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TOMORROW MAY 18 MONDAY
A strong wind over the
Mackenzie Basin covered
the area in a thick shroud of
dust from the dry parched
ground. The dust was so thick
during the morning that some
motorists had to turn their
TODAY IN HISTORY
It was billed as a State of
Origin trial but in the end it
only proved a test of the Suncorp
Stadium crowd’s patience before
Brisbane ran out 22-8 NRL
winners over a depleted Gold
Coast Titans last night.
Maroons selectors would have
excitedly taken their seats to cast
their eyes over the derby in the
final audition for hopefuls before
the Q ueensland side was named
on Monday night for the May
28 series opener in Brisbane.
However, the Q ueensland
panel would have been forgiven
for looking at their watches
as much as the field in a dour
clash between two sapped teams
before the Broncos (5-5 record)
finally kicked ahead.
The once high-flying Gold
Coast (6-4) were battling from
the outset without fiery for ward
Greg Bird (suspension), halfback
Albert Kelly (leg), Q ueensland
lock Ash Harrison (concussion)
and flyer Kevin Gordon (knee,
Titans coach John Cartwright ’s
luck did not change when
pivot Aidan Sezer (pectoral)
and utility William Zillman
(concussion) failed to finish the
Brisbane — already without
ex-test backrower Sam Thaiday
— were soon reeling from
the pre-game withdrawal
of Queensland hopeful Ben
Hannant (groin), replaced by
Still, the Titans grabbed an 8-4
half-time lead ahead of 31,380
before Brisbane looked to have
snuck ahead in the 43rd minute.
Backrower Alex Glenn crossed,
only for the video referees to
give the red light after dubiously
ruling that Brisbane for ward
Jarrod Wallace had obstructed
The Broncos were not to be
denied 14 minutes later when
winger Dale Copley sealed a
double, running off veteran
centre Justin Hodges to lock up
the scores 8-8.
Brisbane jumped to a 14-8
buffer when test utility Matt
Gillett crashed over in the 64th.
Gold Coast were denied a
miraculous Anthony Don four-
pointer off a kick in the 67th
when the video referee picked up
a David Taylor knock-on in the
Corey Parker’s 70th minute
penalty drilled another nail in
the Titans’ coffin before centre
Jack Reed’s 74th try sealed the
Gold Coast drew first blood
when Sezer potted a ninth
Brisbane appeared to have the
upper hand in a dour struggle
when winger Copley fed off a
sublime Hodges face ball to cross
in the 31st.
Yet the visitors held the upper
hand at the main break 8-4, Don
crashing over in the 35th minute.
Besides the ho-hum display,
maroons selectors would have
also been concerned by Hodges
limping off with what was later
diagnosed as a rolled ankle.
Incumbent maroons veteran
centre Hodges was only six
games back from an eight-
month recovery from an Achilles
“It was not his Achilles. It was
his ankle. He needed to come off.
It was nothing major,” Broncos
coach Anthony Griffin said.
“It was an ugly win, losing
Hannant didn’t help. But Gold
Coast were brave. ”
Meanwhile, Titans coach John
Cartwright said he “feared the
worst ” for Sezer and claimed
Zillman had copped a “really bad
hit to the head”.
“It (those injuries) didn’t help
but we won’t use it as excuse,”
“But there was a lot courage in
the performance. We needed to
be brave. But we also had to be
Less than nine months after his
emotional exit from the Wests Tigers,
Benji Marshall will make his NRL
return for St George Illawarra today
Marshall is free to don the famous
red-V for the first time at Pirtek Stadium
after the Dragons met a transfer fee set
by the Tigers when they agreed to allow
their former star player an early release
from his contract to join Super Rugby
side the Blues last year.
Dragons chief executive Peter Doust
and his Tigers counterpart Grant Mayer
put the finishing touches to a package
believed to be in the region of $200,000
Coach Steve Price had no hesitation
in announcing Marshall would face
the Eels once the paperwork had been
lodged with the NRL and the 29-year-
old proved his fitness after his first week
“Benji has ticked all the boxes this week
and is very keen to get back out on the
field and play,” Price said.
“He’s trained well and fitted in really
well with the group and we know he’ ll
only get better as the weeks go by and
he gets more rugby league training and
games under his belt. But we are looking
forward to having him as a part of our
Mayer said he was pleased to see
Marshall back in the NRL and praised
Doust and the Dragons for the manner
in which they dealt with the situation.
“Peter and the Dragons have acted in a
very professional way and like all rugby
league fans, I am happy to see Benji
back,” Mayer told AAP.
“ We pretty much had the agreement in
place on Thursday but we both just had
to go away and sort a few things out and
everyone is happy with the situation.
“I believe our game has reached a
stage where transfer fees will become
commonplace now rugby league is a
billion dollar business.”
Tigers coach Mick Potter echoed
Mayer’s sentiments but said Marshall
would need to improve his attitude
to training at his new club. Marshall
admitted recently he had been in cruise
mood for much of the last two years and
Potter noticed a decline in his standards
in the second half of last season. “He had
ebbs and flows last year,” Potter said.
“At the start of the year he was coming
in early, doing extras and looked at times
that he was doing a lot more than the
others. Other times perhaps he wasn’t.
He had a trip overseas (mid-season) and
maybe he might have had too much to
eat. But that ’s something he knew he’d
done wrong and he made amends when
he came back he worked really hard. But
I want him in the game, he is a very good
player and a good person.”
Parramatta co-captain Jarryd Hayne
admits the Eels are wary of Marshall and
the representative star said the former
New Zealand skipper was still fresh
enough to be a force at his new club.
You do not always need to score tries
when your side has a first-five with a
boot like Hayden Parker’s.
The Highlanders first-five drove
the first nail through the coffin of the
Hurricanes’ 2014 Super Rugby campaign
with an impressive kicking display in
Wellington last night.
Parker kicked five penalties and a
clutch drop goal to give his side an 18-16
victory from a contest where they offered
little on attack but ultimately banked the
valuable competition points.
The Hurricanes will now rely on other
results to go their way, on top of needing
to win their four remaining games, if
they want to make the play-offs this year.
Nothing much was doing when the ball
bobbled to Parker in the 65th minute last
night but the pint-sized No 10 dropped
his second goal in as many weeks as the
Highlanders kept themselves firmly in
the play-off picture.
“It just squirted out so I thought ‘why
not take it?’,” Parker said after the game.
The Highlanders will not be winning
any awards for enterprising play but their
kick-heavy approach got the job done in
“That was sort of the plan,” Parker said.
“ We wanted to keep it relatively boring,
you could say, for the Hurricanes and
try and take it away from their exciting
players and as it was, it worked out for
Jamie Joseph’s side also backed their
tactics with an impressive night of
“It felt like we were defending most of
that game,” Highlanders co-captain Nasi
The Hurricanes grabbed the only try
of the contest when T J Perenara, who
shaded opposite number Aaron Smith
for much of the game, dotted down late
in the first spell as they took a 13-9 lead
to the split.
The home side ticked the
scoreboard over for the first
hour over but a hip injury
to first-five Beauden Barrett
meant he gave up the kicking
duties before the half-time
break and was eventually
subbed in the second stanza.
Hurricanes fullback Andre
Taylor added a penalty and
converted Perenara’s try but
missed two penalty attempts,
including one from point-
blank range with eight
minutes left, during his time
with the tee.
In the interim, Parker nailed a couple
of penalties and his unfashionable drop
goal eventually gave the Highlanders a
lead they had never give up.
Perenara could have wrestled the game
back for the Hurricanes with only a few
minutes left but the TMO ruled Ash
Dixon had obstructed a Highlanders
defender at the ruck and disallowed the
“ To be honest, technically, it’s probably
the right call,” Hurricanes skipper
Conrad Smith said. “But you could look
at every ruck in the game and that would
happen so that ’s the way I see it.”
In the end, the Hurricanes did not
show the ability to juggle their gameplan
on the fly and they were able to offer few
answers to a Highlanders side who were
happy to grind out the result.
“These games where you lose by a
couple are always the hardest ones to
take,” Perenara said.
The Hurricanes will have a week to
regroup before they host the Chiefs in
Wellington on Saturday night.
Highlanders 18 (Hayden Parker 5 pen,
drop goal) Hurricanes 16 (TJ Perenara
try; Beauden Barrett 2 pen; Andre Taylor
pen, con) Half-time: 9-13 .
Billy Slater has found form at
exactly the right time, a week
before the State of Origin
period begins, after starring in
Melbourne’s 27-14 NRL win
over South Sydney at ANZ
Stadium last night.
The Storm and Queensland
No 1 has struggled early in 2014
but enjoyed his best game of the
season in the tough win over the
Slater scored the game’s opening
try in just the fourth minute,
when he chased down a Cooper
Cronk kick, as the Storm built to
a 20-4 half-time lead.
The Rabbitohs fought their
way back after the break to 20-
14 on the back of tries to Adam
Reynolds, after John Sutton
stepped through the Storm line
and offloaded, and Alex Johnston,
who scored his second try of the
evening following some speedy
leadup work from Dylan Walker.
Slater stepped up to the mark
and raced 45m for a four-pointer
to put the Storm 12 points clear
in the 57th minute.
A Cooper Cronk field goal
sealed the win for the visitors in
the 74th minute.
Both NSW and Queensland
go into camp next week ahead
of the State of Origin opener
in Brisbane on May 28 with
the Storm’s ‘big three’ of Slater,
Cronk and Cameron Smith all
impressive in Melbourne’s victory.
Cronk forced his way over in
the 25th minute, after a clever
run around, and Sisa Waqa scored
on the stroke of half-time after
a lovely ball from centre Will
Johnston barged his way over in
the 31st minute for Souths’ only
first half points.
Souths turned things around
after the break led by a
barnstorming display from five-
eighth John Sutton who did his
NSW selection chances no harm.
Coach Craig Bellamy labelled
the round 10 win before 18,508
fans their best of the year in his
300th game as clipboard holder.
“It was our best performance by
far,” Bellamy said.
“Our defence led the way which
is the way we like to play. Everyone
put a really big performance in
“It is humbling to see the effort
they put in. That was a step
forward for us.” — AAP
Drop goal gets
the job done for
PICTURE: Getty Images
Highlanders Hayden Parker is tackled by Hurricanes Victor Vito in last night’s game at
Westpac Stadium, in Wellington.
Marshall gets green light to return
Slater shines in Storm win over Rabbits
The Newcastle Knights are
in turmoil with owner Nathan
Tinkler’s business group advising
the NRL they would not invest
further funds into the club until
the current ownership dispute
Tinkler failed to pay the salaries
of at least 20 Knights staff and
players yesterday and the NRL
has vowed to take action.
Former billionaire Tinkler’s
ownership of the Knights has
been in jeopardy since he was
unable to secure a mandatory
$10.52 million bank guarantee
by March as part of the terms of
his 2011 takeover deal.
His failure to provide the
guarantee also meant the Knights
Members Club could buy the
club back from Tinkler’s Hunter
Sports Group (HSG) for $1.
Knights in turmoil, staff not paid
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