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Canterbury Cup NSW Rd 1 – scores, highlights, reports

It's been a massive opening round in the Canterbury Cup NSW with Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs fullback Nick Meaney stating his case for a NRL spot, last year's runner-up, the Newtown Jets, getting off to a shaky start and the son of a NRL legend, Tristan Sailor, scoring a memorable try. 

South Sydney Rabbitohs v North Sydney Bears

Metricon High Performance Centre
Sunday, 17 March - 1.10pm

HIGHLIGHTS | South Sydney v North Sydney - Round 1

Brittain stars as Souths earn gritty win over Bears 

Andre Cupido

The South Sydney Rabbitohs have opened their 2019 Canterbury Cup NSW campaign with a gutsy 18-14 win over the North Sydney Bears at Metricon High Performance Centre on Sunday. 

It was a fittingly hard-fought contest as both foundation clubs went toe-to-toe in their first match of the season, with the heavy downpour of rain ensuring a brutally-absorbing affair. 

But while the Bears proved defiant in defence for a majority of the second-half, a Connor Tracey try in the 70th minute salvaged a gritty victory for Shane Millard’s men.  

Captain Billy Brittain starred for South Sydney with an early try in the 20th minute before laying on the decisive four-pointer for Tracey late in the match.

Meanwhile, Bears five-eighth Lachlan Lam impressed with two try-assists and posed as a constant threat with the ball-in-hand. 

Brittain credited the Rabbitohs fans for turning up in dismal Sydney conditions before praising the strong defensive effort of his side after they held the Bears scoreless in the second-half.

“100% (happy with the defensive effort). The conditions didn’t really favour any side but we’re pretty happy to start the year off with a win,” Brittain told

“We were pretty confident coming out [in the second-half] and knew if we didn’t give away cheap ball we could hold them to zero points.

“It’s also been a while since Souths have had a Canterbury Cup (NSW) side so we wanted to give back to the fans, particularly the ones who came out today.” 

While Tracey’s effort late in the contest was the only try of the second-half, neither side were afraid of playing an attacking brand of footy as the Bears held onto a 14-12 lead at half-time. 

The Rabbitohs were first to score after Kyle Turner crashed his way over from close-range in the seventh minute, with Mawene Hiroti converting to take a 6-0 lead. 

But the Bears hit-back when Lam made a swirling run through the middle to give his side valuable field position before placing a deft grubber in-goal for a Sitili Tupouniua try just a few tackles later. 

Although an error on the ensuing set of six gifted the Rabbitohs a golden chance to snatch back the lead, a 90m intercept from Apu Kepoa gave the Bears a 10-6 advantage.  

South Sydney dominated field position in the period following and eventually got their reward when Billy Brittain raced out of dummy-half for their second try in the 20th minute. 

A crunching tackle from Max Bailey proved a momentum-changer before Lam skipped across field to find Bernard Lewis who crossed with an athletic finish in the left-hand corner.  

The Bears were able to build pressure early in the second-half on the back of two forced line drop-outs from Brock Lamb but were unable to take advantage as the Rabbitohs’ defence held strong. 

Bailey Sironen came close to scoring when he poked his way through from 10m out  in the 55th minute, only for his late offload finding Bears centre Matt Ikuvalu. 

North Sydney were formidable with their goal-line defence as the Rabbitohs continued to threaten with countless attacking raids, but they eventually cracked in the 70th minute when Tracey stormed onto a Brittain short-ball for the match-winning try. 

Penrith Panthers v Wentworthville Magpies

Panthers Stadium
Sunday, 17 March - 1.45pm

HIGHLIGHTS | Penrith v Wentworthville - Round 1

Panthers prevail in the wet

Stewart Moses

Penrith made a solid start to their 2019 Canterbury Cup campaign following their 22-12 win over the Wentworthville Magpies at a wet and slippery Panthers Stadium.

While the Magpies did manage to level the scores early in the first half, the home side were never headed in a game not surprisingly riddled with errors from both sides given the wet playing conditions on hand.

Penrith and Wentworthville came into this match strengthened by late inclusions.

The 2018 minor premiers were bolstered by the likes of Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, Tim Grant, Liam Martin and recent signing from Manly, Frank Winterstein, while Bevan French, Josh Hoffman and Oregon Kaufusi featured for the Magpies.

Penrith withstood some early pressure from the visitors before they opened their account through a try to Malakai Watene-Zelezniak in the 7th minute, with the winger finishing off a slick backline movement inside the Magpies’ red zone to score out wide and with the sideline conversion from by Jed Cartwright to give Penrith a dream 6-0 start.

But it didn’t take too long for Wentworthville to hit back when a shift right inside the opposition 20 saw Bevan French provide his winger, Josh Bergamin with a saloon passage to score in the right corner with a terrific cut out pass after 12 minutes. Brad Keighran’s sideline conversion levelled the scores 6-all after 13 minutes of play.

Repeat penalties inside Wentworthville’s half soon proved telling as centre Tyrone Phillips stepped some feeble opposition defence close to the line to score out wide to restore Penrith’s six-point lead midway through the opening half.

More repeat sets for the Panthers soon enabled them to extend their lead out to 12, when a Jed Cartwright offload in traffic, enabled hooker Mitch Kenny to force his way over to score underneath the posts in the 25th minute.

Wentworthville’s cause wasn’t helped when French was replaced with a hip injury after just 28 minutes of play, as both sides became increasingly guilty of poor ball control in the closing minutes of the opening half.

Wentworthville were gifted some good attacking opportunities to get back into the game, but stoic Penrith goal-line defence ensured they would retain their 18-6 lead going into halftime.

The Panthers were in again soon after play resumed when a neat short ball from five-eighth, Isaac Thompson put Winterstein on a good line to score out wide in his initial appearance for the club. Cartwright’s conversion attempt failed but the Panthers held a strong 22-6 lead that would hold well until near full-time, when Wentworthville finally adding to their score with a well-worked consolation try to centre Joshua Minhinnick after some good leadup work from Bergamin, converted from near touch by Keighran, to improve the final score to 22-12.

The Panthers now face a tough road trip to McDonald Jones Stadium next Saturday, where they will take on fellow first round winners, Newcastle while Wentworthville will be looking to regroup next Sunday at Leichhardt Oval against the Bulldogs.

Warriors v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

Mt Smart Stadium
Saturday, 16 March - 12.45pm (AEDT)

HIGHLIGHTS | Warriors v Canterbury-Bankstown - Round 1

Meaney-inspired Bulldogs hold off fast-finishing Warriors

Kristy Harris

Nick Meaney responded to his NRL omission in the best way possible when he - along with young gun Jack Cogger - starred for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in their 19-14 victory against the Warriors. 

The first 20 minutes was a scoreless arm-wrestle with both sides rueing missed opportunities to score with some Round 1 rust evident when various passes couldn't hit the mark. 

Chanel Harris-Tavita took some time to get his kicking game right but he redeemed himself with a great run putting his team in good position but they could not capitalise. 

Bulldogs interchange Jack Nelson finally broke the drought in the 21st minute with an aggressive try straight through the middle of the Warriors' defensive line and planted the ball under the posts, ensuring an easy conversion for Rhyse Martin. 

Martin drew on his NRL experience when he successfully converted three from three tries for the blue and white, while NSW Pathways player Meaney added his own four points to the scoreboard with a long range try off the back of a great Jesse Marschke run. 

Another try had the Bulldogs up 19-0 but the Warriors refused to give up, scoring three tries in 11 minutes to set up a nail-biting finish. 

Paulos Latu's try, however, turned out to be the last scoring play of the game thanks to some great Bulldogs defence in the final minutes, giving the reigning premiers two points on the ladder to start the season. 

Western Suburbs Magpies v Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles

Leichhardt Oval
Saturday, 16 March - 3.15pm

HIGHLIGHTS | Western Suburbs v Blacktown - Round 1

Magpies fly high in battle of the west

Blake Edwards

Josh Reynolds didn't end up turning out for Western Suburbs, but the Magpies have still started their 2019 campaign in the best way possible with a convincing 23-4 victory over the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles at Leichhardt Oval.

As expected in their first game of the season, both sides spent the opening exchanges testing each other out, with the Magpies  having the first opportunity to trouble the scorers, though couldn’t capitalize.

Blacktown took full advantage of their first sniff, with five-eighth Luke Metcalf slicing through the Wests right-hand defenders, racing away to score a brilliant individual try. Metcalf couldn’t convert his try leaving the visitors with a 4-0 lead.

Moments later Wests hit back through their five-eighth Tyson Gamble, who crashed over the stripe from close range. The try was converted by Gamble, giving his side a 6-4 lead.

Wests had a mountain of possession, throwing a lot at the Eagles, though they were more than ready for the task, scrambling to defend three try-scoring opportunities throughout the first-half, meaning they went into the sheds just two-points behind.

The heavy defensive load in the first stanza was starting to take a toll on Blacktown, with Wests play-maker Kauri Apuouri-Puketapu running in two quick tries shortly after the resumption, extending their lead to a 16-4.

Not only was the defensive load taking on Blacktown’s defence, it was also affecting their ability to hold the steeden. Hale’s men were only able to complete one of their first four sets, after returning from the sheds.

Wests again took full advantage of the Eagles misfortunes, scoring another four-pointer courtesy of Kane Mcquiggin. This made a comeback from the visitors seem near impossible,even with over fifteen minutes of play remaining.

Gamble put the icing on a solid team and individual performance moments before the full time hooter, booting a neat field goal to secure his side a 23-4 victory.

The Workers will shift their focus swiftly to their Round 2 clash against the North Sydney Bears at Lottoland, while the Magpies will look to keep the momentum going against the Warriors at Campbelltown.

Mounties v St George Illawarra Dragons

Aubrey Keech Reserve
Friday, 15 March - 6.00pm

HIGHLIGHTS | Mounties v St George Illawarra - Round 1

Late Marsters try saves Dragons in thriller

Alex Hrissis

A last-gasp try to Steven Marsters in the 78th minute has helped the St George Illawarra Dragons secure a thrilling 28-all draw against Mounties at Aubrey Keech Reserve on Friday. 

The Mounties lead for a majority of the contest as they soared to a 28-18 lead at the break after a quick-fire double from Hudson Young late in the first half.

But a try from Dragons fullback Tristan Sailor in the 68th minute set up an enthralling finish with Marsters effort in the dying stages enough to share the competition points.

Mounties dominated the early exchanges and created plenty of chances before they found a gap and scored to take a 6-0 lead.

Dragons prop Eddie Blacker was injected into the match off the bench and had an immediate impact after crossing for a try to level the scores. The Dragons scored two more tries in quick succession to find themselves with a healthy 18-6 lead. 

Mounties young gun Hudson Young kept the home team in the hut after scoring two tries in the space of four minutes to close the gap to 18-16 just before half time.

“It feels pretty good, coming back and scoring a few tries,” Young told after the game. 

“A little bit disappointing, we were on top for most of the game, lost out way a bit in the first half but we got it together and came out and put on a good second half.” 

“I think we can take a lot out of that moving forward.”

Mounties halfback Brendan O’Hagan put the home team ahead following a fumble from Andre Niko while Tony Satini extended the lead to 28-18 after on the back of a nice offload.

Sailor and Marsters then scored with Jai Field missing the final shot at goal to leave the scores all locked up at full time.

Mounties 28 (H Young 2 R Hunt B O’Hagan T Satini tries; A Niko goals 4) St George Illawarra Dragons 28 (R Robson E Blacker J Pearson T Sailor S Marsters tries; D Nichols 3 J Field goals)


Newcastle Knights v Newtown Jets

McDonald Jones Stadium
Friday, 15 March - 3.45pm

HIGHLIGHTS | Newcastle v Newtown - Round 1

Knights dominate Jets in Canterbury Cup season opener

Robert Crosby

The Newcastle Knights had a season to forget in 2018 but have have made a statement to start the year after downing last year’s grand finalists, the Newtown Jets, in the opening game of the Canterbury Cup NSW.

The game marked the return of Tautau Moga, who injured his ACL early last year and will take plenty of confidence out of his first major hit-out after 11 months of rehabilitation. 

With both sides exchanging sets during the opening ten minutes, a 65-metre kick return from inside his own in-goal sent Newcastle fullback Tex Hoy into quality attacking territory. Capitalising upon the shell-shocked Jets, incumbent Jersey Flegg player of the year Beau Fermor crashed over to give the home side the first try of the season.

After withstanding pressure from the Jets on their own line, a 50-metre run from NSW Pathways prodigy Phoenix Crossland set up the Knights second when Starford To’a dived over in the right corner to establish a 10-0 lead after 18 minutes.

Unable to make an impact on the scoreboard during the first 40 minutes, the Jets were made to pay for errors as Hoy crossed underneath the posts after being in the right place to support a rampaging Fermor run. With Zac Woolford adding his second conversion of the half Newcastle took a 16-0 lead into the change of ends.

Needing to be the first to score after halftime, the Jets got off to the perfect start after the Knights lost possession inside their own half. With another NSW Pathways player Rusiate Lumelume going close to the line, Jackson Ferris crashed over moments later to reduce the margin to 16-4 three minutes into the second half.

Going close to posting a second try after Braydon Trindall was held up over the line, Crossland continued his fine start to the season when he produced a length of the field try on the next play after fielding a Newtown grubber to give Newcastle a 20-4 lead.

Earmarked for an NRL debut with the Sharks after impressing in the trials, late inclusion Bronson Xerri showed plenty of class with a dashing run almost resulting in a try, only for the 18-year-old centre to be penalised for a double movement.

Lumelume knocked on inside the Knights half before the home side secured the result in the 65th minute with former Roosters and Titans lower grader Kiah Cooper bagging his first try for the club.

Next week Newcastle host last year’s minor premiers Penrith at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday afternoon, while Newtown take on Mounties in a semi final rematch at Shark Park earlier that day.

Newcastle Knights 24 (B Fermor, S To’a, T Hoy, P Crossland, K Cooper tries; Z Woolford 2 goals) Newtown Jets 4 (J Ferris try)