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.
FULLTIME score:Round 3St George Illawarra Dragons 44 def. South Sydney Rabbitohs 14Match summary:The St George Illawarra Dragons have today flexed their potential premiership muscles with a majestic 44-14 victory over a hapless South Sydney outfit at the Rabbitohs? new home of Telstra Stadium.South Sydney started the stronger of the two sides, and had an 8-6 lead after half an hour of play and it looked as though we were to be treated to a close one after Nathan Merritt?s 28th minute try.But the Dragons came up with three blows, the third being the knockout one, in the 10 minute period leading into halftime. Daryl Millard, playing in just his second career game was the first of those try-scorers after a beautiful pass from captain Trent Barrett. Subsequent four-pointers to Aaron Gorrell and Colin Best ensured the Dragons weren?t going to let this one slip through their fingers and went in with a match-securing 26-8 lead at the break.The Dragons kept the foot on the accelerator after halftime. Mark Gasnier crossed for the first of his three tries just three minutes into the second half, and at that stage it was quite obvious that the Dragons were about to claim their first win in season 2006.The match hit a lull somewhat midway through the second half, with both sides producing a comedy of errors. Gasnier came back to the party late in the match with two late tries to change the status of the victory from comprehensive to blowout.Nathan Merritt scored a consolation try for Souths right on the fulltime hooter, the Dragons running out winners 44 points to 14.South Sydney will be disappointed with the way things went pear-shaped from the 30th minute onwards. Their position is not improved with the news that Stuart Webb, Yileen Gordon, and Manase Manuokafoa have all been placed on report. And looking at all three of those incidents, things don?t look good for those players on the judiciary front. They meet the Sharks at Toyota Park next Saturday afternoon.St George Illawarra put in a more impressive performance in attack today, coming away with their first victory in 2006. Good news and bad to come out of this one for the Dragons, Ben Creagh and Matt Cooper are poised for a return next week in their clash with the Broncos at WIN Stadium next Sunday. But unfortunately for the Dragons, Jason Ryles has a suspected broken hand and more news will come out of that prospect during the week.Scorers:South Sydney Rabbitohs: 14Tries: Yileen Gordon, Shane Rigon, Nathan MerrittGoals: Nathan Merritt 1/3St George Illawarra Dragons: 44Tries: Colin Best, Mark Gasnier(3), Aaron Gorrell, Ben Hornby, Daryl MillardGoals: Aaron Gorrell 8/8 Venue: Telstra StadiumCrowd: 16,049Referee: Jason RobinsonHalf time: Dragons 26-8Live commentary:Sunshine beaming down onto the field here at Homebush in what looks certain to be a cracking contest between the Rabbitohs and the Dragons.Team changes (Dragons): Andrew Price comes onto the bench for Aaron Wheatley.South Sydney are as per the program.And we're underway in the first half! The Bunnies kick-off.4 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsBuddy Gordon opens the scoring for Souths after a simple run-around and dummy from Rigon creates some space for the young centre. Attempted conversion from Merritt fails. Rabbitohs 4-011 min: NEWS Both teams sorting themselves out here. Plenty of open play at the moment promising an entertaining affair.14 min: NEWS Greenshields makes a mess of a bomb in goal, presenting a good attacking opportunity for the Bunnies.19 min: NEWS A bit scrappy here at the moment. Both sides are making a few mistakes and the Dragons completion rate is poor.22 min: NEWS Stuart Webb on report for a high shot on Clint Greenshields.23 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsGreat try here with Justin Poore taking the ball to the line and flicking it out the back to Hornby who finds Best lurking midfield. Gorrell converts and the Dragons lead. Dragons 6-424 min: NEWS Buddy Gordon struggling out wide, seems he's taken a bit of a knock to the head.28 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsA cheeky try here to Rigon after Merritt appeared to go to ground with the ball before slipping a miracle pass from under the defence, finding Sutton who offloads to Rigon out wide. Merritt misses a relatively easy one.Rabbitohs 8-631 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsA mistake from Jaiman Lowe turns possession over to the Dragons in good field position. Barrett fires a pass to Millard who strolls over out wide. Gorrell converts and the Dragons hit back almost straight away. Dragons 12-835 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsAnother turn-over in Souths territory sees the Dragons with the ball in good position. Gorrell scoots out of acting half and manages to bustle his way over the line next to the sticks. Pretty soft stuff from the Bunnies who have crumbled in the last 10 minutes. Gorrell converts his own try. Dragons 18-837 min: NEWS Buddy Gordon and David Fa'alogo on report for a high tackle on Micheal Henderson. This one doesn't look real good and the Dragons are lining up a penalty goal.38 min: PENALTY GOAL St George Illawarra DragonsGorrell adds another two courtesy of the penalty from the high shot. Dragons 20-840 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsThe Dragons pile on another try despite a question mark over an obstruction to John Sutton. Gorrell adds the extras. Dragons 26-8A disappointing back-end of the half from Souths, who looked very competitive for 25-30 minutes. Some soft tries have almost played them out of the game here at halftime, with some extraordinary work needed to dig them out of the fire. The Dragons look competent, but not great and have made many mistakes throughout. This first half should give them the confidence necessary to roll the Bunnies however.Second half underway at Telstra Stadium43 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsFloodgates opening now very early on in the second half, with Dragons centre Mark Gasnier running onto a classy cross-field ball from a seemingly rejuvenated Trent Barrett to cross for another try. Dragons 32-850 min: NEWS Still no change to the score at Telstra, the Dragons still holding a 32-8 lead. Souths have allowed mistakes to creep into their game which have cost them dearly, both sides really only playing out time now with the result a foregone conclusion.53 min: NEWS Clint Greenshields down injured after a collision with Shannon Hegarty. We will update you as more information comes to hand on the injury. Still 32-8 to the Dragons with no sign of a comeback happening here.57 min: NEWS Greenshields appears to have recovered from the collision with Hegarty. 32-8 the score remains.60 min: NEWS Crowd 16,049.61 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsGasnier pounces on a loose ball and out-sprints Hegarty from 90 metres out to score under the posts. A disappointing finish to this match for Souths after a positive start. Dragons 38-868 min: NEWS The score remains the Dragons 38 South Sydney 8. Bothy sides seem to have their eyes on the clock right now. The Dragons will get their first win of 2006 here.71 min: TRY St George IllawarraShocking defence from John Sutton and Shannon Hegarty close to their own line, and Mark Gasnier scores a simple try from dummy-half to cap off a hat-trick. Dragons 44-880 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsNathan Merritt scores a consolation try right on the siren for Souths, the Dragons running out winners by 44 points to 14 in a commanding performance. Dragons 44-14-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Mark Gasnier2 - Dean Young1 - Trent Barrett-----------------------------------------
FIRST up, apologies for my absence last week, had a corked thigh which ruled me out. I?m back and hitting it up hard this week though with normal service having resumed here at LU.
FULLTIME score:Round 2Sydney Roosters 18 v Melbourne Storm 22Match summary:The Sydney Roosters have staged a remarkable comeback this afternoon, but it wasn?t quite enough to defeat the Melbourne Storm in a cliff-hanger today at Aussie Stadium, the Storm winning the match 22-18 on a warm Sydney afternoon.Melbourne came firing off the blocks in the first half, and took a 16-0 lead into halftime, a lead which was almost extended right on the break with Storm winger Jake Webster failing to keep his feet in play, crashing over the sideline and the margin remained at 16 at the interval. The Roosters then staged a remarkable second half fight-back. After trailing 22-0 midway through the half, the Roosters crossed for three converted tries in quick time, and were an Anthony Minichiello mistake away from claiming victory. The Australian fullback put a regulation pass to ground and granted the Storm a massive reprieve. Ball control was a problem for the Bondi club all afternoon, and in retrospect, the Roosters should have won this match according to the number of chances they squandered, in comparison to the end margin of just four points. Melbourne went into their shells during the second half and were remarkably lucky to hang on after a scanty performance towards the end of the match. But otherwise the Storm were consummate in victory, with an excellent platform laid down by their forwards which enabled their skilled backline of Billy Slater, Greg Inglis and Jake Webster to wreak havoc on a shaky Roosters defensive line.The Storm had to battle with 16 men for the majority of the match, former Rooster Michael Crocker was forced to leave the field in the 24th minute with a suspected nasal injury. This may have contributed to their lacklustre finish to the match.The Roosters? performance was far inferior to that of last week?s effort against Souths, new buys Braith Anasta and Ashley Harrison appeared to be non-existent out on the field today. Last year?s demons appear to have followed the Roosters into 2006, and they need to look at bringing Craig Wing into the starting side for Brett Finch, Finch seeming to hinder the Roosters attacking structure and is again trying to get too involved when players of far more quality, Anasta and Harrison, are virtual ghosts.The one shining light for the Roosters today was Jamie Soward, and he appears to have a mortgage on the number seven jumper.Matt King was earlier ruled out for Melbourne, causing concern for management who simply can?t afford to have him ruled out of action for a long period.Sam Perrett was sent to the sin bin in just the 4th minute for the Roosters, but there were no reports to speak of from this game.Melbourne have had a pleasing start to 2006 with two victories from two starts, both away from home. The Roosters have been very patchy and it looks as though the men from Bondi have some cobwebs to sweep out of the closet, similarly to last season after the loss of Brad Fittler. Scorers:Sydney Roosters: 18Tries: Ryan Cross, Amos Roberts, Jamie SowardGoals: Craig Fitzgibbon 3/3Melbourne Storm: 22Tries: Cooper Cronk, Ryan Hoffman, Greg Inglis, Steve TurnerGoals: Cameron Smith 3/4Venue: Aussie StadiumCrowd: 10,841Referee: Tony ArcherHalf time: Storm 16-0Live commentary:0 min: NEWS Today sees a rejuvenated Sydney Roosters side minus the suspended Adrian Morley up against a much-improved Melbourne Storm outfit, minus Matt King, at Aussie Stadium on a hot March afternoon in Sydney.Changes: Roosters: as-per-programStorm: Steve Turner comes off the bench into the centres for the injured Matt King, Jamie Feeney comes into the side onto the interchange bench.KICKOFF!, match underway at Aussie Stadium in Sydney4 min: NEWS Sam Perret sent to the sin bin for a professional foul close to the Roosters line.9 min: TRY Melbourne StormGreg Inglis capitalises on a brilliant cross-field kick from Storm halfback Cooper Cronk, taking advantage of his superior height to Iosia Soliola. Storm 4-014 min: NEWS Billy Slater denied a try by on-field officials, ruling to have attempted a double movement and is penalised accordingly. Meanwhile, Sam Perrett has returned from the sin bin.20 min: TRY Melbourne StormMelbourne have capitalised on a Roosters mistake from the play-the-ball, with Jake Webster moving the ball quickly to Steve Turner for a try in the corner. Storm 10-028 min: NEWS The Roosters have an abysmal completion rate at the moment with no cohesion in their attack. Brett Finch is assuming a halfback-type role at the moment with Jamie Soward rarely getting his hands on the ball, and this appears to be affecting their overall structure.34 min: NEWS NO TRY: Finch loses control of the ball over the line off a crafty Soward grubber kick.36 min: TRY Melbourne StormSoward makes a defensive error, sprinting out of the defensive line in an attempt to effect an intercept, the Cooper Cronk pass found the arms to a dashing Ryan Hoffman who subseqeuntly scores in the corner. Storm 16-040 min: NEWS HALFTIME: A possible Jake Webster try is denied right on halftime, with the video referee referring the decision back to referee Tony Archer who in-turn ruled Webster's foot to be over the sideline when he had grounded the ball. Despite the disallowed try, the Storm still hold a commanding 16-point lead and the Roosters will need to improve thier completion rate remarkably in order to have any chance in the second half. 40 min: NEWS Michael Crocker has sustained a depressed nasal fracture and will be out for the rest of this match. The Storm will have to manage with 16 players.Second half underway at Aussie Stadium in Sydney.47 min: NEWS NO TRY: Cameron Smith ruled to have knocked the ball forward in the in-goal area off his own grubber kick by the video referee. Still the Storm leading 16-0 and in reasonable control of this match.50 min: TRY Melbourne StormCooper Cronk races from a Storm scrum win to score a regulation try under the posts from just 10 metres out. The Storm now hold a commanding 22-0 lead and there's no way back for the Roosters now even with 30 minutes still remaining. Storm 22-058 min: TRY Sydney RoostersCraig Fitzgibbon takes an intercept 30 metres out from his own line and links up with Jamie Soward, culminating in a length of the field try for the new and improved Roosters halfback. Storm 22-662 min: TRY Sydney RoostersLooks as though I spoke too soon as Amos Roberts pounces on a cross-field kick from Jamie Soward, one which four Storm players made no attempt to catch, and grounds the ball for a try. Roosters making a comeback with ample time remaining for them to pull this one out of the fire. Storm 22-1270 min: NEWS Melbourne hanging on by the skin of their teeth at the moment, the Roosters are looking very dangerous with the likes of Anasta and Minichiello wreaking havoc.74 min: NEWS The Roosters look to have blown their last opportunity to mount an unbelievable fightback with a Soward grubber going straight into the arms of Billy Slater. The Storm should hang on with the score still at 22-12.77 min: TRY Sydney RoostersRyan Cross scores under the posts after another break by Soward from the Roosters half, and we have a grandstand finish here. An incredible comeback from the Roosters and one last opportunity to complete what would be a remarkable comeback. Storm 22-1878 min: NEWS The Storm have kicked the ball out on the full from the restart. The Roosters will receive a penalty at the halfway line and now have a real opportunity to steal this one!79 min: NEWS Minichiello's hands let him down yet again, putting the ball to ground and with just 40 seconds left that looks to be the ball game. The Storm look as though they will hang on, just.F/T: NEWS After a nail-biting second half, the Melbourne Storm have hung on by a thread to defeat the Sydney Roosters by 22 points to 18 this afternoon at Aussie Stadium in Sydney. The Storm held the ascendancy for the whole of the first half and early in the second, but the Roosters were so close to pulling off one of the best comebacks in the modern era until Anthony Minichiello put the ball to ground with just seconds remaining, giving the Storm a much-needed reprieve and a satisfying win away from home.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Cameron Smith (Storm)2 - Cooper Cronk (Storm)1 - Jamie Soward (Roosters)-----------------------------------------
FULLTIME score: Round 1South Sydney Rabbitohs 22 v Sydney Roosters 40Match summary:The Sydney Roosters have produced a commanding second half performance to defeat the South Sydney Rabbitohs by 40 points to 22 at Telstra Stadium this afternoon, but not without controversy.The major talking point to come out of this match was Adrian Morley?s seemingly illegal hit on Rabbitohs halfback Ben Walker, midway through the second half. Under the new rules, any hit above the shoulder, regardless of whether it be the shoulder or from a swinging arm, is now deemed to be illegal. Morley appeared to strike Walker with the shoulder, leaving Walker with serious head injuries which forced him to leave the field. The hit led to a Roosters try. Referee Jason Robinson awarded the try without referring the decision to the video referee, which culminated with Morley being called to speak with Robinson on the halfway line. Morley was subsequently placed on report for an offence which, had he been caught out in the act, may have resulted in the first ejection from the playing arena in the 2006 season. Supporters were bemused with the fact that Robinson allowed the try to remain, despite the fact that Morley had committed an illegal offence in the process of the try being scored.Aside from the incident, the Roosters were clinical in their domination of the Rabbitohs, winning the second half by 34 points to 4 and winning the match 40-22.It was the Rabbitohs who came out firing early, taking an 18-6 lead into the halftime break and it seemed they would continue from where they left off last season with some promising performances.It was however the men from Bondi who prevailed, proving too strong for their southern Sydney rivals.Jamie Soward and Amos Roberts were outstanding for the visitors, while five-eighth John Sutton was clearly the best for the Bunnies. Braith Anasta was quiet early on, but appeared to erase a few cob-webs in the second half and created some opportunities for the Roosters, while Brett Finch had a solid start at hooker in his new-found role.The turning point though, was the Morley/Walker incident which occurred at the 55th minute, a time at which the Rabbitohs held an 18-16 advantage. The incident will no doubt be a bitter pill to swallow for the South Sydney faithful, and will come under the microscope with the video review committee tomorrow.With a past history of serious judiciary offences, one would expect that with closer video scrutiny, Morley?s moment of madness may result in a lengthy stint on the sidelines for the Great Britain international. Scorers:South Sydney Rabbitohs: 22Tries: Nathan Merritt, Yileen Gordon, John Sutton, Ben Walker Goals: Ben Walker 3/3, Nathan Merritt 0/1Sydney Roosters: 40Tries: Amos Roberts (2), Ryan Cross, Brett Finch, Anthony Minichello, Iosia Soliola, Jamie SowardGoals: Craig Fitzgibbon 4/4, Amos Roberts 2/3Venue: Telstra Stadium Crowd: 16,741Referee: Jason RobinsonHalf time: South Sydney 18-6Live commentary:Buddy Gordon takes the field for the injured Adam MacDougall. Shillington replaces Tupou in the starting line-up for the Roosters.0 min: NEWS And we're underway in the first half! Beautiful sundrenched day here in Sydney.7 min: TRY Sydney RoostersBraith Anasta throws a cut-out pass to Ryan Cross who beats the outside Rabbitohs men and finds Anasta back on the inside who gives it to Minichello to score his first for the year. Roosters 6-013 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsWalker makes up for some sloppy handling earlier with a great individual try. He grubbers through and puts pressure on Shillington who he strips the ball from, then barges over next to the posts, carrying Mini. He converts his own try easily. 6 all.21 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsAs Walker looks trapped with the ball on the last, he finds Polglase who bursts through the middle and chips to the wing for Gordon who scores a sensational try out wide. Walker converts from the sideline in grand fashion. Rabbitohs 12-627 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsThe Rabbits move the ball wide and find Rigon who presses the line before dropping it back behind him for Sutton to pick up and score and easy try, stunning the Roosters. Walker knocks it over and the Rabbitohs are playing a very enthusiastic and exciting brand of footy. Rabbitohs 18-628 min: NEWS Roberts kicks out on the full from the restart, giving Souths a penalty at halfway.35 min: NEWS Both teams a little scratchy early in the year with a few unforced errors creeping into play. The ground conditions are also leaving a little to be desired. The surface seems to be breaking up a fair bit and looks very soft underfoot.40 min: NEWS A great first half effort here from the Bunnies, leading a stunned Roosters outfit by 18-6 with some very enterprising play.40 min: NEWS Second half underway at Telstra Stadium43 min: TRY Sydney RoostersCross strolls in under the posts, running off a brilliant ball from new recruit Braith Anasta. Rabbitohs 18-1248 min: TRY Sydney RoostersSoliola scores an end to end try, a somewhat controversial one after Adrian Morley committed an illegal tackle on Ben Walker in the lead-up to the try. Rabbitohs 18-1650 min: NEWS Morley on report for the tackle on Ben Walker.52 min: TRY Sydney RoostersSoward crosses for another Roosters try. A bitter pill to swallow for fuming Souths fans after the Morley tackle escaped with just a report. Roosters 22-1858 min: TRY Sydney RoostersRoberts comes up with some excellent support play, running off Jamie Soward, who again is again causing havoc for the Souths defensive line and Roberts scores again. The Roosters are now running riot over the Rabbitohs. Roosters 28-1863 min: TRY Sydney RoostersFinch scores a well-deserved try in his debut game at hooker. This game is albeit over now. Roosters 34-1870 min: TRY Sydney RoostersRoberts is over again and the floodgates are now officially open. Roosters 40-1880 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsNathan Merritt grabs a consolation intercept try for the Rabbitohs on the siren. The Roosters have ended up the victors by 40 points to 22, a victory somewhat soured by Adrian Morley's cheap-shot on Ben Walker 15 minutes into the second half. Roosters 40-22-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Jamie Soward (Roosters)2 - Amos Roberts (Roosters)1 - John Sutton (Rabbitohs)-----------------------------------------
PUT away the cricket bat, beach balls and whatever else you want to associate with summer, because the long wait for NRL in 2006 is almost over.While we?ve had to put up with a low quality tour by the West Indies and a slightly better South African Test series to relieve us from the now traditional summer boredom, Australia then started playing Twenty/20 games and a meaningless 15-game One Day series against nonsense opponents with ridiculous ?super-sub? and ?powerplay? novelties as rules. It was about that time that I think most footy fans were joining me in crossing the days off the calendar, until now.In spite of the fact that cricket has a tendency to dominate the back pages over summer, rugby league still found ways to show the fans that the game had not disappeared off planet earth, but no doubt the publicity the game received was some that it could have done without.It even went as far as commanding the front pages, but unfortunately for rugby league, the game doesn?t usually feature there for the recognition of players? charity work. And Craig Gower made sure of that?Then there was the ongoing saga with regards to the South Sydney Rabbitohs becoming privatised, which has interested me about as much as a badminton tournament in Uzbekistan. The issue has dragged on and on, and the sooner a decision is made the better things will be for all parties, and we won?t have to bear another whining comment from George Piggins ever again (hopefully!). The club needs to make a decision which will lead them to become a superior football team to what they have been since their return in 2002. Memo to Souths: Whatever you decide, just hurry up! You?re putting us all to sleep at a time of year when we should be jumping out of our skin.It did, however, keep rugby league in the news over summer. And I guess, for that reason alone, it can be given some credence.The Scott Prince saga was another the game could have done without, in particular diehard Tigers fans. Not the best look is it? The Wests Tigers captain having dinner with the Gold Coast Titans Chief Executive Michael Searle in Martin Place, the heart of Sydney?s city, for one and all to see. If I was a Tigers supporter, I think I would have been excused if I had have choked on my dinner when the pictures were aired on the news that evening. At least now Prince has signed, and we can all concentrate on the footy. The game also had to cope with the tragic news of losing one of its favourite sons, Cronulla legend and CEO Steve Rogers, who sadly took his own life in January of this year. And let?s not forget the ongoing and bizarre coaching saga. It started with Michael Hagan signing with Parramatta for season 2007, and we thought things were uncertain enough at that stage. We are then informed that Penrith have told John Lang that his services are not required, and Matthew Elliot will be his replacement at the end of 2006. I guess a playing equivalent would maybe be Newcastle telling Andrew Johns that his services are not required beyond this season, and that their reasoning behind the decision was because Cooper Cronk was too good a player to refuse. There?s plenty more to come with the coaching saga, all I?ll say at this stage is that I?m not only crossing off the days to March 10, but also June 30.We also had the dreaded news for all Bulldogs supporters that Sonny Bill Williams will again be injury-affected in 2006. The teenage sensation has played just 20 of a possible 52 games in two seasons for the Dogs, and he looks set to miss at least the first 6 weeks of the 2006 season. If he doesn?t get on the field for a reasonable number of games this season, the Bulldogs may look to offload him at the end of 2007. They must be scratching their heads after offloading Braith Anasta to keep Williams and Willie Mason, who appear to have more injury problems than the Roosters-bound NSW five-eighth.Last but definitely not least, the Warriors were caught breaching the salary cap by $1 Million over 3 seasons, but for some reason they only lost 4 points. Correct if I?m wrong, but didn?t the Bulldogs lose 37 points for a $1mil breach just 4 years ago? It?s obvious to me that the NRL gauged the Bulldogs? punishment on their success, and not the crime. It?s also clear that the only reason they didn?t dock more points from the Warriors 2006 tally, was because they would have done well to get three men and a dog to the games if more points were lost.Some good news to finish though, with Andrew Johns returning successfully in a trial game against Cronulla a couple of weeks ago, and the game?s best player looks set to start the season free of injury. Let?s hope that in 2006, the superstars of the game such as Johns, Sonny Bill Williams and Benji Marshall can stay injury-free, for the sake of the kids who love watching the game?s best, in particular that trio, perform free of any injury.So buckle up for a magnificent season ahead, with all news, live scores, and match reports right here on www.leagueunlimited.comWith just 2 days left to cross off the calendar, personally I just can?t wait. Season 2006 - Bring it on!