Hits and Misses: Alex Twal breaks his duck in euphoric scenes

This week we take a look at the moment Alex Twal scored his first ever try, a blown opportunity in Newcastle, a thriller in Townsville, some brave Sea Eagles fans, and how the simply awful Bulldogs seem to be getting even worse.

Read on as we take a look back at some of the biggest hits and misses of the weekend.


Crowd goes wild as Twal breaks duck

The Tigers might have lost to the well-oiled machine that is the Melbourne Storm on Saturday night, but there was one highlight that set the Campbelltown crowd and players into wild celebrations.

Prop Alex Twal broke the longest running first grade try duck, pouncing on a loose ball in the in-goal area for his first ever four-pointer in his 116th game.

The moment came in the 22nd minute after Brandon Wakeham put up a cross field bomb which came down on a swarm of players before spilling backwards to the opportunistic Twal. Fellow prop David Klemmer very nearly spoiled the party by getting a hand on it himself, but when he realised that Twal had it covered he starting celebrating the moment.

Twal's dry spell had become so well publicised that even the referee and Storm players were caught up in the euphoria of the moment. The bunker did not dare investigate the potential interference on the Storm players trying to defuse the bomb, the Campbelltown crowd would have tracked them down.

Despite the big loss, Twal was still smiling after the game.

"It's been a long seven or eight years, playing week in and week out and never getting a try," Twal said.

"I've found the humour in it.

"It was a bit of a bittersweet moment, I would have much rather come away with the result. But it was good to get the monkey off my back."


Knights miss opportunity to stay in touch

What an opportunity the Knights squandered at home against the Tedesco-less Roosters. Missing only Tyson Frizell to Origin, the Knights with Kalyn Ponga getting back to his best, really needed the two points to stay in touch with the Top 8.

They started well enough scoring the first try of the match through Dominic Young, after just three minutes. But that was it for the first half, with the Roosters running in the next three tries before the break. The Roosters finished their scoring for the day with a penalty goal right on halftime, taking them to an 18-6 lead.

Two second half tries to the Knights made the game interesting, but the visitors were able to hang on. The most unfortunate thing for the Knights was that Joseph Manu, Tedesco's replacement at fullback, had a brilliant game.


Player resilience tested in thrilling extra-time game

Niggling injuries aside, players are surely at their fittest halfway through the season, still the Panthers and Cowboys struggled as they put themselves through the wringer on a sticky night in Townsville. Towards the end of the 80 minutes, exhaustion was taking its toll, with both teams struggling to line up in defence as they tackled themselves into a sweaty, muscle-cramping mess.

The Cowboys kicked a field goal to go 23-22 up with minutes remaining. The well-drilled Panthers worked their way downfield and despite some mad scrambling football, they managed to send the game into golden point extra time through a Jack Cogger field goal.

Into extra time both teams gave the opposition a chance through tired mistakes. Dylan Edwards took a long distance snap which faded left. Soon after the Cowboys received a penalty just inside their own half for a ball stripped in a tackle. Kyle Feldt put his hand up for a long range shot at goal, which left his tired boot and fell to the right of the posts. The first five minutes of extra time ended with the game still locked up. Pickle juice supplies were all but exhausted by this point.

The Cowboys received the second half kickoff and the Panthers' defence swarmed to keep them short of 50 metres. Neither side could get close enough to have another shot, both waiting for a handling error and Panthers centre Tyrone Peachey delivered, dropping the ball on a run deep inside his own half. A few tackles later with three potential field goal takers closed down by charging defenders, Scott Drinkwater found himself in amongst a scattered defensive line. He dummied and stepped his way through to score the match-winning try.


Bulldogs go back to the Flano for Shark mauling

When new coach Cameron Ciraldo arrived at the Bulldogs he persisted for a while with Kyle Flanagan at halfback before finally promoting 18-year-old Karl Oloapu. Flanagan was banished to NSW Cup where he was having some success of late in the hooking role.

With Matt Burton a late call-up to the New South Wales squad Ciraldo originally named 21-year-old half Khaled Rajab to take his place, while Flanagan found a seat on the bench. In the hours before kick-off Flanagan was named in the run-on side with Rajab on the bench instead.

The Bulldogs started the game trading conservative completed sets with the Sharks and were on the attack when Flanagan found himself with the ball 15 metres out. He tried to thread a grubber kick through the line, but only found legs wearing Cronulla socks. Nicho Hynes scooped it the ball up and all but ran the length of the field, chased down brilliantly by a desperate Jake Averillo. The ball was spread from there for the first try of the game to Teig Wilton after eight minutes.

Flanagan scored the Bulldogs only try of the first half, with a dummy and scoot from dummy half five metres from the Sharks line, but it was all Cronulla otherwise.

Nothing Flanagan could have done would have saved the Bulldogs, they were awful and most played without heart. The Sharks were harder, faster and more skillful, with the Bulldogs really struggling to keep up with the pace of the game. It was a terrible effort all round and Ciraldo is facing some angry fans who are desperate to see some form of improvement in their team.


Sea Eagles fans travel to suffer

Hats off to the scattered Sea Eagles supporters at CommBank Stadium on Saturday night for Manly's clash with Parramatta. Sure the Eels were missing halves Mitchell Moses and Dylan Brown, for vastly different reasons, but the Sea Eagles without Daly Cherry-Evans and Tom Trbojevic were just a shadow of themselves.

In the heart of Parramatta, clad in their maroon and white supporters gear, the few brave and absolutely committed Manly fans had to sit through an agonising night. It was all Parramatta all night and only several disallowed tries and otherwise blown opportunities kept the score from being completely embarrassing.


Finucane ready if Freddy calls

Nicho Hynes had a mixed game against the Bulldogs, certainly not a performance to have Blues selectors regretting the decision to go with Mitchell Moses. One former Origin player who did stand out for the Sharks however was Dale Finucane. Having missed a fair chunk of the season Finucane has been finding his feet again for the hot and cold Sharks. Against the club he debuted with all those years ago, he put on a performance worthy of an Origin recall.

Everything Finucane does on the field scream Origin. He runs it hard, bends the line, and wins the play-the-ball. In defence he cuts opponents in half and seldom misses. Hard as nails and non stop he would fit nicely into that other sky blue jersey.