Manly and Melbourne clashed in one of the best games of the season, and the Sea Eagles came away with a thrilling golden-point win, setting the tone for a sensational finals showdown.
Manly claimed the victory 11-10 in the second period of golden point on Saturday night, thanks to a Daly Cherry-Evans field goal, one of rugby league’s elite drop goal exponents.
The boys from Brookvale had built an unlikely 10-0 lead at AAMI Park, but Storm clawed its way back in.
In extra-time field goal attempts were coming thick and fast, left and right, but it was DCE’s cool kick that iced the game.
The defeat was Melbourne’s first since Round 8 and demonstrated once again the Sea Eagles are a force to be reckoned with this season.
The men off to the Old Dart
It’s that time of the year when a clutch of NRL players secure moves to the English Super League.
Already we’ve seen Penrith five-eighth James Maloney agree to join Catalans Dragons next year, with Souths prop George Burgess set to sign for Wigan Warriors.
There is strong speculation that Canberra playmaker Aidan Sezer will be off to Huddersfield Giants, while North Queensland forward Gavin Cooper is still on the hunt for a British club.
Already Parramatta has released Bevan French to join Wigan immediately, while the Roosters have let halfback Brock Lamb go this weekend so he can link up with London Broncos.
Expect a few more NRL players, such as Newcastle second-rower Aidan Guerra, to pen Super League deals in the weeks ahead.
Coyne concentrates on juniors, Beattie on reform
After resigning from the NRL Commission Mark Coyne says he will now focus on junior football.
“I regret deeply what happened in Singapore and my delayed reporting of it,” Coyne said in a statement on his abusive behaviour.
Having reflected on the past few days, I have decided to continue my focus now and into the future on supporting coaching and developing rugby league players at my junior club, which is where is where my real passion lies.”
The Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter Beattie said he hopes the Queensland and St George great remains involved in the sport and flagged a fresh push for Commission reform.
Coyne met Beattie and was told only a small majority of the 16 NRL clubs supported him staying.
Beattie said a replacement would likely be in place late in the year and was adamant the commission wouldn’t be rushed.
Under current laws, anyone who holds an NRL club job must wait three years after leaving it before being allowed to join the commission.
Beattie indicated his desire to scrap the rule and put it on the agenda when the ARLC meets next month.
Taylor slammed after Farah’s milestone
Former NRL halfback and Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor came under fire this week as Robbie Farah celebrated his 300th game.
Farah and Taylor did not get on at the Tigers at all, and eventually Taylor forced the hooker out of the club and to South Sydney when he was in charge.
Taylor, known as ‘JT’, was later sacked by Wests and Farah has had the last laugh.
When interviewed this week before his milestone match, Farah couldn’t resist a crack at his ex-coach.
“At the time I was told by him and ‘Rocket’ Reddy, I’d finish my career in reserve grade. But I’m here now – ‘JT’ is coaching reserve grade [at North Sydney]”.
Raiders stop hot Panthers
Penrith was on a roll with a seven-game winning streak, but that has been halted by classy Canberra.
The Raiders were too strong for the Panthers at the foot of the mountains, notching a battling 30-18 win on Sunday afternoon.
In a tough and gritty game in which neither side took a backward step, it was Canberra which got the cash at the end.
The victory means the Green Machine keep pace with the Roosters in third, as they sit in fourth spot but with the same amount of points (26).
Penrith’s great past two months of form means it remains in semi-finals contention in seventh place with 20 points.
But it can’t afford to relax with pressure coming from Brisbane, Newcastle, Cronulla and Wests just below it.
Movers and shakes as finals loom
The NRL ladder is getting a real shake-up as the business end of the season approaches.
Parramatta has moved into sixth after its controversial win over the Warriors. That defeat means the New Zealanders are languishing in 12th and may miss out on the finals.
Meanwhile, the Broncos’ upswing of form continues after they easily brushed past Gold Coast.
That victory means much-improved Brisbane is undefeated in the past four rounds, with three wins and a draw.
St George Illawarra’s loss to Souths means its dismal season is well and truly over, and Newcastle’s close defeat to Wests means it is in trouble too.
The Knights have now lost four in a row, appear in a deep rut and are in huge danger of failing to make the top eight again.