St George Illawarra’s reputation as the best defensive team in the NRL, under the coaching of Wayne Bennett, was enhanced by their 33-8 win over North Queensland Cowboys at WIN Stadium, Wollongong.
The Dragons led 17-2 at halftime and it was mission impossible for the Johnathan Thurston led Cowboys from there. Their only try was scored by centre, Ash Graham, 13 minutes from fulltime.
Five eighth, Jamie Soward; fullback, Darius Boyd and halfback, Ben Hornby were in magnificent touch for the home side, in front of an appreciative crowd of 13,267.
I covered the match for ‘The Courier-Mail’, getting to the ground early enough to watch the Cowboys under-20s have a win.
After the flight from Brisbane to Sydney, I bumped into Melbourne Storm talent scout, Darren Bell (a former Brisbane Wests president) at the airport, before picking up my hire car.
I chatted to Cowboys football manager, Peter Parr and NRL Salary Cap auditor, Ian Schubert on arrival at the ground. I also had a yarn to legendary local journo, Mike Gandon (the great Gando, as Steve Mascord, another Illawarra journalist, calls him).
The post match press conferences were boring, with Bennett and Cowboys’ coach, Neil Henry saying very little.
I flew back to Brisbane the next day, and drove down to Robina to cover the Gold Coast Titans v Canberra Raiders match, which the Titans won 24-4 with halfback, Scott Prince a master in the way he guided his side around the park.
Prince went into the match under a salary cap cloud, with allegations he had a $400,000 house built for him, free of charge.
Titans’ inter-change forward, Bodene Thompson was later suspended for three matches for a high shot, which left Travis Waddell with a broken jaw.
I thought I had an exclusive, at least from a Queensland point of view, about Waddell’s injury, but Canberra Times reporter, David Jean let the cat out of the bag, in front of all the other reporters.
I stayed overnight at Burleigh Towers, and attended the Titans’ recovery session at North Burleigh, where it was revealed Prince had suffered a broken hand. This time, my story was an exclusive.
You can be lucky sometimes, but in this case, I put it down to hard work,and just fronting up.
1 Darren Bell
2 Scott Prince