Mullen the Hero in Finals Cliffhanger

FINALS 2006 Week 1 Newcastle Knights 25 v Manly Sea Eagles 18at EnergyAustralia StadiumReferee: Sean HampsteadCrowd: 23,752Match Summary:The Newcastle Knights have kicked off the 2006 Finals Series with a bang coming from behind to beat the Sea Eagles 25-18 at a packed out Energy Australia Stadium in Newcastle tonight. The visiting Sea Eagles went into the break with a 12-0 lead but their achilles heel in the second half was their ball handling.In a game that lived up to its expectations, it was fiery at times with three sin bins in total throughout the match. This included a brawl ten minutes after halftime that resulted in the sinbinning of Knights? George Carmont and Sea Eagle Travis Burns. Just two minutes out from fulltime Manly captain Ben Kennedy was sinbinned after he escalated a situation after a spear tackle from Newcastle?s Danny Buderus.After all the possession with the Knights in the opening ten minutes, the away side opened the scoring on their first visit down in to the Newcastle 20. A long cut out pass from Matt Orford found Brett Stewart which sent him into a yawning gap as he sped away for the opening try.Once again the Knights had all the possession and on the back of a Brian Carney intercept were locked down in the Manly quarter. With numbers on his outside, hooker Danny Buderus lofted a long ball out to the wing which was intercepted by Manly?s Michael Robertson. He ran over 90 metres to stretch the margin out to 12.Frustration crept into the Knights as the game headed for the half time interval and it got even worse for the home side as Carmont had a try disallowed just a minute from halftime as he forced in touch ingoal from some outstanding Sea Eagles defence.The two sides entered the second half fired up for victory as less than ten minutes after the break a brawl started in a tackle with first punches thrown by Travis Burns. George Carmont reacted and was subsequently binned for ten minutes.On the back of this penalty going the home side?s way, Andrew Johns crashed over from close range to cut the margin back within a try.Just when things were looking positive for the Knights, in the space of two minutes veteran Craig Smith was put on report for a high tackle, which was followed by a miracle try for Manly that was finished off by Kiwi Steve Matai. A grubber kick through from Orford look to be heading for the corner post before Michael Robertson plucked the ball out of thin air and threw it back inside to Matai for the try.It may have looked bleak for the Knights, however it was Johns and Kurt Gidley who revived any hope that the home fans still had. Close to the line, Johns took the ball to the line and found LeagueUnlimited?s man of the match Kurt Gidley on the inside who scored under the posts.Under ten minutes later, Newcastle had levelled the score after Kurt Gidley once again took a ball back on the inside from Johns who stretched out and without any hint of a double movement scored beside the posts.After a field goal attempt from Andrew Johns was charged down from Ben Kennedy before rookie five-eighth Jarrod Mullen was given the honours of taking the next shot a minute later. He slotted the point and five out from fulltime the Knights were in front for the first time.With three minutes left in the match, Manly received another blow as captain Ben Kennedy was sent to the sin bin after escalating a situation following a 'spear tackle' from Danny Buderus.Just a minute later, Matt Orford had a field goal shot which was charged down by lock Reegan Tanner, which was followed by a penalty being awarded on the western touchline to the Sea Eagles for offside.The shot at goal from Matt Orford was waved away and caught by Jarrod Mullen who ran 99 metres before being stopped inches short of the try line. Later in the set the Knights sealed the match with a controversial try when winger Brian Carney appeared to be held after taking the ball from a cross-field kick. Referee Hampstead ruled play on and the Irish winger squirmed out of a tackle to score in the corner.Johns converted the try and the Knights had run out victors in the great escape 25-18. There are a few problems heading into next week for Newcastle however. Danny Buderus could miss the rest of the season through suspension after the lifting tackle he inflicted late in the match.Other problems include an expected crucial ligament tear to the knee of fullback David Seage that will leave him out for the rest of the season as well. Steve Simpson has a jarred shoulder which occurred early in the first half but is expected to play next weekend.Scorers:Newcastle Knights: 25Tries: Kurt Gidley(2), Andrew Johns, Brian CarneyGoals: Andrew Johns 4/4Field Goals: Jarrod MullenManly Sea Eagles: 18Tries: Brett Stewart, Steve Matai, Michael RobertsonGoals: Matt Orford 3/4By the Clock:For the Knights,Milton Thaiday is out with David Seage going to fullback.Todd Lowrie drops off the interchange bench with Jarrod Mullen to start from the interchange break with Kurt Gidley winning the number 6 jumper.Your referee for this First Qualifying Final is Sean Hampstead while the Sea Eagles are yet to win a game in the finals since 1990.Last year,finishing eighth,they were knocked out convincingly by the Eels at Parramatta Stadium while the Knights were wooden spooners.The Sea Eagles are on the way out,led by former Novocastrian Ben Kennedy in their all white jerseys.Here comes Joey Johns and the Knights in the navy blue jerseys.1 min: Manly kicks off!!!3 min: A vocal Newcastle crowd get a penalty for a Manly player being offside and they go straight on the attack.4 min: A cross-field bomb from Johns is tapped back by Carney and Matt Gidley goes within an inch of scoring off the rebound but is held up short of the line.6 min: Terrible news here for Newcastle as David Seage has done his knee and is assisted from the field.10 min: A knock on by Anthony Quinn in his own half sends Manly on the attack.12 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesA long cutout pass from Matt Orford sends Custodian Brett Stewart in to a yearning gap and he runs around to score outwide in the first points of the evening.Orford converts the try. Sea Eagles 6-014 min: A knockon on the first tackle from Manly sends Newcastle back on the attack.15 min: An amazing passage of play.Carney goes for the line on tackle 5 and is held up over the line,this if followed by Simpson going up the tunnel for Newcastle with a shoulder injury now Manly knock on on the first tackle.17 min: On the two injury fronts:Seage looks like a cruciate ligaement damage while Simpson a possible jarred shoulder.22 min: Touchjudge Steve Carrall is coming in for a report...It is a penalty to Newcastle on a late tackle from Matai on Johns but there looked to be nothing in it.26 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesAmazing passage of football by both sides..Manly attacks the Newcastle line before a Carney intercept sees Newcastle go on the attack with 3 consecutive attempts.Some amazing defence especially outwide by the visitors and the Knights with an overlap spin the ball outwide before winger Michael Robertson rushes up and takes an intercept to run 90 metres to score.Orford converts. Sea Eagles 12-030 min: A chip over the top from Johns is knocked on from Stewart so here come the Knights.32 min: Newcastle get a repeat set from a penalty but Matt Gidley throws the ball over the sideline,some outstanding goalline defence from Manly.35 min: Simpson back on for the Knights.37 min: A bit of push and shove in back play between Carmont and Hicks,the frustration really showing for the Knights.38 min: An error from Steve Bell and the Knights have two minutes and 20m to go to get something out of the first half.39 min: Going upstairs for an unlikely Knights try...39 min: NO TRY - George Carmont dives for the corner but great defence puts him over the touch ingoal line.Halftime - The Manly Sea Eagles are showing what it takes to win a premiership out there tonight.Some amazing cover and goal line defence with all the possession going Newcastle's way.On the Sea Eagles' first visit down field,Brett Stewart score through some poor defence from the Knights while their second try came from a 90m intercept.The Sea Eagles must hold on to the ball as their ball security has been quite poor in the first half,their defence is winning them the contest.The Knights have been attacking the fringes of the ruck including the centres till the cows come home,however to win this contest,they must go through the centre of the ruck using Danny Buderus.Both sides are back on the paddock,second half about to get underway.40 min: Knights kick off.46 min: Manly get a piggy back penalty and go on the attack as Carmont took out Steve Bell on a kick through.49 min: Referee Hampstead seems to be losing control as the Sea Eagles are giving too many penalties.50 min: Punch Up - A fight has started on the eastern touchline.Travis Burns and George Carmont are in the sin bin.51 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsAndrew Johns close to the line slices through some poor goal line defence and the Knights are back.A bit of push and shove after the try was scored aswell.Johns converts his own try. Sea Eagles 12-653 min: On Report - Veteran Craig Smith on report for a high tackle.54 min: Going to check for a Sea Eagles gem of a try...55 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesOne of the tries of the season as a short grubber through by Matt Orford is plucked just before htting the corner post by Michael Robertson and before he hits the corner post he somehow flings the ball back in for Steve Matai to score in the corner.The conversion from the sideline from Orford is a ripper. Sea Eagles 18-657 min: Kurt Gidley runs the ball from 40 out on tackle 5 and gets to the 20 before offloading wildly to Craig Smith who can't hang on to it.61 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsThe Knights are back and it is the brilliance of Johns close to the line once again.Johns runs the ball to the line with runners inside and out and he hits Kurt Gidley on the inside who goes over under the posts. Johns converts and they are back within a try. Sea Eagles 18-1263 min: Orford knocks on when trying to play the ball and once again it is poor handling from the Sea Eagles and the Knights go on the attack.65 min: Andrew Johns limping near the sideline.69 min: Checking for a Knights try...70 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsTry Try Try!!!It is Kurt Gidley again who is having an absolute blinder in the second half.Johns attacks the line and on the inside is the five-eighth come fullback to score despite Hampstead checking for a double movement.Johns converts and we are locked up. 18 all.72 min: This time Matt Gidley goes on a surge down the western touchline but once again his trademark flick goes in to touch.73 min: Kennedy knocks on and the Knights go on the attack,the Sea Eagles are self-destructing.74 min: ATTEMPTED FIELD GOAL Newcastle KnightsAndrew Johns takes the snap from 30 out and it is charged down,the rebound is knocked on by Orford and the Knights get a repeat. 18 all.75 min: FIELD GOAL Newcastle KnightsJarrod Mullen has become a cult hero as from 25m out he plots a field goal to put the Knights in front for the first time. Knights 19-1877 min: A spear tackle from Danny Buderus and they run in from left right and centre with push and shove.Kennedy in the bin and Buderus on report.78 min: ATTEMPTED FIELD GOAL Manly Sea EaglesAn attempt from Orford is charged down by Reegan Tanner. Knights 19-1879 min: ATTEMPTED PENALTY GOAL Manly Sea EaglesA penalty to the Sea Eagles on the western touchline and they elect to shoot for goal.The shot is waved away and Mullen runs 99m before being held up inches away from the line. Knights 19-1880 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsIt is all over here in Newcastle with a controversial try.A bomb from Johns to the corner with just seconds remaining is taken on the full by Carney and he looks to be held about 5m out from the line.Quite a few seconds later he squirms away and Hampstead rules play on and awards the try to Carney.Johns from the sideline converts. Knights 25-18Fulltime - The Knights have gotten out of jail in a controversial yet dramatic ending.Article to players of the match:3 - Kurt Gidley (Knights)2 - Steve Matai (Sea Eagles)1 - Brent Kite (Sea Eagles)-----------------------------------------

The Key Players ? Qualifying Finals

IT?S Finals time! And with the first of the Qualifying Finals kicking off tonight, we break down the two key men in each game. While the Top 8 system remains in place for financial reasons to be fair the first week of the Finals has some delicious games on offer. That being said a Top 5 system would have two absolutely cracking games with the Bulldogs facing the Broncos in the Major Preliminary Semi Final and the Knights against the Sea Eagles in the Minor Preliminary Semi Final, but what is the sanctity of the Finals Series versus the income generated from another two games of football this weekend? But we digress. Here are the two key men in each Qualifying Final. Friday ? Knights v Sea Eagles @ Energy Australia Andrew Johns, Knights We all know he is still the most dominant player in the game and the two week rest he had for some creative language was probably a good thing for the 32 year old. Looked to have been carrying some knocks in the previous couple of months and a little downtime surfing etc will have this champion primed for a big one against the Sea Eagles. Will particularly want to silence his critics by beating the Sea Eagles well before the last minute when a referee/touch judge call can have a significant impact on the result. Expect a big one from the game?s Number One. Ben Kennedy, Sea Eagles Will he be fit? There is no doubt Kennedy will play but regardless of the strong rumour that he wanted to play against the Storm in Round 26, Kennedy being 100% for this game is a pipedream. Manly?s vaunted backrow looked fairly average without him, although to be fair Steve Menzies has tried hard to fill in for Kennedy?s absence. Could be playing his last game of Rugby League so expect a huge hit up count and an 80minute performance from the big fella (even if he isn?t fully fit). Kennedy won?t be a major threat to run through the line but his ability to offload halfway through defenders will be devastating if Brett Stewart lurks around his captain every time he takes the ball up. Prediction: Johns? err Knights by 7 Saturday ? Broncos v Dragons @ Suncorp

Preview: Reds v Tigers (R27)

CASTLEFORD Tigers, who are hoping to secure their engage Super League status before the final weekend, are considering starting the match at Salford City Reds with 38-year-old assistant coach Brad Davis.The former Wakefield Trinity Wildcats scrum-half returned from a three-month lay-off with a dislocated shoulder to play a pivotal role as a substitute in last week?s 27-12 win over Harlequins RL."I am still thinking of starting with him," said head coach Terry Matterson. "I thought he made a difference last week and he will be better for the run."Castleford expect to have around 2,000 fans following them to Salford after local businesses laid on free transport."We?re taking about 22 coaches," said Matterson. "It?s going to feel like a home game."Salford, who still need a point to make sure of a first appearance ever in the play-offs, are without full-back Karl Fitzpatrick but have included utility back Stephen Myler in their 18-man squad.Salford City Reds v Castleford Tigers, Friday, September 8, kick-off 20:00Salford City Reds 18-man squad: Hodgson, McGuinness, Moule, Dunemann, Robinson, Coley, Alker, Rutgerson, Finnigan, Charles, Highton, Wilshere, Haggerty, Littler, Myler, Brocklehurst, Adamson, Lima.Castleford Tigers 18-man squad: Platt, Shenton, Dyer, Sculthorpe, Henderson, Nutley, Bird, Huby, R Fletcher, Viane, Fa?aoso, Manu, McGoldrick, Ward, Davis, Lupton, A Fletcher, Brough.Referee: K KirkpatrickSource:

Preview: Bulls v Wildcats (R27)

WAKEFIELD Trinity Wildcats captain Monty Betham claims the Wildcats are ready to fight for their engage Super League lives in the crucial clash against Bradford Bulls at the Grattan Stadium, Odsal.

Storm trio likely to face Eels

MELBOURNE has received a massive boost today after injured trio Greg Inglis, Brett White and Ben Cross were rated likely starters for Sunday's qualifying finals against Parramatta.

Malta and Lebanon do battle

INTERNATIONAL rugby league fever will visit the Western Weekender Stadium at St Marys when Malta takes on Lebanon on October 8 for the self professed Battle of the Phoenicians.Lebanon- who begin their qualifying course for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup only weeks later will make their first international appearance since their 42-14 defeat of France in the 2004 Mediterranean Cup in Tripoli.Lebanon hasn?t played a rugby league international in Sydney since they met a French Invitational touring team led by Paul Sironen in front of a 20,000 strong crowd at Telstra Stadium in 2001.Malta?s last appearance saw a historic 36-6 victory over the England Lionhearts at Marsa Stadium in what was the first official fixture of rugby league on Maltese soil.The Battle of the Phoenicians is set to attract a bumper crowd with Maltese and Lebanese migrants holding a strapping presence in Sydney?s multicultural community.Malta head coach Joe Grima has earmarked several NRL stars in his preliminary squad for the Mediterranean backed international including the Parramatta Eels? Michael Vella and Sydney City Rooster Shane Shackleton.NRL starters Hazem El Masri and Robbie Farah have both pulled on the Lebanese jersey in the past, yet this match will see Vella and Shackleton complete a first for Malta- an emerging rugby league nation.St George-Illawarra Dragons hooker George Ndaira has been sounded out as a possible starter for the Lebanese Cedars.Shackleton will finally achieve his Maltese representative honours after becoming a last minute omission last year following a decision by Roosters coach Ricky Stuart for the Roosters to begin pre-season training early.?I was so filthy I didn?t go to Malta last year? says the ginger haired Shackleton.Malta?s head coach is Parramatta Eels official Joe Grima and Grima is well aware of Lebanon?s well-built line-up, ?They?re (Lebanon) a very skilful side who possess great speed, mixed with their size and strength and are coached at a very high level?Officials for the Maltese and Lebanese rugby league governing bodies are expecting a capacity crowd at the Western Sydney venue, the Western Weekender Stadium.Photo: Malta?s Paul Harris and Lebanon?s Mohamed Chahalc/- PJ Robinson

Bennett no comment on Roosters rumour

BRISBANE coach Wayne Bennett has failed to kill off Sydney media speculation he'll end his 19 years with the Broncos to coach the Sydney Roosters next season.Bennett has been linked to an unconfirmed $2.4 million three-year offer from the Roosters to replace sacked coach Ricky Stuart. Bennett had an opportunity to lay reports to rest at a packed press conference following Brisbane's final training before tomorrow night's qualifying showdown with the Dragons, but declined to comment.Brisbane officials laughed off the possible shift yesterday but Bennett's failure to clear the air means the issue will fester through the finals series.

Carting it up with Stevo

HOW deep is your club?

Lion Red Fox Memorial Major Semi

WE are nearly there. We have one Grand Finalist resting this weekend, and we have the last two teams that will fight it out for that coveted second GF spot in the penultimate game in the Lion Red Fox Memorial

Superleague R27 Preview

THIS weekend should give some clarity over the final order of the top six as well as the identity of the club facing relegation, as there are only two rounds remaining before the play-offs and a maximum of four points up for grabs for each club. Getting close to the end of a long season for some clubs and with other clubs jockeying for positions, this week could very well be the week of the upsets? Game on!

Week 1 Semi Finals Preview

WE?VE arrived at the beginning of the end for season 2006 as eight clubs fight it out for the right to continue into weeks 2 and 3 of the semi finals series. This week throws up a few random situations and I don?t think everything is exactly as it seems.Funnily enough, three of the games are Grand Final replays from years gone by. As for the odds, well there?s a bit of value out there. From a betting and emotional hedge perspective, I?d look at backing the Sea Eagles and the Dragons into one another, and perhaps even the Raiders ? although any permutation of those three will get you some super value.I ended the regular season with 113 correct tips from 180 games (63%). That's not too bad in my books even though I've tipped like a dog some weeks. I hope all you people out there went well in your respective tipping comps, but it's a new game now and with it comes fresh opportunities for punting.Knights v Sea EaglesGame I sees Manly head up north to take on the Knights in a powerful clash at EnergyAustralia Stadium. The last time these two sides met in the finals was the 1997 Grand Final, and we all know what happened in that one.Manly are looking good I think. I know they went down last week v Melbourne but with Kennedy they grow another leg. I also thought they put in one of the better performances at Olympic Park recently. Last time they were in Newcastle they came away with a very controversial win after a knock-on from Steve Matai was let go. The back row is looking great and the team overall is pretty strong. With BK the bench is great and they should put up a huge fight and Leuluai or Bryant will drop off.In the Newcastle camp, there?s a few uncertainties. Thaiday has succumbed to the ankle injury that has dogged him for a few weeks with Seage deputising. I?m a bit unsure about the rest of the reserve though, Lowrie will probably find himself out in the cold but the rest is unclear. They put Penrith away nicely a fortnight ago and proved they had lots of points in them if tested.Overall, I favour the home side here. I know they?re coming off the bye but a strong home crowd and the freshness factor for Joey should be enough to carry them home. The forward contest will be absorbing and a big part of the outcome. Manly is solid value in a tight contest though, with the bookies offering $2.35Broncos v DragonsGame II kicks-off in Bris-Vegas where the Dragons travel to Lang Park with a bit of history behind them. Coach Brown is the only remaining legacy from the 1992/93 Grand Finals but a few players like Bailey, Barrett, Timmins and Ryles probably still remember the 44-28 shellacking in 2001 at the SFS.The Dragons have a pretty good track record up north, winning 3 of the past 4 contests at Suncorp. In fact, Saints have won the last three in a row against the Broncos which is a club record. But this is semi-finals football and it?s a totally different game. The ongoing saga with Head isn?t winning any friends I don?t think. They?ve been doing ok without him and to change a formula that has won three on the trot is bit dangerous I think. Plus they seem to rely an awful lot on scoring from kicks and need to get more ball to Gasnier.Let?s not be shy about it, Brisbane are on fire at the moment. They probably don?t want people to think this but I rate them as premiership favourites and they can get better. Hodges at the back is dynamic and Berrigan seems to be fitting in at hooker all of a sudden. Webcke and Civoniceva are carting it up as they always do and Lockyer is in good touch as well.I?m going to stick with the home team here and tip the Broncos. I think it?s too difficult to go against them in this one and they also have improvement left in them, plus Brisbane is due against them at Lang Park. For the Dragons to win they?ll need to be focussed 100% of the time and I?m not sure they can achieve that. They might want to put in that bit extra though, as I think they might be gone in week 1.Bulldogs v RaidersGame III sees the Raiders head up to Homebush to play the Bulldogs in the late Saturday game. This one is different to all other games as it offers little if any home ground advantage to Canterbury. It?s also a replay of the 1994 Grand Final which was a fair dinkum smash up by the Raiders.Canberra got the chocolates in round 14 at Telstra v the Bulldogs and amazingly their only loss in six games at this ground was the round 21 capitulation to the Rabbitohs. They?ll be primed for this occasion but I?m wondering how they?ll start the match. Smith from the bench won?t work that well I don?t think as Carney adds more impact. Interestingly, Canberra has never beaten Canterbury in a semi final (3-0 to the Dogs) but have won the big one in 1994 as mentioned earlier.Canterbury are looking ok now I think. Mason is back and he will add heaps to their outfit. I?m a bit worried that the Bulldogs have been playing within themselves over the past few weeks. But their bench is pretty light on and I?ve got my doubts over their backs. I?d prefer SBW in the forwards and probably use another centre, if they have any left, to add some more pace to the backline. That?s where they might get caught out in particular the taller Raiders backs could expose them under the high ball.I?m tipping an upset here with the Raiders to prevail. From what I?ve seen lately they have got what it takes to win a game like this and their forwards a pretty strong enabling them to get momentum over the Canterbury pack. At $3.05 they present great value.Storm v EelsGame IV of the finals has Melbourne at home to Parramatta in the most one-sided contest of the finals.For Melbourne to lose this one some life-changing things must take place. But all due respect to Parramatta ? I have admired the way they battled to get to the semis but in the past fortnight they have struggled to keep it together. Cayless is back which adds some power up front and I prefer Luke Burt at fullback. McKinnon was shocking last week ? how many tackles did he miss? The crux of a good team is there but they were pretty tired last week. It?s hard to see them getting up for this one given the venue and the respective form.As for Melbourne, well they need to put in a clinical display here and get back into that groove prior to the game against the Warriors. I think they?ve been off their best since the round 23 clash v Brisbane but they can make a statement to the rest of the comp with a resounding victory here. They?ve got the recent wood over Parra and have won the only finals game between the two clubs back in 1999 (18-16).So I?m tipping the Storm which is the obvious selection in this one. I?m not saying Parra can?t win but it would be a real stretch and pretty much outside the realms of possibility. The Eels are the longest odds for the win this weekend, as you?d expect, and they?re paying a handsome $3.65 for the win. But I think you?d be throwing your money away.

QLD Cup: There can be only one!

THREE grades of sudden death. Only two possible outcomes - elimination or adulation. Find out the low-down on Saturday's big day of preliminary finals at Dolphin Oval.

Fiji Rugby League Open Trials

THE Australian Fijian Rugby League will be holding open trials for selection into the Fiji Bati national side for the World Cup qualifiers on Saturday the 16th of September 2006 at Mascot Oval.Registration will begin at 11am.All players should be covered by the highest private health insurance. Please bring your boots, shorts and socks on the day.To be eligible to trial you must have either been born in Fiji, have at least 1 parent born in Fiji or at least 1 grand parent born in Fiji. You must also have been registered with a Rugby League club this season.If you are successful in this trial you will be selected into an Australian Fijian squad to play against the Fiji/NZ based players on the 23rd of September. The Fiji Bati will then be decided after this match.Please spread the word and get onto the coconut wireless to any Fijian Rugby League players you know. We don't want to leave any stone unturned in the search for talent.For more information please email [email protected]

I'm ready to go: Head

ST George Illawarra halfback Mathew Head has declared himself ready to go in Saturday night's qualifying final against Brisbane, though coach Nathan Brown will delay making a decision on whether he plays or not until game day.

Knights sign Sargent

NEWCASTLE Knights have signed sacked North Queensland prop Mitchell Sargent on a three year contract.

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