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)-----------------------------------------
THE other day, I woke up, rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and indulged in my usual bowl of cornflakes. After sprinkling three packets of sugar on top, everything seemed to be traveling well.
ROUND 6 Wests Tigers 42 v Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 16at Campbelltown Sports StadiumReferees: Jason RobinsonMatch Summary:A courageous Brett Hodgson has led the Wests Tigers to a hoodoo-breaking victory minus fellow playmaker Benji Marshall, over Cronulla at Campbelltown Stadium this afternoon, the Tigers winning 42-16. The match was moving at express pace early on. The Tigers shot out to a 12-0 lead early, but the Sharks bounced back to level the scores at 12 with 13 minutes remaining in the first half. But the defining point of the match came just before the halftime break, with Tigers second-rower Ben Galea diving on a loose ball in the Sharks? in-goal area to give the Tigers a 24-16 lead at halftime.The Tigers never looked back from that point onwards; attaining another three converted tries unanswered in the second half, which culminated with a well-deserved try to debutant Rocky Trimarchi to cap off the Tigers? victory.The Sharks competed well in the first 40 minutes but lacked the consistency required for 80-minute football, which was reflected with their failure to score points in the second half. The only positives to come out of this match for the Sharks was the successful return from injury by Nigel Vagana, and the fact that they have no injuries or reports to come out of this game, although the match review committee may need to shed some light on a few incidents throughout the game on Tuesday. The Sharks clearly missed Brett Kimmorley today. Their attack was hindered greatly, during the second half in particular.On the Tigers side of the equation, they can be pleased with this rare victory without whiz kid Benji Marshall, getting a nagging monkey off their backs. Robbie Farah?s return came at a great time for Wests, who dominated the ruck area prominently. The only negative for the Tigers is that fullback Brett Hodgson has a suspected broken nose, an injury which he managed to play with for the entire second half. It will be interesting to see whether there is any further damage to the injury.The Tigers meet Parramatta next Friday night, a match which they?ll be confident of winning after today?s return to form.A bleak outlook for Cronulla though. They meet the competition-leading Cowboys at Toyota Park next Saturday night, and will be in dire straights if they fail to generate a victory shortly. Scorers:Wests Tigers: 42Tries: Ben Galea, Paul Whatuira(2), Ryan O'Hara, Michael Crockett(2), Rocky TrimarchiGoals: Brett Hodgson 6/7, Scott Prince 1/1Cronulla Sutherland Sharks: 16Tries: David Simmons, Nigel Vagana, Brett KearneyGoals: Luke Covell 2/3By the Clock:Pre-Game min: NEWS A bright and sunny afternoon greets the Cronulla Sharks as they travel to Campbelltown to meet an injury-ravaged Wests Tigers outfit. The major omissions are obviously Benji Marshall for the Tigers and Brett Kimmorley for the Sharks which may take the edge off this game ever so slightly.Changes:Tigers: Bryce Gibbs out, Ryan O'Hara moves from the bench into the starting front row. And Chris Patterson comes into the side on the bench.For Cronulla, Greg Bird has made way for Nigel Vagana who makes an early return from injury, which will no doubt boost the Sharks' chances. 0 min: NEWS Kickoff!, match underway at Campbelltown2 min: TRY Wests TigersMichael Crockett catches the Sharks' defence off-guard with an early try in the corner. Tigers 6-08 min: TRY Wests TigersPaul Whatuira snatches a cross-field kick from hooker Robbie Farah and forces the ball out wide. Two early blows from the Tigers, and the Sharks look shell-shocked. Tigers 12-013 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland SharksLance Thompson gives a superb offload to flying five eighth Brett Kearney for the first Cronulla try. Tigers 12-622 min: NEWS Still no change to the score, the Wests Tigers leading Cronulla by 12 points to 6. Cronulla are now mounting pressure on the Tigers' line.23 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland SharksThe Campbelltown crowd have gone silent after a terrific start by the Tigers to lead 12-0, Cronulla have levelled the scores with a try to fullback David Simmons which was at first referred to the video referee, who adjudicated that Simmons had grounded the ball as opposed to being held up. Covell has added the conversion. 12 all.27 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland SharksNigel Vagana continues his stellar return from injury with a try for the Sharks. Sharks 16-1231 min: TRY Wests TigersRyan O'Hara bursts onto a short-ball from Tigers hooker Robbie Farah to score next to the posts. Tigers 18-1639 min: TRY Wests TigersBen Galea dives on a loose ball to score for the Tigers, and Scott Prince adds the extras. Giving his side a crucial 8-point advantage heading into halftime. Tigers 24-16Halftime min: NEWS In a bizzarre first 40 minutes, the Wests Tigers have scored four tries to three to lead the Cronulla Sharks by 24 points to 16 at halftime. The Tigers shot out to a 12-0 lead early on, before the Sharks hit back with tries in quick succession to level the scores at 12. The Sharks will be rueing the fact that they let in the Ben Galea try right on the break, but one gets the feeling that this match could still go either way. 40 min: NEWS Second half underway at Campbelltown, meanwhile Brett Hodgson has a suspected broken nose, stay tuned.42 min: NEWS NO TRY: Luke Covell loses the ball in the in-goal, bombing an early Cronulla opportunity to close the gap.43 min: TRY Wests TigersMichael Crockett gets across the stripe for his second of the afternoon. Meanwhile Hodgson misses the conversion and it appears that he's decided to play on with this suspected broken nose. Tigers 28-1650 min: PENALTY GOAL Wests TigersHodgson strikes his attempt at penalty goal sweetly and the Tigers are moving away from the Sharks now with a 30-16 lead. Tigers 30-1653 min: TRY Wests TigersWhatuira is over again and the Sharks look as though they'll come up short yet again here. Tigers 36-1664 min: NEWS Still no change to the score, the Tigers now certain to claim a rare victory minus playmaker Benji Marshall with a lead of 36-16.72 min: TRY Wests TigersTigers debutant Rocky Trimarchi has accelerated onto a Robbie Farah short-ball to score under the posts, and seal victory for the Wests Tigers. Tigers 42-16Fulltime: min: NEWS Fulltime at Campbelltown Stadium and the Tigers have won comprehensively by 42 points to 16. Stay tuned for the match report...-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Brett Hodgson2 - John Skandalis1 - Scott Prince-----------------------------------------
I tend to be a pretty stubborn kind of guy and usually, there?s less chance of me admitting to a blunder than of John Howard walking into question time donning Peter Garrett?s ?sorry? T-shirt. But last weekend has forced me to change tack, particularly when selecting Premiers pre-season.
AN issue which has caught my eye this week is whether players who sign with rugby union, or the English Super League, should be able to play representative football for the remaining time on their NRL contracts. The players in focus at the moment are Mark Gasnier and Trent Barrett.
AFTER just three rounds of the National Rugby League, I think I?ve been forced to review my pre-season predicted favourites.While the Dragons showed signs of the form we?ve come to expect from them in recent years on the weekend against South Sydney, let?s face it, they weren?t outstanding and Souths were much worse. The Dragons are becoming renowned as the team similar to the good movie your mates tell you to see that turns out to be a stinker. At least on the weekend, the movie got three stars.I think it was Bob Fulton who said that the Dragons played a 6 out of 10 game, but still won by 30. After watching the game I?d have to agree, it was certainly more of a reflection of Souths? inept play than the Dragons? brilliance. They were my favourites at the beginning of the season, while I haven?t written them or anyone else off for the title this year, I would have to go with the North Queensland Cowboys at this stage.I think the notion that they are the only club who don?t rely solely on one player is a little off the mark though, without Johnathan Thurston I think they?d struggle a bit. But having said that, they have more depth this year and even though they do rely on Thurston, he has a near perfect record with injuries so he should get the best part, if not all, of the season played out. Although you can never be too sure, freak accidents do happen on the football field. But it must not be ignored that sides with players who are prone to injury are generally harder hit than those who aren?t.Pundits were willing to throw Newcastle up the top as premiership favourites after their tremendous win over the Bulldogs. I tend to disagree, I think they?re going off a bit early. Didn?t they win the wooden spoon last season? Yes, yes, yes, I know, they didn?t have Andrew Johns. But doesn?t that tell you anything in itself? Johns hasn?t played a full NRL season since 2001, and let me tell you, the older you get, the harder it gets. So Newcastle - with Johns, premiership contenders; without Johns, spoon contenders. At least we know where they stand. I think that in itself is enough of a reason to suggest why they shouldn?t be favourites.I?m really trying to think of sides that don?t rely solely on one player, and to be honest, the only one that springs to mind is the Melbourne Storm.Take the following players out of the following teams and they wouldn?t be the same:Broncos: LockyerBulldogs: Sherwin or El MasriKnights: JohnsPanthers: GowerSharks: KimmorleyCowboys: ThurstonStorm: (have a number of quality players)Sea Eagles: Kennedy or OrfordTigers: MarshallRaiders: Smith (Even with him they are ordinary!)Roosters: Anasta or MorleyDragons: GasnierEels: HindmarshAs for the leftovers, the Rabbitohs and the Warriors, they really don?t have any players worth noting, but I think you get my drift.The Storm are number one in terms of relying on a number of players, and while the Cowboys rely heavily on Thurston, they?d be able to get through without him for short periods here and there, particularly during origin.So back to the premiership favourites, those two would be my two picks at this stage, the Cowboys and the Storm. But it is only round three, a lot can change. Just on Penrith, I tipped them to win the wooden spoon at the start of the year, I think I have eaten my words there, they are top four contenders for sure.I went off a bit early on the Bulldogs last week as well, while they can pull out the big performance here and there, they just don?t seem to be able to do it as consistently as they used to. Where they finish this season is a mystery to me, but I really can?t see them making the top four. They need to put Mark O?Meley back on the bench. He?s much more effective that way, a lot of his bite is taken away when he starts the game. They had it right against the Tigers but for some reason they wanted to change things.I think I?d have to put the Roosters in the same boat. While they are probably more consistent than the Bulldogs, they don?t have the Bulldogs? tendency to win the big games. They can?t even do it occasionally any more. The 2004 grand finalists probably won?t be playing a part in that match this year.The Warriors proved me wrong last week, they?ll finish above zero points this season. And the wooden spoon is not a foregone conclusion as thought also, watching the Raiders concede 126 points in their last two matches, the race is far from over.The men from the nation?s capital should be rebuilding for the future. The Raiders should pay out his contract, get someone in for the long term and let Elliot prepare for his Penrith stint next season.So all in all round three sprung up a few surprises, leaving this writer eating a bit of humble pie.