THE Atlantic Group Qualifying stages for the Rugby League World Cup will be held in New Jersey USA in October this year. West Indies, South Afrcia, Japan and the United States will be competing in a round robin series where the highest ranked team will have a chance to take a place in the World Cup finals to be held in late 2008. The fixtures have been announced by the AMNRL as follows.Saturday 21st October West Indies v South AfricaUSA v Japanat Sand Castle Staidum, New JerseyWednesday 25th October Japan v West IndiesUSA v South Africaat Sand Castle Staidum, New JerseySaturday 28th OctoberSouth Africa v JapanWest Indies v USAat Sand Castle Staidum, New JerseyThe highest placed Atlantic team will compete in a Repecharge Round in November 2007, against the 3rd ranked Pacific qualifying team and the 2nd ranked teams from the two European qualifying groups. The winner of that knock-out series will become one of the ten teams to compete in the World Cup finals.Details of qualifications and other World Cup news can be found at http://worldcup.leagueunlimited.com, or via the 'World Cup 2008' link in the sidebar near the top left of the screen.
A gap seems to have opened up between the top six teams and those below who remain desperate to squeeze their way into the play-offs ? or avoid relegation at all costs. Either way teams at the top and bottom of the ladder will be desperate for wins this week to sort out the Superleague pecking order. Game on!
SOME important clashes this weekend, as Superleague gets one match closer to the play-offs. Only nine games to go, and this is the crunch time of the season where good clubs stand up and bad clubs can fall ? all the way down to a lower division. Round 20, game on!
TEN rounds left to play in Superleague this season, with the top four clubs looking to still fight for the highest position possible, and probably another seven clubs still in contention for the remain two play-off spots. And don?t forget the five clubs that are still at risk of finishing last and facing relegation?. It?s Round 19 ? game on!
SUPERLEAGUE moves into the second half of the season on what is a Bank Holiday (long) weekend here in England. The battle for top six play-off places begins in earnest, as does the battle to avoid potential relegation at the other end of the table. Friday night?s televised game sees the Bradford Bulls host the Leeds Rhinos at Odsal. Bradford will be desperate to appease their home fans after putting in what could only be described as a poor showing in last weekend?s Challenge Cup tie against St Helens. Second rower Brett Ferres put pen to paper mid-week to remain at Bradford until the end of 2008. And Brian Smith is now on board for a short-term voluntary consultancy, so this game will show whether his presence can help the Bulls fortunes at all. Mid-week Leeds fans learned that fullback Richie Matthers is leaving the club to ply his trade for the Gold Coast, and there is also conjecture over the future of GB International Chev Walker next season. After a comfortable victory against lower division Rochdale last weekend, the Rhinos will be looking to increase the intensity in this clash to score a vital win.Saturday night?s televised game will be coming from the JJB Stadium where Wigan host St Helens. On current form this should be the greatest of mis-matches, pitting the competition leaders against the cellar-dwellers. There is talk that St Helens may rest International half Sean Long who has been unable to train with the side, and may go into the game with teenager Scott Moore at scrum half. Centre Willie Talau agreed to terms mid-week that will see him staying a Saint until the end of 2008. This is a derby game with a longstanding rivalry between the clubs, so if Wigan are ever going to lift this season you?d think it would be for this match. But after being knocked out of the Challenge Cup by Salford last weekend, Wigan?s confidence must be at an all time low and this clash probably won?t help matters.Also on Saturday evening, Les Catalans host Wakefield in Perpignan, in what should be Stacey Jones? comeback game for the Dragons. The French side were too good for lower division Widnes in their Challenge Cup tie last weekend, which also saw replacement halfback Michael Dobson leave the club with a Man of the Match award in his final game. It will be all systems go for Catalans with their main playmaker back on board, in front of what should be a healthy home crowd. But Wakefield will be fresh following their weekend off having already been knocked out of Cup competition, and have recent re-signed forward Duncan MacGillvray for another two seasons.In the first of Sunday?s games Warrington host Castleford, but will be without club captain Paul Rauhihi who has been ruled out for three months with a back injury. With forward Rob Parker also yet to return from injury the Wolves could be vulnerable up front. Castleford unsuccessfully tried to secure Michael Dobson after his stint with Catalans finished, but will be left to persist with 38-year old veteran Brad Davis as their scrum half. Castleford are another team that will be fresh after a weekend off, but Warrington have the in-from Lee Briers guiding their side around the park, and following a comfortable win over lower division Whitehaven will be looking to put these competition points in the bank.Also on Sunday, Hull host "giant-killers" Huddersfield ? the only team to beat St Helens so far this season. Hull have been slowly returning to form with six league wins on the trot, and will be fresh after not having played Challenge Cup last weekend. Huddersfield have also been more impressive of late, scoring wins over St Helens and Salford, as well as a Challenge Cup win over lower division York last start. This game should be a real tussle with the two points vital for both teams.Finally on Holiday Monday, Salford close the round hosting Harlequins at The Willows. The Londoners will be getting nervous as they are closest to relegation danger if Wigan suddenly regain some form. Mark McLinden has re-signed for another three seasons mid-week, and may make his return from injury in this game. Last weekend Harlequins put 82 points on lower division opposition to progress in the Challenge Cup, but this week will be a different story. Salford haven?t been true to their high-flying early season form of late, with losses to Castleford and Huddersfield in the past month. Other sides are waiting for the Reds to be the team to drop out of finals contention, leaving an opportunity for them to creep into the top six. But their destiny is in their own hands and the rest of their season starts here?Competition Table (after 14 rounds):St Helens 26 Leeds 20 Bradford 19 Hull 18 Warrington 16 Salford 16 Huddersfield 12 Wakefield 10 Castleford 10 Harlequins 9 Catalan 8 Wigan 4
THIS weekend?s games will bring us up to the halfway point for the season in Superleague, and we start with what should be two great games on Friday night.
FOUR Friday night games get us started in Round 13 of Superleague this weekend.
HOW will the Superleague clubs cope with their third match in less than ten days? Keep an eye on this weekend?s Round Eleven matches to find out...
CLUBS back up for their second game in four or five days in the second part of the traditional Easter double header weekend, with Round 10 of Superleague to take place across Easter Monday and Tuesday. Players may be a bit sore and a bit tired, so often its the club with the better tactics here that will come out of the weekend with the wins.
SUPERLEAGUE Round 9 games will be played on Thursday and Good Friday, forming the first part of the traditional Easter weekend double headers. Round 10 games will follow on Easter Monday and Tuesday, completing what can be a testing but always interesting weekend for the players, clubs and fans alike.Thursday night's televised match is the much anticipated local derby between Leeds Rhinos and Bradford Bulls at Headingley. In recent weeks Leeds have eclipsed Bradford on the table, and will be hoping for a win to make up for their loss to the Bulls in the 2005 grand final. Bradford will be looking to improve following an unexpected loss to Warrington last start, and to put aside talk that Wigan are looking to poach coach Brian Noble. Friday's televised game is another famous local derby pitting Wigan Warriors against undefeated St Helens at Knowsley Road. Francis Meli has suffered an ankle injury and will not be available for St Helens over the next six weeks, but Jason Cayless returns to the squad following a short illness. Wigan will be hoping for a return to form following the sacking of coach Ian Millward, but under these circumstances an upset seems very unlikely in this top versus bottom clash. In other games on Friday, Warrington Wolves host Salford City Reds in a clash between two teams who are in the top six on the back of some winning form. Les Catalans Dragons travel to London without the services of suspended Alex Chan when they take on the Harlequins. On a high following their conclusive defeat last week of Wigan, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats host Castleford Tigers who will be hoping to recover from last weeks defeat on French soil. And finally Huddersfield Giants will be hoping that a win at home against Hull can keep them in the top six.