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NRL round 8 review: Late game drama

Round 8 of the NRL saw some tight finishes with one game in particular shrouded in drama.

The Knights would count themselves lucky after escaping Brookvale with a win, while Manly were left fuming after a late no call.

We also saw the match of the season played on Thursday night, while the Broncos continue to struggle in 2020.

Melbourne Storm 27 – 25 Sydney Roosters

This game promised to be a beauty and it did not disappoint with these sides putting on an exhilarating display of rugby league.

It was a game that featured several twists and turns and ultimately ended in a golden point thriller.

The Roosters are so good at icing games when they get ahead and looked to have the game wrapped up with 10 minutes to go when they led 22-12 but the Storm had other ideas.

Two quick converted tries to the Storm gave them a 24-22 lead with five minutes to go and all of a sudden, they were in the box seat.

A penalty goal to the Roosters saw them level the scores and a field goal from Luke Keary with just 45 seconds left on the clock looked to have given them victory.

Enter Ryan Papenhuyzen. He had never kicked a field goal in his career but as the clock expired, he nailed one from 35 metres out to send the game into golden point.

With four minutes gone in golden point, the Roosters Jake Friend gave away a silly penalty right in front of his own goals and Cam Smith gleefully stepped up to kick the winning penalty goal.

It was a somewhat anticlimactic end to such an absorbing contest but the game showed these are two of the best teams in the competition.

Cam Smith was reasonably pumped after his sides victory over the Roosters.

Canberra Raiders 22 – St George Illawarra Dragons 16

The Raiders made a victorious return to GIO Stadium but it certainly wasn’t smooth sailing for the Green Machine.

They led 22-0 early in the second half before a late fade-out almost cost them victory.

The Raiders lost forwards Sia Soliola and Emre Guler to injuries during the night to sour the victory.

They are already without starting players Corey Horsburgh and John Bateman so the forward stocks are starting to look a little bare in Canberra.

The Dragons have been playing a better brand of rugby league in recent weeks and certainly had their chances to win the game late.

Coach Paul McGregor would be disappointed his side took so long to get into the contest but would be pleased to see the fight in his team.

Parramatta Eels 42 – 4 North Queensland Cowboys

Maika Sivo bagged four tries as the Eels completely dominated a lacklustre Cowboys side in the second half.

The Eels remain on top of the ladder and still look like genuine premiership contenders, but the story of this match was the Cowboys.

After a stunning upset over the Knights the week before, many expected the Cowboys to at least be competitive in this game, but they summed up their inconsistent season with another disappointing performance.

Coach Paul Green must be tearing his hair out wondering how his side can be so good one week, then so poor the next. Interesting times up in North Queensland.

Maika Sivo had a day out against the Cowboys, scoring 4 tries.

Gold Coast Titans 10 – 40 Cronulla Sharks

The Sharks have now strung together three wins in a row and have managed to score 40 points in back-to-back matches.

Andrew Fifita looked back to some of his best form, running for 168 metres and scoring a try to boot.

They take on the Panthers next week in what should be a real test of how good these Sharks are travelling.

The Titans couldn’t back up last week’s victory but were undone by a series of key injuries.

They lost Kevin Proctor, Philip Sami and Brian Kelly during the week while also losing Mitch Rein and Tanah Boyd during the match so it was always going to be difficult for them to win this one.

New Zealand Warriors 26 – 16 Brisbane Broncos

The season from hell continues for the Broncos with their sixth straight loss leading to even more media scrutiny.

This really felt like a game the Broncos would win given the Warriors’ recent struggles, but they just simply weren’t good enough to get the job done.

The pain felt by the players was clear to see with Alex Glenn and Brodie Croft both in tears after the match.

Surely this loss is enough for Anthony Seibold to make a change in the halves because the current combination of Anthony Milford and Croft is not working.

The Warriors, on the other hand, played showed plenty of drive to come back from 10-0 down early to win well.

Many were wondering about their commitment after several players expressed a desire to head back to New Zealand but they showed they’re still ready to play.

Ken Maumalo was outstanding for the Warriors with his power running game leading to 291 metres gained and two tries.

The Warriors added to the Broncos misery with a solid 26-16 victory.

Wests Tigers 12 – 19 Penrith Panthers

This was a cracking contest for much of the match with the Panthers just managing to edge ahead late for the win.

The game was locked at 12-12 late before a Nathan Cleary field goal put them ahead by one.

The next set, Api Koroisau poked his nose through the defensive line and set up Dylan Edwards for the match-sealing try.

Koroisau has proven himself one of the buys of the season and has transformed this Panthers side into a much more dangerous team.

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary had a parting gift for some Tigers fans who were clearly giving him grief throughout the night.

Cleary pointed to the scoreboard after the match ended and blew some kisses to his adoring fans. Cleary famously bailed on the Wests Tigers after 2018 to take up a job at the Panthers and some Tigers fans haven’t let it go.

The Tigers proved they can match it with one of the best teams and would ultimately be disappointed they let a golden opportunity slip.

There has been plenty of talk about Joey Leilua after his cheap shot late in the match saw him sin-binned and facing a lengthy suspension.

It was another example of Leilua’s famous temper getting the better of him and you would hope some strong words from coach Michael McGuire may see him reel in his emotions, although it’s doubtful that’s possible at this point in his career.

The aftermath of Joey Leilua’s late shot on Dylan Edwards. All images Getty

Manly Sea Eagles 12 – 14 Newcastle Knights

This was a tight tussle for the entire match but was unfortunately shrouded in controversy after Manly were denied a late penalty.

The final play of the game saw Manly make a break down the right edge before Tevita Funa put through a kick.

Funa was clearly pushed in the back by Bradman Best and was taken out of the play, but when the decision was referred to the bunker, they declared it was fair play and the Knights claimed the win.

Well, fair to say the Manly players didn’t agree with the decision which saw Addin Fonua-Blake taking his anger out with the referee with some choice words leading to him rightfully being sent off after the full-time siren.

If Joey Leilua is the biggest hothead in the game, Fonua-Blake isn’t far behind and will now miss two weeks after his outburst at referee Grant Atkins. He is a huge loss for a side already missing a couple of their star players.

Canterbury Bulldogs 10 – 26 South Sydney Rabbitohs

Not much to report on this game other than the Bulldogs are really struggling for a win and the Rabbitohs continue to be able to beat the lesser sides.

The Bulldogs take on the Broncos next week and the loser will have one hand firmly placed on the wooden spoon already.

The Rabbitohs take on the Tigers which promises to be a pretty good game of footy.

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