Norths Premier League go from strength to strength

IN their second trial match of 2006 the Bears Premier League side have matched the Newtown Jets 6 tries apiece. In a fiercely competitive match the Bears showed intensity and purpose and performed admirably under a high penalty count.Against a Newtown side that boasted no less than 10 players with NRL experience, halves Ben Black and Daniel Russell led the side well. Both players are great communicators and they gave the newly formed side direction around the park. Also on hand were Melbourne Storm players Sam Tagataese and Ryan Shortland.Despite the strong showing Josh White believes they can improve. ?It was a roller coaster performance and you know what, that?s good because there?s room for improvement. You don?t win Grand Finals in February?.Also played at Henson Park prior to the Premier League the Bears Flegg side faced the Roosters while the Jets Jim Beam Cup side defeated Asquith 22-10.PHOTO: Hard running Karl Johnson barges through the Newtown defence.Picture by Steve Little.All four grades trial again this weekend. The Premier League will fly up to Tweed Heads to play the Tweed Heads Seagulls on 18th February. The Flegg will play Parramatta at Cabramatta Sports Ground also on the 18th while the Junior Reps will trial against Mt Annan also on Saturday the18th.For more action photos of the North Sydney Flegg and Premier League over the weekend go to the photos section - North Sydney Rugby League Football Club can be contacted on 9466 8860, by e-mail [email protected], or check out the website at

Broncos trial team to play Canberra

THE Brisbane Broncos have named their team to play against the Canberra Raiders at the Regional Sports Stadium in Port Macquarie on Saturday night.Broncos: Nick Parfitt, Scott Minto, Justin Hodges, Steve Michaels, Tame Tupou, Casey McGuire, Karmichael Hunt, Shane Webcke (c), Michael Ennis, Corey Parker, Neville Costigan, Brad Thorn, Dane Carlaw.Interchange: Ben Hannant, Petero Civoniceva, Darius Boyd, Greg Eastwood, Shane Perry, Leon Bott (emergency).

Newtown Jets show promising form in win over Bears

THERE were plenty of Rugby League celebrities on hand when the Newtown Jets took on North Sydney in the opening VB Premier League trial match at Henson Park on Saturday evening. Sydney Roosters Chairman Nick Politis and several of his fellow Board members kept a close eye on proceedings, while former Balmain Tigers greats Wayne Pearce and Steve Roach were also interested spectators. The Roosters NRL and newly installed Australian coach Ricky Stuart and Newtown Jets head coach Paul Young carefully monitored the form of triallists in all three games during the afternoon. The Newtown Jets, reinforced by quality players from their new partners the Sydney Roosters, had to stage a come from behind victory in their VB Premier League trial against the North Sydney Bears. The Jets won an entertaining match by 28-26, after Norths had led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter. The injection of multi-talented half-back Jamie Soward after quarter-time reaped immediate dividends for Newtown, with Soward being directly involved in all three of the Jets second quarter converted tries. Newtown Jets coach Paul Young reports that he regarded this as a very useful trial match indeed. It was his first opportunity to observe his new charges under match conditions, and despite the inevitable untidiness associated with using 28 players in a match, he is confident that there is a very solid basis to work with as the first round of the 2006 premiership competition rapidly approaches on the 12th March. Roosters NRL coach Ricky Stuart addressed the Premier League players at half-time in their match, no doubt the first time that the current Australian Test team coach has spoken to Newtown players in the Henson Park dressing rooms for many years. In the Jim Beam Cup curtain-raiser match, Newtown trailed Asquith by 10-4 at half-time but finished strongly to take out this trial game by 22-10. Coach Greg Matterson was mindful of Newtown?s early-season mistake rate but praised his players for their willingness to defend determinedly for extended periods of the game. Newtown utilised 27 players in this game and showed there was a useful body of material to work with for the new season. Several Sydney Roosters officials commented favourably on the quality of Newtown?s reserves talent on display. Jim Dymock?s Sydney Roosters Jersey Flegg squad showed what a formidable proposition they are going to be for their opponents this year, when they demolished North Sydney by 56-12 earlier on Saturday afternoon. The Newtown Jets have a busy program of trial matches next weekend. One squad will travel to the Central Coast Stadium, Gosford next Saturday (February 18th) to play as the main curtain-raiser to the Roosters v Manly-Warringah official NRL trial. The VB Premier League trial against the Sea Eagles kicks off at 5.30pm. On Sunday (February 19th), the full-strength Newtown VB Premier League squad is at home at Henson Park to the Bulldogs, with this popular local derby trial match due to start at 5.00pm. Given the excellent attendance at Saturday?s match against North Sydney, there?s bound to be even greater interest in the Newtown-Bulldogs local derby trial at Henson Park this Sunday. Caption:Giant Newtown second rower David Vial, pictured scoring in a 2005 Jim Beam Cup game, impressed Roosters officials at Henson Park on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Gary Sutherland Photography.

Sonny Bill Williams out for six weeks

INJURY-PRONE Bulldogs forward Sonny Bill Williams has suffered another setback in his bid to get back on the field in the National Rugby League.His club issued a short statement this morning saying the 20-year-old Kiwi international will be sidelined for six weeks after scans revealed stress fractures in his foot. Williams is still on the road to recovery from a serious knee injury suffered last year.The NRL season starts in less than a month's time, with the first round on March 10-12.It's a bitter pill to swallow for Williams, who's still undergoing rehabilitation for a serious knee injury suffered in round 13 last season. He was expected to play in the season opener against Penrith on March 11 before his latest setback.Williams played just five NRL games last year after tearing cartilage in his right knee. The Dogs take on Cronulla in Mollymook on Saturday and New Zealand Warriors on the Gold Coast a week later in pre-season trials.Here's a rundown of Sonny Bill's injury woes:April 26, 2004: ankle v South Sydney - 12 gamesNovember 6, 2004: shoulder v Great Britain - two TestsApril 3, 2005: ankle v Cronulla - 7 gamesJune 4, 2005: knee cartilage v South Sydney - 12 gamesFebruary 13, 2006: stress fractures in both feet pre-season - expected to miss six weeks.

ESL Round 1 Review

RESULTS:CASTLEFORD Tigers 18, Hull FC 42. Att: 10,188Harlequins RL 16, St Helens 40. Att: 8,213Catalans Dragons 38, Wigan Warriors 30. Att: 11,122Leeds Rhinos 20, Huddersfield Giants 12. Att: 16,119Wakefield Wildcats 14, Bradford Bulls 20. Att: 9,157Warrington Wolves 6, Salford City Reds 24. Att: 10,845Engage Super League XI got underway at the Jungle on Friday night when Hull FC convincingly defeated newly promoted Castleford Tigers. Hull ran in eight tries with new signing Sid Domic being the game?s most outstanding player. His explosive running caused the Tigers numerous problems and was credited with been the first try scorer of Super League XI. Kirk Yeaman also scored twice for Hull. Although the result was disappointing for the Tigers they still managed to breach the Hull defence on four occasions with Gray Viane scoring two tries, the others coming from Ryan McGoldrick and Richard Fa'aoso.Saturday afternoon saw title favourites St Helens easily dispose of new boys Harlequins RL at the Twickenham Stoop in front of a bumper crowd. Saints ran in seven tries with Great Britain full-back Paul Wellens scoring a hat-trick and former Rooster Jason Cayless scoring on debut. Jamie Lyon contributed sixteen points with a try and six goals. Harlequins suffered a pre match blow when influential skipper Mark McLinden did not make the starting line up due injury. However they did score three consolation tries against an awesome looking Saints.Super League new boys Catalan Dragons stunned Wigan Warriors in a pulsating debut in southern France on Saturday night. The Dragons side produced a stirring display to send the Warriors to an unlikeley defeat. Playing with assured confidence Les Catalans kept it tight all the way in their first ever Super League game and got off to a fantastic start when on their first attack ex-Knight Mark Hughes scored their first ever try. In a ding-dong battle the lead changed hands on six occasions and the Dragons appeared to be heading for defeat when the Warriors lead 30-26 with only a few minutes left on the clock. But two converted tries from Ian Hindmarsh and Julien Rinaldi gave the Les Catalans victory and a dream start to their campaign.Leeds Rhinos opened their campaign with hard fought victory over a much-improved Huddersfield Giants before a near capacity card at Headingley Carnegie Stadium. Former Manly Sea Eagle winger Scott Donald produced a good all-round display by scoring the Rhinos second try and a making a last ditch try saving tackle on the Giants Chris Nero. The Giants withstood a second half barrage by the Rhinos but only conceded a late Danny McGuire Try. For the Giants Brad Drew was busy as ever and newcomer Albert Torrens scored on his debut. The game was played on heavy, sandy surface and with persistent rain throughout made handling difficult.Super League champions Bradford Bulls came from behind to defeat a spirited Wakefield Wildcats at Belle Vue. A sock was on the cards until a late try by Kiwi star Shontayne Hape put Bradford in front for the first time and despite Wildcats pressure the Bulls held on for a hard fought victory. Paul Deacon playing his first game since being severely injured for Great Britain in the Tri-Nations series kicked four goals, which proved to be the difference between the teams.Under strength Salford City Reds stunned much-fancied Warrington Wolves with a shock win at the Halliwell Jones Stadium. Papua New Guinea International, John Wilshire, scored two first half tries to put the Reds in a commanding position. Warrington Wolves scored early in the 2nd half when Henry Fa?afili went over to cut the deficit, but further tries by the City Reds sealed a most unlikely victory for the visitors. Salford were missing four key players including their main first choice halfbacks but a disappointing new-look Warrington Wolves never troubled them.Looking back at the first weekend of Engage Super League XI the most encouraging signs were the overall match attendances, which averaged nearly 11,000 and the two unlikely results at Warrington in southern France, where new boys Les Catalans made a terrific start to life in Super League.

Raiders squash a Warriors comeback

THE Canberra Raiders have shaken off a second-half comeback by the New Zealand Warriors to win 28-16 in a wet pre-season NRL match in Auckland.The Raiders had a 22-0 lead early in the second half but three successive tries by the Warriors made it a contest before the visitors closed out the game of four 20-minute quarters.Canberra Raiders 28 (L Withers C Schifcofske R Hinchcliffe D Milne A Purtell tries, C Schifcofske 4 goals) def. New Zealand Warriors 16 (T Byrne T Martin C Vuna tries T Martin 2 goals) at North Harbour Stadium.

Cronk shines in Ballina trial

MELBOURNE halfback Cooper Cronk has steered the Storm to a 38-18 victory over the Parramatta Eels. The pre-season trial was played in humid conditions over 20 minute quarters at Kingsford Smith Park in Ballina.In a first half where referee Gavin Badger handed out 13 penalties, the Storm were able to stamp their authority on proceedings with tries to Billy Slater, Steve Turner and Matt Geyer, Cronk's kicking game was instrumental in setting up Geyer's try. Parramatta replied with tries to Luke O'Dwyer and Tim Smith, O'Dwyer's try being set up by new five-eighth Brett Delaney. The only injury in the first 40 minutes was Parramatta's Peter Lewis who was carted off after being flattened by Storm recruit Michael Crocker. Lewis was able to return to put in a strong performance in the second half.At half time, Melbourne held a 16-12 lead.The second half saw Parramatta experimenting with new combinations which resulted in numerous handling errors. Melbourne extended their lead and tries to Cronk in the 45th and 54th saw the score blow out to 28-12. Chris Walker, who limped off with cramp late in the match, and Kiwi international Jake Webster crossed as well to make in seven tries for the Storm. Jarryd Hayne scored Parramatta's only try in the second half.Best player on the park was Melbourne's Cooper Cronk. Five-eighth Geyer and fullback Slater were standouts as well as Nathan Friend who came on to replace Cronk in the second half. Parramatta's Delaney, who appears to have 'bulked up' in the off-season played strongly. Halfback Tim Smith and utility Dean Widders who, along with Delaney, was trialed in the five-eighth position put in strong performances. Rookie forward Zeb Taia was also a standout for the Eels.Scorers:STORM 38Tries: Cronk 2, Slater, Turner, Geyer, Walker, WebsterGoals: Inglis 3, C Smith 2EELS 18Tries: O'Dwyer, T Smith, HayneGoals: Burt 2 , DelaneyHalf time: Storm 16-12Three quarter time: 28-12Kickoff: 5:45pm.Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina. Crowd: Approx 7,000Referees: Gavin Badger and Steven ClarkLeagueunlimited Players of the match:3 - C Cronk (Storm)2 - M Geyer (Storm)1 - B Slater (Storm)Pic: Cooper Cronk (

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Catalans upset Wigan to win debut Super League match

A huge disappointment for the Wigan Warriors, as they were narrowly defeated in their engage Super League opener against the new boys the Catalans Dragons in the south of France.Over 11,000 watched the history making clash, 2,000 in cherry and white and in a real nipand tuck encounter it was the home side that snatched the points.Wigan were off to the worst possible start losing possession straight from the kick off and from the scrum the home side spread the ball to the left and within sixty seconds the French side were off to a flying start through a Mark Hughes try in the corner. The conversion hit the upright and the Dragons led 4-0.On seven minutes Wigan replied as David Vaealiki found winger Brett Dallas to crash in at the corner, referee Ashley Klein checking with the video official before the try was given. Dallas just managing to ground the ball. Danny Tickles conversion hit the posts; the game was all-square at 4-4.On 11 minutes Danny Tickle was involved in sending in Iafeta Paleaaesina for Wigans second try under the sticks, the big prop showing a turn of pace and enjoyed diving over for the try, this time Tickle hit the extras to make it 4-10.The Catalans hit straight back on 16 minutes, a clever Stacey Jones kick and Frayssinous gathered for the try and he hit the conversion to make it 10-10.On 31 minutes, the Dragons scored their third try, a short pass found the strong Jamal Fakir and he was able to power over, Frayssinous hit the conversion, 16-10 to the home side.Catalans were reduced to ten men with Fakir thrown in the sin bin for two offences in quick succession and from the next tackle Dennis Moran stepped left and right to confuse the home defence for the Warriors third try. It was a simple goal, which Tickle notched to square the game again at 16-16.Just when it looked as if the sides would be level at the interval Ian Millward?s men found a gap as Mark Calderwood raced clear. From the support play, O?Loughlin and Moran involved for a Jerry Seuseu try, his first for the club. Tickle was accurate with the extras to make it 16-22 after forty minutes.On 46 minutes, the Catalans Dragons squeezed in for a try, their fourth in the corner through Renaud Guigue, the goal was missed 20-22. On 52 minutes the home side were in again, swift handling and Justin Murphy crossing on the right hand side to make it 26-22 as Fraysinnous slotted the goal over once more.Wigan wasted a great opportunity on 63 minutes as Sean O?Loughlin lost the ball with the try line in his sights.On 70 minutes the Warriors responded, Aussie Pat Richards with the try, handing off the Dragons full back on the right hand touchline. Calderwood with a quick tap from his own twenty and the ball through numerous hands before Ashton sent Richards away, Tickle hit the goal. There then followed another penalty and Wigan led 26-30.The Dragons were not done, Ian Hindmarsh with a try for the home side to square it at 30 all with five minutes left. Frayssinous had pressure for the conversion and he hit it through the sticks to make it 32-30.A Julian Rinaldi try in the dying moments which took a decision from the video ref and with Frayssinous the goal it mean?t the points for the home side in the bag and it ended 38-30.CATALANS DRAGONS 38Tries: Hughes, Frayssinous, Fakir, Guigue, Murphy, Hindmarsh,Rinaldi Goals: Frayssinous 5 Team: Laurent Frayssinous, Justin Murphy, John Wilson, Teddy Sadaoui, Mark Hughes, Sean Rudder, Stacey Jones, Chris Beattie, Julien Rinaldi, Adel Fellous, Jerome Guisset, Jamal Fakir, Ian Hindmarsh. Subs: Renaud Guigue, Pascal Jampy, Gregory Mounis, Alex Chan.Defeated WIGAN WARRIORSTries Dallas, Paleaaesina, Moran, Seuseu, Richards Goals: Tickle 5Team: Chris Ashton, Mark Calderwood, Pat Richards, David Vaealiki, Brett Dallas,Joel Tomkins, Dennis Moran, Scott Logan, Mick Higham, Iafeta Paleaaesina, Harrison Hansen, Danny Tickle, Sean O'Loughlin. Subs: Kevin Brown, Jerry Seuseu, Wayne Godwin, Danny Orr.Referee: Ashley KleinHalftime: Wigan 22-16Venue: Stade Aime Giral, Perpignan (Catalans)Crowd: 11,122

Raiders offer Elliott contract extension

CANBERRA has tabled coach Matthew Elliott a new one-year deal to prevent him from being poached by rival NRL club Newcastle.Elliott, who is off contract after 2006, has been approached by the Knights to replace Michael Hagan from next year, but says his preference is to remain in the nation's capital. Raiders CEO Simon Hawkins says he is confident of a deal being struck with Elliott soon.

Bears pride and passion on display in trial wins

THE Bears Harold Matthews team has applied a combination of pride, passion and teamwork to defeat their Manly counter-parts on Sunday. In a solid win, momentum built as the talk of pride in being a Bear brought on a renewed aggression in attack and defence. Resisting the urge to name any standouts coach Kevin Nichols said, ?Everyone put in and everyone stood up and worked together, showing pride in their jersey and the passion of the Bears?.In their first hit out of the season The North Sydney Premier League team hammered a combination A grade/Jim Beam Cup Windsor side 60 to nil. The Bears started off by taking on Windsor A-Grade in two 20-minute halves. Then using the same 19-man squad played two more 20-minute halves against Windsor?s Jim Beam Cup side who won the Cup last year.The most impressive aspect of the display was that Windsor was unable to cross the Bears try line, due to urgency in defence and pride in the line shown by the team. An added bonus was that all 10 kicks for goal were successful.Also against Manly on Sunday the Bears S.G. Ball side upped the tempo to play a competitive match against a Sea Eagles team that finished in 4th spot in 2005. The forwards in particular impressed for the Bears. Hard-hitting and hard to bring down the Bears regrouped well after their hit out against Penrith last week. On hand for support were Liam Foran and Premier league?s Ben Black.PHOTO: Harold Matts? player ?Junior Rika? snatches the ball mid air on his way to a spectacular try against Manly. Photo: Steve LittleNext week sees the first trial match of the Steve Carter coached Jersey Flegg team against the Roosters at Henson Park at 2:00pm on Saturday the 11th February. On the same day the Premier League side will play the Newtown Jets at 5:00pm. While the Junior Reps sides play one more trial against Mt Annan on the 18th February before the season proper.For more action photos of the North Sydney Junior Reps and Premier League over the weekend go to the photos section - North Sydney Rugby League Football Club can be contacted on 9466 8860, by e-mail [email protected], or check out the website at

Souths board approves privatisation proposal

PETER Holmes s Court's bid to privatise the South Sydney Rabbitohs has moved a step closer after his joint proposal with Hollywood star Russell Crowe was given the green light by the NRL club's board.The board's approval now means Souths members will have the chance to vote on the proposal, which would see Holmes a Court and Crowe pay $3 million for 75 per cent of the football club. The board voted 6-3 in favour of the deal tonight, with the members to have their say on March 19 when an extraordinary general meeting will be held.

ESL Round 1 Preview

THIS Friday Night Engage Super League XI kicks off when newly promoted Castleford Tigers entertain Challenge Cup holders, Hull FC. The following day sees two new Super League clubs make their debut when Harlequins RL, the former London Broncos, host this seasons favourites St Helens at the famous Twickenham Stoop. That same evening across the Channel, in the South of France, Les Catalans Dragons welcome the Wigan Warriors.On Sunday sees the completion of Round 1 when World and Super League Champions Bradford Bulls make the journey to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats. Meanwhile last seasons Challenge Cup and Super League Runners-up, the Leeds Rhinos, look forward to the visit of the Huddersfield Giants at the newly named Headingley Carnegie Stadium. Across the M62 in Cheshire, Warrington Wolves (this season?s dark horse) play the Salford City Reds in the final match of the round.As the salary cap and the controversial 20/20 rule starts to bite, this years Super League promises to be the closest ever. During the close season quite a number of clubs have recruited well-known British and NRL players, which will make this years competition the most exciting season since the inception of summer rugby.It is very encouraging that most clubs have reported increased season ticket sales with this extra revenue is appears that rugby league at club level in the Northern hemisphere is looking stronger than ever.

Marshall rules out opening night comeback

INJURED Wests Tigers five-eighth Benji Marshall hopes to be back on the playing field ahead of schedule, but has all but ruled out being available for the NRL season opener.The premier hosts St George Illawarra at Telstra Stadium on March 10 to kick-off the 2006 season in a rematch of last season's epic preliminary final. Marshall underwent surgery on his right shoulder shortly after the Tigers' grand final success last year but is already on the training paddock with contact work set to begin in two weeks.

Robbo Reckons

PEOPLE often say to me Robbo what do footy players do in the off season. Well this year it looks they get married since my last column these members of the Dolphin family have tied the knot Grant Flugge, Russell Lahiff, Trent Leis as well as trainer Garry Worden and former players Mark Shipway and Barry Denduck. So guys from me and all the millions and millions of the Robbo Reckons column fans, congratulations and all the best for the future. It certainly has been an interesting month back at training under the sadistic slave driver I mean strength and conditioning Coach Tony Guilfoyle. I rocked up and thought I?m pretty fit for an ex player turned car salesman but I didn?t even make it onto the field I knocked up just watching them go through their paces and I quickly realised I had nothing. The sessions have quickly sorted out the men from the boys. And it has been the two old war horses Troy Lindsay and Adam Starr leading the way again in most of the runs. It is interesting you can never get out of Starry and Cow their real ages or who is older. Both say they are 27 which by my reckoning would mean Starry played first grade for Redcliffe at the age of 15 and both played for Steve Bleakley?s colts outfit in 1992 at the age 15 which I doubt for some reason. Another familiar (old) face who rocked up at training during the month was former Dolphin hooker Danny Russell but gone are his is long flowing blonde locks and they are replaced by a bald melon. It?s a long way from Fabio to Kojak as a former team-mate (whose name rhymes with Ziggy) of ours said. Also spotted popping their heads in at training to say G?day has been the Dolphins Cowboys contingent Shane Tronc, Gavin Cooper and Charlie Vis. Sammy Obst also had a run around with the boys but don?t get to excited he won?t be back in a Dolphin jersey just yet. Sammy was keeping his fitness up before jetting back to the UK where he will be playing in the English Superleague competition for the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats. Walking into the club a couple of Sundays back was like walking into a time tunnel for you older Dolphin fans. Standing around the bar having a beer together was Ian Thinee, Tony Obst, Peter Leis, Bevan Bleakley, Forrester Grayson, Brian Winney, Bob Jones, Des Webb, Arthur Watkins, Phil Massey, Trevor Day and Vic Tighe, I had to look at a calendar to make sure it was 2004 and not 1974. Somethings never change Bevan was even asking guys did they want to arm wrestle. Even fitting in with time period was the entertainment with John McSweeney singing up on stage. And he even got ?Charlie? and ?Thino? up on stage to belt out a version of the Redcliffe club song. And if you know Trevor and Ian they both have a high opinion of their singing a view not shared by some of their former team-mates in attendance on the day. With Christmas coming up there would be nothing better for a Christmas present than a new car I reckon. So if you are in the market for a new car pop out and see the Keystar team for the best deal on the Peninsula. Until next month, Cheers Robbo PS Merry Christamas

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