THE race for refereeing positions in this year?s Finals Series has heated up with referee Gavin Badger being relegated back to Premier League this weekend. Gavin, who refereed in the Warriors? victory over the Cowboys on Saturday, has been told that he made the right decision in sending off North Queensland?s Luke O?Donnell off. He however did make some costly errors throughout the match, which was the reason for his demotion.
THE Bulldogs will be at full strength this Friday night for their clash with the sixth placed Broncos. Matt Utai returns from suspension after being sent off against the Tigers for a reckless high tackle on Stuart Flanagan. A win for the Belmore boys could be their seventh straight as they look to consolidate second place on the ladder.
ROUND 23 Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 14 v Parramatta Eels 34at Toyota ParkReferee: Tony ArcherMatch Summary:The Eels have continued the woes of the Cronulla Sharks in the back end of season 2006. Leading 12-8 at halftime, the home side was run down by Parramatta, losing by 34 points to 14 at Toyota Park.The Sharks started the game off well before going back to their old selves by letting in hooker Mark Riddell for a soft try from dummy half in the 17th minute.The Sharks hit back well with a good try to former Panther Ben Pomeroy, before David Simmons latched on to a Brett Kimmorley kick following a Luke Burt penalty goal, taking the scoreline out to 12-8 at the break.The Eels must have put something in their Gatorades at halftime as they came out firing on all cylinders to start the second half. Jarryd Hayne scored just two minutes in to the second half as backrower Nathan Hindmarsh somehow got a freakish offload away on tackle five that eventually found its way to Hayne to score in the corner.The Sharks edged back in front through a long range penalty goal to winger Luke Covell. However that was their last points for the night as the Eels ran in a further four tries to oust the Sharks out of the top eight for the time being.The Eels now sit in fourth position although wins to the Broncos and Dragons tomorrow could put them back down to sixth position.Parramatta have won eight games straight while the Sharks have seven in a row on the negative side of the equation.Scorers:Cronulla Sutherland Sharks: 14Tries: David Simmons, Ben PomeroyGoals: Luke Covell 3/3Parramatta Eels: 34Tries: Luke Burt(2), Wade McKinnon, Glenn Morrison, Mark Riddell, Jarryd HayneGoals: Luke Burt 5/7By the Clock:Both the Sharks and the Eels are as per the program for this vital clash for the all important top eight.The Sharks have lost six straight while the Eels haven't lost a match since round 14 at home to the Storm.Conditions are perfect for rugby league not a cloud in the sky all day.Not a bad crowd in, could have been expecting more though.Tony Archer is your referee,both teams are out on the paddock with the fireworks smoke covering the field.Kickoff!4 min: The Sharks go down field from a penalty but Villasanti drops the ball cold on tackle two.7 min: A crossfield grubber from Adam Dykes finds Covell right in the corner but trying to knock the ball backwards before going out,he knocks on as Pomeroy grounds the ball for a disallowed try.12 min: A swift backline movement from the Sharks finds Pomeroy five metres out from the line with Covell on his outside but he knocks on.17 min: TRY Parramatta EelsMark Riddell scores from dummy half through some poor marker defence on the back of some good field position for the Eels.Burt from the sideline slots the kick superbly. Eels 6-022 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland SharksA long pass by Kingston is taped on beautifally by Covell on to Pomeroy who steps past Hayne then gets around Burt easily to score past some ordinary defence.Covell converts. 6 all.28 min: PENALTY GOAL Parramatta EelsA penalty in the play the ball against the Sharks gifts Luke Burt with two points. Eels 8-635 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland SharksWelcome back from injury David Simmons!A great crossfield kick from Kimmorley to the corner and a race to the ball between Burt and Simmons and wouldn't Houdini love that,Simmons came out of the clouds and snatched the ball out of Burt's grasp.Covell converts. Sharks 12-837 min: The Eels attack the line but the inside ball goes to ground and the Sharks have it.Now they are 20 out from the Eels line on tackle two.38 min: A line dropout to the Sharks and the Eels go for a short grubber to restart and it is dived on by Hindmarsh!Halftime - An even game so far which has seen end to end football.David Simmons won't be back for the Sharks after dislocating his shoulder when scoring the Sharks' second try.Second half underway!42 min: Checking for an Eels try...43 min: TRY Parramatta EelsYet another try for Jarryd Hayne as Nathan Hindmarsh dives for the line on tackle 5,somehow with five men on him gets an offload away that looks to be fumbled by Luke Burt before he grubbers for Hayne who scores in the corner.Burt can't convert. 12 all.49 min: PENALTY GOAL Cronulla Sutherland SharksFrom 35 odd metres out,Covell lands two points from an offside penalty to put the Sharks back in front. Sharks 14-1253 min: TRY Parramatta EelsThe Eels are back in front after a great offload by Cordoba who finds McKinnon on half way who runs around Vagana who has come on as a fullback to score in the corner.Burt converts from the sideline off the upright. Eels 18-1464 min: Checking for an Eels try...65 min: TRY Parramatta EelsLuke Burt bags another try for the season as a kick down field is taken by Kearney who in a tackle in goal by Burt, knocks on and Burt dives on it to score.Burt can't convert his own try. Eels 22-1467 min: TRY Parramatta EelsAnother loss for the Sharks coming up as Burt scores his second try in as many matches as a short chip over the top is taken superbly by Burt who goes around Vagana to score out wide.Burt converts. Eels 28-1474 min: TRY Parramatta EelsThe Sharks have capitulated as a long ball from Jeremy Smith with numbers on his outside finds Glenn Morrison who scores outwide to rub salt in to the wounds of the Sharks.Burt converts as the Sharks fans head for the exit signs. Eels 34-1478 min: Jeremy Smith goes on a 70m run down field before being tackled ten out from the goal line.From dummy half Luke Burt kicks cross field for an unmarked Hayne but it goes over his head.Fulltime - The Eels continue the Sharks' woes in the backend of 2006.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Luke Burt2 - Nathan Hindmarsh1 - Paul Gallen-----------------------------------------
SHAYNE Hayne returns to First Grade after just one week on the sidelines following his costly error when officiating in the Sharks and Knights clash two weeks ago. The Central Coast born referee will be in charge of the important fixture between the Broncos and Storm up in Brisbane on Sunday afternoon.
NEWCASTLE will welcome back last year?s Australian schoolboys five-eighth Jarrod Mullen, after he was injured two weeks ago against Cronulla. The Knights will head in to the match with Manly stern favourites and won the last meeting between the two clubs, 26-12, at Brookvale Oval in round 17.Manly will be at full strength for the clash as they welcome back New South Wales prop, Brent Kite, after he was concussed heavily two weeks ago at Parramatta Stadium in the side?s loss to the Eels. The match will be a case of teacher vs. student when Matt Orford confronts his childhood hero in Andrew Johns.The Warriors have named the same side for the Cowboys, which continued the Sharks? woes last Saturday night at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland. When these two sides met in 2004, former captain Monty Betham gave away a head high tackle right in front of the posts in golden point, that handed the Cowboys victory.The Cowboys have named hooker come halfback Aaron Payne as captain for the match as former captain Travis Norton succumbed to a shoulder injury after the Bulldogs match on Saturday. Payne is the third choice captain as vice-captain Johnathan Thurston is also sidelined with a knee injury.Sharks coach Stuart Raper has wielded an axe to his out of form team for this weekend?s clash with the Eels. Former Knight Darren Albert has been dropped to Premier League while Kiwi International Nigel Vagana has been dropped to the bench as well as Luke Douglas and New South Wales representative Paul Gallen.The Eels have named the same starting line-up that disposed of the Dragons last Friday night. However, outgoing coach Jason Taylor has replaced Brett Delaney with former fullback Wade McKinnon on the bench with Luke Burt staying in the fullback spot.Penrith have selected Papua New Guinean Paul Aiton back in First Grade for the first time since the side defeated the Cowboys at CUA Stadium back in Round 19, for the club?s clash with the Roosters on Saturday. Although it is round 23, it will be the first meeting of the club?s this year.Although suffering a heavy defeat to the Knights last weekend, Roosters? coach Ricky Stuart has named an unchanged line-up for the clash with the Panthers. Just two more wins for the tricolours will see them surpass 1000 wins as a club since 1908.The Tigers have dropped youngster Keith Eshman back to reserve grade but have brought back up another superstar Ben Jeffery for his second NRL appearance. The last time the Tigers met the Raiders was in round 19 in Canberra when the Tigers were controversially defeated in golden point.Canberra has named former Bronco Craig Frawley on a five-man bench for the match at Campbelltown Stadium on Sunday. The two sides met at the same ground last year in round 11 where the Tigers ran out convincing winners. However, out of the five tries scored, three came from players who are currently unavailable, which includes the likes of Marshall, Whatuira and Hodgson. The Bulldogs have kept the same side that demolished the Cowboys last Saturday for their clash with the Dragons on Sunday. Five-eighth Daniel Holdsworth will play his first game against childhood hero Trent Barrett since moving to Belmore.St George Illawarra have recalled star Mark Gasnier for the match. Gasnier was rested last weekend against Parramatta and took a weekend off up in Townsville. These two clubs met just a month ago at OKI Jubilee where the Bulldogs came away with the match by just a try in what could be described as the match of the season to date.Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett has dropped look-a-like Scott Minto for their do or die clash with the Storm on Sunday. He has also named a six-man bench that includes Queensland Origin stars Casey McGuire, David Stagg and Sam Thaiday.Melbourne has recalled representatives Matt King and Dallas Johnson after the two were rested last weekend. After another suspension to Billy Slater, super kid Greg Inglis drops back to fullback. Melbourne has been a sort of hoodoo team for the Broncos especially in September, as the two clubs have faced off in the second Qualifying Final in Brisbane for the past two years. Both times the Storm has been victorious.South Sydney have the bye this weekend which will be six points in three weeks for the club which is on the back of two successive victories against the Raiders and Panthers.
ROUND 22 Melbourne Storm 46 v Wests Tigers 4at Olympic Park MelbourneReferee: Sean HampsteadMatch Summary:The Melbourne Storm have won their 15th straight at home and have gone very close to ending the Tigers season.The Storm led 16-4 with the game in the balance at halftime before showing their class to runaway with the match by 46 points to 4.Kiwi international Jake Webster created some more selection headaches for coach Craig Bellamy as he crossed for a career record of four tries.Also on the try scoring list was former Panther and Titans bound Steve Turner who grabbed a double.The Storm got off to the best start possible with two early tries, also helped by a call from referee Sean Hampstead and his touch judges with Steve Turner scoring the first try from a clear cut forward pass.The Tigers throughout the first half did look like the Tigers of old with the ball in hand with Scott Prince having a strong game and they got a reward for it right on half time as former Bulldog Jamaal Lolesi finished off a strong second man play from the visitors.You would think that the Tigers would come out in the second half with all to play for with their season on the line, but it was anything but that.A penalty goal just after halftime put the Storm up by 14 but then just moments later Inglis grabbed a try for the home side to just about seal it with still half an hour to play.The night was capped off by veteran Matt Geyer scoring beside the posts with young gun Inglis showing his kicking abilities by converting.Cameron Smith showed his ability to kick goals throughout the match, kicking six from eight all from the sideline.The Storm have just about wrapped up the minor premiership for season 2006 while the Tigers sit in twelve position and after this weekend could be two wins outside the all important top eight.Scorers:Melbourne Storm: 46Tries: Matt Geyer, Greg Inglis, Steve Turner(2), Jake Webster(4)Goals: Greg Inglis 1/1, Cameron Smith 6/8Wests Tigers: 4Tries: Jamaal LolesiBy the Clock:The Storm have rested State of Origin representatives Matt King and Dallas Johnson for this clash with Greg Inglis coming in to the centres and Jeremy Smith in to lock.The Tigers are as per the program and need a victory to stay in touch with the top 8 and keep their dream of wining back to back premierships alive.The Tigers are down the tunnel led out by Scott Prince in their orange jerseys.The Storm are led out by David Kidwell tonight in their purple and navy jerseys.Sean Hampstead is the referee.Kickoff!3 min: NEWS Some good Storm defence holds out the Tigers in the opening minutes after an early penalty sent the Tigers on the attack.The Tigers do look promising with the ball in hand already.7 min: TRY Melbourne StormTurner gets the scoreboard ticking early in the match.On reply it shows that the final pass was at least 2 metres forward.However there is some doubt that Hoffman did throw an around the corner offload which makes the pass look forward.Smith can't convert from the sideline. Storm 4-010 min: A crossfield chip in midfield by Cooper Cronk finds Jake Webster who goes for the line, and finds Kidwell who can't hang on to the ball.14 min: TRY Melbourne StormThe Storm get six more tackles from a knock on by Lawrence from a kick,then on the next tackle they go wide from a run around and Jake Webster scores in the corner.Smith from the sideline this time converts. Storm 10-021 min: Greg Inglis breaks through and probably would have run 60 metres to score if it wasnt for an ankle tap from Scott Prince.24 min: TRY Melbourne StormJake Webster gets a double as the Storm go wide once again where they are finding some gaps in the Tigers defence.Smith from the sideline converts it. Storm 16-028 min: Scott Hill dives for the line but is pulled up just short.On the replay it shows it could well have been a try.30 min: A penalty to the Tigers for a lifting penalty against the Storm.Looks like Scott Hill could be in some trouble for that.32 min: A poor end to the set for the Tigers as Tuiaki knocks on for the second time in the match close to the line.35 min: Scotty Prince kicks for himself and looks to be there to score before Greg Inglis like a thief in the night gets there and kicks the ball dead.36 min: TRY Wests TigersIt's one of the Tigers' favourite play.A second man play and former Bulldog Jamaal Lolesi dives over in the corner to get the Tigers back in it.Prince hooks the conversion from the sideline. Storm 16-4Halftme - The Storm have shown premiership form once again throughout this clash but the Tigers are not going away scoring a deserved try on half time.They have shown glimpses of 2005 with the ball in hand.Second half underway45 min: PENALTY GOAL Melbourne StormA penalty to the Storm from right infront as Shane Elford picks up the ball in an offside position,and Cameron Smith slots the points to get them out to a 14 point lead. Storm 18-451 min: TRY Melbourne StormInglis just maybe puts the game beyond doubt as a long cut out pass from Scott Hill hits him on the chest as Inglis goes over to score in the corner.Smith from the sideline converts it again. Storm 24-456 min: TRY Melbourne StormSteve Turner grabs a double as Billy the kid puts in a short grubber kick in and Turner is there to score in the corner.Smith from the sideline once again converts! Storm 30-461 min: TRY Melbourne StormA hattrick for Webster as he dives over in the corner to put the icing on the cake with 20 to go.Smith again from the sideline! Storm 36-466 min: TRY Melbourne StormIt's 4 for Jake Webster as the Tigers self destruct.Some quick hands on the eastern touchline finishes it off from the last pass by Geyer.Smith from the sideline hooks this one. Storm 40-472 min: Brett White has cleaned up Lolesi late and high and could well be a send off offence.72 min: ON REPORT - Brett White is on report for the tackle and could be in trouble when the match is reviewed.80 min: TRY Melbourne StormGeyer caps off a great night for the Storm scoring next to the posts to just about seal the Minor Premiership.Inglis converts with Smith off the field. Storm 46-4Fulltime-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Jake Webster2 - Scott Hill1 - Cameron Smith-----------------------------------------
PARRAMATTA will move back rower Chad Robinson in to the front row to replace the suspended Fuifui Moimoi for their clash with the Dragons on Friday night. Centre Brett Delaney makes a return from injury on the bench while the match marks the first match between the two clubs since the outrageous 8-1 victory by the Dragons at OKI Jubilee Stadium in round 13.
REFEREE Shayne Hayne has been dropped for the Round 22 fixtures following a costly mistake in the Sharks and Knights encounter on Friday night. Hayne ruled a scrum to the Knights after a pass by Andrew Johns hit him in the chest. The correct ruling would have been to award a scrum to the Sharks. This rules Shayne out of any chance to referee in the upcoming Finals Series.
ROUND 21 Parramatta Eels 31 v Manly Sea Eagles 18at Parramatta StadiumReferee: Steven ClarkMatch Summary:The Parramatta Eels continued their winning run tonight, disposing of the Manly Sea Eagles by 31-18 in a fiery game at Parramatta Stadium.The game contained several big hits but the talking point of the match came in the 49th minute when Fuifui Moimoi hit Brent Kite around the head as the Sea Eagles were on the attack close to Parramatta?s line.Kite was knocked senseless and eventually hobbled from the field but took no further part in the action. Referee Steven Clark sent the barnstorming Eels frontrower from the field when the game resumed, opening the way for Manly to come back into the match.The Eels began on fire, scoring in the 4th minute through outgoing centre Luke O?Dwyer who snapped up the ball in the in-goal area after Manly fullback Michael Robertson failed to clean up a kick. Try-scoring freak Jarryd Hayne crossed about ten minutes later after a good cut-out pass from John Morris found the unmarked winger.From there it was punch and counter-punch as Manly scored through Matai and Stephenson either side of another Eels try to Luke Burt. The home side hit the sheds up 18-8 and looking pretty comfortable.They continued to lead from the front with O?Dwyer crossing again just after the break to lead 24-8 and the game was seemingly in the bag for Parramatta.Shortly after Moimoi was sent from the field and Manly smelt blood in the water, piling on tries to Chris Hicks and Luke Williamson to set the stage for a dramatic final quarter of the game with the scores poised at 24-18.Parramatta held their resolve though, even with a man down, and pushed further ahead late in the game with a second try to Luke Burt in the 72nd minute followed shortly by a field goal from Morris.The victory consolidates Parramatta?s chances of gaining a top 8 spot and the Eels now face the Dragons at home on Friday night in what should be a bell-ringer.For Manly, they enjoy a bye week but probably feel a bit disappointed with the result. They?ve been going well up until now and a win here would have had them pushing for a top 4 spot.Scorers:Parramatta Eels: 31Tries: Luke Burt(2), Luke O'Dwyer(2), Jarryd HayneGoals: Luke Burt 5/5Field Goals: John MorrisManly Sea Eagles: 18Tries: Chris Hicks, Paul Stephenson, Luke Williamson, Steve MataiGoals: Matt Orford 1/4By the Clock:Brett Stewart is out for the Sea Eagles with Michael Robertson dropping back to fullback.Steve Bell returns to the centres with George Rose coming on to the bench.Luke Burt replaces Wade McKinnon in the fullback role.1 min: Kickoff!2 min: An early penalty against Steve Matai in the play the ball.4 min: TRY Parramatta EelsA grubber through by Jeremy Smith that deflects off Robertson and O'Dwyer is there to score the try for the Eels.Burt converts on his return to First Grade. Eels 6-08 min: The crowd getting behind both sides in what looks close to be to at its full capacity.11 min: A penalty on the last tackle against the Eels for a grapple tackle puts the Eagles on the attack.13 min: Going to the video for an Eels try...13 min: TRY Parramatta EelsOh no it's him again!A long cutout by John Morris is picked up on the half volley by the whizkid Jarryd Hayne who strolls away to score in the corner.Burt from the sideline puts it over the black dot. Eels 12-018 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesA short ball from Orford puts Matai in to a gap who scores the Sea Eagles first try of the night.Orford from the sideline just misses to the left. Eels 12-420 min: From the kickoff,MoiMoi and Cayless hit King in a bell-ringer.30 min: Eel Jeremy Smith gives away his second penalty of the night and the Sea Eagles go on the attack.31 min: The toughjudge is in on a report - Shayne Dunley is on report for putting his knees in to Jarryd Hayne who did well to take a cross field bomb.34 min: Checking for an Eels try...34 min: TRY Parramatta EelsJeremy Smith threads a grubber through and Luke Burt wins the race to the ball and scores the Eels' third.Burt converts his own try. Eels 18-436 min: Play is stopped for quite some time as Steve Matai gets a knock to the head.40 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesA grubber through by Matt Orford and Paul Stephenson comes from out of the clouds to score in the corner.Orford hits the uprights from the sideline. Eels 18-8Halftime - The Eels have entertained their crowd with an excellent first half of football.The Sea Eagles have stuck with the Eels for the whole half and a try right on half time to Paul Stephenson has given the visitors a sniff.Second half underway...43 min: Somehow Dean Widders gets the ball off a deflected kick,he struggles to pick the wobbling ball up,had he,he would have had a 2 on 1 overlap.46 min: TRY Parramatta EelsThe ball is shifted to the right and centre Luke O'Dwyer goes over in the corner untouched.Burt puts it over from the sideline. Eels 24-849 min: Brent Kite down after a horrible high tackle from MoiMoi.He is knocked out cold and it could be the end of MoiMoi's night.49 min: Sent Off - Fui Fui MoiMoi becomes the third player to be sent off in 2006.52 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesSome scrappy ball movement from the Sea Eagles and Chris Hicks scores in the corner to make a game of it.Orford misses again from the sideline. Eels 24-1253 min: Checking for a Manly try...54 min: NEWS NO TRY - Michael Robertson drops a bomb in the Eels ingoal area but then scores,he is ruled to have knocked the ball in to an Eels player before that.57 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesSome good ball movement and from an offload,Luke Williamson dives over next to the uprights.Only moments earlier,Luke O'Dwyer dropped a pass cold and would have had a free run to the tryline.Orford converts. Eels 24-1862 min: NEWS Williamson hit by a beauty from Ben Smith66 min: Kylie Leuleuai goes from dummy half on the last tackle but is held up by Hindmarsh.70 min: Steve Matai goes on a thirty metre run down the sideline before being taken into touch by O'Dwyer.72 min: A crowd of just over 15500 is announced as we go the video for an Eels try...72 min: TRY Parramatta EelsA grubber through from Mark Riddell is pounced on by Luke Burt who gets his second of the night.Burt converts his own try. Eels 30-1873 min: Crowd - 1540475 min: FIELD GOAL Parramatta EelsJohn Morris seals the clash tonight with a field goal between the posts. Eels 31-1876 min: From the short kickoff,Jarryd Hayne sprints down the touchline,passes the ball back on the inside to Luke Burt who runs away to score,but it was ruled to be a forward pass,good call by Clark.Fulltime in an epic contest which had September like proportions.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Luke O2 - Ben Kennedy1 - Nathan Hindmarsh-----------------------------------------
THE Cronulla Sharks will play Brisbane recruit Darren Mapp in First Grade this Friday against Newcastle for the first time in 2006. With Kevin Kingston suspended for one match, Matt Hilder will move from the bench to the hooking role.