Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
5 days ago
In the first match of the evening, a massive crowd of roughly 15,000 experienced a tight tussle between Manly and New Zealand at Auckland's North Harbour Stadium. Two late tries to Michael Oldfield and Vic Mauro saw the visitors triumph 14-12.
Looking at this side of the Tasman, Canterbury outclassed Canberra after yet another scrappy trial performance by the Green Machine. Speedy centre Josh Morris crossed for a double in the convincing 30-18 win at Tamwoth, New South Wales.
Muswellbrook's Olympic Park saw Newcastle cruise to a similar scoreline in their 38-10 defeat of the Cronulla Sharks. In an eye catching performance, Junior Sau dotted down for two tries, as did hooker Isaac de Gois, who proved a handful from dummy half. Meanwhile, in the Foundation Cup, Wests edged out Sydney in a low scoring encounter in front of nearly 7,000 at the SFS. A late Benji Marshall field goal tipped the score to 19-8, while the Roosters were left to lament the poor kicking of Braith Anasta - he missed both his attempts at goal.
The Parramatta Eels again showed they could be the surprise packets of 2011 thanks to a 30-0 demolition of Penrith at Centrebet Stadium. The blue and gold have scored 60 points over the past two trials and only conceded 10. However, the win was soured by an ankle injury to Chris Walker.
Moving north of the Tweed, the loss of Ivan Henjak mid-week didn't dampen Brisbane as they surged to a 26-6 win over Melbourne at Dolphin Park, Redcliffe. The Broncos' rookie back three of Josh Hoffman, Jharal Yow Yeh and Dane Gagai put in stunning performances. However, it was far from all good news, with the injury plagued Justin Hodges again falling victim to what appeared to be a hamstring problem. The strike centre hobbled from the field in the first half.
In rainy condition at Cairns, an after-the-siren Scott Prince conversion saw the Titans sneak out of jail against a spirited North Queensland. The Gold Coast relied on a number of fortuitous tries including a soccer effort from Kevin Gordon and a Prince four pointer off a Preston Campbell intercept. The other highlight was a length of the field dash from flanker David Mead.