ROUND 12 Melbourne Storm 17 v Penrith Panthers 16at Olympic Park MelbReferees: Shayne HayneMatch Summary:Cooper Cronk has produced a Brett Finch-like field goal to deliver a heart-stopping 17-16 victory to the Melbourne Storm over Penrith at Olympic Park this afternoon.A Greg Inglis try at the 69th minute was the final points during regular time, as both sides battled out the last 10 minutes to no avail.Penrith fans must have had their hearts in their mouths after the kick-off for extra time almost found touch. Luckily for the Panthers, they recovered and when Melbourne?s Steve Turner steered an 88th minute field goal attempt wide, it looked as though a draw was the most likely result.But The Panthers? Tony Puletua made a costly error just 90 seconds from time, creating an opportunity for Melbourne to finally capitalise on a mountain of possession in useful field position.Cronk took full advantage, slotting the one-pointer just 50 seconds away from what would have been season 2006?s first unbroken deadlock.Earlier, the Panthers were off to a flyer as Luke Lewis came up with a crafty chip over the top before linking up with winger Nick Youngquest who scored out wide.Melbourne winger Matt Geyer came up with a try completely against the run of play. Geyer intercepted a Luke Lewis pass to scamper 90 metres and subsequently lock the scores at 6.Both sides traded blows for the remainder of the first half and Melbourne went into the sheds two points the better at 12-10.Michael Gordon put the Panthers back in front at 16-12, and the succeeding Inglis try led to the golden point debacle. No consolation for the Panthers on the injury front. Luke Lewis sustained injuries to both calf muscles at the 60th minute, while Frank Pritchard appears to have suffered a broken hand which may have occurred early in the extra-time period.Melbourne seems to have come through this game unscathed.Next weekend, Penrith meet Manly on Sunday afternoon at CUA Stadium whilst Melbourne will play the Sydney Roosters next Saturday evening at Olympic Park. Scorers:Melbourne Storm: 17Tries: Matt Geyer, Greg Inglis, Jake WebsterGoals: Matt Geyer 1/1, Cameron Smith 1/2Field Goals: Cooper CronkPenrith Panthers: 16Tries: Rhys Wesser, Nick Youngquest, Michael GordonGoals: Preston Campbell 2/3By the Clock:Olympic Park, Melbourne is the venue for this afternoon's round 12 meeting between the Melbourne Storm and the Penrith Panthers.A bit of a reshuffle in the Panthers' line-up and that is as follows:- Preston Campbell moves from five eighth to halfback for the injured Craig Gower.- Luke Lewis moves from the centres to the vacated five eighth position.- Luke Rooney moves from wing to centre.- Lee Hookey comes into the side on the wing.Melbourne are as-per-program.KICKOFF! Match underway in Melbourne4 min: TRY Penrith PanthersPenrith are over already thanks to a crafty chip over the top from Luke Lewis, who re-gathered and found support through Nick Youngquest who scored in the corner. Panthers 6-012 min: NEWS Promising start here from Penrith with the likes of Joel Clinton and Matthew Cross pushing the Panthers over the advantage line, and the creativity of new five eighth Luke Lewis has been of a high quality. Melbourne look tired and disorganised at this stage.15 min: TRY Melbourne StormA try completely against the run of play as Matt Geyer runs 90 metres off an intercept to score for Melbourne. Could be a big play in the context of this game. 6 all.22 min: TRY Penrith PanthersTremendous decoy run from Joel Clinton results in a wide open gap for a blistering Rhys Wesser to capitalise and score out wide. Penrith now leading 10-6 and this match could certainly go either way. Panthers 10-632 min: TRY Melbourne StormBrilliant ball from Melbourne halfback Cooper Cronk who linked up with centre Jake Webster to cross out wide for the Storm's second try. Storm 12-10Halftime: min: NEWS A real armwrestle developing here and at the break, Melbourne lead Penrith by 12 points to 10. The half has been evenly poised and with only one penalty awarded from referee Shayne Hayne, the players have been able to sort things out themselves. This match could go either way.50 min: NEWS Still no change to the halftime score and the arm-wrestle continues here in Melbourne. Storm 12 Panthers 10.55 min: NEWS A number of controversial decisions from Penrith here. They were awarded three penalties in succession but decided to go for the try, despite the fact that they trail by two points. Could be a real turning point with some tremendous Melbourne defence to dispell the raid.60 min: NEWS Luke Lewis appears to have a calf problem although it could just be a cramp. Still no change to the halftime score, Melbourne 12 Penrith 10.63 min: TRY Penrith PanthersMichael Gordon races in to score after a freak offload from Tony Puletua. Slight controversy with the try as Rhys Wesser appeared to be tackled in the lead-up but was allowed to get an offload away. Panthers 16-1269 min: TRY Melbourne StormGreg Inglis scores an unbelievable try untouched for Melbourne in the corner. Terrific backline movement from the Storm and the decoy run from Matt King clearly fooled the Panthers' defence. 16 all.73 min: NEWS Wesser misses an attempt at field goal and we could now be entering a field goal shoot-out. 16-all and a grandstand finish in prospect. 78 min: NEWS Matt Geyer pushed into touch with Melbourne on the attack. Poor discipline from the Storm who should have settled for the field goal as it was only the second tackle. Golden point looking likely now.80 min: NEWS For the second time this weekend we go to golden point with these teams locked at 16 at the end of regular time.Extra time kicks off83 min: NEWS Melbourne have bombed two chances to kick a field goal. Cameron Smith missing a shot from point blank range. Deadlock still not broken.85 min: NEWS Halftime in extra-time now. Still 16-16, Penrith to kick off.88 min: NEWS Steve Turner misses another shot at field goal for the Storm and we could be headed for the season's first draw.89 min: FIELD GOAL Melbourne StormCooper Cronk kicks a field goal after a mistake from Tony Puletua. An unbelievable game of football here today. Melbourne run out winners by 17 points to 16. Match report to come... Storm 17-16-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Greg Inglis2 - Luke Lewis1 - Matt Geyer-----------------------------------------
IT?S that time of year again people. Time to pull out the true colours for your state, but more so, illustrate your personal hatred for the opposing state.That?s right. State of Origin is upon us again and with only a day until league?s fiercest of rivalries kicks off, I?m feeling more and more like a stray dog on a leash.It?s difficult to pick a winner in Origin, as historically things are never decided on paper or in the stat book. But I?ll do my best for you now.Backs: You?d have to favour the Maroons here. They boast a far more potent backline than the Blues. The likes of Steven Bell and Greg Inglis will wreak havoc for the Blues? outside defenders if given early ball from the halves, while Justin Hodges will continue to terrorise his opposites as he has done for the Broncos all season. And Matt Bowen, as most Origin fans know, can win a game for his state with one play. The Blues have a far more conservative backline. Brett Hodgson won?t let his State down but whether NSW can expect knockout plays from him, as has been the case with Anthony Minichiello in recent years, remains to be seen. Matt King hasn?t been outstanding this season but earns his place on reputation. Great to see Eric Grothe in the side but his defensive defects may be exposed if he doesn?t aim up to the likes of Inglis and Hodges. Mark Gasnier is the main card in the deck, if he can get on the outside of Brent Tate early it may shatter the Queenslander?s confidence ? which could lead to a long night for the former Test centre. But if Gasnier gets off on the wrong foot, NSW will need to rely solely on Timana Tahu for their spark out wide. Personally I think Tahu has yet to prove his worth at this level. It will be interesting to see whether he eats buttered crumpets before this representative game or not.Halves: Again, the Maroons hold the upper hand in this area. A rejuvenated Darren Lockyer has enjoyed a fantastic start to the 2006 season and from that, Queensland will benefit immensely. Johnathan Thurston?s tremendous start to 2006 has been well-documented and rightly so. These two marvels will hurt NSW if Queensland?s forwards can push themselves over the advantage line regularly. I don?t mind Craig Gower?s selection at halfback as NSW didn?t have much choice after the Andrew Johns? representative retirement. Gower won?t let anyone down tomorrow night and will continue playing even if every bone in his body has broken. The big unknown is the five eighth position for NSW. Braith Anasta has shown nothing to suggest that he deserves his spot and was selected purely on reputation. I wonder how he?ll go. Origin should be about picking the best 17 players possible in order to win the series. It may come back to bite NSW on Wednesday night.Forwards: This is where NSW should be looking to play the game. They are definitely the stronger and with Queensland unveiling three debutants in the starting back-row, NSW should be looking to intimidate Queensland from the outset. I think Danny Buderus and Cameron Smith cancel each other out ? if Buderus plays that is. If Luke Priddis is a late inclusion, it?s advantage Queensland. In the front row, I think NSW have a slight edge. Willie Mason has been playing tremendous football as has Manly?s Brent Kite. Steven Price and Petero Civoniceva will get the Queenslanders forward but I think in the front row it?s favourable to NSW.We?ll have to go with NSW in the back row as well. There will be three debutants in those positions for Queensland whereas NSW boast Nathan Hindmarsh who is now an established representative player, Steve Simpson who has been in outstanding form for the table-topping Newcastle Knights, and Luke O?Donnell who was a certain selection for the Australian side against the Kiwis. David Stagg, Matthew Scott and Dallas Johnson will definitely earn their money.Bench: As was the case with the forwards ? advantage NSW. The utility position is filled by Craig Wing who admittedly hasn?t been in his best form but has a tremendous track record in representative matches. Expect him to come on around the 50 minute mark and try to dart out of dummy half at the tired Queensland forwards. Steve Menzies and Andrew Ryan will be a steadying influence off the bench, both solid defenders and can cause trouble on the edges of the ruck ? especially given the inexperience of Queensland?s outside defenders. And Mark O?Meley will be given a license from coach Graham Murray to run onto Telstra Stadium and explode tomorrow night. He?ll no doubt be looking forward to a potential running battle with Queensland hit-man Carl Webb. Those wanting some good old-fashioned biff tomorrow night, just watch these two giants go at each other, they won?t disappoint.Other than Webb, the Queensland bench is a little suspect. Nate Myles has a big shoulder-charge on him and Sam Thaiday is a devastating ball-runner but the major selection which has raised eyebrows is that of Shaun Berrigan on the bench. It seemed that after last year?s Origin series Queensland would be reluctant to pick Berrigan in Maroons colours again. Major back-flip there and it will be intriguing to see how he performs.Verdict: NSW by 14. As we?ve seen, Queensland has the upper hand in the outside backs and the halves. But these games are traditionally won in the forwards and New South Wales look as though they have too much for Queensland in that department. The bench will also benefit NSW and after some tight early exchanges and a close score-line at halftime, expect the Blues to run over the top of the Maroons in the second half. As we know with Origin, predictions don?t always work out and if NSW are complacent they will be in for a rude shock. The Blues though haven?t been beaten at Telstra Stadium in 10 matches and there?s no reason why that won?t be 11.With only a day to go, all I say is bring it on!
ROUND 11 New Zealand Warriors 34 v Wests Tigers 12at Ericsson StadiumReferee: Jarred MaxwellMatch Summary:The New Zealand Warriors have comprehensively defeated the Wests Tigers this evening in Auckland ? the home side winning 34-12.The Warriors were off to a dream start when Sione Faumuina crashed over the line from close range after just two minutes ? the result of an ill-disciplined early penalty against the Tigers. The Warriors led 6-0 after the Tony Martin conversion.The Tigers looked as though they had the momentum, but successive tries to the Warriors? Brent Webb and Simon Mannering made life very difficult for the Tigers. The Warriors held a 16-0 advantage with 10 minutes remaining in the first half.Then a piece of Benji Marshall brilliance, reminiscent of his freakish flick pass in last year?s grand final, created the Tigers? first try and the first in the career of debutant Taniela Tuiaki. The Tigers hit back for what looked like the final points of the first half at 16-6 with the Marshall conversion successful.But the dagger was forced into the Tigers? heart just seconds before halftime, with another breakaway try, this time it was halfback Grant Rovelli. The conversion ensured a tough road ahead for the Tigers if they were to force their way back into this one, the score 22-6 at halftime. The Auckland-based outfit pressed their foot onto the accelerator after the break, with successive tries to Louis Anderson and Evarn Tuimavave ? both converted by Tony Martin. The Warriors led 34-6 with 25 minutes on the clock and at that stage, any scoreline looked possible.But the Tigers managed to hold the Warriors out for the remainder of the half and Tuiaki crossed for a consolation double late in the match to save face for the premiers.The Warriors meet the Sharks next Saturday evening at Toyota Park, whilst the Tigers travel across town to meet the struggling Rabbitohs at Aussie Stadium.Scorers:New Zealand Warriors: 34Tries: Louis Anderson, Sione Faumuina, Grant Rovelli, Simon Mannering, Evarn Tuimavave, Brent WebbGoals: Tony Martin 5/6Wests Tigers: 12Tries: Taniela Tuiaki(2)Goals: Benji Marshall 2/2Crowd: 8,210By the Clock:The second match in Round 11 sees the hapless New Zealand Warriors playing host to premiers the Wests Tigers. Both sides will be slightly affected by origin representation, with Steven Price and Brett Hodgson the two absentees from this match.0 min: NEWS KICKOFF! Match underway at Ericsson Stadium2 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsThe Warriors fulfill the benefits of an early penalty and Sione Faumuina crashes over the line from close range. The decision was referred to video referee Phil Cooley for a possible lost ball but the try was awarded on benefit of the doubt. Warriors 6-08 min: NEWS The Warriors bomb a certain try after a mid-field break from fullback Brent Webb. They moved the ball through the hands but centre Tony Martin was unable to control it.20 min: NEWS The Warriors bomb another try after another Webb break. Evarn Tuimavave had support on his left but elected to hold back the pass and go with the offload, which culminated with Jamaal Lolesi coming up with the ball for the Tigers. 25 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsThird time lucky for Brent Webb who capitalises on a freak offload from Faumuina to dart through the Tigers' defensive line and stand up fullback Daniel Fitzhenry - who in-turn scored the try. Warriors 12-030 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsSimon Mannering crosses for a simple try in the corner after a poor attempt at tackle from Dene Halatau. Warriors 16-034 min: TRY Wests TigersA grand-final-like flick pass from Benji Marshall has generated the Tigers' first of the night and debutant Taneila Tuiaki has scored under the posts. Absolute magic from the Kiwi international. Warriors 16-640 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsGrant Rovelli crosses after a last-minute raid from the Warriors, a stinging blow to the Tigers' chances just on the break. That signals halftime and the Tigers had a look-in for a moment there but after that late try to the Warriors it's a long way back for the Tigers now. Warriors 22-6Second half underway in Auckland50 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsLouis Anderson gathers up a loose ball after a Nathan Fien bomb to score in the corner. Manu Vatuvei batted the ball down to Anderson. Ominous signs for the Tigers here. Warriors 28-656 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsTuimavave barges over from dummy half. Pathetic defence from the Tigers and the scoreline is getting embarrassing. Warriors 34-661 min: TRY Wests TigersTuiaki crosses for his second on debut but it's nothing more than a consolation for the Tigers. Warriors 34-1268 min: NEWS Still 34-12 here. Both sides just playing out time now.Fulltime min: NEWS The Warriors have defeated the Wests Tigers by 34 points to 12 in a comprehensive victory. Match report to come...-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Brent Webb (Warriors)2 - Evarn Tuimavave (Warriors)1 - Tony Martin (Warriors)-----------------------------------------
THIS week Daniel Ramus takes a look at the NSW Origin line-up for next Wednesday's clash against Queensland, giving his thoughts on each player.
I?VE seen some embarrassing refereeing performances in my years following the game, but I?m not sure that too many can compare with the dilapidated efforts which British referee Russell Smith displayed at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday.
ROUND 9 Parramatta Eels 10 v Canberra Raiders 30at Parramatta StadiumReferees: Jason RobinsonMatch Summary:A disciplined Canberra Raiders have defeated a deplorable Parramatta Eels by 30 points to 10 this evening at Parramatta Stadium.The Eels were on the back foot right from the start tonight ? as Lincoln Withers strolled in for a try which demonstrated the rugby league smarts of five eighth Jason Smith, who held the pass back and the second man play generated the Raiders? first try of the night.A subsequent try to Craig Frawley at the 25th minute confirmed that an upset tonight was a distinct possibility. Clinton Schifcofske added the extras and the Raiders held a 12-0 advantage.The Eels hit back through Glen Morrison at the 31st minute, but Canberra wouldn?t budge as Adrian Purtell crossed for the first of his double and the Raiders held an unlikely 18-4 lead at the break.The Eels came out firing in the second half. Dean Widders produced a nifty grubber in behind the Raiders? line and the ball was there for Matt Petersen to force. The successful conversion drew the Eels within eight points of Canberra, and at that stage an Eels? comeback looked like a possibility.But a pathetic final 20 minutes from the Eels summed up their night, and successive tries to Simon Woolford and Purtell ensured that prospects or thoughts of an Eels comeback were far-fetched at best. Parramatta was appalling tonight with ball control and discipline. They may need to hold a few more of their trademark crisis meetings to rectify the situation they currently find themselves in.Canberra, while not flash, were very disciplined tonight. While they will struggle to threaten for the title at the end of the year, a top eight finish doesn?t look completely out of the question and they are a side that plays well within their limitations.On the injury front, Matt Petersen has an arm injury which will come under further scrutiny early in the week for the Eels. Meanwhile, for Canberra, Simon Woolford has possible damage to his knee and Alan Tongue may have a slight jaw problem.No concerns judiciary-wise for either side, unless the match review committee sees otherwise on Monday.Both these sides play on Sunday in round 10; with Parramatta set to meet the Bulldogs at Telstra Stadium, whilst Canberra will host Cronulla at Canberra Stadium.Scorers:Parramatta Eels: 10Tries: Glenn Morrison, Matthew PetersenGoals: Brett Delaney 1/2Canberra Raiders: 30Tries: Craig Frawley, Lincoln Withers, Simon Woolford, Adrian Purtell(2)Goals: Clinton Schifcofske 5/5By the Clock:Pre-Match min: NEWS The lowly Parramatta Eels host the slightly superior Canberra Raiders this evening at Parramatta Stadium, if ladder positions are anything to take seriously.A number of changes to both sides; they are as follows:Parramatta: Fuifui Moimoi into the starting line-up with Nathan Cayless moving to the bench; PJ Marsh in for John Morris who has been omitted; Paul Stringer comes into the starting line-up for Michael Vella who moves to the bench; Mark Riddell moves to the second row with Nathan Hindmarsh moved to the bench.Canberra: Todd Carney has been ruled out injured with Marshall Chalk coming onto the bench.1 min: NEWS KICKOFF! Match underway at Parramatta Stadium5 min: TRY Canberra RaidersLincoln Withers strolls in for a try on the back of a beautiful pass from Jason Smith. Smith held the pass back nicely for Withers, the try was referred to video referee Bill Harrigan for onstruction but the decision was a mere formality. Poor defence from Jeremy Smith who missed a straight-forward one-on-one tackle which led to the try. Raiders 6-013 min: NEWS Scrappy start for the Eels here. They look disjointed in attack and vulnerable in defence which is a bad sign early on. Canberra have had a disciplined start which will hold them in good stead if Parramatta can't get things together. Still 6-0 the Raiders lead.21 min: NEWS Still 6-0 to Canberra but given the trends of this match, they should hold a much greater lead. Parramatta's ball control leaves a lot to be desired.25 min: TRY Canberra RaidersJason Smith lays on another Canberra try, this time winger Craig Frawley exploits a crafty second-man play to cross out wide for the Raiders. Raiders 12-031 min: TRY Parramatta EelsSimple short-side play from the Eels results in a try to Glenn Morrison. The Raiders' defence was underprepared on that occasion. Raiders 12-435 min: TRY Canberra RaidersAnother simple short-side play; this time down the other end of the paddock with Jason Smith again involved heavily with exceptional lead-up work, and Adrian Purtell has scored in the corner. Raiders 18-440 min: NEWS Halftime: The Canberra Raiders lead the Parramatta Eels by 18 points to 4 at Parramatta Stadium this evening. The Eels have been woeful in every aspect of their game tonight, looking as though they'd rather be out on the town than playing footy here. Canberra have been well-disciplined and are well on track to record an upset victory. 40 min: NEWS Second half kicks off at Parramatta51 min: NEWS Still 18-4 and Canberra will be looking to hang onto this lead, in contrast to last week's efforts against Brisbane. Matt Petersen has an arm injury and he appears to be struggling out there.55 min: TRY Parramatta EelsDean Widders illustrates his creativity yet again; placing a neat grubber kick in behind the Raiders defensive line for Matt Petersen to pounce on. Raiders 18-1060 min: TRY Canberra RaidersA pathetic attempt at a tackle from Chad Robinson results in an elementary try to Simon Woolford next to the posts. The Eels' wheels are falling off. Raiders 24-1066 min: NEWS Canberra in control of this match now. Just 14 minutes remaining and with the way Parramatta are playing, a Raiders victory is a safe bet.73 min: TRY Canberra RaidersIcing on the cake now as Adrian Purtell picks up a loose ball generated by Eels winger Eric Grothe, and runs 70 metres to score down the other end. Game over. Raiders 30-1080 min: NEWS Fulltime: Canberra have defeated Parramatta by 30 points to 10 at Parramatta Stadium tonight. Canberra displayed a very disciplined performance, whereas the Eels were nothing short of deplorable. Match report to come...-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Jason Smith2 - Tom Learoyd-Lahrs1 - Lincoln Withers-----------------------------------------
BEFORE I get started with today?s rant, I?d just like to make it clear that Sunday?s feature article - which included my Test teams - was based on the teams which I thought would be named, as opposed to the teams I thought should be named. Hence, the reason I picked Matt Cooper ahead of Justin Hodges.Usually when a representative coach makes a nepotism-based selection, they generally put it down to discretion alone. But in one of the more blatant cases with the selection of Australia?s team for Friday night?s Test, coach Ricky Stuart has made no secret of his intentions.Usually we?d be saying; ?we all know the real reason why Justin Hodges wasn?t selected.? However, this time, no assumptions were required. Stuart already made his reasoning quite clear.The reasons are as follows:1. It appears as though he dislikes Justin Hodges personally.2. He doesn?t want to convey that former Test coach, Wayne Bennett, has any selection authority over him whatsoever ? although I guess this point has taken a slight twist with the naming of Karmichael Hunt at fullback for Australia, but we?ll keep that powder dry for now.The first reason could possibly be justified, given that Hodges was more of a paid spectator than a player during his time at the Roosters. But is it right that Hodges? past indiscretions should cost him an Australian jumper simply because of his history with the current Test coach? That in itself is blight on Stuart?s coaching ability ? Bennett?s expertise enabled him to get the best football out of Hodges, whereas Stuart was unable to realise Hodges? potential.They say you know when you?re being effective by the strength of your enemy?s tricks. I think Bennett may be one up on Stuart here ? but that?s only round one completed, the games will continue. You could argue that Hodges may have matured as a footballer and his sudden form surge has nothing to do with his mentors, but this issue seems to stem further than that.The second reason just illustrates the ongoing agendas and egos which exist in our game. For now though, I?d rather not dwell on that. Let?s try to focus on what potentially could be one of the best Test matches of all-time. For starters, yes, I won?t hide from the fact that Karmichael Hunt?s selection at fullback in place of the injured Anthony Minichiello, and ahead of other more capable fullbacks, was one of the most political of all-time. But I?ve had enough whining about selections, and enough has been said about Hunt?s selection already, so let?s get straight to the game itself.Looking at the two sides on paper, I?m going with the Kiwis. They were clinical in the Tri-Nations final and with the addition of Benji Marshall and Sonny Bill Williams, the Kiwis look all the more formidable. Australia on the other hand hasn?t changed all that much since November last year. They have strangely decided to stick with loyalty, despite the fact that those policies brought them unstuck last year. Willie Mason?s selection at prop is a litigious one; he would have been more pertinent as an impact player off the bench for mine. The Kiwis look as though they?ll be able to dominate up front, and with the added spark of Marshall and Williams, I think they will get over the line here.I know Andrew Johns and Darren Lockyer will have different ideas, but with the pressure of the New Zealand forwards, I can?t see those players having it all their own way on Friday night.I?ll stick my neck out and say the Kiwis to win by six.Now to a few more significant issues this week:- I honestly thought the Warriors were certainties in Sunday's game against the Bulldogs. But what happened? Yep, you guessed it ? they displayed an absolute shocker ? failing to string back to back performances together. They know the difference between right and wrong, they just decide to choose the latter for some reason.- The surface at Telstra Stadium is an absolute joke. After seeing both NRL and AFL fixtures there in the last couple of weeks, that turf will be lucky to hold out for another month. Time for a complete removal of the current turf and a complete replacement to occur.- Surprise surprise. A Bulldogs player caught drink driving once again. It?s time for that club to make a stand and sack Maitua, which may be the only way to save face after another embarrassing week for the Canterbury club.- Congratulations Brett Finch! He played a great game on Saturday night and full credit to him. But do you think the following response was warranted? ?All those critics, especially some of the Roosters fans, so-called fans, they can kiss our arse.? Come on Finchy, surely your footy can do the talking. That one lacked class.That?s all for this week. I?ll catch you at the same time next week with a full round-up of the test match and round nine which promises to be a cracker. I?m particularly looking forward to the Roosters/Bulldogs clash at Aussie Stadium on Sunday. Those two clubs generally dislike each other and have built up a bitter rivalry over the last few years. Given that both of those sides notched up wins last round, I have a feeling that match could be something special. Until next week, enjoy your footy!
ROUND 8 South Sydney Rabbitohs 18 v Newcastle Knights 24at Telstra StadiumReferees: Jason RobinsonMatch Summary:A gallant South Sydney Rabbitohs outfit has again gone down this afternoon, but not without a few heart palpitations from Newcastle coach Michael Hagan and Knights fans alike as Newcastle held on for a hard-fought 24-18 victory at Telstra Stadium.The Rabbitohs started the stronger of the two sides; with Joe Galuvao running off a nice inside pass from half Ben Walker to cross for an early four-pointer, giving his side a 6-0 lead after just seven minutes of play.The Knights hit back in fashion with tries to Milton Thaiday and George Carmont in the space of 10 minutes to snatch a 12-6 lead. They maintained the lead until halftime and even though the margin was just six, the Knights still looked in control to a certain degree.Newcastle continued the momentum which they took to the break; and Danny Buderus crossed for a try right next to the uprights just 10 minutes into the second half. At that stage, you could have been forgiven for expecting a customary blowout score on the Rabbitohs.But with six losses to open the 2006 season, Souths weren?t throwing this one away effortlessly and their best was yet to come.David Fa?alogo started the surge 22 minutes from time, running onto a ball which may have resulted in a ruling of obstruction. Newcastle captain Andrew Johns was premature in thinking that the video referee?s decision was a foregone conclusion, and he decided not to attempt a tackle on Fa?alogo. Souths were back in the match at 18-12 with 20 minutes remaining.Matthew Gidley was sent to the sin bin at the 64th minute, and Andrew Johns missed a relatively easy attempted field goal. The Knights looked shaky.Their worst fears were confirmed when Adam MacDougall planted the ball down out wide to bring his side within two; and the pending conversion to Merritt was successful. The Rabbitohs leveled things up at 18-all with six minutes remaining.A costly mistake from the kickoff cost Souths victory in the end, with Buderus crossing for his second try which appeared to seal the deal for the Knights.There was another twist to come though; Souths were from 10 metres out from their own line with two minutes remaining, and came within a metre of forcing this game into golden point.A reprieve for Newcastle but one can?t help but feel sorry for South Sydney, with yet another match gone begging.Adam MacDougall was outstanding for the Rabbitohs, looking dangerous every time he touched the ball and creating havoc for the Knights? right-hand defence.No reports to come out of this match but Milton Thaiday may have an ankle problem which will come under closer examination this week.South Sydney host Melbourne next Saturday night at Telstra Stadium, while Newcastle host Brisbane next Sunday afternoon ? a match which will no doubt be hampered somewhat by the test match which takes place next Friday night at Suncorp Stadium.Scorers:South Sydney Rabbitohs: 18Tries: David Fa'alogo, Adam MacDougall, Joe GaluvaoGoals: Nathan Merritt 3/3Newcastle Knights: 24Tries: Danny Buderus(2), George Carmont, Milton ThaidayGoals: Andrew Johns 4/4By the Clock:Cool and cloudy day here at Telstra Stadium as the teams prepare to take the field.Changes: Knights: in: Andrew Johns, Jarrod Mullen to the bench.out: Dustin Cooper (omitted) The Rabbitohs are as-per-programAnd we're underway in the first half!5 min: NEWS Rabbitohs enjoying a good share of the possession early on.7 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsJoe Galuvao crosses for the first try of the match, running off a nice inside ball from halfback Ben Walker. Rabbitohs 6-015 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsThe Johns/Thaiday combination is in force yet again here at Telstra, with the Australian halfback putting the dynamic fullback in for the Knights' first of the afternoon. 6 all.25 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsGeorge Carmont gets across the stripe after some excellent lead-up work from Andrew Johns and Clint Newton. Knights 12-629 min: NEWS Newcastle haven't been outstanding so far in this contest but they appear to be in control of things at this stage. Andrew Johns has again improved the direction of their attack upon return, as always.33 min: NEWS No Try ruled against Souths after it was ruled that Nathan Merritt had lost the ball after a pass from Mark Minichiello, with the video referee delivering the bad news. Still 12-6 the Knights lead.Halftime: min: NEWS The Newcastle Knights lead the South Sydney Rabbitohs 12-6 at halftime in this round 8 clash at Telstra Stadium. The Knights looked in control for the most part of the half, apart from the early try to Souths and a late surge for points which came to no avail. Plenty of work to do for both sides in the second half to secure the victory.40 min: NEWS Second half underway at Telstra Stadium45 min: NEWS The intensity of this match has lifted somewhat early in the second half, both sides look threatening with the ball in hand.50 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsRazzle dazzle play from the Knights, throwing passes from pillar to post which has resulted in a Danny Buderus try close to the uprights. Knights 18-658 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsControversial try awarded to Souths by the video referee after obstruction seemed like a more sensible ruling. Bad play by Andrew Johns who could have tackled David Fa'alogo but decided that an obstruction ruling was a foregone conclusion. Knights 18-1264 min: NEWS SIN BIN: Matthew Gidley sent to the bin after impeding Luke MacDougall, who was attempting to chase through for a kick from brother Adam. Still Newcastle 18-12 but the Rabbitohs are in with a real chance here.69 min: NEWS Johns misses an attempted field goal from right in front, a long way out from fulltime. The Knights look rushed in attack and judging by their early intent for a field goal, may be panicking with this sudden Souths surge. Gidley in the bin for 5 more minutes. Still 18-12 with the Bunnies on the march.74 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsAdam MacDougall scores out wide and Merritt converts! Souths level things up at 18-all and an elusive first victory may well be coming their way. 18 all.76 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsBuderus snuffs out any opportunity for a Souths victory with a try close-in to the ruck area. A Souths mistake from the kickoff brought about the opportunity and it looks like they'll come up short again this afternoon. Johns converts. Knights 24-18Fulltime min: NEWS Newcastle have finished with the points but South Sydney have finished with the admirers this afternoon at Telstra Stadium. The Bunnies were gallant in every department and Newcastle were granted the assistance of the referee on a few occasions also, which in-turn came of great assistance to them. The Knights will be relieved with the 24-18 win but they have significant improvement which needs to be made if they are to be a force in this year's premiership.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Adam MacDougall2 - Danny Buderus1 - Steve Simpson-----------------------------------------
BULLDOGS or powderpuffs? That?s the question on the Bulldogs fans? lips after a display against Manly which could be described as nothing short of deplorable.
FULLTIME score:Round 7St George Illawarra Dragons 22 v Sydney Roosters 12Match summary:St George Illawarra has proven they are more than just a pretty football side with a solid 22-12 victory over the Sydney Roosters at Aussie Stadium today.In the now traditional ANZAC Day clash between the two popular Sydney heavyweights, the Dragons came out firing with successive tries to winger Wes Naiqama in the space of just five minutes.The Roosters gradually clawed their way back into the contest, and managed to go into halftime just two points down at 14-12 in the Dragons? favour.But the defining moment of the match came with a controversial call, one of many today, against the Roosters for obstruction. The try would have leveled the scores with the possibility of the Roosters taking an 18-16 lead. Instead, the Dragons raced down the other end of the field with a try to Matt Bickerstaff, and confirmed the 22-12 result with the successful conversion to Mathew Head.Both sides grinded out the performance in the second half, limiting their mistakes and playing a more conservative style ? the Dragons, though, were the more patient of the sides and this showed in the result.The Roosters can take heart from this performance, especially with the loss of Anthony Minichiello before the match. While they were still lacking cohesion in attack, their forwards were much better and the Roosters showed they can still compete with the bigger packs in the competition. Braith Anasta was benched late in the match, sparking concerns of further damage to his groin.The Dragons move well and truly into the top eight, but this win has come at a cost. Jason Ryles has broken his hand again, and Wes Naiqama has suspected ligament damage to his ankle. Shaun Timmins also sustained a head injury but that shouldn?t provide too many problems for him. Naiqama was also placed on report for a high tackle at the 50th minute.No apparent concerns for the Roosters but prop David Shillington could be in some trouble with the match review committee after a high tackle late in the match. The Roosters will remain outside the eight and it doesn?t get any easier next week, they travel to Townsville to play the Cowboys on Saturday night ? leaving just three days preparation for such a crucial contest.Meanwhile, the Dragons travel to Melbourne to play the Storm on Saturday night, leaving limited preparation for such a critical match.Scorers:St George Illawarra Dragons: 22Tries: Mark Gasnier, Wes Naiqama(2), Matthew BickerstaffGoals: Mathew Head 3/5Sydney Roosters: 12Tries: Amos Roberts, David ShillingtonGoals: Craig Fitzgibbon 2/2 Venue: Aussie Stadium Crowd: 31,105Referee: Steven ClarkHalf time: Dragons 14-12Live commentary:Pre Match: A cool and overcast ANZAC Day greets Sydney as the traditional Dragons vs Roosters battle continues. These matches are evenly split, with two wins apiece since the inception of the tradition back in 2002. The Roosters have scored 79 points in these matches compared with the Dragons' 78. A notable omission for the Roosters; Anthony Minichiello ruled out with a hamstring problem - Sam Perrett comes in for Minichiello.For the Dragons, Dean Young has been ruled out with Aaron Gorrell taking his place at hooker.0 min: NEWS KICKOFF! The ANZAC Day showdown begins.3 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsMatthew Head produces a magnificent chip-kick in behind the Roosters' line for Wes Naiqama to grasp and plant over the line. Head began the Dragons' attacking raid with a chip over the top inside his own half, which was fielded by Mark Gasnier. Dragons 6-09 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsNaiqama fields yet another kick to score, this time a grubber from captain Trent Barrett. The Dragons look right on the money for this match and with the Roosters' poor form leading into this one, it could be a long afternoon for the red, white and blue. The potency and stability in attack from the likes of Barrett and Head has been pleasing for the Dragons. Dragons 10-013 min: TRY Sydney RoostersDavid Shillington scores a controversial try under the posts as the Roosters hit back. He appeared to drop the ball over the line but the try was still awarded by video referee Bill Harrigan. Dragons 10-620 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsMark Gasnier juggles a Head bomb to cross out wide. The decision was referred to Bill Harrigan again who awarded benefit of the doubt for the second time today. Dragons 14-624 min: NEWS Shaun Timmins placed a hit on Braith Anasta which could come under scrutiny with the match review committee although there didn't look to be too much in it. Brett Finch is disallowed a try due to an earlier knock-on to Ashley Harrison. Still 14-6 the Dragons lead.29 min: TRY Sydney RoostersBrilliant switch of play from Roosters five eighth Braith Anasta, slotting a ball onto the chest of Amos Roberts who scores the try under the sticks. A 12 point turnaround as Barrett almost scored down the other end, only for a brilliant try-saving tackle from Roosters hooker Craig Wing. Dragons 14-1234 min: NEWS The penalty count is now mounting against St George Illawarra and their ill-discipline is allowing the Roosters back into this game. Still 14-12 in favour of the Dragons.39 min: NEWS Disallowed try to the Dragons as Wes Naiqama is unable to control another Barrett grubber kick in behind the line. A massive let-off for the Roosters just on halftime.Halftime: min: NEWS Halftime on ANZAC Day and the Dragons hold a 14-12 lead over the Roosters. The Dragons looked as though they were primed to dominate this match but the Roosters have managed to hang-in well. Rain is belting down at Aussie Stadium and this one looks like it's going down to the wire.40 min: NEWS Second half underway at Aussie Stadium41 min: NEWS Jason Ryles has broken his hand again and won't be back for this afternoon's match.50 min: NEWS Wes Naiqama on report for a high taclke on Sam Perrett. Still 14-12 and this game is firing up.55 min: NEWS Shaun Timmins down injured close to the Roosters' line. The Dragons are losing players thick and fast here. Still 14-12 the Dragons leading.57 min: NEWS NO TRY - Mark Gasnier has been ruled to have knocked the ball forward off a Trent Barrett bomb, disallowing the eventual try to winger Colin Best. Penalty given to the Dragons as Barrett has been taken out by Ashley Harrison. Attempt at goal to come.58 min: PENALTY GOAL St George Illawarra DragonsHead nails the two points and the Dragons lead by four. Dragons 16-1262 min: NEWS Ben Hornby makes an elementary error in trying to field a Roosters kick. Scrum to the Roosters 10 metres out.65 min: NEWS Roosters disallowed a try because of an obstruction play. That could be a turning point. Still 16-12.68 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsMatt Bickerstaff goes over for what might be the match-sealing try. The earlier obstruction call on the Roosters from Steven Clark will definitely come under scrutiny post-match. Dragons 22-1270 min: NEWS Wes Naiqama has an ankle injury, adding to the Dragons' injury woes today with earlier injuries to Ryles ans Timmins.72 min: NEWS Another decision referred upstairs and another disallowed try. This time Matt Cooper was deemed to have propelled the ball forward off another bomb from Trent Barrett, who grounded the ball in the in-goal - but to no avail.74 min: NEWS The Dragons will escape with the points now, leading 22-12 and in control.Fulltime: The Dragons have won this afternoon's traditional ANZAC Day battle by 22 points to 12 over the Roosters.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Mathew Head (Dragons)2 - Luke Bailey (Dragons)1 - Craig Wing (Roosters)-----------------------------------------