Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
SWANSEA VALLEY MINERS 12 BRIDGEND BLUE BULLS 38 Bridgend Blue Bulls were forced to work hard for their 38-12 victory against Swansea Valley Miners in the Total RL.com Rugby League Conference Premier yesterday writes Ian Golden.
It was a much improved Miners side to the one who lost to Newport two weeks ago and they deserved more out of this game but after Carle Ellis scored in the fifth minute, there was no looking back for the Welsh champions.
Lloyd Paget added two tries, the second after an excellent break from Stuart Coles. Grant Epton added another before half-time before the Miners finally got on the scoresheet, Chris Beck running over and Simon Bevan converting. Jon Williams added another for the Blue Bulls just before half-time to give them a 26-6 lead.
The second half was a tighter affair with just three tries being scored - Epton with two more for Bridgend and Steve John for Swansea.
ABERAVON FIGHTING IRISH 38 TORFAEN TIGERS 34
Aberavon Fighting Irish moved up to joint second in the table after winning a dramatic match at home to Torfaen Tigers. Honours were even in a see-saw first half after both sides ran in three tries. Scott O'Kelly got a brace for Aberavon and Rick Johns added an excellent individual effort. Matt Entwhistle, Damien Hudd and Nolan Nicklen were Torfaen's scorers. The Fighting Irish then had a similar spell to last week's game against Cardiff Demons where they ran in five tries in quick succession. This time it was just four in a row as Daniel Phillips, Simon Bailey, Robert Hills and Lee Williams all ran over, giving them a 20-point advantage. However tries from Gareth Jenkins, Jamie Juene and David Davies put Torfaen to within four points to set up a grandstand finish. But time had run out for the Tigers and Aberavon went in 38-34 victors. "We seem to be making a habit of excellent second half performances." said Aberavon coach Chris O'Callaghan. "But if that's what wins us matches, then I'm not complaining. I was very pleased with this performance and we're now in contention for the play-offs once again."
CARDIFF DEMONS 30 VALLEY COUGARS 31
Grit and determination from Valley Cougars coupled with a series of handing errors by Cardiff Demons gave the Pontypridd side a valuable 31-30 win at Taff?s Well.
Lewis Francis powered in under the posts to give Cardiff the lead in the ninth minute. Chris Holland replied for the Cougars in the 16th and Rhodri Morris added another just two minutes later to put the Cougars 8-6 up.
Adam King ran in to give the Demons the advantage but following a Lee Mullane knock-on, Morris ran in for his second to make it 10-14.
Player-coach Anthony Loxton levelled the scores with a try in the corner.
Holland gave the Cougars a one-point advantage with a field-goal but it was Cardiff who went in with a slender 18-15 half-time lead after a Jamie Iles try in the corner.
Neil Thomas marked his first game back for the Demons this season with the opening try of the second half. Lee Mullane converted.
A period of immense pressure by the Cougars was finally rewarded with a Ryan Jenkins try to put the score back to 24-19.
Pete Gooding was sinbinned for dissent on the hour and Cougars took advantage as Adrian Owen ran in for a try. Karl Thomas converted to give them a slender 24-25 lead.
Dave Murphy looked to have wrapped it up for the Cougars with a try under the posts. Thomas Berrell gave Demons hope, scoring with just seconds remaining but it was not quite enough.