The St George Illawarra Dragons have beaten the Canterbury Bulldogs at Kogarah Oval to consolidate a spot in the top six, while Manly held off the New Zealand Warriors to win at Brookvale.
- The Dragons are sixth on the ladder at the end of round nine after their big win at Kogarah
- The Warriors remain in the top eight on for and against, after a thrilling 38-32 loss to Manly
- Five tries in 17 minutes in the second half helped secure the two points for the Sea Eagles
The Dragons’ win was overshadowed by an injury to Bulldogs’ centre Corey Allan, who was taken off on a stretcher in a neck brace after being tackled over the sideline in the second half.
Earlier, a wild second half at Brookvale saw the Sea Eagles score five tries to two to seal a 38-32 win over the Warriors.
Canterbury’s woeful attack plunged to a new low on Sunday night with half-back Kyle Flanagan hooked in the league cellar-dwellers’ 32-12 loss.
Bulldogs attack hits new loss in Dragons’ loss
The Dragons led by just six points at half-time but kicked on with another five tries as things got ugly late in the second half.
Debutants Mathew Feagai and Junior Amone both had dream starts to their NRL careers with a try each, while Matt Dufty scored a double in the thrashing.
The Bulldogs’ two tries came through a one-on-one steal from Renouf Atoni and an intercept from Nick Meaney late in the game – two bright spots that were swallowed up by the overall inept performance.
If errors didn’t cruel their flow, it was the end to sets.
Flanagan couldn’t get a decent kick away, and when he did it was on the first tackle of a fresh set inside the Dragons’ 10 metre zone.
To make it worse, the baffling kick was too big for winger Nick Cotric to pull in and bounced into touch, relieving pressure as the Dogs were hunting for their first try.
Such bold moves have been pulled off by Sydney Roosters teenager Sam Walker this season, but in the context of the Bulldogs’ season it was more reckless than a measured risk.
The Bulldogs have won just one game this season and are facing an uphill battle each week to show they’ve improved from last year’s 15th place finish.
So far, they haven’t.
By half-time coach Trent Barrett had seen enough and benched his halfback, bringing on Lachlan Lewis in his place to try and spark something as the Bulldogs trailed just 6-0.
However, the combination of Lewis and Jake Averillo had no luck either, and Flanagan warmed the pine for 20 minutes until he was brought back on as a substitute for Corey Allen.
The Bulldogs back was taken off in a stretcher and neck brace after being bundled into touch heavily by four Dragons defenders, hitting the ground hard.
There were concerns for the 23-year-old’s neck and his shoulder and he was taken away in an ambulance.
Meanwhile, Atoni could be in trouble for a high shot on Tariq Sims after copping the Dragons second rower around the head.
The Bulldogs prop had just knocked the ball on into Sims’ arms, turning over possession and giving away the penalty that led to the Dragons’ first try to Dufty.
Ben Hunt showed up his halves opponents for execution in the second half, finishing with two try-assists and a line-break assist in the win.
Corey Norman and Paul Vaughan also got on the board in an important win for the Dargons who snapped a three-game losing streak.
Dragons forward Josh McGuire will be sweating on the charge sheet on Monday morning after being put on report for a shot in Flanagan in the dying minutes.
Trbojevic stars as Manly downs the Warriors
Tom Trbojevic celebrated his 100th NRL match with the finest performance of his stellar career to inspire Manly to a thrilling 38-32 win over the Warriors.
In arguably the best game from any player this year, Trbojevic scored Manly’s first two tries and set up their next four to lead a fightback from 20-12 down to 36-20 up.
On a bizarre Sunday afternoon, the Warriors also fought back to within six points with four minutes to play, through tries to Chanel Harris-Tavita and Reece Walsh.
Hat-trick hero Jason Saab pulled off a crucial try-saving tackle with 30 seconds left to force Ken Maumalo out just centimetres short of the line.
But through it all, the story was Trbojevic.
With Manly great and premiership-winning full-back Brett Stewart watching on, Trbojevic finished with 11 tackle busts and five line-breaks to go with his 191 running metres.
The Sea Eagles are now within touching distance of the top eight despite recording their worst opening month to a season when Trbojevic was injured.
The full-back’s influence was almost immediate on Sunday.
After Manly fell behind 6-0 early, he sprinted across field behind the ruck and spotted a hole to go over virtually untouched at first receiver next to the post.
The try came off the back of a smart 40-20 play from Daly Cherry-Evans, who kicked on the second tackle when he spotted Roger Tuivasa-Sheck out of position.
Trbojevic’s second came as Manly spread the ball to the right and he stepped back in field through a gap to fight his way over.
After the Warriors hit back before half-time and bombed a four-on-one advantage to go to a possible 24-12 lead when a Kodi Nikorima pass went into touch, Trbojevic exploded.
In the next set he put Morgan Harper over on the right edge before combining with Cherry-Evans to put Saab into score moments later.
Trbojevic’s next involvement was arguably his best, laying on a perfect 15-metre cut-out ball for Reuben Garrick on the left wing when Manly ran it on the last tackle.
And when he broke down field off a pass from his brother Jake and found Saab to finish the job for the second of his three tries, the game looked finished.
But that was before the Warriors’ near miraculous comeback.
The visitors were left to rue defensive flaws despite a Harris-Tavita double and Tohu Harris scoring a try to go with his four tackle busts.