The returning Origin stars of Penrith have orchestrated a 42-6 demolition of the Knights, while the Warriors and Tigers lost their first games under new management.
Stacey Jones’ first game in charge of the Warriors was the kind of inconsistent performance we’ve come to expect from the Redcliffe side, with the Sharks losing 38-16; while Brett Kimmorley’s first appearance as Tigers coach was made no easier by Brent Naden who was sent off for lifting tackle on Jake Trbojevic of the Sea Eagles. The Tigers lost to Manly 30-4.
But as those sides’ struggles continued, Penrith showed them what an elite top-flight NRL side looks like.
State of Origin coaches Brad Fittler and Billy Slater will be in a very different mood after their 36-point win over Newcastle.
Four days after the disappointment of losing State of Origin I, Penrith’s Blues stars – most notably half Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai – returned triumphantly to the club scene, as Newcastle and Queensland fullback Kalyn Ponga made the first half of the game. exited after a nasty head knock.
Cleary and Luai controlled the game in a way they couldn’t on Wednesday night, while fellow blues Stephen Crichton, Brian To’o and Liam Martin also backed up the 16-10 loss to Queensland to help the Panthers on their way. fifth win in a row.
Even though he doesn’t come off the field after his head knock early in Origin I, Isaah Yeo did not play at Hunter Stadium.
One man who couldn’t stay in the park on Sunday after his first-half clash was Knights and Maroons fullback Ponga, who was run over by Viliame Kikau in the 14th minute en route to Penrith’s second try.
Ponga did not return to the game after failing his assessment of his head injury and will be closely monitored with two weeks until Origin II.
Sunday’s game was the kind of defeat you would expect from a game between two teams 11 places apart on the ladder, with Penrith making the first of their seven attempts in the fifth minute.
It came on the back of an electric interplay between Luai and Cleary for the halfback to cross, before Kikau produced his powerful attempt to attack.
From there, the Panthers used their smooth outer backs, with all four of their central wing units scoring – To’o did that twice.
Newcastle’s only points came from a consolation attempt in the 74th minute for Edrick Lee and the subsequent conversion.
No Stacey Jones magic for Warriors at loss to Sharks
In their first game since the departure of coach Nathan Brown, the Warriors performed very similarly to the rest of their season, displaying some impressive skills, but unmatching them for the full 80 minutes.
They even jumped out to a 12-0 lead in the early exchanges thanks to attempts from Reece Walsh and Wayde Egan, but it was all Cronulla from there.
The Sharks made five consecutive attempts in the final 25 minutes of the first half to take a 24-12 lead into the break.
Warriors winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak produced a spectacular flying finish to start the second half with scoring after 53 minutes, but it would be the last highlight for the side as dealing with errors and poor defense cost them again.
Sharks winger Ronald Mulitalo completed his double, fullback Will Kennedy stippled, and Sione Katoa completed a hat-trick as Cronulla rebounded from a 36-16 loss to the Roosters in their last start two weeks ago.
Next week it will be much tougher for the Warriors as they face the Panthers for their final game at Redcliffe, before coming home to the Tigers at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium in Round 16.
New coach, same result for Tigers against Manly
Interim Wests Tigers coach Brett Kimmorley has endured a rough introduction to NRL coaching, losing 30-4 to Manly and finishing the game with 12 men on the field.
Kimmorley steps in after Michael Maguire’s departure and will likely be forced to reshuffle the backline as the Tigers will almost certainly be without Brent Naden for a few weeks after he was sent off for an ugly tackle at Campbelltown.
The center could blame his dangerous attempt at the feet of a first half headbutt that knocked him out for quite some time, but he eventually suffered a head injury and was allowed to return.
Naden played his third game for the Tigers since the Bulldogs arrived late last month. In the second half, Naden looked his best down below, missing assignments that led directly to game-changing attempts by Reuben Garrick and Haumole Olakau’atu.
They gave the Sea Eagles a 12-point lead in the second half, which was dislodged after two converted tries when Garrick worked the penalty goal after Naden’s javelin with 15 minutes to go.
The story was better for Manly, who played without captain Daly Cherry-Evans on Wednesday after his Origin win with Queensland.
The first half against the Tigers was a relatively close game – the Sea Eagles led 6-4 at half time – before the late attack.
Olakau’atu has been particularly impressive for Manly and may have to make a difficult decision as the representative round looms.
The rear rower is committed to Tonga and is eligible to play for the Blues but cannot do both as Tonga plays a test match on June 25, a day before Origin II in Perth.
While he was the shining light for the Manly forward, it was Josh Aloiai who made a rare double to score Manly’s first and last try of the match.
Speedster Tolutau Koula also crossed for the first time in his short NRL career when the Sea Eagles took advantage of the reduced Tigers late.
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