BRADFORD Bulls 54 (Gene 3, B. Harris 2, Bai, Hape, Ferres, Lynch, Vainikolo tries; I. Harris 5, Ferres 2 goals) def. Catalans Dragons 6 (Rudder try; Dobson goal). Att: 10,522.Bradford Bulls ran in 10 tries to give new coach Steve McNamara his first victory at Odsal as they destroyed a poor Catalans Dragons. In a scrappy game, the home team took a commanding 26-0 lead at the break with five first half tries.The second half was know better for the Dragons as the host scored five more tries. Man of the match Stanley Gene scored his first hat-trick for the Bulls and a Shaun Rudder try was the only consolation for the visitors. Catalans must learn from this game as numerous handling errors cost them dearly against a ruthless Bulls team.St Helens 34 (Pryce 2, Graham 2, Sculthorpe, Long tries; Hooper 4, Long goals) def. Wakefield Wildcats 8 (Tadulala 2 tries). Att: 10,091.St Helens continued their 100% start as they out muscled the Wakefield Wildcats at Knowsley Road. The Saints opened the scoring early on when skipper Paul Sculthorpe crashed over. The visitors then took the lead with a brace of tries from flying Fijian Semi Tadulala, however right on halftime a Leon Pryce try gave the home team a slender 10-8 lead at the break.In the second half it was one way traffic as St Helens ran in 4 tries, a second for Pryce, Sean Long and two for youngster James Graham, who wrapped up the scoring in the final minute of the game.Harlequins R.L. 22 (Bradley-Qalilawa 2, McLinden, Mills tries; Purdham 2, Paul goals) def. Huddersfield Giants 16 (Evans, Donlan, Jones tries; De Vere 2 goals). Att: 12,301.Harlequins gained a nervy victory over the Huddersfield Giants at the Twickenham Stoop. The home team took the lead after 21 minutes with a try from man of the match Mark McLinden. On 34 minutes, Harlequins extended their lead when David Mills powered over. Stuart Jones replied with a try for the Giants, to cut the lead to 12-6 at the break.At the beginning of the second half James Evans? try for the visitors cut the deficit to 12-10, but a brace from Nick Bradley-Qalilawa put the Quins 22-10 up with eight minutes left. A late Stuart Donlan try could not stop a fifth straight defeat for the Giants. With over 12,000 people present, this result will hopefully kick start the Harlequins season as they try to push for a top six place.Castleford Tigers 28 (Nutley, Davis, Roarty, Manu, Fa?aoso, Viane tries; Huby 2 goals) def. Salford City Reds 26 (Wilshere, Hodgson, Langi, Moule, Finnigan tries; Wilshere 3 goals). Att: 6,069.The Castleford Tigers came back from the dead for a shock victory over the Salford City Reds at the Jungle. Castleford, who had suffered a heavy walloping in their two previous games, took the lead when Ben Roarty went over from close range. The visitors stunned the hosts and took the lead when Simon Finnigan scored a breakaway try, but the home team hit back when veteran scrum-half Brad Davis jinked through from close range.Salford then scored two quick tries and went into the break leading 16-8. Two tries in the opening quarter of the second half put the City Reds into a commanding 26-8 lead. However, the Tigers then produced the comeback of the season to score four tries in the last 17 minutes of the game through Danny Nutley, Richard Fa?aoso, Gray Viane and Willie Manu. The Tigers withstood some late Salford pressure to hold on to a memorable victory.Hull F.C 54 (Tony 2, Dixon 2, Blacklock 2, Radford, Yeaman, R Horne tries; Cooke 9 goals) def. Wigan Warriors 12 (Richards, James tries; Richards 2 goals). Att: 12,722.New Hull coach Peter Sharp had a dream start as his team ran riot to leave the Wigan Warriors bottom of the engage Super League table at the K.C. Stadium. The game was all over by half-time as the Black and Whites ran in 7 unanswered tries playing some champagne rugby to take a commanding 42-0 lead.The visitors did take some consolation as in the second half they managed to score two tries and share the spoils with the home team. Man of the match Paul Cook kicked 9 from 9 conversions and had a hand in few of Hull?s tries. New Wigan coach Brian Noble?s short-lived honeymoon period came to an abrupt halt and he now knows what a tough job he has in keeping the Warriors in the Super League.Warrington Wolves 44 (Fa?afili 3, Parker 2, Clarke, Rauhihi, Barnett tries; Briers 6 goals) def. Leeds Rhinos 16 (Burrow, Smith, McGuire tries; Burrow, Smith goals). Att: 11,753.Warrington Wolves ripped the Leeds Rhinos to shreds as they gained victory at the Halliwell Jones Stadium. The Wolves claimed their fifth victory in their last six league games with a superb all-round showing against a Rhinos outfit that fell apart after a good opening 10 minutes. Henry Fa'afili was again the star performer scoring a hat-trick of tries while Rob Parker grabbed two more and Paul Rauhihi, Jon Clarke and Richie Barnett also got in on the act with Lee Briers adding six conversions. Leeds, who missed the chance to close to within four points of leaders St Helens, scored tries through Lee Smith, Rob Burrow and Danny McGuire but were comprehensively outplayed by the Wolves.
FRIDAY, 5th May 2006Australia v New Zealand at Suncorp Stadium, at 7.30pmKangaroos: Karmichael Hunt, Matt King, Mark Gasnier, Matt Cooper, Timana Tahu, Darren Lockyer (c), Andrew Johns, Petero Civoniceva, Danny Buderus, Willie Mason, Luke O'Donnell, Nathan Hindmarsh, Ben KennedyInterchange: Johnathan Thurston, Mark O'Meley, Steve Menzies, Steve SimpsonKiwis: Brent Webb, Jake Webster, Clinton Toopi, Paul Whatuira, Tame Tupou, Nigel Vagana, Benji Marshall, Jason Cayless, David Faiumu, Ruben Wiki (c), David Kidwell, Louis Anderson, Sonny Bill WilliamsInterchange: Thomas Leuluai, David Fa'alogo, Roy Asotasi, Frank PritchardReferee: R SmithSaturday, 6th May 2006Parramatta V Canberra at Parramatta Stadium, 5.30pmEels: Wade McKinnon, Matt Petersen, Brett Delaney, Timana Tahu, Eric Grothe, Jeremy Smith, Tim Smith, Nathan Cayless (c), John Morris, Michael Vella, Nathan Hindmarsh, Chad Robinson, Glenn MorrisonInterchange: Mark Riddell, Dean Widders, Fuifui Moimoi, Paul Stringer, PJ Marsh, Luke O'Dwyer, Zeb Taia (three to be omitted)Raiders: Clinton Schifcofske (c), Adrian Purtell, Craig Frawley, David Howell, Adam Mogg, Jason Smith, Lincoln Withers, Andrew Lomu, Simon Woolford, Troy Thompson, Thom Learoyd-Lahrs, Jason Croker, Alan TongueInterchange: Todd Carney, Ben Jones, Michael Hodgson, Trevor Thurling, Marshall Chalk (one to be omitted) Referee: J RobinsonSouth Sydney V Melbourne at Telstra Stadium, 7.30pmRabbitohs: Nathan Merritt, Luke MacDougall, Yileen Gordon, Adam MacDougall, Shannon Hegarty, John Sutton, Ben Walker, Peter Cusack (c), Stuart Webb, Jaiman Lowe, David Faalogo, Joe Galuvao, Shane RigonInterchange: Michael Greenfield, Ben Rogers, Shane Walker, Mark Minichiello, Kane Cleal (one to be omitted)Storm: Greg Inglis, Jake Webster, Matt King, Ryan Hoffman, Steve Turner, Matt Geyer, Cooper Cronk, Garrett Crossman, Cameron Smith (c), Brett White, David Kidwell, Michael Crocker, Dallas JohnsonInterchange: Ian Donnelly, Jeremy Smith, Antonio Kaufusi, Nathan FriendReferee: G BadgerNorth Queensland V Penrith at Dairy Farmers Stadium, 7.30pmCowboys: Matt Bowen, Brenton Bowen, Ashley Graham, Paul Bowman, Matt Sing, Justin Smith, Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott, Aaron Payne, Mitchell Sargent, Steve Southern, Luke O'Donnell, Travis Norton (c)Interchange: Rod Jensen, David Faiumu, Carl Webb, Shane Tronc, Gavin Cooper (one to be omitted)Panthers: Rhys Wesser, Michael Gordon, Danny Galea, Luke Lewis, Luke Rooney, Preston Campbell, Craig Gower, Joel Clinton, Luke Priddis, Matthew Cross, Shane Rodney, Tony Puletua (c), Trent WaterhouseInterchange: Frank Puletua, Craig Stapleton, Frank Pritchard, Paul AitonReferee: B CumminsSunday, 7th May 2006Newcastle V Brisbane at Energy Australia Stadium, 2.30pmKnights: David Seage, Brian Carney, Matthew Gidley, George Carmont, Anthony Quinn, Kurt Gidley, Andrew Johns (c), Craig Smith, Danny Buderus, Adam Woolnough, Steve Simpson, Clint Newton, Reegan TannerInterchange: Luke Davico, Jarrod Mullen, Riley Brown, Todd LowrieBroncos: Karmichael Hunt, Tame Tupou, Justin Hodges, Shaun Berrigan, Darius Boyd, Darren Lockyer (c), Shane Perry, Shane Webcke, Casey McGuire, Petero Civoniceva, David Stagg, Corey Parker, Tonie CarrollInterchange: Brad Thorn, Ben Hannant, Sam Thaiday, Greg Eastwood, Ian Lacey (one to be omitted)Referee: T ArcherWests V Manly at Leichhardt Oval, 3.00pmTigers: Shannon McDonnell, Daniel Fitzhenry, Dean Collis, Paul Whatuira, Shane Elford, Scott Prince (c), Robbie Farah (c), Todd Payten, Stuart Flanagan, John Skandalis, Ben Galea, Anthony Laffranchi, Jamaal LolesiInterchange: Chris Heighington, Dene Halatau, Michael Crockett, Ryan O'HaraSea Eagles Chris Hicks, Michael Robertson, Steve Bell, Steve Matai, Paul Stephenson, Travis Burns, Matt Orford, Jason King, Michael Monaghan, Brent Kite, Steve Menzies, Anthony Watmough, Ben Kennedy (c)Interchange: Shane Dunley, Luke Williamson, George Rose, Mark Bryant, Glenn Stewart, Adam Cuthbertson (two to be omitted)Referee: R SmithSydney V Canterbury at Aussie Stadium, 3.00pmRoosters: Amos Roberts, Vince Mellars, Lalea Paea, Setaimata Sa, Sam Perrett, Braith Anasta, Brett Finch, Adrian Morley, Craig Wing, David Shillington, Anthony Tupou, Craig Fitzgibbon (c), Ashley HarrisonInterchange: John Doyle, Nigel Plum, Charles Tonga, Lafi ManuaBulldogs: Luke Patten, Hazem El Masri, Sonny Bill Williams, Cameron Phelps, Matt Utai, Daniel Holdsworth, Ben Roberts, Mark O'Meley, Corey Hughes, Roy Asotasi, Willie Mason, Andrew Ryan (c), Tony GrimaldiInterchange: Reni Maitua, Chris Armit, Brad Morrin, Nate MylesReferee: S HampsteadCronulla V St George Illawarra at Toyota Park, 3.00pmSharks: David Simmons, Darren Albert, Nigel Vagana, Phil Bailey, Luke Covell, Brett Kearney, Adam Dykes, James Stosic, Kevin Kingston, Luke Douglas, Reece Williams, Lance Thompson, Paul Gallen.Interchange: Hutch Maiava, Beau Scott, Greg Bird, Tevita Latu, Ben Pomeroy (one to be omitted).Dragons: Clint Greenshields, Colin Best, Mark Gasnier, Matt Cooper, Reece Simmonds, Trent Barrett (c), Ben Hornby, Justin Poore, Aaron Gorrell, Ashton Sims, Ben Creagh, Dean Young, Shaun TimminsInterchange: Michael Henderson, Matt Bickerstaff, Charlie Leaeno, George Ndaira Brett Morris (one to be omitted)Referee: S ClarkThe New Zealand Warriors have the bye in Round 9.
BEFORE I get started with today?s rant, I?d just like to make it clear that Sunday?s feature article - which included my Test teams - was based on the teams which I thought would be named, as opposed to the teams I thought should be named. Hence, the reason I picked Matt Cooper ahead of Justin Hodges.Usually when a representative coach makes a nepotism-based selection, they generally put it down to discretion alone. But in one of the more blatant cases with the selection of Australia?s team for Friday night?s Test, coach Ricky Stuart has made no secret of his intentions.Usually we?d be saying; ?we all know the real reason why Justin Hodges wasn?t selected.? However, this time, no assumptions were required. Stuart already made his reasoning quite clear.The reasons are as follows:1. It appears as though he dislikes Justin Hodges personally.2. He doesn?t want to convey that former Test coach, Wayne Bennett, has any selection authority over him whatsoever ? although I guess this point has taken a slight twist with the naming of Karmichael Hunt at fullback for Australia, but we?ll keep that powder dry for now.The first reason could possibly be justified, given that Hodges was more of a paid spectator than a player during his time at the Roosters. But is it right that Hodges? past indiscretions should cost him an Australian jumper simply because of his history with the current Test coach? That in itself is blight on Stuart?s coaching ability ? Bennett?s expertise enabled him to get the best football out of Hodges, whereas Stuart was unable to realise Hodges? potential.They say you know when you?re being effective by the strength of your enemy?s tricks. I think Bennett may be one up on Stuart here ? but that?s only round one completed, the games will continue. You could argue that Hodges may have matured as a footballer and his sudden form surge has nothing to do with his mentors, but this issue seems to stem further than that.The second reason just illustrates the ongoing agendas and egos which exist in our game. For now though, I?d rather not dwell on that. Let?s try to focus on what potentially could be one of the best Test matches of all-time. For starters, yes, I won?t hide from the fact that Karmichael Hunt?s selection at fullback in place of the injured Anthony Minichiello, and ahead of other more capable fullbacks, was one of the most political of all-time. But I?ve had enough whining about selections, and enough has been said about Hunt?s selection already, so let?s get straight to the game itself.Looking at the two sides on paper, I?m going with the Kiwis. They were clinical in the Tri-Nations final and with the addition of Benji Marshall and Sonny Bill Williams, the Kiwis look all the more formidable. Australia on the other hand hasn?t changed all that much since November last year. They have strangely decided to stick with loyalty, despite the fact that those policies brought them unstuck last year. Willie Mason?s selection at prop is a litigious one; he would have been more pertinent as an impact player off the bench for mine. The Kiwis look as though they?ll be able to dominate up front, and with the added spark of Marshall and Williams, I think they will get over the line here.I know Andrew Johns and Darren Lockyer will have different ideas, but with the pressure of the New Zealand forwards, I can?t see those players having it all their own way on Friday night.I?ll stick my neck out and say the Kiwis to win by six.Now to a few more significant issues this week:- I honestly thought the Warriors were certainties in Sunday's game against the Bulldogs. But what happened? Yep, you guessed it ? they displayed an absolute shocker ? failing to string back to back performances together. They know the difference between right and wrong, they just decide to choose the latter for some reason.- The surface at Telstra Stadium is an absolute joke. After seeing both NRL and AFL fixtures there in the last couple of weeks, that turf will be lucky to hold out for another month. Time for a complete removal of the current turf and a complete replacement to occur.- Surprise surprise. A Bulldogs player caught drink driving once again. It?s time for that club to make a stand and sack Maitua, which may be the only way to save face after another embarrassing week for the Canterbury club.- Congratulations Brett Finch! He played a great game on Saturday night and full credit to him. But do you think the following response was warranted? ?All those critics, especially some of the Roosters fans, so-called fans, they can kiss our arse.? Come on Finchy, surely your footy can do the talking. That one lacked class.That?s all for this week. I?ll catch you at the same time next week with a full round-up of the test match and round nine which promises to be a cracker. I?m particularly looking forward to the Roosters/Bulldogs clash at Aussie Stadium on Sunday. Those two clubs generally dislike each other and have built up a bitter rivalry over the last few years. Given that both of those sides notched up wins last round, I have a feeling that match could be something special. Until next week, enjoy your footy!