The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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Blackwood came out on top in this battle of un-beaten sides in this Welsh RL Conference game at Nelson. The game was effectively over as a contest, at half time, after a stellar Bulldog performance which put them top of the table.
In fact, they were 12 points ahead without the Cougars even handling the ball, as Dale Taylor and Gethin Price both returned kick offs for tries. The blitz continued as Taylor added a second, Jeremy Lloyd converted all three, and after six minutes of mayhem, Blackwood were 18-0 up.
The Cougars were stunned, but a run of five successive penalties gave them some impetus, the Bulldogs were also reduced to twelve men after a yellow card, but the defence held firm, and eventually, Paul Emmanuelli intercepted and run 50 yards to score. This deflated Valley and David James added another try, Lloyd converted both.
Cougars kept battling and Eddie Davies opened their scoring with a determined try, Carl Thomas added two points.
It was only a temporary respite as Simon Skinner scored in the corner. The Price brothers then capped an excellent display by combining for Gethin to add his name to the ever lengthening try list. Lloyd converted and half time came with a score - an amazing 6-40.
Unfortunately, the second half will be remembered more for an ever growing penality count against the Bulldogs. Their frustration grew as their rhythm was whistled out of them. Tempers were fraying and eventually captain Mark McKee and the Blackwood coach were both red carded.
The Cougars were coming back into the game and Steven Parry and Ryan James both got tries, Thomas converted one. Trevor James restored order, and settled the bulldogs down with a well taken try, Emmanuelli converted. Full marks to the Cougars though, as they refused to give in, and Ryan James added his second try. Blackwood responded, and Skinner brought the half century up, with a good finish. Mark Jones completed the scoring with a try for the Cougars to give a final score of 24 - 50.
Unfortunately, but perhaps inevitably the last word went to the referee, as he sent off one of the Cougars to even up the number of players left on the field.
TORFAEN TIGERS 26 CARDIFF DEMONS 24 by Simon Davies at the Memorial Ground Pontypool
Torfaen Tigers and Cardiff Demons, finalists in 2005 and 2006 respectively served up a classic at Pontypool