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Broncos end Year of the Knight

FINALS 2006 Week 2 Newcastle Knights 6 v Brisbane Broncos 50at Aussie StadiumReferee: Steven ClarkCrowd: 22,081Match Summary:Newcastle?s season has ended in dramatic circumstances at Aussie Stadium in Sydney tonight, going down to the Brisbane Broncos 50 to 6. Brisbane led 24-0 at the break before scoring four tries to one in the second half. It is the Broncos? first victory in September since week one in 2002 at ANZ Stadium against Parramatta.The signs were ominous for the Knights in the opening stages, after captain Andrew Johns missed a penalty goal attempt. The Broncos opened the scoring just a quarter of an hour later with a long ball from Lockyer finding Hodges who put Stagg away on the western touchline to open the scoring for the match.Just a few minutes later, the Broncos had their second of many for the evening as a flick pass from Hunt found Tate who stepped through some ordinary defence to score near the posts. Both these tries were on the back of poor ball control from the Novocastrians.With the scoreboard reading 18-0 to the Broncos with just a minute left in the first half, hooker Shaun Berrigan struck a big blow to the Knights on the stroke of halftime. Berrigan caught the Knights? marker defence napping on halfway and went straight through. He picked up Australian fullback Karmichael Hunt back on the inside and the Broncos went to the break up by 24 points.The game was put out of reach of Newcastle with a Corey Parker penalty just after the interval, while the floodgates were opened just five minutes later when back rower Dane Carlaw crossed the stripe from close range to stretch the margin out to more than five converted tries.With the score at the half century mark with twenty minutes remaining, Brisbane captain Darren Lockyer got a spell from coach Wayne Bennett. The bench for the Broncos with just 10 minutes remaining then was Webcke, Lockyer, Berrigan and Civoniceva. The crowd was 22,081 that can be seen as quite reasonable with two out of towners taking part. However, it would have been good to move the game to Brisbane, where the game would have been able to get a sell out of 50,000.Kurt Gidley crossed for Newcastle?s only try just two minutes from time, however it was Brisbane?s night as they ran out victors 50-6. This was the last game for Brian Carney at the Knights as he moves to play for the Titans next season while prop Craig Smith will retire from the game of football.The Broncos live to fight another day in 2006, as they go on to meet the Bulldogs at Aussie Stadium next Friday night for a chance to play in the Grand Final.Scorers:Newcastle Knights: 6Tries: Kurt GidleyGoals: Andrew Johns 1/2Brisbane Broncos: 50Tries: Dane Carlaw, Petero Civoniceva, Justin Hodges, Karmichael Hunt, Darren Lockyer, David Stagg, Brent Tate, Darius BoydGoals: Darren Lockyer 1/1, Corey Parker 8/8By the Clock:The Jersey Flegg match has come to an end between the second placed Roosters and sixth placed Bulldogs.In the end the Bulldogs have just got home 22-18 and eliminate their arch rivals.The Doggies now go on to play the Panthers next weekend.Now Balmain-Ryde are taking on Manly in Premier League.The Tigers lead Manly 14-8 with 10 to go till halftime.Halftime now and Manly lead the Tigers 20-14.We now have a finish on our hands here with Manly leading 26-20.A classic end to the Premier League fixture as Manly knockout Balmain-Ryde by 32 to 26.Now First Grade is just around the corner...Steve Simpson is out for the Knights,with Reynoldson coming in to the 2nd row and Todd Lowrie comes on to the bench replacing Daniel Abraham.Luke Quigley has big shoes to fill tonight in the hooking position,replacing the suspended Danny Buderus.Brisbane are as per the program,with Karmichael Hunt coming back on to the wing replacing Tame Tupou.A crowd of around 20000 currently here inside Aussie Stadium,the venue of two out of town sides.Brisbane are in the tunnel,led out by captain Darren Lockyer in the white away jerseys.Now here come Newcastle,in their home navy jerseys,despite being lower on the ladder than Brisbane,led out by Matt Gidley.Your referee is Steven Clark in the green and black.1 min: Brisbane kickoff!2 min: After a penalty against Brisbane on the second tackle for a hand on the ball.The Knights go on the attack and force a repeat set.4 min: ATTEMPTED PENALTY GOAL Newcastle KnightsAfter another penalty for a hand in the play the ball,Johns takes a shot at goal from 30 out right in front, misses to the right and goes dead. 0 all.7 min: Brent Tate dives for the line for the Broncos however some great cover defence holds him up in goal.8 min: Brent Tate chips over the top on the last tackle and looks to be taken out by referee Clark rules play on.11 min: A penalty against Matt Gidley for a high tackle and Kurt Gidley runs in to defend his brother and could have been sinbinned for a 3rd man in.12 min: The Broncos are on the attack but a poor crossfield kick from Lockyer goes out on the full.16 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosThe Knights keep dropping ball in their own red zone and finally the crack as numbers open up on the left hand flank.A long ball from Lockyer finds Hodges who hits Stagg on the wing who dives for the corner to score.Lockyer's kick is a ripper from the sideline. Broncos 6-019 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosOnce again the Knights knock on in their own quarter and send the Broncos on the attack.The ball goes out to the right hand side and centre Brent Tate latches on to a Karmichael Hunt flick pass who strolls through some poor Newcastle defence to score.Parker converts. Broncos 12-021 min: Josh Perry goes up the tunnel for Newcastle.27 min: A grubber from Andrew Johns hits the post but luckily Shane Perry is there to clean up the scraps.28 min: Josh Perry has a bruised hip but will be back.29 min: Karmicharl Hunt hit in an absolute ripping shoulder charge from Matt Gidley on a kick return.31 min: Kurt Gidley makes a break midfield and on the next tackle a pass is knocked down by Brent Tate.33 min: Some great ball movement by the Broncos finds Boyd in open space who chips over the top of Gidley however Lowrie gets back in time but it is a goal line dropout.33 min: Checking for a Broncos try..35 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosA stabbing grubber kick through by Lockyer and out of no where like a thief in the night Hodges somehow gets the ball done.Parker converts from out wide. Broncos 18-038 min: Kurt Gidley goes on a 60m run from a grubber kick.On the next play a pass is knocked down by Shane Perry and the Knights get a repeat set.40 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosBerrigan goes straight through the marker area on halfway and finds Hunt backing up on the inside who stolls away to score under the posts.A big blow for Newcastle on halftime.Parker converts. Broncos 24-0Halftime - The Broncos have dominated the first half as the scoreboard shows.This is on the back of poor defence and ball control from the Knights.Newcastle have completed 15/21 sets while Brisbane 19/24.Newcastle have missed 21 tackles to the Broncos'15.Newcastle must score next.41 min: Second half underway!43 min: PENALTY GOAL Brisbane BroncosA penalty against Newcastle for a slow play the ball and from 38m out Corey Parker slots the kick.Surely Newcastle can't come back now. Broncos 26-046 min: A goal line dropout for the Knights and it is dropped by Smith!Josh Perry also won't be back with a rib problem.48 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosThe whitewash continues as on the back of Smith's blunder,Dane Carlaw barges over from close range on the next set to seal the match.Parker converts the try. Broncos 32-052 min: Checking for a Broncos try...53 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosThe murder at Aussie Stadium continues as a Refs Call decision from the video referee is awarded and Steve Clark rules try judging that Civoniceva put the ball on the line.Parker converts from next to the posts. Broncos 38-055 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosAs the ball goes to ground on the right hand side,Tate goes down the touchline and throws a ball back inside to Lockyer who scores under the posts.Parker converts and the romp continues. Broncos 44-059 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosOne of the tries of the year which goes through a thousand sets of hands before Lockyer throws a long cut out pass to Boyd who runs around to score under the posts.Brisbane hit the half century still with twenty minutes remaining. Broncos 50-064 min: Captain Darren Lockyer gets a well earned rest.74 min: A bombed try by the Broncos as Carroll goes through a gap on tackle 5,finds Boyd on the sideline who should have passed back to Carroll for the try but went himself and lost the ball.75 min: Crowd - 22,08178 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsIt has taken them almost the whole match and finally the Knights have their first try.Andrew Johns on the eastern sideline turns the ball back on the inside to Kurt Gidley who scores outwide.Johns kicks the goal from the sideline. Broncos 50-6Fulltime - The Knights have been eliminated in the worst possible fashion while the Broncos have advanced to week three of the finals and will take on Canterbury back at Aussie Stadium next Friday players of the match:3 - Shaun Berrigan2 - Darren Lockyer1 - Petero Civoniceva-----------------------------------------

Referee's report - Semi-finals

AS we draw ever closer to Grand Final day on October 1, the number of referees for week two drops from four in week one to just two now in the second week of the finals. Unfortunately, it is an early end to season 2006 for Shayne Hayne and Sean Hampstead. Although all is not lost, if you cast your minds back to season 2005, Steve Clark was not around in week two of the Finals but came back in week three for Paul Simpkins who was dropped.On Friday night at Aussie Stadium, it will be Paul Simpkins who gets first shot at this week?s Finals Series as St George Illawarra take on Manly. Last week it was Paul who controlled the Dragons? 16 point victory over the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night. Although winning the match quite convincingly in the end, it was the Dragons on the wrong end of a 6-2 penalty count. The Dragons, with five games as Simpkins being the referee in 2006, have had three victories with two losses. Manly with Simpkins in charge have had four matches with an even share of two wins and two losses. The touch judges for this encounter are Russell Turner and Rod Lawrence while in the video referee?s box will be Tim Mander and Chris Ward.Steve Clark maintains his position in the NRL Finals Series, as he will be in charge of the Knights and Broncos match at Aussie Stadium on Saturday evening. Steve did not officiate in either of these two sides? matches last weekend, as he was at the helm of Melbourne?s home victory, which knocked out last season?s Minor Premiers the Parramatta Eels. On paper, Clark is the number one referee, with two State of Origins and the New Zealand vs. Great Britain Test Match all in 2006. However the gap has closed between himself and fellow referee Paul Simpkins.The Knights have had Clark just twice this season with victories in round three against the Bulldogs and in round 25 against the Panthers. The Broncos are quite similar to the Knights, as they have had Clark just three times this season, coming away with three victories. The touch judges for this match are Steve Carrall and Steve Chiddy.Incidentally, last year?s Grand Final touch judge, Matt Cecchin, has missed out on selection this weekend on the line.

Around the Grounds with Rosso

THE Dragons have named a side without Australian centre Mark Gasnier. Gasnier was ruled out on Monday morning with a hip flexor injury, after a cork to his hip in the side?s big victory over the Broncos last weekend. Former ball boy for the Dragons in 1996 Daryl Millard has been named as his replacement in what could be his last game at the club before moving to the Bulldogs next year. Despite not being named in the side for Friday night?s clash with the Sea Eagles, Manly coach Des Hasler today said that his side would train as if the champion centre was playing. Just a couple of months back, the Dragons had ruled out Gasnier with an injury in the lead up to their clash with the Raiders in Canberra, despite this, on that Sunday afternoon, Mark Gasnier was a late inclusion.

Mullen the Hero in Finals Cliffhanger

FINALS 2006 Week 1 Newcastle Knights 25 v Manly Sea Eagles 18at EnergyAustralia StadiumReferee: Sean HampsteadCrowd: 23,752Match Summary:The Newcastle Knights have kicked off the 2006 Finals Series with a bang coming from behind to beat the Sea Eagles 25-18 at a packed out Energy Australia Stadium in Newcastle tonight. The visiting Sea Eagles went into the break with a 12-0 lead but their achilles heel in the second half was their ball handling.In a game that lived up to its expectations, it was fiery at times with three sin bins in total throughout the match. This included a brawl ten minutes after halftime that resulted in the sinbinning of Knights? George Carmont and Sea Eagle Travis Burns. Just two minutes out from fulltime Manly captain Ben Kennedy was sinbinned after he escalated a situation after a spear tackle from Newcastle?s Danny Buderus.After all the possession with the Knights in the opening ten minutes, the away side opened the scoring on their first visit down in to the Newcastle 20. A long cut out pass from Matt Orford found Brett Stewart which sent him into a yawning gap as he sped away for the opening try.Once again the Knights had all the possession and on the back of a Brian Carney intercept were locked down in the Manly quarter. With numbers on his outside, hooker Danny Buderus lofted a long ball out to the wing which was intercepted by Manly?s Michael Robertson. He ran over 90 metres to stretch the margin out to 12.Frustration crept into the Knights as the game headed for the half time interval and it got even worse for the home side as Carmont had a try disallowed just a minute from halftime as he forced in touch ingoal from some outstanding Sea Eagles defence.The two sides entered the second half fired up for victory as less than ten minutes after the break a brawl started in a tackle with first punches thrown by Travis Burns. George Carmont reacted and was subsequently binned for ten minutes.On the back of this penalty going the home side?s way, Andrew Johns crashed over from close range to cut the margin back within a try.Just when things were looking positive for the Knights, in the space of two minutes veteran Craig Smith was put on report for a high tackle, which was followed by a miracle try for Manly that was finished off by Kiwi Steve Matai. A grubber kick through from Orford look to be heading for the corner post before Michael Robertson plucked the ball out of thin air and threw it back inside to Matai for the try.It may have looked bleak for the Knights, however it was Johns and Kurt Gidley who revived any hope that the home fans still had. Close to the line, Johns took the ball to the line and found LeagueUnlimited?s man of the match Kurt Gidley on the inside who scored under the posts.Under ten minutes later, Newcastle had levelled the score after Kurt Gidley once again took a ball back on the inside from Johns who stretched out and without any hint of a double movement scored beside the posts.After a field goal attempt from Andrew Johns was charged down from Ben Kennedy before rookie five-eighth Jarrod Mullen was given the honours of taking the next shot a minute later. He slotted the point and five out from fulltime the Knights were in front for the first time.With three minutes left in the match, Manly received another blow as captain Ben Kennedy was sent to the sin bin after escalating a situation following a 'spear tackle' from Danny Buderus.Just a minute later, Matt Orford had a field goal shot which was charged down by lock Reegan Tanner, which was followed by a penalty being awarded on the western touchline to the Sea Eagles for offside.The shot at goal from Matt Orford was waved away and caught by Jarrod Mullen who ran 99 metres before being stopped inches short of the try line. Later in the set the Knights sealed the match with a controversial try when winger Brian Carney appeared to be held after taking the ball from a cross-field kick. Referee Hampstead ruled play on and the Irish winger squirmed out of a tackle to score in the corner.Johns converted the try and the Knights had run out victors in the great escape 25-18. There are a few problems heading into next week for Newcastle however. Danny Buderus could miss the rest of the season through suspension after the lifting tackle he inflicted late in the match.Other problems include an expected crucial ligament tear to the knee of fullback David Seage that will leave him out for the rest of the season as well. Steve Simpson has a jarred shoulder which occurred early in the first half but is expected to play next weekend.Scorers:Newcastle Knights: 25Tries: Kurt Gidley(2), Andrew Johns, Brian CarneyGoals: Andrew Johns 4/4Field Goals: Jarrod MullenManly Sea Eagles: 18Tries: Brett Stewart, Steve Matai, Michael RobertsonGoals: Matt Orford 3/4By the Clock:For the Knights,Milton Thaiday is out with David Seage going to fullback.Todd Lowrie drops off the interchange bench with Jarrod Mullen to start from the interchange break with Kurt Gidley winning the number 6 jumper.Your referee for this First Qualifying Final is Sean Hampstead while the Sea Eagles are yet to win a game in the finals since 1990.Last year,finishing eighth,they were knocked out convincingly by the Eels at Parramatta Stadium while the Knights were wooden spooners.The Sea Eagles are on the way out,led by former Novocastrian Ben Kennedy in their all white jerseys.Here comes Joey Johns and the Knights in the navy blue jerseys.1 min: Manly kicks off!!!3 min: A vocal Newcastle crowd get a penalty for a Manly player being offside and they go straight on the attack.4 min: A cross-field bomb from Johns is tapped back by Carney and Matt Gidley goes within an inch of scoring off the rebound but is held up short of the line.6 min: Terrible news here for Newcastle as David Seage has done his knee and is assisted from the field.10 min: A knock on by Anthony Quinn in his own half sends Manly on the attack.12 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesA long cutout pass from Matt Orford sends Custodian Brett Stewart in to a yearning gap and he runs around to score outwide in the first points of the evening.Orford converts the try. Sea Eagles 6-014 min: A knockon on the first tackle from Manly sends Newcastle back on the attack.15 min: An amazing passage of play.Carney goes for the line on tackle 5 and is held up over the line,this if followed by Simpson going up the tunnel for Newcastle with a shoulder injury now Manly knock on on the first tackle.17 min: On the two injury fronts:Seage looks like a cruciate ligaement damage while Simpson a possible jarred shoulder.22 min: Touchjudge Steve Carrall is coming in for a report...It is a penalty to Newcastle on a late tackle from Matai on Johns but there looked to be nothing in it.26 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesAmazing passage of football by both sides..Manly attacks the Newcastle line before a Carney intercept sees Newcastle go on the attack with 3 consecutive attempts.Some amazing defence especially outwide by the visitors and the Knights with an overlap spin the ball outwide before winger Michael Robertson rushes up and takes an intercept to run 90 metres to score.Orford converts. Sea Eagles 12-030 min: A chip over the top from Johns is knocked on from Stewart so here come the Knights.32 min: Newcastle get a repeat set from a penalty but Matt Gidley throws the ball over the sideline,some outstanding goalline defence from Manly.35 min: Simpson back on for the Knights.37 min: A bit of push and shove in back play between Carmont and Hicks,the frustration really showing for the Knights.38 min: An error from Steve Bell and the Knights have two minutes and 20m to go to get something out of the first half.39 min: Going upstairs for an unlikely Knights try...39 min: NO TRY - George Carmont dives for the corner but great defence puts him over the touch ingoal line.Halftime - The Manly Sea Eagles are showing what it takes to win a premiership out there tonight.Some amazing cover and goal line defence with all the possession going Newcastle's way.On the Sea Eagles' first visit down field,Brett Stewart score through some poor defence from the Knights while their second try came from a 90m intercept.The Sea Eagles must hold on to the ball as their ball security has been quite poor in the first half,their defence is winning them the contest.The Knights have been attacking the fringes of the ruck including the centres till the cows come home,however to win this contest,they must go through the centre of the ruck using Danny Buderus.Both sides are back on the paddock,second half about to get underway.40 min: Knights kick off.46 min: Manly get a piggy back penalty and go on the attack as Carmont took out Steve Bell on a kick through.49 min: Referee Hampstead seems to be losing control as the Sea Eagles are giving too many penalties.50 min: Punch Up - A fight has started on the eastern touchline.Travis Burns and George Carmont are in the sin bin.51 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsAndrew Johns close to the line slices through some poor goal line defence and the Knights are back.A bit of push and shove after the try was scored aswell.Johns converts his own try. Sea Eagles 12-653 min: On Report - Veteran Craig Smith on report for a high tackle.54 min: Going to check for a Sea Eagles gem of a try...55 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesOne of the tries of the season as a short grubber through by Matt Orford is plucked just before htting the corner post by Michael Robertson and before he hits the corner post he somehow flings the ball back in for Steve Matai to score in the corner.The conversion from the sideline from Orford is a ripper. Sea Eagles 18-657 min: Kurt Gidley runs the ball from 40 out on tackle 5 and gets to the 20 before offloading wildly to Craig Smith who can't hang on to it.61 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsThe Knights are back and it is the brilliance of Johns close to the line once again.Johns runs the ball to the line with runners inside and out and he hits Kurt Gidley on the inside who goes over under the posts. Johns converts and they are back within a try. Sea Eagles 18-1263 min: Orford knocks on when trying to play the ball and once again it is poor handling from the Sea Eagles and the Knights go on the attack.65 min: Andrew Johns limping near the sideline.69 min: Checking for a Knights try...70 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsTry Try Try!!!It is Kurt Gidley again who is having an absolute blinder in the second half.Johns attacks the line and on the inside is the five-eighth come fullback to score despite Hampstead checking for a double movement.Johns converts and we are locked up. 18 all.72 min: This time Matt Gidley goes on a surge down the western touchline but once again his trademark flick goes in to touch.73 min: Kennedy knocks on and the Knights go on the attack,the Sea Eagles are self-destructing.74 min: ATTEMPTED FIELD GOAL Newcastle KnightsAndrew Johns takes the snap from 30 out and it is charged down,the rebound is knocked on by Orford and the Knights get a repeat. 18 all.75 min: FIELD GOAL Newcastle KnightsJarrod Mullen has become a cult hero as from 25m out he plots a field goal to put the Knights in front for the first time. Knights 19-1877 min: A spear tackle from Danny Buderus and they run in from left right and centre with push and shove.Kennedy in the bin and Buderus on report.78 min: ATTEMPTED FIELD GOAL Manly Sea EaglesAn attempt from Orford is charged down by Reegan Tanner. Knights 19-1879 min: ATTEMPTED PENALTY GOAL Manly Sea EaglesA penalty to the Sea Eagles on the western touchline and they elect to shoot for goal.The shot is waved away and Mullen runs 99m before being held up inches away from the line. Knights 19-1880 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsIt is all over here in Newcastle with a controversial try.A bomb from Johns to the corner with just seconds remaining is taken on the full by Carney and he looks to be held about 5m out from the line.Quite a few seconds later he squirms away and Hampstead rules play on and awards the try to Carney.Johns from the sideline converts. Knights 25-18Fulltime - The Knights have gotten out of jail in a controversial yet dramatic ending.Article to players of the match:3 - Kurt Gidley (Knights)2 - Steve Matai (Sea Eagles)1 - Brent Kite (Sea Eagles)-----------------------------------------

Around the Grounds with Rosso

AFTER having the bye in round 26, Newcastle welcome back captain Andrew Johns from a contrary conduct suspension for their Qualifying Final against Manly. The match will be played at a sold out Energy Australia Stadium, where just a month ago, the exact same sides played in a corresponding match which was fuelled with controversy, as the Knights lost an attacking raid with just one minute on the clock. That night referee Paul Simpkins correctly ruled that a pass was not played at by Sea Eagles? centre Steve Matai.

Referee's Report - Round 26

IT has been a long season for the Referee?s in season 2006, and here at LeagueUnlimited and Referee?s Report, we have made a list of awards for what has been an up and down season. Referee of the Year Award: Steve Clark ? While sometimes being inconsistent and sometimes making the wrong calls, he has been the standout for this season. Two origins show this and leading in to the semi finals he is in line to take out his first ever Grand Final.The What Happened Award: Paul Simpkins ? While Paul has been up there as one of the best this season, we can expect more of him. Although he was out for a couple of months after a calf strain in round six, he made a slow comeback from injury. When returning for the Tigers and Souths match in round 12, he took too long to return to his normal good performances. However he is now well positioned to hit form at the right time of the season.The Most Improved Award: Shayne Hayne ? Just a year and a half ago, Shayne Hayne was doing Premier League and some NRL touchlines. Now in September of 2006, Shayne has been given his first ever Finals fixture. It has been a great season for Shayne, which has involved a fair few Friday night matches. Next year he should be hoping for a top two finish.The Rookie of the Year Award: Ben Cummins ? There have been a fair few referees blooded in to First Grade this season. Last year Ben was awarded the SG Ball Grand Final and now the Canberra Junior has a handful of First Grade matches to go with it. He is one to watch in the future.The One to Look Out For Award: Tony De Las Heras ? He has had two proper First Grade matches and one half a match as a replacement, but Dapto junior Tony De Las Heras is one of the referees to watch in 2007 and beyond.Now on to the appointments for the first week of the 2006 playoffs:Sean Hampstead receives his first start in a semi final since 2004 when he did the First Qualifying Final between the Panthers and Dragons. Hampstead has been given the match of the round at Energy Australia Stadium between the Knights and Sea Eagles which, last time these two sides met in round 23, was amid controversy when Knights captain Andrew Johns lashed out at touch judge Matt Cecchin with a number of four letter words. The touch judges will be Steve Carrall and Rod Lawrence.Paul Simpkins receives yet another semi final when the Broncos are at home to the Dragons on Saturday night. In 2004 Simpkins had first and eighth placed in week one of the playoffs between the Roosters and Raiders, while in 2005 he had the Tigers and Cowboys? week one clash being the fourth and fifth placed teams. The touch judges will be Paul Holland and Matt Cecchin.It is a memorable moment for Shayne Hayne who has been given his first start in an NRL Finals match. He will be at the helm of the Bulldogs and Raiders match at Telstra Stadium on Saturday night. Hayne just beat fellow referee Tony Archer to the fourth and final refereeing position in the upcoming finals series. Shayne?s touch judges will be David Abood and Steve Chiddy. The last man to be named is number one referee Steve Clark, who will be down in Melbourne as the minor premiers take on the eighth placed Parramatta Eels. The last time Clark did an Eels match was when Parramatta heavily defeated the Dragons back in round 22, while the last time he officiated in a Storm match was in round 20 as Melbourne were too strong for the visiting Sharks. The touch judges will be Russell Turner and Michael Jones.

Around the Grounds with Rosso

THERE will be no sign of Johnathon Thurston for the North Queensland Cowboys in their final hit out of season 2006 at home to the Parramatta Eels on Friday night. Club captain Travis Norton has been named on a five man bench as the Cowboys look to end their season on a high.

Referee's report - Round 26

SHAYNE Hayne returns to the semi finals fray on Friday in Townsville for the Cowboys and Eels clash. With five people (Sean Hampstead, Paul Simpkins, Steve Clark, Tony Archer and Hayne) vying for just four Finals position, Shayne can ill-afford to slip up as he hopes to gain his first ever semi final appointment as a referee. Shayne has received good reports over the last three weeks with solid performances in the Broncos/Storm match, Dragons/Tigers and now the Raiders/Storm matches.

Around the Grounds with Rosso

THE Bulldogs will be without representative stars Roy Asotasi, Willie Mason and Willie Tonga for this weekend?s Friday night blockbuster with the Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval. Chris Armit moves from the bench to the front rower with Nate Myles going in to the backrow, who was under an injury cloud for this match after their loss to the Broncos on Friday.

Referee's report - Round 24

TONY de Las Heras makes his official refereeing debut on Sunday when the Rabbitohs are at home to the Cowboys. Tony came on late in the first half in Round five as a replacement for the then injured Paul Simpkins. He replaces Jason Robinson who was in charge of the Sharks and Panthers match last Saturday night.Sean Hampstead will control the Sea Eagles? important clash with the Dogs on Friday night at Brookvale Oval. A win for Manly will secure them a home semi final, so this match will have the quality of a Finals fixture. Just what Sean needs as the build up to September football continues.Shayne Hayne was again impressive in the Dragons home win against the Tigers on Sunday and has been rewarded with the Raiders important clash against the Storm on Saturday night. Shayne could be a dark horse for a final this year, while the Raiders need to win to confirm their place in September.Referee Paul Simpkins will have the local derby between the Dragons and Sharks in Wollongong on Saturday night. Paul was criticised for blowing too many inefficient penalties in the Eels? big victory over the Roosters on Sunday.Steve Clark has been given the important match of the round between Newcastle and Penrith. It has been rated the number one match as the equation is simple for the Panthers, they must win to keep their finals hopes alive. The equation is simple for Clark, keep refereeing at the good standard he has to ensure his first Grand Final appearance of his career.Russell Smith will have his second game back in first grade since spending along time in Premier League. Russell, who came over from England in 2005, was to just spend nine weeks in Australia refereeing, but has joined the Canterbury Refereeing District since then and looks to be a full timer when it comes to refereeing. Russell will be over in New Zealand this weekend when the Warriors are at home to the Roosters.Tony Archer, who made his first appearance in a finals fixture last year in the Sharks and Dragons clash, looks to be on the road to another one this year if he keeps up the good standard that he has over the past couple of months. Tony has the important match at Parramatta Stadium on Sunday where the Eels are at home to the Broncos. The game could be one of the matches in the first week of the finals which kicks off in the second weekend of September.

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