I SPENT THE weekend visiting Sydney for the first time and both the Swans (AFL) and the Waratahs (Super Rugby) playing away I decided to take in my first Rugby League game.
The clash between the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and Manley Sea Eagles came with the added bonus of being held at the 85,000 all seater ANZ Stadium.
Unfortunately a crowd of just under 20,000 looks a little lost in a ground of such magnitude but it was still a fantastic experience to be at the venue for the 2000 Summer Olympics. The game itself was more than just a tad one-sided as the Sea Eagles ran out comfortable 38-4 winners, scoring seven tries to the Bulldogs’ one in the process.
Manly half back Daly Cherry-Evans was the star of show, dictating play throughout and scoring an early try as well as being involved in a number of others. The game was over as a contest by half time, with the fighting between rival spectators in the stands proving to be much more competitive.
The win moves the Sea Eagles to third spot on the ladder, just three points behind the table topping Dragons. The Bulldogs sit seventh with six wins and six losses from their 12 games so far.
It was business as usual for the high flying sides in the AFL as Geelong and Collingwood claimed wins at the weekend to remain first and second on the ladder. Behind them are Hawthorn whose recent resurgence continued with a come from behind victory over the Fremantle Dockers. The Hawks, who were missing star forward Lance Franklin, trailed by 28 points at one stage but kicked the last eight goals to win by 22.
Geelong’s win over the Western Bulldogs was never in doubt from the opening quarter, and they are now unbeaten in their last 26 games at Skilled Stadium. Big ruckman Brad Otten kicked five goals, while Jimmy Bartel and Steve Johnson impressed in the 148-87 win.
In a repeat of last year’s Grand Final, Collingwood proved far too good for St. Kilda. The game finished 108-51 in favour of the Pies, with stars Dane Swan (4 goals) and Scott Pendlebury (32 possessions) leading by example.
The round’s big surprise came on Friday night when Melbourne defeated Essendon, a result which ruined most people’s perfect week of tipping, including my own. The West Coast Eagles stuttered for a while but eventually overcame the Gold Coast Suns on Sunday, with Sydney, North Melbourne and Carlton also picking up maximum points.
There was a huge shock in the latest round of Super Rugby as the Queensland Reds lost their first home game in 13 at the hands of fellow Australian side the Brumbies. It was just the third win of the season for the Brumbies as five penalties from star Matt Giteau contributed massively to the 22-14 victory.
Hooker Stephen Moore scored the visitors’ only try after twenty minutes, with Giteau slotting over the subsequent conversion. Just after the half hour, Ben Lucas brought the Reds right into the game with his own five pointer but the Brumbies led 19-11 at the interval. The sides could only add a penalty apiece in the second period with Giteau sealing the win after the final siren.
It wasn’t all good news for the Brumbies however with lock Mark Chisholm suffering a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament that will force him out of this year’s World Cup. For the Reds, the seasons of Anthony Faingaa and Ben Lucas are in doubt following hamstring and knee injuries respectively.
Another of the weekend’s surprise results saw the Western Force defeat the Highlanders at Carisbrook Stadium. With stars James O’Connor and Willie Ripia left in Perth due to injury, the Force weren’t given much of a chance but two tries from David Smith helped them to a 21-14.
The two remaining Australian sides, the Rebels and the Warathas suffered defeats to the Stormers and Bulls respectively.