x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Bulldogs start in style as El Masri sets points record

Hazem El Masri becomes the Australian NRL's top points scorer as he inspires the Canterbury Bulldogs to victory over Manly.

Hazem El Masri became the Australian NRL's top points scorer yesterday as he helped inspire the Canterbury Bulldogs to a 34-12 win over Manly in the opening game of the season. A first-half penalty at Sydney's Olympic Stadium saw him eclipse the old mark of 2,176 points, set by former Australia captain Andrew Johns, triggering wild celebrations amongst his teammates and supporters and a brief fireworks display.

"It's a great honour, I'll probably look back when I retire and think it's an awesome achievement," El Masri, 32, said. "But in saying that, I'm sure that someone's going to come along one day and break my record." El Masri had an immaculate kicking day as he scored seven out of seven kicks for a haul of 14 points. Jamal Idris and Bryson Goodwin both scored two tries apiece in the opening game of the season fixture, with Josh Morris also crossing the whitewash.

Matt Ballin and Jamie Lyon bagged the Manly tries. In other action, the Cronulla Sharks edged out the Penrith Panthers 18-10. Trent Barrett and Anthony Tupou marked their Cronulla debuts with tries, while Michael Jennings got the lone Penrith score. Two tries from Lance Hohaia helped the New Zealand Warriors get the better of the Parramatta Eels 26-18 in their clash. Joel Mann and Russell Packer also got on the scoresheet, with Eric Grothe, Jarryd Hayne and Krisnan Inu all scored for the Eels.

Meanwhile, in the engage Super League in Britain, the Leeds coach Brian McClennan singled out Carl Ablett, 23, for special praise after he helped the champions preserve their 100 per cent record with a 34-10 win over Wigan on Friday. "He's a handful," said McClennan of Ablett. "He's fast and he's skilful. He's had to play at centre, although he is a back-rower, but he never complained.

"He'll have a crack at anything and deserves a pat on the back. He did some nice things. There is some real potential in him." Leeds never looked back after racing into a 22-0 lead inside the first half-hour thanks to tries from Kylie Leuluai, Rob Burrow, Scott Donald and Ryan Hall. Hall and Jamie Peacock scored further tries, while Shaun Ainscough and Gareth Hock scored for Wigan. St Helens remain second as they defeated struggling Salford 38-12 in their clash.

Today's action in the Super League sees Bradford play host to Hull, while the Celtic Crusaders travel to Hull KR and Wakefield entertain Catalans Dragons. gcaygill@thenational.ae