League Wrap ROUND 9: 11-14 MAY 2007

ROUND NINE of the NRL kicked off on Friday night with the Cronulla Sharks getting the better of last year's premiers the Brisbane Broncos at Toyota Park. The 16-8 scoreline flattered the out-of-form Broncos as they find themselves with a bit of a struggle at the lower end of the ladder. With Queensland Origin selections looming, the depth of Brisbane will set to be tested once again. Meanwhile the Sharks continue to improve. With coach Ricky Stuart steering the ship, the also-rans of 2006 are now enjoying a top four spot on the NRL ladder.

Friday night also saw a victory to competition leaders the Manly Sea Eagles at Brookvale. In downing the Parramatta Eels by 22-12, the Sea Eagles have thrown down the challenge and are definite contenders for the 2007 crown. After trailing 6-2 at half time, Manly hit back with four tries in the space of 16 minutes, leaving the Eels in their wake. Its not all doom and gloom for Parramatta though, the blue and golds are in 10th position and just outside of the eight.

Saturday rugby league took us to Newcastle where the Knights fought back from a half time deficit to overcome the New Zealand Warriors by 24-18. The Warriors led 18-6 midway through the second half before the Knights piled on 18 points in the final 12 minutes. With one third of the season gone, its hard to split the two Newies, and their standings on the ladder seem to reflect this with both sides in the top eight and on equal points.

Saturday night saw the Canberra Raiders overcome the South Sydney Rabbitohs by 16-10 in Homebush. In match that was kindly described as 'ordinary', the Raiders managed to find the chalk three times in the second half after trailing 6-0 at halftime. The result sees the Raiders hanging in there but still outside of the eight. Meanwhile Souths fans must be bracing themselves for the yet another slump. After kicking off the season in fine form, the Rabbitohs have now lost three on the trot and are clinging onto eighth spot.

Saturday wrapped up with the upset of the round, the Penrith Panthers posting a 22-12 victory over the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville. Leading 12-0 at halftime, the Panthers never looked in doubt. After halftime the Cowboys threw everything including the kitchen sink at the Penrith line, but came up with nothing. The Panthers went further ahead before the Cowboys finally got on the board with 15 minutes to go. The loss may serve as yet another a wake up call for the Cowboys, although they are travelling well in third position. The Panthers can celebrate but they are still hanging on the lower rungs of the ladder.

Sunday football took us to Aussie Stadium where the Sydney Roosters notched up their second win of the year in downing the Gold Coast Titans by 24-18. The Roosters led 16-0 at one point and eventually ran out winners, but not before the Titans came back and finished strongly. While the last-placed Roosters continue to fight over the wooden spoon, the Titans are looking well positioned in the middle of the NRL ladder.

Talking of potential wooden spooners, the St George Illawarra Dragons crashed to their sixth loss of the season in Homebush, Wests Tigers running away with the match in the latter stages to score a 27-8 victory. Described as 'woeful' by their own supporters, the Dragons butchered numerous opportunities before throwing in the towel. It was a solid win for Wests Tigers as they played within themselves before hitting top gear in the final 15 minutes. The result sees the Dragons in second last place on the ladder while Wests Tigers are looking decidedly more comfy in fifth place.

Round nine wrapped up on Monday night with the contender thumping the pretender. The Melbourne Storm made short work of the Canterbury Bulldogs, posting a convincing 38-12 victory at Olympic Park in Melbourne. The Storm led 24-8 at half time and were rarely threatened. It was a footballing lesson for the Bulldogs but they're still in good position on the ladder and not too far out of the eight. The Storm are in second place - the Sea Eagles having a better for-and-against - but are only a whisker away from regaining top spot next round when they take on the Roosters at home.


Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 16 Tries: Fraser Anderson, Greg Bird Goals: Luke Covell (4/4) Brisbane Broncos 8 Tries: Steve Michaels, Tonie Carroll Goals: Darren Lockyer (0/2) Kick-off: 7:30 PM Friday Half time: 8-all Venue: Toyota Park Crowd: 12,262 Referee: Shayne Hayne Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 Points: Paul Gallen (Sharks) 2 Points: Greg Bird (Sharks) 1 Point: Luke Covell (Sharks) [Match Report]

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 22 Tries: Jamie Lyon, Brett Stewart (2), Chris Hicks Field Goals: Matt Orford (0/1) Goals: Jamie Lyon (3/6) Parramatta Eels 12 Tries: Tim Smith, Zeb Taia Field Goals: Mark Riddell (0/1) Goals: Luke Burt (2/2) Kick-off: 7:30 PM Friday Half time: Eels 6-2 Venue: Brookvale Oval Crowd: 19,944 Referee: Paul Simpkins Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 Points: Brett Stewart (Sea Eagles) 2 Points: Michael Monaghan (Sea Eagles) 1 Point: Anthony Watmough (Sea Eagles) [Match Report]

Newcastle Knights 24 Tries: Steve Simpson, Kurt Gidley (2), Adam MacDougall Goals: Kurt Gidley (4/4) New Zealand Warriors 18 Tries: Ruben Wiki, Jerome Ropati, Nathan Fien Goals: Lance Hohaia (3/3) Kick-off: 5:30 PM Saturday Half time: Warriors 12-6 Venue: Energy Australia Stadium Crowd: 15,107 Referee: Tony Archer Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 Points: Kurt Gidley (Knights) 2 Points: Danny Buderus (Knights) 1 Point: Steve Simpson (Knights) [Match Report]

South Sydney Rabbitohs 10 Tries: Shannon Hegarty Goals: Joe Williams (3/3) Canberra Raiders 16 Tries: David Milne, Todd Carney, Adrian Purtell Goals: Todd Carney (2/4) Kick-off: 7:30 PM Saturday Half time: Rabbitohs 6-0 Venue: Telstra Stadium Crowd: 11,088 Referee: Gavin Badger Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 Points: Lincoln Withers (Raiders) 2 Points: Adrian Purtell (Raiders) 1 Point: Jeremy Smith (Rabbitohs) [Match Report]

North Queensland Cowboys 12 Tries: Brad Anderson, Scott Bolton Goals: Johnathan Thurston (2/2) Penrith Panthers 22 Tries: Frank Pritchard, Joel Clinton, Brendan Worth, Luke Lewis Goals: Michael Gordon (3/5) Kick-off: 7:30 PM Saturday Half time: Panthers 12-0 Venue: Dairy Farmers Stadium Crowd: 17,393 Referee: Jared Maxwell Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 Points: Peter Wallace (Panthers) 2 Points: Joel Clinton (Panthers) 1 Point: Frank Pritchard (Panthers) [Match Report]

Sydney Roosters 24 Tries: Sam Perrett, Joel Monaghan, Craig Fitzgibbon, Anthony Minichiello Goals: Craig Fitzgibbon (2/3), Amos Roberts (2/2) Gold Coast Titans 18 Tries: Gavin Cooper, Luke Swain, Scott Prince Goals: Mat Rogers (3/3) Kick-off: 2:00 PM Sunday Half time: Roosters 10-0 Venue: Aussie Stadium Crowd: 6,264 Referee: Sean Hampstead Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 Points: Braith Anasta (Roosters) 2 Points: Anthony Minichiello (Roosters) 1 Point: Scott Prince (Titans) [Match Report]

Wests Tigers 27 Tries: Liam Fulton (2), Ben Galea, Chris Lawrence, Daniel Fitzhenry Field Goals: John Morris (1/1) Goals: Brett Hodgson (3/6) St George Illawarra Dragons 8 Tries: Chase Stanley Goals: Mathew Head (2/2) Kick-off: 3:00 PM Sunday Half time: Dragons 8-6 Venue: Telstra Stadium Crowd: 13,625 Referee: Ben Cummins Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 Points: Robbie Farah (Tigers) 2 Points: Taniela Tuiaki (Tigers) 1 Point: Liam Fulton (Tigers) [Match Report]

Melbourne Storm 38 Tries: Cooper Cronk (2), Matt King (2), Ryan Hoffman, Israel Folau Goals: Cameron Smith (7/7) Canterbury Bulldogs 14 Tries: Daryl Millard, Hazem El Masri, Reni Maitua Goals: Hazem El Masri (1/3) Kick-off: 7:00 PM Monday Half time: Storm 24-8 Venue: Olympic Park Crowd: 14,066 Referee: Steve Clark Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 Points: Cooper Cronk (Storm) 2 Points: Billy Slater (Storm) 1 Point: Matt King (Storm) [Match Report]


UPCOMING MATCHES: NRL ROUND 10: 18-21 MAY 2007 Fri 7:30 DRAGONS v TITANS WIN Stadium Sat 5:30 EELS v COWBOYS Parramatta Stadium Sat 7:30 STORM v ROOSTERS Olympic Park Sun 4:00 (2:00) WARRIORS v WESTS TIGERS Mt Smart Stadium Sun 3:00 BULLDOGS v SHARKS Telstra Stadium Mon 7:00 BRONCOS v SEA EAGLES Suncorp Stadium RABBITOHS BYE PANTHERS BYE KNIGHTS BYE RAIDERS BYE