THE conclusion to this season?s 25th Anniversary State of Origin series is upon us, with intrigue and drama befitting of such a grand occasion.
THE Sydney Roosters stayed in touch with the top four after a 28-16 defeat of Newcastle at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Saturday night. It was a toughly fought encounter which slightly boiled over in the second half.
TODAY the Central Queensland Comets revealed that the CEO of the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys, Denis Keeffe, has been appointed to the Comets Board.
WALES will be looking to bounce back from their crushing defeat against New Zealand when they face Scotland on Wednesday morning in the second match of their Student Rugby League World Cup campaign.
OFFICIAL English Super League Round 19 reports - Sunday games. Full time scores: Widnes 24 Warrington 25 and Wakefield 26 St Helens 38.
PARRAMATTA Eels coach Brian Smith has named his side to take on the Dragons at Parramatta Stadium on Friday night.
BULLDOGS duo Willie Mason and Reni Maitua will undergo fitness tests later this week which could clear them to make earlier than expected returns from injury.
THE Real Rabbitohs are pleased to announce its team to play the Cronulla Sutherland Sharks in Round 18 of the 2005 Telstra Premiership this Saturday, July 9, kicking off at 5:30pm at Aussie Stadium.
MELBOURNE Storm coach Craig Bellamy has named a 19-man squad for this weekend's round 18 NRL Telstra Premiership clash against the Canberra Raiders. The Storm (9-7) takes on the Raiders (8-7) at Olympic Park in Melbourne on Saturday, July 9th at 7:30pm.
SYDNEY Roosters coach Ricky Stuart has named his team to play Wests Tigers at Telstra Stadium on Sunday.
Coach Stuarts team is;
TOP try-scorer Todd Byrne comes back from injury and forwards Richard Villasanti and Monty Betham return to the Vodafone Warriors? starting line-up for their NRL clash against the Bulldogs on Sunday.
After missing two matches with a neck complaint, the 26-year-old Byrne regains his spot on the left wing, looking to resume a run that?s produced 12 tries in his last 12 appearances.
Head coach Tony Kemp has also shuffled his starting combination in the forwards with prop Villasanti preferred in the run-on side at Ericsson Stadium this weekend and Iafeta Paleaaesina moving to the interchange bench.
Vice-captain Monty Betham, who was used from the bench against the Broncos and the Cowboys in the last two matches, will start at loose forward, Sione Faumuina moving into the second row and 139-game veteran Awen Guttenbeil joining Paleaaesina on the bench.
?Todd?s much better after resting his neck the last two weeks and comes in for Manu (Vatuvei), who needs a break after a sternum injury flared up in Townsville,? said Kemp.
?Richard and Monty both played a big part in getting us back into the game when they came off the bench against the Cowboys. They?ve earned the chance to start this week.
?At the same time, we?re looking to Feka (Paleaaesina) and Awen to give us real impact when we bring them on from the bench.?
The injection of Villasanti after 12 minutes in Townsville and Betham 10 minutes later coincided with a period when the Vodafone Warriors turned around an early 10-0 deficit to lead the Cowboys 16-10 early in the second half.
That the side subsequently lost the match 24-16 still disappoints Kemp.
?We all failed on our trip to Townsville. Collectively the coaching staff and the players take responsibility for that,? he said.
?We all know we?re capable of much better and we showed that against Brisbane. That?s the benchmark performance for us.
?This week against the Bulldogs we have to show desperation because that?s where we?re at.?
Apart from Byrne?s swap with Vatuvei, the Vodafone Warriors have the same squad that stopped Brisbane?s 10-match winning streak on June 26.
In Byrne?s absence, Vatuvei maintained a healthy try-scoring rate himself with four-pointers against both Brisbane and North Queensland lifting his total for the season to eight in just 10 appearances.
Captain Steve Price is still some weeks away from being considered so he will miss the chance this weekend of playing against his old Bulldogs side for the first time.
Sunday?s match allows Betham and interchange forward Karl Temata to edge closer to personal milestones.
Betham will make his 95th appearance leaving him on target to reach 100 games before the season ends; he?ll become the 10th player to achieve the feat for the club. Temata closes in on the 50-game mark when he makes his 47th appearance.
The match has Stacey Jones in countdown mode and also close to passing through another barrier. He?s now only three matches away from his scheduled farewell to the Ericsson Stadium faithful when the Vodafone Warriors take on Newcastle on the weekend of August 19-21.
THE New Zealand Warriors have been searching the Bartercard Cup again for experienced props with go-forward as they try to resurrect their National Rugby League season.
ST George Illawarra retained boom halfback Mathew Head and teenage prop Justin Poore but the NRL club's chances of re-signing NSW forward Brent Kite appear to be fading.
THE Brisbane Broncos have held off a determined Parramatta Eels side 34-24 at Parramatta Stadium this evening. The match was played in cold conditions but the game itself was fast and open with some end to end action with plenty of points to keep the fans happy.
THE South Sydney Rabbitohs have won their second game in a row tonight, outlasting the Manly Sea Eagles by 34 points to 30 in a high scoring affair.