ELEVEN years on, Tommy O?Reilly has invoked powerful memories of the 1994 Brisbane Rugby League grand final with another heroic cover tackle.In one of his proudest moments, the once-blind playmaker helped Papua New Guinea upset the mighty Junior Kangaroos 24-16 in Darwin on Saturday.O?Relly?s game-deciding play came three minutes from fulltime, with PNG leading just 18-16 and Brisbane Broncos youngster Steve Michaels in the clear.At age 31 O?Reilly found enough speed in his battle-weary legs to assist winger Carney Stack in hauling in the younger Michaels, an NRL rookie full of promise.To round out the victory, the Kumuls surged to an eight-point margin with a try to Easts Tigers under-19 player Billy Segeyaro on fulltime.The match bore a stark resemblance to the 1994 BRL grand final, won 24-18 by Redcliffe against Wests.On that occasion the colourful O?Reilly gave chase on Wests five-eighth Craig Bowen in the 72nd minute as the Dolphins led by a slender four points.Bowen was put in the clear by Panthers half Barry Berrigan, but was denied a chance of stealing the game when O?Reilly surged from behind.A penalty soon after allowed Redcliffe to extend its final winning margin to six, the Dolphins last premiership before the Queensland Cup era.This year?s Junior Kangaroos squad would have had little recollection of that day, given most were aged eight at the time.In his own teenage years O'Reilly underwent corrective eyesight surgery and had a synthetic lens inserted after battling cataracts.PAPUA NEW GUINEA 24 (D Fletcher, K Peters, J Wilshere, B Segayoro tries; J Wilshere 4 goals) beat JUNIOR KANGAROOS 16 (M Lett, W Zillman, R Shortland tries; T Carney 2 goals). Venue: Richardson Park, Darwin. Crowd: 2,000.
LIKE waking from a dream.
I grew up in my grandfather?s house, along with my family and my four aunts. The eastern suburbs of Brisbane, in the 'sixties. It was rugby league heartland. It was one of those old weatherboard houses on "stilts"; I slept in a room that was converted from the old front verandah.
CLASSY fullback Nathan Merritt took the lion?s share of awards at the recent Newtown Jets RLFC annual presentation night.The NSW Minister for Education and Training and MP for Marrickville Carmel Tebbutt was the principal guest of honour at the well-attended evening last week at the Jets Sports Club. There were a great many Newtown club sponsors, officials, players and supporters on hand as the Jets celebrated their best season in Rugby League for many years.Nathan Merritt, who has joined South Sydney for the 2006 season, won the following awards:Leading VB Premier League try-scorer for 2005 Leading VB Premier League points-scorer for 2005 Club record number of points scored by a Newtown player in one season Club record number of points scored by a Newtown player in one game Newtown RLFC VB Premier League Players? Player award. Merritt?s personal tally of 40 points in one game (scored against the Cougars on the 21st May) was second only to the all-time record of 45 points, set by the legendary Eastern Suburbs champion player Dave Brown back in 1935.Other major award winners were:Newtown RLFC VB Premier League Best and Fairest ? Kevin Kingston Newtown RLFC Jim Beam Cup Best and Fairest ? Rimini Reweti Newtown RLFC VB Premier League Coach?s Award ? Russell Aitken Newtown RLFC Jim Beam Cup Coach?s Award ? David Vial The Fred Daly Memorial Award (for outstanding service to the club by a player) ? David Thompson. Several speakers praised the Cronulla-Sutherland club for the responsible manner in which the partnership between the two clubs had been conducted in 2005. Although both clubs had mutually agreed not to extend the joint venture beyond 2005, the success of the association was clearly evident in two ways. Both of the Newtown club?s senior teams had made the semi-finals, and several of the Sharks youngsters who had been on loan to Newtown had graduated into the Cronulla NRL ranks during the year.Many of the speakers on the night paid tribute to all those Cronulla-Sutherland players who had readily adapted to playing with the Newtown club, and who had really applied themselves to their football in a most professional manner. They had all worn the Newtown colours with both honour and pride and had won the admiration of Newtown?s big support base. The Cronulla-Sutherland brigade had all contributed to the Newtown club having had its best season in many years.
JAMIE Peacock signed off his Bradford career in fairytale fashion by leading the Bulls to an historic fourth engage Super League title against his new club by 15-6.
FORMER Great Britain captain Ellery Hanley will be inducted into the Rugby League Hall of Fame this week, as part of four new members.
Hanley, who also went on to coach Great Britain, will join Eric Ashton, Martin Hodgson and the late Dougie Clark in entering the Hall of Fame.
AUSTRALIAN rugby league selectors have made two changes to its lineup for Friday's Tri-Nations Test against New Zealand.
WAYNE Bennett unleashed a blistering attack on critics calling for his head after naming just one forced change to Australia's starting line-up for the second match of the Tri-Nations series on Friday night.
TRENT Barrett says he's happy to play anywhere after being recalled to the Australian rugby league team for the first time in three years.
LEEDS Rhinos half-back Danny McGuire looks certain to miss the Gillette Tri-Nations Series after being told he needs to undergo groin surgery.
STACEY Jones played his first match for the Kiwis last Saturday night after two years of international retirement and helped direct the Kiwi team to a memorable 38-28 win at Telstra Stadium.
GREAT Britain coach Brian Noble has included five uncapped players in his 24-strong squad for the Gillette Tri-Nations Series.
LANCE Hohaia is set to tour with the Kiwis' for the English leg of the Tri-Nations rugby league series after favourable results from a scan today.
KIWIS coach Brian McClennan has made four changes to his side for this Friday's test match against the Kangaroos.
ENGLAND Head Coach Karl Harrison has named a 21-man squad to prepare for the two upcoming international matches against France (October 23 at Headingley, Leeds) and New Zealand (November 6 at Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington).