TELSTRA Stadium officials will look into the state of the playing surface following complaints from several players in NRL matches at the Olympic venue over the weekend.The ground hosted matches involving all three of its tenants. There were complaints about clumps of turf lifting and the surface having too many shifting sand patches.
DEWSBURY side Thornhill Trojans are the only amateur team through by right to Monday?s Powergen Challenge Cup fourth-round draw.The Trojans knocked out professional opposition for the second time in seven years when they beat Workington 16-12 at Dewsbury on Saturday.There were no shocks among Sunday?s 11 ties, although five have still to be played after falling victim to the ice and snow.Super League side Catalans Dragons will be joined in the draw by fellow countrymen Toulouse, who reached the semi-finals in 2005 but were made to fight all the way by little Blackpool.Toulouse won 58-18 at Bloomfield Road in the corresponding tie 12 months ago but this time it took them 77 minutes to clinch an 18-10 success.The Frenchmen scored tries through Cedric Olieu, Cedric Gay and Trent Clayton, with captain James Wynn kicking two conversions and a penalty.Blackpool responded with tries from Steve Ormesher and Liam Bretherton, who also added a penalty.French Championship leaders Pia crashed out at Whitehaven on Friday night and today Limoux lost 24-10 at Batley, who never looked back after scoring two tries in the first seven minutes.Stand-off Neil Roden laid on both scores for centre Steve Jones and full-back Craig Lingard and also touched down himself in the first half.The two Russian representatives both experienced heavy defeats, with Lokomotiv Moscow going down 64-4 to National League Two newcomers Celtic Crusaders and Strela Kazan losing 80-0 to Leigh, who were in Super League last season.Crusaders made the perfect start when man of the match Tony Duggan scored the first of his four tries after only two minutes and half-back partner Luke Young kicked the first of 10 goals.Lokomotiv were at their best in the first 20 minutes and scored their only try when Sergey Dobrynin forced his way over.At Hilton Park, lively stand-off Carl Forber led the way for Leigh with a hat-trick of tries and five goals.Elsewhere, winger Wayne McHugh scored five tries, four of them in the first 32 minutes, as Featherstone beat Skirlaugh 36-14 and young full-back Richard Tillotson ran in a second-half hat-trick in Dewsbury?s 68-0 rout of Bradford Dudley Hill.New Oldham coach Steve Deakin helped his side stave off the threat of an upset against local rivals Saddleworth, and National League clubs Doncaster, Hunslet, Hull KR and Widnes also triumphed over amateur opposition.
HARLEQUINS RL captain Mark McLinden will make his first appearance at the Twickenham Stoop against Castleford after recovering from a torn hamstring.The former Canberra Raiders half-back made a big impact in his first season with the London Broncos last year but has missed all four matches so far under their new guise after being injured in the build-up to the opening game against St Helens.?He?s named in the 20 and he will also be in the 17,? said coach Tony Rea.With Thomas Leuluai returning from a broken ankle against St Helens and Luke Dorn making his comeback from a hamstring injury in last week?s 10-6 win at Hull, Rea will have his trio of play-makers available for the first time.McLinden said: ?It?s been a tough month but I?m excited about playing my first game for Harlequins.?Harlequins RL v Castleford Tigers, Twickenham Stoop, Sunday March 12 2006Harlequins RL 18-man: Bradley-Qalilawa, Clubb, Dorn, Gafa, Haumono, Heckenberg, Hopkins, Leuluai, Lolohea, Lucky Luisi, McLinden, Mills, Purdham, Smith, Temata, Tookey, Weisner, Williams.Castleford 18-man: Platt, Pryce, Shenton, Dyer, Blanch, Handforth, Kain, Sculthorpe, Henderson, Nutley, Haughey, Bird, Whitaker, Fletcher, Viane, Fa'aoso, McGoldrick, Ward.Referee: S Ganson
HUDDERSFIELD Giants and St Helens have both announced their respective 18-man squads for the engage Super League clash at the Galpharm Stadium on Sunday.[i]Huddersfield are coming off a win against Wakefield last round, and a win here could see them jump into the top six. St Helens are undefeated and need this away win to keep Bradford from claiming the top spot on the table.[/i]Huddersfield Giants v St Helens, Galpharm Stadium, Sunday March 12 2006Huddersfield 18-man: Reilly, Aspinwall, De Vere, Donlan, Thorman, Paul, Crabtree, Drew, Nero, Snitch, Wild, Jones, March, Smith, McDonald, Raleigh, Gardner, Torrens.St Helens 18-man: P. Anderson, V. Anderson, Bennett, Cayless, Cunningham, Fa'asavalu, Gardner, Gilmour, Hooper, Lyon, Meli, Moore, Pryce, Roby, Sculthorpe, Talau, Wellens, Wilkin.Referee: R Silverwood
FULLTIME score: Round 1South Sydney Rabbitohs 22 v Sydney Roosters 40Match summary:The Sydney Roosters have produced a commanding second half performance to defeat the South Sydney Rabbitohs by 40 points to 22 at Telstra Stadium this afternoon, but not without controversy.The major talking point to come out of this match was Adrian Morley?s seemingly illegal hit on Rabbitohs halfback Ben Walker, midway through the second half. Under the new rules, any hit above the shoulder, regardless of whether it be the shoulder or from a swinging arm, is now deemed to be illegal. Morley appeared to strike Walker with the shoulder, leaving Walker with serious head injuries which forced him to leave the field. The hit led to a Roosters try. Referee Jason Robinson awarded the try without referring the decision to the video referee, which culminated with Morley being called to speak with Robinson on the halfway line. Morley was subsequently placed on report for an offence which, had he been caught out in the act, may have resulted in the first ejection from the playing arena in the 2006 season. Supporters were bemused with the fact that Robinson allowed the try to remain, despite the fact that Morley had committed an illegal offence in the process of the try being scored.Aside from the incident, the Roosters were clinical in their domination of the Rabbitohs, winning the second half by 34 points to 4 and winning the match 40-22.It was the Rabbitohs who came out firing early, taking an 18-6 lead into the halftime break and it seemed they would continue from where they left off last season with some promising performances.It was however the men from Bondi who prevailed, proving too strong for their southern Sydney rivals.Jamie Soward and Amos Roberts were outstanding for the visitors, while five-eighth John Sutton was clearly the best for the Bunnies. Braith Anasta was quiet early on, but appeared to erase a few cob-webs in the second half and created some opportunities for the Roosters, while Brett Finch had a solid start at hooker in his new-found role.The turning point though, was the Morley/Walker incident which occurred at the 55th minute, a time at which the Rabbitohs held an 18-16 advantage. The incident will no doubt be a bitter pill to swallow for the South Sydney faithful, and will come under the microscope with the video review committee tomorrow.With a past history of serious judiciary offences, one would expect that with closer video scrutiny, Morley?s moment of madness may result in a lengthy stint on the sidelines for the Great Britain international. Scorers:South Sydney Rabbitohs: 22Tries: Nathan Merritt, Yileen Gordon, John Sutton, Ben Walker Goals: Ben Walker 3/3, Nathan Merritt 0/1Sydney Roosters: 40Tries: Amos Roberts (2), Ryan Cross, Brett Finch, Anthony Minichello, Iosia Soliola, Jamie SowardGoals: Craig Fitzgibbon 4/4, Amos Roberts 2/3Venue: Telstra Stadium Crowd: 16,741Referee: Jason RobinsonHalf time: South Sydney 18-6Live commentary:Buddy Gordon takes the field for the injured Adam MacDougall. Shillington replaces Tupou in the starting line-up for the Roosters.0 min: NEWS And we're underway in the first half! Beautiful sundrenched day here in Sydney.7 min: TRY Sydney RoostersBraith Anasta throws a cut-out pass to Ryan Cross who beats the outside Rabbitohs men and finds Anasta back on the inside who gives it to Minichello to score his first for the year. Roosters 6-013 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsWalker makes up for some sloppy handling earlier with a great individual try. He grubbers through and puts pressure on Shillington who he strips the ball from, then barges over next to the posts, carrying Mini. He converts his own try easily. 6 all.21 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsAs Walker looks trapped with the ball on the last, he finds Polglase who bursts through the middle and chips to the wing for Gordon who scores a sensational try out wide. Walker converts from the sideline in grand fashion. Rabbitohs 12-627 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsThe Rabbits move the ball wide and find Rigon who presses the line before dropping it back behind him for Sutton to pick up and score and easy try, stunning the Roosters. Walker knocks it over and the Rabbitohs are playing a very enthusiastic and exciting brand of footy. Rabbitohs 18-628 min: NEWS Roberts kicks out on the full from the restart, giving Souths a penalty at halfway.35 min: NEWS Both teams a little scratchy early in the year with a few unforced errors creeping into play. The ground conditions are also leaving a little to be desired. The surface seems to be breaking up a fair bit and looks very soft underfoot.40 min: NEWS A great first half effort here from the Bunnies, leading a stunned Roosters outfit by 18-6 with some very enterprising play.40 min: NEWS Second half underway at Telstra Stadium43 min: TRY Sydney RoostersCross strolls in under the posts, running off a brilliant ball from new recruit Braith Anasta. Rabbitohs 18-1248 min: TRY Sydney RoostersSoliola scores an end to end try, a somewhat controversial one after Adrian Morley committed an illegal tackle on Ben Walker in the lead-up to the try. Rabbitohs 18-1650 min: NEWS Morley on report for the tackle on Ben Walker.52 min: TRY Sydney RoostersSoward crosses for another Roosters try. A bitter pill to swallow for fuming Souths fans after the Morley tackle escaped with just a report. Roosters 22-1858 min: TRY Sydney RoostersRoberts comes up with some excellent support play, running off Jamie Soward, who again is again causing havoc for the Souths defensive line and Roberts scores again. The Roosters are now running riot over the Rabbitohs. Roosters 28-1863 min: TRY Sydney RoostersFinch scores a well-deserved try in his debut game at hooker. This game is albeit over now. Roosters 34-1870 min: TRY Sydney RoostersRoberts is over again and the floodgates are now officially open. Roosters 40-1880 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsNathan Merritt grabs a consolation intercept try for the Rabbitohs on the siren. The Roosters have ended up the victors by 40 points to 22, a victory somewhat soured by Adrian Morley's cheap-shot on Ben Walker 15 minutes into the second half. Roosters 40-22-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Jamie Soward (Roosters)2 - Amos Roberts (Roosters)1 - John Sutton (Rabbitohs)-----------------------------------------
ROUND 1Brisbane Broncos 4 v North Queensland Cowboys 36Match summary:The North Queensland Cowboys have poleaxed the Brisbane Broncos today Suncorp Stadium in a 36-4 thrashing. The historic victory marks the Cowboy?s first ever win over Brisbane in Brisbane and their highest ever margin over the Broncos.The game began tenuously for Brisbane, with man of the match Jonathan Thurston looking dangerous before playing a hand in the first try for winger Matt Sing in the 8th minute. Things just kept getting worse for the Broncos from there, with tries in 10th, 16th and 29th minutes taking the game from the Broncos in sensational fashion.Aaron Payne was devastating in this passage of play, breaking apart the Broncos through the middle of the ruck to set up tries for Matt Bowen and Thurston, making the Brisbane defence look second rate and heading to the change rooms at 24-0.After an extended break, things didn?t get any easier with replacement Cowboy Neil Sweeney busting his way through the defence and scoring the visitors fifth try, making things very embarrassing for the home team. The 2005 runners-up seemed to be on a mission to destroy Brisbane and Thurston was leading the charge, scoring his third try of the day in the 59th minute to make the score 36-0. It was all too easy at that stage with a quarter of the match left to play.But after a scheduled drinks break to allow for the searing heat in Brisbane, the Broncos were a steadier outfit and with 15 minutes left to play finally got on the board through debut winger Darius Boyd. Michael Ennis failed to convert from the sideline, breaking a 27 goal consecutive run.The game petered from there, disappointing Cowboys fans who were no doubt eyeing off the 50-point mark, but it wasn?t to be. Perhaps they were overcome by the conditions. Nevertheless it was an extraordinary victory for the Cowboys and they head back to Townsville full of confidence for their clash with the Manly Sea Eagles.For the Broncos, this couldn?t have come at a worse time. Coach Wayne Bennett seems to be under siege in his home town with former player Gorden Tallis telling him how he thinks things should be run and a host of people calling for his head. Last year the Brisbane coach controversially sacked his entire support staff and retired from the Australian coaching position. It?s certainly not the way he would have liked things to start out, but it?s a long season and a win next week against the Sharks.Scorers:Brisbane Broncos: 4Tries: Darius BoydNorth Queensland Cowboys: 36Tries: Matthew Bowen, Matt Sing, Jonathan Thurston(3), Neil SweeneyGoals: Jonathan Thurston 6/7 Suncorp StadiumReferee: Tony ArcherLive commentary:News coming out is that due to the heat in Brisbane, there will be a drinks break at the 20 minute mark and an extended halftime period. Both teams as per the program.0 min: NEWS Another great day up here at Suncorp.5 min: NEWS Both teams just sorting each other out in the opening exchanges here at Suncorp.8 min: TRY North Queensland CowboysVeteran winger Matt Sing goes over in the corner for the visitors, opening the scoring for the day. Thurston adds the extras.Cowboys 6-010 min: TRY North Queensland CowboysAaron Payne makes a bust up the middle of the field and is supported by Thurston who finds Bowen and he races 50m to score under the posts. A huge opening stand by the Cowboys has the Broncos shocked. Thurston pots it from in front to ram home the advantage. Cowboys 12-016 min: TRY North Queensland CowboysAaron Payne makes another huge bust up the middle of the Broncos ruck and finds back-up king Thurston again, who plants the ball under the black dot and Brisbane are in all sorts of trouble. Cowboys 18-020 min: NEWS We're having a scheduled drinks break here at Suncorp. And I thought the cricket season was over! 25 min: PENALTY GOAL North Queensland CowboysThurston lands a penalty goal to push them further in front. Cowboys 20-029 min: TRY North Queensland CowboysThurston bags his second for the day as the Cowboys run riot in Bronco-Town. Thurston misses his first conversion for the day.Cowboys 24-035 min: NEWS Some end to end action here as the Cowboys consolidate their enormous lead here at Suncorp Stadium.40 min: NEWS And the Cowboys go to the break with an astounding 24-0 lead over Brisbane. An extended break will be taken.41 min: NEWS And we're underway here in the second half after an extended period in the sheds, presumably to cut more oranges. The Broncos have a massive deficit to make up and could be on the end of a hiding here in front of their home crowd in the first game of the match.45 min: NEWS The opening stages of the second half are seeing some exciting open play footy as the Broncos desperately try to get on the board. The Cowboys aren't taking a backward step though.56 min: TRY North Queensland CowboysSweeney puts the Cowboys further in front with a smart try, and the score is becoming embarrassing for the Broncos. Thurston converts. Cowboys 30-059 min: TRY North Queensland CowboysIt's all too easy for the 2005 Dally M medalist and Qld halfback Jonathan Thurston, as he skips over from dummy half to rub salt into the wounds of the battered Broncos. Thurston converts. Cowboys 36-060 min: NEWS We've got another drinks break here at Suncorp, with play set to resume in about 5 minutes. Lockyer is on the bench icing an apparent injury to his elbow.63 min: NEWS Ty Williams narrowly misses scoring from a cross-field kick, then narrowly misses giving himself a serious neck injury.66 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosQuick hands from Hunt and Berrigan sees the Broncos get on the board through young winger Darius Boyd (on debut). Michael Ennis misses the goal from the sideline, ending a streak of 27 consecutive goals. Cowboys 36-480 min: NEWS And the Cowboys have recorded an historic victory here over the Broncos, beating the home side for the first time in Brisbane and by their biggest ever margin. The Broncos certainly need to take a look at themselves after this inept performance.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Jonathan Thurston (Cowboys)2 - Aaron Payne (Cowboys)1 - Paul Bowman (Cowboys)-----------------------------------------
ROUND 1New Zealand Warriors 16 v Melbourne Storm 22Match summary:The Melbourne Storm have opened their 2006 campaign with a gritty win over the New Zealand Warriors by 22-16 in Auckland. Both teams struggled to get some cohesion going throughout the match, but the generally ugly affair was punctuated with some thrilling moments.The Storm?s new half back, Cooper Cronk, began the season in solid fashion in the role vacated my Matt Orford. He tried several chips over the top for Billy Slater and generally ran the game well. Hooker Cameron Smith was a tower of strength, making almost 40 tackles and scoring a great solo try. Likewise, boom rookie centre Greg Inglis showed a bit of his potential, bagging a great try and being involved in many of the Storm?s attacking raids.It was Inglis who opened up the scoring in the 9th minute, palming off would-be Warriors defenders to race 60m and score. He was elected the goal kicker for the day and was pretty ordinary, missing his first attempt and only kicking one from five.The Storm extended their lead 17 minutes later through the first of Matt Geyer?s two tries after they put it through the hands close to the line and caught the Warriors napping out wide. They took the 8-point margin to the break but didn?t hold it for long after the resumption of play.The Warriors looked a different team in the second half with more purpose and commitment. They began playing more like a team and halfback Nathan Fien was doing well guiding them around the park.They scored in quick succession, the first in the 44th minute after some handy work from Faumuina and Webb, who found Ropati lurking out wide and reduced the deficit to 2 after Martin?s conversion. Three minutes later they crossed the stripe again to take the lead with a cross-field kick from Fien spilling over, with Koopu on hand to clean up the scraps. This had the Warriors up 10-8 and they did well to hang on for ten minutes before the Storm hit back through Smith, who sniffed out a try close to the line, converted by Inglis. Again it was backed up quickly, with the Storm carting the ball upfield through Crocker who offloaded to Inglis before Geyer found himself with another four pointer.Taking an 18-10 lead with 20 minutes to go put a dampner on the Warriors outlook, but they managed another try through Vatuvei in the 67th minute, before a sensational flick pass off the ground by Billy Slater gave Steve Turner the match winner in the corner. A tense 10 minutes was played out but the Storm?s 22-16 lead and ultimate victory was never under any real threat.Scorers:New Zealand Warriors: 16Tries: Wairangi Koopu, Jerome Ropati, Manu VatuveiGoals: Tony Martin 2/3Melbourne Storm: 22Tries: Matt Geyer(2), Greg Inglis, Cameron Smith, Steve TurnerGoals: Greg Inglis 1/5Ericsson StadiumReferee: Steven ClarkLive commentary0 min: NEWS Both teams as per the program. Michael Luck promoted to the starting side for Wairangi Koopu.Beautiful day over here in Auckland. The sun is shining bright and it looks to be a terrific game of footy ahead, as Steven Price leads out the Warriors for the first time in 2006.1 min: NEWS And we're underway in the first half!5 min: NEWS Cameron Smith dribbles a ball into the ingoal for Billy Slater, but he grasses the opportunity and is ruled offside.9 min: TRY Melbourne StormBoom rookie Greg Inglis snaps up the ball from a wayward scrumbase pass and takes on some flimsy Warriors defence down the western side of the field to race 60 metres and score. Unfortunately, his attempted conversion is nowhere near as pretty and the score remains. Storm 4-016 min: NEWS Both sides keen to use the ball and move things about in this game with possession changing hads a bit in the opening stages as they dust off the cobwebs.22 min: NEWS A bit of biff breaks out with Fien and Crocker pushing and shoving. Neither side can really hold onto the ball at the moment and give themselves a chance to mount an attack or sustain any pressure.26 min: TRY Melbourne StormA backline raid in the Warriors territory sees Matt Geyer sneak over out wide for the Storm's second try. Steve Clark goes to the video ref for confirmation and it's awarded. Inglis again fails, this time from a much more difficult position. Storm 8-035 min: NEWS Both sides doing a little better with the ball in hand now. Some of the hits are very intense with lots of argy-bargy going on.37 min: NEWS Billy Slater, known better for his blistering attack, reels in Clinton Toopi who looked certain to score of a scrum play. Great footy all round!40 min: NEWS And we go to the sheds with the Storm leading the Warriors by 8-0. Both teams squandered plenty of opportunities, with the second half likely to be focussed on keeping possession.It's still anyone's game from here though, with neither team really having the upper hand.41 min: NEWS And w're underway in the second half!42 min: NEWS Try disallowed to Tony MArtin for putting his foot in touch close to the line, after rookie Grant Rovelli produced a pinpoint cut-out pass to set things in motion.44 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsFaumuina and Webb engineer a great move down the eastern side of the field to put Ropati in for the Warriors first try. Tony Martin adds the extras and the Warriors are very much back in the action and looking a better side in the second half. Storm 8-647 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsFien puts up a cross field kick and the ball comes down for rampaging second rower Koopu, who shows a great pair of hands to ground it. Martin from out wide hits an upright and the crossbar before the conversion is waved away. The Warriors are a completely different team here and now have all the momentum. Warriors 10-855 min: NEWS A period of consolidation for both teams here as they start to find their rhythm.56 min: NEWS Ryan Hoffman for the Storm is taken from the field with a concussion.57 min: TRY Melbourne StormAfter working the ball upfield, Smith darts out from dummy half and scores next to the posts in a pretty simple effort. Inglis converts his first from the day, by far the easiest. Storm 14-1059 min: TRY Melbourne StormMatt Geyer scores his second try out wide after Crocker made some space up the middle of the field and found Inglis, who took on the defence and dished to the former Origin winger to go in next to the corner post. Inglis misses again from a tough position and Melbourne lead by 8. Storm 18-1066 min: NEWS Warriors putting some pressure on the Storm here with back-to-back sets.67 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsA nice chip into the ingoal by Fien sees Vatuvei swoop on the ball and score. Some doubt on the grounding sees the video referee award a benefit of the doubt to the Warriors. Tony Martin boots it from the sideline and the Warriors are back in the reckoning. Storm 18-1670 min: TRY Melbourne StormBilly Slater carries the ball to the line and produces a stunning flick pass to winger Turner as he hits the ground. Sensational stuff and a little hard to believe given the flow of play. Inglis misses again and is having a dog of a day with the boot. Storm 22-1677 min: NEWS Exciting final stages of the match here as the Warriors are throwing it around hoping to jag a try, with the Storm counter-attack also very flambuoyant.80 min: NEWS The Storm hold on to record a hard fought victory over the Warriors across the ditch in New Zealand.--------------------------------League Unlimited Player of the Match Awards:3 - C Smith (Storm)2 ? G Inglis (Storm)1 ? W Koopu (Warriors)--------------------------------
CATALANS Dragons are hoping the introduction of scrum-half Mick Dobson will help stop the rot against Leeds in Perpignan on Saturday.The Australian, signed as a short-term replacement for the injured Stacey Jones, flew into France on Monday night and goes straight into the team as the Dragons look to avoid a fourth successive defeat.?He?s a typical tricky half-back who has added a bit of zip to the joint,? said assistant coach Paul Donkin, who will be in charge for the last time with Mick Potter due to arrive next week.?Maybe our supporters have high expectations but we just want him to go out and give us a bit of an injection and steer the boys around a little bit more.?He?s a pretty level-headed kid and a real good learner.?Leeds, too, give a debut to a young half-back in Jordan Tansey as they look to maintain the pressure on early pacesetters St Helens, who visit Huddersfield on Sunday.The Rhinos tasted defeat at Stade Aime Giral last summer when they lost to London Broncos ?on the road? but coach Tony Smith believes the experience will be put to good use this time.?The trip was good as a promotional exercise for the game down there but it was also a vital fact-finding mission for us and we have put in place a lot of things that we learnt from it,? said Smith.?We are flying direct from Leeds to Perpignan to cut down on travel time and I?m confident everything has been done to minimise the disruption that travelling that far could cause.?Catalans Dragons v Leeds Rhinos, Stade Aime Giral, Saturday, March 11 2006 Catalans Dragons 18-man squad: Beattie, Berthezene, Chan, Bosc, Dobson, Frayssinous, Fakir, Guisset, Fellous, Hindmarsh, Murphy, Mounis, Sadaoui, Rudder, Verges, Wilson, Rinaldi, Teixido. Leeds 18-man squad: Mathers, Donald, Walker, Senior, Smith, McGuire, Burrow, Bailey, Diskin, Peacock, Lauitiiti, Sinfield, Millard, Poching, Feather, Ablett, Kirke, Tansey.Referee: I Smith
KARL Harrison, coach of engage Super League surprise packet Salford Reds, insists his team of high fliers will not be taking Wakefield lightly at The Willows on Saturday.Having so far claimed the scalps of Warrington and Wigan, in addition to newcomers Catalans Dragons, the Reds will be firm favourites to make it four wins out of five at the expense of the Wildcats, who have won just one of their opening four matches.But Harrison, who will give a debut to former Halifax, Castleford and Huddersfield centre or second rower Ryan Clayton, says his team are not getting carried away by their impressive start to the season.?We?re not in a position to shout from the rooftops,? he said. ?We?ve got to earn the credit and that?s what we intend to do.?There is no danger of complacency. People who under-estimate Wakefield, like they did Salford, are going to get a shock.?Salford captain Malcolm Alker added: ?We?ll take confidence from our results and it?s nice to go into games with confidence but there is a long way to go.?Salford?s eye-catching form has come as no surprise to Wakefield coach Tony Smith, who rates them the most improved team in Super League.?I?ve watched all four of their games and I have to say I?m really impressed,? said Smith.?They are the most improved team in Super League from last year. They have always been a methodical, well-coached side who do the basics well and now they?ve added a bit of class.?The Wildcats will hand the goalkicking duties to Ben Jeffries after David March missed all three shots in last week?s two-point defeat by Huddersfield.?David has admitted it?s started to affect his game so we won?t be asking him to kick again,? said Smith. ?It?s only fair.?We have lost two games because of goalkicks but I would never blame any of my players for not kicking goals because they don?t profess to be a specialist kicker.?We should have Jamie Rooney back in the next two weeks but I won?t push him just because of his goalkicking.?Salford City Reds v Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, The Willows, Saturday, March 11 2006Salford 18-man squad: Fitzpatrick, Hodgson, Moule, Dunemann, Robinson, Coley, Alker, Finnigan, Highton, Langi, Wilshere, Haggerty, Littler, Clough, Baldwin, Brocklehurst, Clayton, Jonkers.Wakefield 18-man squad: Halpenny, Demetriou, Tadulala, Jeffries, Obst , Griffin, March, Korkidas, Solomona, J. Field, Betham, White, Wrench, MacGillivray, Elima, Henderson, Applegarth, Saxton.Referee: P Bentham
ROUND 1Canberra Raiders 27 def. Manly Sea Eagles 14Match summary:A perfect kicking display from fullback Clinton Shifcofske has steered the Canberra Raiders to a 27-14 victory over the Manly Sea Eagles tonight.The Raiders captain kicked five goals from as many attempts as the Raiders ran in four tries to three in front of a large Brookvale Oval crowd.Playing with three debutants in an under-strengthed outfit, the Raiders came out firing with a try to centre Phil Graham after just four minutes. Shifcofske converted from the sideline and then extended the Raiders lead with a penalty goal four minutes later.The Sea Eagles hit back in the 31st minute when newcomer Steve Bell scored. But five minutes later, Canberra found some space down the left side, winger Adam Mogg picking up the dregs to score out wide.Manly had the final say on the first half when Brett Stewart scored after some clever work from halfback Matt Orford.At half time, the Raiders were in front 14-8.The second half saw Shifcofske denied a four-pointer in the 47th minute when referee Shayne Hayne went to the video ref who ruled obstruction against the Raiders. Manly also came close with Stewart chasing a kick through which beat him to the dead ball line in the 48th minute.Manly had numerous opportunities but the Raiders eventually won the second half, scoring two tries to one. Todd Carney (55th minute) ran onto a Adrian Purtell break before Manly's Steve Bell got his double when he scored in the 58th minute.Canberra hooker Simon Woolford crossed for a decisive four-pointer in the 70th minute, Shifcofske's successful conversion making it 26-14.A field goal from Carney in the 73rd minute gave Canberra a 13-point buffer and put the match beyond doubt.The win may have have come at a cost for the Raiders with forward Josh Miller being placed in a leg brace after he was forced off early with a knee injury.Scorers:Manly Sea Eagles: 14Tries: Brett Stewart, Steve Bell(2)Goals: Matt Orford 1/3Canberra Raiders: 27Tries: Todd Carney, Phillip Graham, Adam Mogg, Simon WoolfordGoals: Clinton Shifcofske 5/5Field Goals: Todd CarneyBrookvale OvalReferee: Shayne Hayne Live commentary:First half underway to a packed house in Brookvale4 min: TRY Canberra RaidersGraham opens the scoring for the Raiders after a backline movement sees him score in the corner. Raiders 6-08 min: PENALTY GOAL Canberra RaidersSchifcofske puts Raiders further in front. Kick right in front. Raiders 8-031 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesBell on debut for Manly gets the home side on the board. Conversion attempt unsuccessful from Orford. Raiders 8-436 min: TRY Canberra RaidersMogg scores out wide and Raiders go further ahead just before the break. Another wide conversion from Schifcofske. Raiders 14-439 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesStewart scores for Manly just before half time. Follows great kick ahead from Orford. But also follows controversial ruling from referee Shayne Hayne who deemed a pass from Raiders to be forward. Orford's conversion attempt unsuccessful. Raiders 14-8Half time: Raiders 14-8.Raiders could be further ahead if not for a few handling errors. Not much in it but Manly with all the work to with ball security being an issue.Second half underway...50 min: NEWS Still 14-8 in favour of Canberra in the second half.55 min: TRY Canberra RaidersCarney crosses to give the Raiders a 12 point break. Raiders 20-859 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesBell gets a double. Orford gets his first conversion of the night. Manly back in the match. Raiders 20-1470 min: TRY Canberra RaidersWoolford scores. Raiders again 12 in front with 10 minutes to go.Raiders 26-1473 min: FIELD GOAL Canberra RaidersCarney pots a 1 pointer to put the match beyond doubt. Raiders 27-14Full time: Raiders 27-14 -----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Clinton Shifcofske (Raiders)2 - Jason Smith (Raiders)1 - Lincoln Withers (Raiders)-----------------------------------------
FULLTIME: Round 1Penrith Panthers 24 def. Canterbury Bulldogs 22Match summary:The Penrith Panthers have run out 24-22 winners over the Canterbury Bulldogs this evening at Telstra Stadium.In an error filled match, the Panthers held on to outlast the Bulldogs to register their first victory of 2006.The Bulldogs will have to go back to basics as they were poor in almost all aspects of their game, but their unforced errors at crucial stages throughout the match cost the Bulldogs dearly.For the Panthers, both Craig Gower and Preston Campbell had strong games while Rhys Wesser was always a threat from the back.Tony Puletua led well up front and his brother Frank followed suit while Joel Clinton set his sights on Willie Mason and they eventually came to blows midway through the second half.It?s too early in the season to write any team off and injuries are always a factor but the Bulldogs have now lost seven straight matches dating back to last year and that is a dubious 51 year record they have matched.Round 1 - FULL TIMETelstra StadiumReferee: Sean HamptsteadScorersCanterbury Bulldogs: 22Tries: Hazem El Masri, Mark O'Meley, Luke Patten, Willie TongaGoals: Hazem El Masri 3/4Penrith Panthers: 24Tries: Craig Gower, Matthew Cross, Nick Youngquest, Lee HookeyGoals: Preston Campbell 4/5Match commentary 1 min: NEWS Kickoff! We are underway at Telstra Stadium.4 min: TRY Canterbury BulldogsWillie Tonga opens the Bulldogs account as the Bulldogs spread the ball wide and it was too easy in the end. Bulldogs 4-010 min: TRY Penrith PanthersNick Youngquest scores out wide off the back off a very simple backline movement. The Bulldogs defence out wide was paper thin. Panthers 6-414 min: PENALTY GOAL Penrith PanthersPreston Campbell converts a penalty to extend the Panthers lead. Panthers 8-418 min: TRY Canterbury BulldogsThe Bulldogs hit back with a try to Luke Patten out wide. Defene hasn't been a high priority for either side so far tonight. Bulldogs 10-823 min: NEWS Both teams playing poorly with a lot of lost possession and poor defence making the game a wide open affair.30 min: NEWS Rhys Wesser drops the ball with the line wide open off a Craig Gower grubber. A lost opportunity to give the Panthers the lead.35 min: NEWS Penrith with repeat sets of six starting to apply the pressure to the Dogs defence.36 min: TRY Penrith PanthersGoer crosses under the sticks as the Dogs defence again goes to water with the Panthers putting players in motion. Panthers 14-1044 min: NEWS Bulldogs not showing the ball enough respect and are yet to make an impact in the second half.51 min: NEWS Grimaldi spills the ball on his own 30 metre line to add more pressure to the Dogs defence.53 min: NEWS Penrith on the attack on metres out from the Bulldogs line55 min: NEWS Priddis throws the ball to Andrew Ryan to give the Bulldogs a stay of execution.58 min: NEWS Possible try to the Panthers. Video ref decision pending.58 min: TRY Penrith PanthersLee Hookey scores in the corner to extend the Panthers lead. Panthers 18-1067 min: TRY Canterbury BulldogsEl Masri scores to get the Dogs back into the game. Bulldogs 22-1875 min: TRY Penrith PanthersCross scores to put the result beyond doubt to give the Panthers a hard fought first up victory in 2006 Panthers 24-1680 min: TRY Canterbury BulldogsO'Meley scores to give the final scoreline some respectability. Panthers 24-22 -----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Craig Gower (Panthers)2 - Willie Mason (Bulldogs)1 - Rhys Wesser (Panthers)-----------------------------------------
FULLTIME: Round 1Newcastle Knights 25 def. Parramatta Eels 6Match summary:The Newcastle Knights have run out convincing 25-6 winners over an underdone and ill-disciplined Parramatta Eels team at Energy Australia Stadium this afternoon.The first half was very close with the Knights holding a slender two point lead at the break but the second half was all Newcastle, with Andrew Johns coming into his own after taking some heavy hits in the early stages of the first half.With Johns leading the way, Milton Thaiday, Danny Buderus and Brian Carney all having mighty games in attack with all three giving the Eels defence headaches for the entire eighty minutes.The Eels have a lot of work to do with fifteen errors in the game and last years rookie Tim Smith having a game easily forgotten.With the coaches of tonight?s game trading places next year, it would be a bitter sweet feeling for both coaches knowing one got the victory but the loser has a lot to work with and vice versa.With such an impressive performance first up, the Knights look keen to offload the dreaded wooden spoon by posting a great first up victory.Round 1 - FULL TIMEEnergy Australia StadiumReferee: Russell SmithScorersNewcastle Knights: 25Tries: Matthew Gidley, Adam Woolnough, Milton Thaiday, Brian Carney, Riley BrownGoals: Kurt Gidley 1/3, Andrew Johns 1/2Field Goals: Andrew JohnsParramatta Eels: 6Tries: Micheal VellaGoals: Luke Burt 1/1Match commentary We are underway in Newcastle in front of a full house.2 min: NEWS Possible try to the Knights with Milton Thaiday proving to be more than a handful in the opening minutes.2 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsVideo ref awards the try to Milton Thaiday after he split the Eels defence on the previous tackle. Newcastle looking good early. Knights 4-05 min: NEWS Penalty to the Eels after Perry and Craig Smith refused to release the tacked player.12 min: NEWS Andrew Johns is being worked over by the Eels with two big hits on the Knights captain in the first ten minutes.17 min: NEWS Craig Smith penalised for a high shot.21 min: NEWS Eels starting to apply the pressure with a repeat set of six. Errors are creeping into the games ofboth teams due to the heat.23 min: TRY Parramatta EelsMichael Vella crashes over under the posts after sustained pressure within the Knights half. The Knights used up a lot of juice in the last five minutes. Eels 6-433 min: NEWS Milton Thaiday takes a great spiral bomb to take the pressure off the Knights.35 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsBrian Carney scores in the corner five minutes out from half time and the Irishman crosses in the corner to take the lead once again Knights 8-640 min: NEWS Newcaslte go to the break with a slender two point lead and the match is very wide open.45 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsNewcastle extend their lead through some excellent support play from the Knights with Riley Brown scoring under the posts. Knights 14-650 min: NEWS Newcastle controlling things nicely with the Eels self destructing inside the Knights red zone but poor ball handling has cost them any chance at closing the gap.54 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsMatt Gidley scores in the corner to extend the Knights lead and make the road back for the Eels a very long one. Knights 18-660 min: NEWS The Eels not doing much to get back into the game as enter the final quarter of the match.61 min: FIELD GOAL Newcastle KnightsAndrew Johns puts the result almost beyond doubt with a field goal with less than twenty minutes left on the clock. Knights 19-671 min: NEWS The Knights doing it comfortably at the moment with the Eels looking very pedestrian in both attack and defence. They look to be suffering a hangover from the 2005 semi final loss to the Cowboys.72 min: NEWS 26,198 crowd attendance.72 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsAdam Woolnough rubs salt into the wound for the Eels to put the result well and truly beyond doubt. Knights 25-6 -----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Andrew Johns (Knights)2 - Milton Thaiday (Knights)1 - Danny Buderus (Knights)-----------------------------------------
BALMAIN Jersey Flegg defeated Cronulla 28-6 in a strong display at Leichhardt Oval this afternoon.The opening minutes of the match saw both teams struggle to get on top of each other while committing the sort of silly errors you would expect this early in the season. Balmain were the first to cross the line in the 18th minute when halfback Mark Russell stepped past the Cronulla defence and darted over to score before his try was converted by fullback Ben Jeffrey. Cronulla leveled the scores one minute from halftime when Tu?u Maori dived on a kick to score out wide, his try was converted from the sideline by Quincy To?o.Shortly after half-time Balmain were boosted by the return to the field of their starting front row - props Moa and Cameron and hooker Rangi Chase. It wasn?t long before these players started to make a real impact and in the 50th minute a barnstorming run from Moa saw Chase get the ball from dummy half, step past the marker before kicking and chasing to score out wide. Jeffrey converted from the sideline giving Balmain a 12-6 lead. Chase scored again just five minutes later when he stepped past the Cronulla defence and dived over the try line and Jeffery again converted from out wide.Minutes later winger Chance Bunce scored after 5/8th Dean Caldwell chipped the ball over the first line of defence and Jeffrey collected on the first bounce and ran 25m before passing to Bunce. Jeffrey then converted to bring the scores to 28-6Balmain topped off a terrific effort with a beautiful individual try right on fulltime when Bunce collected the ball from a kick about 60m out and beat several defenders to run across field and eventually score in the opposite corner. Jeffrey missed the final conversion and the tigers ran out with a much deserved 28-6 win.Best for Balmain were prop Sam Moa, Hooker Rangi Chase and Fullback Ben Jeffrey while Ewen Cameron, Backrower Mitch Stanfield and winger Bunce were also strong. While Cronulla halfback Quincy To?o and hooker Craig Priestly both looked good in a Sharks team that still appeared dangerous despite the score against them.
THIS weekend's games are the last before Superleague clubs join for the next round of this prestigious knockout competition. At the moment we have teams from National League 1, National League 2, National League 3 and the Conference, as well as teams from France and Russia facing off to stay alive...Batley Bulldogs v Limoux (France)Limoux currently are in second place in the French Championship under the guidance of former French international Eric Van Brussel.Limoux made their mark in the 2004 Powergen Challenge Cup with a 19-18 Fourth Round win over Halifax thanks to a field goal from present half back Mikael Murcia, before being beaten 80-20 by Wigan Warriors in France. Brothers Bastien and Matthieu Almarcha are strong finishers with 17-year-old winger Vincent Dupont also strong. Stand off Justin Mackay is one of several overseas players in their ranks.Batley beat another French side, St.Gaudens, 40-14 last season before going out 25-8 at home to Leigh Centurions.Blackpool Panthers v Toulouse (France)This is a repeat of last year?s Third-Round draw when Toulouse won 58-18 on the Lancashire coast and that proved to be the start of a sparkling Powergen Challenge Cup run for the French club.After beating the Panthers the Spacers went on to beat Cumbrian amateurs Wath Brow Hornets 60-12 in the fourth round and Doncaster Dragons 32-18 in Round Five. They gained a stunning 40-24 Quarter Final success against engage Super League Widnes Vikings and, although they were then beaten 56-18 by Leeds Rhinos in the Semi-Finals, they were far from disgraced. Toulouse coach Justin Morgan then took over as team boss at Hull KR.Toulouse, now coached by last season?s loose forward Trent Robinson and captained by scrum half James Wynne, have strengthened their playing staff by the signing offour Australian players: full back Trent Clayton, stand off David Myles, loose forward Michael Howell and prop Jamie McDonald.They also have former Wakefield centre Sylvan Houles in their side and will present a formidable hurdle for the Panthers who are still developing under new management.Celtic Crusaders v Locomotiv Moscow (Russia)Locomotiv Moscow have been included in the Powergen Challenge Cup for the fourth successive season. Last year they went down 70-10 at Swinton Lions where their tries were scored by centre Andrey Cherevichny and loose forward Evgeny Bouzhukov.In 2004 Chorley Lynx halted their progress with a 54-6 defeat and in 2003 Leigh Centurions romped to a 62-0 victory over Locomotiv.Celtic Crusaders are undertaking their first Powergen Challenge Cup campaign and have high hopes of progressing through to a potentially massive PR opportunity of a game against an engage Super League club in Round Four.Dewsbury Rams v Bradford Dudley Hill DemonsBradford Dudley Hill Demons, currently the top summer side outside the professional ranks after their thrilling 28-26 success in last season?s LHF Healthplan National League Three Grand Final, have exciting young scrum half Tony Williams attracting a great deal of attention.Williams was one of three Demons to be accorded a place in the ?2005 All Stars? alongside top hooker Gareth Walker and stalwart Richard Bingley. The Hill are one of the proudest names in amateur Rugby League; they were founder members of the National Conference League and have previously beaten professional clubs York and Keighley in the Challenge Cup. They also made the Quarter Final qualifiers of last season?s Northern Rail League Cup, before going down at Hull KR.Doncaster Lakers v Shaw Cross SharksShaw Cross Sharks are coached by former BARLA International Coach, Mick Turner, and are chasing a top-six spot in the Premier Division of the National Conference League after winning promotion last season.The Sharks are a good, young side with promising players Richard Squires at full-back, centre Jamie Spence and loose forward Dominic Byrne and they ended the aspirations of Bramley Buffaloes with a Second Round victory. They lost 46-0 to professional club Swinton Lions in 2003, but they are delighted to take on a club with whom professional neighbours Dewsbury Rams have a traditional strong rivalry.East Hull v Hunslet HawksEast Hull are leading championship contenders in the National Conference League Premier Division, and they are coached by Hull FC?s newly-acquired forward Lee Radford, who was a winner with Bradford Bulls in the 2003 Powergen Challenge Cup Final and his new team mate, Paul Cooke, who picked up the Cup so memorably with Hull at Cardiff last season.East Hull?s leading players include brothers Paul and Lee Roberts, former Hull prop Mike Docherty and one-time Hull Academy player, Jordan Precious who is outstanding in a lively three quarter line. They also boast former BARLA ?Player-of- the-Year? Terry Lynn, one of the best ever amateur half backs who joined them from West Hull.East Hull enjoyed an incredible Powergen Challenge Cup run in 2004. They beat Swinton Lions at Park Lane 26-14 before narrowly losing to then National League leaders Whitehaven, 14-4 in Round Four. Last year they lost 42-22 at Barrow Raiders and will certainly be up for another Cup upset if the Hawks are not on their guard.Hull KR v York AcornFormer York half back Darren Callaghan and Yorkshire County open-age coach, Alfie Hill are the coaches in charge of a York Acorn side enjoying their best ever season in the National Conference League as they push for promotion from Division One.Cousins Matt and Michael Embleton are impressive young players with brothers Gary and Adam Endersby also to the fore. Jon Waldron the prolific winger is one to watch having scored 41 tries last season. Jon is the current BARLA ?Player-of-the-Year?, and is once again on target to score more than one try per game.Hunslet Warriors v Widnes VikingsHunslet Warriors, coached by Tony Caunce, have former Dewsbury prop Carl Saville and ex-Doncaster, Hunslet and Leeds player Martin Rouse in their side, along with Micky Lyons, who played for Bradford and Wigan?s Under 21 teams.Half back Scott Walker is a prolific goal kicker for the Warriors with hooker Jim Baker always a threat to their opposition. Hunslet were the amateur Yorkshire Cup winners in 1999, are currently holding their own in the National Conference League Division one and are unbeaten at home this season. The Warriors lost 44-4 at Leigh in 1998 but they will be determined to give LHF League One promotion chasers Widnes a run for their money.Kells v HalifaxKells are coached by Whitehaven assistant coach and former player, Peter Smith, and they are known as the ?Cumberland Cup Kings? because of the significant amount of silverware they win each year. The Whitehaven-based team are a cracking side and currently lying in second place in the Cumberland League.Former Workington man Steve McGrady plays in the Kells back division while ex-Whitehaven forward Graham Morton plays in their massive pack. BARLA Under 21?s internationals: Dave Agnew, Scott Lofthouse, Scott Farmer and Craig Brown are in an impressive line up that have seen off Drighlington, Wigan St.Judes and Barrow Island to reach this stage of the competition.In 1986-87, they drew 4-4 with Fulham, precursors of current engage Super League club Harlequins RL, and then lost the replay 22-14 in the capital.Leigh Centurions v Strela Kazan Arrows (Russia)Two seasons ago Leigh hammered Locomotiv Moscow 62-0 and will expect to see off Strela Kazan in a similar fashion. The Russian side lost 62-14 at Keighley last season in their first appearance in the Powergen Challenge Cup when winger Maxim Keller raced in for two tries and hooker Alexander Napalkov added a third. Stand off Rinat Chamsoutdinov kicked the goal.Leigh Miners Rangers v Rochdale HornetsThis is the draw that Rochdale Hornets loose forward Tommy Goulden didn?t want because it paired his new professional side against the club he led to the amateur National Conference League Grand Final and Championship victory last season.The Miners have former stand-off, Winston Sarsfield as the man in charge and he is doing an excellent job keeping them in second place in the National Conference League Premier Division and on course to retain their championship crown.Experience in what is a young Miners side comes from BARLA internationals Dave Patterson and Simon Warhurst together with former Warrington player Alan Redicliffe - a prolific try scorer at this level - and much travelled ex Barrow, Wigan and Leigh half back, Anthony Murray.In the centre for Miners is John Woods, son of the Leigh legend of the same name who, incidentally, also holds the Hornets scoring record.Miners were the toast of the amateur game when they beat then professional club Bramley 18-12 in 1998, only to then lose to Hull KR. They lost 36-14 at Chorley Lynx in 2003 and gave Mark Aston?s Sheffield Eagles a scare in 2004 before going down 14-12.One-time Wigan international forward Denis Betts, the Lance Todd Trophy winner in 1991, is a former Leigh Rangers old boy while 1997 Lance Todd Trophy winner Tommy Martyn of St Helens is an ex-Miners youth team player.London Skolars v Gateshead ThunderThis is an all-LHF League Two clash with the Skolars no doubt eager to see off the challenge of their fellow pioneers.The Skolars were beaten 58-14 at home by French club Pia last year while Gateshead went down 56-6 to St Esteve-based UTC. This season the Skolars have won two of their Northern Rail Cup games but Gateshead are still seeking their first win.The Skolars are fired by half backs Frank Reid and Nathan Meischke, with Matt Pittman and Gareth Honor strong in the pack. Second row Dave Ellis has been running in the tries.Gateshead?s Neil Thorman and Tabua Cakacaka are key players as the Tynesiders look for wins with prop Rob Line leading the pack.Last season, the Storm won both League clashes; they won 52-18 in Gateshead and 54-24 in London. It looks set to be an interesting tie.Oldham v Saddleworth RangersSaddleworth Rangers are coached by former Oldham half back and coach, Paddy Kirwan, and this is very definitely the tie that the National Conference League second division outfit wanted because it sees the local amateur club taking on their professional neighbours.Eight years ago Paddy made a name for himself as the last player to score a winning try against the then all-conquering Challenge Cup winning Wigan side in February 1987. He was playing for Oldham who won 10-8 and he could virtually dine out for free on that achievement until that famous Wigan cup run ended eight years later.Paddy?s young sons, Neil and Adam, feature prominently for Oldham area amateur side Rangers as do the veteran former BARLA internationals, Emerson Jackman, Gareth Davies and Jimmy Rogers.Saddleworth defeated Sharslton Rovers, Cup giant killers of a couple of seasons ago 28-22 after extra time in the preliminary round, then saw off Conference Premier Division side Hull Dockers 33-32 and first division Walney Central 28-0.Beaten 66-16 at Keighley in 1998 and 22-6 at Whitehaven in 1999, Rangers will have their work cut out to tame Oldham.Ovenden v York City KnightsLast year was Ovenden?s first in the National Conference League after a four-year absence and already coach Steven Taylor has them pushing for promotion to Division One with stand off Danny Jones and his half back partner Chris Hartley in top form.Jones has been absolutely outstanding and, along with brother Gareth, has proved to be a prolific point scorer.Ovenden beat Egremont Rangers 32-14 in the Preliminary Round, before defeating two North West Counties League clubs, Bank Quay Bulls of Warrington and Blackbrook from St Helens.In 1998 the Halifax club was paired with Huddersfield neighbours Moldgreen in the Third Round and won 20-10, but they were subsequently beaten by Salford City Reds 74-0.Skirlaugh v Featherstone RoversRichard Gotts and Colin Brown have taken over the coaching reins at Hull amateur club Skirlaugh while former Bradford Bulls loose forward Steve McNamara also has a role in their set-up too. Steve was on the losing team for Bradford Bulls in the 1996 and 1997 Wembley Finals and in the 1999 Grand Final at Old Trafford.Skirlaugh, one of Hull?s leading amateur clubs, are a talented side that includes former Hull KR men, Andy Dearlove and brothers Gary and Kevin Smith, plus a whole host of BARLA internationals including second rows Phil Crane, Simon Kilby and winger Phil Thacker. They will be out to give the Rovers a tough time. One of their players Rob Wilson played for Rovers in the Challenge Plate Final in 1997.Skirlaugh were drawn at Workington in 1999 and 2000 losing 12-2 last time out, but in 2002 they took Swinton to extra time before being beaten 32-24. In 2003 they were beaten 20-8 by York City Knights.Swinton Lions v Sheffield EaglesSwinton Lions and Sheffield Eagles will far be happier playing LHF League Two opposition than an amateur club if their Cup results in recent seasons are anything to go by and this Powergen Challenge Cup Third Round clash promises to be a cracker.The Lions have recruited well through the close season and, with Ian Watson and Martin Moana hitting a perfect partnership in midfield and a powerful pack, they look like roaring all the way into LHF League One.But Sheffield are not a side to be taken lightly and they possess a pack of forwards that includes useful performers like Sean Dickinson, Paul Pickering and Simon Morton. They are currently playing well and likely to present problems for any team they come up against.For the record Swinton lost 26-14 to East Hull in 2004 and Sheffield Eagles went down 16-14 to Dewsbury amateurs Thornhill Trojans in 2000.Thornhill Trojans v Workington TownThornhill Trojans from Dewsbury are the current National Conference League leaders and that could mean problems for Workington Town in this Powergen Challenge Cup meeting.Town have crashed to Cumbrian amateur opposition Egremont Rangers and Wath Brow Hornets in the Challenge Cup in recent years and will be taking on a Trojans side that is well coached by former Hunslet Hawk Jason Firth. The Trojans certainly represent a potential ?banana skin? game for re-emerging Workington.Firth is also a dynamic leader on the field and has able assistants in experienced former Dewsbury Rams hooker Scott Dyson and second-row forward Matty Roberts. They are also able to call upon the current BARLA international captain and loose forward Anthony Broadhead and a host of other skilled players.Thornhill beat professionals Sheffield Eagles 16-14 in 2000 and reached the Fourth Round that year when they were defeated at York. They lost 38-6 to Hunslet Hawks 2001, 33-10 at Keighley in 2003 and 48-10 to Featherstone Rovers last year.West Bowling v Keighley CougarsBradford amateur club West Bowling are battling for promotion back to the top flight after relegation from the National Conference League Premier Division last season.Their home ground is next door to Odsal, the home of Bradford Bulls and their player coach is former BARLA international captain, Nigel Halmshaw.Beaten 34-12 by Batley Bulldogs in 2003, West Bowling must be delighted with this local derby against LHF League Two neighbours Cougars in a tie that will be played at Odsal Stadium.Whitehaven v Pia (France)Pia have long lived in the shadow of their more illustrious neighbours Catalan XIII but they have never been afraid to spend money in recruiting players in a bid to upstage their rivals. Former French international Luc Mendez is their coach, and they have former NRL front rower Dean Bosnich leading a rugged pack.Full back Craig West and centre Aaron Smith (formerly Carcassonne and Catalan) are two overseas players that give Pia a strong strike force while French international half back Maxime Greseque has played for Featherstone Rovers which gives him an insight into British conditions.Last year Pia beat London Skolars 58-14 and then crushed Keighley Cougars 53-26 before the Fifth Round draw sent them to Leeds Rhinos where they lost 70-0. In 2004 they beat Barrow and then lost to Huddersfield Giants 50-16Widnes St.Maries v Barrow RaidersWidnes St.Maries coach, Barrie Quinn, had a tough act to follow after the departure of favourite son, Bobbie Goulding to Rochdale Hornets 18 months ago. But he has succeeded and the Widnes amateur club are currently lying second in the National Conference League Second Division.Hooker Anthony Hollins and 20-year-old loose forward Adam Flanagan are real livewires for St Maries while Tongan forward Sione Polutela is a real handful for the Merseysiders as they look to upset a vulnerable looking Barrow side.St.Maries won 22-18 at Millom in the Preliminary Round and then saw off St.Albans Centurions and East Leeds to reach this stage. Saints? chairman Will Tileke is also a Tongan and the late Alan Prescott, a former winner of the Lance Todd Trophy at Wembley in 1956, was a former St.Maries Old boy.
THE St George Illawarra Dragons Premier League side has got its 2006 Premiership campaign off to a flyer with a convincing 32-4 win over Western Suburbs at Telstra Stadium tonight.Boasting no less than nine members of last years Jersey Flegg winning side, the Dragons played like 2005 never finished crossing for 6 tries.With former Flegg coach Steve Price at the helm, the likes of George Ndaira, Lee Te Maari and Tom Hewitt ran riot, clearly showing that a first grade call up may not be too far away.The Dragons night got off to the best possible start when 2005 Jersey Flegg player of the year Tom Haberecht crossed out wide after just four minutes. With thanks to some quality second phase play, the strapping back rower was too strong from close range. Sharks import Reece Blayney converted from touch.The red and white wall was called upon for the first time in ?05 a short time later. Much to the delight of Coach Price, the wall refused to yield. The Magpies enjoyed four consecutive sets of six but came away empty handed.Flush on the 20 minute mark, the Dragons extended their lead to ten after Tom Hewitt finished off some crafty lead up work from Ndaira. The little number 9, seemingly at home at the next level.Two sets of six later the Dragons form was resembling that of last September. After some razzle dazzle football, Aaron Wheatley crossed adjacent to the sticks. This time it was Te Maari who took the line on and popped the final ball onto the lock forwards chest. Blayney made no mistakes with the conversion, taking his sides tally to 14.With just minutes remaining in the first half, Ndaira all but put the match beyond doubt after crossing for a well deserved four pointer. Only 20 metres out from the line, the hooker threw a plethora of dummies, put on some footwork and found his way to the stripe, despite the attention of five defenders. The ingenious effort put the Dragons convincing 20-0 leaders at the break.Picking up from where they left off, St George Illawarra crossed for try number five.Once again it was TeMaari who made the initial bust. The impressive number 12 brushed defenders on his own 40 and took off downfield. Drawing the fullback to perfection TeMaari offloaded to a flying Hewitt who crossed for his second. Blayney converted for match winning 26 point lead.Wests hooker Isaac De Gois put one back on his opposite number by scoring his sides only four pointer.With the match over, handling errors became somewhat of a concern for the red and whites. Playing with such confidence, the odd pass began to miss the mark. With ten minutes to go, the Dragons managed one more smooth passage of play which resulted in Brett Morris diving over. Blayney converted from next to the posts to seal the 32-4 win.ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 32 (T HEWITT 2, T HABERECHT, A WHEATLEY, G NDAIRA, B MORRIS TRIES ; R BLAYNEY 4 GOALS) d. WESTERN SUBURBS MAGPIES 4 ( I DE GOIS TRY)Caption: George Ndaira ? Dangerous at dummy half.