Race for the Paul Barriere – Week 1, Ireland fly after stuttering opener

@hamishneal

The Rugby League World Cup is underway in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea with the former, represented by the Kangaroos, searching for an 11th title as they defend the Paul Barriere Trophy they won in 2013 at Old Trafford in Manchester. Week one of the tournament saw wins to Australia in the opening game over England plus victories to Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Fiji, Ireland, Tonga, and Lebanon.

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Mal Meninga’s Australia only secured victory late in game one at Melbourne’s AAMI Park 18-4 over England after a disjointed performance from both sides. When Sydney Roosters-bound Cooper Cronk made an error forcing an offload early in the match it was perhaps obvious the game was going to be an interesting contest, even if it wasn’t going to be one of high quality. The biggest issue for the winners was the loss of forward Jake Trbojevic to a tournament-ending pectoral injury. England will now face Lebanon, who scored their first ever World Cup victory when they beat France in Canberra, when the two sides venture to Sydney for their group A game on Saturday night.

 

Michael Morgan, not the Australian player, scored one of six tries for Ireland in their upset win over Italy in Cairns on Saturday in what was the shock result of week one. Morgan, 21, is contracted to the Bulldogs NRL squad next season and dotted down in the second half of their 36-12 triumph over the Azzuri. This makes the Wolfhounds match on Sunday in Port Moresby all the more crucial as it will likely decide who progresses to the quarter finals from group C with only one team in that three-team pool making the knockout phase.

 

Fiji’s 11 tries to two win over the USA in Townsville was comprehensive in its class but also showed a glimpse of those that toil away on the fringes of the big time but never quite make it. Henry Raiwalui was the only try-scorer for the Bati who hasn’t played in the NRL despite time with the Dragons and Eels feeder club Wentworthville.  At 28 it was his third game for Fiji. His side could be bound for the quarter finals following their win over the ‘Hawks.

 

Tonga, with their big name additions, lived up to the hype defeating Scotland 50-4 in the Barlow Park double-header. The game in Cairns saw Tonga run in seven tries in the opening 40 minutes which was broken up due to the weather with the heat meaning the game was played in quarters. With three teams progressing from the four-team pool of group B to the knockout stage the result sets up Kristian Woolf’s side to improve on 2013 when the Bravehearts progressed to the last eight ahead of the Mate Ma’a.

 

It’s been an interesting start to the tournament with some key positions such PNG’s big opening win over Wales (50-6) coming on the back of a multi-hooker combination with Kurt Baptiste and James Segeyaro coming off the bench in addition to PNG Hunters Queensland Cup player Wartovo Puara and Paul Aiton (playing in the back row) both starting. Not to be outdone this weekend New Zealand have gone the other way in dropping Danny Levi to the bench after they beat Samoa first up 38-8. Wests Tigers backrower Elijah Taylor has got the nod to play in the number nine against Scotland in Christchurch. Newcastle rake Levi could run on and play big minutes but after such an impressive start making the change in a key position seems strange from Kiwis coach David Kidwell even against a side that was soundly beaten in their first game of the tournament. Scotland, admittedly featuring key players that are absent from this edition of the showpiece event, did draw 18-all with New Zealand in last year’s Four Nations when the Kiwis gave up a last minute try to Euan Aitken (not playing this year) in the game in Workington.

Image via bbc.com

Golf Capital – Thomas’ fifth win for 2017, WGC heads to China

@hamishneal

A collection of golf news, thoughts and notes from the week as Justin Thomas won for the third time in seven starts plus there were wins for Masters champ Sergio Garcia, women’s major winner Eun-Hee Ji and Australian veteran Stephen Leaney in Perth.

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Opening drive

There are weekends when golf can be tough for the professionals, it’s not all weeks of 16 under or better, and this weekend highlighted this. At nine under Justin Thomas and Marc Leishman tied for the top after 72 holes in the CJ Cup and Sergio Garcia’s win came with a score of 11 under in Sotogrande, Spain.

 

Thomas prevailed after Leishman had a chance to win it with an eagle on the 72nd hole and then found water in the playoff’s second hole. Both players were almost joined by Leishman’s countryman when Cameron Smith could have pushed himself into the playoff but missed wide with his birdie putt on the 18th hole at Nine Bridges on Jeju Island.

 

Garcia’s title defence (although it was six years since the event was last held) came as he edged home in the Andalucia Valderrama Masters by a stroke from Dutchman Joost Luiten. The Masters champ has won for the third time this year – a first for his career at the age of 37.

 

On the LPGA Tour South Korean Eun-Hee Ji was the scoring outlier for the weekend winning convincingly by six strokes in Taiwan for her third LPGA tour win, and her first since the US Women’s open in 2009, with a score of 17 under. Kiwi Lydia Ko was second with five players a further four strokes back in third. This week the LPGA will head to TPC Kuala Lumpur’s East Course for the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia event. China’s Shanshan Feng won by three strokes in 2016.

 

Player performance notes

Players I’m interested to see how they go with notes related to capital investment if that’s your thing. After the PGA Tour was in South Korea last weekend some of the world’s best have stayed in Asia for the final WGC event of 2017 with Shanghai’s Sheshan Golf Club hosting the event won in 2016 by Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama.

 

Under 20: Dustin Johnson. The American has won five WGC events and this tournament was his first WGC triumph in winning four years ago. Johnson won the Northern Trust four starts ago and has won four times this year already.

 

20 to 50: Daniel Berger Despite the status of the tournament there are big names missing and this gives a good chance for the next tier players. World number 27 Berger won thr St Jude Classic this year and was second in the Travelers Championship. With some key players in the field last year Berger was T2 behind Matsuyama so goes well at the track.

 

20 to 50: Ross Fisher. Aside from Matsuyama Fisher was the only player to shoot every round 69 or lower last year at this tournament. He’s coming off his great round of 61 in Scotland when he finished behind Tyrell Hatton. Fisher, 36, was second best behind Hatton the following week in Italy.

 

20 to 50: Matthew Fitzpatrick. At 23 Sheffield’s Fitzpatrick has won in fourth different countries (England, Sweden, the UAE and Switzerland) so travel isn’t a concern plus he has a 16th and 7th place finish to his credit here.

 

50 to 100: Rafa Cabrera-Bello. After by-passing the event last week in Spain the world number 21 finished a respectable T12 in South Korea. Cabrera-Bello, 33, was T19 in this event last year before he was second six weeks later in Hong Kong so appears suited to these conditions.

 

50 to 100: Alex Noren. A strange turn of events meant Noren missed out on playing in Korea when he reportedly wanted to so he has had a week off after he was T38 in the Italian Open. A two-time winner in the last 11 months the Swede was T12 in this tournament last year.

 

Greens in regulation

A record sixth win in his state Open for Western Australia’s Stephen Leaney came as he beat New South Welshman Callan O’Reilly by a stroke at the Royal Perth Golf Club in South Perth, but more significantly it was his first win in 13 years and a strong lesson in persistence, application but also variation. Leaney, 48, had been looking towards the senior’s tour and with that in mind had turned his attention in recent years to his fitness working in the gym with the South Australian Redbacks cricket side led by former Australian coach Tim Nielsen.

 

Tap in
From WA to Queensland with the Queensland Open this week at the Brisbane Golf Club on the Australasian PGA it is one of the significant events on in this part of the world this week and Brett Coletta was triumphant last year in this tournament. Meanwhile in Wellington the New Zealand capital will host the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship from Thursday at the Royal Wellington Golf Club in Upper Hutt. Australian Curtis Luck won this event in South Korea in 2016.

Image via yahoosports.com

 

 

Golf Capital – More Hatton Time as Olympic golf legacy draws a long bow

@hamishneal

A collection of golf news, thoughts and notes from the week plus an Olympic golf venue update. Jin Young Ko won for the first time on the LPGA, Tyrell Hatton won again on a weekend in which one of golfs ‘everymen’ Pat Perez announced he wasn’t “gonna change” a thing, including his attitude to the gym, after he won in Malaysia for his second victory in two years.

 

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Opening drive

It was no dull speech after his win in Kuala Lumpur for Pat Perez following what ended up an easy triumph. Perez who won his third career PGA title at the age of 41 saluted by four strokes from Keegan Bradley and backs up this week as the PGA Tour plays it’s first individual event in South Korea.

 

England’s Hatton withstood challenges on the final day in Monza to win for the second time in a  fortnight as he eventually finished at 21 under, one clear of Ross Fisher and Kiradech Aphibarnrat, in the Italian Open. The European Tour heads to Spain this week for the Andalucia Valderrama Masters at the Real Club Valderrama course in the Southern Spanish town of San Roque.

 

Jin Young Ko nudged home by two strokes in the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship in the South Korean city of Incheon after the South Korean prevailed over compatriot Sung Hyun Park. Ko, 22, has ten victories to her credit on the South Korean LPGA tour but this was his first win at the top level. Taipei hosts the Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship this week won last year by Ha Na Jang.

 

This weekend the Australasian PGA Tour resumes with the WA Open at the Royal Perth Golf Club in South Perth which local Curtis Luck the defending champion.

 

Player performance notes

Players I’m interested to see how they go with notes related to capital investment if that’s your thing. A first for the USA PGA Tour will see the men take the course in South Korea in an individual stroke-play event. (The nation has hosted a Presidents Cup) at the CJ Cup on Jeju Island.

 

20 to 50: Rafa Cabrera Bello. The Spaniard is making a rare start for this time of year on the PGA Tour, especially given the European Tour event is in Spain this week. Given he was T10 last time out it’s fair to suggest he’s elected to play this event for a strong reason.

 

20 to 50: Sung Kang. The South Korean golfer was T3 last weekend in what was his first top five finish since July. A T21 last time out in Malaysia and improved effort last weekend puts him in a good spot for a possible win in his home nation.

 

20 to 50: Cameron Smith. The Australian has finished T5 and T12 in his last two starts. This is important given we are looking at an unfamiliar venue at this level.

 

50 to 100: Danny Lee. The Kiwi settled down and fired 68-68 over the weekend in Malaysia after an inconsistent start of 73 followed by 65. The South Korean-born golfer kicked back into form after four missed cuts and a withdrawal and it was a better result than his T61 last time out in Malaysia.

 

50 to 100: Chez Reavie. The American is playing better then when he was T60 at the CIMB Classic this time last year finishing T17 on the weekend and was T13 and T12 the two times out prior to Malaysia so he’s adjusting better to the region.

 

50 to 100: Charl Schwartzel. The South African’s 15 professional tour wins have come in five countries and with a new venue in play an ability to adapt to varied conditions will be important. However Schwartzel, 33, hasn’t finished in the top ten since June when T2 in the St Jude Classic

 

Greens in regulation

Mexico’s Rodolfo Cazaubon Jnr has moved up to 611 in the world after his six-stroke victory in Aberto de Brasil (Brazil’s National Open) on the PGA’s Latinoamerica Tour. Normally we wouldn’t dip down to this tour well below the class of the PGA Tour itself but the result wasn’t the interesting factor it was the venue – the Olympic Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro. The tournament was played for the second time at the 2016 Olympic venue, only it’s fourth professional event counting the two Olympic tournaments. The post-Olympics boom didn’t come and reports in late 2016 showed how wasteful this project, in a section cut out of a national park in Rio, was.

 

This report from the Olympic website is instructive it what it doesn’t say. There is no mention of members, course usage per week, numbers of juniors etc. Having a public course is obviously needed to grow the game but it might have been cheaper for the local organisers to buy one of the private courses in the city and develop that for public access. But given the gold-standard corruption which reportedly took place at the highest level it’s maybe not a surprise sensible options weren’t taken. The latest from the Rio golf venue comes over the course of the same weekend that yet another city, Innsbruck in Austria, has had an opportunity to bid for the games (2026 Winter Olympics) defeated via a referendum. Yet another example of the race to not bid for the Olympics becoming a sport itself, with wastefulness such as the Rio golf venue it’s no wonder it has taken so long.

 

Tap in
Tiger Woods can go back to back swinging a golf club “as much as he needs to do” says his agent Mark Steinberg. Wait. What? Woods was almost consigned to the end of his career wasn’t he? No, I am not going down the rabbit hole. I will not watch the footage. Please don’t give me the death-of-career-by-press-release again.

 

Image via golfdigest.com

Golf Capital – Double defences in the USA and Scotland, Top tours head to Asia

@hamishneal

A collection of golf news, thoughts and notes from the week which saw a double defence in Scotland and California plus both the PGA and LGPA are in Asia this week.

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Opening drive

Wins to Tyrell Hatton in Scotland and Brendan Steele in California saw both players retain their titles from the respective tournaments after wins in 2016 as well. At the tri-course event on Scotland’s east coast finishing at the Old Course Hatton won his second European Tour title whilst Steele defended his crown at the Safeway Open – the PGA Tour’s first event of the 2017/18 wraparound season.

 

Hatton, 25- not quite 23 or 24, won after leading by five strokes coming to the final round and triumphed by three shots after he carded a six-under 66 on the Old Course. Hatton started and finished his tournament on the Old Course at St Andrews playing his middle two rounds at Carnoustie and Kingsbarns where he picked up two rounds of 65 proved crucial and gave him a good buffer over the weekend.

 

California native Steele was victorious for the second time at Napa Valley as he won by two strokes over Tony Finau before bushfires ended up raging near the course as extreme weather continues to take hold in the western state of the USA. Steele’s other PGA Tour win was back in 2011 at the Texas Open but he is right at home on the Silverado Country Club’s North Course.

 

Player performance notes

Players I’m interested to see how they go with notes related to capital investment if that’s your thing. The European Tour’s Rolex Series resumes with the Italian Open taking place at Monza. Italian Francesco Molinari is the defending champion at the venue which is in the same park area as the famous formula one race track.

 

20 to 50: Matthew Fitzpatrick. A winner only last month on the European Tour Fitzpatrick has finished 16th and third the last two years here. The 23-year-old already has four European Tour victories to his credit.

 

20 to 50: Alex Noren. The Swede is yet to play this event in this guise but in the last 15 months has won events in four countries so I think he has the versatility to adapt to the venue.

 

50 to 100: Lucas Bjerregaard. The Dane, already a winner this year, placed third two years ago and was 20th last year. Since his last win he’s finished eighth but missed the cut in Scotland which is understandable to a degree.

 

50 to 100: Nacho Elvira. Third here last year the Spaniard has posted a 7th and 11th in the last month but missed the final round in Scotland.

 

50 to 100: Ryan Fox. At a venue with not too manty dramatic hazards the Kiwi could go well and we have spoken about his ability at top level European events already this season. Fox, 30 , will be unencumbered by having a massive ego playing with him, more on that later, and has won in France (on the second tier) so has experience winning on the European mainland.

 

50 to 100: Joakim Largergren. I’m not getting off the Swede like I did Hatton and his finished in Scotland T12 is respectable form for this event in which he finished third two years ago.

 

Greens in regulation

The psychology of golf was well on display in Scotland over the course of the last week as Hatton outlined how the format (a celebrity pro-am teams event) helped elevate him to another links victory. Hatton was playing with actor Jamie Dornan, of Fifty Shades of Grey fame, and spoke about how having someone else to speak with other than his caddie relaxed him.

 

Hatton, now 22 in the world rankings, must keep up consistent form to take his place in the 2018 Ryder Cup. Regular individual strokeplay form will dictate his appearance or otherwise in the Ryder Cup next year and it’s worth noting Hatton did miss all four cuts in the majors this year. Dornan and Hatton were 12th in the team event which was won by Welshman Jamie Donaldson playing with Kieran McManus. McManus is the son of prominent Irish stud farm owner and two-time winner of the team’s competition himself JP McManus. Former Australia tweaker Shane Warne, playing with Kiwi Ryan Fox finished in a tie for fifth four shots back.

 

Tap in

The PGA’s foray into overseas venues continues with the CIMB Classic in Malaysia. The event at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club’s West Course is co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour and has had PGA status since 2013. In that time it’s been won solely by Americans with the last two victors back-to-back champions (Justin Thomas 2015, 2016 and Ryan Moore 2013, 2014). Over in South Korea the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship takes place and all of the top ten will in attendance. The event at the Ocean Course at the SkyKY72 Golf and Resort venue in Incheon has been held nine times here previously but the event is 15 years old. Spain’s Carlota Ciganda won in 2016 and, unlike the men’s event this week in Asia, has had a variety of recent winners with Spain, Sweden, the USA and South Korean golfers all represented as winners since it’s inception.

Image via nbcsports.com

 

Golf Capital – USA wins at Liberty and ’24’ triumphs again

@hamishneal

 

A collection of golf news, thoughts and notes from the week which saw the USA continue their dominance of the Presidents Cup, Ireland’s Paul Dunne win for the first time on the European Tour and Brooke Henderson claimed victory in the first LPGA foray into New Zealand.

The Presidents Cup - Final Day

Opening drive

 

A tenth victory in 12 editions of the Presidents Cup looked likely early in the piece at Liberty National when the USA won the first three foursomes matches on Thursday and it proved the case as they lead convincingly throughout the first three days. Before entering Saturday afternoon with the score-line 11.5 to 2.5 in their favour over the Internationals (minus Europe) the result was nearly confirmed late on Saturday before Anirban Lahiri and Si Woo Kim beat Kevin Chappell and Charley Hoffman to give the Internationals the slimest of hopes. With the event almost over on Saturday the USA headed into the last day of the four-day event needing one win from the 12 singles contests to register the victory and won three of them and halved another two with Daniel Berger getting the crucial win in the fourth match as the USA triumphed 19-11. Dustin Johnson wasn’t beaten all weekend picking up 4.5 points for the USA whilst Louis Oosthuizen (2.5) was the visitor’s best. Royal Melbourne is the tournament venue in 2019 with the December 9-15 event the third time Australia has hosted it.

 

It’s another cut and paste as we yet again laud another 23/24 year-old winning across one of the top tours after Paul Dunne fired a final round nine under of 61 to win the British Masters as Rory McIlroy made five birdies in his last seven holes. Not to be outdone Dubliner Dunne knocked in four birdies in his last eight holes, getting lucky in particular on the 11th hole after a wayward approach thundered towards the hole but only after pinging off a greenside sprinkler head. He also chipped in on 18 to seal the victory.

 

In it’s ninth year, but the first co-sanctioned with the LPGA, Canadian Henderson secured her fifth LPGA triumph with a comprehensive five-stroke victory in the New Zealand Women’s Open at Windross Farm Golf Club south of Auckland. Henderson, who only turned 20 last month, clinched the win on Monday after a delay caused by bad weather on Sunday which saw play (already taking place in atrocious conditions) suspended. China’s Jing Yan was second with tournament host Lydia Ko finishing T22. The LPGA’s Asian swing starts in just under a fortnight in South Korea.

 

Player performance notes

 

Players I’m interested to see how they go with notes related to capital investment if that’s your thing. The European Tour’s Tri-course tournament in Scotland sponsored by the luxury brand which might still make cigarettes features Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and the Old Course at St Andrews. Last year Englishman Hatton won the tournament.

 

Under 20: Rory McIlroy. He’s not won yet in 2017 and last went winless in 2008 (the second year of his professional career) but the Northern Irishman’s second to Dunne was a return to form after some reasonable rounds but not a complete tournament of his usual high standards for a while.

 

20 to 50: Thorbjorn Olesen. The two-time former winner (2012, 2015) hasn’t set the world on fire this season bar a GolfSixes win but he clearly loves the format and venues.

 

50 to 100: Florian Fritsch. The format here dictates success in the tournament as players familiar with the format, and can stand an amateur partner that may drag the chain, likely to do well. Fritsch has won the team category with footballer, and fellow German, Michael Ballack before and was T7 last year.

 

50 to 100: Ryan Fox. The Kiwi’s run from early July of 6-T4-T4 proves he is adept at links golf with the last two results in Ireland and Scotland and he has a T9 to his credit from last month behind Matthew Fitzpatrick in Switzerland at the European Masters.

 

50 to 100: Callum Shinkwin. If you go along with the theory of having to handle your playing partner as well as the pressure of a tournament Watford’s Shinkwin will have his work cut out pairing up with cricketer turned commentator Kevin Pietersen. He’s the right age for a breakthrough win (yep, 24) and was beaten in a playoff in the July’s Scottish Open.

 

50 to 100: Joakim Lagergren. Twice fourth at this event the Swede was T9 two starts ago and pulled out one of his fourth-place finishes last year after finishing T63 the week prior so he tends to regain form in Scotland.

 

Greens in regulation

 

It hadn’t even dawned on me, and I had long moved on from the coverage but it was appalling to see the appearance at the President’s Cup of the event’s namesake Donald Trump, especially given the turmoil in Puerto Rico and ongoing health-care bill issues in the USA. The tone-deaf human running the twitter account for @PresidentsCup probably summed up how compliant golfing authorities are generally with the racist bigot currently residing in the White House when they excitedly proclaimed “For the first time in the event’s history, the sitting President is presenting the trophy.” Trump himself dedicating the trophy to those in Puerto Rico was stupid, but not surprising. One would hope the person running the tournament’s social media platforms could perhaps show come more tact. It’s not a good thing after all that Trump squeezed in this trip to New Jersey. I love golf but Trump’s continued association with the sport is a stain on it’s great players and a hinder to it’s development. Puerto Rico’s top ranked golfer Rafael Campos (currently 416 in the world) has been as high as 216 this year was playing the season ending second-tier Web.com tour Championship event won by Jonathan Byrd. Given everything going on in his homeland it was a great effort for Campos to even take part. Campos’ best result in 2017 was a seventh place finish in the Texas Open and he’s currently raising money for the relief effort. Best of luck to him in the future.

 

Tap in

 

After the tumult of the weekend in New Jersey the Safeway Open in Napa Valley commences the 17/18 PGA season before they head to Kuala Lumper for the CIMB Classic. The new additions to PGA Tour, some who qualified a few weeks back plus some on the weekend in the web.com championship will be looking to get the jump on some of the big names but it’s interesting to note the likes of Phil Mickelson suiting up here given the President’s Cup was only last week. But lefty is without a solo stroke play win since the Open in July of 2013 and at the age of 47 the recent stats suggest California native won’t get to the magical mark of 50 individual career wins – he’s currently on 48.

 

 

 

 

Five Metre Gap – #NRLGF and #kooriknockout

@hamishneal

Like the way of the five metre gap in defence looking at the points you may have missed from the NRL Grand Final. You likely watched the contest (given almost 3.4 million fans tuned in on television) which saw Melbourne claim a third premiership following a comprehensive 34-6 victory over North Queensland.  On Sunday at ANZ Stadium there were three games with Manly and Penrith winning the lead-up fixtures and Monday in Sydney saw the Koori Knockout conclude.

 

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Farewelling Cooper Cronk from the club the Melbourne Storm did it in style to win their first grand final since 2012 after beating the 2015 premiers the Cowboys six tries to one. Not since 2013 had the minor premiers also won the grand final and that was a unique scenario when the Roosters claimed both crowns having finished level with the Rabbitohs on 40 points before beating Manly in the decider. Craig Bellamy’s side scored three tries in each half with the Cowboys hindered early in the contest when middle forward Shaun Fensom was stretched off with a broken tibia and fibula as he attempted a tackle inside the first three minutes. Winger Josh Addo-Carr book-ended the tries for the Storm with Tongan international Felise Kaufusi and Clive Churchill Medallist Billy Slater scoring in the first half before four-pointers from former Bulldog Dale Finucane and Curtis Scott, 19, in the second stanza. Mid-season acquisition Te Maire Martin scored the only try for the Cowboys when he opened the second half scoring eight minutes in the period which made the score 18-6 before Melbourne kicked clear with three tries in a nine-minute period.

 

The Cowboys weren’t awful if all you look at is the margin. They kept to their recent trend of completing over 30 sets per game (the Thirty Set Standard – TSS – has shown in the past enough to win most NRL games) with 32/36 completions (89%) edging the Storm’s completion rate 34/39 (87%) but Melbourne’s variety of play and the experience of the big three (Cronk Slate and skipper Cameron Smith) proved critical. The men in purple targeted edge defence of the Cowboys as Michael Morgan missed five tackles and forward Ethan Lowe seven.

 

In last year’s grand final Storm forward Jesse Bromwich ran for 135 metres from 16 runs and again topped his team on Sunday evening with 140 metres from 14 runs in his 54 minutes. Bromwich’s influence can be measured even better when you considered Jason Taumololo, who has regularly topped 200 plus metres in recent matches, ran for only 122 metres from his 12 runs in 59 minutes on the park. The Storm’s Smith ran for an usually high 131 metres for the hooker and had a noteworthy 100 possessions in the games guiding his team around the park and setting up key attacking plays throughout.

 

Sunday’s earlier action at ANZ Stadium saw Penrith beat Queensland Cup winners, the PNG Hunters, 42-18 in the NRL State Championship. The winners of the NSW Cup saw centre Tony Satini race in for four first half tries as Garth Brennan’s side took command. Three late tries for Michael Marum’s outfit flattered them but they did show good discipline throughout the game, completing at 90% in the first half, but the Panthers were able to capitalise on their chances. Prior to Penrith’s victory the all-Sydney contest in the final ever Under 20s game saw Manly bench forward Keith Titmuss cross in the final moments before Tevita Funa converted the winning goal as the eighth-placed side from the regular season won 20-18 over the Parramatta Eels.

 

On Monday the Koori Knockout at Leichhardt Oval saw wins to the Newcastle Yowies and Redfern All Blacks, respectively, in the men’s and women’s finals. Redfern defeated Dunghutti 12-8 before the Yowies comfortably accounted for Griffith Three Ways United 22-4. The Yowies contained former dual-international Timana Tahu and Bulldog Brenko Lee with Kangaroos forward Andrew Fifita and Robert Lui turning out for Griffith. This tournament comes after the Queensland version, the Murri Rugby League Carnival, held last weekend in Redcliffe with victories to the Brisbane Natives over the Gundalu Gadyu in the women’s final with Torres Strait Island team Dhadhin Geai Warriors (featuring NRL players Travis Waddell and Edrick Lee) putting away the SEQ Indigenous All Stars 48-0 in the men’s decider as featured in this story by Joe Gorman in The Guardian. There is more rugby league to come with some representative teams out of the indigenous carnivals playing New Zealand Maori later this month, next weekend’s Superleague Grand Final between seven-time winners Leeds and Castleford seeking their first title in the home and away competition. This is all before the Rugby League World Cups which start on October 27 for the men and November 16 for the women.

Images via abc.net.au