ROUND 14 of the Bartercard Cup will be the make or break for four teams, as the pressure mounts with only three matchs left in the 2004 competition. The Tigers, Bulls, Tornadoes and Jetz are all fighting it out for the fourth and fifth position on the table, after all four teams were beaten last weekend.
I played rugby league for one year. The year was 1990 and I was five, and I can?t remember anything except that I didn?t like it. All the other kids were bigger than me, faster too. Most of the time I hung out the back of the action, making mud pies and waiting to taste the sweet, sweet half-time oranges. It wasn?t until 1992 that I actually realised rugby league existed, and funnily enough I?d retired from it by then, and was running in tries at will (perhaps a slight exaggeration) against typically flimsy rugby union defences.
THE St George-Illawara Dragons have run away with a 34-14 win against the Melbourne Storm in an all dominating second half performance at WIN Stadium.
NSW Origin centre and two-try hero Mark Gasnier has a cracked collarbone and will be sidelined for 2-4 weeks.
Gasnier, 22, said he was thankful for the opportunity to make his Origin debut last night, but obviously disappointed to learn this afternoon that he had broken his collarbone in the final 25 minutes of the match. He continued to play after breaking it - and kicked a goal to convert Fittler's try.
"I thought it was a cork, but in the morning I was a bit sore and scans revealed it was broken," he said. "It's disappointing, but I'm thankful I got the opportunity to play. It's the first Origin series I have been fit for.
"It was great to be part of it, especially being Freddy (Brad Fittler) and Gus's (Phil Gould) farewell. I think their send-off was just reward for what they have put into rugby league."
Gasnier said his apparent "signed, sealed, delivered deal" with Wigan was purely speculation.
"I promise Dragons supporters I have not signed a deal with Wigan, despite continued speculation," he said.
Winger John Carlaw (abdominal strain) was also ruled out this afternoon, but Dragons coach Nathan Brown will not name their replacements for the clash with the Broncos at WIN Stadium tomorrow night until an hour before kick-off as per NRL guidelines.
CRONULLA utility forward Paul Gallen has extended his contract for a further three years in a boost for the southern Sydney club. Gallen had previously entered the player market before the June 30 deadline to get a guage on his market value, but was satisfied with the offer Cronulla offered him.
NRL team and fixtures round 18
THE latest on the Dolphins injuries is Rod West is out for the season after breaking his arm in the first half against Wynnum last Saturday. He is due to have surgery on Wednesday. Andrew Wynyard who lasted just 13 minutes was once again forced off with a chronic back injury but is an outside chance of playing this weekend. Grant Flugge is recovering well from a rib injury and is hopeful of a return against Souths on Sunday. Phil Shilvock is due back in the match against North Queensland in Cairns next weekend.
Dolphins Award Winners vs Burleigh
Searles Garden Products Player of the Match
Keystar Motors Players Player
Hogs Breath Cafe Man of the Match
Leading Edge Sports Player of the Match
Dolphins Awards vs Wynnum
Searles Garden Products Player of the Match
Keystar Players Player
Hogs Breath Cafe Player of the Match
Leading Edge Sports Player of the Match
FOR whatever reason, Easts always have been well-blessed with hookers.
Think John Lang, John Dowling, Shane McNally, Wayne Smith (whose son Cameron is the current Origin hooker), Wayne Marshall, George Gatis and John Driscoll.
The 2004 season appears no exception with 24-year-old rake Trent Young making every post a winner, to make use of winter carnival parlance.
There's even talk around Langlands Park that Young could earn a City jersey for the clash against Country on Saturday, June 26.
There's a bit of irony in that considering Young is country born and bred. Now in his second year at Easts, he spent half of last season in A grade and the remainder in Queensland Cup.
But with retirements and the luring of Paul Dezolt to the New Zealand Warriors, Young gained first crack at the No 9 jersey and his busy displays have ensured he is one of the first selected by coach Michael Booth.
All this from a boy from Roma in south-western Queensland. The town best known for producing Artie Beetson, most Roma products head to Redcliffe following in the track set by Beetson and the Cherry brothers.
"I played with Cities club in Roma and after three seasons with All Whites in Toowoomba, I decided to have a crack at the state league with Souths in 2001," Young said.
"There were four or five of us from Roma, including Matt Lockyer, at Souths. They were a couple of hard years at Souths, but it was a good learning experience. It showed you what was required to make it at that level.
"We won a couple games in the two years, but mostly we were fighting out the bottom spot with West and Logan."
Young said uncertainty surrounding Souths future and the involvement of the Canberra Raiders prompted him to look for another club.
"I was looking to going to a stronger club for more exposure," he said. "I put the feelers out and also knew Matty Lockyer was heading to Easts.
"John Driscoll had the hooker role but I thought I would try my hand, although it took a while to settle down."
Young had played halfback as a junior and his size might have put preconceived ideas in certain minds, but he was playing first grade at 17 and a few kilograms would not hold him back.
He was willing to bide his time at Langlands Park behind Dezolt but when the former North Queensland Cowboy headed across the Tasman during pre-season, Young took his chance.
A civil designer with a Brisbane engineering firm, Young has not missed a Queensland Cup clash and has stormed away with "three or four" man of the match awards.
"I was always ready to compete for the position even if it meant waiting my time," he said. "It's a long season and you never know your luck.
"Things are travelling okay with the side and we have always set ourselves a goal of making the semi-finals."
The 80 kilogram rake said the main differences between Easts and Souths were a more professional outlook, better facilities and higher quality players.
"There's a different culture here and that relates to a better attitude," he said. "We might be equal third now, but we are taking each game as it comes so we are in the right position at the end of the season.
"It's a lot closer competition this season with only three points separating six or seven teams. The standard hasn't dropped and there aren't any guarantees of a win. You only have to look at Souths and see how much they have improved."
Young, whose team-mate Darren Smith says he has no doubt the hooker could make it in the NRL ranks, has the goal of the City jumper in the back of his mind.
"You just have to keep plugging away," he said. "We have to play two of the stronger sides in Redcliffe and Norths away."
Young has good words to say about Smith.
"He does good things on the field which show his experience," he said. "He is always willing to help and seems to turn up at the right time and takes the right options.
"He also gets around and tells players things he has picked up and certain areas where we need to improve."
The hooker showed his own class late in the win over Redcliffe when, confronted with the final line of defence, he put in a deft kick for a try to a team-mate.
THE Sydney Airport Jets racked up another important home ground win, when they defeated the second-placed Balmain Tigers 20-12 in the VB Premier League match played at Henson Park on Saturday. Played in front of a crowd of more than two thousand, this was a fiercely-contested, engrossing encounter in which seven tries were scored in the first half and none in the second. Newtown had led 16-12 at half-time after trailing 8-0 after only nine minutes, and increased this lead to 20-12 through two second-half penalty goals by Troy Barnes.
THE New Zealand Rugby League will impose further penalties on three junior players serving prison terms for assaulting a pregnant 16-year-old girl.
TWENTY teams from eight nations are confirmed as entries in the 1st Rotterdam International League Nines to be played in Hollands largest city on saturday august 7th.
WATH Brow Hornets winger Craig Calvert has pulled out of the BARLA Great Britain Lions squad for their tour of Australia.
THE Vodafone Warriors have today announced the signing of utility player Nathan Fien from the North Queensland Cowboys. Fien had been given permission to negotiate with other clubs by the Cowboys before the June 30 anti-tampering deadline, and agreed to terms with the Warriors last night for three years commencing in 2005.
PENRITH Panthers coach Johnny Lang has sprung a couple of surprises in naming his injury and Origin depleted team for their round 14 clash with the St Geo/Illawara Dragons at Penrith Stadium on Friday.
Youngster Ben Rogers makes his mark in the first grade team at 5/8 and the Panthers will debut Richard Fa'aoso from the bench.Amos Roberts returns to fullback while Daniel Russell goes to halfback after a very good game against the Sea Eagles last week.
Coach Langs team is;