The important portion of the preseason begins in earnest tonight with the start of the Perth 9s. Parramatta, one of the premier clubs in the abbreviated format, have named an exciting line-up which has them installed as tournament favourites alongside the likes of the Cronulla Sharks and the Brisbane Broncos. Sixties broke down the squad the Eels have sent in a cracking blog on Tuesday that you can read via this link and he will be pulling double duty with me tonight as we live blog our reactions to the best and worst of the action to come out of Day 1 of the Perth 9s.
Parramatta will meet the Bulldogs in the fourth game of the evening, slated for 8:20PM on the Eastern seaboard, so be sure to tune in to the action via TV or your digital platform of choice. Prior to that though you can catch the second pre-game show of the year between myself and Sixties on Soundcloud. I will be sure to post the recording of the show here in the live blog but between now and then you can drop your questions and bold predictions for the tournament on Twitter (with the hashtag #TCT9s) or right here in the comments.
The #NRL9s are almost upon us! @Sixties2153 & @_Forty20 will be live-blogging their reactions throughout the night as well as recording their second pre-game show of the year. Tweet us and the show your questions and bold predictions for the tournament with the hashtag #TCT9s.
— The Cumberland Throw (@EelsTCT) February 14, 2020
The Pre-Game Show is wrapped up (apologies for the background noise from the Parra Leagues Club). Catch it in this post via the embedded player or click through to Soundcloud.
Warriors vs Roosters (NRLW)
Sixties kicks the conversation with me over our romantic footy date on Valentines by declaring that the NRLW has the potential to be the most entertaining and highest quality women’s professional team sport in Australia – if not the world. A big call to be sure but the calibre of the representative games and tournaments in recent times certainly gives it a strong grounding.
There is a proviso mind you. The NRLW needs to expand beyond four teams because the current premiership format better resembles an exhibition tournament.
On to the game itself and the Warriors start brightly as the lay down the opening points and back it up with positive play down their right edge. The Roosters hit back with some crisp ball movement down their left edge and the unsuccessful conversion leaves the scores at 4-6.
Wew. The Warriors nearly score before the half-time break with some enterprising offloading right on the edge of their right sideline but a gaggle of desperate Roosters are able to zero in on the ball in the nick of time.
Oh no, now a massive anticlimax! After a monstrous 40/20 from the Warriors they only to manage to cough up the ball on the first tackle and that brings an end to a frenetic first half.
Bang! Roosters start the second half in the best way possible as Kiana Takairangi streaks away to post another unconverted try.
With 2min left to play the signs were pointing to the Roosters hanging on for a gutsy win before an 80min intercept try breaks hearts and backs alike. It ends up a bonus zone try and with the successful conversion the Warriors take a key 5pt lead. An error from the kickoff from the Roosters all but secures the win with the Warriors only needing to play out the final set of the game without turning the ball over.
New Zealand Warriors 13 def. Sydney Roosters 8
Panthers vs Roosters
Here come one of Sixties darkhorse tips for the tournament in the Penrith Panthers. He rates them across the park – let’s see if they are worthy of his tip.
Kikau wastes little time making a splash on the game as he barrels nearly 70m downfield to score a virtuoso try. He had support inside to his right but the Roosters defenders just got swatted away.
Second try goes the way of the Panthers too. Sixties might be on to something here. Clearly the architect of this try with a well weighted grubber kick. They repossess the ball from the kickoff as well with a nasty swirling drop kick only to give the ball immediately back with a blatant shepherd.
It is one-way traffic in the first half as Api Koroisau eviscerates the Roosters up the middle with a cute touch footy-esque banana split play. Holds the short ball up to a looping support runner who runs on the inside shoulder of a decoy. Beautifully executed and Mansour makes it another bonus point try.
Penrith really have these short kickoffs dialled in. Perfect execution. They capitalise from it as Kikau notches a first half double. Too big and too strong for the one-on-one attempt and the Panthers have a commanding 24-0 lead at oranges.
Koroisau gets one of his own now as a glut of possession in the red-zone can only lead to one thing in this format. To his credit he ran onto a short ball with a good bit of speed to beat the defence before circling to the posts for the bonus point.
It was looking like Penrith might only score the sole try in the second half before a gorgeous backhand offload from Kikau puts Cleary over. Tensions boil over as Joey Lussick clips Cleary at his ankles after he grounds the pill but that will do us in the first game of the men’s bracket. Penrith far too good.
Sixties muses at full-time that Cleary might actually be a productive part of a NSW Origin team…if it were to be played in 9s format!
Penrith Panthers 35 def. Sydney Roosters 0
Warriors vs Knights
An admission from my offsider that he has a bit of time for Harris-Tevita from the Warriors. I have to say I do as well, hard not to like a player that gives it his all and plays with his hair on fire – metaphorically of course.
What a wicked bounce! The Knights show some quality vision as they stab a kick ahead early in the count but the ball kicks up too high and eludes the Newcastle chaser.
Deary me. Paasi needs to learn to pass-y. After making a brilliant break up the middle the big man double pumps at the last line and tries to wrap a pass around the back of a defender instead of just linking up with support on either side.
Newcastle make them pay dearly for it as Mason Lino scurries down the left-edge and dummies his way through to the try line for the first points of the game.
HYMEL HUNT, SHAME SHAME SHAME. For an outside back in this day and age to step on the sideline is the most egregious of sins. It undoes some nice lead up work and sees a second try for the Novacastrians go begging.
And as I string Hunt up for his sins the Knights score via their other edge. Bonus point try Starford To’a.
Kurt Gidley channels his big brother in the shadow of half-time with a late flick pass to put Brodie Jones over and give the Knights a presumably untouchable lead.
Awesome officiating! Credit where credit is due. They nailed the call on the try as the Knights score within an inch of the dead-ball line.
Gee the Warriors look beyond ordinary as simple catch and pass proves to be good enough to crack them out wide. Sixties notes that the team playing good, well-structured footy has assembled the commanding lead for the second game in a row while the Warriors look like a rabble in comparison. The subsequent kickoff only adds to this theory.
Is Gidley playing better in retirement then he ever did as a full-time play-maker? He beautifully laces a kick for a try to close out this game as the Knights follow the Panthers with a dominant showing to start the tournament.
Consecutive shut outs to start the men’s bracket. Who would have thought?
Newcastle Knights 34 def. New Zealand Warriors 0
Bulldogs vs Eels
Alright, the main event. The one we are all waiting for. Can the Eels put away a sneaky decent Canterbury outfit?
Surely Ferguson was hit in the air there? Play goes on but the replay confirms it was an awful missed call. The Eels complete their first set with a flat kick from Gutherson that drives the Dogs back to their goal line.
HELLO MAIKA SIVO. Last year he gave us the fend heard around the world and he starts the 9s by dispatching Jack Cogger with a lethal stiff arm.
Length of the field set from the Eels as a last tackle short-side play from Moses releases Ferguson and the flying showman gives us his best leap down the sideline – he honestly could have just touched the ball down but that isn’t how Fergo is wired! Sensational try.
Ooph, bad kick from Gutho now. He tries his hand at the clearing kick on the last and it skews off the side of his boot on well over the sideline.
Some solid defence early on lead by Niukore but the Dogs eventually cross out wide by turning play back inside and catching the defenders short. The conversion is good and the Dogs take the 2pt lead.
A bulldozing run from Niukore gives Salmon a bit of room to operate in and the slippery Eel slices through! He has the big man Oregon Kaufusi looming on his inside but he has the gas to get there himself – although he can’t get to the bonus zone. The conversion is good and the Eels regain the lead at 10-6.
Quality work from George Jennings at the back there. The Eels should play out the last set of the half thanks to his effort. Heart in mouth moment there as Takairangi’s pass catches the hands of a defender and flies into touch.
The Eels get another play or two and Moses rifles an absolute bullet of a pass across the field to Sivo to give his behemoth of a winger the chance to make the last play of the half. He winds up and beats Okunbor first and only a desperation tackle from the inside stops his potential try-scoring sortie! That will take us to half-time.
Ey! Error from the kickoff as the Eels drive it long and deep.
Dang it. A magical offload from Paulo finds Davies but the first year full-time player loses it through contact with the line in sight.
Fergo then gets on his bike to try and cut down a 20/40 attempt and does well to do just that. A simple set from the Eels is completed by a composed kick from Moses before the Eels force an error to go back on the attack.
Razzle dazzle stuff from the Eels as Moses and Ferguson make something out of nothing down the right-edge short-side. Ferguson somehow kicks ahead to force a line drop out but a clever kick from the Dogs finds touch and they regain possession. Play is going by at a million miles an hour!
Now the Dogs force a line drop out. Big set for the Eels. Will they kick short? No the opt to go long with a booming 55m effort.Some hustle from a big man, was it Oregon?, helps produce a forward pass. Big chance for the Eels to put the game away now but as I type that Salmon makes a mistake. Giving the Dogs a red hot chance to steal a win now.
There you go. The Eels are punished for their repeat turnovers as Harawira-Naera crashes over for a bonus point try. Is that the back-breaker with just over a minute on the clock?
No sir, no good. Parramatta are far too conservative in their last set before throwing a terrible speculator on their last play and the Dogs get the boil over win. I am not sure what it means in the new format but I assume the Eels need to win big in their next game and then rely on results?
There is more action on tonight but with the disappointing result from the Eels I will retire early and refocus efforts for a big day with the Junior Representatives followed by the second day of the Perths 9s tomorrow. Thanks for reading!