CLICK here if you care to forget about the Bulldogs crowd dramas, cap rort inquiries into players and their managers and the umpteenth Leagueie trying to talk up his contract value by leveraging against Rugby Yawnion.It?s time to talk footy and after picking 6/7 last week I?m sitting pretty on a total of 11/14 and enjoying the rare early season form which usually deserts me as it does the Dragons around March each year. This week is no push-over though, with plenty of match-ups that could go either way.Knights v BulldogsA big game this one. Newcastle are always hard to beat at home and it?ll be a full house at Marathon to give them an extra boost. This game is a classic tale of tough forward pack (Bulldogs) versus a talented backline (Knights).Both sides will be on a high after last week but Newcastle want to be careful not to get too carried away with scoring 70 points. The Raiders were pretty shabby and the Knights were clinical in attack but poor in defence. Johns showed that when he leads from the front they can run away with things, but it won?t be a simple lay-down misere on Friday night.The Bulldogs steamrolled Wests last week and have had a full 7 days to recover from that encounter, so they?ll be a little fresher than the Knights. Their forward pack took enormous pleasure out of destroying their fit and competitive rivals and blind Freddy could have seen that Canterbury were parading about with a sign saying ?We?re back?.It?s a tough ask to hold the Bulldog forwards, but if Newcastle can do that it will pave the road to victory in the backs. They managed it against Parramatta up there a fortnight ago and whilst the Doggies are stronger in the prop department, Newcastle has a terrific backrow. Knights by a few with the home crowd, but beware of El Masri, he can pop up anywhere.Tigers v WarriorsA very hard pick. The famous stat here is that the Warriors have never won in New Zealand outside Auckland and the Tigers have given them a touch up at Jade Stadium over the past two seasons in their ?away? home games.It really has been a terrible start for the Warriors. During the off-season they must have looked at the draw and realised they had 3 games in a row in New Zealand giving them every chance to make up the 4 points that they were docked. But so far they haven?t been able to click into gear and with the schedule they have in the next few weeks, their season is perilously close to being over at round 3.The Tigers are in a spot of bother as well. Injuries to key players (Marshall, Fulton, Farah, Heighington & Gibbs) has pulled the rug from under their feet, but that?s no excuse for selection oddities. Whilst he did win the premiership last year and is a great coach, I simply don?t know what Tim Sheens is doing with Jamaal Lolesi at lock - they have ample backrowers. It could well be to link up with Reynolds at halfback, who replaces the one-dimensional Fitzhenry with Prince shifting to five-eighth.With the reshuffle at Wests I?m going to go with the Warriors to break their duck. They?re gone without a win on Saturday.Sea Eagles v SharksThe Sharks depart the Shire and head to the Peninsula chasing their first win in our second instalment of Super Saturday. They?re not the only ones looking for first points with the Sea Eagles sure to be desperate at Fortress Brooky.Cronulla played a pretty stupid brand of footy in the second half last week. They seemed to want to close the game down and just bank a victory with about 20 minutes to go. Their options were poor and they played a deflated style of footy that discouraged any sort of attacking venom whatsoever.The Sea Eagles were at least committed in Townsville after going down in a bit of a scrappy affair which is to be expected from a team with a new playmaker. But the question for Manly fans is how long will this last and how long can they afford it to last? I don?t think it will last much longer. Manly will beat Cronulla on Saturday and it?ll be a top game of footy as there?s plenty of fireworks in both forward packs.Cowboys v StormI?d call this one game of the round. Two brilliant attacking teams facing up against one another with the backdrop of a cyclone devastated home town praying for victory. With Innisfail born Billy Slater lining up for Melbourne, there?s sure to be passion on both sides.The Storm have had two solid victories against New Zealand and Easts without setting the world on fire. But at stages throughout each match they have controlled the game and looked comfortable before the opposition has staged a fightback to make the scoreline appear closer than it was. They can?t afford to do that this week, with the Cowboys sure to capitalise on any opportunity that comes their way.Last week North Queensland struggled to get out of third gear against Manly but as it turns out they didn?t need to in order to win the contest. We know they can turn it on and I get the feeling they?re going to do that on Saturday night. The Cowboys forward pack will dominate their smaller rivals at Melbourne, who will miss the aggression of new recruit Mick Crocker desperately. The clash in the halves will be an interesting sub-plot to the match.Rabbitohs v DragonsWell it?s not getting any easier. Necessity was the mother of invention last week for the Dragons as they played Dean Young at five-eighth in what I would hope is his last outing in that position. It was always going to be tough for him, but with Barrett returning this week he settles nicely back into the hooking role. The big factor here for the Dragons is the absence of Luke Bailey. They missed his go-forward last week when he was forced from the field and with Creagh also on the sidelines the Dragons bench is starting to look pretty weak in comparison to last season.The Bunnies will turn up at Homebush for the first time as a privately-owned team. It remains to be seen how this will affect the club?s mental preparation, but I can?t see it having anything other than a positive affect. They had a week off with the bye and they?d be keen to erase the memories of their first round loss to the Roosters. Walker is still out and he?s replaced by boom rookie Beau Champion who showed his wares a little last season and also in the Charity Shield.This is a hard pick. On one hand the Dragons have Barrett, Gasnier, Ryles and Hornby in the team, but I think they key is who they?re missing ? Cooper and Bailey ? which makes them look a little fragile. Souths are full of toilers in the forwards department and a great playmaker in Sutton who could prove the difference in a backline that is under rated, but they are coming off the bye. I?ll tip the Dragons, if they lose this one there will be gnashing of teeth down at Kogarah.Broncos v EelsHeading up to Lang Park now and the Eels take on the Broncos in what shapes to be a good stoush. Both sides have a win each and there?s plenty to be talked about in each line-up.I?m lost with Brian Smith?s selection policies. He?s got Tahu and Grothe on the bench returning from injury presumably in case Graham and Peterson break a leg in the warm up? It could be one of his last minute change of heart decisions this week. We all know how well they work. At least he?s got Riddell there again after a good performance against the Warriors.Moving on to the Broncos, and Wayne Bennett has stuck with Lcokyer at five-eighth as you?d expect, but he?ll be closely watched in case he turns up at fullback. Hunt may be called upon in the frontline and with Hodges back in the team there?s some more flair and creativity than last week.Across the park Parramatta just look too strong though. I think it?s probable that their forwards will dominate the Brisbane pack who are a bit lethargic. They are big guys and it will be interesting to see the difference daylight savings makes to the heat up in Queensland, which may have caused them to struggle against the Cowboys. The Eels should win by a few and they also have the demons of round 5, 2005 to exorcise (Brisbane won 54-14).Roosters v RaidersThe final game of the round sees two last start losers confront one another in the heart of League territory ? the Sydney Football Stadium. It?s a great ground to view the game from and let?s hope the Roosters can get a few bodies out there this weekend. They?ll certainly need some support after losing to the Storm last weekend.Easts are starting to worry me though. Braith and Ashley aren?t pulling their weight and the persistence of Finch at hooker is debasing the team. He keeps issuing orders at every opportunity and I don?t think that?s his role anymore. If I were him I?d stick to giving good service out of dummy half to Soward and Anasta before Wing comes on and commences his darting runs out of hooker.Canberra are in a different boat. They got smashed last week and still managed to score 32 points. One thing Leagueies always do after a bad loss is to try and erase that memory the very next week, so perhaps I?ve shown my hand a little early here. With the return of Schif and what?s more or less their strongest line-up, the Raiders have no excuses here. They?re a tipping disaster but I think I?ve cracked the code ? just tip them when most people think they?re going to lose and they generally win.The Penrith Panthers have the bye this round and they have surprised most people with their lofty position on the ladder. Close victories over the Bulldogs and the Dragons could give them an edge in tight matches later in the season. John Lang must have had a wry smile on his face last Sunday given the result in Canberra.
THE Dolphins opened the season with wins in all grades at Ipswich last weekend. All 3 games were tough encounters and it was pleasing for the coaches their sides were able to walk away with 2 points.The Colts jumped out of the blocks well slipping out to a halftime lead of 14-6. The Jets worked themselves back into the game leading 16-14 midway through the second half before a tense finish saw the Dolphins run out eventual winners 20 points to 14.The side will need to improve its discipline in the future with too many unnecessary penalties. Matt Handcock and Tom Donnelly will spend 3 weeks on the sidelines after an unfortunate tackle while Captain Tim Benson proved the sides best collecting the LEADING EDGE SPORTS Man of the Match. This week sees the Dolphins tackling the Western District Panthers for the first home game of the season.The A Grade encounter was a rugged affair with both sides playing the game in a physical style. The Dolphins finished 34-14 winners after playing the final 25 minutes with 12 men after Richie Russell was sent off. It was a solid effort from the Dolphins as the game was still a tight contest when Richie left the field, Coach Grant Cleal was impressed with the way the side put the game beyond doubt in the circumstances. Dominic Fallini continued his impressive trial form receiving the HOGS BREATH CAFE Man of the Match award off the bench, Dom was well supported by NZ recruit Kaine Manihera and Mark Shipway who unfortunately picked up a rib cartilage injury. The team also tackles the Western District Panthers this weekend who will be keen to register their first win.The Premier Grade side completed the trifecta with a hard fought win over the Jets to the tune of 34 points to 12. The game was a good contest despite the scoreline with the Dolphins relying on a determined defensive effort to shut out Ipswich on their home soil. The win has come a cost with Clint Frazer badly separating the AC joint in his shoulder, Danny Green also suffered a shoulder injury while Pat Gardner will miss one week through suspension, Duane O?Grady was thought to have broken the scaffoid in his left hand however tests have cleared him of a break. Winger Adam Fletcher was solid on debut for the Dolphins receiving the KEYSTAR AUTOWORLD Players Player award and evergreen forward Adam Starr proved his worth again with his SEARLES GARDEN PRODUCTS Player of the Match performance, others to impress were Danny Burke and centres Greg Bourke and Nick Emmett. This week provides a real test for the Dolphins depth with a number of player?s unavailable to confront the Central Comets who will be champing at the bit after downing the Burleigh Bears for the first time last weekend. The first home games of the season shape as good encounters and with the Wizard Family Day promotion on we can expect a good crowd on hand for their first fix of Dolphin Oval footy for the year.This weeks teamsQueensalnd Wizard Cup1. Ryan Cullen 2. Alwyn Simpson 3. Greg Bourke 4. Nick Emmett 5. Adam Fletcher 6. Marty Turner 7. Shane Perry (c) 8. Adam Starr 9. Mick Roberts 16. Damian Jentz 11. Grant Flugge 12. Danny Burke 13. Shannon Fish Interchange 14. Chris Fox 15. Duane O'Grady 10. Darren Glase 17. Gerard ParleCoach Anthony GriffinFOGS Cup A grade1. Mark Christensen 2. Kaine Manihera 3. Pat McGill 4. Rory Bromley 5. Lucas Deaden 6. Matt Anderton (c) 7. Chris Jelich 8. Brad Massey 9. Scott Gillis 10. Dom Fallini 11. James Douglas 12. Dan Jones 13. Matt Mannion Interchange 14. Mick Pares 15. Xavier Jordan 16. Josh McCormick 17. Sam Fillery Coach Grant ClealFOGS Colts Challenge1. Phil Daisy 2. Dion Porteous 3. Matt Gillett 4. Michael Wilson 5. James Derbyshire 6. Bob Jones 7. Asher Elemani 8. Greg Malenstein 9. Angus Cameron 10. Jon Broad 11. Foisa Peni 12. Logan Sullivan 13. Tim Benson (c) Interchange 14. David Hala 15. Dane Hogan 16. Stuart May 17. Anthony TonkinCoach Craig IngebrigtsenThe Redcliffe Dolphins ask all members and supporters of the Leagues and Football Clubs to get behind the club's Cyclone Larry Appeal donations are being taken at reception in the Leagues Club.
NRL chief executive David Gallop says he is willing to risk losing representative stars such as St George Illawarra centre Mark Gasnier to rugby union if it means preserving the salary cap.Gallop says the NRL will not relax its rules to keep the likes of Gasnier and fellow internationals Anthony Minichiello and Willie Tonga from switching codes. He says the salary cap is responsible for creating one of the most even competitions in the game's history, and he is not willing to jeopardise that to retain one player.Dragons three-quarter Gasnier is believed to be in talks with Australian Rugby Union officials about a switch next season, with rumours of contracts worth up to $750,000 a season said to be on offer.
ANXIOUS Brisbane Broncos officials hope to find out today whether prop Shane Webcke will be available for Sunday's NRL clash against Parramatta.
AFTER the heartbreaking loss last week in Golden Point extra time against the Panthers, this week the Dragons back up against Russells Rabbitoh's on Sunday. The Dragons still have a number of players out with injury, but will welcome Trent Barrett back with open arms as his leadership and passing game were both sorely missed last week. After losing the Charity Shield the team should be fired up to knock off the Rabbitoh's and register their first win of the season. This weeks match will be shown at The Grosvenor Hotel at East St Kilda at 2:30. With the Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony being held that night after the match, we would like to invite all and sundry to also come into The Beach at The Arts Centre to watch the Closing Ceremony on the big screen. This is a great place to soak up the atmosphere of the final night of the Games, and the tram from the Grosvenor takes you straight up St Kilda Rd to the Arts Centre! Plan is to meet up there at 5:30 if you are able to make it. WHAT: Dragons v Rabbitohs + Commonwealth Games Closing CeremonyWHEN: Sunday 27th March 2:30pmWHERE: Grosvenor Hotel 10 Brighton Rd, East St Kilda for the footy - followed by The Beach At The Arts Centre at 5:30 Look forward to catching up with you this weekend!!
FIRST up, apologies for my absence last week, had a corked thigh which ruled me out. I?m back and hitting it up hard this week though with normal service having resumed here at LU.
GET a calculator out and find if the following equation is achievable.
A classy display from Castleford heaped more pressure on Wigan as Ian Millward?s Warriors were soundly beaten 38-18 at the Jungle.
HULL arrested a run of three straight engage Super League defeats against Wakefield at Belle Vue, although their 28-20 victory was not as convincing as they might have wished.
RAMPANT Huddersfield ran in 11 tries as beleaguered Harlequins suffered a 64-14 drubbing at the Galpharm Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
CATALANS Dragons gave new coach Mick Potter a dream start to his reign by pulling off their first away victory in the engage Super League at the expense of a stunned Warrington by 28-26.
LEEDS wore down Salford?s spirited resistance to edge a hard-fought encounter but Karl Harrison?s men left Headingley with their pride intact and their reputation enhanced despite going down 20-12.
FORMER Bradford favourite Leon Pryce helped wreck his old club?s 18-match unbeaten run in Friday night?s engage Super League table-topping clash at Knowsley Road as St Helens got bast the Bulls 38-16.
IN hot conditions the Bears Premier League have been defeated by a strong South Sydney outfit 28-14 at T G Milner Field on Sunday.
TWO leading rugby league player managers have reportedly been found to have broken salary cap rules following an investigation into the New Zealand Warriors NRL salary cap scandal.