The Northern Territory news Mon 11 Sep 2017
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16 SPORT MONDAY SEPTEMBER 11 2017 16 Monday, September 11, 2017 NTNE01Z01MA - V1 MONDAY ntnews.com.au/sportNRL GRIT. Desire. Determination. Character. The superlatives are hard to find to describe the Cowboys after they produced one of the greatest finals upsets to keep their season alive by beating Cronulla 15-14 in extra time in Sydney yesterday. Led by an inspirational performance by Jason Taumalolo (242 metres, one try) and ably assisted by Coen Hess, the undermanned Cowboys shocked the Sharks to end their title defence. Down 14-6 with 17 minutes, left, Taumalolo dragged four Sharks over the try line to get his side back into the game. A penalty goal with three minutes left in regular time, after Matt Prior was penalised for stripping Shaun Fensom in a two-man tackle, allowed Ethan Lowe to level scores. A field goal by Michael Morgan five minutes into extra time was enough for them to set up a semi-final showdown with Parramatta in Sydney this Saturday night. One of the favourite lines of Cowboys skipper Gavin Cooper is if you got points for effort, wed get two points every week. This time that effort got its reward as the Cowboys prevailed in extra time for the second straight finals series. Cronullas 17 errors were the death knell for their campaign. Sharks giants Andrew Fifita and Paul Gallen domi SHARKS 14 COWBOYS 15 NORTH QUEENSLAND Tries: K Feldt J Taumalolo Goals: E Lowe 3 Field Goals: M Morgan CRONULLA Tries: J Bird C Townsend Goals: J Maloney 3 Crowd: 16,115 at Alliaz Stadium after extra time Referees: G Badger, A Klein True grit Cowboys pull off stunner nated the Cowboys undermanned middle third early, but Taumalolo and Hess took it upon themselves to lift the Cowboys back into the contest. A Hess surge set up an opportunity for Taumalolo, who dragged four defenders over the line to get the visitors within 14-12 with 16 minutes left. It provided North Queensland with the belief to pull off one of the best wins in their history. The Cowboys got off to a horror start when winger Antonio Winterstein lost the ball trying to stay out of the ingoal area, with Chad Townsend on the spot to capitalise. In the 18th minute the Sharks extended their lead to 8-0 after a piece of opportunism from hooker Jayden Bailey in his first finals match, stripping the ball from Scott Bolton and earning a penalty. Just before the break Sharks five-eighth James Maloney was sent to the sin bin for impeding Ethan Lowe when chasing an attacking kick. The penalty goal reduced the gap to 8-2 at halftime, and the Cowboys capitalised on a 12-man Cronulla in the 49th minute when a superb Morgan cut-out pass put winger Kyle Feldt over. However, when Chad Townsends kick found centre Jack Bird out wide, the Sharks restored a 14-6 buffer. An error by Sharks fullback Valentine Holmes just before the first five minutes of extra time ended allowed Morgan to slot the decisive field goal. JON TUXWORTH Eels learn lots from tight loss HALFBACK Mitchell Moses says unfancied Parramatta learnt some valuable lessons in giving red-hot Melbourne an almighty scare in the NRL qualifying final at AAMI Park. The minor premiers earned a week off and booked a spot in the preliminary final courtesy of the 18-16 win. But they had to do it the hard way, coming from six points down at halftime against a team playing their first finals match in eight years. Well be a lot better for that, said Moses, who lost for only the fourth time in 15 matches for Parramatta since his mid-season switch from Wests Tigers. Its a good few lessons we learnt there. The Eels lost the penalty count 9-5 and finished the match with forwards Daniel Alvaro and Manu Mau on report. Moses, 22, said ill-discipline was a key factor in the two-point loss which pitched Parramatta into a cut-throat semi this weekend against North Queensland. Race still wide open: Smith MELBOURNE skipper Cameron Smith says their tight victory over Parramatta proves the NRL premiership is wide open and the Storm will need to improve to win it. Many have said the premiership is Melbournes to lose but after edging the Eels 18-16, Smith said all of the remaining teams were still a strong chance. The Storm will now face either Brisbane or Penrith in a preliminary final, in a fortnight at AAMI Park, with the winner to advance to the decider. The teams are very capable of coming down and winning and being in a grand final, Smith said. Were not at any stage getting ahead of ourselves and we know we need to perform a lot better than we did today to give ourselves a chance to progress forward. Smith set a new record for NRL games played with the Eels match his 356th and admitted the commemorations of the achievement had taken a toll on his preparation.The Sharks Gerard Beale in the elimination final against the North Queensland Cowboys Griffin hails young fullbacks intensity PENRITH coach Anthony Griffin has hailed rookie fullback Dylan Edwards miraculous effort to return from a knee injury two weeks early. Edwards was expected to be out for up to a month when he tore his medial ligament in the Panthers round 25 NRL loss to St George Illawarra. However, the 21-year-old missed just one match and was one of his teams best in their dramatic 12-point elimination final win over Manly on Saturday. Edwards showed no ill effects of the injury on his way to a 143m, five tackle-bust performance. Griffin said it wasnt until Edwards finished team training on Thursday that he was convinced the No.1 was ready to take on the Sea Eagles. He got out of a brace on Wednesday when he had his first run and then our captains run yesterday, Griffin said. Its just a really great effort from him and (Im) really pleased for him, the way hes rehabbed himself and our staff, to be able to get a key player back that quickly. Griffin said Edwards proved his status by completing the last few training sessions in the lead-up to the clash. I saw him run Wednesday and he was good, Griffin said. He got straight out of the brace, got to top speed. It was looking 3-4 weeks after St George and within 10 days, he pulled up really good on Thursday. Thursday was key, that he pulled up OK and didnt have soreness. The win means the Panthers advance to a semi-final against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium, with a clash against Melbourne awaiting the winner. Asked whether skipper Matt Moylan would be ready to return from his leave of absence to take on the Broncos, Griffin said: I havent got an obvious answer for you there. Manlys future bright, says Taupau SOMEWHERE amongst the misery of Saturday nights season-ending finals loss to Penrith, Manly hope they have kick-started the next era of success at the NRL club. The Sea Eagles were left shattered after they drew back to a 10-10 scoreline with Penrith at Allianz Stadium, before they let it slip late to lose 22-10. Manly have the secondyoungest average squad age of this years finalists at 25 and four months, for a youthful exuberance only bettered by Penrith. The likes of Jake and Tom Trbojevic, Dylan Walker and Addin Fonua-Blake are all 23 or younger, prompting sen ior forward Martin Taupau to believe the club will reap the benefits of 2017 well into the future. There are a lot of guys who havent played finals football but theyve matured, Taupau said. Theyve come a very long way. The likes of Api Koroisau, Addin Fonua-Blake, these stories of youngsters playing for nothing and have a look at them now. Theyve matured into great footballers and its a great thing for us in the future. Manlys journey to the finals was their first since 2014. The Sea Eagles were considered rank outsiders at the start of the season to even make the eight, after a lowprofile recruitment drive. They were also playing with more than $1 million of their salary cap on the sideline in the forms of Brett Stewart and Steve Matai, whose contracts officially end at the conclusion of 2017. Manly sat third with just seven rounds to play, before a late-season slump sent them into the elimination finals before Saturday nights loss. Obviously were very disappointed but weve just got to look on the brighter side, Taupau said. We definitely turned a lot of things around.
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