WE?VE reached the business end of the season and this is when the footy should be firing up, but unfortunately I have to jest with that statement.
ROUND 20 Wests Tigers 6 v Parramatta Eels 34at Telstra StadiumReferee: Shayne HayneMatch Summary:Parramatta has continued its charge towards the 2006 finals series with a comprehensive 34-6 victory over the Wests Tigers this afternoon at Telstra Stadium.The premiers were off to a promising start, enforcing repeat sets of six on the Eels in the opening passages of play.The Tigers? work was brought undone however, with a converted intercept try to Eels flyer Jarryd Hayne after seven minutes and a Tigers attacking siege.Wests managed to keep themselves in the game after the subsequent missiles fired by the Eels. They locked things up at 6-all with a try to Robbie Farah from dummy half and a difficult conversion from Scott Prince.Although consecutive blows from the Eels; a solo try to halfback Jeremy Smith, and another intercept try on the stroke of halftime to Hayne, ensured that it was a long road back for the Tigers who trailed 16-6 at the break.We were then treated to a lacklustre second half from both sides. The Eels managed to cross three times in the second stanza but the Tigers really had raised the white flag at the halfway point after the scintillating Hayne Try. Both sides have worries on the injury front but the Tigers? are far more serious. The 2005 premiers can add Bryce Gibbs (elbow) and Brett Hodgson (knee) to their injury list, although Gibbs should be fit to play next weekend.Parramatta hooker Mark Riddell was taken ill before the start of the match and Chad Robinson was ruled out of this match, but both injuries appear to be minor.In Round 21, Parramatta will resume its rivalry with Manly on Saturday night at home while the Tigers will travel to Suncorp Stadium to meet the Brisbane Broncos next Sunday afternoon.Scorers:Wests Tigers: 6Tries: Robert FarahGoals: Scott Prince 1/1Parramatta Eels: 34Tries: Nathan Hindmarsh, Wade McKinnon, Luke O'Dwyer, Jeremy Smith, Jarryd Hayne(2)Goals: Mark Riddell 4/5, Jarryd Hayne 1/1By the Clock:Telstra Stadium is the venue for this 'do or die' Round 20 clash between the Wests Tigers and the Parramatta Eels. Both of these sides sit outside the top eight with 18 competition points and a loss here would just about spell the end of the season for either side.Change for the Eels; Chad Robinson is out of the side, Daniel Wagon moves from the bench to the second row and Henry Perenara comes onto the bench.No changes to the Tigers side named earlier in the week.Late change will Mark Riddell taken ill during the warm-up. Riddell will now start from the bench with PJ Marsh coming into the starting side.KICKOFF!, match underway at Telstra Stadium.7 min: TRY Parramatta EelsUnbelievable scenes here at Telstra Stadium with Parramatta managing to withstand four consecutive sets of six on their own line before Luke O'Dwyer took an intercept and linked up with Jarryd Hayne who scored under the posts. Hayne converts his own try. Incredible start! Eels 6-015 min: NEWS Physical start from the Eels here with Bryce Gibbs coming off second best after a few PJ Marsh specials. Gibbs has left the field with a re-occurance of an elbow injury. Still 6-0 the Eels lead.18 min: NEWS Another injury with Brett Hodgson succumbing to what looks like a serious knee problem. He leaves the field on the Medi-cab and is unlikely to return. Mark Riddell looks very unwell on the bench for the Eels although Bryce Gibbs is likely to return at some stage today for the Tigers.28 min: NEWS Parramatta have repelled the Tigers once again with an intercept to Ben Smith after repeated sets of six on their own line from the Tigers. Still 6-0 the Eels lead.34 min: TRY Wests TigersRobbie Farah scores a soft try from dummy half after compounding pressure from the Tigers. There was some doubt over the grounding for the try which was referred to the video referee but he elected to give the decision the green light. Scott Prince converts the try to lock things up. 6 all.37 min: TRY Parramatta EelsJeremy Smith scores a tremendous solo try under the posts for Parramatta. His running game has improved markedly. Riddell finally makes his first appearance on the field and converts the try. Eels 12-640 min: TRY Parramatta EelsHayne has put an early nail in the Tigers' coffin for this game with a 100-metre intercept try. A 12-point try as the Tigers were looking like scoring down the other end. Riddell misses the conversion and at halftime, the Eels lead the Tigers by 16 points to 6 and it's a long way back now for the injury-ravaged Tigers. Eels 16-643 min: TRY Parramatta EelsWade McKinnon finishes off another length-of-the-field effort from the Eels. Floodgates starting to open now. Riddell converts. Eels 22-654 min: NEWS The Tigers' attack is stalled and the way things are going the Eels will slowly but surely eliminate any hope of a Tigers' finals berth. Still 22-6 the Eels lead.63 min: NEWS This game has hit the wall and has taken a similar turn to last night's dour encounter between the Bulldogs and the Roosters. 22-6 and both sides appear to be going through the motions.67 min: TRY Parramatta EelsO'Dwyer breaks through a brittle Tigers defensive line to score out wide. Riddell successfully converts. Eels 28-670 min: NEWS NO TRY: Dean Collis knocks the ball forward in the in-goal area, letting a rare opportunity go begging for the Tigers. 28-6 Parramatta lead and we will have new premiers in 2006.77 min: TRY Parramatta EelsHindmarsh puts the icing on the cake with a terrific individual try, with momentum taking him over the line. Riddell converts. Eels 34-6FULLTIME: Parramatta has completed a resounding victory over an injury-ravaged Wests Tigers outfit by 34 points to 6. Match report to come soon... -----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Nathan Hindmarsh2 - Nathan Cayless1 - Jarryd Hayne-----------------------------------------
I decided to lay off the Sydney Roosters earlier in the year as some of my content could have been regarded as Rooster-bashing, and I guess that was fair enough.
I would just like to start this week?s rant by thanking everyone for their well wishes following my appearance on the Footy Show last Thursday night. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Whilst nervous early as was quite obvious with the footage, it turned out to be a very great night and one which I won?t forget in a hurry. There are a number of people to thank so I won?t name them in case I leave anyone out, but they certainly know who they are.
AT the conclusion of Origin I, former NSW fullback Garry Jack claimed that the Queensland forwards were a bunch of ?creampuffs?. If I was Jack, I would not only retract that statement after seeing Origin II, but I would also reverse the statement and claim that the NSW forwards played like ?creampuffs?. That?s certainly what it looked like from where I was sitting?
ROUND 15 New Zealand Warriors 30 v Newcastle Knights 18at Ericsson StadiumReferees: Jarred MaxwellMatch Summary:The New Zealand Warriors have continued on their stellar winning run with a 30-18 victory over the Newcastle Knights at Ericsson Stadium in Auckland this afternoon.The 12-point margin flattered the visitors somewhat - the men from the Hunter Valley scoring two consolation tries late in the piece after Warriors winger Patrick Ah Van was sent to the sin bin with just three minutes remaining.It was all the Warriors in the first 20 minutes, battering the Knights from pillar to post, illustrating a strong physical presence. A 14-0 lead was just reward for their efforts and it was clear from the outset that any Newcastle side minus Danny Buderus is almost as disorganised as one without Andrew Johns.Newcastle kept themselves in contention with a try just prior to halftime ? the Warriors holding a 14-6 advantage at the break.But the Warriors snuffed out any possible Newcastle comeback with three tries in the first 20 minutes after halftime.Kiwi international Sione Faumuina was outstanding this afternoon, wreaking havoc for the Newcastle defenders and seemed to make it his own personal mission to dominate the Knights? pack physically. His offload proved to be very difficult for the Knights to shut down.Other performances of note today came from halves Grant Rovelli and Jerome Ropati who steered the Warriors in the right direction for the full 80 minutes, something their Newcastle counterparts ? Andrew Johns and Kurt Gidley, failed miserably at doing.Both sides appear to have escaped this match with a clean bill of health but a few spiteful incidents will come under close video examination by the match review committee tomorrow.Three straight losses now for Newcastle, who are staring down the barrel of missing the top eight this season if they don?t improve their attacking cohesion any time shortly. They meet Cronulla next Saturday night at home and the way the Sharks are playing, that won?t be any easy task.The Warriors will be thinking what might have been if they weren?t forced to start season 2006 on minus four competition points. They can still play the spoiler though and they really should focus on rectifying their poor record on home turf. After today?s performance, it appears that steps have already been taken in that regard.Scorers:New Zealand Warriors: 30Tries: Sione Faumuina, Nathan Fien(2), Steve Price, Jerome RopatiGoals: Tony Martin 5/6Newcastle Knights: 18Tries: George Carmont, Todd Lowrie, Brian CarneyGoals: Andrew Johns 3/3Halftime: Warriors 14-6Crowd: 6,240By the Clock:Ericsson Stadium is the venue for this round 15 clash between the New Zealand Warriors and the Newcastle Knights. Changes: Warriors: Just one change for the home side with Awen Guttenbeil reverting to the bench; Michael Luck comes into the starting side.Knights: A Couple of changes: Nathan Hinton and Kirk Reynoldson come in for Danny Buderus and David Seage.KICKOFF! Match underway in Auckland6 min: NEWS NO TRY: The Warriors deny the Knights early on as Manu Vatuvei manages to force the ball in-goal before Anthony Quinn could score for Newcastle. The Knights are still on the attack here. Still 0-all.14 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsSimple try for the Warriors. Nathan Fien scoots from dummy half on the last tackle and plants the ball down near the posts. Poor defence from Newcastle there. Warriors 6-020 min: NEWS Some heavy contact between both clubs with Davico and Perry in the mix for the Knights, whilst Faumuina and Wiki playing hard for the Warriors.25 min: PENALTY GOAL New Zealand WarriorsMartin puts the home side ahead by a further 2 points after slotting a goal from a penalty. Brent Webb was shaken pretty hard as Newton came across in a tackle and made contact with his head. Warriors looking solid as light rain begins to fall. Warriors 8-028 min: NEWS NO TRY - Hinton denied a four-pointer due to a blatant double-movement. After some good hands from Johns and Gidley, Carney cruised down the flank before kicking in-field for the rookie back, who got a bit too excited.30 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsFien scores his second for the day as a good bust up the middle by Gettenbeil who finds Webb in support, who in turn off loads to the flying hooker. Martin adds the extras and the Warriors are looking good. Warriors 14-035 min: NEWS Another chip into the ingoal from Johns fails as Gidley misses it completely only for Carney to make a meal of it as well.37 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsThis time it comes off for the Knights down the eastern side with Johns flicking to Gidley who offers Carney a clear passage to the line. Johns kicks it from the sideline and the Knights strike back just prior to the break. Warriors 14-640 min: NEWS Halftime: The Warriors hold off a late charge by the Knights to go into the sheds with an 8-point advantage. The home side are playing well and their forward pack is certainly taking it up to the Knights. They've created a few opportunities and are certainly the better side at the moment. They would be a bit disappointed that they let the Knights in, but they've been targeted down Vatuvei's wing all day.For the Knights, they're probably a bit surprised at the plucky Warriors who appear rejuvenated after last week's victory over the Roosters. On top of that they look a bit rusty coming off the bye. Newcastle have more points in them but it's a matter of how well they their execute their plays, which has been pretty ordinary. I think we're in for a cracker of a second half, but the Warriors have to be careful not to protect a lead.RESTART! Second half underway.45 min: NEWS Newcastle diffuse a testing situation with a precise cross-field kick from Rovelli finding Vatuvei who comes within inches of scoring. Both teams scoping opportunites early in the second half.50 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsRovelli puts in another pin-point kick close to the line after being flagged by Faumuina who rushes through and claims the footy, evading the cover to score next to the sticks. Martin converts and the Knights are looking in real strife. Warriors 20-655 min: NEWS The Knights are struggling to penetrate the Warriors line coming up short after several minutes pressing the stripe. New Zealand look the better all-round side with some scrambling defence proving too good for the Knights attackers.57 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsRopati stands-up Johns pointlessly as he motors 35m to score in the corner and go a long way to securing the match for the Warriors. Martin fails from the sideline and the home team are three converted tries clear. Warriors 24-660 min: NEWS I haven't seen the Knights play this poorly for a while, but full credit to the Warriors who are putting them under plenty of pressure and are very enthusiastic today.62 min: NEWS Riley Brown (Knights) leaves the field with a shoulder injury.63 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsSteve Price celebrates his 250th game in style by scoring a try next to the posts without a finger laid on him. The Warriors are all over the Knights today and thoroughly deserve this victory. Martin adds the extras and it's getting a little embarrassing for Newcastle and there's still a shade over 15 minutes left. Warriors 30-667 min: NEWS Crowd: 6,240. That is terrible!72 min: NEWS The game is turning a bit scrappy here as both sides throw the ball about with gay abandon. It's not sticking though.75 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsThe Knights bag a consolation try through Todd Lowrie after a neat blindside play involving Johns and Carmont. Joey kicks his second from a difficult position today. Warriors 30-1277 min: NEWS Patrick Ah Van gets 10 minutes in the bin for a professional foul on Anthony Quinn.78 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsAnother late try to the Knights through George Carmont adds a bit of credibility to the scoreline. Johns adds another beauty from the sideline. Warriors 30-1880 min: NEWS And the Warriors cause an upset here in Auckland, running out good winners despite the Knights rallying late to score two tries.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Sione Faumuina2 - Grant Rovelli1 - Jerome Ropati-----------------------------------------
SO the Roosters told Ryan Cross to get stuffed?good on ?em I say!
ROUND 14 Sydney Roosters 12 v New Zealand Warriors 22at Aussie StadiumReferees: Russell SmithMatch Summary:Former Rooster Grant Rovelli has produced a commanding performance for his new club, the New Zealand Warriors, to dispose of the Sydney Roosters by 22 points to 12 at Aussie Stadium in Sydney this afternoon.A depleted Roosters side - minus 11 players through either state of origin representation, injury or suspension, were no match for a physical Warriors side which were far superior close to the line in attack.Manu Vatuvei opened the scoring this afternoon, taking advantage of the first of halfback Rovelli?s try assists to score out wide. The Warriors gained a 4-0 advantage early in the piece.The Roosters managed to hit back through debut five eighth Josh Lewis soon after, Lewis grubbered the ball for himself before scoring under the posts. The Roosters led 6-4 after just 12 minutes of play.But it was the Warriors who had the advantage at halftime with the only other first-half try coming to their much-improved fullback, Brent Webb. And with Tony Martin?s conversion a successful one the Warriors found themselves 10-6 leaders at the break.The Warriors created further misery for the Roosters when play resumed, with Vatuvei crossing for the second of his tries this afternoon, extending the lead to eight at 14-6.Subsequent Warriors? four-pointers to Tony Martin and Nathan Fien sealed the Roosters? fate 15 minutes from time, holding an imposing 22-6 advantage.Roosters? debutant fullback, Shaun Foley, scored a well-deserved try after strong first-up performance for the club. But the try was nothing more than a consolation for a team which is struggling for cohesion in attack. No apparent injuries or reports to come out of this game which is a plus for both sides, but the Roosters will again lick their metaphorical wounds after another patchy display.Next weekend, the Warriors host Newcastle on Sunday afternoon while the Roosters are set to meet the Wests Tigers on Saturday evening at Telstra Stadium.Scorers:Sydney Roosters: 12Tries: Shaun Foley, Josh LewisGoals: Craig Fitzgibbon 2/2New Zealand Warriors: 22Tries: Nathan Fien, Tony Martin, Manu Vatuvei(2), Brent WebbGoals: Tony Martin 1/5By the Clock:A Chilly Aussie Stadium is the venue for this round 14 clash between two of the NRL's struggling sides, the Sydney Roosters and the New Zealand Warriors. Just 13'C is the current temperature at the ground and with a greasy surface from this week's rain, both sides will look to play a low-risk brand of football.Changes:Sydney Roosters: as-per-programNew Zealand Warriors: Just a positional change for the Warriors with Awen Guttenbeil moving back to the bench, and Michael Luck coming into the starting side.The Roosters will be minus 11 players through either State of Origin representation, injury or suspension.The Warriors are close to full strength apart from the absence of Steven Price to State of Origin duty. 4 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsWarriors halfback Grant Rovelli gets one-up on his old club with a magnificent set play, breaking through the Roosters' defensive line and putting Manu Vatuvei over in the corner with a lofting cut-out ball. Conversion unsuccessful from Tony Martin. Warriors 4-012 min: TRY Sydney RoostersStand-in Roosters five eighth Josh Lewis has impressed early in his debut first grade appearance, regathering his own grubber kick which rebounded off Warriors captain Ruben Wiki to score under the posts. Conversion successful from Craig Fitzgibbon. Roosters 6-418 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsRovelli again uses his outside men to great effect. Manu Vatuvei put the foot on the accelerator and then linked up with Brent Webb. Webb crossed under the posts for the try. Successful conversion from Tony Martin. Warriors 10-625 min: NEWS This match has ebbed and flowed all over the place and has been highly entertaining thus far. The two teams have turned up to play defensively and either side could come away with the victory. Still 10-6 the Warriors lead.34 min: NEWS Both sides look disoriented in attack, throwing passes which aren't finding the chest of outside runners. The commitment of these sides cannot be questioned but the execution can. Still 10-6 the Warriors in front.HALFTIME: While this match has been entertaining, it has to be said that poor execution in attack has let these sides down. Defensively they have both been sharp but scoring points is where the problems lie for both these sides. Difficult to pick a winner from here but whichever side can develop better cohesion in attack will win the game. The Warriors lead 10-6 and this match is there for the taking.Second half underway at Aussie Stadium45 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsVatuvei gets a double, taking advantage of a freakish offload from Sione Faumuina. He did well to stay inside the corner post, scoring right near the touchline. Martin fails to convert from out wide. Warriors 14-652 min: NEWS The Roosters have bombed another crucial opportunity close to the Warriors' line with a marginal forward pass. They will need to get a move on if they want to win this match. Their attack has been atrocious thus far.55 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsMartin forces a tremendous Brent Webb grubber kick in the Roosters' in-goal area for another Warriors try. The decision was referred to the video referee for the first time today, and he gave the try the green light. Martin misses again and his goalkicking is keeping the Roosters in this match. Warriors 18-661 min: NEWS Controversial decision from referee Russell Smith. Iosia Soliola had the ball stripped by Brent Webb and Smith ruled six more tackles, beefore reversing his decision and ruling a change-over to the Warriors. The Roosters fans are up in arms and have reason to be. Warriors 18-6.65 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsNathan Fien finishes a 70-metre effort from the Warriors to score out wide and seal the deal this afternoon. Martin misses again but the Warriors should have too much for the Roosters now. Warriors 22-671 min: NEWS No hope of a Roosters' revival now. Too many opportunities wasted in a very disappointing performance from the Bondi Junction club. Warriors 22-6 and both sides are playing out time.74 min: TRY Sydney RoostersThe other Roosters' debutant, Shaun Foley, has crossed for a try. It shouldn't be anything more than a consolation for the Roosters with just six minutes remaining. Fitzgibbon converts. Warriors 22-12FULLTIME: The New Zealand Warriors have recorded their fifth win of season 2006, accounting for a depleted Sydney Roosters outfit by 22 points to 12. -----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Grant Rovelli (Warriors)2 - Brent Webb (Warriors)1 - Sione Faumuina (Warriors)-----------------------------------------
WE?RE smack bang in the middle of season 2006, and I thought I?d take the opportunity this week to draw up a mid-season report card. Let?s now take a look at how your team is faring currently, and just how they might finish up come September and October.
ON any given day, when speaking about Willie Mason or Brett Finch, we?d probably be snarling at another off-field misdemeanour or on-field tantrum, but not this week.That?s right Blues fans. These two bad boys delivered victory for NSW in State of Origin I and they should receive just credit. But perhaps this wasn?t just a one-off never to be seen again movie spectacular type thing. Maybe they have turned the corner ? for good.I remember a day back in 2004. I went into my room and sat down on my chair on a Sunday afternoon as I do. Having a read of the Sunday morning newspapers, while at the same time, eagerly awaiting the afternoon?s matches as I?m sure most leaguies can relate with. I turned on the radio and began listening to Ray Hadley?s Continuous Call Team. They were holding their regular talkback segment. I must point out; this was around the time the NSW Blues had a late night out which turned into front page news the next day ? enough said.A group of NSW players were at fault, but the main player scrutinised was Mason ? given that his whole ADHD debacle had surfaced.I remember salivating to myself. I could not believe the torment which was being directed at Mason, not necessarily whether he deserved it or not, but to me, the extent of the ridicule seemed unprecedented. To this day, I cannot remember any individual being subjected to such scrutiny on a talkback radio station. I wondered how Mason would fight back from such stout criticism from all sections of the rugby league community. Caller after caller were shouting for his expulsion from the game. Even John Hopoate wasn?t exposed to disparagement of this extent when his antics reached their heights.Mason subsequently won the Clive Churchill medal in 2004. But at that stage he had only earned the rugby league community?s respect as a footballer ? not a person or ambassador for the game.Brett Finch could be regarded as an on-field version of Willie Mason?s off-field behaviour ? if you get my drift.For years, Finch has been subjected to Mason-like criticism ? although in Finch?s case, it was for a lack of on-field performance. Finch?s is unique given the fact that his harshest critics are his own supporters. And when he made the comment that ?those so-called supporters can kiss my arse,? the Roosters? patience had almost reached boiling point.Now I can hear people saying: ?Sure, they played great football but how does that illustrate a change in character?? This is where it gets interesting.After being awarded with the $2000 man of the match award on Channel Nine, Willie Mason donated his winnings to the Cancer Council. And yesterday, Finch, inspired by crash victim Sophie Delezio, decided to auction off his field-goal kicking boot ? with the proceeds to be donated to the Children?s hospital at Randwick.This previously controversial pair has cleaned up their act. It?s terrific to see and good luck to them both. But it does beg the question: Do the good have evil in them? Or do the evil have good in them? You can be the judge of that. Here?s to Willie and Brett for their changing in fortunes. RR salutes you both.Now to a few other issues in and around the rugby league world.- I think I?ve criticised South Sydney enough this season. So I?ve decided to let Adam MacDougall do that for this week. Here are a few things he had to say after his team was thrashed 44-4 by last year?s premiers, the Wests Tigers. ? ?If I knew it was going to be like that today I would have just turned the oven on at home to 500 degrees and jumped in it.?? ?I should have given my friends and family tickets behind the goal posts; they could have seen more of me.?? ?When you have your bad days out wide it feels like you?re in the bottom row of the Titanic, all the water?s coming in pretty quick and there?s not a lot you can do.?MacDougall has been sacked for these comments, and by the sounds of it, Mad Dog wouldn?t have too many qualms about getting the tap on the shoulder. - Just when I thought the Dragons were back after a scintillating 38-12 demolition of then competition leaders Newcastle, Trent Barrett is charged with grade five striking and may be on the sidelines for up to six weeks. A huge blow to a club that were starting to gather momentum and cohesion as a unit. Also on the Dragons, their decision to keep Mark Gasnier was a good one, but why at five eighth? I think that?s a big mistake and if that?s the case, they?d better put more emphasis on winning this season because it could be their only opportunity for a while.- One position we have worked out so far is the competition?s pretenders, namely the Bulldogs. They have absolutely no hope this season and the only reason they?re fifth on the competition table is that they have had simple opponents to this point. Pundits rave about the strength of their forward pack but when they come up against a pack with any real substance, they don?t aim up. Brent Sherwin just doesn?t seem to have fired like his coach would have wanted on his lengthy break from first grade. The Bulldogs could very well miss the top eight this season. Look no further than the Canterbury club for the season 2006 Pretenders? Award.- I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Cronulla club on its swift handling of the Tevita Latu debacle. The club was informed of the news early last Monday morning, and they didn?t even see out the remainder of the day before sacking Latu. The NRL also didn?t waste any time, de-registering Latu on the same day. Applause all-round for both parties. Perhaps the Bulldogs could take a leaf out of the Sharks? book. Although we must outline some positive Bulldogs? publicity when it becomes apparent. Billy Ngawini was the player who came to the girl?s aid after she had been struck by Latu. A nice touch there.That?s all for this week. Come and have a read next week of my mid-season report card. Assessing where each team is at the halfway mark, and where you can expect them to be after 26 rounds and leading into the 2006 finals series.Until next week, enjoy your footy!