BULLDOGS winger Matt Utai is facing a lengthy stint on the sidelines after being charged with a grade-two careless high ackle.
EPALAHAME Lauaki is the latest off-contract player to be re-signed by the Vodafone Warriors. The club today confirmed the 22-year-old back rower has a new deal for the 2007 National Rugby League season with an option for 2008. Vodafone Warriors head coach Ivan Cleary was especially pleased Lauaki had received some good news in a challenging season that has seen him sidelined for more than three months with injury. ?This is a huge positive for Hame in what?s been a tough year for him,? said Cleary. ?He put in plenty of work in the off-season and in our pre-season trials and was showing real improvement early in our NRL campaign. ?His injury was a big setback but his attitude has been outstanding since then. He has done everything asked of him in his recovery and rehabilitation.? Lauaki?s plans to establish himself as a regular in 2006 were disrupted after appearing in each of the Vodafone Warriors? first three matches of the season. He needed surgery after tearing pectoral muscles in his right shoulder during the win over Wests Tigers in Christchurch on March 25. ?Hame?s on schedule to be available again soon,? said Cleary. ?He has plenty to offer us and now he?s in a position to be able to start again and put pressure on others in the squad, which is just what we need.? Lauaki burst onto the NRL scene in the Vodafone Warriors? opening match of the 2004 season against Brisbane, going on to make 16 appearances and score four tries in his rookie year. Born in Tonga and younger brother of All Black loose forward Sione, he was used in only five matches last season. Apart from Lauaki, other players who have signed new contracts or extensions with the Vodafone Warriors in recent weeks include Ruben Wiki, Simon Mannering, Tony Martin, Grant Rovelli, Evarn Tuimavave and Manu Vatuvei plus Aidan Kirk from the Sydney Roosters and Central Falcons brothers Russell and Paora Packer.EPALAHAME LAUAKI Born: January 27, 1984 Birthplace: Tonga Position: Second row Height: 184cm Weight: 110kg Junior Club: Glenora (Auckland) NRL Debut: Vodafone Warriors v Brisbane, Suncorp Stadium, March 14, 2004 NRL Career: Vodafone Warriors ? 24 games NRL Points: 16 (4 tries) Educated: Kelston Boys? High School
THE Newtown Jets host Manly-Warringah in a critical VB Premier League match at Henson Park this coming Saturday (July 8th). The Jets were well beaten by the Sea Eagles back in early April and Manly-Warringah was the only team to lower Newtown?s colours at Henson Park last year. With the Jets unbeaten at home in 2006, Saturday?s match takes on real blockbuster status. Giant Newtown and NSW front-rower Steve Bowden, who was very much the central figure in the famous Newtown versus Manly semi-final confrontation at the SCG 25 years ago, will be the guest of honour at Saturday?s game.The Newtown club invites all Jets supporters to wear as much blue as possible in their chosen outfits when they attend Henson Park next Saturday, and to spread the word to all their friends to come along and help the Jets defend their unbeaten record in the VB Premier League at home this season. A suitable prize will be awarded to the Newtown supporter who ?gets into the Big Blue? at Henson Park with the most flamboyance and enthusiasm.With no VB Premier League fixture last weekend, the Newtown Jets Jim Beam Cup team held centre-stage on Saturday when they met Erina at the Narellan Sports Ground in south-western Sydney. Narellan of course is at the epicentre of the south-western region?s wildfire economic and population growth, yet there are vestiges of the area?s former rural industry base still in evidence. Last Saturday?s match may well have been the first Newtown ?home game? in history where dairy cattle contentedly watched the Rugby League action from a nearby hillside!Despite the bucolic setting the Jets had to dig deep to ?take the cash? in this match, winning 26-18 after trailing 18-12 well into the second half. The Jets fielded a very much recast side due to injuries and representative team commitments. Newtown coach Greg Matterson observed that this was still a somewhat disjointed and lacklustre performance from his team and that he was very glad the boys salvaged the two competition points. Lock Darren Lang and front-rower Ritchie Parker were Newtown?s best forwards while young half-back Charlie Herekotukutuku did his utmost to spark the Jets backline.In the Sydney Metro Women?s Rugby League competition, the Newtown Jetettes had a runaway 64-18 win over the Guildford Owls. In Group 11 Rugby League action, the Parkes Spacemen trailed Dubbo CYMS 32-4 at half-time, but regained some degree of respectability in eventually going down to CYMS by 38-28.Newtown has another bye in the Jim Beam Cup competition next weekend. The Jets take on Manly-Warringah at Henson Park on Saturday (July 8th) with this important VB Premier League match kicking off at 3.00pm. Come along and get stuck into the Big Blue and help cheer the Jets home against the Sea-Eagles!
QUEENSLAND captain Darren Lockyer says Blues halfback Craig Gower can expect to come in for a lot of attention in Wednesday night's Origin decider in Melbourne. With Gower the only recognised kicker in the NSW side, Queensland plan to pressure his clearances whenever possible. Lockyer says it's one area where Queensland can attack NSW.
THERE was no mistaking who the fans came to see at Bishop Park on Sunday. Women screamed his name on his first touch of the ball, both sexes cheered loudly when he scored the first try of the match, even Norths boss Mark Murray was prompted to muse it was ?Billy Slater Day?.
MARK Gee has credited a ?welcoming? atmosphere in this year?s Toowoomba camp as the reason for the Clydesdales? unwavering consistency in the face of wholesale changes week-to-week.
EASTS has won three games in a row for the first time in over a year, secured with a 34-30 victory against neighbouring rival Wynnum Manly on Saturday.
THE Burleigh Bears are monitoring injuries to prop Ali Brown and winger Trent Purdon, following a passionate 24-7 win against Redcliffe at Pizzey Park on Saturday.Both Brown and Purdon have hamstring woes and are uncertain propositions to face last-placed Wynnum Manly in Round 16. The match is a must-win if Burleigh is to consolidate a spot in the top five, with a bye for Tweed Heads presenting a wonderful opportunity.In a positive for the Bears, centres Chris Barnes and Jamie Russo are expected to play, despite also appearing to be hurt in the final stages of the clash versus the Dolphins.Contestants in the last three grand finals, the Bears pushed their post-season claims with a whole-hearted display after trailing 7-6 at halftime.Burleigh scored four tries to none in the second half to seal the result, although under-strength Redcliffe was far from disgraced in a tough and entertaining encounter.Indeed, Redcliffe was without at least six top-line players due to representative commitments, injury and suspension, and spent much of the game defending in its own half.The tide effectively turned Burleigh?s way three minutes after halftime when wingers Purdon and Alwyn Simpson contested a cross-field kick from Ryan Gundry.Leaping, the pair collided, with the ball rebounding into the arms of the trailing Robert Apanui. Following a head clash in the first half with Dolphins forward Danny Green, Reggie Cressbrook missed the subsequent conversion , leaving the score 10-7.Helping to fill the void left by Shane O?Flanagan (QLD Residents) and Brett O?Farrell (pneumonia), interchange forward James Griffiths then went on a one-man rampage for the Bears.In the 54th minute he surged through the middle of the park, flicking off two defenders to score underneath the posts, extending Burleigh?s lead. On the resultant kick-off, he again broke the line with powerful leg drive.Coming out of their own end and suffering an unfavourable string of penalties, Redcliffe had its own valued performers, with young winger Tim Yee highly impressive and Nick Walker strong up front.The Dolphins competitive spirit was doused however, when Aseri Laing and Adam Hutchison crossed in quick succession with roughly 20 remaining minutes in the match.Hutchison?s try was a stunner, coming after fill-in five-eighth Clay Harris showed nimble footwork to penetrate some stretched defence and then threaded a gap between defenders with a pin-point pass to his left.The loss for Redcliffe means the Dolphins are now third on the ladder, trailing North Queensland and Toowoomba. Burleigh has won 16 of the last 25 games between the two heavyweight clubs.BURLEIGH 24 (Adam Hutchison 2, Robert Apanui, James Griffiths, Aseri Laing tries; Reggie Cressbrook 2 goals) d REDCLIFFE 7 (Greg Bourke try; Gerard Parle goal; Gerard Parle field goal) at Pizzey Park.Source: qrl.com.au
PETER Holmes A Court and Russell Crowe have struck another blow against South Sydney patriarch George Piggins, claiming they now have the biggest say with the embattled leagues club's administrators.
WESTS Tigers coach Tim Sheens has refused to concede his team can't defend its NRL premiership without Benji Marshall after yet another loss without the star playmaker.
NSW Origin coach Graham Murray remains confident utility Ben Hornby will be fit to take on Queensland despite Blues selectors adding his St George Illawarra team mate Dean Young to the squad as a precaution.
SALFORD City Reds 17 (Langi 2, Robinson tries; Hodgson, Myler goals; Dunemann field goal) def. Bradford Bulls 16 (Pryce, B Harris, Ferres tries; Deacon 2 goals). Att: 4,203.
ROUND 17 of the NRL was preceded by the Great Britain v New Zealand Rugby League Test match in the UK. The Lions proved too good in downing the Kiwis 46-14 at Knowsley Road, St Helens.
LUCKLESS Newcastle hooker Luke Quigley will be sidelined for a month after dislocating his elbow in Friday's morale-boosting win over Manly. Quigley was returning from a broken jaw suffered in a pub incident in Newcastle in April which sidelined him for two months.
WIGAN Warriors' battle to avoid relegation from the engage Super League took another huge step forward with a narrow victory by 26-24 over fellow strugglers Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop.Both teams scored four converted tries, but the difference was the penalty goal kicked by Michael Dobson three minutes into the second half.But the Warriors would have had grounds for complaint had the result gone against them, because both of Quins? first-half tries were highly controversial.After 18 minutes, Solomon Haumono appeared to be stopped short of the line, but attempted to ground the ball over the whitewash. Referee Karl Kirkpatrick went to the video referee, who took an age to give the Samoan the benefit of the doubt and the try. Henry Paul converted.Wigan hit back with two tries in seven minutes to take the lead approaching the half-time hooter.First, Chris Ashton took Danny Orr?s pass to cross near to the posts. Then, in the 32nd minute, Brett Dallas picked off a pass from Mark McLinden, intended for Nick Bradley-Qalilawa and he returned it 50 metres for a try behind the posts.On the stroke of half-time, Pat Weisner tried to go over but lost the ball on the line. The hooter went, but referee Karl Kirkpatrick went to the video referee, who ruled a penalty try, the tackle by Dobson being ruled illegal and stopping a score.Having fallen behind to Dobson?s second-half penalty, Quins regained the lead when Joe Mbu ran onto Karl Temata's short pass and blasted his way to the line. Paul's conversion gave Quins a four-point lead, but they could not hold onto it.After 54 minutes, Mark Calderwood raced onto a grubber kick, dribbled forward and dived on the ball in the in-goal area. Six minutes later, Calderwood turned provider for Ashton to score his second try.Harlequins cut the deficit to two points when McLinden picked up a ball dropped backwards by Zeb Luisi as he was being forced into touch and ran past two startled Warriors to touch down. The video referee had his easiest call of the night to give the try.But it was not enough for Quins. They did not really pressure the Wigan line and it was the Warriors who looked more likely to score.Harlequins RL: Lucky Luisi, Wells, Gafa, Smith, Bradley-Qalilawa, Paul, McLinden, Temata, Randall, Tookey, Haumono, Purdham, Mbu.Replacements: Weisner, Williams, Leuluai, Heckenberg.Wigan: Ashton, Calderwood, Radlinski, McAvoy, Dallas, Orr, Dobson, Fielden, Higham, Paleaaesina, Hock, Fletcher, O'Loughlin.Replacements: Logan, O'Carroll, Hansen, Tickle.Harlequins RL (12) 24.Tries: Haumono, Mbu, McLinden. Goals: Paul 4.Wigan (12) 26.Tries: Ashton 2, Dallas, Calderwood. Goals: Dobson 5.Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington)Att: 4,115Source: www.superleague.co.uk