THE New Zealand Warriors has finally received some good news with Kiwis fullback Brent Webb poised to make his 2006 debut against the Bulldogs on the Gold Coast on Saturday night.Rocked by revelations the club has breached the NRL's salary cap, and face heavy fines and possibly loss of points, Webb is a welcome inclusion for the final trial match at Carrara Stadium after two losses already this year. Webb's return has heartened the squad, the former Queenslander enabling head coach Ivan Cleary to field his strongest combination before the season opener against Melbourne Storm at Ericsson Stadium on March 12.Tony Martin, who started the first two trials, shifted onto the six-man bench to make way for Webb.Warriors: Brent Webb, Todd Byrne, Jerome Ropati, Clinton Toopi, Manu Vatuvei, Sione Faumuina, Nathan Fien, Ruben Wiki, Lance Hohaia, Steve Price (c), Awen Guttenbeil, Wairangi Koopu, LouisAnderson.Interchange: Tony Martin, Patrick ah Van, Grant Rovelli, Micheal Luck, Epalahame Lauaki, Evarn Tuimavave.
SOUTH Sydney prop Scott Geddes has been ruled out of the Rabbitohs final trial match against North Queensland at Mackay on Saturday.Geddes is suffering a slight shoulder injury but is expected to be fit for the opening round of the NRL season against the Roosters on March 12. Michael Greenfield has been called into the Rabbitohs side and will come off the interchange bench.Rabbitohs: Todd Polglase, Nathan Merritt, Shannon Hegarty, Paul Mellor, Balin Cupples, John Sutton, Ben Walker, Peter Cusack (c), Stuart Webb, Jaiman Lowe, Joe Galuvao, Luke Stuart, Shane Rigon.Interchange: Manase Manuokafoa, Michael Greenfield, Shane Walker, Ben Rogers, Beau Champion.
TEST prop Mark O'Meley is among three injury-forced omissions to the Bulldogs side originally named by coach Steve Folkes.O'Meley is suffering from some general hamstring tightness and will not play the New Zealand Warriors on the Gold Coast this Saturday. Club doctor Hugh Hazard expects O'Meley to be right for the Dogs? first round NRL match. Ben Czislowski (groin) and Brad Morrin (wrist) are the other changes to the 20-man squad.Jon Green, Daniel Conn and Chris Tuatara have been added to the interchange bench, with Chris Armit moving from the bench to the starting line-up.Bulldogs: Luke Patten, Namila Davui, Reni Maitua, Willie Tonga, Hazem El Masri, Daniel Holdsworth, Brent Sherwin, Chris Armit, Adam Perry, Roy Asotasi, Willie Mason, Andrew Ryan (c), Tony Grimaldi.Interchange: Nate Myles, Jon Green, Corey Hughes, Trent Cutler, Ben Roberts, Chris Tuatara, Daniel Conn.
AUSTRALIAN rep Craig Fitzgibbon will officially captain Sydney Roosters for the first time in Sunday's trial match against St George Illawarra at WIN Stadium.Coach Ricky Stuart has named an imposing line up for the final trial match, with injured fullback Anthony Minichiello the only first grade regular missing from the 19-man squad. Star recruits Braith Anasta and Ashley Harrison will again line up for the tri colours after last weekend's thrashing of Manly.Roosters: Amos Roberts, SAM Perrett, Ryan Cross, Iosia Soliola, Joel Monaghan, Braith Anasta, Brett Finch, Adrian Morley, Craig Wing, Craig Fitzgibbon (C), Anthony Tupou, Chris Flannery, Ashley Harrison. Interchange: Michael Lett, Jamie Soward, David Shillington, Lopini Paea, Shane Shackleton, Steve Meredith.
PARRAMATTA coach Brian Smith has recalled the majority of his first grade squad for the Eels final trial game against Penrith at Port Macquarie this Saturday.The Eels fielded a largely second string outfit in last weekend's 30-24 win over Melbourne, but Smith has recalled several stars including halfback Tim Smith, winger Eric Grothe and captain Nathan Cayless. Other Eels to return for the final trial will be Wade McKinnon, Luke Burt, Ben Smith, Timana Tahu, PJ Marsh, Chad Robinson, Daniel Wagon and Glenn Morrison.Eels: Wade McKinnon, Luke Burt, Ben Smith, Timana Tahu, Eric Grothe, Brett Delaney, Tim Smith, Nathan Cayless, PJ Marsh, Justin Tsoulos, Chad Robinson, Daniel Wagon, Glenn Morrison.Interchange: Matt Petersen, Dean Widders, Josh Cordoba, Aaron Cannings, Luke O'Dwyer, Zeb Taia, Marcus Perenara, Peter Lewis.
CANBERRA veteran Jason Croker will play his first game of 2006 coming off the bench in the Raiders four-quarter trial match against Jim Beam Cup teams Windsor and Wentworthville this Saturday night at Queanbeyan.It is the Raiders final hit out before the NRL season kicks off with coach Matt Elliott cutting his squad to 17 for the match. Ensuring they will be up against fresh opposition the entire time, the Raiders will play Windsor in the first and third quarters, and Wentworthville in the second and fourth periods. Captain Clinton Schifcofske will be rested after taking part in the first two trials.Raiders: William Zillman, Adam Mogg, Phil Graham, David Howell, Adrian Purtell, Jason Smith, Lincoln Withers, Terry Martin, Simon Woolford, Willie Raston, Ben Jones, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Alan Tongue.Interchange: Jason Williams, Jason Croker, Todd Carney, Troy Thompson.
NORTH Sydney has come from behind to snatch a superb last minute victory and snatch the Leagues Club Cup from long time holders Tweed Heads.The ?Leagues Club Challenge Cup? became an annual contest between the North Sydney Bears and the Tweed Heads Seagulls Football teams after the North Sydney Leagues Club took over operations of the Tweed Heads Leagues Club six years ago.In hot conditions on Saturday night The Seagulls proved more than a match running away with the first half 10 to nil.But the reminder of a pact made by the North Sydney boys to ?win it for Flo? spurred them on in the second half with Aaron Trinder running in a try soon after the break.Then Bears player of the year Ben Ellis ran in under the posts to allow Ryan Russell to even the scores at 10 all.The game became a classic arm wrestle between the two rivals the score remaining even for most of the remainder. However in the last moments Andrew Moodie and Daniel Russell attempted to force a Tweed Heads player over the side line leading to a mistimed kick by the Gulls and a golden opportunity for Luke Fatnowna to run 50 metres and win the match as the final bell sounded 14 to 10.There was some good work by John Kagi in the hit-up department. Also Ryan Russell, John Russell and Aaron Trinder made good contributions. While Ben Ellis heroically topped the tackle count at 40, despite him not playing the full 80 minutes.Emotions were high in the Bears camp after the match the boys having made good their promise to North Sydney General Manger Greg Florimo.?The commitment was outstanding? said Coach Josh White, But stressed he is still looking for improvements in execution.THE 2006 LEAGUES CLUB CHALLENGE CUP ? NORTH SYDNEY 14 (Aaron Trinder, Ben Ellis, Luke Fatnowna tries Ryan Russell 1 goal) defeated TWEED HEADS 10(Jade McDermott, Joe Cudmore tries; Jade McDermott 1 goal).PHOTO: North Sydney Captain Ben Black proudly savours the Leagues Club Challenge Cup. Photo: Paul Collins.
MELBOURNE coach Craig Bellamy has named a near full-strength team for the Storm's final trial match against Brisbane at Toowoomba on Saturday.It is the third trial match in the Storm's preparation after two clashes with Parramatta in the previous weeks. Five-eighth Scott Hill will play his first match of the season and will be looking to form an instant bond with new halfback Cooper Cronk.Joining Hill in making a 2006 debut are internationals David Kidwell and Matt King while props Brett White, Scott Anderson, Ben Cross and Dennis Scott are all missing through injury.Storm: Billy Slater, Matt Geyer, Matt King, Greg Inglis, Jake Webster, Scott Hill, Cooper Cronk, Garret Crossman, Cameron Smith, Antonio Kaufusi, Michael Crocker, David Kidwell, Dallas Johnson.Interchange: Steve Turner, Adam Blair, Ian Donnelly, Jeremy Smith, Ryan Hoffman, Chris Walker, Nathan Friend, Jamie Feeney.
CATALANS Dragons have announced that Kiwis star Stacey Jones has undergone surgery after suffering a broken arm in last Friday night?s match at The Willows, Salford.The operation took place in Perpignan at lunch time on Monday and a metal rod was inserted into his arm to repair the break.Jones? doctors have said that the operation was a success and initial predictions that he may be out for six to eight weeks have been confirmed as correct.For the next two weeks Jones will be in total rest as he recovers from the operation.After the first couple of weeks of healing have passed he will be able start light fitness training. In five weeks time Jones? arm will be reassessed by his doctors to see the how the bone is healing and when he will be expected to take to the field again.Julien Rinaldi, who moved into the half-back position when Jones broke his arm, but who also exited the match with a leg injury shortly afterwards, has been cleared of serious injury.
THE RFL Disciplinary Committee has found John Wilshire of Salford City Reds guilty of a dangerous tackle in the match against Catalans Dragons (Round Two of engage Super League). Wilshire has been suspended for one match and fined ?350.
THE New Zealand Warriors are facing the possibility of losing competition points before the NRL season even kicks-off after revelations the club had breached the salary cap as far back as 2004.The club is also expected to cop a huge fine for the breaches, which the Warriors' new management is blaming on the old administration. It could have dire effects on the club, who are facing a maximum fine of up to $500,000 and potentially beginning the 2006 competition on -4 or -6 points. The follow-on effects could see sponsors pull out and crowds drop off.It is the second salary cap breach by the Warriors after being fined $100,000 in 2001, and the biggest salary cap scandal in the NRL since the Bulldogs were stripped of the minor premiership in 2002.
WESTS Tigers skipper Scott Prince will meet with Brisbane chief executive Bruno Cullen today to talk about moving to the Broncos in 2007.Prince has permission to negotiate with all three Queensland clubs until February 28, at which stage talks will begin with the Tigers. North Queensland has withdrawn its immediate interest in Prince leaving just the Broncos and Gold Coast Titans as threats to lure the premiership halfback away from Sydney.The Titans are hopeful of chatting with Prince in the next few days.
KIRK Yeaman scored a hat-trick as Hull continued their promising start to the new engage Super League season with a comfortable 40-14 win over Wakefield.The Black and Whites produced a fluent attacking performance to run in seven tries at the KC Stadium but their win owed as much to a superb defensive effort.Talisman and captain Richard Swain was absent with a thigh injury but the team did not suffer with tries spread between Lee Radford, Motu Tony, Shaun Briscoe, Richard Horne and Yeaman.Although Hull went ahead as early as the third minute, when Paul Cooke fed Radford to mark his second home debut with a try, it was Wakefield who showed the earliest promise.Their coach Tony Smith, a former Hull scrum-half, was critical of his side despite running Bradford close last weekend, and he will no doubt be further aggrieved at his side?s failure to make the most of their possession.After Richard Whiting conceded a penalty, five sets of six followed but the Wildcats failed to register anything other than David March?s kick at goal that brought the scores closer together at 6-2.Twice they were thwarted on the line by the excellent Briscoe and it was only a penalty conceded for crossing that prevented them posting a sixth straight set.After weathering the Wakefield storm and receiving a standing ovation from the crowd of 11,860 as a reward, Hull punished their visitors? profligacy further by posting their second try.Cooke, captain for the day, attacked the left wing and his weighted pass sent Yeaman flying into a gap to touch down on his 100th appearance.Oliver Elima was then sent to the sinbin for a professional foul as Wakefield struggled to contain Hull, and the 12 men were made to pay soon after as Motu Tony scooted in from dummy half to score under the posts. Danny Brough added his third conversion to open up a 16 point lead at 18-2.Tony then joined Elima on the sidelines after a series of infringements, and although Wakefield did not score in his absence, they did register their first try shortly before the break ? David Solomona?s arcing run taking him over in the left corner.His effort was left worthless however, as Yeaman intercepted Monty Betham?s wayward pass to canter to the line moments later. Hull led 22-6 at the interval.The second period began in a similar manner, as Hull posted two tries within minutes of each other to seemingly put the tie beyond Wakefield?s reach. First Richard Horne created a deserved opening for Briscoe, before Horne was then handed a similar opportunity by Jamie Thackray. Brough converted both for a lead of 34-6.Solomona then claimed his second by way of a response and was quickly followed over the line by winger Paul White as Wakefield began to fight back.They were assisted in their cause by Gareth Raynor?s sinbinning for holding the lively Sam Obst, although their failure to convert any of their tries left them with a considerable amount of work to do.Any faint hopes were soon extinguished however, as Brough?s chip kick created havoc in the Wakefield defence and Sid Domic sent Yeaman crashing over for his treble, backing up his brace against Castleford last week.Hull: Briscoe, Blacklock, Whiting, Yeaman, Raynor, R. Horne, Brough, Thackray, Tony, King, Radford, Domic, CookeReplacements: Higgins, Carvell, McMenemy, Lupton.Wakefield: Halpenny, White, Demetriou, Whittle, Tadulala, Jeffries, Obst, Korkidas, March, MacGillivray, Solomona, Catic, Betham.Replacements: Henderson, Griffin, J. Field, Elima.Hull: (22) 40.Tries: Radford, Yeaman 3, Tony, Briscoe, R. Horne.Goals: Brough 5, Cooke.Wakefield: (6) 14.Tries: Solomona 2, White.Goals: March.Referee: S Ganson (St Helens)Att: 11,860
FORMER Wigan team-mates Stephen Wild and Martin Aspinwall marked their home debuts with tries as Huddersfield twice came from behind to beat injury-hit Warrington 26-20 at the Galpharm Stadium.The Wolves, who were without five regulars, caught their hosts cold with two tries in the first seven minutes but were gradually overhauled by a gritty Giants side in an exciting second half.Great Britain loose forward Wild was the Huddersfield hero, creating one try and scoring another from 50 metres to kill off the brave visitors.Warrington scrum-half Chris Bridge, preferred in the starting line-up to Australian Michael Sullivan, easily won the race to Lee Briers? kick for the first score after only three minutes - with Briers adding the conversion.Four minutes later, neat handling from Bridge and centre Toa Kohe-Love created an overlap for former Hull winger Richie Barnett to race unopposed to the corner for a try on his debut.Huddersfield, who had five players making their home debuts, lost influential hooker Brad Drew with a leg injury after 25 minutes - but they gradually worked their way back into the game.Half-backs Chris Thorman and Robbie Paul caused most of the problems for the Wolves, and it was the former whose stabbed kicks set up first-half tries for centre Albert Torrens and fellow Australian Chris Nero which enabled Huddersfield to draw level by the break.It was no surprise when the Giants went in front for the first time on 52 minutes, Wild using his strength and guile to get Aspinwall over for a try.But Michael De Vere missed with two of his three goal kicks, and Warrington regained the lead on 67 minutes when Briers converted a second try by Bridge - who took Mark Gleeson?s pass to jink his way over.Both sides were down to 12 men at that stage, with Wayne McDonald (Huddersfield) and Ben Westwood (Warrington) sin-binned for fighting - and the game immediately opened up.The lead changed hands for the third time in 20 minutes when substitutes Eorl Crabtree and Paul March both offloaded from the tackle to create the space for Nero to go over for his second try.De Vere converted from the touchline, and Huddersfield made sure of the win when the impressive Wild tore out of the tackle and raced 50 metres to the line.Thorman added the points, before the Wolves? Great Britain centre Martin Gleeson sent winger Henry Fa?afili over for a consolation try.Huddersfield: Reilly, Aspinwall, Evans, Torrens, De Vere, Thorman, Paul, McDonald, Drew, Jackson, Smith, Jones, Wild.Replacements: Crabtree, Nero, Snitch, March.Warrington: Grose, Fa?afili, M. Gleeson, Kohe-Love, Barnett, Briers, Bridge, Wood, Clarke, Westwood, Swann, Wainwright, Noone.Replacements: Sullivan, M. Gleeson, Bracek, Lima.Huddersfield: (10) 26.Tries: Torrens, Nero 2, Aspinwall, Wild.Goals: De Vere 2, Thorman.Warrington: (10) 20.Tries: Bridge 2, Barnett, Fa'afili.Goals: Briers 2.Referee: I Smith (Oldham)Att: 8,104
INJURY-HIT Harlequins pulled off a major upset when they twice came from behind to earn a point from a tough-tackling clash with engage Super League champions Bradford as the game finished 18-18.Inspired by New Zealand scrum-half Thomas Leuluai, the Londoners put last week?s horror show against St Helens behind them to end the Bulls? 14-match winning run.Quins would have claimed both points had former Bradford centre Paul Sykes succeeded with an injury-time drop goal but his long-range effort drifted wide.Bradford were clearly happy with a point after an indifferent display on their first appearance at Odsal since their Grand Final and World Club Challenge triumphs.Twice Paul Deacon attempted late penalties to force a draw and, to the relief of the 11,000 crowd, he succeeded with his second effort two minutes from the end of normal time.Already without five players through injury, Quins were forced to re-shuffle their side following the late withdrawal of last year?s top tryscorer Luke Dorn, who suffered a hamstring injury in their last training session.Matt Gafa, one of eight close-season signings, moved to stand-off and club captain Rob Purdham from loose forward to centre, and teenage trialist Tony Clubb was drafted in as substitute.The early signs were ominous for the visitors, with Bradford hooker Ian Henderson taking Paul Johnson?s pass and jinking his way over for an eighth-minute try, goaled by Paul Deacon.That opening score came while Quins were down to 12 men following the sin-binning of Gafa for holding down full-back Michael Withers after he had collected Leuluai?s grubber kick and raced 80 metres up-field.But the Bulls were unable to capitalise on their fine start, frequently gifting possession with an alarming number of handling errors, and the visitors gradually came more into the game.They drew level on 13 minutes when Leuluai sidestepped his way through a flat-footed defence and went in front on 29 minutes when the little Kiwi got substitute Danny Williams charging through a gap to touch down.Sykes kicked both conversions to give his side a six-point advantage at the break but two tries in the first six minutes of the second half looked to have turned the game on its head.First left centre Shontayne Hape cut a superb line from Iestyn Harris? pass to scythe through and then right centre Ben Harris profited from a fumble by Harlequins winger Rikki Sheriffe, who was deceived by an awkward bounce from Gene?s grubber kick.With Leuluai prompting and probing, the Londoners were quickly back onto the attack and hard-working forward Lee Hopkins burst through the attempted tackle of Matt Cook and Paul Johnson to level the scores.Sykes? third successful conversion edged the visitors 18-16 ahead and, after Deacon put his first penalty attempt wide, he atoned for the lapse just in time.Bradford (6) 18.Tries: Henderson, Hape, B. Harris. Goals: Deacon 3.Harlequins RL (12) 18.Tries: Leuluai, Williams, Hopkins. Goals: Sykes 3.Bradford: Withers, Bai, B. Harris, Hape, Pryce, I. Harris, Deacon, Fielden, Henderson, Lynch, Johnson, Meyers, Langley.Replacements: Vagana, McKenna, Gene, Cook.Harlequins RL: Lucky Luisi, Sheriffe, Sykes, Purdham, Bradley-Qalilawa, Gafa, Leuluai, Temata, Weisner, Heckenberg, Haumono, Hopkins, Mbu.Replacements: Williams, Clubb, Mills, Tookey.Referee: A Klein (London)Att: 11,097