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.

Another Referee who will be eager to impress this weekend will be Steve Clark. He will be at Toyota Park on Saturday evening when the Sharks are at home to the Raiders. The last time Clark was in a Raiders fixture was when Canberra got home in controversial circumstances during Golden Point at Campbelltown Stadium against the Tigers. Clark currently holds the number one position in the refereeing just ahead of counterpart Paul Simpkins.

Russell Smith will make his last appearance in First Grade for season 2006 at the home of Rugby League, the SCG on Saturday night as the Roosters take on the Dragons. Russell was in charge of the Roosters? last match over in Auckland when they were heavily beaten by 26 points.

Paul Simpkins will be thrown in to the deep-end on Saturday night in a semi final like fixture at Olympic Park between the Storm and Sea Eagles. If Simpkins were to impress in this match, then it could go along way towards him challenging Clark for the number one position. Simpkins was considered to have refereed the Dragons and Sharks match last week very well in spiteful circumstances.

After the controversy of last Friday night, Sean Hampstead has been given the Broncos and Warriors match on Sunday afternoon. Although making some crucial errors at Brookvale Oval last weekend, he still has been given the match of two inform sides. Thus, he must perform well if he is to win back the right to referee in a finals fixture.

One man who has been in scintillating form with the whistle of late has been Tony Archer. With a good performance at Parramatta Stadium last Sunday to continue this, he has been given the Panthers and Dogs fixture at CUA Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Another well-rounded effort here could just about seal what would be Tony?s second final?s appearance in two years as he did the Sharks and Dragons match in week one of the finals last year.

Tony De Las Heras will be in control of his second official First Grade match at a packed Leichhardt Oval on Sunday afternoon. What could be better? One of the best refereeing juniors going around who will be doing representative fixtures in the next few years, officiating as two historic clubs battle it out and in the background a packed out hill watch what is happening.

Next week in Referee?s Report, we go through our illustrious awards, which include Referee of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Dud of the Year.