The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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This weekends Welsh Conference Rugby League matches started early with the Bridgend Blue Bulls demolishing an understrength Newport Titans 70-20 at The Brewery Field.
The Titans should have been at least 8-0 up early on but a great tackle on Dan Clements from Bulls fullback Paul Morgan denied Newport what looked a certain try and moments later a try scoring pass from Richard Davies was adjudged forward by referee Alan Smith.
Bulls captain and former Warrington great Kevin Ellis then made the Titans pay with a superb hat-trick, the scrum half touched down three times within 15 minutes running some superb angles and causing havoc in Newport defence.
Bulls forward Leigh Taylor also touched down within Ellis?s magic spell before a great run lead to Chris Vitilatini getting one back for the Titans. But Bridgend finished with two more scores, a long run from Paul Morgan gifted Gareth David a try under the posts before Carle Ellis crossed in the corner to make it 32-6 to Bridgend at half time.
Despite an early Titans fight back which saw Gavin Donaldson and Rob Dodgson score the Blue Bulls were firmly in control and two tries each for hooker Lloyd O?Connor and loose forward Dean Fitzgerald put the Bulls past the 50 point mark. Vitilantini got his 2nd for Newport but Gareth David claimed his 2nd before the outstanding Paul Morgan raced over to give his team their highest point?s total of the season.
Stand-off Gareth David added nine kicks at goal to add to his brace of tries for a tally of 26 in a Man-of ?Match performance.
Meanwhile on Saturday the Cardiff Demons travelled to Aberavon and came up against an excellent Fighting Irish side and went down 56-20. Neil Aiona was the hero scoring four tries while the highly rated Gareth Lewis scored a try and kicked six goals.
Chris Griffiths, Amo Tauialo, Richard Lewis, Phil Cusion, Scott O?Kelly and Matthew Hape all crossed for John O?Callaghan?s men who could still catch the Blue Bulls at the top of the table if results go their way over the next two weeks. Phil Cusion made a superb debut for Aberavon while Scott O?Kelly controlled the game well and kept the Demons at bay.
For the Demons Adam King had a fine game and claimed a brace of scores while Simon Dimmick, Gareth Jones and Neil Thomas also crossed with Darren White kicking two goals. But it was not enough to stop Aberavon strolling to victory. Demons coach Andrew Bradshaw said ?we played well but the tackling from Aberavon was awesome and we just could not compete?.
Meanwhile there was a real thriller at Ystalyfera with Torfaen Tigers edging out Swansea Valley Miners 34-33, it was the second time within four days that Swansea had narrowly lost but they are a much improved side from the one that shipped 100 points earlier in the season.
Damien Smith had opened the scoring for the Miners when the sprinted the length of the pitch and they also claimed tries through Kurt Thomas, Phil Thomas, John James and Andy Lusteg (2). Simon Bevan added two conversions while Gareth James had a fine game for the hosts kicking a field goal and a penalty while special praise was given to Andrew Jenkins and 17-year old Nick Stevens who was excellent after coming off the bench.
But Torfaen edged it thanks to with Matthew Entwhistle, Dean Smith and Chris Williams all crossing twice while Entwhislte also starred with the boot kicking the crucial conversions that sneaked them past the Miners.
BRIDGEND BLUE BULLS SCORERS:
TRIES Kevin Ellis (3) Leigh Taylor Gareth David (2) Carle Ellis Dean Fitzgerald (2) Lloyd O?Connor (2) Craig Fox Paul Morgan
GOALS Gareth David (9)
NEWPORT TITANS SCORERS:
TRIES: Chris Vitalatini (2) Gavin Donaldson Rob Dodgson
GOALS: Dam Clements (2)
ABERAVON FIGHTING IRISH SCORERS:
TRIES Gareth Lewis Nio Aiono (4) Chris Griffiths Amo Tauialo Richard Lewis Phil Cusion Scott O?Kelly Matthew Hape
GOALS: Gareth Lewis (6)
CARDIFF DEMONS SCORERS:
TRIES: Adam King (2) Sam Dimmick Gareth Jones Neil Thomas
GOALS: Darren White (2)
SWANSEA VALLEY MINERS SCORERS:
TRIES: Damien James Kurt Thomas Phil Thomas John James Andy Lusteg (2)
GOALS Simon Bevan (3) Gareth James
DROPS: Gareth James
TORFAEN TIGERS SCORERS:
TRIES: Matthew Entwhistle (2) Dean Smith (2) Chris Williams (2) Damien Hudd
Matthew Entwhistle (3)