The round kicked off on Friday with a scrappy game in Auckland between the Warriors and Bulldogs. Errors were the order of the day as the New Zealand side managed to eke out a win in a game neither side seemed to control or, for that matter, want to win. This was followed by a dismal crowd at a frosty Campbelltown to see two of the worst sides in the NRL take to the field. In lieu of the classic promised by the commentators, it was an error-ridden, poorly structured affair that no one wanted to watch. The Titans eventually came up trumps over the Tigers.
Saturday was the palate cleanser with a tight encounter between a JT-less Cowboys and a Panthers outfit looking for a finals berth. After starting in a Freaky Friday-style body swap, with North Queensland playing as Penrith and vice versa, the Cowboys re-ran the Origin encounter from earlier in the week and managed a late, spectacular try from Kyle Feldt and a sideline conversion by Ethan Lowe, cool as you like, to wrap up the game. The Broncos and Raiders traded early blows in Canberra before the halves combo of Benji Marshall (he still has it, it turns out) and Ben Hunt took control of the game and drove home a Brisbane victory. In Adelaide, a massive crowd turned up to watch the top of the ladder clash. Melbourne looked in control, despite missing their star spine, until two conceding two late tries to City, forcing golden point. Mitchell Pearce fluked a win with a field goal in the 85th minute.
On Sunday, the Dragons managed to halt their slide into mediocrity with a scrappy from behind win against, wait for it, the Knights. A team that everyone has chalked in their diaries as a win made St George Illawarra work for it, leading 28-10 at half time. Unfortunately, Newcastle faded/let Saints back in and they finished 32-28. In Cronulla, Manly handed out a belting to the Sharks, continuing their poor run at home. At first, when Cronulla went down 12-0 and then 18-12 at half time, we all figured it was the usual Sharks tactic of doing as little as possible to stay in it and then come steaming home. It was not to be as the Sea Eagles just extended their lead in the second half and a confused Sharks side never looked like getting back into the game. They might have to start trying harder, earlier if Cronulla want a top four finish.
Round 16 Results
New Zealand 21 (7-8) d Canterbury 14 (6-9)
Gold Coast 26 (5-10) d Wests Tigers 14 (3-12)
North Queensland 14 (9-6) d Penrith 12 (6-8)
Brisbane 30 (10-5) d Canberra 20 (6-9)
Sydney City 25 (11-4) d Melbourne 24 (12-3)
St George Illawarra 32 (9-6) d Newcastle 28 (2-12)
Manly 35 (9-5) d Cronulla 18 (10-5)