The North Queensland Cowboys recorded four straight wins for the first time in five years after a comprehensive second-half performance propelled them to a 36-16 win over Newcastle.
In previous matches on Saturday, the Sydney Roosters beat Gold Coast 44-16 at Mackay, while Manly beat the Wests Tigers 36-22 at Brookvale Oval.
Trailing 16-12 at halftime, the Cowboys scored four unanswered tries in the second term in Townsville.
Two of the tries came in the space of three minutes shortly after the break, with Murray Taulagi and Valentine Holmes crossing the boards.
A 58th-minute kick from Chad Townsend was knocked down by the Knights, with young Cowboys gun Jeremiah Nanai the beneficiary as he leapt and ran past two defenders to score the home side’s fifth down of the game.
Townsend then found a flying Heilum Luki, who scored with six minutes left as the Cowboys handed an improved Knights side their seventh straight loss.
Humiliated 50-2 by the Melbourne Storm last week, the Knights showed their determination to lead at half-time, thanks in large part to their halves Tex Hoy and Phoenix Crossland and skipper Kalyn Ponga.
Full-back Ponga had just three points from 54 yards into half-time but his involvement in the line gave his forwards the boost that stretched the North Queensland defense from end to end ‘other.
Finishing 89% in 40 minutes, the Knights were successful on offense thanks to six offloads in the first half.
The Cowboys struck after two minutes when Tom Dearden scored the first down.
Newcastle hit back when Dominic Young scored from an overlap in the 10th minute.
A searing run from Jason Taumalolo in the 25th minute put the Cowboys just yards from the try line, before winger Kyle Feldt crossed for his fourth try in three games.
But Newcastle then struck twice with a clever Ponga grubber on the vertical landing perfectly for Jacob Saifiti to score.
With 90 seconds left in half, poor defensive discipline from the hosts gave Newcastle deep territory and Hoy stepped past two defenders before offloading Chris Randall who scored.
Roosters Dominate Titans
Sydney Roosters captain James Tedesco reached a century of NRL tries as the Habs found their way back to victory with their loss to struggling Gold Coast.
Tedesco scored a hat-trick and wingers Daniel Tupou and Joseph Suaalii netted a brace as the Roosters ended a two-game losing streak with an impressive victory.
The defeat is Gold Coast’s fifth in a row and leaves their season hanging by a thread with just two wins from nine matches in 2022.
Justin Holbrook’s side, playing without injured star David Fifita, got off to a perfect start when Beau Fermor surged after Suaalii knocked down a Will Smith grubber in the third minute to take a 4-0 lead.
Tedesco hit his career ton in a quick six-minute Roosters response, combining with Joey Manu to score what would be the first of six tries through the Gold Coast left side defence.
Despite losing Sam Verrills to a shoulder injury and Lindsay Collins sinning for a shoulder charge on Corey Thompson, the Roosters extended their lead when Tedesco crossed for his second in the 24th minute. .
Suaalii and Siosiua Taukeiaho then took advantage of the Titans’ left edge to blow the score to 24-4 with five minutes remaining in the first half.
Another kick from Smith led to the Titans’ second try when the ball bounced off the leg of Angus Crichton into the grateful hold of Sam Lisone, who crashed to make it 24-10 at the break .
Gold Coast scored first in the second half through Herman Ese’ese to move closer to the Roosters eight points, before Tupou and Tedesco scored tries to put Trent Robinson’s side in control.
Tupou and Suaalii completed the final moves to put some shine on the Roosters scoreline.
Trbojevic brothers help Manly to victory
Tom Trbojevic was overshadowed on his return to the NRL by his younger brother Ben, who scored a brace in Manly’s win over the Wests Tigers.
Substituting as a back rower instead of playing in his usual center position, the younger Trbojevic grabbed a try either side of the break in his seventh NRL game.
The match was the first in which the three brothers played together at Brookvale Oval.
Significantly for Sea Eagles and NSW Blues manager Brad Fittler, Tom Trbojevic went 80 minutes with a heavily strapped knee after spending the last month on the sidelines and finished the afternoon with two assists and 198 running meters.
In front of a crowd of 17,385, Manly took an 18-0 lead before the Tigers earned a Jackson Hastings-inspired converted score on his return to Brookvale Oval for the first time since his acrimonious split from the Sea Eagles.
The Tigers lost prop Thomas Mikaele and winger Ken Maumalo to concussions in the first half and the pressure eventually kicked in as the game wore on.
Although the visitors were short-handed, Manly had just one try after 30 minutes, with Ben Trbojevic breaking the deadlock with a close-range effort.
The Tigers were deliberately trying to slow down Manly’s quick play and referee Adam Gee lost patience, sending Stefano Utoikamanu to the sin-bin.
The fucking breakout with the 12-man Tigers as Reuben Garrick and Christian Tuipulotu scored on either side to give the Sea Eagles a 14-0 halftime buffer.
Daly Cherry-Evans extended the lead but Manly was only 18-0 considering Garrick’s errant kick.
The Tigers delivered a warning shot when makeshift center Luke Garner fired back with a 65-yard effort as Hastings pushed a sideline conversion amid a chorus of boos from the Manly faithful.
Tyrone Peachey dove a grubber from Luke Brooks to cut Manly’s lead to 18-12 with 25 minutes to go.
But just when the Tigers needed to stick to the showdown, they withered under the pressure.
A fumble on the return kick allowed Josh Aloiai to crash into the next set for his first try in Manly colors before Ben Trbojevic and Garrick sealed their double.
England’s Oliver Gildart scored his first NRL try and Joe Ofahengaue also crashed out, but the Tigers’ late flourish was in vain.
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