Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
Balmain continued their strong start to the season with victories in Jersey Flegg and Premier League over Cronulla Sharks at Leichhardt last night.
The Jersey Flegg game was a scrappy affair due to the wet conditions the tigers eventually triumphing 17-16. The tigers opened well when a kick by halfback Braumann was dived on by Jaime Grant under the posts. The conversion attempt successful the tigers shot to a 6 ? nil lead. Cronulla leveled the scores in the 21st minute when Anthony Baird scored and Burns added the extras. Shortly before Halftime the Sharks gained the lead when halfback Burns put Captain Reweti into a gap to score. Burns then kicked the goal from in front and Cronulla went into halftime up 12-6.
The Tigers suffered a further blow 5 minutes back from the break when classy lock Grant limped off the field and did not return. Burns scored again for Cronulla shortly after but was unable to convert.
The Tigers were to launch a gutsy comeback when a great run by Ranald Schultz lead to a Jaime Nowland try in the corner. Five minutes later Luke Thompson barged over and Braumann kicked the goal from out wide to level the score. A field goal with under a minute to go sealed the win. Best for the Tigers were centre Alberts, Lock Grant and Prop Brock Hunter who led the way with some huge runs.
The Premier League game was a much more convincing win despite Cronulla opening a 6-0 lead after only 10 minutes. Ben Galea answered with a try to the tigers five minutes later and winger Ben Carney converted to level the scores. The two teams struggled to gain an advantage for the rest of this half, both sides bombing several opportunities, but a Ben Carney penalty goal in the 33rd minute allowed Balmain to take a slender lead.
Carney crossed again shortly after half-time after a Henderson break, 10 minutes later winger Matt Pethybridge chased a Robbie Farah kick and stripped the ball from the Cronulla winger to score. The conversion unsuccessful the scores remained 18 ? 6. Pethybridge had a hand in the tigers next two tries when he made a 40m bust in the 63rd minute and offloaded to Harrison to score before following it up with a 60m break to score under the posts.
Balmain let the intensity lapse for a period of time and conceded two soft tries within 4 minutes of each other the first to Cronulla 5/8th Aitken and a second to the fullback Simmons. Both tries were converted by and Cronulla looked to have a chance with the scores standing 28-18 with just under 10 min to go.
The tigers defence held and a penalty awarded for a strip saw the Balmain Tigers cement their position on the top of the PL ladder with a 30 point to 18 victory.
This was a game won in the forwards and the entire Balmain forward pack deserves praise but prop Jaime Small was the standout, he was ably supported by Lima and Simpkins while George Azzi also looked impressive. The best back was centre Bronson Harrison whilst the two wingers Carney and Pethybridge also shined.