Daniel Nichols takes a look at the first day of the 2014 Auckland 9’s.
Team Of The Day: New Zealand Warriors
The pre tournament favourites more than lived up to the hype in their two performances today. They carved up the hapless Raiders in the first game and were much better than the 25-14 score suggests. In their second game they looked even better still, belting the previously successful Sea Eagles 27-4. There was a period where the Eagles didn’t touch the ball for what would have been 4 or so minutes. 3 tries in a row for the Warriors meant it was lights out for the Eagles and game on for the fans.
Player Of The Day: Shaun Johnson
The bookies really got it right when they installed the Warriors as the favourites, and the papers got it right when they predicted Johnson would light the 2 day event up. His ability to find space and step would be defenders was second to none today. His ability to land drop goal conversions from anywhere meant the Warriors were going up in 6s and 7s whereas most teams were going up in 4s and 5s.
Hon Mention: Semi Radradra – What a beast of a player. Scored 4 tries today, including 3 against the defending premiers the Roosters. (I know, I know) Could end up quite the find for the Eels. There won’t be too many bigger wingers out there.
Game Of The Day: Cronulla Sharks vs Newcastle Knights
The very first game of the tournament, for mine, remains the best. The excitement levels were huge and the execution was very good. The game see-sawed many times before Nathan Gardner’s last minute match winner. There were some close games today in terms of the scoreboard but this was the closest game game across the full 18 minutes. There was nothing between these two teams and only a last play shift to the left split the teams.
Worst Team Of The Day: Canberra Raiders
Let’s not pretend this is a genuine preview of the season proper however the lack of attack shown by the Raiders across their two games has fans worried. Social media has the Raiders finishing the season without winning a game. (social media does not overreact, ever) They were the only team to fail to post a point in a game today and you’d think they’re no hope of winning tomorrow unless they produce something COMPLETELY different to what was dished up today
Try Of The Day: Kyle Feldt vs Manly
There were a long list of super tries today and it’s hard to split them, however the try Kyle Feldt produced in the Cowboys vs Manly game was nothing short of ridiculous. He looked out for all money, absolutely no hope of scoring, until he extended his gadget arm to plant it down in the corner. His full body was over the sideline, in the air, when he planted the ball down. We had about 20 replays and I still don’t know how he got it … off topic but how good was it to see the touchie make a call instead of sending is upstairs?
The “Oh No” Moment Of The Day – Tie
1) Lachlan Coote’s ACL Injury
Horrible news for Cowboys fans as it looks like new recruit Lachlan Coote has done some serious damage to his knee and may miss a majority, if not all, of the 2014 season. I’m hoping the early reports are proven wrong and he can play some part in for the Cowboys this season, but it does not look good. Coote, looking to establish himself as Matt Bowen’s replacement for his new club evidently played extremely well in last weekend’s trial match and gave the Cowboys great hope. If the worst is confirmed, he will miss the entire season and his injury cursed career will again be put on hold. Horrible news
2) The Try That Never Was
The Warriors have a huge home crowd and the most stacked 9s side in the competition, they hardly need help from the officials, but that is exactly what they got in their demolition of Manly. Dominique Peyroux was clearly held up in the 11th minute, yet the referee, on the in goal judge’s advice, gave the try. The reaction of Manly players told the story, they stood shocked when the 4 pointer was awarded. A horrible error from an official who was less than 5 metres away from the “try”.