FEW clubs can look back on a split second and lament what might have been had fate not cruelled them, like the Newcastle Knights.
SEASON 2004 may appear to have been another failure for the Cronulla Sharks, but on the bright side at least Sharks players and fans started to enjoy their footy again.
SYDNEY Airport Jets front-rower James Stosic has won the club's most prestigious award, the VB Premier League best and fairest award for 2004. Stosic joined the Newtown club this year following seasons in the New Zealand Bartercard Cup competition and with the Canberra Raiders and Queensland Cup club Redcliffe. He set the highest standards with his tireless on-field workrate, his application to fitness, training and personal professionalism, and has deservedly earned himself a full-time NRL contract with the Cronulla Sharks for 2005.
The Sydney Airport Jets 2004 Presentation Night was staged last Friday night at Steve Bowden's palatial Hurstville Ritz Hotel. Bowden, a former Newtown first grade front-rower and NSW representative, is a generous club sponsor and he and his staff spared no effort in making the Presentation Night a total success, both in the quality of the venue and the excellence and abundance of the catering.
The other Sydney Airport Jets award winners were as follows -
FRIDAY see?s Leeds and Wigan meet in the Play Offs for the third consecutive year in a repeat of the first ever Grand Final back in 1998 at Old Trafford.
THE Rhinos booked their place in the Tetley?s Super League Grand Final with a dominant performance against Wigan, winning 40-12 at Headingley thanks in part to Marcus Bai?s hat trick.
NORTH Queensland Cowboys fullback Matt Bowen is on the brink of being selected for his first test debut.
MATT Orford capped off a stellar season tonight by claiming the Storm?s coveted Player of the Year Award at the 7th annual Melbourne Storm Presentation Ball in front of over 600 guests at Melbourne?s Crown Entertainment Complex.
WESTS Tigers will play three trial matches in the build-up to the 2005 National Rugby League kick-off in March.
ST George Illawarra halfback Mathew Head has won the prestigious 2004 Integral Energy Dragons Medal at a formal presentation at the WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong, tonight.
BATTLE OF THE ISLANDS;
CAN'T make the Pacific Cup in Auckland? Well why not come along to the Oceanic Pacifica Rugby League Tournament? What is this you ask?
FOUR Australian players are set to make their debuts for their country in the opening Tri Nations rugby league Test against New Zealand in Auckland on Saturday.
THE Kangaroos have laid down the challenge a week out from their clash with the Kiwis.
THE Dolphins A grade side this weekend faces a backs to the wall assignment when they take on their bogey side Easts at Langlands Park. And Coach Bertie Campbell wouldn?t have it any way. He will have his fired up and ready to play. But emotion won?t last long and Campbell will have devised a game plan that will take his A grade side to their third successive grand final if they ececute it correctly. As they say you only have to beat a team once in a season and that?s when it matters and for the Dolphins that's this weekend.
Much will depend on the Redcliffe pack who were written off by everbody at the start of the finals series but stood up to be counted against Norths a fortnight ago in the knockout semi final at Bishop Park. Mark Brown and Russell McDonald will get the side going forward and back the back row of Smith O?Grady and Burley will feed of that go forward. Classy five-eighth Scott Kelly will lead them around them the park.
The bench is where the game could be won and lost and the Dolphins will lose nothing when their starting players come off for a spell Ron Poll in only his second or third game this season will get in the middle and do the hard yards while the creative Sam Fillery may well hold the key with his clever kicking and passing game. Charles Vis after a stint on the sideline with a hamstring problem will be looking to make every post a winner before heading off to join the Cowboys and I expect Charles to get plenty of match time and to have a big influence on the outcome of the game. Daniel Jones born with red and white blood flowing through veins will be looking for a big game after missing last years grand final win with injury.
Eighteen year old half back Wayne Bond will again be a target for the Easts side but will not worry the talented youngster. I feel if the Redcliffe pack can hold the Easts pack they have the backline that can win them the game. They have speed to burn with Joel Barnes, Liam Georgetown out wide and Maddison Murphy and Lyndon Nagas can find a try out of nothing and with the inspirational Chris Bond at fullback I think the Dolphins can win the game and upset more fancied Tigers.
The full side is
1. Chris Bond
2. Lyndon Nagas
3. Maddison Murphy
4. Joel Barnes
5. Liam Georgetown
6. Scott Kelly
7. Wayne Bond
8. Russell McDonald
9. Nathan Black
10. Mark Brown
11. Duane O?Grady
12. Quin Smith
13. Joe Burley ?
14. Sam Fillery
15. Ron Poll
16. Charles Vis
17. Daniel Jones
Coach Robert Campbell
THE Redcliffe Dolphins have appointed Anthony Griffin as their Head Coach for the 2005 season. Griffin returns to Dolphin Oval after previously being the club?s Junior Development Manager from 1995 to 1997, he also took the Dolphins colts to the premiership in 1997 before joining the Melbourne Storm organization where he coached the North?s colts before moving to Melbourne where he was NRL assistant coach to both Chris Anderson and Mark Murray.
Griffin coached the Souths Logan Magpies for most of this year?s Queensland Cup competition before being controversially removed from that position.