today along with the luck the referees are giving them, it’s their game to lose. #NRLFinals #NRLSharksCowboys

7.50am BST

NRL: 1st half 8:34 remaining Cronulla 8 – North Queensland 0

Knock on 10m from their own line gives Cronulla a chance to extend their lead. The Cowboys feel ready for the taking but then Leutele coughs it up! Decent defence from North Queensland but the errors stacking up now.

This game turning into a afl match. No 1 is holding on to the footy! Knock-ons galore #NRLSharksCowboys #NRLFinals

7.47am BST

NRL: 1st half 10:08 remaining Cronulla 8 – North Queensland 0

And every time Cronulla get it they just roll forward at will.

7.44am BST

NRL: 1st half 13:53 remaining Cronulla 8 – North Queensland 0

Cronulla looking like they belong in week 2 of the finals, the Cowboys anything but. They seem to have no direction, no method for opening up Cronulla, and they’re making a number of low-percentage plays – the latest of which sees the ball go through the hands on the last, and results in the winger Feldt kicking the ball out on the full. They get a penalty soon after though, because that’s what happens.

7.41am BST

NRL: 1st half 17:32 remaining Cronulla 8 – North Queensland 0

Another penalty to North Queensland! Offside against Gallen. Standard. But fast-arriving defence results in the ball coughed up on the first tackle, and the Sharks will work their way out. Phil Gould opines that ‘you can’t keep throwing long passes if the defence is rushing up!’ The accompanying replays show the Cowboys making short passes.

The inclusion of Jack Bird has made a huge difference to this Sharks team #NRLFinals

7.38am BST

NRL: 1st half 18:45 remaining Cronulla 8 – North Queensland 0

Prior laying all over the play the ball gives North Queensland another set close to the line. They take the tap…

7.37am BST

NRL: 1st half 21:08 remaining Cronulla 8 – North Queensland 0

And another penalty for Cronulla to get them away from their red zone and they’re on the attack. Cross field bomb and the Cowboys survive. They need something to change the run of play here. Penalties normally do the trick, but they don’t get one. They do however get an error from Valentine Holmes! Morgan kicks on the fifth and Holmes is done by a leg-breaking bounce. The Cowboys get a chance.

Penalty goal to @jim_jim86!#NRLSharksCowboys 8-0 after 18 minutes.#NRLFinals#NRL

7.34am BST

Easy for Maloney.

7.34am BST

NRL: 1st half 24:12 remaining Cronulla 6 – North Queensland 0

Scott Bolton has the ball stripped by Jayden Brailey of the Sharks – huge play – and Brailey subsequently earns a penalty! All Sharks here. They’ll take the shot for two and Maloney should make no mistake.

7.32am BST

NRL: 1st half 25:42 remaining Cronulla 6 – North Queensland 0

Percentage stuff from the Sharks. Good set, kick to corner. They look controlled. The Cows by comparison seem far more error-prone. They seem patternless and rudderless.

7.30am BST

NRL: 1st half 27:43 remaining Cronulla 6 – North Queensland 0

Cursory penalty to North Queensland now as they work their way out of their half. It’s Fifita who concedes it. His tattoos stretch all the way down the outside of his left leg. Maybe they go up the entire left hand side of his body. Anyway, the Cowboys squander their advantage via a huge forward pass from Glanville early in the set. The Sharks march forward.

7.27am BST

NRL: 1st half 30:15 remaining Cronulla 6 – North Queensland 0

Further pressure from North Queensland, attacking the Sharks’ left edge close to the goal line. Morgan tries a second man play but huge defence stops them crashing over. Coote tries to grubber through but he jams the ball into the ground and it comes to nought.

I’m only interested in the Fifita leg tat descriptions.

7.23am BST

NRL: 1st half 34:15 remaining Cronulla 6 – North Queensland 0

Good return set from the Cowboys after early Cronulla dominance. They leave the Sharks deep in the corner of their own defensive end but…penalty. Lying on the play the ball. The Sharks get a piggy back out of there.

Vision of the @Cronulla_Sharks Try Decision in the 3rd minute of #NRLSharksCowboys.#NRLFinals #NRL

7.21am BST

Chad Townsend with the four pointer. Converted by Maloney 15 metres in from touch.

7.19am BST

Going to the screen! Possible try to Cronulla

Townsend puts up the bomb, Winterstein takes it well inside the field of play but is rushed back in goal by Lewis and Bird. In attempting to ground the ball inside the field of play (why?) he loses possession of the ball. Question is whether he grounded it in his own in-goal, and it looks like he doesn’t. The Sharks will draw first blood!

7.16am BST

NRL: 1st half 38:00 remaining Cronulla 0 – North Queensland 0

The Cowboys kick off and they’ll run toward the SCG, the Sharks to Paddington. One of these teams might end up at the Paddington RSL after this, actually. Sharks get the early territorial advantage after a few completed sets.

7.15am BST

The players are out there.

8th vs 5th, Cowboys to kick off. Someone’s season ends in two hours. Looks to be around 18,000 in attendance. Obviously that will end up being around 27,000.

7.11am BST

Shame we won’t be able to see this guy today

JT chats #CAM356 and #NRLSharksCowboys!#NRLFinals#NRL

7.10am BST

Looks like we’ll have one of those (lower-tier) packed houses.

Shark attack #NRLSharksCowboys

7.09am BST

The SFS is sunny

Here’s a run of pics from around the ground.

#GoCows #NRLFinals #NRLSharksCowboys

7.05am BST

Good morning, afternoon and evening all, and welcome to a special, Rugby League-laden edition of the Guardian’s Sportwatch.

Today we bring you coverage from the last of this weekend’s Finals fixtures, as the reigning premiers of 2016, Cronulla, take on the 2015 winners, North Queensland, in a sudden death battle. (In a weak protest at the now-accepted description of teams by the mascots and not their locales, I will continue to refer to both as ‘Cronulla’ and ‘North Queensland’. Sorry NRL)

5.41am BST

Sam will be here shortly. Here’s Matt Cleary on the finals lineup, in case you missed it:

Related: Melbourne Storm and Sydney Roosters the only NRL teams still standing

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article:

Sep 03

Diamonds suffer upset loss to Ferns, Dragons crash out of NRL finals race and more: sportwatch – as it happened

9.18am BST


That’s all from me on today’s special version of Sportwatch, which saw the 2017 NRL finals series and match-ups decided after a spectacular fall from grace from the St George Illawarra Dragons, who led the competition in round seven, before crashing out in the final round after an upset loss to the Bulldogs. Here are the finals match-ups for next week:

9.05am BST

Dragons get the ball back with just one minute to go – what can they make of it? Impressive effort – they make it all the way to 15m but ultimately come up short. Devastating for the Dragons, who led the competition in round seven, and are bundled out of contention in round 26. Dufty looks particularly heartbroken after the knock-on, while Graham looks thrilled with the unlikely Bulldogs victory, his last game for Canterbury before he crosses over to the Dragons next season. The Cowboys will be elated, as they now sneak into the finals in eighth.

Hopoate was the hero in the end for Canterbury – he had 198 metres run, a line break and a try to go with a try-saving intercept. Big game from David Klemmer for the Dogs who managed 214 run metres and 35 tackles. Lichaa, meanwhile continued his return to form with the winning try in the 73rd minute, and 37 tackles (a team-high). For the Dragons, Paul Vaughan and Jason Nightingale had the most run metres with 212 and 192 respectively. McInness (43) and Frizell (37) had the most tackles for the Dragons.

8.52am BST

NRL H2 78:14 St George Illawarra Dragons 20-26 Canterbury Bulldogs

Six tackles for the Dragons – after the ball goes dead. Was almost a perfect kick from Mbye, but it just rolled over at the last minute. Nightingale almost makes it down the sideline again, but Lafai’s throw back on the inside is an awkward one and Dufty knocks it forward. Scrum to the Bulldogs.

8.50am BST

NRL H2 76:36 St George Illawarra Dragons 20-26 Canterbury Bulldogs

Nightingale almost makes it down the sideline after a big, sweeping pass from Dufty – but guess who? Hopoate intercepts the kick. Not much left to play out here.

8.47am BST

NRL H2 73:00 St George Illawarra Dragons 20-26 Canterbury Bulldogs

The Dragons are backed into a corner, and the Bulldogs are full of running after the last try. Will this go to Golden Point? Not a good finish to the set from the Bulldogs, who were 5m out – but the kick goes into the ankles of the Dragons’ defence.

8.41am BST

NRL H2 67:15 St George Illawarra Dragons 20-20 Canterbury Bulldogs

TRY for the Dogs! Brilliant, tackle-bursting run from Hopoate, who then finds a pass from off the ground to set up Aidan Tolman. Hopoate is having an incredible day.

“How did you get there Aiden?”#NRLDragonsBulldogs #NRL

8.37am BST

NRL H2 63:30 St George Illawarra Dragons 20-14 Canterbury Bulldogs

Try-saver by Klemmer on Vaughan, but he gives away the penalty straight after. The Dragons point to the uprights, and look to extend their lead to 6. Widdop strikes it truly, and they’re a converted try ahead.

“Tremendous tackle from Hopoate.” – Rabs. #NRLDragonsBulldogs #9WWOS

8.34am BST

NRL H2 61:00 St George Illawarra Dragons 18-14 Canterbury Bulldogs

Josh Dugan looks to have scored a game-breaking try for the Dragons, but he’s held up in a brilliant tackle by Hopoate. That man again saves another try – this time with a hand in to stop Thompson and force a dropout. Tense scenes.

8.32am BST

NRL H2 59:00 St George Illawarra Dragons 18-14 Canterbury Bulldogs

Widdop kicks the ball over the sideline, and it’s a scrum to the Dogs. Not sure the Dragons can afford to be so defensive – they still need to score again, you’d think. That said the Bulldogs suddenly look impotent in attack – and on cue, Montoya turns it over with a forward pass.

8.27am BST

NRL H2 54:40 St George Illawarra Dragons 18-14 Canterbury Bulldogs

Dufty! He finally finds a way into the game, Lafai finds him on the inside after a dummy on the left, but it was a brilliant pass by Widdop that opened up the space. McGregor fist pumps and takes a deep breath.

Dufty scores, the @NRL_Dragons hit the lead!#NRLDragonsBulldogs #NRL

8.25am BST

NRL H2 51:30 St George Illawarra Dragons 12-14 Canterbury Bulldogs

MacDonald puts the ball down for the Dragons and the Bulldogs come again – they take a penalty from 10m out, and tap and go. Will they kick this time? They simply taken the tackle on the last two sets, but imagine they will go aggressive this time. They turn it over before they get to the fifth in a disappointing result. Great take by Montoya on the sideline, but it’s to no avail.

8.22am BST

NRL H2 49:30 St George Illawarra Dragons 12-14 Canterbury Bulldogs

Dufty’s take is a good one on the run after a penetrating Frawley kick. He’s hardly been sighted, but is an important cog in the Dragons’ line-up – they’d do well to get him back in the game. Widdop takes another kick but Hopoate has no worries with the take. Morris gets the penalty against Dugan – Morris tries to tap and go, but is called back. Paul McGregor looks decidedly unimpressed – but the Bulldogs can’t get further than 5m out.

8.19am BST

NRL H2 46:00 St George Illawarra Dragons 12-14 Canterbury Bulldogs

Great take, and resultant take-off by Hopoate, who finds the Dragons on the back foot. The Bulldogs make it to 10m out with one left. Hopoate takes the tackle, and the ball goes back to the Dragons. Bulldogs need to keep pressing – they look to be playing things safe. Montoya takes Widdop’s kick, and the Dogs go again.

8.16am BST

NRL H2 43:00 St George Illawarra Dragons 12-14 Canterbury Bulldogs

Mistake in the play-the-ball by de Belin, which gifts the ball to the Bulldogs. De Belin argues he controlled it, but to no avail. Scrum for the Dogs. Stanley off for the Bulldogs with a hamstring, who joins Reynolds on the sideline. Bulldogs can’t complete the set, after Lichaa has the ball stipped, and Frawley knocks it on. Dragons ball.

8.10am BST

I haven’t had time to recap the Sharks v Knights game yet, so here’s the report from AAP.

Cronulla have work to do leading into enter next week’s elimination NRL final after slogging their way to an unconvincing 26-18 final-round win over Newcastle in the Hunter. Despite racing out to an 18-0 lead, the Sharks were pushed all the way on Sunday but eventually prevailed for a hard-fought second win in three weeks. Shane Flanagan’s fifth-placed side now await the winner of the St George-Illawarra and Canterbury game to decide whether they face Penrith or North Queensland in week one of the finals.

8.00am BST

NRL half-time St George Illawarra Dragons 12-14 Canterbury Bulldogs

Well, as it stands the Cowboys are in the finals – with the Dragons putting on a disappointing first half display. They’re lucky to be as close as they are, helped by some Mbye inaccuracy and a multitude of penalties. Paul Vaughan still leads the way with run metres (106), to Klemmer’s 86 and de Belin’s 83. McInness and Elliott have 21 tackles respectively for their sides, while Lichaa, who has impressed, has 20. Reckon the Bulldogs will rue his departure.

7.55am BST

NRL H1 38:55 St George Illawarra Dragons 12-14 Canterbury Bulldogs

No luck for Reynolds, who won’t take to the ground again. Penalty goes to the Dragons – 6-1 is the penalty count in favour of the Dragons, but it hasn’t helped them with the scoreline so far. Make that 7-1 against the Bulldogs – this time for Jackson holding on. Can the Dragons finally convert? YES – through Nightingale on the left, which brings them back into a game they’ve looked horrible out of. The set lacked intensity, and was lucky to end in a try.

7.50am BST

NRL H1 33:23 St George Illawarra Dragons 6-14 Canterbury Bulldogs

They do it again! This time it’s Montoya, and the Bulldogs are on fire. Hopoate again produces a brilliant pass to find Montoya in the corner. The Dragons look shell-shocked. Mbye can’t convert – and his poor conversion rate continues.

Vision of the @NRL_Bulldogs Try decision in the 29th minute of #NRLDragonsBulldogs.#NRL

7.47am BST

NRL H1 31:00 St George Illawarra Dragons 6-10 Canterbury Bulldogs

Some footage is filtering through of Josh Reynolds in the rooms – who looks devastated at the likely possibility that he won’t get back onto the ground.

7.41am BST

NRL H1 25:21 St George Illawarra Dragons 6-6 Canterbury Bulldogs

Big metres so far from Paul Vaughan, who has 106, while Graham and Jackson have 48 each for the Bulldogs. Most tackles also goes to Vaughan, with 15, while McInness (14), Lichaa (14) and Tolman (14) follow. 58% possession to the Dragons, and a 79% conversion rate to just 62% for the Bulldogs.

7.36am BST

NRL H1 20:21 St George Illawarra Dragons 6-6 Canterbury Bulldogs

Bizarre play by the Dragons – with Widdop kicking the ball into de Belin, who is caught accidentally off-side. Poor signs from them with a finals campaign on the line.

7.33am BST

NRL H1 18:00 St George Illawarra Dragons 6-6 Canterbury Bulldogs

The Dragons have another go at the early kick, but it’s cut off. They’re travelling largely side-to-side – predictably, and not particularly dangerously.

7.29am BST

NRL H1 14:39 St George Illawarra Dragons 6-6 Canterbury Bulldogs

Mann kicks a high one in hope, it’s picked up by Sims after Widdop spills the ball. The Bunker rules it backwards, which means the try stands – which goes to Thompson after the Sims pass. A try to the Dragons well against the run of play.

The @NRL_Dragons hit back in style!#NRLDragonsBulldogs #NRL

7.25am BST

NRL H1 12:30 St George Illawarra Dragons 0-6 Canterbury Bulldogs

Penalty goes against David Klemmer who is called off-side – and isn’t happy. The Dragons have another six, and are only 10m out. Great intercept from Morris – who got his hand to it and completed the catch just before the ball hits the ground. Missed opportunity for St George, who look the inferior side so far.

7.23am BST

NRL H1 10:10 St George Illawarra Dragons 0-6 Canterbury Bulldogs

Knock-on against Montoya who drops the Widdop kick – on the replay, it looks like the ball goes backwards. Unlucky – or a lucky break for the Dragons, whichever way you look at it. Good chase from Hopoate to knock the ball out of play for a dropout (although the ball has come off the hands of Dugan – which should force a restart). No call from the Bunker, though.

7.19am BST

NRL H1 6:46 St George Illawarra Dragons 0-6 Canterbury Bulldogs

Brilliant play by the Bulldogs which results in a Reynolds try – but Reynolds looks injured (is that his final play for the Dogs?) He looks very proppy. Great hands from Hopoate to set that one up, and a nice strike from Mbye follows.

Try-time for @joshreynolds9 in his last game for the @NRL_Bulldogs!#NRLDragonsBulldogs #NRL

7.16am BST

NRL H1 2:46 St George Illawarra Dragons 0-0 Canterbury Bulldogs

Short dropout from the Bulldogs, which comes off – and Widdop’s gamble backfires. The Bulldogs make ground ground – right up to the 20, until Reynolds’s pass misfires, and the Dragons are back down the ground. Fumbling start from both sides.

7.14am BST

NRL H1 1:00 St George Illawarra Dragons 0-0 Canterbury Bulldogs

We’re underway in this game against fierce rivals, and who would’ve thought James Graham would be leaving the club for the Dragons (on the same day as Josh Reynolds departs)? Emotional day for the Bulldogs, who lose two favourite sons.

7.05am BST


According to Andrew Johns, the Storm are near certainties for the title, with the Roosters the only team who might be able to challenge. The Storm became just the seventh salary-cap compliant team in history to finish a season with 20 wins with their 32-6 dismantling of Canberra on Saturday night. Melbourne have dropped just four games all season, including two without Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk during the State of Origin period. One of those Origin-affected losses came to the Roosters in golden point in Adelaide, and league great Johns said he believed they were the only team who could stop them winning the title.

7.00am BST

NRL St George Illawarra Dragons v Canterbury Bulldogs

Love this earlier photo of the much-maligned ANZ Stadium (read Matt Cleary’s thoughts on this from Monday). Dragons fans of course are lamenting that the game is not at spiritual home, Kogarah.

Couldn’t ask for better weather ☀️ #NRLDragonsBulldogs #redv

6.57am BST

NRL St George Illawarra Dragons v Canterbury Bulldogs

Not long – just under 13 minutes – until this game gets underway. This is a critical game for the Dragons, who need a win to sneak into September (and knock the North Queensland Cowboys out of the finals race). They don’t have a very good record against the Bulldogs, however, having lost 10 of their past 11 against Canterbury (including a 16-2 loss in Round 14). The Bulldogs have also had a decent run of late, with their two biggest scores of the year in their past two games. It will also be the final game in Bulldogs colours for their favourite son Josh Reynolds, and captain James Graham – who will join opponents the Dragons on a three-year deal next season. (Likewise, it’s the last game in blue and white for Sam Casino and Michael Lichaa – who has fired up in recent weeks). Meanwhile, Josh Dugan is back from his disciplinary break to give his side a boost.

6.45am BST

New Zealand are Quad Series champions! 2012 (in the Constellation Cup) was the last time the New Zealanders beat the Australians in a series – so this is a big win for the Ferns. They’ll take huge amounts of confidence into the Commonwealth Games after this victory. Disappointing day for the Diamonds, but all credit must go to the Silver Ferns, who were incredibly impressive. The Australians simply had no answer for Selby-Rickit, who scored 35/41, while Bailey Mes was critical in GA with 17/18. Crampton and Francois had 16 and 15 goal assists respectively, with some quick and impressive transition play. Jury, meanwhile was impressive in defence, and takes out player of the match.

For the Diamonds, Bassett finished with 22/24, while Philip had 11/12 and Thwaites 10/11. Liz Watson had 11 goal assists and looked damaging once she came on, with 27 feeds.

6.36am BST

Netball Quad Series 4th 02:00 remaining New Zealand 54-44 Australia

Beautiful finish from long-range to Thwaites, but the margin will be too large. Francois gets her turn on the bench with 34 feeds and 15 goal assists for the night. Great game from her.

6.35am BST

Netball Quad Series 4th 03:22 remaining New Zealand 53-43 Australia

The Australians are racing down the court as they try to peg this lead back. Selby-Rickit gets a rest with 35/41, while Maia Wilson gets her opportunity – and scores first up.

6.33am BST

Netball Quad Series 4th 05:31 remaining New Zealand 51-42 Australia

Madi Robinson is back in WA for the Australians, while Weston (in just her sixth test) comes in to GD. Not sure there’s enough time for the Australians to erode this lead. What a game from the Ferns. Still, Selby-Rickit has missed her last three shots with the pressure on.

6.30am BST

Netball Quad Series 4th 07:20 remaining New Zealand 49-40 Australia

Francois gets a warning, and the Australians pull another back through Thwaites. Three in a row for the Diamonds. Great pressure through the middle, particularly through Tippett in WA, and Simpson in WD, who push the Ferns back down the court. Selby-Rickit misses again, and the pressure mounts.

6.29am BST

Netball Quad Series 4th 08:50 remaining New Zealand 49-39 Australia

Once more, the Australians look to have no answer for Selby-Rickit, who has 34/37 (92%). Like Philip in GA, though, she’s raced to 9/10. Lots of ‘tidy up’ calls for the Diamonds in defence – who finally force a miss out of Selby-Rickit and have a chance to pull one back. Thwaites makes them pay.

6.26am BST

Netball Quad Series 4th 11:40 remaining New Zealand 47-36 Australia

Two in a row for the Aussies, who look rejuvenated by the changed line-up. Watson comes back into centre, and looks dangerous. Nonetheless, the Ferns get one back through some confident play. What can the Diamonds do?

6.24am BST

Netball Quad Series 4th 13:49 remaining New Zealand 46-33 Australia

Another change for the Diamonds – Tippett comes on in WA, while Mannix gets a run at GK (Bruce comes off with the unfortunate tally of 18 penalties). Ferns get the first two to make the task even harder for the Australians.

6.21am BST

Netball Quad Series three-quarter-time New Zealand 44-33 Australia

After some impressive pressure-play by Crampton (WA) and Grant (GD), the Ferns turn the ball over and make the attacking rebound – Selby-Rickit gets her own ball, and shoots for an 11-point lead to the New Zealanders. Trouble for the Diamonds, who have looked the inferior side from the first whistle. They scored 13-9 that quarter to take their overall lead to 11. Selby-Rickit now has 30/33 (91%) and Bailey Mes has 14/15 (93%). Crampton and Francois have been integral to the Ferns’ success, with 14 and 13 goal assists respectively.

6.17am BST

Netball Quad Series 3rd 01:30 remaining New Zealand 42-32 Australia

Thwaites is on the board – and the margin is back to that of half-time, 7 points – until the Kiwis get one back through Mes (up to 14/15). Big win for Kelly Jury over Thwaites – she has 12 penalties, but has worried both Thwaites and Bassett and has been crucial to her side’s lead. Worrying margin for the Diamonds – now out to 10, with Bruce living on the edge with 18 penalties.

6.13am BST

Netball Quad Series 3rd 05:00 remaining New Zealand 39-30 Australia

Thwaites on for the Diamonds and Bassett off. Crampton is pulled from WA for Souness – an interesting call, given she has 28 feeds, 13 goal assists and 12 centre pass receives.

6.12am BST

Netball Quad Series 3rd 06:16 remaining New Zealand 39-29 Australia

Some big, impressive cross-court passes from the Ferns are bamboozling the Australians – while on the other hand their own attempts to divert play are regularly being picked off. Five in a row for the Ferns, and things look ominous.

6.09am BST

Netball Quad Series 3rd 08:37 remaining New Zealand 34-29 Australia

Selby-Rickit misses in a rare slip-up for her: she’s 22/24 – the same tally as Bassett currently. Three in a row Australia through Philip. It tightens up again.

6.08am BST

Netball Quad Series 3rd 09:43 remaining New Zealand 34-26 Australia

Philip’s on the board, while some shots filter through of the South African team taking selfies (or are they on Skype?) in the crowd. Today was their first ever win in the Quad Series against the much more highly-fancied English Roses.

6.05am BST

Netball Quad Series 3rd 12:17 remaining New Zealand 33-25 Australia

A big change for the Australians with Tippett off. Tegan Philip – who turns 29 today – is on for Tippett in GA, but misses her first shot at goal.

6.03am BST

NRL half-time Newcastle Knights 12-18 Cronulla Sharks

I’m just about to have a very quick lunch break but it’s half-time in the NRL and the Sharks are up 18-12. They got off to a 18-0 lead, before the Knights hit back with two tries to Lachlan Fitzgibbon, who also has 78 run metres (Saifiti has 102). For the Sharks, they’ve got one try each to Holmes, Townsend and Brailey. Gallen has 113 run metres, while Fifita has 106 and 20 tackles. Only Brailey (21) and King (23) have more. All set up for a tight second-half.

5.54am BST

Netball Quad Series half-time remaining New Zealand 31-24 Australia

Too casual from the Ferns, who give up the ball in the middle – only for Tippett to give away a contact penalty with the Australians looking certain to score. Selby-Rickit makes them pay, taking her tally to 21/22 in the match so far. Much better quarter from the Diamonds, who outscored the Ferns 14-13, but fail to make significant inroads on the quarter-time margin. It’s now a 7-point margin to New Zealand, enough for them to win the title.

5.49am BST

Netball Quad Series 2nd 01:57 remaining New Zealand 29-22 Australia

Jury has done a fantastic job on Bassett – who is nonetheless up to 19/21. The Australians have gone to her on almost every occasion, while Tippett is just 3/4. New Zealand score three in a row for another mini-break on the Diamonds – with little luck for Bruce, who is up to 13 penalties and under the intense watch of the umpire.

5.46am BST

Netball Quad Series 2nd 05:05 remaining New Zealand 26-21 Australia

A flurry of goals puts the Diamonds right back in the contest, making the home crowd nervous (and decidedly quieter). Selby-Rickit’s shooting, however, maintains the gap – currently at 19/20.

5.43am BST

Netball Quad Series 2nd 07:22 remaining New Zealand 23-18 Australia

Bruce gets a couple of tidy-up calls, this time for knocking the ball right out of Selby-Rickit’s hands – but Mes misses the resultant conversion attempt, for 6/7. Down the other end, Tippett misses but gains the rebound and sets up Bassett. They’re finding much more speed down the court in this quarter.

5.41am BST

Netball Quad Series 2nd 09:25 remaining New Zealand 23-17 Australia

Great, aggressive play by the Diamonds, who break for an intercept and put the Ferns under enough pressure to turn the ball over. Still, their run of defensive penalties continues, now up to 25 – and 10 for Bruce. We’re seeing a much more even quarter.

5.39am BST

Netball Quad Series 2nd 11:15 remaining New Zealand 21-15 Australia

Watson has really sparked the Diamonds, and again feeds Bassett for a goal. She has a hand in the next one, too, for three in a row. She has brought poise and patience to the Diamonds’ build-ups. Tippett makes it 3/3.

5.37am BST

Netball Quad Series 2nd 13:30 remaining New Zealand 20-11 Australia

A change for the Aussies with Liz Watson coming on at Centre. She’s into the action quickly and feeds Bassett for the first goal of the quarter. The Kiwis, however, hit back immediately through Selby-Rickit – twice.

5.35am BST

Netball Quad Series quarter-time New Zealand 18-10 Australia

21 penalties for the Australians compared to New Zealand’s 10 – and their ill-discipline is costing them dearly. Courtney Bruce – at GK – has 9 alone. Selby-Rickit has 13/14 in a dominant display, and has been well supported by Mes with 5/5. Gina Crampton has 12 feeds and has been impressive at WA.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Courtney Bruce! #NZLvAUS #QuadSeries

5.30am BST

Netball Quad Series 1st 1:20 remaining New Zealand 15-10 Australia

The Australians are lacking flow in their forays forward, and their checking of the Ferns is looser than you’d like, particularly down the wings. Still, they get their first run of multiple goals – and Bassett scores for three unanswered.

5.27am BST

Netball Quad Series 1st 3:57 remaining New Zealand 13-6 Australia

Brilliant play by Courtney Bruce who showed great agility at GK to leap and intercept, and sets her team up for a much-needed goal. Nonetheless, the Ferns look unstoppable at this point. Thwaites and Watson warming up nervously for the Diamonds.

5.24am BST

Netball Quad Series 1st 6:40 remaining New Zealand 11-4 Australia

Liking the game of GK Kelly Jury, who has won a few one-on-ones with Bassett, who has 3/4 so far. Selby-Rickit, meanwhile has 9/10. The Australians have given away 12 penalties to 4.

5.22am BST

Netball Quad Series 1st 9:15 remaining New Zealand 8-3 Australia

The Australians have no answer for Selby-Rickit, who has 7 from 8 so far. This is her home court. The Australians are breaking down in attack – plenty of intercepts for the Ferns in the middle.

5.20am BST

Netball Quad Series 1st 11:53 remaining New Zealand 4-2 Australia

Another to Selby-Rickit, and a nice flat ball to Bassett sees the Aussies get the reply. Bailey Mes chimes in for the Kiwis, and a spectacular attempt at an intercept by Sinclair doesn’t come off – Australia hits back through Bassett.

5.17am BST

Netball Quad Series 1st 13:32 remaining New Zealand 1-0 Australia

Bassett misses the first shot at goal and can’t get the rebound back into play. Contact on Selby-Rickit sees New Zealand score first.

5.15am BST

Netball Quad Series

Anthems have finished – but here are our teams.

5.12am BST

Netball Quad Series

Both teams are lining up for their national anthems. In the meantime, check out this great package documenting these two teams’ historic rivalry.

It’s netball’s greatest rivalry: @AussieDiamonds and the Silver Ferns. Who will come out on top? #QuadSeries

5.08am BST

Netball Quad Series

Here’s a quick round-up of South Africa’s upset win over England 53-51 at Invercargill’s Stadium Southland. After narrow earlier losses to Australia and New Zealand, the Proteas showed resolve and focus in a hectic final quarter to shut out the more favoured English outfit. Captain Bongiwe Msomi at wing attack combined well with Erin Burger, feeding shooter Lenize Potgieter (43 from 45) from long range. Scores were level 26-26 at half-time, forcing England coach Tracey Neville made a series of changes in the third quarter, to little immediate effect. The two key shifts came with the injection of experience – in the shooting circle where Jo Harten replaced Kadeen Corbin (10 from 13), and at wing defence, with the introduction of Jade Clarke for Beth Cobden. South Africa, however, readjusted, showing plenty of patience in working the ball around until space opened, with Potgieter and goal attack Maryka Hotzhausen stepping up with a 100 per cent third quarter in sinking 16 from 16. Ahead 42-38 at the three-quarter mark, South Africa extended their lead to six midway through the final spell, digging deep to hold off a frenzied English finish in the closing minutes.

4.59am BST

Netball Quad Series

In breaking news, South Africa have just defeated the England Roses – which means the Australians will take out the title so long as they defeat the Silver Ferns, or lose by 3 goals or less. Meanwhile, the Silver Ferns can win if they defeat Australia by 4 goals or more. It all comes down to this game!

Welcome to ILT Stadium Southland @AussieDiamonds! #QuadSeries #NZLvAUS

4.57am BST


Speaking of the Socceroos, they’re facing an uphill battle for a berth in next year’s World Cup. Australia now needs to win (and win well) against Thailand on Tuesday night to secure a place in the 2018 tournament (watch out for John Duerden’s column on this tomorrow). Australia has qualified for three successive World Cups – but only 16 other countries have reached four consecutive World Cups (notable exceptions include Poland and Belgium).

4.52am BST


If you’re wondering what next for Tournament of Nations (ToN) champions the Matildas, they’re set to play Brazil (their final ToN opponents) to a sell-out, bumper crowd of 17,000 people in Penrith later this month. That’s the biggest crowd our national women’s soccer team will have enjoyed in Australia since the Sydney Olympics.

4.47am BST


Hello and welcome to this Sunday edition of Sportwatch. I’m Kate O’Halloran and I’ll be here to take you through today’s live action, whatever your preferred shape of ball. Don’t forget to tweet us @GdnAusSport with the hashtag #sportwatch.

4.24am BST

U.S. Open

Just while we’re waiting for this game to get underway, here’s a quick update on the fortunes of the Australians competing in the U.S. Open. Nick Kyrgios and Matt Reid have both bombed out of the doubles competition, with a 6-1 6-1 loss to 16-time grand slam champions Mike and Bob Bryan, but the news was better for Dara Gavrilova and her Russian partner Daria Kasatkina, who powered into the women’s doubles third round with a 6-3 7-5 win over Chia-Jung Chuang and Misaki Doi. However, Australian sixth seeds Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua suffered a surprise 6-0 3-6 6-4 second-round loss to Shuko Aoyama and Zhaoxuan Yang, while teenager Thomas Bosancic was also eliminated from the junior boys’ singles with a 6-2 6-4 second-round loss to Jesper De Jong of the Netherlands.

5.49am BST

Kate will be here shortly. In the meantime, here’s a recap of how Saturday panned out:

Related: Manly and Panthers secure finals berths and Winx wins again: sportwatch – as it happened

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Permanent link to this article:

Sep 02

Manly and Panthers secure finals berths and Winx wins again: sportwatch – as it happened

1.06pm BST

And that just about wraps things up for today. The Sea Eagles are safely into the NRL finals after their convincing win over the Panthers, who were made to sweat over their place in the eight for much of this afternoon. The Roosters secured second spot with a comeback victory over the Titans, while the ladder-leading Melbourne Storm signed off on their home-and-away season with a comfortable win over the Raiders. Winx, the superhorse, was again magnificent in winning a 19th straight race at Randwick Racecourse and it was a good day for Victorians, after their women’s rep side won the inaugural AFLW State of Origin game with ease. There you have it, Saturday in a nutshell. Come back again tomorrow to see if the Dragons can beat the Bulldogs and make the NRL finals, and to follow the Diamonds’ Quad Series match against the Silver Ferns. Kate O’Halloran will be at the controls from 1:30pm on Sunday, please do join her then. From me, though, thanks for joining us today and until next time.

12.59pm BST

AFLW State of Origin: It’s Victoria’s night – convincingly so – as the siren sounds at Etihad and the scoreboard shows the Vics beat the Allies 17.11 (113) to 2.4 (16). Jasmin Garner booted five majors and Daisey Pearace had 37 possessions in standout performances. It might have been utterly one-sided, but that may have served to whet the appetite ahead of season two.

12.52pm BST

Football: “Liverpool put a price of €200m and that was why we decided to step back,” Barcelona director Albert Soler said. “This club and this president will not put this club’s assets at risk like that. Going into the market place with so much money, the financial demands made of us were exorbitant.”

Related: Barcelona say Liverpool wanted €200m for Philippe Coutinho on deadline day

12.38pm BST

Formula One: The final practice session before the Italian Grand Prix has been mostly washed out, with just seven drivers able to complete a timed lap. Felipe Massa topped the timesheets amid heavy rain at Monza, where Daniel Ricciardo will start Sunday’s race near the back of the grid after receiving a penalty for engine changes.

12.31pm BST

AFLW State of Origin: We’re just about to start the final quarter across town at Etihad Stadium, where the Victorians have extended their lead to blowout proportions – they’re ahead 11.8 (74) to 2.2 (14). Jasmine Garner has kicked three goals for the Vics whil;e Daisy Pearce has a game-high 29 possessions.

12.25pm BST

Storm 26-6 Raiders – 80 mins: There it is! The minor premiers wrap up a convincing win and will head into next weekend’s match against the Eels in fine form. Joey Leilua finishes the game on the pitch, which is possibly the most remarkable aspect of this encounter. He can now look forward to Mad Monday.

“Really pleasing to get that result,” says Cameron Smith. “The Raiders were brave tonight. They had nothing to lose and they really tested us. Nice to get the win for a few of the boys who are playing their last home and away game for the Storm.”

12.20pm BST

Try! Tohu Harris scores!

Storm 32-6 Raiders – 78 mins: The Storm do have their try in the end though, as Harris takes the ball and three Raiders players over the line soon after to score his second of the night! Cameron Smith…. etc.

12.18pm BST

Storm 26-6 Raiders – 77 mins: Controversy! Needless to say, it involves Leilua, who tries to take out Addo-Carr, only to miss him. Still, the Storm player is forced out of play before he steps back in and grabs the ball in the in-goal. A penalty try? Nope, says the referee.

12.15pm BST

Storm 26-6 Raiders – 75 mins: It takes just one more minute before Joey blows up. He gets in Scott’s face, gets his shirt ripped in the process and then makes baby noises at his adversary.

12.12pm BST

Storm 26-6 Raiders – 74 mins: Joey Leilua at it again. He’s got about six minutes to keep his head. But that’s not guaranteed.

12.08pm BST

Storm 26-6 Raiders – 70 mins: Rapana touches down right the corner – or does he? No, he doesn’t, as the replays show. He did his best, but he couldn’t quite bend his wrist around the ball. He does, however, take the cameraman down with him – caught spectacularly on TV after the director decides to switch cameras just at the right moment!

NO TRY! He put down the cameraman… But not the ball. #NRLStormRaiders #9WWOS

12.04pm BST

Storm 26-6 Raiders – 68 mins: Slater’s through here, in that dashing, scampering way of his, but he’s still got Wighton to beat – and he can’t.

12.00pm BST

Storm 26-6 Raiders – 65 mins: The biggest cheer of the night is reserved for Cronk, who appears to have scored but is called back for offside! The crowd don’t like it, naturally, but it’s a fair call by referee, and backed up by the Bunker.

11.58am BST

Try! Suliasi Vunivalu scores!

Storm 26-6 Raiders – 62 mins: Vunivalu hits back immediately with his 23rd of the season! The NRL’s leading tryscorer latches onto a little grubber kick by Chambers before powering over the line. So he’s still two ahead of Rapana, with Alex Johnstone now one behind on 22. Smith kicks the extras, of course.

11.54am BST

Try! Jordan Rapana scores!

Storm 20-6 Raiders – 58 mins: Canberra are on the board! And it’s quite some try, as Rapana pulls of a superb diving catch in the in-goal! That’s his 21st try of the season.

Classic catch!

Rapana adds another highlight to the reel! #NRLStormRaiders #NRL

11.49am BST

AFLW State of Origin: In scenes reminiscent of rugby league’s State of Origin, Victoria are playing the Queensland role and the Allies that of NSW. It’s half-time and Victoria are leading 8.5 (53) to 2.2 (14). The start of an are of domination? Could well be.

11.48am BST

Storm 20-0 Raiders – 53 mins: Chambers gets absolutely hammered! He’s propelled backwards and put on his backside by a huge Junior Paulo hit!

Stopped in his tracks!#NRLStormRaiders #NRL

11.42am BST

Storm 20-0 Raiders – 49 mins: Harris now appears to throw an elbow on Sezar, and he’s promptly put on report.

I’m only watching this second half because I’m expecting a Joey Leulia brain snap #NRLStormRaiders

11.40am BST

Storm 20-0 Raiders – 44 mins: Leilua continues to flirt with disciplinary action, this time in a, ahem, robust tackle in which his forearm flies close to Edwards’ head three times. (Each one misses.)

11.36am BST

Storm 20-0 Raiders – 42 mins: Austin launches a bomb which Slater does well to keep take under the posts in the Storm’s in-goal. And the pair repeat the sequence soon after.

11.33am BST

Second half underway at AAMI Park

Storm 20-0 Raiders – 41 mins: OK, here we go, just 40 minutes left of this NRL home-and-away season. And it looks like the Storm will be signing off with another win.

Hear from @storm coach, Craig Bellamy in the lead up to the 2nd Half of #NRLStormRaiders.#NRL

11.29am BST

Football: Uh-oh, bad news for the Socceroos ahead of their crunch World Cup qualifier against Thailand on Tuesday: Japan’s captain, Makoto Hasebe, has withdrawn from the Japan team that will travel to Saudi Arabia for their own final match. Remember, the Socceroos will hope already-qualified Japan don’t ease off the gas and go on to get something out of their trip to the Middle East to boost Australian hopes. Shinji Kagawa is already missing from the Japanese squad, who play in Jeddah in a later kick-off, meaning the Saudis will know exactly what they have to do to edge out the Socceroos from the second automatic Asian qualification spot.

11.25am BST

AFLW State of Origin: Over to Etihad, where Victoria are leading the Allies 5.3 (33) to 2.1 (13) midway through the second quarter.

11.19am BST

HT: Storm lead by 20 points

Storm 20-0 Raiders – 40 mins: There goes the siren and the hosts head in at the break well in control. Still, Billy Slater’s not overly delighted. “We started well let them in with some easy field position and a few penalties. We want to fix that up,” says the Storm man on his way off the pitch.

11.17am BST

Storm 20-0 Raiders – 37 mins: It’s pretty frantic at AAMI Park. Joey Leilua looks like he’s going to bust a gasket, Blake Austin is goose-stepping about the place and the premiers are looking very much the part.

11.13am BST

Storm 20-0 Raiders – 33 mins: Jack Wighton looks like he’s about to break away and enter a foot race with Slater to the line, but he’s ankle-tapped at the last, and the break comes to nothing.

11.08am BST

Storm 20-0 Raiders – 29 mins: Well that was strange. The commentary on Fox Sports went a bit funky for a moment there – all echoey and psychedelic. Not unenjoyable but a bit incongruous given what we’re watching.

Felt like I was at Burning Man after 5 cid tabs there for a minute #NRLStormRaiders

11.03am BST

Storm 20-0 Raiders – 26 mins: The Raiders go close to getting themselves on the scoresheet, but the young winger Cotric is deemed to have put his foot out of touch. And you know what, they’re right.

10.57am BST

TRY! Tohu Harris scores!

Storm 20-0 Raiders – 19 mins: It’s one-way traffic here as the Storm go over again, thanks to a jinking run through the final line of Canberran defence. Smith lines up the kick and… you know the deal. And he gets another pop to make it an eight-point try after a penalty goes against Tapane, who went at the ball in Harris’s hands with his feet first.

10.51am BST

Storm 12-0 Raiders – 15 mins: There are more milestones to be reached tonight: Nelson Asofa-Solomona is playing his 50th NRL match while should Slater score, he will match ex-Sea Eagles forward Steve Menzies for the second most tries scored.

10.47am BST

NRL: Roosters coach Trent Robinson has been talking about that earlier comeback win in Sydney. “So we had to catch up to some of the teams that have been circling at the top last year and this year. And I felt like we’ve accelerated throughout the year in where we’ve got to,” he said. “We’re finishing games like a team that’s been around for a long, long time. Teams, they can see us finishing well. That puts a memory in their mind at the back end of games as well against us.” The less said about what happened before the fast finish, the better.

10.45am BST

Storm 12-0 Raiders – 10 mins: Billy Slater get monstered by a posse of four green hulks in an indication that the Raiders aren’t going to lie down and be steamrollered tonight.

10.41am BST

TRY! Jesse Bromwich scores!

Storm 12-0 Raiders – 7 mins: And another! Smith pings the ball to Bromwich who simply uses his bulk to carry himself across the line. Well, not actually across the line – he puts the ball down right on the line, but that’s enough and the Storm are electrifying! No problems for Smith with the kick.

10.37am BST

TRY! Felise Kaufusi scores!

Storm 6-0 Raiders – 3 mins: Well that didn’t take long. Billy Slater taps a cross-field punt back towards Kaufusi, who turns on his heel, picks the ball up off the ground, turns around again and runs it in unchallenged. There’s some confusion and the decision goes upstairs, but that was just shockingly lax defensive work from the Raiders. The try stands and Smith adds the extras without fuss.

10.33am BST

Underway at AAMI Park!

Storm 0-0 Raiders – 1 min: Canberra kick things off, but not before attention is drawn to veteran halfback Cooper Cronk – playing his final home and away game – and Storm captain Cameron Smith, who is drawing level with Darren Lockyer for the most NRL games played at 355.

10.19am BST

AFLW: Across town, at Etihad Stadium, we’re about to be treated to something new and exciting: the AFLW’s first State of Origin match. Victoria take on the Allies, with a host of top-flight players on show, including the likes of Daisey Pearce and Brianna Davey for Victoria and Chelsea Randall and Katie Brennan for the Allies.

10.19am BST

NRL: So, just one more game to go tonight – the Storm against the Raiders. That’s coming right up at AAMI Park, with kick-off in about 10 minutes. Nothing is riding on the outcome, the Storm having wrapped up the minor premiership, and the Raiders having failed to trouble the eight. Still, with Cooper Cronk signing off on the home-and-away season there’s still interest.

10.16am BST

Sea Eagles 28-12 Panthers – 80 mins: And there it is! All over at Brookie, and both teams will play finals, despite Penrith having sweated on the unthinkable happening for much of the game. Manly utterly dominated; Penrith struggled badly for about 75 minutes of the 80.

But in many respects, North Queensland are the biggest losers tonight, and their place in the eight is now at risk – their immediate future will be determined tomorrow when the Dragons play the Bulldogs. Victory for the Dragons will send them into finals, and North Queensland will be able to go on holiday.

10.12am BST

TRY! Reagan Campbell-Gillard scores!

Sea Eagles 28-12 Panthers – 80 mins: And another! Blake jinks this way and that before offloading to Campbell-Gillard, who touches down to give the score some kind of respectability. The kick is good too.

10.09am BST

TRY! Tyrone May scores!

Sea Eagles 28-6 Panthers – 76 mins: Phew! Panthers fans can relax – they’re going to play finals football! This try – and the conversion by Cleary – seals the deal, and the collective sigh of relief around the foot of the mountains can almost be heard at Brookie!

A late but very important Try for the @PenrithPanthers!#NRLManlyPanthers#NRL

10.02am BST

Sea Eagles 28-0 Panthers – 70 mins: Into the final 10 minutes and there’s been a bit of a letup in the intense Manly pressure these past few minutes. That’s understandable, given their efforts for much of the night.

10.00am BST

Sea Eagles 28-0 Panthers – 69 mins: Oh dear, Koroisau lifts up Watene-Zelezniak beyond the horizontal and is called on it. Not a good look at all, although he realises his error straight away and holds his hands up.

9.59am BST

Sea Eagles 28-0 Panthers – 64 mins: Dylan Walker’s got some beef here – he’s been on a mission all night long, to be honest, and has had plenty to say.

9.56am BST

Sea Eagles 28-0 Panthers – 64 mins: Isaah Yeo motors through the Manly defence now as Penrith show some fight. Tommy Turbo grabs him though and any momentum gained by that move is soon lost as the Sea Eagles’ defence presents a wall – an imposing, muscly, burgundy wall – to the Panthers on their next attack. Immense defence.

9.52am BST

Sea Eagles 28-0 Panthers – 61 mins: Just under 20 minutes remaining and it’s still on a knife edge for the Panthers. Surely they’re not going to mess this up, are they?

A Guardian sibling, Niall Connolly, has been in touch on the email: “I have my (your fellow correspondent Paul) brother’s glass half empty attitude to our teams. And it looks like 1996 again for us next week. Matt Ridge was not tackled, Paul.”

9.48am BST

Sea Eagles 28-0 Panthers – 56 mins: Penrith are rocking. And not in the good way. Their defence is getting opened up every time Manly have the ball. The Sea Eagles get another repeat set of six as DCE dinks the ball into the in-goal and Watene-Zelezniak picks it up and runs out. No let up in pressure.

9.45am BST

TRY! Curtis Sironen scores!

Sea Eagles 28-0 Panthers – 53 mins: More good stuff by Manly as Sironen bursts through and Wright adds the extras but this is fast becoming all about Penrith’s chances of reaching the eight. They’re in real danger now of dropping to eighth, and having to sweat on tomorrow’s Dragons’ result. Just another 10 unanswered Manly points and their season will lie in the lap of the gods.

9.40am BST

Sea Eagles 22-0 Panthers – 50 mins: Here come Manly again, this time with Trbojevic handing off to Wright. Penrith’s backline looks vulnerable every time Manly go forward.

9.39am BST

Sea Eagles 22-0 Panthers – 48 mins: There’s another “coming together” after Kelly forces Cleary into knocking on, and everyone piles in. A few hands are thrown (not punches, there’s a difference), and eventually tempers cool and play can continue.

9.36am BST

Sea Eagles 22-0 Panthers – 45 mins: So, if Penrith lose by more than 37 points, they drop to eighth with the Cowboys moving up to seventh, giving St George Illawarra the chance to knock them out of the eight tomorrow with victory over the Bulldogs. Clear?

9.32am BST

TRY! Tom Trbojevic scores!

Sea Eagles 22-0 Panthers – 41 mins: Tommy Turbo’s in! What a start to the half! He starts off the move and having turned on the afterburners very nearly gets away. He’s just caught, but no matter, second later he gets the ball again, stretches those legs and hoons into the in-goal! The kick by Wright is good, and the Panthers need to be concerned here. Remember, the amount they lose by could be season-defining for them.

The @SeaEagles left edge is ON tonight!

Turbo gets a Try.#NRLManlyPanthers#NRL

9.28am BST

Second half underway at Lottoland!

Sea Eagles 16-0 Panthers – 41 mins: Here we go then. It’s going to need quite some turnaround from the Panthers if they are to get back into this match.

9.14am BST

HT: Manly lead by 16 points at the break

Sea Eagles 16-0 Panthers – 40 mins: So far so good for Manly – they’ve done everything asked of them tonight. It’s been a terrific half of football for the hosts, and short of a second-half meltdown, they’re looking good for the finals. Penrith, on the other hand, might do well to begin considering the ramifications of a defeat by more than 37 points. Back in a bit.

9.11am BST

Sea Eagles 16-0 Panthers – 38 mins: No dice for Cleary and the Panthers here as time winds down this half. They run out of ideas on the final tackle and the ball is turned over.

9.06am BST

Try! Jake Trbojevic scores

Sea Eagles 16-0 Panthers – 34 mins: We have a try! Trbojevic crashes over, under a pile of white jumpers, and as a consequence, we’ll have to go upstairs. There’s “insufficient evidence” the ball was held up, so the try will stand, and once the kick is converted, right in front of the posts, we’ve got a 16-point ball game.

9.03am BST

Sea Eagles 10-0 Panthers – 32 mins: Green kicks his fifth 40/20 for the season! What a great effort from the Manly player, and the Sea Eagles can attack again here.

8.59am BST

Sea Eagles 10-0 Panthers – 27 mins: Oops, a spill from Uate, under no pressure at all. That was reminiscent of my effort earlier today in the park with my son, which says it all really.

8.55am BST

TRY! Daly Cherry-Evans scores!

Sea Eagles 10-0 Panthers – 23 mins: Oh, a lovely move from the Sea Eagles, involving a number of players but most notably Kelly, ends with the supporting DCE tearing through for the try! Wright’s kick is good and the hosts are out to a 10-point lead.

DCE is in!

Kelly heavily involved again.#NRLManlyPanthers#NRL

8.52am BST

Sea Eagles 4-0 Panthers – 18 mins: Uh-oh, here’s an early talking point. And by “talking point” I mean questionable refereeing decision. DCE’s pass is adjudged to have gone forward and Walker won’t go any further.

8.49am BST

Sea Eagles 4-0 Panthers – 17 mins: Manly’s pressure is creating Panther errors; here Dean Whare knocks on as he slides to gather a bouncing ball.

8.45am BST

Sea Eagles 4-0 Panthers – 14 mins: That’s a good take from Watene-Zelezniak though, as he claims a high ball cleanly despite pressure from their onrushing hosts.

8.44am BST

Sea Eagles 4-0 Panthers – 11 mins: Manly are well up for this one. Their intensity has so far been, um, intense. And the Panthers haven’t really been able to match it.

The @SeaEagles defence is muscling up!#NRLManlyPanthers#NRL

8.41am BST

Sea Eagles 4-0 Panthers – 8 mins: Matthew Wright missed the conversion by the way, and it’s just the four points for the hosts.

8.40am BST

TRY! Brian Kelly scores!

Sea Eagles 4-0 Panthers – 8 mins: Manly are on the board! It’s a flowing passing move from the hosts, culminating in Trbojevic dishing out a quick pass to the marauding Kelly who has jets in his heels and speeds through to touch down!

8.38am BST

Sea Eagles 0-0 Panthers – 6 mins: Matt Moylan is down there on the sidelines, on the same day that Panthers chief executive Brian Fletcher told News Corp there was a 50-50 chance he won’t be at the club next season.

8.36am BST

Sea Eagles 0-0 Panthers – 3 mins: The retiring Brett Stewart farewelled Sea Eagles fans before kick-off. Here he is paying homage to the Brookie faithful.

8.33am BST

Sea Eagles 0-0 Panthers – 2 mins: Penrith are trying to channel the spirit of Real Madrid by sporting some natty white shorts tonight. Not sure how I feel about them.

Here come the @PenrithPanthers!#NRLManlyPanthers#NRL

8.31am BST

Underway at Lottoland!

Sea Eagles 0-0 Panthers – 1 min: Actually, we’re not. A false start sees to that. But after a brief delay, Manly’s Wright boots the ball into the evening sky and we are indeed off!

8.29am BST

NRL: We’re approaching kick-off time at Lottoland. It’s all set to be a cracker. Here are some numbers to crunch before we get underway:

8.21am BST

Formula One: “Ricciardo’s upbeat attitude is more than just that of a typically good-humoured Aussie. He has learned to deal with disappointment and emerge the better man for it.” Great read from Giles Richards here, on Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo, ahead of this weekend’s Italian GP:

Related: Daniel Ricciardo: I look at Seb or Lewis and think: ‘If only I had your car’

8.15am BST

Tennis: “I’d play on a parking lot.” That’s Maria Sharapova’s response to Caroline Wozniacki’s criticism of US Open organisers for giving the Russian centre court billing on her return to grand slam tennis after a doping ban. “With regards to scheduling, as you know, I don’t make the schedule,” said Sharapova after beating American teenager Sofia Kenin 7-5, 6-2 to reach the fourth round. “I’m a pretty big competitor. If you put me out in the parking lot of Queens in New York City, I’m happy to play there. That’s not what matters to me. All that matters to me is I’m in the fourth round. Yeah, I’m not sure where she is.” (From Reuters)

8.05am BST

NRL: OK then, up next is Manly v Penrith. They head into the game level on 30 points, with the Panthers in sixth and the Sea Eagles in eighth. To end the season in the top eight, here’s what each has to do:

7.55am BST

NRL: Jarryd Hayne is copping heat for those two kicks. Surprisingly.

I cant imagine that Hayne will get any social media backlash due to those two mistakes.. #NRLRoostersTitans

Well done to the Titans doubt you made the right choice between Hayne and Henry #NRLRoostersTitans

Hayne should wear his game kit to Mad Monday & fancy dress as a first grader. #NRLRoostersTitans

7.47am BST

Roosters 20-16 Titans – 80 mins: Another shonky kick from Hayne, and this is game over now. Gordon lines up right in front of the posts, and as the siren sounds, he ices victory with a penalty goal!

Well, that was hardly classic Roosters, but a win is a win and they secure that all important second place, which means they don’t have to travel to Brisbane next week – or face a partisan Suncorp Stadium crowd. They were far from convincing though, and that will be of concern heading into the finals. For the Titans, you have to take your hat off to them, that was a stirring display and they may count themselves unlucky to leave Sydney with nothing for their efforts. So it’s back to the Goldie for the Titans, where they can enjoy Mad Monday and their holidays in a presumably mature and non-controversial manner.

7.43am BST

Roosters 18-16 Titans – 78 mins: What a breathless finish to this game! There’s still time for one more twist though. Hayne kicks off, kicking nearly parallel to the halfway line, but it doesn’t make 40m.

7.42am BST

TRY! Boyd Cordner scores!

Roosters 18-16 Titans – 76 mins: There it is! Cordner barges over after Pearce finds him at close quarters! The pressure tells, and the crowd go nuts. They’ve been willing the ball over that line. Now this kick is key – and it’s a relatively easy one. Gordon nails it! And it’s the Roosters to lose now!

7.39am BST

Roosters 12-16 Titans – 74 mins: The Titans concede a penalty 35m out and Pearce finds touch. What can they do here now?

7.38am BST

Roosters 12-16 Titans – 72 mins: Eight minutes remaining for the Roosters to find something from somewhere and dig themselves out of this hole, and secure home ground advantage in the finals. It’s getting to squeaky-bum time.

7.36am BST

TRY! Michael Gordon scores!

Roosters 12-16 Titans – 70 mins: This isn’t over yet! This try’s all about Joseph Manu, who leaps like a salmon to pluck Keary’s kick out of the air before somehow offloading to the overlapping Gordon! The kick is good – juuuuust – and we have a ball game, as the Americans like to say.

7.32am BST

Roosters 6-16 Titans – 67 mins: Mitchell is held up near the Titans’ line, and they come away with a penalty! They’re full of confidence at the moment, the visitors.

7.28am BST

Roosters 6-16 Titans – 65 mins: The Roosters look dangerous here as Keary throws it to Gordon, who in turn looks for Ferguson, but his pass is far too heavy and it goes straight out of play. Disappointing from the Chooks, but pretty much reflective of their performance today.

7.26am BST

Roosters 6-16 Titans – 63 mins: “An absolute abomination” is the commentator’s verdict as the Titans conspire to knock-on from the kick-off. That could be just what the Roosters needed.

7.24am BST

TRY! Kevin Proctor scores!

Roosters 6-16 Titans – 60 mins: Taylor shows his smarts on the ball as he dinks a kick through for Proctor to pounce on! Amazing stuff from the Titans, who are not in a strong position to cause a real upset now! Taylor boots the extras and they’re 10 up with 20 minutes remaining.

7.22am BST

Roosters 6-10 Titans – 59 mins: Let’s hope the youngster Nakubuwai is OK. That really was a sickening hit.

7.20am BST

Roosters 6-10 Titans – 59 mins: Oh dear, it all kicks off after Ben Nakubuwai is hit hard by the shoulder of Zane Tetevano. Nakubuwai’s out, sparko, on the floor, and that’s worrying. But clearly not for those on the pitch who throw their handbags around with scant regard for the prone player. Not nice scenes. Nakubuwai is taken off on the medicab as boos ring out and Tetevano is put on report.

7.15am BST

Roosters 6-10 Titans – 56 mins: We have an atmosphere at Allianz now. Nothing quite like an aggrieved supporter to create buzz is a sporting arena. And that dissatisfaction with the officials ramps up as their team is called for another forward pass. Sloppy by the Roosters.

7.09am BST

Roosters 6-10 Titans – 50 mins: A roar goes up from the home crowd as Connor Watson strips Hayne of the ball, but they’re soon baying for blood as it’s deemed illegal. Penalty against him and those wearing tricolours in the stands are not happy.

7.05am BST

Roosters 6-10 Titans – 46 mins: Is there an upset on the cards here? Mitchell Pearce said he wanted better from his team on his way into the sheds, but that’s the worst possible start after the restart. I guess we’ll see what the Roosters are made of now.

7.03am BST

TRY! Anthony Don scores!

Roosters 6-10 Titans – 44 mins: Don, The Don, intercepts nearly on his own goal line and runs the entire length of the pitch to touch down under the posts! Cracking stuff from the Titans player and once Ashley Taylor has hoiked through the posts, the visitors lead for the first time this afternoon!

Don > Winx? #NRLRoostersTitans #NRL

6.59am BST

Second half underway at Allianz

Roosters 6-4 Titans – 41 mins: Here we go again. Can the Roosters sort their act out this half and go on to secure victory and second place? We’ll know in about 40 minutes.

6.54am BST

Horse racing: And she’s done it! Winx makes it 19 in a row! Was there ever any doubt? Well, perhaps – she still six lengths behind with 200m remaining and had to dig deep to overhaul Red Excitement over the last 100m. “I could see what was happening. At the top of the straight I was really worried. What she did today is just incredible.”

Winx has won her 19th race in a row. #Winx #7News

6.52am BST

Horse racing: Just down the road from Allianz, at Royal Randwick, super-horse Winx is about to go for her 19th straight win, in the Chelmsford Stakes. We’ll bring you the result of that race as soon as we have it.

6.45am BST

Half-time: Roosters up by two at the break

Roosters 6-4 Titans – 40 mins: It’s all getting a bit scrappy as we head towards the end of the first half, but there won’t be any more score as the siren sounds and the players head into the sheds.

6.40am BST

Roosters 6-4 Titans – 35 mins: The graphic on the telly tells us that Jake Friend is again leading tackles today. And I’ll supplement that with another stat: the Roosters have won 10 games by six points or less this year – the most in the club’s history.

6.37am BST

Roosters 6-4 Titans – 33 mins: Cordner bursts onto a Pearce pass and races through under the posts, to the delight of the crowd, but wait, it’s called a forward pass from the touchline and the try is disallowed!

6.34am BST

Roosters 6-4 Titans – 30 mins: Half an hour gone and it’s closer on the scoreboard than form and ladder position would have suggested pre-game. The Roosters are yet to get into gear.

6.32am BST

Roosters 6-4 Titans – 27 mins: A flurry of action now as Greenwood strains every sinew in his body to get across the line but a posse of five red, white and blue shirts swoop on him and manage to repel him. Then Friend bursts clear for the Chooks, before being hauled down. He plays it quickly and the Roosters look dangerous momentarily. Nothing doing this time though.

6.29am BST

Roosters 6-4 Titans – 25 mins: The Roosters are winning the tackle count so far – 114 to the Titans’ 76. A high bomb is fumbled by Don, under pressure from Mitchell, and Keary darts through to pick up the ball and touch down. But it won’t count – Mitchell is pulled up contact in the air, correctly so.

6.25am BST

TRY! Leivaha Pulu scores!

Roosters 6-4 Titans – 22 mins: And the pressure does indeed tell as Hayne delivers the telling pass to Pulu, who barrels his way over the line! Taylor’s kick from the touchline… hits the post!

Hayne to Pulu!

The @GCTitans hit back. #NRLRoostersTitans #NRL

6.23am BST

Roosters 6-0 Titans – 20 mins: The Titans inch towards the try-line but each time the Roosters’ defence holds firm. For now.

6.19am BST

Roosters 6-0 Titans – 16 mins: There are those who will say that’s what the Bunker is for, but there are also those who will say “how on earth did Ben Cummins see that as a try in the first place?”. I have no answer to the second poser.

6.17am BST

Roosters 6-0 Titans – 15 mins: Ooh! Close to a second for the Chooks. Oh hang on, the ref’s given it! He’s got a try! Ferguson leaps over Hayne and appears to knock the ball on before it’s touched down. At least that’s how it initially appeared. And yes, the replays show that to be the case and the “try” is chalked off.

6.14am BST

Roosters 6-0 Titans – 13 mins: Keary heads off on a weaving run but his eventual pass is not caught cleanly by Mitchell and the move breaks down. Dangerman Keary’s looking good so far.

6.12am BST

Roosters 6-0 Titans – 11 mins: Plenty of empty seats at Allianz today. Matt Cleary wrote well on the challenges facing the NRL with regards to dwindling attendances earlier this week:

Related: ‘A lonely sea of blue seats’: why ANZ stadium is nobody’s home ground

6.10am BST

TRY! Latrell Mitchell scores!

Roosters 6-0 Titans – 8 mins: that little period of increased pressure from the Chooks pays off as Mitchell gets on the end of a Luke Keary grubber to get the hosts on the scoreboard! The kick by Michael Gordon is good and we’re up and running at Allianz.

6.07am BST

Roosters 0-0 Titans – 6 mins: The Chooks now go on the front foot for the first time this match, but that man Hayne is there to scoop up a grubber kick through. He slips though and there’ll be a drop out. The Titans take it short, and it works out well for them!

6.05am BST

Roosters 0-0 Titans – 4 mins: A little poke of the toe by Hayne into the Roosters’ in-goal is nearly pounced upon by Zillman, but no dice this time for the Titans, who have started pretty well.

6.03am BST

Roosters 0-0 Titans – 2 mins: Having said what a beautiful sunny day it was earlier, the stadium is now under cloud cover. Weather updates aren’t my forte, what can I say?

6.01am BST

Underway at Allianz Stadium!

Roosters 0-0 Titans – 1 min: The Roosters are missing Dylan Napa and Aiden Guerra, both rested with an extended run into the finals envisaged, but still there’s an air of inevitability to this one, such has been the Titans’ woeful season.

5.59am BST

NRL: OK, over to Allianz, which I can tell you (because I’ve just been past there on a bus) is bathed in sunshine on the most glorious of spring Sydney days. It’s so gorgeous out there, it almost makes one wish to be down at the beach and not stuck in an office liveblogging NRL games. Almost, I said. Anyway, it’s that commentators’ cliche, “the perfect day for rugby league” and we’re just about ready to go.

5.54am BST

Cricket: Of course, the second Test against Bangladesh is supposed to be starting on Monday in Chittagong, but there could be a snag – the rain. It’s forecast to tip it down (who decided to tour Bangladesh in monsoon season, anyway?) next week, meaning Steve Smith’s side might not get a chance to tie the series 1-1. Then again, what’s worse: a washout or a whitewash?

5.51am BST

Tennis: Before we turn to the NRL, a quick update on the tennis over in NYC, where Ash Barty’s US Open campaign is over after she went down to Sloane Stephens in the third round in a rare error-strewn performance. Her exit leaves just John Millman to fly the Australian flag at Flushing Meadows. Millman remains on course to meet Roger Federer – he plays German Philipp Kohlschreiber on Sunday morning and if Federer can see off Feliciano Lopez, the pair will meet in the last 16.

5.49am BST

Hello and welcome one and all to a particularly NRL-heavy edition of sportwatch. With the AFL taking its customary pre-finals break, focus can fall on the great game of rugby league and the last round of the regular season. There’s still plenty of intrigue left – they don’t bill it as “Super Saturday” for nothing – with the final composition of the top eight to be determined.

First up in a beautifully sunny Sydney are the Roosters against the Titans at Allianz Stadium with the Chooks looking for the win that will take them back into second – and ensure they can play at home all the way to the grand final.

2.29am BST

Mike will be here shortly. Since we’re in NRL mode, take the time to find out how Benny Barba fared on his Super League debut overnight in the UK:

Related: St Helens’ Ben Barba overshadowed by Wigan’s superb Sean O’Loughlin

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