The South Sydney Rabbitohs reproduced their day on effort on the second day of the Auckland Nines, both winning and losing one of each of their two matches of the day.
Against a Panthers side that would eventually go on to take the Pool on for and against, the Rabbitohs defeat a gritty Penrith outfit, 18-16 in Game 24.
While the Rabbitohs came away with the win, the victory came at a cost with Luke Keary injuring his shoulder in the latter stages of the match.
The victory set up a showdown with tournament hosts and favourites, the New Zealand Warriors. The Warriors were as yet an undefeated outfit, and they proved just why during the course of match.
The Rabbitohs had a chance to square the match up with mere minutes left with a bonus-zone try. The side manages a regulation try outside the bonus-zone, ending the match and the Rabbitohs’ Nines campaign by 17-16.
Day 2: Match Summaries
Grand Final: Nth Qld 16 d Brisbane 7
Nth Queensland took out the inaugural Dick Smith NRL Nines tournament with a 16-7 victory over the Brisbane Broncos.
The Cowboys opened the scoring four minutes before half-time when Antonio Winterstein finished off a backline play out wide to score. Robert Lui converted for a 6-0 lead.
A grubber kick by five-eighth Michael Morgan saw the ball flicked out the back for winger Curtis Rona to give the Cowboys a 10-0 lead at half-time.
The Broncos got a lucky break a minute into the second half when winger Javid Bowen put on a foot on the sideline in open space.
Nth Qld showed great desperate goal line defence to prevent Michael Gillett and Andrew McCullough from scoring in the same set of six.
The pressure told though when Ben Hunt scored a bonus try under the posts. He converted his own try to leave Brisbane trailing 12-7.
A minute later, the Cowboys responded when an attacking raid down the right side saw centre Kane Linnett offload an inside pass for Rona to score his second try for a 16-7 scoreline.
Nth Qld 16 (Antonio Winterstein, Curtis Rona (2) tries, Robert Lui 2 goals) d Brisbane 7 (Ben Hunt try, Ben Hunt goal)
1st semi-final: Brisbane 18 d Cronulla 14
Brisbane Broncos became the first team through to the Nines final following an 18-14 victory over Cronulla Sharks in the first semi-final.
The Sharks bombed a try in the opening minutes when centre Jonathan Wright dropped the ball in trying to score in the bonus zone under the posts.
The Broncos then put on tries through Andrew McCullough and Ben Barba for a 10-0 lead at half-time. A loose pass from the Sharks in attack saw Ben Hunt swoop on the ball to race 60 metres to score.
Cronulla opened their account when Sosaia Feki scored a bonus try. Josh Hoffman then stretched the Broncos lead before Wright scored a bonus try under the posts to set up an exciting final minutes.
Brisbane held on to move into the grand final.
Brisbane 18 (Andrew McCullough, Ben Barba, Ben Hunt, Josh Hoffman tries, Ben Barba goal) d Cronulla 4 (Soasaia Feki, Jonathan Wright tries, Daniel Holdsworth 2 goals)
2nd semi final: Nth Qld Cowboys 8 d Warriors 0.
The Cowboys made it an all Queensland final with an 8-0 win over home favourites the Warriors.
North Qld Cowboys opened the scoring when Kyle Feldt dived over in the left corner for a 4-0 lead. The Wariors had some scoring opportunities but the Cowboys defence remained firm to take a four point lead into half-time.
The Cowboys went to an 8-0 lead when Javid Bowen finished off a backline play after a great offload earlier from half-back Robert Lui in a two man tackle.
The Warriors tried valiantly but the Cowboys lifted their intensity in defence to record a well deserved win to take on the Brisbane Broncos in the Nines decider.
North Qld Cowboys 8 (Kyle Feldt, Javid Bowen tries) d Warriors 0
1st Elimination Quarter final: Brisbane 16 d Newcastle 11
Brisbane eliminated Newcastle with a 16-11 win over Newcastle Knights in the first quarter final.
The Broncos scored two tries in the first half through Andrew McCullough and Kodi Nikorima while Jarrod Mullen crossed for a try. Mullen left the field at half-time after sustaining a hamstring injury.
Brisbane winger Josh Hoffman scored a 50 metre try but not before colliding with team-mate David Stagg in fielding a drop out kick. Stagg left the field for treatment.
Brisbane 16 (Andrew McCullogh, Kodi Nikorima, Josh Hoffman, Dale Copley tries)
Newcastle 11 (Jarrod Mullen, Alex McKinnon (bonus) tries, Tyrone Roberts goals)
2nd Quarter final: Cronulla 17 d Eels 4
Cronulla Sharks moved through to the semi-finals with a 17-6 victory over Parramatta Eels in the second elimination quarter final.
The Sharks outside men in Nathan Gardner and Nathan Stapleton scored some fine tries while the Eels’ only try came from forward Joseph Paulo.
Cronulla 17 (Nathan Gardner, Valentine Holmes (bonus), Nathan Stapleton tries, Daniel Holdsworth 2 goals) d Parramatta 4 (Joseph Paulo try, Paulo goal)
3rd Quarter final: Warriors 17 d Souths 16
The Warriors advanced to the semi-finals with a victory over South Sydney in the third elimination quarter-final.
Their exciting attacking style of rugby league had the huge army of Warriors fans in the crowd chanting throughout after some exciting tries to Ngami Laumape and Shaun Johnson (bonus zone try).
Souths had a chance to send the game into golden try in extra time but Dylan Walker scored next to the posts instead of placing the ball in the bonus zone try after the ball bounced off the goal pads. The conversion left Souths one point behind the Warriors at full-time.
Warriors 17 (Glenn Fisiiahi, Ngani Laumape, Shaun Johnson (bonus zone), Johnson goal, Sam Tomkins goal) d Souths 16 (Chris McQueen, Nathan Merritt, Apisai Koroisau, Dylan Walker tries)
4th quarter final: Cowboys 22 d Penrith 12
Nth Queensland Cowboys dominated Penrith in the fourth quarter final.
The first half was marred by a string of errors from both sides before late tries to Kyle Feldt and Tariq Sims, and two goals to Michael Morgan, saw the Cowboys lead 12-0 at half-time.
Penrith produced a late rally with three second half tries but to no avail in the end.
Nth Qld Cowboys 22 (Kyle Feldt (2), Tariq Sims, Curtis Rona tries, Michael Morgan 2 goals) d Penrith 12 (Etonia Nabuli, George Jennings, Josh Mansour tries)
Preliminary Pool Games
Game 17: Sharks 30 d Titans 14
Cronulla Sharks were at their entertaining best in the 30-14 win over a gallant Gold Coast Titans.
The Sharks scored three unanswered tries to control the game before the Titans opened their account.
Sharks: 30 (Sam Tagatese, Fa’aamanu Brown, Blake Ayshford, Valentine Holmes, Ricky Leutele, Matt Prior tries; Daniel Holdsworth (2), Nathan Stapleton goals) d Titans 14 (Mark Minichiello 2, Albert Kelly tries; Kelly goal)
Game 18: Knights 18 d Wests Tigers 0.
Newcastle Knights produced the razzle in a convincing win over Wests Tigers.
The Knights outside backs in Akuila Uate and halves Jarrod Mullen and Tyrone Roberts found plenty of room and their speed men capitalised.
Prop Willie Mason’s sheer strength was felt by youngster Kurtis Rowe when the big man just steamrolled over the top of the smaller defender to score.
Newcastle 25 (Jake Mamo, Tyrone Roberts, Chris Houston (bonus), Willie Mason, Dane Gagai tries, Jarrod Mullen 2 goals, Tyrone Roberts 1 goal) d Wests Tigers 0
Game 19: Bulldogs 16 d Roosters 4
Canterbury recorded a strong 16-4 win over the Sydney Roosters.
Pat O’Hanlon scored two of his team’s four tries in a match that saw no goals converted.
Roosters legend Brad Fittler missed the game with a hip flexor injury and will take no further part in the tournament. The Roosters also rested half-back Mitchell Pearce and badly lacked his leadership and direction.
Bulldogs 16 (Pat O’Hanlon (2), Drury Low, James Graham tries,) d Roosters 4 (Paul Rokolati try)
Game 20: Broncos 15 d Eels 14
Locked at 7-all at half-time after both sides scored a bonus zone try, the Broncos hit the lead when full-back Ben Barba drew in the defence to send winger Josh Hoffman over untouched for an 11-7 lead.
Half-back Ben Hunt secured victory when he put a grubber kick through that was kicked ahead by a team-mate for Hunt to dive on to score for a 15-7 lead.
Brisbane 15 Kodi Nikorima (bonus), Josh Hoffman, Ben Hunt tries, Andrew McCullogh goal) d Parramatta 14 (Corey Norman (bonus,) Semi Radradra tries, Chris Sandow 2 goals)
Game 21: Warriors 28 d Cowboys 23
In one of the pool games of the tournament, the Warriors topped their pool undefeated following a thrilling 28-23 win over North Queensland Cowboys.
In one of the best games of the tournament, both sides played brilliant, attacking rugby league, scoring some sensational tries in a game that should always feature on Nines highlight reels.
Kyle Feldt pulled off one of the best individuals tries of the tournament when he put through a kick down the left flank before outsprinting the defence to regather the ball to score.
Warriors 28 (Sebastine Ikahihifo (2 tries, one bonus), Carlos Tuimavave, Ngani Laumape, Shaun Johnson (bonus), Johnson 3 goals) d Cowboys 23 (Antonio Winterstein (2), Kyle Feldt, Kane Linett, Zac Santo (bonus) tries, Feldt goal)
Game 22: Canberra 18 d Manly 4
A double to Reece Robinson helped Canberra to a victory over Manly Sea Eagles.
Robinson scored the opening two tries to help the Raiders in a game they controlled from start to finish to record their first win of the tournament.
Canberra 18 (Reece Robinson 2, Andrew Heffernan, Bill Tupou tries, Jack Ahern goal) d Manly 4 (Tony Satini try)
Game 23: St George-Illawarra 14 d Melbourne 10
St George-Illawarra recorded their first win of the tournament with a 14-10 victory over the Melbourne Storm.
One of the best team tries of the tournament occurred right on half-time when the Storm’s Mitch Garbutt finished off a team play that started metres on his own line after the Dragons went on the attack from a Josh Dugan grubber kick.
It was a try that just has to be seen to believe. A definite for the Nines promotional reel.
St George-Illawarra 14 (Brett Morris 2, Josh Dugan tries, Dugan goal) d Melbourne 10 (Mitch Garbutt, Mahe Fonua tries, Sisa Waqa goal).
Game 24: South Sydney 18 d Panthers 16
South Sydney advanced through to the quarter finals with an 18-16 win over Penrith in their final pool game.
The Panthers were already through to the quarter finals. A highlight of the game was the try by Penrith hooker Kevin Kingston who caught an overhead pass on the short side and managed to ground the ball in a two man tackle.
South Sydney 18 (Chris McQueen, Ben Te’o, Apisai Koroisau, Dylan Walker tries, Koroisau goal) d Panthers 16 (Kevin Kingston, Regan Campbell-Gillard, Josh Mansour tries, Matt Moylan 2 goals)