THE North Sydney Bears S. G. Ball team have produced an enthusiastic and gallant display in a narrow loss to an in form Bulldogs outfit.In a big improvement from their last hit out, the Bears faced the Dogs toe to toe, matching their opponents in the first half to finish 16 all. A strong running Nathan Searle scored the first of three tries for the bears in the first half. The next try was a sensational effort, with Liam Foran kicking on the first tackle and centre Ryan Oldfield out sprinting his Bulldogs? opponents to claim a try. The third try was a ?captains special?, Liam Foran breaking through the line off a dummy pass to score and convert.In the first 15 min of the second half the Bears dominated the Dogs scoring two further tries, a strong run from Samuel Talanoa to score and again from the scrum Judah Wikeepa scored out wide.However the Bulldogs finished the stronger, running in three more tries to take the win 34 to 24.The coaching staff were unanimous in their praise for back Kimon Tellidis, while Mitch Williams put in a good, strong, solid display. While disappointed with the last quarter Coach Michael Pobjie claimed ?the talk was enthusiastic out there and it was a fantastic effort for the most part?.In the other match played at Belmore the Bears Harold Matthews suffered a loss to the Bulldogs 44-0.PHOTO: Jake Foster and Kimon Tellidis take on a Bulldogs attacker. Kimon was the stand out performer on Saturday. Photo: Steve LittleNext weekend the Bears will play three grades against the Central Coast at Norths second home ground, T G Milner Field in Eastwood on Sunday 12th March. The day begins at 12:00pm with the Harold Matthews followed by the S G Ball at 1:30pm. The final match will be the Jersey Flegg?s first competition match of the season at 3pm. The Premier League will play their round one match against the Sharks on Saturday 11th March at Toyota Park from 3:30.
LOCAL Dragon and international centre Matt Cooper will play his 100th first grade game for St George Illawarra against the defending Premiers at Telstra Stadium this Friday night in the opening match of the 2006 season.New re-cruits Andrew Price and Matt Bickerstaff will make their Dragons NRL debuts and Reece Simmonds has been given an opportunity on the wing having played just five NRL games last season.Unavailable Dragons due to injury are: Ben Creagh (Knee - Rnd 2), Shaun Timmins (Knee - Rnd 2), Sam Isemonger (Hamstring ? Rnd 2) and Mathew Head (Knee ? Rnd 5).DRAGONS NRL TEAM LIST v Wests Tigers7:30pm Friday 10 MarchTelstra Stadium Coach: Nathan Brown 1. Clint GREENSHIELDS2. Reece SIMMONDS3. Mark GASNIER4. Matt COOPER5. Wes NAIQAMA6. Trent BARRETT (c)7. Ben HORNBY8. Luke BAILEY9. Dean YOUNG10. Jason RYLES11. Corey PAYNE12. Ashton SIMS13. Andrew PRICE14. Justin POORE15. Michael HENDERSON16. Matt BICKERSTAFF17. Aaron GORRELLDRAGONS PREMIER LEAGUE TEAM LIST v Western Suburbs Magpies5:20pm Friday 10 MarchTelstra Stadium Coach: Steven Price 1. Brett MORRIS2. Colin BEST3. Beau MUNDINE4. Daryl MILLARD5. Tom HEWITT6. Reece BLAYNEY7. Chris SHEPPARD (c)8. Charlie LEAENO9. George NDAIRA10. Chris HOUSTON (c)11. Tom HABERECHT12. Lee TE MAARI13. Aaron WHEATLEY14. Jhi TANNER15. Jamie DUNNING16. Willie TUPOU17. Willie PETERS18. Beau RYAN19. Bryson GOODWINDRAGONS JERSEY FLEGG TEAM LIST v Western Suburbs Magpies3:00pm Saturday 11 MarchCampbelltown Sports Ground Coach: Corey Pearson 1. Jason NIGHTINGALE2. Josh MORRIS3. Junior SEUMANUTAFA4. Keith LULIA5. Rota SETU6. Richard WILLIAMS7. Matt SEAMARK (c)8. Dan HUNT9. Brad DAVIDSON10. Chris FARRELL11. Lagi SETU12. James GREHAN13. Nathan WYNN14. Matt PRIOR15. Luke YOUNG17. Blake DUREAU18. Shannon STITT19. James KEELAN20. Luke IRWIN21. Scott SABLOWSKI22. Francis LANGIFISI
COWBOYS enforcer Carl Webb will join fellow Maroons Brad Thorn and Corey Parker and Josh Hannay in the Queensland Wizard Cup for this weekend's opening round.Webb and Hannay have been left out of North Queensland's NRL squad for its clash against Brisbane on Sunday, while Thorn and Parker were dropped by Broncos coach Wayne Bennett yesterday.Webb has been plagued by a quad strain during the pre-season with Hannay recovering from a shoulder reconstruction in the off-season. Ty Williams has taken Hannay's place in the centres while young gun Jacob Lillyman will start in the second row with Steve Southern to come on from the bench.
NORTH Queensland coach Graham Murray has named a strong team to face Brisbane in the Queensland NRL derby at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.Team: Matt Bowen, Neil Sweeney, Ty Williams, Paul Bowman, Matt Sing, Johnathan Thurston, Brett Firman, Mitchell Sargent, Aaron Payne, Shane Tronc, Jacob Lillyman, Luke O'Donnell, Travis Norton.Interchange: David Faiumu, Steve Southern, Justin Smith, Matthew Scott.
WESTS Tigers coach Tim Sheens has named his team to play St George-Illawarra Dragons at Telstra Stadium on Friday, March 10. Kick-off is 7.30pm.1: Brett Hodgson ?2: Daniel Fitzhenry3: Dean Collis4: Paul Whatuira5: Jamaal Lolesi6: Benji Marshall7: Scott Prince8: Bryce Gibbs9: Robbie Farah10: John Skandalis11: Anthony Laffranchi12: Ben Galea13: Liam FultonInterchange:14: Michael Crockett15: Keith Galloway16: Ryan O?Hara17: Todd PaytenUnavailable: Dene Halatau (shoulder, rd 4), Shane Elford (knee, rd 4), Chris Heighington (fractured eye, rd 3), Shannon McDonnell (hamstring, rd 2).
STORM coach Craig Bellamy has named his team for this weekend?s clash with New Zealand. David Kidwell has the ?c? next to his name this week, after Bellamy considered a Sydney Swan?s-like leadership group as he approaches this year?s premiership.The squad is:1. Billy Slater2. Matt Geyer3. Matt King4. Greg Inglis5. Jake Webster6. Scott Hill7. Cooper Cronk8. Garret Crossman9. Cameron Smith10. Antonio Kaufusi11. David Kidwell (c)12. Michael Crocker13. Dallas JohnsonInterchange:14. Brett White15. Ryan Hoffman16. Ian Donnelly17. Steve Turner18. Jamie Feeney(one to be omitted)
NEW coach Ivan Cleary has named his first NRL line-up for the year, with all his stars on deck to take on the Storm at home.The team is:Brent Webb, Tony Martin, Jerome Ropati, Clinton Toopi, Manu Vatuvei, Sione Faumuina, Nathan Fien, Ruben Wiki, Lance Hohaia, Steve Price (c), Awen Guttenbeil, Wairangi Koopu, Louis AndersonInterchange: Grant Rovelli, Micheal Luck, Epalahame Lauaki, Evarn Tuimavave.18th man: Todd Byrne
BULLDOGS Coach Steve Folkes has made a surprise selection in the team that will take on the Panthers at Telstra Stadium in the opening round of the 2006 NRL Premiership. Andrew Emilio will make his first grade debut for the Bulldogs off the bench.Emelio is a Bulldogs junior who won three Jersey Flegg Grand Finals (1999, 2000, 2001) and one Premier League Grand Final (2002) for the Club. In 2003 and 2004 he played for the Sharks before having a stint in the UK in 2005 with the Widnes Vikings. He plays centre and wing.The full team is:1. Luke Patten2. Hazem El Masri3. Reni Maitua4. Willie Tonga5. Matt Utai6. Daniel Holdsworth7. Brent Sherwin8. Chris Armit 9. Corey Hughes10. Roy Asotasi11. Willie Mason12. Andrew Ryan (C)13. Tony GrimaldiInterchange:14. Adam Perry15. Mark O'Meley 16. Nate Myles17. Andrew Emilio
BULLDOGS winger Matt Utai will make his long-awaited return from injury in his side's round one NRL match against Penrith at Telstra Stadium on Saturday. Utai has not played in any of the trial matches, but will take his place on the wing after overcoming a shoulder injury. Meanwhile, Nowra junior Michael Crockett will make his debut for the Wests Tigers from the interchange bench against St George Illawarra at Telstra Stadium on Friday night. Dene Halatau (shoulder), Shane Elford (knee) and Chris Heighington (fractured eye) are unavailable for the defending Premiers due to injury.
BABY BunniesJohn Sutton, Beau Champion and Yileen Gordon are the new breed of Rabbitohs which the club hopes will become future stars. Both youngsters have shown that they have what it takes to be champions in their chosen sport and hold the key if South Sydney is to bounce back to their glory days which saw them net 20 premierships.NRL Clubs vote for Salary Cap to stay the sameNational Rugby League Chief Executives supported the ongoing importance of the current Salary Cap regulations.As the game prepares for a season launch that celebrates the competitiveness of the 15 teams and as the CEO?s had their first view of the advertising campaign which supports this theme, they underlined the role the salary cap was playing in the Telstra Premiership.World Cup finally startsThe countdown to the 2008 World Cup will commence on April 28 when Holland hosts Russia in the Dutch town of Den Haag.Serbia and Georgia will also be involved in the four-team European qualifying tournament. Each side will play each other nation once for a total of three matches.NRL 2006We preview every NRL club and look at their chances for the upcoming season. Find out all about your club in the latest issue of Rugby League Review.RUGBY LEAGUE REVIEW is out Tuesday, March 7 at all good newsagents for $3.50. Guarantee your copy by subscribing. Check out www.rugbyleaguereview.com for more details.
LIKELY squad: Ben Hornby, Colin Best, Mark Gasnier, Matt Cooper, Wes Naiqama, Trent Barrett, Mathew Head, Jason Ryles, Dean Young, Luke Bailey, Ashton Sims, Ben Creagh, Shaun Timmins,Interchange: Michael Henderson, Justin Poore, Corey Payne, Matt BickerstaffStrengths:The Dragons once again have a top platform to build on. They have a strong balanced side which contains pace, strength and raw ability. The team has gone through a bit of a tough time at the moment but the starting side is still rather young and will continue to develop.The Dragons? backline is their most dangerous asset. Australian centres Matt Cooper and Mark Gasnier combine for the best centre partnership in the competition while their outside men possess enough strength and pace to finish off anything they set up. Colin Best?s try scoring tally last season was enough to signify this.Ben Hornby is one of the best talents in rugby league today. The reason is largely attributed to his versatility. He is equally accustomed to fullback as he is to five-eighth or halfback. He did a stellar job in the absence of Mathew Head last season, and one would expect to see him carry the ball in hand as often as possible to give the Dragons another dimension in attack.The forwards are once again strong with the inclusion of young guns Ashton Sims and Ben Creagh to the starting team. Ryles and Bailey are two of the best props in the game and the pack which is mixed with youthful exuberance and valuable experience will be one of the best in the competition.Weaknesses:The Dragons? bench is not as solid as it once was. It may be time to promote some younger blood that has the potential to have greater impact. The Dragons have tremendous forward depth and always have had the ability to produce great forwards, but its time for Nathan Brown to eliminate guys like Payne and Henderson and give guys like Habercecht a go, who have the potential to make an impact on a game.The Dragons? mental state is shaky to say the least. While they have had the talent to win the competition for the last five years, they just can?t put it together when it counts. They are labelled the perennial chokers and for good reason. They are once again the favourites for the competition, so could they choke?Physical fitness is also a concern for the Dragons. The Dragons always have a tendency to get injuries to big names at the worst times. This is a weakness for the Dragons, but something that is beyond their control. Hopefully their physios are amongst the best in the country, because they will need to be.One to Watch:2005 Dragons Jersey Flegg player of the year Tom Haberecht is the Dragon?s youngster to watch this season. The Dragons purchased Haberecht from the Bulldogs in 2005 and he made an instant impression on the Dragons, becoming a vital player in the premiership winning Jersey Flegg team.The 20 year old, 95kg and 185 cm Haberecht has made a huge impression on coach Nathan Brown in the pre-season, enough for him to be considered for First Grade this early in his career. While Haberecht only has modest goals to cement a place in Premier League this season before getting a shot at First Grade, it is definitely conceivable that with Lance Thompson?s departure from the Dragons that this young gun will get his shot to impress sooner rather than later. The Dragons have always managed to bring in great forwards into the club and this is just another example. Haberecht is a devastating ball runner and a hard defender. He is definitely one of those classy players that a team is usually built around and the Dragons will be looking for him to continue his progression through Premier League and eventually to take on a leadership role in the First Grade squad. Gains and Losses:Gains: Bryson Goodwin, Matt Bickerstaff, Damon Alley-Tovio, Sam Isemonger, Lagi Setu, Andrew Price.Losses: Lance Thompson, Michael Ennis, Albert Torrens, Daniel Holdsworth, Willie Manu, Bryan Norrie, Nick Youngquest, Shane MarteeneAssessment:The Dragons once again are in with a shot to take out the competition, but will they have the mental preparation to win it? Only time will tell. Based on their top 17 it?s hard to conceive they will be outside the top 8, but I don?t feel they will be minor premiers. I think they?ll push the top 4 but fall just short. I believe the Dragons will finish in between 3rd and 6th.
RICKY Stuart has named his team to play the Bunnies with the surprise selection of Jamie Soward at halfback alongside new five eighth Braith Anasta. Brett Finch finds himself at hooker and Craig Wing has been shunted to a five man bench.The full team is:1 Anthony Minichiello 2 Amos Roberts 3 Ryan Cross 4 Iosia Soliola 5 Sam Perrett 6 Braith Anasta 7 Jamie Soward 8 Craig Fitzgibbon (c) 9 Brett Finch 10 Adrian Morley 11 Anthony Tupou 12 Chris Flannery 13 Ashley Harrison Interchange: 14 Craig Wing 15 Shane Shackleton 16 Lopini Paea 17 David Shillington 18 Steve Meredith(one to be omitted)
BRISBANE coach Wayne Bennett has named four debutants and overlooked Origin forwards Corey Parker and Brad Thorn for their 2006 NRL season opener against North Queensland.Schoolboy winger Darius Boyd will make his first grade debut against the Cowboys at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday while ex-Dragons hooker Michael Ennis and former Roosters prop Ben Hannant run out in the NRL for the first time in Brisbane colours.Veteran former Wests and Bulldogs half Shane Perry is on the bench.The Squad is:1: Karmichael Hunt2: Darius Boyd3: Justin Hodges4: Shaun Berrigan5: Steve Michaels6: Darren Lockyer (c)7: Brett Seymour13: Tonie Carroll12: Dane Carlaw11: David Stagg10: Petero Civoniceva9: Michael Ennis8: Shane WebckeInterchange:14: Casey McGuire15: Ben Hannant16: Neville Costigan17: Shane Perry
FULLBACK Brett Hodgson has been named to replace Scott Prince as captain of National Rugby League premiers the Wests Tigers. Clive Churchill medallist Prince, who captained the side during its late season run to the 2005 title, stepped down from the role after signing a lucrative four-year deal with Gold Coast from next season. Hodgson will lead the team in the NRL season opener against St George Illawarra at Telstra Stadium on Friday night.
HULL FC 6 (Briscoe try; Brough goal) v Harlequins RL 10 (Smith, Leuluai tries; Sykes goal). Att: 8,250.Harlequins got their first victory of the season by upsetting Hull FC at the KC Stadium in artic conditions.All the points in this match were scored in the first half. The Quins opened the scoring in the 9th minute through a Thomas Leuluai try who darted over from dummy half, Paul Sykes added the extras. The visitors stretched their lead to 10-0 as Luke Dorn sent Tyrone Smith into the corner.Hull continued to struggle and were finding it increasingly difficult to get into the game, however with only 8 minutes left in the half they finally got on the scoreboard with a try to Shaun Briscoe, who raced 50 meters to score in the corner. Danny Brough kicked a touchline conversion to leave them trailing at the break by only 4 points.In the second half Hull tried to get back on level terms, but resolute defence from the Quins prevented the Black and Whites from scoring any more points.Salford City Reds 28 (Fitzpatrick, Dunemann, Wilshere, Finnigan, Coley tries; Hodgson 4 goals) v Wigan Warriors 10 (Richards, Orr tries; Tickle goal). Att: 5,494.Wigan?s poor start to the season continued when they were convincingly beaten by a rejuvenated Salford City Reds.The match had been in doubt all afternoon after heavy snowfall in the Salford area but, once the game got underway the Reds adapted themselves better to the conditions and raced into a 14-4 interval lead with tries from Simon Finnigan and Andy Coley. Wigan?s sole reply was from ex-Wests Tiger Pat Richards.In the second half Wigan got themselves right back into the game when Danny Orr dived on to a Richards inside kick and with Tickle?s goal there was only 4 points in it.Eventually Salford extended their lead when PNG star John Wilshere squeezed into the corner. The game was wrapped up by two late tries from Andrew Dunemann and a fine solo 40-metre romp by ex-Warrior David Hodgson, who also kicked four goals.Warrington Wolves 10(Fa?afili, Wainwright tries; Briers goal) v St Helens 18 (Cunningham, Talau, Gardner; Lyon 3 goals). Att: 13,024.St Helens kept their 100% record intact with a well-earned victory over near neighbours Warrington at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.The game was played on a snowbound pitch in sub zero conditions but despite the elements, a huge crowd witnessed an excellent close fought contest. The Saints held a 12-0 interval lead with tries from Great Briton Hooker Keiron Cunningham and ex-Bulldog Willie Talau.After the restart, Lee Briers once again inspired his team by setting up their first try with an astute kick to the corner for Henry Fa?afili to pluck the ball out of the air and score. Jason Hooper was sin-binned for the Saints when he took out Briers on the last tackle, which resulted in Mike Wainwright scoring a try, cutting Saints? lead to only 2 points.However, the Saints soon got back into their rhythm and increased their lead when Ade Gardner finished off a sweet passing movement to score in the corner. Jamie Lyon kicked a late penalty goal to seal the game for the league leaders.Catalans Dragons 18 (Mounis 2, Murphy tries; Frayssinous 3 goals) v Bradford Bulls 50 (Lynch 2, Hape 2, Bai, Smith, Fielden, B.Harris, Langley tries; Deacon 7 goals). Att: 9,373.Bradford Bulls remained second on the table with a nine try demolition of newcomers Catalans Dragons in Perpignan. The Bulls escaped the artic conditions in Northern England when they comprehensively destroyed a poor Dragons team who are still missing their influential skipper, Kiwi ace Stacey Jones.The Dragons had no answer to the Bulls? halfback partnership of Iestyn Harris and Paul Deacon, who completely dominated the game from start to finish. The game as a contest was over in the first quarter as the Bulls ran in a 24-0 lead with tries by Shontayne Hape, Stuart Fielden, Andy Lynch and Jamie Langley. Spurred on by a big local crowd, the Dragons got on the score sheet when Greg Mounis got on to the end of a Sean Rudder kick. But their joy was brief has Hape scored his second try to leave the Bulls 30-6 in front at the break.In the second half, the Bulls continued to out-muscle the hosts and scored 20 more points to give themselves an easy victory. However, a fine 60-metre solo effort from Justin Murphy cheered the home fans up. After their debut win against Wigan, the Catalans now face some challenges ahead as in the next few weeks the other Big Guns of the Engage Super League will arrive in the South of France.Wakefield Wildcats 16 (Solomona 2, Tadulala; Jeffries 2 goals) v Huddersfield Giants 18 (Thorman, Torrens, Snitch; Thorman 3 goals). Att: 4,110.The Giants snatched a late victory as they edged out the Wakefield Wildcats at a bitterly cold Belle Vue. In a game when defences were on top, both teams defied the freezing conditions to play some exciting rugby league.Wakefield lead at half time by 16-8 with a brace of tries from David Solomona and flying Fijian winger Semi Tadulala, with the Giants replying through Thorman who bagged a try and two goals.After the break, Thorman?s kicking kept the Giants in contention and they reduced the deficit to just two points when Steve Snitch scored a try against his old club. First half hero Solomona was sin-binned which led to the Giants laying siege in the Wildcats half of the field. Wakefield appeared to be holding on for victory when they were stunned by a last grasp try by former Dragon Albert Torrens to seal a dramatic Giants victory.Leeds Rhinos 66 (Walker 3, Burrow 2, Poching, McGuire, Kirke, Bailey, Mathers, Lauitiiti tries; Sinfield 11 goals) v Castleford Tigers 14 (Mcgoldrick, Haughey tries; Huby 3 goals). Att: 16,660.Leeds Rhinos got back to winning ways with an 11 try thrashing of Castleford Tigers in front of a capacity crowd at Headingley.After the postponement of Friday night?s game, due to a frozen and snow bound pitch, Leeds were far to good for a Tiger?s team missing four regular players.Leeds scored two early tries to lead 12-0 in the match. Ironically, when the Tiger?s were reduced to 12 men after Danny Sculthorpe was sin binned for persistent infringements around the play the ball area, Castleford roared back to get within 4 points thanks to a try from Tommy Haughey and two Craig Huby goals. After Sculthorpe returned to the fray the Rhinos quickly upped the tempo to score five converted tries in the last 12 minutes of the first half. Chev Walker completed his fifth hat-trick of his carer, debutant substitute Ian Kirke scored with his first touch of the ball and Leeds Skipper Kevin Sinfield tagged on the conversations to give his team a 42-8 lead effectively killing the game off at the break.The second half started with Castleford showing some fighting spirit and they even managed a consolation try through Ryan McGoldrick but Leeds hammered their advantage home with four further tries all converted by Sinfield, giving him a personal tally of 22 points from 11 successful kicks.