NRL Nines Live Updates

By Dale Budge

Shaun Johnson celebrates after scoring against the Bulldogs. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Shaun Johnson celebrates after scoring against the Bulldogs. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Welcome to our rolling coverage of the NRL Auckland Nines.

An overcast day with the odd shower will greet the 16 NRL clubs for day one of the NRL Nines at Eden Park in Auckland.

NRL Nines stats and standings.

Each team plays two games on day one with the final pool games completed on day two before the knockout stages of the tournament.

8.03pm Game 16 Piha Group - Titans 26-15 Raiders

Needing a win to secure a quarterfinal spot with a game in hand the Raiders took the initiative early with blockbusting prop Paul Vaughan burrowing over from dummy half.

His opposite number Agnatius Paasi answered immediately however as the Titans were gifted territory on the back of a Raiders kick-off error.

The Titans kept the pressure on the Green Machine and before the break they extended their lead when NSW and Australian test star Greg Bird crashed over.

The Titans gave away a soft penalty early in the second spell which gave Canberra a chance in the red zone. Sisa Waqa confused the Titans' defenders and strolled over for an easy try.

New Titans recruit Tyrone Roberts opened the Raiders up and danced over to score and extend the lead out to seven points with four minutes to play.

Shane Wright bagged another Titans try on the back of a lovely kick from Ash Taylor to secure the victory and keep alive their hopes of playing in the quarterfinals.

A bonus point try to Paasi iced the result.

Cronulla are confirmed in the quarterfinals but the Raiders and Titans have one win each, while the winless Dragons are still an outside chance of qualifying if results go their way tomorrow.

7.36pm Game 15 Piha Group - Sharks 17-8 Dragons

Former Warriors halfback Chad Townsend drew first blood for the Sharks as he ran off a Sam Tagataese offload to score the opener.

The Dragons struck back quickly however when their impressive centre Euan Aitken scored a try of his own.

Ben Barba, who impressed in both games today, scored again for the Sharks before Aitken added a second just before the break.

Former Kiwis winger Kalifa Faifai-Loa raced away to score early in the second half but tried to get the ball into the bonus zone and beat the cover defenders in the process. He dived close to the dead ball line and grounded the ball but the in-goal judge ruled he was dead. Replays showed he clearly had grounded the ball successfully.

Cronulla were good enough to close out the game courtesy of a Gerard Beale try and book themselves a spot in the quarterfinals tomorrow.

7.11pm Game 14 Hunua Group - Bulldogs 15-13 Broncos

The Bulldogs, who had put up a limp showing in their opening game, started much better against the Broncos, opening the scoring through Shaun Lane.

They backed that up with a second try in the form of Jarrod McInally to open up an 8-0 lead.

Tyrone Phillips blew it out to a 15-0 lead when he intercepted a Sam Thaiday pass to go under the posts in the bonus zone.

Brisbane got on the board after half time when Caleb Timu pushed a ball through for Jai Arrow. They roared back into contention when a nice sleight of hand from Kiwis prop Adam Blair put Andrew McCullough over in the bonus zone.

The Bulldogs held on to take the win however - meaning all four teams in the Hunua Group are alive heading into the final day.

6.46pm Game 13 Hunua Group - Sea Eagles 15-12 Warriors

The Warriors allowed the Sea Eagles out of their own zone on the back of a high tackle penalty. Manly were good enough to take advantage of it as Brayden Wiliame carried defenders over.

Shaun Johnson got involved earlier in his second game back, dancing outside his opposite and creating an overlap for Ken Maumalo to score. The playmaker converted the try to put the Warriors in front.

Former Tigers and Sharks centre Blake Ayshford, who was impressive in his first match, dropped a simple pass that should have seen him walk in for a second try.

Johnson and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck were more involved in the second game of the day and they ensured the Warriors would spend the last few minutes of the half attacking the Manly line. Ata Hingano was the beneficiary of the sustained attack as he found his over the try line. Johnson's conversion gave the Warriors a 12-4 halftime lead.


The trimmed down 2016 version of Konrad Hurrell made immediate impact upon his introduction, bouncing Jake Trbojebic off in spectacular fashion. Trbojevic was heavily concussed and was stretchered off the field. Replays showed the hint of a lifted leg from Hurrell - something he has a track record of. Jamie Buhrer had earlier left the field with a suspected broken jaw after heavy contact with Warriors prop Albert Vete. Both incidents will likely draw interest from the competition judiciary.


Tom Trbojevic brought the Sea Eagles back into the game when he collected a Warriors mistake and galloped 50m to score.

In a reversal of the first game against the Bulldogs, the Warriors started better but made a number of second half error to let Manly back into the game.

Eventually the weight of possession told and former Warrior Feleti Mateo put a smart grubber through for Matt Parcell to dive on in the bonus zone.

The Warriors had one set to try and produce a winning try but were unable to come up with anything.

5.39pm Game 12 Rangitoto Group - Cowboys v Tigers

The Cowboys had been the most impressive side on show in the first round of games but they handed the Tigers the opening score of the match when Jack Littlejohn pounced on a loose ball on the Cowboys' line.

Gideon Mosby showcased his incredible speed in the next set however as he ran around the Tigers defenders like they were statues. He bagged a second just prior to the halftime break. A phenomenal try-scorer in lower grades, Mosby has been one of the real standouts on day one and will surely feature for the defending NRL premiers this season.

Kiwis hooker Manaia Cherrington produced the big play midway through the second half to get the Tigers a bonus point try and take a 13-8 lead with the conversion.

Cowboys winger Antonio Winterstein took advantage of a tiring Tigers side as he scored a long-range try but the conversion missed leaving the NRL premiers trailing by one point with 90 seconds to play and unable to find a winner.

It leaves all four teams in the Rangitoto Pool go into the final day with a 1-1 record.

5.39pm Game 11 Rangitoto Group - Knights 15-14 Panthers

The Knights raced out of the blocks with Chanel Mata'utia scoring at the end of the opening set having pounced on a well weighted grubber kick.

Te Maire Martin helped the Panthers begin an attacking raid on the Newcastle line and fellow Junior Kiwi Zach Dockar Clay scored the try.

The pure speed of the Knights helped put them back in front however as they scored yet again from a kick - speedy fullback Jake Mamo winning the race to the ball to calmly dot down.

Mamo's speed was the major factor in the first score after the break as he left Panthers' players reaching for thin air as he waltzed in for a bonus zone score.

A heads-up kick from Bryce Cartwright put the Panthers on the attack as Dallin Watene-Zelezniak re-gathered the ball. From the play-the-ball the Panthers crashed over in the shape of former Warriors prop Jeremy Latimore.

The Knights turned the ball over deep in their own end moments later an George Jennings pounced on the ball to score to draw within one of the lead.

Penrith went close to finding a match-winner but the Knights managed to hold on for the win.

Both teams go into Sunday's play with a 1-1 record.

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5.14pm Game 10 Waiheke Group - Storm 18-12 Rabbitohs

The opening minutes of this game were hard-fought with neither side able to find much penetration. Melbourne were the first to take advantage of the field position when Kenny Bromwich crashed over.

The Storm extended the lead in the next set when Nelson Asofa-Solomona carried some defenders over to score.

South Sydney answered through schoolboy star John Olive a minute before halftime.

They continued the come back early in the second half - former Bulldog Damien Cook putting fellow new recruit Hymel Hunt over to score.

A Blake Green 40-20 kick set the Storm hard on the attack and impressive youngster Curtis Scott secured the win with a try out wide.

Cook got a consolation try at the death but the Storm booked a quarterfinal spot with the win.

4.49pm Game 9 Waiheke Group - Eels 14-11 Roosters

The game kicked off as the rain started coming down hard and it didn't take long for the Eels to lose back John Folau, who limped off with a hamstring injury.

They did score first however, Bevan French racing away to open their account.

The Roosters looked right off their game until the last second of the first half where Joseph Manu bamboozled everyone with a behind-the-back pass to Latrell Mitchell, who had an open run to the line.

Eels playmaker Corey Norman opened the scoring in the second half when he created space for dynamic winger Semi Radradra, who raced 50m to score his first of the tournament.

Mitchell made up for dropping the ball with the line wide open by scoring a brilliant individual try, which veteran Braith Anasta converted to level the scoring at 10-10.

Anasta opted to take a field goal from in front on the next set of six to put the Roosters in front but a penalty at the re-start gave the Eels a shot at winning it and French scored in the corner to seal victory.

It leaves the Roosters precariously positioned with an 0-2 record on day one.

"We are a bit shattered we lost actually," Anasta said post game. "It feels like we could have won both games and probably should have. I had a chat to Robbo (Trent Robinson) and it feels like everything is going against us at the moment."

Fans at the NRLNines at Eden Park. #nrlnines #nzherald

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4.24pm Jillaroos 11-4 Kiwi Ferns

The opening six minutes of the match were dominated by ferocious Kiwi Ferns tackling as they hounded and smashed the Jillaroos deep inside their own territory.

But with the ball the home side just couldn't find a way over the line, despite the dominance.

As so often happens the Jillaroos were the ones to pry open a gap and they scored a long range try through Sam Hammond. It didn't come easy as the Kiwi Ferns scrambled well to shut down what looked like a simple try on a number of occasions before the Jillaroos finally took the right option.

The Kiwis continued to be frustrated by an Australian defensive line that just wouldn't budge and they began to make mistakes and force the issue.

The Jillaroos extended their lead to 11-0 through Allana Ferguson, who dotted down in the bonus zone.

New Zealand answered back with a couple of minutes to play when Maitua Feterika crashed over but the Jillaroos held on to secure the win.

4.15pm: Michael Burgess examines three aspects of the Warriors' win

1. Don't forget Lolohea

With all the talk about Shaun Johnson and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, the attacking brilliance of Tui Lolohea can't be underestimated in this format. The Warriors utility - who was an ever-present in the back line last year - sparked the home side into life early in the second half after an uncertain start.
His combination with Solomone Kata worked a treat.

2. Unhappy homecoming for Abbey

It's wasn't a great return for Bradley Abbey, the former Warriors NYC player who left for Belmore last year after Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was signed to the Mt Smart club. He missed a tackle that led to a Warriors try, and split the ball in a heavy Tuivasa-Sheck which resulted in another Warriors score.

3. Improvement needed

The 32-8 win in their first game was a good result, and the Warriors showed resolve to come back from a 8-0 deficit. But let's not get carried away. The Bulldogs' team - full of big men - was always going to tire and they look to be one of the weakest lineups at the tournament.

Fans at the NRL Nines at Eden Park. #nzherald #nrlnines

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3.56pm Game 8 Piha Group - Sharks 23-12 Titans

Missed opportunities hurt the Titans early as they did most of the attacking early on. The Sharks opened the scoring on their first real raid into the red zone with 2012 Dally M Medal winner Ben Barba scoring a brilliant individual try as the rain, which had disappeared during the mid-afternoon, returned.

They added a second try shortly after through Josh Cleeland thanks to some good lead-up work by Gerard Beale and former Warrior Chad Townsend.

The Titans got on the board early in the second half through the always dangerous David Mead, closing the gap to 12-6.

More pressure from the Titans continued the swing in their favour and they scored a second try through Greg Bird - the conversion levelling the game at 12-12.

But just as it looked the Titans might find a go-ahead score the Sharks went the length of the field via winger Mitch Brown to score under the posts.

NRL Rookie of the Year Jack Bird, who burst onto the scene with a terrific 2015 NRL Nines, capped the win with a late try.

3.33pm Game 7 Piha Group - Raiders 28-20 Dragons

The Raiders opened the game by forcing repeat sets on two separate occasions only for the Dragons to come up with a way of getting the ball back from the re-start.

On their first raid into Canberra territory the Dragons scored a terrific try through Kalifa Faifai-Loa. Drew Hutchison converted but the Raiders answered immediately through winger Jordan Rapana.

The Raiders hit the front early in the second half when Luke Bateman finished a long-range sweeping movement.

Former Raider Josh McCrone, who made the move to the Dragons in the off-season, threw an intercept pass right into the hands of Brenko Lee and the Raiders outside back raced away to score in the bonus zone.

Another new recruit Kurt Mann ensured the Dragons would level up at 13-13 when he raced 30m to score in the bonus zone himself.

Kato Ottio an Matt Dufty traded tries in the see-saw affair before Sam Williams cut the Dragons open inside his own half and found Lachlan Croker, who somehow managed to score in the bonus zone. Bateman's second cemented the win for the Raiders.

Fans at the NRL Nines at Eden Park. #nzherald #nrlnines

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3.09pm Game 6 Hunua Group - Sea Eagles 11-8 Broncos

The Broncos made a promising start, patiently working the ball around the park before Tom Opacic opened the scoring.

The rest of the first half was a hard-fought affair with neither side able to cut open their opposition.

Manly hit the lead with a try to front rower Jake Trbojevic after a wayward pass from his brother Tom Trbojevic landed fortuitously in his arms and he dived over in the bonus zone.

Opacic bagged his second try of the day with an athletic dive in the right hand corner - the naked eye suggested he was out but the touch judge's flag stayed down. Replays showed the official was spot-on with his on-the-run call - something that has been a feature of the opening day thus far.

Down by a point with time expired former Bronco Matt Parcell raced on to a Hail-Mary kick to score and give Manly the win in spectacular fashion.

Fans getting ready for the #nrlnines2016 at #edenpark #nzherald

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2.42pm Game 5 Hunua Group - Warriors 34-8 Bulldogs

Bulldogs coach Des Hasler has never been a fan of the NRL Nines concept and in three seasons has never named a particularly strong squad, which has resulted in them winning just one solitary game back in 2014.

It was the Bulldogs that enjoyed the better of the first quarter of the match but weren't able to find away to trouble the scoreboard until Tyrone Phillips broke some weak attempted tackles and galloped away to score.

Big forward Shaun Lane added a second try to quieten what had been a vocal Eden Park crowd.

As the first half came to a close the Warriors finally clicked into gear when Nathaniel Roache to break the line and score. Shaun Johnson's conversion reduced the deficit to two points.

A nice interchange of passing by the Warriors big men created space for new recruit Jeff Robson to dot down. Johnson added the extras and the Warriors hit the lead for the first time.

The Warriors took control in the second spell and Solomone Kata, the NRL Nines all-time leading try-scorer, scored a lovely try in the left corner. More importantly though for Warriors fans was the lead-up work which saw both Johnson and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck beating players with footwork. Neither player was anywhere near their best but understandably blew out some pre-season rust in solid outings.

Kata added a second try moments later to secure the win but the Warriors failed to get the conversion attempt completed in time before the shot-clock siren sounded.

Roache, who played well, scored his second try in the bonus zone to continue the blow-out before Johnson iced the game with an intercept try in the bonus zone.

2.12pm Game 4 Rangitoto Group - Panthers 23-7 Tigers

Promising Kiwis fullback/winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak battled health problems in 2015 and began his NRL Nines campaign with a basic error. It didn't prove costly however and he made up for his blunder with the opening try of the match.

The Panthers added a second try towards the end of the first half with a couple of speculator passes landing in Waqa Blake's hands giving him a free run to the line.

They completed an impressive first half with former Kangaroos winger Josh Mansour powering his way over from short range.

Blake added a second try after some impressive lead-up work by Junior Kiwi half Te Maire Martin, who looks set to make an impact at NRL level in 2016. Another Kiwi to stand out was former Warriors prop Suaia Matagi, who was full of energy with everything he did.

Tim Simona scored a nice solo try in the bonus zone late in the game but Blake complete a hat-trick from a smart kick ahead by the impressive Bryce Cartwright.

To compound worries for the Tigers, centre Chris Lawrence limped from the field with a hip injury - he has suffered hip injuries previously.

Team Top Gun ready for the #nrlnines2016 #nzherald

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1.46pm Game 3 Rangitoto Group - Cowboys 28-12 Knights

The inaugural NRL Nines winners jumped out early with a superb try that involved Jake Granville, Lachlan Coote and Gavin Gooper setting up lightning-fast winger Gideon Mosby on the left side.

They scored their second on the right side with Justin O'Neill standing up his defender. It was back to the left for their third try with Gavin Cooper finding himself un-marked and then Mosby added his second with a spectacular dive into the corner to hand the Cowboys a 16-0 halftime lead in what was easily the most impressive half of football in the tournament to date. Newcastle barely touched the ball in the first spell with the Cowboys finding ways to recover the ball from kick-offs.

The one-way traffic continued in the second half with veteran Matt Bowen, who's enjoying a cameo appearance in the NRL Nines, putting Cooper in for a double.

The Knights finally managed to get their hands on the ball and blockbusting forward Tariq Sims showcased a delicate kick to set up Brock Lamb for a try.

One Knights player that did impress was Junior Kiwis hooker Danny Levi, who should find himself playing a significant role in first grade this season. He scored the Knights second try but there was no time for a potential come back, especially as the Cowboys went the length of the field on full-time to see Cooper complete a hat-trick.

1.18pm Game 2 Waiheke Group - Storm 14-4 Eels

The Storm, who have never made the knockout stage of the NRL Nines through the first two years of competition, took a big step towards breaking their duck with an impressive performance.

The Eels handed the ball over immediately from kick-off and Cameron Munster, who has been in the headlines this week for breaking a curfew with the Queensland Origin camp, scored the opening try seconds later.

Kiwi Manu Mau'u, who had muffed the kick reception to start the game, answered for the Eels down an overlap on the right midway through the first spell.

Locked up at 4-4 at halftime, the Storm went ahead with a deft cross-field kick from Blake Green to find Richard Kennar in the corner. Green, who enjoyed a great return to the NRL last season with the Storm, scored the next try on his own to take control of the match.


12.50 Game 1 Waiheke Group - Rabbitohs 14-13 Roosters

The Rabbitohs made a hot start despite the constant drizzle falling throughout the match with Kiwi Bryce Goodwin splitting the line from the kick-off. The defending NRL Nines champions turned that field position into points a couple of sets later with Alex Johnston bagging the opening try of the weekend.

The Roosters hit back moments later through exciting fullback prospect Latrell Mitchell running 30m - the youngster one of many options the Roosters have to replace Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in the number one jumper this season.

Former rep star Braith Anasta, who is out of retirement to play in this year's tournament, scored the Roosters second try but the Rabbitohs answered on the next set through Kirisome Auva'a - just as the halftime siren sounded.

A clever kick from inside their own half saw English recruit Joe Burgess win the race to the ball and score a third Roosters try but former Manly winger Michael Oldfield bagged a try from a John Sutton kick with less than a minute left in the match and the Damien Cook conversion secured the win for the defending champs.



- NZ Herald

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