Updated August 05, 2017 21:45:28
The Brisbane Broncos made the headlines on a big Saturday of NRL, annihilating the Titans 54-0, following the Knights’ surprise win over the Warriors.
The Canberra Raiders then closed out the night with a convincing 30-12 win over last year’s premiers the Sharks.
A Ben Hunt masterclass has helped ease Brisbane back into the top four as the Broncos handed Gold Coast a 54-0 drubbing.
Starting from the bench, Hunt made light of his new role at hooker with a hat-trick of tries in the absence of injured Andrew McCullough, the Titans enduring their biggest NRL loss.
Hunt scored twice inside 25 minutes of his introduction, set up an Anthony Milford try with a clever short kick and split the defence to race away for his hat-trick midway through the second half.
The St George Illawarra-bound utility broke the line again to set up Corey Oates for another long-range effort to make it 42-0 after 67 minutes.
When Kodi Nikorima picked up a loose ball and sprinted 95 metres to score, it pushed the hiding to a record-breaking margin.
Josh McGuire finished the embarrassment, strolling through the middle of the Titans’ defence to score inside the last minute.
A healthy crowd of 21,716 were witness to a Broncos side at its most ruthless, Joe Ofahengaue joining the action with a masterful flick pass to gift James Roberts a try against his former club.
The Titans could manage just four points against Wests Tigers last weekend and looked no better against the Broncos.
Gold Coast skipper Ryan James vented his frustration in the second half, squaring up to Roberts in a sideline scuffle.
Roberts appeared to land a punch, but somehow avoided the ire of the officials.
Ofahengaue was placed on report for a spear tackle on Kane Elgey.
Gold Coast half-back Ashley Taylor came in for heavy treatment and was never a factor as he limped off late in the game with a knee injury.
The Titans had more than 60 per cent of the ball in the first 20 minutes but could not translate that into points.
Joe Greenwood came close, narrowly held up in the 10th minute, while Taylor’s short kicking game helped force three goal-line dropouts.
Instead it was the Broncos who opened the scoring, Nikorima easily scampering through a gap between Greenwood and Max King to begin the carnage.
Canberra Raiders have kept their finals heartbeat ticking at least another week after knocking off reigning premiers Cronulla 30-12 at Shark Park.
It was the Raiders of 2016 on Saturday night, dominating the Sharks through the middle as they overcame the second-half sin-binning of Josh Papalii to stay within sight of the top eight.
And the news could get worse for the Sharks after star Jack Bird trudged from the field with a shoulder problem late in the game.
The Raiders were leading 24-8 with half an hour to go when an opportunistic line break from Bird ended in Gerard Beale finishing off a 50-metre movement.
Cronulla had an opportunity to crank up the pressure further when Papalii was sin-binned for a professional foul on long-time nemesis Paul Gallen six minutes later.
But the comeback was shortlived as the Sharks were penalised four times while holding a one-man advantage, with three of them resulting in the Raiders killing time with penalty goals.
By the time Papalii returned, the Raiders slowly extended their lead to 18 points to put a dent in the Sharks’ top four hopes.
For the Raiders, the win lifts them to within two points of eighth-placed St George Illawarra and ninth-placed Penrith, who meet Wests Tigers on Sunday.
Cronulla appeared set for a cruisy night in front of a 11,639 crowd when they raced to an 8-0 lead on a Sosaia Feki converted try and Valentine Holmes penalty goal in the opening ten minutes.
But from there it was all Raiders, who ran in 24 points in as many minutes.
Papalii started the rot when he powered over from close range in the 15th minute, and in the blink of an eye the Raiders had the lead on Jordan Rapana’s try off a Feki fumble.
Rapana then made it back-to-back tries courtesy of Joey Leilua’s bullet pass from dummy half to move within one of NRL leading tryscorer Alex Johnston.
Raiders forward Elliott Whitehead produced the backbreaker when his offload allowed Josh Hodgson to dummy over on the stroke of half-time, giving the visitors a 16-point lead.
The Knights has strung together back-to-back NRL wins for the first time in two years after upsetting the Warriors 26-10.
The first signs of Nathan Brown’s rebuild are showing after backing up last week’s boilover against St George Illawarra with a comprehensive victory on Saturday afternoon in Newcastle.
The result was soured when full-back Nathan Ross was helped from the field with what appeared to be a serious back injury in the 49th minute after copping an accidental knee from Blake Ayshford.
After starring in last week’s win over the Dragons, five-eighth Brock Lamb was again outstanding, setting up Mitch Barnett’s opener before putting Lachlan Fitzgibbon through a hole in the 60th minute for what proved to be the match-winner.
Lamb, after copping heavy criticism after last month’s loss to Canterbury, has come along in leaps and bounds in recent weeks. He was rewarded with a late try on top of his two try-assists.
It is the first time the Knights have posted consecutive wins since rounds 23-24 in 2015 however they remain last on the ladder.
The Warriors scored a consolation try through Nathaniel Roache, however pressure is beginning to mount on coach Stephen Kearney after his side’s fifth loss in a row.
Lamb put Barnett through a hole close to the line to open the scoring in the seventh minute.
And the Knights’ back-rower had his double just four minutes later after exploiting some lazy Warriors goal-line and ruck defence which summed up the visitors’ day.
After the Warriors pegged back the score through David Fusitua, the Knights had several chances to extend their lead but twice elected to take the two points as they went into the break up 16-4.
Chanel Mata’utia, lucky not to be sin-binned for a trip on Mason Lino in the second half, will come under the scrutiny of the match review committee.
Topics:nrl, rugby-league, sport, newcastle-2300, new-zealand, robina-4226, brisbane-4000, cronulla-2230, canberra-2600
First posted August 05, 2017 14:28:47
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