Lebanon 22 Russia 8

LEBANON'S 2008 World Cup qualifying campaign eventually got under way in north London on Saturday after kick off was put back an hour. This initial delay, though, seemed not to have affected the Lebanese team, which leapt straight onto the attack against a massive Russian side. After just 9 minutes, strong running Wests centre Frank Samia went in from fifteen metres out, with fullback Samer El Masri converting with a well taken kick eight metres in from touch.

England 40 Tonga 18

ENGLAND stayed on course for a place in the Federation Shield final with an impressive seven-try win over Tonga.

Greece 44 Serbia 26

RUGBY League made its way to Athens when Greece held out a determined and much improved Serbia to win 44-26.

Wash-up from Game III

COACH Brian Noble insists Great Britain will be better prepared for next week's Tri-Nations clash with Australia after making a losing start to its campaign last night.

Leano Heads Latest Dragons Recruits

NRL rookie Charlie Leaeno heads an impressive list of talented players to re-sign or join the Dragons for 2007 and beyond.

Jersey Flegg and the Dragons in 2007

THERE has been some public discussion over the past weeks relating to the rugby league structure of the Dragons for 2007 and beyond. A decision, arising from discussions between the Board of Directors, Management, Coaching Staff and our Rugby League Executive, has been made to NOT ENTER a team in the New South Wales Rugby League?s Jersey Flegg competition in 2007.We should note that discussion on such a strategic rugby league decision had been taking place for a long period of time. It was agreed that our Club should move quickly and effectively to prepare for the code?s overall re-structure, planned for 2008 which will see the introduction of the widely discussed National Youth Competition - an Under 20 competition where all NRL teams will have an Under 20 team to play prior to their matches for each of the 26 weeks of the regular season.The ?big picture? perspective on these changes related to the need to;- establish a more ?National? rugby league perspective in competitions, across all 16 NRL teams, not just NSW based teams- re-structure the ?NSW? rugby league competitions so they can continue to be effective for rugby league, from the grass roots to the elite level- ensure that NRL Clubs continue to improve their financial viabilityTherefore, the St George Illawarra Dragons will field only two competitive teams in 2007,- NRL- Premier LeagueIn 2008, the Under 20s will be back through the National Youth Competition, along with the NRL team ? again only two teams fielded by the Dragons.As normal, St George District Rugby League Club and the Illawarra Steelers will field Matthews and Ball teams in 2007 and beyond ? a very important of our ?Pathway Management?.By 2008, the ?Pathway? for rugby league players in the St George Illawarra region will be as depicted by the following chart: Thus, the overall change for rugby league players in the St George Illawarra region will relate to the ?over aged? (Over 20) Premier League type player, not in the full-time NRL squad. Such players will be encouraged to continue their involvement in rugby league through the Toohey?s League or Jim Beam Cup or a re-structured Premier League Competition within our region ? therefore being able to be elevated to the Dragons NRL team if required.Next year will be a ?transition year? because we still have some of those over age players on contract.Overall, the Dragons for a number of years now, have invested heavily, strategically and effectively in the development of our juniors. This variation in structure does not undermine our commitment to this strategy and will not in any way diminish the opportunities for young elite rugby league players, across our region.Moreover it will effectively prepare our Club for 2008 and work to ensure we remain a ?powerhouse? in the game of rugby league from the ?grass roots? level through to NRL.On October 11, we wrote to all Dragons rugby league staff thanking them for their contributions throughout 2006 and asked for expressions of interest for positions in 2007, indicating that we would be running one less team (no Jersey Flegg in 2007) and we outlined the reasons why.This internal correspondence was unfortunately leaked to the media before full and planned communication could be completed.Dragons Management has had discussions with the executive of the St George District Rugby League Football Club and the Illawarra Steelers who support our strategy and we will be more widely communicating with the rugby league community over the next weeks.Source: dragons.com.au

Rangi Chase joins Dragons

WESTS Tigers hooker Rangi Chase has agreed to terms with St George-Illawarra for the next two years. Recruitment Manager Warren McDonnell said Chase had agreed to a contract with the Wests Tigers for 2007, but a change in manager saw an offer come in from St George-Illawarra. "Our policy has always been about promoting young players. The hooking position at Wests Tigers is well covered in Robbie Farah and Stuart Flanagan, so Rangi has accepted a contract to be in the full-time squad for the next two years with St George-Illawarra with our blessing,'' McDonnell said. "Rangi felt he had a better opportunity to play first grade at St George-Illawarra and if his mind was set on playing for them, then there was no point in us keeping an unhappy player at the club.'' Chase made his first grade debut for Wests Tigers against the Bulldogs in round 17 this season.Pic: Thanks to www.weeklytimes.com.au

League's interest in AFL TV rights battle

RUGBY league officials ? and fans ? are taking more than a passing interest in the dispute over pay television coverage of the AFL. And in the case of the fans, it's a look of envy.

Lomu sticks with Union

FORMER All Black Rugby International Jonah Lomu has decided against switching codes and joining the Jetstar Gold Coast Titans for their inaugural National Rugby League season in 2007.

Game III Preview: New Zealand v Great Britain

THE Poms have landed and immediately set about making their presence felt. Dispatching a Newcastle Select XIII to the boundary must have made them feel pretty chuffed about themselves. And they got to let off a bit of steam as well, with Peacock and Wood both sin-binned for fighting. Fielden has also suggested that he?ll be smashing people left, right and centre.But as we head to Christchurch for Game III of the 2006 Tri-Nations, if I were a pale northern hemisphere lad, I would be a little cautious of my chances against the Kiwis.New Zealand played a good game last week and only let themselves down by giving away a head high tackle and a stupid penalty late in the game. Let?s face it ? no one could have stopped Inglis last week without the use of ballistic weapons and even then I?d give the Storm teenager half a chance.Kidwell did a good impression of a Bobble Head Doll in the aftermath of Gasnier?s try as he was standing behind the posts, venting his frustration for his country as the realisation of an opportunity gone begging sank in. I think this will provide some extra motivation for the Kiwi?s, who despite losing their first two games, are staging a valiant campaign to retain their title as World Champions.Paul Simpkins is the ref in this one after Ashley Klein ?controlled? the first two games.Let?s take a look at the teams, starting with the Brits?Great Britain: Paul Wellens, Brian Carney, Martin Gleeson, Keith Senior, Leon Pryce, Danny McGuire, Sean Long, Stuart Fielden, Terry Newton, Adrian Morley, Jamie Peacock (c), Gareth Ellis, Sean O'Loughlin, Interchange: James Roby, Garreth Carvell, Gareth Hock, Lee Gilmour18th man: Jon WilkinThis is a strong line-up but there are a few oddities amongst it, not the least of which is the selection of 3 Gareths! You?ve got Wellens at the back with Carney and Price on the wings. Gleeson is solid in the centres alongside Senior, who would have to consider himself a little lucky ahead of Yeaman.Long and McGuire in the halves offer some variety but the pack is where Great Britain will look to win the game.Fielden and Morley are two men that have plenty of weight to throw about. Morley is a seasoned NRL player who should be able to offer some experience to the rest of the squad about how the game is played down here. Fielden?s stature tends to suggest he?s a throwback from the Viking era when giants roamed the earth. He?s talked up a bit of a storm so hopefully he?ll deliver and we should see an absorbing clash in the forwards. For Australian fans, this is the man who destroyed the Wests Tigers in the World Club Challenge earlier in the year.The rest of the backrow is strong with Peacock and Ellis, but there is a bit of a mystery around O?Loughlin, with Wilkin the obvious choice for that position. The bench is strong though ? Roby?s a class act and Gilmour offers creativity. Carvell and Hock are pretty solid and should be able to combat the larger Kiwi forwards, even if they do look a bit short on props. Peacock?s versatility could be used here though, with a shift to prop on the cards at some point during the game.Moving onto the Kiwi?s, here?s the squad they?ve come up with?New Zealand: Brent Webb, Tame Tupou, Iosia Soliola, Nigel Vagana, Manu Vatuvei, Jerome Ropati, Stacey Jones, Ruben Wiki (c), Nathan Fien, Roy Asotasi, David Kidwell, Frank Pritchard, Simon ManneringInterchange: Motu Tony, Nathan Cayless, Jason Cayless, David Fa'alogo18th man: Adam BlairThere have been a few forced changes to the line-up that played in Melbourne last week. Hape, probably the standout in a well performed team, has succumbed to injury but a capable replacement in Tupou has been drafted in. Matai, also a strong performer, has picked up an injury as well opening the way for Vagana to switch to his preferred position of centre.As such Ropati gets to start at five-eighth which I?m happy about. I think he deserves a crack and it also settles down the hooker role with Fien starting and Tony on the bench who offers a bit of versatility.Next, Pritchard comes back into the squad after a strong performance in the curtain-raiser in Melbourne. He replaces Puletua who has pulled out of the series due to personal issues. I think this helps the Kiwis as Big T was struggling a bit. One thing that won?t help is Mannering though. I hope this guy can prove me wrong but right now he?s just not up to it. McClennan is showing incredible faith in him but he?s partly at fault also, moving him from lock to wing in the last game which didn?t help. But it really doesn?t matter what position you play, you need to be able to catch the ball.The rest of the forward pack is unchanged, but the bench has had a bit of a shake-up. I?m disappointed for Blair ? I think he?s been one of their best over the past two games. You can?t argue too much with his replacement (J Cayless) but I would have gone with Fa?alogo, Pritchard or Kidwell to start at lock, drop Mannering and have a bench of Tony, Blair and the two Cayless?s.The DecisionStraight up I favour a Kiwi victory here.I thought they were as polished as I?ve ever seen them last week. They played mistake-free footy for about 73 minutes before handing the game over in heart breaking circumstances. The Kiwis have had two games under their belt now and should be better drilled than their rivals.There are two psychological elements at work here though ? firstly the pressure on New Zealand to win considering they?re the reigning champs and at home; plus the ?unknown quantity? of Great Britain.New Zealand know how important it is for them to win this one. A loss would go a long way to snuffing out their chances of defending their crown and it would probably take a bit of interest out of the series. As much as Aussie?s like giving it to Kiwis and Poms, we enjoy it more when they are competitive and last year?s final re-invigorated the International game.As for Great Britain, well I think they just need to get out onto the paddock and try to find some rhythm. It?s one thing to smash a Newcastle XIII but it?s a whole different story to try and defeat an entire nation.I really hope the Poms can get it together and play some constructive footy. Long?s passing and kicking game will need to be spot on and their forwards will have to work hard against a pack that have so far given the Aussie?s a bit of a touch-up.But I just can?t see them getting past New Zealand here. I think the Kiwis will be desperate for this one and will get the chocolates, but the return game in Wellington will be an entirely different story. There?s never been a better time for Kiwi?s to get out to the game and support their country, and with reports that the ticket sales in Christchurch have been a little bit slow, I don?t think it will be much trouble finding a seat.

Tonga v Cumbria scorers, teams

TOUR match held on 25 October 2006 at Derwent Park, Whitehaven.Cumbria 28 (Gardner, Sice, Calvert, Finch tries, Rudd 6 goals) defeated Tonga 16 (Koloi, Mateo, Makisi tries, Mateo 2 goals). Attendance: 1,639. Weather: heavy rain. Half-time Cumbria 20-12. Cumbria: Wilson, Calvert, Eilbeck, Harrison, Gardner, Rudd, Finch, Jackson, Mattinson, Vaughan, Whitehead, McDermott, McAvoy. Replacements: Sice, Burgess, Beaumont, HillTonga: Sinisa, Richer, Makisi, Pangai, Koloi, Mateo, Foliaki, Cocker, Fukofuka, Moa, Falemaka, Moimoi, Faaoso. Replacements: Hansen, Kingi, Halepio, Liku. (Martin Marsella injured an ankle in training.)Source: http://www.timesandstar.co.uk/sport/viewarticle.aspx?id=427646

World Club Challenge to go ahead

THE rugby league World Club Challenge will go ahead between St Helens and the Broncos in England on February 23.

Wales v Scotland preview

WALES are hoping for their biggest international rugby league attendance in four years when they face Scotland in their first World Cup qualifying match at the Brewery Field in Bridgend on Sunday (kick-off 3pm).

Engalnd v Tonga preview

ENGLAND play Tonga at 3pm at the Twickenham Stoop on Sunday 29th October, in the second round of the Federation Shield.

USA v Japan preview

THE Atlantic Group qualifying for the Rugby League World Cup comes down to one game this Saturday, when the USA Tomahawks take on the Japan Samurais with the winner progressing to next year?s repecharge round to decide the remaining tenth spot in the 2008 World Cup finals.

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