Malta moves in on Sevens

MALTA?S rugby league talent was on firing display at the 2006 Orara Valley Sevens, completed over the recent weekend at Coramba Sportsground, near Coffs Harbour on Australia?s east coast.With supporters travelling en masse to the Australia?s premier rugby league sevens tournament, Malta dazzled its opponents throughout both days, kicking off the tournament in convincing fashion with a 28-22 win over 2007 NRL newcomers, the Gold Coast Titans. Brad Clews opened the weekend?s try scoring displays with a stepping charge, beating Titan?s John Dean to put on the first scoring play. Parramatta Eels Simon Micallef and Penrith Panthers Jarrod Sammut opening their try scoring accounts, both crossing for a double. Completing the opening day, Malta scored an aggregate of 32 points positive, in pushing aside local A grade outfit Crescent Head Roos and then an under strength Australian Maoris.Orara Valley Axemen Rugby League Club chairman Glen Soper revealed that more than 15,000 spectators had contributed to the city?s big week of league, with Malta continuing its successful march into the Sunday finals.Malta out muscled the Sydney Bulls to qualify for the quarter final, the Jim Beam Cup outfit falling to the might of the Malta Knights by 34-26, after the days preceding saw Malta take centre stage with the naming of three players in the tournaments international team of the tournament. Malta skipper Ben Sammut joined Simon Micallef and Jarrod Sammut in taking the honours.After a convincing round of results, Narwan Eels were provided a 30-8 rugby league sevens lesson by one of the tournament?s Mediterranean heavyweights.Malta then met Lebanon for the ultimate sevens match up between the Mediterranean nations, the match delayed for 45 minutes as former NRL livewire Wes Patten led a protest to dispute a previous refereeing decision. Hollywood actor Russell Crowe became a mediator in settling the disagreement, which posed a threat to tarnishing the magnificent tournament in the final hours.Malta and Lebanon later returned to the field for the eagerly awaited semi final contest. Wests Magpies? Pat Galea also taking the field, albeit with a broken hand suffered in the opening match of the tournament.Lebanon played the perfect game of sevens rugby league and with all credit due, edged out Malta by 32-26.Malta placed third, a marked improvement from the fourth place finish of 2005.Lebanon went on defeat Fiji and become back-to-back champions of the Orara Valley Sevens.Further to the haul of awards, Malta?s newest debutant Jarrod Sammut took out the tournament?s top point scorer award with a tally of 38 points.Despite the class shown throughout the finals, the hosts awarded Malta?s Daniel Spiteri with the tournament?s player of the finals, capping off another triumphant appearance and further promoting the thriving energies of Maltese rugby league.Ex NRL and Super League star Ben Sammut, skipper of the Malta Knights received the highest of accolades when presented as the overall player of the tournament by the host club, for the second year in succession.Ubeeco?s Joe Borg presented the Maltese Rugby League Association?s internal player of the tournament award to Simon Micallef and praised the MRLA?s efforts towards the prosperous weekend.In scoring 38 points over the weekend, Jarrod Sammut also received the MRLA?s top point scorer award.2006 Orara Valley Sevens Player of the TournamentBen Sammut (Mlt)2006 Orara Valley Sevens Player of the Finals Daniel Spiteri (Mlt)2006 Orara Valley Sevens Top Point scorerJarrod Sammut (Mlt) 38 Points2006 Orara Valley Sevens International team of the TournamentBen Sammut (Mlt)Jarrod Sammut (Mlt)Simon Micallef (Mlt)2006 MRLA Orara Valley Sevens Player of the TournamentSimon Micallef (Mlt)2006 MRLA Orara Valley Sevens Top Point scorerJarrod Sammut (Mlt) 38 PointsDAY OneGroup AGame 1Malta 28 (S. Micallef 2, J. Sammut 2, J. Micallef, Clews tries; J. Sammut, Clews goals)defeated Gold Coast Titans 22Game 2Malta 30 (J. Sammut 2, D. Spiteri, J. Micallef, B. Sammut, B. Russell tries; J. Sammut 2, B. Sammut goals) defeated Crescent Head 16Game 3Malta 26 (S. Borg, S. Micallef, D. Spiteri, P. Marzella, P. Galea tries; S. Borg, S. Micallef, P Marzella goals)defeated Australian Maoris 8Day TwoRound of 16Malta 34 (D. Spiteri 2, S. Borg, S. Micallef, P. Marzella, J. Sammut tries; S. Borg, S. Micallef, P Marzella, J. Sammut 2 goals)defeated Sydney Bulls 26Quarter FinalsMalta 30 (J. Micallef 2, S. Micallef, D. Spiteri, J. Sammut, N. Attard tries; D. Spiteri, J. Micallef, J. Sammut goals)defeated Narwan 8Semi FinalsMalta 26 (S. Micallef, D. Spiteri, J. Micallef, J. Sammut, W. Grech tries; D. Spiteri, J. Micallef, W. Grech goals)lost to Lebanon 323v4 PlayoffMalta won on forfeit vs Auburn Warriors

Bulls set for Wests Tigers challenge

BY all reports Super League Champions Bradford Bulls will have the backing of the entire City of Bradford when they take on Wests Tigers in the World Club Challenge this weekend.The annual clash between the English Super League champions and Australia's National Rugby League Premiers and kicks off this Friday night in Huddersfield.Home country advantage should see Bradford go in as favourites, the Bulls having beaten both Penrith and Newcastle in previous challenge matches over the last four years.Wests Tigers will be playing in their first ever World Club Challenge.Bradford Bulls squad:Michael Withers, Marcus Bai, Shontayne Hape, Ben Harris, Dave Halley, Andy Smith, Karl Pryce, Iestyn Harris, Joe Vagana, Ian Henderson, Stuart Fielden, Brad Meyers, Chris McKenna, Paul Johnson, Adam Watene, Andy Lynch, Janie Langley, Brett Ferres, Matt Cook, Matty Brooks, Ryan Atkins.Coach: Brian NobleWests Tigers squad:Brett Hodgson, Shannon McDonnell, Paul Whatuira, Dean Collis, Jamaal Lolesi, Daniel Fitzhenry, Scott Prince (c), Bryce Gibbs, Robbie Farah, John Skandalis, Chris Heighington, Anthony Laffranchi, Ben Galea, Liam Fulton, Bronson Harrison, Sam Harris, Ryan O'Hara, Keith Galloway.Coach: Tim SheensKick off:The 2006 World Club Challenge kicks off 8:00pm (GMT) this Friday, 3 February (7:00am Saturday, 4 February Sydney time) at Galpharm Stadium, Huddersfield.Ticketing and travel:Bradford Bulls website - click hereLive match updates:www.leagueunlimited.comPREVIOUS WCC RESULTS2005 Leeds d Bulldogs 39-322004 Bradford d Penrith 22-4 2003 Sydney Roosters d St Helens 38-02002 Bradford d Newcastle 41-262001 St Helens d Brisbane 20-182000 Melbourne d St Helens 44-61997 Brisbane d Hunter Mariners 36-12*1993 Wigan d Brisbane 20-141992 Brisbane d Wigan 22-81991 Wigan d Penrith 21-41989 Widnes d Canberra 30-181987 Wigan d Manly 8-21976 Easts d St Helens 25-2* run as a separate competition rather than as a challenge game between competition premiers.Source: ARL

Drew denies Tigers victory

A last-minute try from Huddersfield hooker Brad Drew denied newly promoted Castleford victory in their final pre-season game before their engage Super League opener against Hull on February 10.

Hull see off spirited Dragons

HULL continued their preparations for the new season with a 24-10 win over Catalans Dragons, although John Kear?s men were made to work hard for the victory by the Super League newcomers.

Peacock impresses on Rhinos debut

GREAT Britain captain Jamie Peacock made a tryscoring debut for Leeds as the Rhinos overcame a lively Harlequins 28-18 in front of a 4,029 crowd at Headingley Carnegie Stadium.

Berrigan escapes surgery

THE Brisbane Broncos say hooker Barry Berrigan is unlikely to have further surgery on his neck before the upcoming NRL season. Berrigan has been cleared by team medicos of any damage to the area where two vertebrae were fused during surgery in late 2004. He will visit his spinal surgeon in Brisbane this evening after complaining of pain in the area for the past few weeks.

Zillman signs on until 2009

THE Canberra Raiders have re-signed promising junior William Zillman until 2009.Zillman is seen as a future star by the club and securing his services for a further three seasons allows the Raiders to maintain and develop their up and coming stars as they try and rebuild the club into a successful franchise, one to return the Raiders to the upper echelon of NRL clubs.Zillman was voted by his peers to the Raiders leadership group and last week attended the NRL rookie camp in Sydney so he is seen by the club as a lynch pin to their future prospects.The Raiders are looking to secure the services of current players Phil Graham, Jermaine Ale and David Howell before the start of the 2006 NRL season.

Redcliffe Dolphins News

THE Redcliffe Dolphins have just returned from a weekend training camp in Gympie where the whole club were put their paces with conditioning sessions, defensive sessions, attacking sessions as well as a video session and a lecture on club policy and procedures. Head coach Anthony Griffin was very pleased with how all the players went on the camp. "We will probably tinker with the format a little bit, but I think it was a success." he said. "Not only the players,I think some of us coaches got a bit of it as well, I think we (Coaches) realised we weren't as fit as we thought" he added.As the Dolphins prepare for their first hit out against Broncos/Toowoomba squad on February 18 there is a spring in everybodies step because they know a game is just around the corner. Griffin is expected to name his squad this week.The Broncos and Dolphins affiliation although only in it's infancy is proving to be winner with several members of the Dolphins senior squad being invited to train with the NRL squad Shane Perry, Nick Emmett, Pat Gardner and Danny Green (pictured) have been some of the Dolphins who have participated in the sessions.It will be a new look Dolphins that take the field in the opening trial and I don't just mean the new signings. The club has turned back the clock and will be wearing a new strip this season.

Prince free to negotiate

WESTS Tigers have given half-back and captain Scott Prince permission to speak to three NRL Clubs before June 30, 2006.Steve Robinson, Prince?s manager, and the Wests Tigers club reached an agreement last week whereby Prince is only allowed to talk to the Queensland Clubs.Both parties will then meet at the end of February to enable Wests Tigers to conduct final negotiations with Prince. The matter is hoped to be resolved before the start of the season on March 10.

Lebanon go back to back at Orara Valley Sevens

THE picturesque Orara Valley Axemen?s home ground in Coramba, New South Wales was the scene of an epic 2006 Orara Valley Sevens Final yesterday between defending champions, Lebanon, and the desperately unlucky Fiji Batis.In what was a pulsating encounter of high quality rugby league, Lebanon scored 6 tries (all unconverted) to 5, to win narrowly 24-22. The match ended with a gallant Fiji side, minus injured captain Semesa Cadrakiliagi, attacking relentlessly with magnificent, open rugby league (as they had played all tournament) and Lebanon frustrating each successive wave of attack with superb scrambling defence.In earlier matches, Lebanon had disposed of Fiji A, Guyra, Leichhardt Wonderers, Tigers, Moore Park (controversially) and tournament surprise packets, Malta. Fiji Batis had lost their opening game to Hoey Moey before warming to their form in successive winning matches against Renown, Sawtell, North Ryde Hawks, Gold Coast Titans ? in advance of their debut entry into the NRL competition in 2007 ? and the talented Auburn Warriors.Lebanon?s semi-final with Malta was delayed for approximately 20 minutes with Moore Park formally submitting a protest over their losing result against Lebanon (28-18) in an earlier quarterfinal. The protest, involving former NRL player Wes Patten, seemed to focus on a disallowed Moore Park try at a crucial stage. Hollywood royalty was called in to deal with the dispute with Russell Crowe intervening to ensure the tournament continued without a change of semi-final combatants.The tension before the Final reached a crescendo with the intimidation of the Fijian war dance concluding literally in the faces of the Lebanese players, who reacted with calm indifference as they stood linked arm-in-arm on the halfway line. Fiji?s attitude to proceedings was demonstrated with a chip ahead on the second tackle after Lebanon?s kick-off and they duly took the lead with Marika Korovue crossing for a try after concerted pressure.Lebanon showed good speed with Johnny Geaves scoring yet another in a tournament full of tries for him, to level up the match at 4-4. Fiji?s glorious instinct to move the ball at every occasion saw a 60m penetration involving 6 players nearly bring off another try before Lebanon took the lead for the first time at 8-4 with a try in the corner to Fred Khouiss. Fiji were not assisted by the absence of a key player after NRL referee Shane Hayne dispatched Semisi Tora to the sinbin for a crucial 3 minute stint. Perhaps the turning point in this match (and the tournament) was Cadrakiliagi throwing an intercept and then injuring his knee in quickly rounding up the Lebanese recipient Samer El Masri. The Fijian captain played no further part in the Final ? a factor that may have proved costly judging by his fine early form throughout the tournament. Shortly after, a visibly shaken Fiji, conceded the second of a brace of tries to that man Geaves, resulting in a 12-4 lead to Lebanon. Fortunately for Fiji, the kicking at goal by Lebanon (failing to register a conversion from 6 attempts) was abysmal. Tournament rules prescribed that the try scorer must take a drop-kick attempt at conversion resulting in some interesting interpretations of this difficult art from patently uncomfortable kickers.Lebanon then showed good flair to make heavy inroads into Fijian territory before scoring an intelligent try from a kick to Toufic Nicholas. Fiji, sensing their opportunity slipping, ceaselessly attacked the Lebanese defensive line, resulting in the talented Max Bainivalu responding with a try after Meli Vosuqa and Tora had combined superbly. At halftime ? the Final was comprised of two 12-minute halves - Lebanon stood tall at 16-8.Lebanon started the second half in a flurry with standout player Jason Stanton finishing off clever attacking work from four other players to help the Cedars pull away to a nearly insurmountable 20-8 lead. Clever work by Korovue sent Ioware Divavesi in for an immediate Fijian response with a converted try under the posts, narrowing the gap to just 6 points.A massive tackle by giant Fijian Neori Kurumalawai momentarily halted Lebanon?s momentum before Travis Touma regained it for the defending champions with a try to make the score 24-14.It was at this point that Fiji really threw off the shackles to enthral the crowd with high pace, sevens rugby league. Quick tries to both Korovue and then Bainivalu, helping each to register two for the match, saw Fiji close the gap to 24-22. Bainivalu, in particular, and Tora proved a menace out wide with Fiji striving to keep the ball alive at every juncture with flowing football. Only desperate Lebanon defence, with Mo Chahal especially prominent, saw the final grasping tackle effected on a Fijian attacker before the hooter blasted out its final note.Lebanon?s jubilation at successive tournament victories was all the more vivid when contrasted with the abject disappointment of the Fijians, a fact that made the post-game embraces between the rival players all the more noteworthy. This reflected what was a spirited but sportsmanlike tournament throughout.Best players for Lebanon were Chahal, Stanton and Ahmad El Masri and for Fiji Bainivalu, Tora and Vosuqa.Overall the tournament was a great success with three of the final four places being contested by international sides (nine competed). Malta was officially awarded third place for an all-international top three. The promoters of the tournament could do worse then invite even more international sides next year, although the contribution of country teams in particular was also exceptional.If the World Sevens is not to be revived by the Australian Rugby League in the near future, this tournament itself could be an avenue for much needed international development as Fiji, Lebanon and Malta have demonstrated rugby league has such great potential for.

Bradford deny Noble link to Newcastle

ENGLISH Super League champions Bradford Bulls have rubbished reports linking coach Brian Noble with the imminent vacancy at Australian club Newcastle Knights.Noble, whose contract as Britain coach ends after this year's Tri-Nations Series in New Zealand and Australia, was reported in Sydney to have applied to succeed Michael Hagan when he leaves the Knights for Parramatta at the end of this year. Bradford chief executive Gareth Davies says he has sat down with Noble to discuss the issue and the coach absolutely refutes having had any contact with the Knights.Davies said Noble has stated he would like to coach in a warmer environment like Australia in the future but he is contracted this year and next year with Bradford. Noble is preparing the Bulls for Friday's World Club Challenge with Wests Tigers.Newcastle, who ended last season with the National Rugby League wooden spoon, enjoyed success under a previous Great Britain coach, Malcolm Reilly, who took them to a first Grand Final win in 1997.

Tough Test Just What Doctor Ordered For Bears Juniors

?35 degrees against the Premiers ? can?t get a bigger test up front than that,? commented Norths General Manager Greg Florimo as the Bears Harold Matthews squad tested their mental in 1 & half hours of 20-minute quarters against Penrith.With a possession of 2:1 in favour of Penrith the Bears will head into their next trials with a clear plan of what to improve and work on. ?It came down to simple mistakes: controlling the play, drop ball allowing Penrith to hit back and probably a lack of experience in aggression.All fixable problems? said Co-coach Kevin Nichols. ?It?s absolutely fixable, we will turn this experience into a positive,? said fellow coach Gary Armstrong.The SG Ball camp are confident of a competitive year with the under 18 boys at times dominating the Penrith side. An even matched affair till the Penrith club brought on fresh teams to trial, the aggressive and talkative North Sydney side performed admirably against the Panthers.It was a tough encounter with Norths Brock Harmer being knocked out and a strong performance by John Faletau. But just like that well-known TV show, assistant coach Jamie Papa felt ?there?s room for improvement?. Jamie trained one of the most competitive Bears Premier League sides in a number of years in the 2005 season.The Bears next trial will be against the Manly Sea Eagles on the 4thFebruary.PHOTO: S.G. Balls' John Faletau crossing the line in a extraordinarily tough trial match against Penrith. Photo: Steve LittleFor more action photos of the Junior Reps trial against Penrith go here - North Sydney Rugby League Football Club can be contacted on 9466 8860, by e-mail [email protected], or check out the website at

Stuart fires back at Sheens claim

AUSTRALIAN coach Ricky Stuart has hit back at claims from Tim Sheens that only one Wests Tigers player had been considered for the Kangaroos squad.Premiership-winning coach Sheens slammed the Australian Rugby League for failing to let him know where his players stood on the representative scene. Sheens has told radio station Triple M he heard a rumour only one Tigers player was considered for the 44-man national squad which went into camp in Bondi this weekend.But Stuart says that was not the case and added he thought he was doing the right thing by the Tigers by allowing their players to miss the camp as they prepare for the World Club Challenge. The Tigers fly out to England tonight for Saturday's (AEDT) clash with English champions Bradford after playing a trial match on Friday in the NSW town of Gunnedah.Stuart says ARL boss Geoff Carr had explained the situation to both Wests recruitment manager Warren McDonnell and chief executive Steve Noyce.

Lebanon down Fiji to win Orara final - all results

LEBANON have won the Orara Sevens tournament in Coffs Harbour after defeating Fiji Bati 24-22 in the final. The Cedars led 16-8 at halftime.The Malta Knights finished third after the Auburn Warriors forfeited due to injuries. Malta's Ben Sammut was awarded player of the tournament.Meanwhile, the Orara Valley Axeman defeated Narwan Eels 28-24 in the country final.Full list of resultsThe 2006 Orara Valley Axemen Sevens TournamentResults Day 1 - Qualifying GroupTeam v Team Score A Malta v Gold Coast Titans 28-22 A Crescent Head v Aust Maoris 10-0 A Gold Coast Titans v Aust Maoris 24-8 A Malta v Crescent Head 30-16 A Malta v Aust Maoris 26-8 A Gold Coast v Crescent Head 38-0 B Hoey Moey v Fiji Bati 20-8 B Renown v Sawtell 26-12 B Renown v Hoey Moey 20-16 B Fiji Bati v Sawtell 34-14 B Fiji Bati v Renown 46-0 B Hoey Moey v Sawtell 22-8 C Birrigan Gargle v Cook Island 20-12 C South Sydney v Woolgoolga 20-4 C South Sydney v Birrigan Gargle 28-0 C Woolgoolga v Cook Island 18-10 C South Sydney v Cook Island 22-14 C Woolgoolga v Birrigan Gargle 22-14 D Lebanon v Fiji A 18-4 D Guyra v Leichhardt Wanderers 20-12 D Fiji A v Guyra 36-26 D Lebanon v Leichhardt Wanderers 44-14 D Lebanon v Guyra 32-16 D Fiji A v Leichhardt Wanderers 24-20 E Auburn Warriors v Sydney Bulls 30-14 E Hunter Magpies v Nambucca Heads 22-8 E Hunter Magpies v Auburn Warriors 28-8 E Sydney Bulls v Nambucca Heads 34-16 E Sydney Bulls v Hunter Magpies 28-8 E Auburn Warriors v Nambucca Heads 38-8 F Moore Park v Sydney Metro 24-22 F Coffs Hotel v Comets 24-22 F Moore Park v Comets 32-16 F Sydney Metro v Coffs Hotel 18-16 F Sydney Metro v Comets 50-8 F Moore Park v Coffs Hotel 36-14 G Camperdown v Orara Gold 6-6 G Axemen v USA 24-4 G Camperdown v USA 22-14 G Axemen v Orara Gold 14-4 G USA v Orara Gold 24-24 G Axemen v Camperdown 22-22 H North Ryde Hawks v Japan 32-0 H Narwan Eels v Armidale 32-4 H Narwan Eels v North Ryde Hawks 14-0 H Armidale v Japan 16-14 H Narwan Eels v Japan 30-6 H North Ryde Hawks v Armidale 30-22 I NZ Maoris v Gimbisi I Tigers v Byron Bay 24-14 I Gimbisi v Byron Bay 16-10 I NZ Maoris v Tigers 26-12 I NZ Maoris v Byron Bay 48-10 I Tigers v Gimbisi 38-16 Results Day 2 - Finals GameTeam v Team Score Round 1 Malta v Sydney Bulls 34-26 Round 1 Narwan v Hoey Moey 30-20 Round 1 Lebanon v Tigers 16-0 Round 1 Moore Park v Axemen 28-22 Round 1 Fiji Bati v North Ryde 28-8 Round 1 Gold Coast Titans v NZ Maoris 14-8 Round 1 Auburn v Camperdown 30-4 Round 1 Sydney Metro v South Sydney 32-22 Quarter Final Malta v Narwan 30-8 Quarter Final Lebanon v Moore Park 28-22 Quarter Final Fiji Bati v Gold Coast 30-20 Quarter Final Auburn v Sydney Metro 24-22 Semi Final Lebanon v Malta 32-26 Semi Final Fiji Bati v Auburn 26-18 3rd v 4th Malta v Auburn Forfeit Grand Final Lebanon v Fiji Bati 24-22 Best Player Award - QualifyingName Team Votes Matt Austin Gold Coast Titans 6 Mejid Hussein Auburn 6 Wes Patten Moore Park 6 John Nash Coffs Hotel 6 Craig Trindle Sydney Metro 6 Best Player Award - FinalsName Team Votes Daniel Spiteri Malta 6 Jason Stanton Lebanon 5 Mejid Hussein Auburn 4 Mohamed Chanal Lebanon 4 Most Points for the WeekendName Team Points Jarrod Sammut Malta 38 Walter Imo Auburn 36 Shannon Walker Gold Coast Titans 44 Anthony Aviery Moore Park 44 Best Team AwardsAward Winner Best National Team Auburn Best International Team Lebanon Best Country Team Orara Valley Axemen Many thanks to Hans Van Der Donk from the Orara Valley Axemen. Website: www.oraravalleyaxemen.comAnd the Coffs Harbour City Council. Website:

Rangi Impresses But Cowboys Prove Too Strong

ROCKHAMPTON Leagues Club Central Queensland Comets lock forward Herewini Rangi showed he is going to be a handy recruit but unfortunately the experienced Cowboys were just too good for his side the Comets defeating them 44-nil at Browne Park, Rockhampton on Saturday February 12 in the second round of the Minniecon & Burke Comets Pre-Season Challenge.

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