Johns ruled out for 1-2 weeks

NEWCASTLE captain Andrew Johns has been diagnosed with a torn ankle ligament and will be sidelined for 1-2 weeks.

Once were Warriors: Dummies Guide to Losing Games

ON Saturday night, the Vodafone Warriors slipped to new depths to lose the unlosable, which strangely, with the mindset of the Warriors over the past couple of seasons, also loomed as the inevitable in a harsh twist of d?j? vu.The most worrying aspect of the loss was the fact they were outscored 3 tries to 2, by a team who concentrated purely on one off the ruck stuff, intermitted with darts out of dummy half, with each set being ended up an aimless, rudderless bomb. It was the sort of backyard golden oldies attack that shouldn't threaten an under 8's team, let alone a first grade team. While statistically people could look back in five years time and argue the defence was tight, in actual fact it was the perfect tonic for insomniacs in terms of the creativity and structure of both team's attacking structure.Worse still, in the nation's capital, again they showed their lack of intelligence in terms of closing a game out. In the last six or seven minutes, with the Warriors leading, they could not get a decent kick in. Most times, they had coughed the ball up before that. In retrospect, kicking it out from here on in and resetting from 20-30 metres out more than likely would have given the Warriors the win. The Raiders looked devoid of ideas as to how to create a long range try. However, turning the ball over at half way, and allowing 5 10 metre bursts put them in a position to puncture a tiring defensive line. A crucial play in all of this was halfback Nathan Fien turning the ball over in a one on one position after a break, looking for a 50/50 offload when the Warriors were crying out for an effective kick to limit the Raiders offence. In a brain explosion, Fien forgot the situation, turned the ball over, and as they say, the rest is history.In 2001 and 2002, and to a lesser degree in 2003, the Warriors earnt a reputation of being a breathe of fresh air under coach Daniel Anderson. Tries could be winged in from 10 metres, 40 metres, 80 metres. Distance was never an issue. Nowadays, the Warriors look unlikely to score from 4 metres out with a 6 man overlap.Also, alarmingly, the club that had vowed to build on an emotional grand final performance in 2002 seemingly have little to no idea as to how to close out a tight game. Last season, the Warriors finished outside the top 8, yet never copped a hiding. Every other team copped a 20 plus point touch up, the Warriors did not. But, they lost an alarming amount of tight games, as illustrated below.Round 1: Manly 26, Warriors 20, Ericsson StadiumRound 8: Penrith 16, Warriors 14, Ericsson StadiumRound 9: Cronulla 28, Warriors, 24, Members Equity Stadium, PerthRound 10: Roosters 10, Warriors 6, Ericsson StadiumRound 17: North Queensland 24, Warriors 16, Dairy Farmers Stadium, TownsvilleRound 18: Bulldogs 26, Warriors, 24, Ericsson StadiumRound 21: Penrith 42, Warriors, 34, Penrith StadiumIn all but one of those losses, the Warriors failed to reach 30 points. A benchmark for the halcion days of the 2001-2003 era.What has contributed to the Warriors loss in attacking prowess? Against all manner of belligerent and generalised 'expert' comment, it has come simply from a lack of attack. As strange as that sounds, the Warriors have gone into their shell. In years gone by, the Warriors could live off a 60% completion rate and beat top ranked sides by 10 plus points.Nowadays, despite the generalisations, the Warriors seem to be completing a lot of bland sets of six. They rely heavily on Steven Price and Ruben Wiki to power it forward up front. Yet when those two masters of the hard yards provide space and time, the Warriors fail to use it.Furthermore, the Warriors still rely heavily on the 50/50 offloads. In between 4 or 5 nothing sets of powering it up the guts, the Warriors panic and try to throw a hot potato pass in an offload situation. However, they often forget the basic rule, "Only pass to a man in a better position." Be effective with it, not reckless with it. It was something Daniel Anderson tried to impress upon the team, get your techniques right. Offload when you are in a more stable upright position, rather than when you are being dominated. Check who is supporting you, before offloading. Communicate to one another if it is on. He realised it was nigh on impossible to take the flamboyance out of their game, but contrary to popular 'expert' belief, it could be highly effective and provide entertaining, and successful football.However, since 2002 teams have becoming more and more aware of the situation, and when the Warriors spread it wide teams defensively are leaving a 'floater' up hanging off the tackle situation, in case they can gather a cheap turnover from a misdirected offload. As such, with the Warriors heavy reliance on the offload, their attack is somewhat stilted as a result of this.In 2003, the Warriors attempted to compensate for this by bringing into play the cross field bomb from Stacey Jones, to Henry Fa'afili and Francis Meli. It was highly successful, but a short term solution to the problem, as like the offloading, teams could smarten up to it and make sure centres covered their wingers to give them a better opportunity in defusing the bomb.In 2004, Daniel Anderson attempted to beat the game again by bulking the Warriors up, thinking that a bigger, stronger pack could power over their opposition and put their outside men in a position where the offload was virtually unstoppable. However, the end net result was a team of players who were hopelessly slow on the field, tired quickly, perspired easier which led to slippery hands and more dropped pill. Also, with heavier legs one key element of any sport was overlooked ? footwork. On defence, laterally they were susceptible, and on offence they often snatched at passes when in full fitness they would have been in a good position to take the ball.Taking out the offload, and the bomb as high percentage attacking weapons for the Warriors has destroyed their offence systematically. Since 2004, both Tony Kemp and Ivan Cleary have built a team very strong up the centre third of the park. They have relied heavily on good go forward, and tight defence in the centre, but neglected the edge thirds in attack.The Warriors need to take a strong look at the likes of the Roosters, Panthers, Knights, Cowboys at their peak. Not only did they get good quick go forward, they all had extremely quick play of the balls. The hooker was able to get out for a quick scamper, and either hit another forward hitting it hard, or hitting the halfback at the line with a deep set backline and players in motion. With players in motion, they were able to set up decisive set piece plays, basic, yet effective involving second man plays and were able to hit their men out wide who with good footwork against a fractured defence were able to take charge of the situation. One other basic thing all successful sides do; their forwards make sure when they go to the ground they are on their stomachs, not their backs, making it half a second quicker to get to their feet to play the ball resulting in a set attack against a disorganised defence.Similarly, it was this type of basic, yet expansive game plan that Brian "Bluey" McClennan implemented for the Kiwis. He realised that the New Zealand players, like all players, loved to play ball. It is somewhat of a wild generalisation that New Zealanders are overly excitable with ball in hand, its human nature that we all love to make line breaks and score tries. That?s the name of the game. So he put in place a structure that allowed this. Good go forward, quick rucks, and a deep, wide spread against a disorganised defence. It allowed Clinton Toopi, Brent Webb and Nigel Vagana room to move, to use their footwork, to beat their opponents inside and out and give their wingers unstoppable opportunities. Toopi and Webb are both still at the Warriors, they are still the same players who are highly successful at the Kiwis, they still require the same opportunities and can still deliver the same results. But not with a flat backline, not with limited ball, not without disorganised defences.Furthermore, better capitalisation on Steve Price's ball skills could work a treat. Currently, sitting in Bartercard are speed merchants Cooper Vuna, Miguel Start and Marvin Filipo. Much the same way as Canberra attempt to use Marshall Chalk, it would be wise to have those men trailing Price and friends up the centre of the ruck. Put them on the wing, with a license. Price was particularly effective at the Bulldogs with his short passes before the line to fellow forwards, the defender would have to shift late off Price onto his team-mate, usually getting a poor hit on the attacker, allowing either safety in offloading - with Vuna and friends trailing could cause problems, the ability to fall to the stomach for a quick play of the ball, or a broken tackle altogether. Simple, yet effective. And from there, it will keep defences guessing on Price, allowing him more latitude in moving forward.Without a shadow of a doubt, the Warriors are the most frustrating team to watch in the NRL. Their offence is bland, their street smarts in closing out close games are poor. More often than not they don't have the offence, the game breaking play to put their opponents away. For the most part, they play a solid brand of football that keeps them in most games and keeps the scoreline respectable, but they do not have structure right to take advantage of it.Once were Warriors, once again finding ways to lose the unlosable.

Engage Super League Rd 9 Review

BRADFORD Bulls 20 (Ferres, Gene, Bai, I Harris tries; Deacon 2 goals) def Leeds Rhinos 18 (Ellis, Burrow, Mathers tries; Burrow 3 goals). Att: 17,700.

Thurston presses claims, Johns injured

RIVAL coaches Graham Murray and Michael Hagan have urged Australian selectors to pick Johnathan Thurston in the Anzac Test after he starred in North Queensland's 18-16 NRL win at Newcastle today.

Cowboys conquer Knights to remain undefeated

ROUND 6 Newcastle Knights 16 v North Queensland Cowboys 18at EnergyAustralia StadiumReferees: Paul SimpkinsMatch Summary:The North Queensland Cowboys have today defeated the Newcastle Knights by 18-16 at EnergyAustralia Stadium in front of a massive crowd of 26,048.In the most eagerly anticipated clash so far this season, the game lived up to the pre-match hype with the Cowboys recording a memorable victory away from home, remaining undefeated this season and demonstrating their claims as genuine premiership favourites for the 2006 NRL title.The match was dominated by heavy forward exchanges with both sides testing the defence of the other continually in a very tight game of footy. Attacking raids were shut down with desperate scrambling defence from both sides, keeping the match poised on a knife?s edge for the entire contest, before a brilliant piece of individual work from Matt Bowen stole the game from Newcastle in the 75th minute.Newcastle opened the scoring in the 10th minute of play when Matt Gidley scored out wide after Johns and Kurt Gidley stretched the Cowboys and used their numbers to offer a clear passage to the line for the former Australian centre.The next 15 minutes saw some very punishing runs from both sides stretch one another to limit before something finally broke ? the referee! Paul Simpkins was taken from the field in the 26th minute with a calf injury and he was replaced by Tony De Las Heras, who had earlier refereed the Jersey Flegg game.Both teams resumed normal transmission and the game went from one end of the field to the other with exciting play, but stiff defence prohibited any further change to the scoreboard. In the 35th minute possession began to weigh back into the Cowboy?s favour and forward Mitchell Seargent stormed across the stripe for the visitor?s first points. With Thurston?s conversion, the teams looked like they?d go to the sheds with North Queensland leading 6-4.The Knights had other ideas though, with Johns again moving the ball wide from the restart and finding Matt Gidley who threw a no-look pass to George Carmont for a remarkable try right on the bell. With Johns? sideline conversion the home team lead 10-6 at the break.Things began in the second half much the same way as they ended in the first, as Newcastle scored in the opening minute, putting North Queensland right under the hammer. Winger Brian Carney swooped on the ball after Seargent offloaded to nobody in the first set of six. Three rucks later Danny Buderus took off from dummy half and scored from close range as the Cowboys hung off him. Another conversion Johns extended Newcastle?s lead to 10, with the Cowboys facing a pretty gloomy outlook.The game then entered a scrappy phase, with dropped balls and penalties dominating proceedings. This came to a screeching halt in the 62nd minute thanks to a great run by Johnathan Thurston, who straightened up play and collected a gem of a pass from close range to break the Knights? line apart and put the visitors back in the hunt. He potted the goal and with only four points in it, the tempo and intensity of the match lifted another notch.With both sides searching for victory there was a sense that something special was about to take place. Enter Matt Bowen, who up until this stage of the game had been a bit quiet. With the Cowboys camped in the Knights? half and seeking a try to level the scores, the cheeky fullback displayed breathtaking skills with a chip over the top confounding the Newcastle defensive line. He regathered on the full and defied the clutches of flamboyant custodian Milton Thaiday to score the match winning try next to the posts. With Thurston?s conversion the Cowboys held a slim 2-point lead with less then five minutes remaining.The Knights threw everything they had at North Queensland in the final minutes of the game but couldn?t find a way to the line with the Cowboys desperately clinging on to the lead. The game was easily the best of the season and adds to the credibility of both sides, who are by far and away the form teams of the competition at this point.Newcastle will be looking to hit back against the rejuvenated Storm next week in Melbourne?s first home game of the year. Meanwhile the Cowboys, who now have a four point break on their nearest rivals, travel to Cronulla to take on the hapless Sharks who copped it out at Campbelltown from the Tigers earlier today.Scorers:Newcastle Knights: 16Tries: Danny Buderus, George Carmont, Matthew GidleyGoals: Andrew Johns 2/3North Queensland Cowboys: 18Tries: Matthew Bowen, Mitchell Seargent, Johnathan ThurstonGoals: Johnathan Thurston 3/3By the Clock:Terrific conditions up here at Marathon Stadium for Easter Sunday.Newcastle as per the program.North Queensland have dumped their starting front row to the bench and have promoted Carl Webb, David Faiumu and Shane Tronc. Gavin Cooper comes into the side for Josh Hannay who has been dropped to Queensland Cup.And the Cowboys get us underway in the first half!6 min: NEWS The Cowboys applying early pressure to the Knights, receiving 2 repeat sets from goal line drop outs.8 min: NEWS Quinn saves the day for the Knights by fielding a cross-field kick, returning possession to the home side. Intense start to the game.10 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsAfter consolidating possession, the Knights work the numbers out wide from Johns to Kurt Gidley to his brother Matt who crosses the stripe. Johns misses the goal from the sideline. Knights 4-015 min: NEWS Knights defence holding strong in the face of some testing questions from the Cowboys.18 min: NEWS Very physical contest here today. The forwards are engaging in bone-jarring collisions.20 min: NEWS Cowboys searching to break the Knights line with little success.22 min: NEWS Knights pressuring the Cowboys line now as they get some possession.26 min: NEWS Stoppage in play as the ref is injured! Simpkins will be replaced by Tony De Las Heras, who refereed Premier League.29 min: NEWS Kirk Reynoldson ijured for the Knights. It appears to be a knee as he hobbles from the field.30 min: NEWS Cowboys scrambling defence excellent, as they repell the Knights close to the line.35 min: TRY North Queensland CowboysCowboys finally get over the line with forward Mitchell Seargent scoring under the posts following a bust up the middle by Payne. Thurston converts easily and they lead for the first time in the game after plenty of possession. Cowboys 6-436 min: NEWS Injury to Reynoldson is to his calf. He's out of the game.40 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsThe Knights strike back just before halftime, as Johns gets the ball wide to Mat Gidley, who shimmey's before throwing a no-look pass to George Carmont backing up on the outside. Johns bangs the conversion over from the sideline and the home side goes to the break in front. Knights 10-6It's a tough and tight game here at Marathon Stadium. Neither side is giving an inch, with the Knights holding the lead by a nose at the break. Nothing in it at all. Both sides have shown incredible resistance in defence, stifling the attack somewhat, but requiring the playmakers to step up to the next level. Great stuff, stay tuned for a heart-stopping second half!.And the Knights get us underway in the second half!41 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsBuderus shocks the visitors and burrows over from close to the line from dummy half after a crucial error by Seargent hands possession over to the Knights. Johns kicks the goal and the Knights push ahead. Knights 16-650 min: NEWS The Cowboys have lost their way somewhat, throwing loose passes and making mistakes whilst the Knights are capitalising on these errors.51 min: NEWS Knights pinning the Cowboys down in their own half with a series of precise kicks from Johns.52 min: NEWS Newcastle dominating the forward battle in the second half.56 min: NEWS Knights turn the ball over deep inside their own territory. This is the Cowboys' first real chance of the second half.59 min: NEWS Scrappy play at the moment, with both sides squandering possession through silly mistakes.62 min: TRY North Queensland CowboysThe Cowboys strike back after they move the ball wide for Thurston to sprint past the defence on a straightening run to the line. Thurston converts and there's four points in it with under a quarter of the game left. Knights 16-1263 min: NEWS Crowd: a massive 26,048.68 min: NEWS Tough end to end footy at the moment. A few penalties creeping into the game but still a high quality affair.75 min: TRY North Queensland CowboysBowen levels the scores with some brilliant individual footy. He chipped over the top and regathered, beating Thaiday to score. Thurston converts and the Cowboys lead with 5 to go! Cowboys 18-1676 min: NEWS Jensen looses the ball from the restart in the play-the-ball. Newcastle on the attack.78 min: NEWS Cowboys winding the clock down as Newcastle get one more roll of the dice.80 min: NEWS The Cowboys come from behind to secure victory against the Knights at Newcastle in a fantastic game of Rugby League.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Matthew Bowen2 - Danny Buderus1 - Johnathan Thurston-----------------------------------------

Benji-less Tigers down Kimmorley-less Sharks

ROUND 6 Wests Tigers 42 v Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 16at Campbelltown Sports StadiumReferees: Jason RobinsonMatch Summary:A courageous Brett Hodgson has led the Wests Tigers to a hoodoo-breaking victory minus fellow playmaker Benji Marshall, over Cronulla at Campbelltown Stadium this afternoon, the Tigers winning 42-16. The match was moving at express pace early on. The Tigers shot out to a 12-0 lead early, but the Sharks bounced back to level the scores at 12 with 13 minutes remaining in the first half. But the defining point of the match came just before the halftime break, with Tigers second-rower Ben Galea diving on a loose ball in the Sharks? in-goal area to give the Tigers a 24-16 lead at halftime.The Tigers never looked back from that point onwards; attaining another three converted tries unanswered in the second half, which culminated with a well-deserved try to debutant Rocky Trimarchi to cap off the Tigers? victory.The Sharks competed well in the first 40 minutes but lacked the consistency required for 80-minute football, which was reflected with their failure to score points in the second half. The only positives to come out of this match for the Sharks was the successful return from injury by Nigel Vagana, and the fact that they have no injuries or reports to come out of this game, although the match review committee may need to shed some light on a few incidents throughout the game on Tuesday. The Sharks clearly missed Brett Kimmorley today. Their attack was hindered greatly, during the second half in particular.On the Tigers side of the equation, they can be pleased with this rare victory without whiz kid Benji Marshall, getting a nagging monkey off their backs. Robbie Farah?s return came at a great time for Wests, who dominated the ruck area prominently. The only negative for the Tigers is that fullback Brett Hodgson has a suspected broken nose, an injury which he managed to play with for the entire second half. It will be interesting to see whether there is any further damage to the injury.The Tigers meet Parramatta next Friday night, a match which they?ll be confident of winning after today?s return to form.A bleak outlook for Cronulla though. They meet the competition-leading Cowboys at Toyota Park next Saturday night, and will be in dire straights if they fail to generate a victory shortly. Scorers:Wests Tigers: 42Tries: Ben Galea, Paul Whatuira(2), Ryan O'Hara, Michael Crockett(2), Rocky TrimarchiGoals: Brett Hodgson 6/7, Scott Prince 1/1Cronulla Sutherland Sharks: 16Tries: David Simmons, Nigel Vagana, Brett KearneyGoals: Luke Covell 2/3By the Clock:Pre-Game min: NEWS A bright and sunny afternoon greets the Cronulla Sharks as they travel to Campbelltown to meet an injury-ravaged Wests Tigers outfit. The major omissions are obviously Benji Marshall for the Tigers and Brett Kimmorley for the Sharks which may take the edge off this game ever so slightly.Changes:Tigers: Bryce Gibbs out, Ryan O'Hara moves from the bench into the starting front row. And Chris Patterson comes into the side on the bench.For Cronulla, Greg Bird has made way for Nigel Vagana who makes an early return from injury, which will no doubt boost the Sharks' chances. 0 min: NEWS Kickoff!, match underway at Campbelltown2 min: TRY Wests TigersMichael Crockett catches the Sharks' defence off-guard with an early try in the corner. Tigers 6-08 min: TRY Wests TigersPaul Whatuira snatches a cross-field kick from hooker Robbie Farah and forces the ball out wide. Two early blows from the Tigers, and the Sharks look shell-shocked. Tigers 12-013 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland SharksLance Thompson gives a superb offload to flying five eighth Brett Kearney for the first Cronulla try. Tigers 12-622 min: NEWS Still no change to the score, the Wests Tigers leading Cronulla by 12 points to 6. Cronulla are now mounting pressure on the Tigers' line.23 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland SharksThe Campbelltown crowd have gone silent after a terrific start by the Tigers to lead 12-0, Cronulla have levelled the scores with a try to fullback David Simmons which was at first referred to the video referee, who adjudicated that Simmons had grounded the ball as opposed to being held up. Covell has added the conversion. 12 all.27 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland SharksNigel Vagana continues his stellar return from injury with a try for the Sharks. Sharks 16-1231 min: TRY Wests TigersRyan O'Hara bursts onto a short-ball from Tigers hooker Robbie Farah to score next to the posts. Tigers 18-1639 min: TRY Wests TigersBen Galea dives on a loose ball to score for the Tigers, and Scott Prince adds the extras. Giving his side a crucial 8-point advantage heading into halftime. Tigers 24-16Halftime min: NEWS In a bizzarre first 40 minutes, the Wests Tigers have scored four tries to three to lead the Cronulla Sharks by 24 points to 16 at halftime. The Tigers shot out to a 12-0 lead early on, before the Sharks hit back with tries in quick succession to level the scores at 12. The Sharks will be rueing the fact that they let in the Ben Galea try right on the break, but one gets the feeling that this match could still go either way. 40 min: NEWS Second half underway at Campbelltown, meanwhile Brett Hodgson has a suspected broken nose, stay tuned.42 min: NEWS NO TRY: Luke Covell loses the ball in the in-goal, bombing an early Cronulla opportunity to close the gap.43 min: TRY Wests TigersMichael Crockett gets across the stripe for his second of the afternoon. Meanwhile Hodgson misses the conversion and it appears that he's decided to play on with this suspected broken nose. Tigers 28-1650 min: PENALTY GOAL Wests TigersHodgson strikes his attempt at penalty goal sweetly and the Tigers are moving away from the Sharks now with a 30-16 lead. Tigers 30-1653 min: TRY Wests TigersWhatuira is over again and the Sharks look as though they'll come up short yet again here. Tigers 36-1664 min: NEWS Still no change to the score, the Tigers now certain to claim a rare victory minus playmaker Benji Marshall with a lead of 36-16.72 min: TRY Wests TigersTigers debutant Rocky Trimarchi has accelerated onto a Robbie Farah short-ball to score under the posts, and seal victory for the Wests Tigers. Tigers 42-16Fulltime: min: NEWS Fulltime at Campbelltown Stadium and the Tigers have won comprehensively by 42 points to 16. Stay tuned for the match report...-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Brett Hodgson2 - John Skandalis1 - Scott Prince-----------------------------------------

From The Circles Of My Family History...

FROM The Circles Of My Family History To The Ovals Of My Future

Stargazing

STAR light, star bright, the first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight.

A Rose By Any Other Name?

I shudder as the material falls over my head and slides down my torso; the hairs on my arms stand on end, as if trying to provide a buffer between my delicate skin and this alien material.

Jack Parsons and a son?s devotion

IF you have a copy of the Encyclopedia of Rugby League Players handy, open it up and look up a player who went by the name of Parsons, he played for St George in 1926. His entry is a modest one:PARSONS, J (St George 1926) 4 games (0pts)As I said, it?s a modest entry.Like most people, I didn?t pay too much attention. I simply added the name to my own list of players. Indeed, there are many players who are long forgotten, and no doubt there will be countless more in the future.I wouldn?t have given J Parsons another thought if it wasn?t for a call I got last month from a gentleman introducing himself as Ray Parsons. Ray was keen to talk about his father Jack who played halfback for St George in the 1920s. I opened my own records and included the words ?Jack? and ?halfback?.But Ray had more.He told me all about his dad and after some discussion Ray entrusted me with his family memorabilia: a few old news clippings, a team photo, and a beaut souvenir paper napkin from a St George v Kurri Kurri trial match in 1926.Click on the napkin for larger imageRay spoke of his father?s friends and casually mentioned Arthur ?Snowy? Justice, former St George captain, League official and legend.?My dad was always good mates with Snowy. The two men would sit and talk for ages.?Jack played alongside other legends such as the fastest forward in the game, Ernie 'Curly' Lapham and ?the great destroyer? Aubrey 'Jockey' Kelly, and Saints first ever try scorer in George 'Bluey' Carstairs, all of whom were household names in their day.But Ray saved his fondest memories for his own father.Jack Parsons was born in 1904 and always lived in St George. His mother was Headmistress at Bexley Primary School and according to Ray, Jack was considered a rough character.?As were most footballers,? Ray laughed.Jack played Rugby League as a young teenager where he starred for the Bexley Hotspurs in 1919 [pictured]. He was graded at St George and came to notice as an exceptional halfback in the second grade side of 1925. In the same year, young Jack married and the couple had a daughter.The St George Call wrote about Jack in glowing terms and described the second grader as ?the best of the bunch?. The Truth was equally impressed stating that Parsons was ?the best back in the side?.It was in 1926 when Jack, 22, finally got his chance in the top grade. But the St George team that year were not much to write home about, finishing on the bottom of the ladder.In The St George Call, the enigmatic ?Forward? described in detail the kicking skills and speed of this new ?nippy? halfback. ?Parsons, who for his first game in First Grade performed exceptionally well. He was easily the best back.?Wooden spooners in 1926, the Dragons Slayers went on to become runners-up in 1927, but they achieved this remarkable turnaround without Jack. Like so many players of the day, he left the game to support home and family. A halfback of genuine ability and with so much promise, Jack Parsons never played first grade again. Instead, he departed Rugby League to concentrate on his engineering business, and in 1928, Ray was born.?My father always loved the game.? Ray recalled.?Even after he stopped playing he?d take us to Earl Park to see Saints play.?He told me his two greatest memories were getting married and being selected in first grade at St George.?Jack passed away in 1973, aged just 69.During our discussion Ray told me of the many fine players that were being forgotten. In particular, he wanted people to know that his father was a good player and if not for family responsibilities, he might have gone on to be a great player.It?s hard not to be touched by a son?s devotion, even if that son is old enough to be my own grandfather.I told Ray I?d do my best and put it in print somewhere. Jack may mean little to the modern League follower, but we should never forget that every player experiences something special, a different type of greatness, when first selected for first grade. And this special moment extends to family and follows through for generations afterwards.

A NEW HOPE

A few weeks ago, in a football club not so far away?

Round Ten Preview

CLUBS back up for their second game in four or five days in the second part of the traditional Easter double header weekend, with Round 10 of Superleague to take place across Easter Monday and Tuesday. Players may be a bit sore and a bit tired, so often its the club with the better tactics here that will come out of the weekend with the wins.

Norths vs Redcliffe Qld Wizard Cup Preview

NORTHS v REDCLIFFEBishop Park, Saturday April 15, 2.00pmReferee: Brett SuttorTHE STORY: The first live telecast of the year presents an intriguing match-up between competition leaders Redcliffe and likely finalists Norths. The playing field has been levelled by the absence of Dolphins playmaker and former QANTAS Player of the Year Shane Perry.THE STAT: Greg Bourke is now just 40 points adrift of Damian Richters? all-time Queensland Wizard Cup scoring record of 1030 career points. Bourke averages 13 points per game so far in 2006.THE STAR: Leaders of the pack Dennis Scott and Troy Lindsay have plenty of reason to smile heading into the match. Boasting 130 NRL games to his name, Scott escaped the ire of the judiciary after being placed on report for striking last week. Meanwhile Lindsay celebrated his 33rd birthday on Tuesday after returning from knee injury in Round 5.CHANGES: NORTHS ? In: Josh Tatupu, Trent Henrick, Troy Hansen, Brenton Stonier, Nathan Turner. Out: Smith Samau, James Aubusson, Colin Wilkie, Jeremy Smith, Adam Blair, Nathan Friend. REDCLIFFE ? In: Adam Starr, Daniel Jones. Out: Shane Perry, Damian JentzCHARGES: NORTHS Colin Wilkie (Grade 1 Careless High Tackle, Early Plea + 56 carry-over pts, 1 wk + 31 carry-over pts)REDCLIFFE Chris Fox (Grade 1 kicking, Not Guilty, 0wks).

Tongue action steals late Raider win

ROUND 6 Canberra Raiders 18 v New Zealand Warriors 14at Canberra StadiumReferees: Gavin BadgerMatch Summary:The Raiders came from behind to steal a late 18-14 victory over the Warriors at Canberra Stadium tonight. The Warriors led 6-0 at half time.The match was generally played with little attacking interest shown by either team, especially in the first half, when the Warriors led for most of the period 2-0 care of a Tony Martin penalty goal. Brent Webb scored just before half time, and the missed conversion gave the Warriors the 6-0 lead.Both teams came out firing in the second half, at least compared to the first half. Seven minutes after the break Alan Tongue dived over from dummy half to level the match at 6-all. The Warriors re-took the lead six minutes later with a try to Wairangi Koopu, after a break down the right wing. The lead was extended to 14-6 with another Martin penalty goal.The Raiders then started their brave comeback as first Lincoln Withers scored off the back of a penalty and then Alan Tongue came up with his piece of individual magic, as he grubbered ahead for himself, kicked ahead again and then dived on the ball in the in-goal with only four minutes to go. The Raiders managed to hang on and record their third win of 2006.Scorers:Canberra Raiders: 18Tries: Alan Tongue(2), Lincoln WithersGoals: Clinton Schifcofske 3/3New Zealand Warriors: 14Tries: Wairangi Koopu, Brent WebbGoals: Tony Martin 3/4By the Clock:Not far away from kickoff at Canberra Stadium.1 min: NEWS We are underway in chilly Canberra this evening between the Raiders and Warriors. The Warriors have not defeated the Raiders in Canberra since 1997 and if the Warriors win, they will move off the bottom of the table for the time being. The Raiders have the bye in round seven so a win tonight will have them hot on the heels of the top eight.9 min: NEWS Chalk claims a try but he is ruled to be offisde from the kick. Replays show it to be a 50/50 call.12 min: NEWS Withers hits Wiki in a superb tackle.16 min: NEWS Both team not very flash in attack, Raiders dominating field position.18 min: PENALTY GOAL New Zealand WarriorsJason Smith is penalised for a shepherd. Martin opens the scoring for the match. Warriors 2-020 min: NEWS Patrick Ah Van is out for the rest of the match with an injury.22 min: NEWS Plenty of errors thus far in the match.25 min: NEWS Fairly good defence from both teams so far, although that is attributable to the lack of attack.29 min: NEWS The Raiders are warned over excessive penalties.30 min: NEWS The Warriors go on attack but Webb has the ball stripped off him by Chalk.32 min: NEWS Frawley is tackled inches short of the tryline on the last tackle.35 min: NEWS Rothery is put on report for a high shot on Tony Martin.37 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsWebb slices through the Raiders defence and scores. Martin misses the conversion. Warriors 6-039 min: NEWS Warriors turn the ball over on attack.40 min: NEWS The Warriors are leading in a very scrappy match, 6-0.40 min: NEWS Back underway at Canberra Stadium!42 min: NEWS The Raiders strip the ball one on one, but it goes forward, saving the Warriors.45 min: NEWS The Warriors put some pressure on the Raiders line, then grubber kick dead.47 min: TRY Canberra RaidersTongue dives over from dummy half on the last tackle. Schifcofske converts. 6 all.53 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsMartin breaks down the right wing, he offloads to Koopu who outpaces the cover and scores. Martin converts. Warriors 12-659 min: NEWS The Warriors capitalise on a Raiders mistake and go 90 metres, and Byrne is tackled metres short of the line. The Warriors fail to capitalise on the good field position.61 min: PENALTY GOAL New Zealand WarriorsThe Raiders are penalised for a high tackle and Martin lands the penalty goal. Warriors 14-667 min: NEWS Video referee for a Raiders try...67 min: TRY Canberra RaidersLincoln Withers scores off the back of a penalty. Schifcofske converts. Warriors 14-1269 min: NEWS Chalk drops the ball as he is on his way to a certain try.70 min: NEWS The Warriors are called back for a forward pass as Rovelli hares off to the try line.72 min: NEWS The Raiders have really got the momentum at the moment.75 min: NEWS The Warriors get on the breakout, but Fein drops the ball.76 min: TRY Canberra RaidersTongue puts a kick in, kicks again and dives on the ball. After much stuffing around, Schifcofske converts. Raiders 18-1480 min: NEWS Alan Tongue scores a fantastic late try for the Raiders to steal a brave victory over the Warriors.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Alan Tongue2 - Clinton Schifcofske1 - Lincoln Withers-----------------------------------------

Head held high after Dragons hold out Manly

ROUND 6 Manly Sea Eagles 24 v St George Illawarra Dragons 26at Brookvale OvalReferee: Shayne HayneMatch Summary:The St George Illawarra Dragons have held on to narrowly defeat the Manly Sea Eagles by 26-24 at Brookvale this afternoon. The win is a confidence boost for the Dragons who were coming off a 54-6 thrashing from Newcastle the week before. Halfback Mathew Head was a late inclusion in the Dragons side, making his return to first grade after 10 months on the sideline with a knee injury. Head looked to be fine form, setting up numerous plays including a classy bust in the 30th minute which led to the first of two tries for centre Matt Cooper.But it was Manly who started on the front foot and were first to score after just seven minutes when back rower Ben Kennedy ran onto a Matt Orford pass. Orford's conversion was successful and a subsequent penalty goal put the home side up by 8-0 after 14 minutes.Then against the run of play, Dragons hooker Dean Young crashed over in the 19th minute and Cooper's try 11 minutes later put Saints 12-8 in front.But the Sea Eagles struck back just before half time when winger Michael Robertson scored a sensational try after leaping high to pull down a Travis Burns cross-field kick.At half time, the Sea Eagles were 14-12 in front.In a see-sawing match, Cooper scored his second try in the 53rd minute to put Saints back in front as both sides went up a gear. Five minutes later Saints went further ahead after hero-turned-villain Travis Burns gave away a number of penalties, including a gift two points right in front of the posts. Leading 20-14 and with a breeze at their backs, the Dragons appeared to be gaining the momentum.The Sea Eagles however were not to be outdone. With big centre Steve Matai carving them up just wide of the ruck, Manly struck back with a try to fullback Brett Stewart within easy kicking range. But Orford was unsuccessful with the conversion and with 15 minutes remaining, Saints were hanging onto a 20-18 lead.Less than two minutes later, Dragons back rower Matt Bickerstaff tilted the scales back the way of the visitors when he crashed over next to the posts. Mathew Head was successful with the conversion and Saints were leading 26-18.Sea Eagles forward Brent Kite scored in similar fashion in the 74th minute. The scores were once again narrowed to just two points setting up the match for a nail-biting finish.Manly had their chances to post their fourth consecutive win. But the Dragons line held firm and with seconds remaining, a last-ditched attacking movement was defused courtesy of a Mathew Head intercept.Scorers:Manly Sea Eagles: 24Tries: Ben Kennedy, Brent Kite, Brett Stewart, Michael RobertsonGoals: Matt Orford 4/5St George Illawarra Dragons: 26Tries: Matt Cooper(2), Dean Young, Matthew BickerstaffGoals: Mathew Head 5/5By the Clock:Teams getting ready to come onto the field. As expected Dragons halfback Mathew Head has been a late inclusion. He has been named on the wing replacing Reece Simmonds but should slot into the halves.Manly finally make their way onto the field and they kickoff! Saints running into a first half breeze.4 min: NEWS Corey Payne (Dragons) concussed after a high hit and taken to the sheds.6 min: NEWS Dean Young (Dragons) on report for swinging arm to Manly's Steve Bell.7 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesBen Kennedy crashes through after running onto a Matt Orford pass. Follows some leadup work from Kennedy up the middle of the field and two back-to-back penalties.Conversion successful from Orford from close range. Sea Eagles 6-014 min: PENALTY GOAL Manly Sea EaglesOrford from 25m out and right in front after Saints are penalised for offside. Sea Eagles 8-017 min: NEWS Manly fullback Brett Stewart injured after falling awkwardly into a defender's knees. Looks like he might be able to continue after getting the sponge but he was down for a while.Follows some neat work up the middle with Stewart regathering an Orford chip kick.19 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsDean Young crashes over next to the posts. Follows Saints getting a roll-on and quick play the ball from forward Justin Poore who almost crashed over himself.Conversion Mathew Head from in front. Sea Eagles 8-625 min: NEWS Manly bomb a try when Stewart is unable to deliver a clean pass to an unmarked winger. The ball goes into touch and a try goes begging.27 min: NEWS Now Manly's Steve Matai makes a big bust up the middle of the ruck. Saints hold them out but they seem to be struggling with the forward charges from the home side.30 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsMatt Cooper scores under the sticks after Mat Head splits them open from 30m out. Against the run of play but the Dragons are in front. Conversion successful. Dragons 12-836 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesMichael Roberston flies high in spectacular fashion to bring down a Travis Burns cross-field bomb.Orford converts from the sideline and Manly are back in front! Sea Eagles 14-12Half time: Sea Eagles 14-12With a little more possession the Sea Eagles having the better of it in the first half and seem to be winning the battle of the ruck. They are making the yards and running harder while the Dragons marker defence has sometimes been caught on the back foot. Kennedy looking in tremendous form in both defence and attack.Saints need to lift but are are showing some good hitups of their own. They will have a breeze at their backs in the second half and at just two points behind, they are still well in the match.Robertson's spectacular leap just before the break is the difference at this stage - this match is too close to call.Second half underway...NEWS from the sheds: Dragons forward Corey Payne will take no further part. Dragons down to a three-man bench.48 min: NEWS Manly five-eighth Travis Burns penalised fo dissent while in possession! Not the fisrt time Burns has given away a penalty.53 min: NEWS HELD UP. Mark Gasnier is held up out wide as the Dragons are lifting in abundance. Follows a big bust minutes earlier from Young with Saints coming within a whisker of scoring.53 min: Possible TRY to Dragons... video ref looking....53 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsCooper gets the nod scoring out wide after video ref checks the grounding.Conversion from Head swings back a beaut to add the extras and Saints regain the lead! Dragons 18-1458 min: NEWS Burns in trouble again with the ref after going high in the tackle. Saints will take a shot at goal.58 min: PENALTY GOAL St George Illawarra DragonsHead kicks the goal from right in front. Dragons 20-1464 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesStewart scores in good position to the posts after Steve Matai busts them open from 40m out. A tremendous run from Matai who has been threatening all match.Orford's conversion attempt is a shocker. Dragons 20-1866 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsMatt Bickerstaff scores next to the posts after busting through Monaghan and Menzies. Follows Manly error after the restart.Converted by Head. Dragons 26-1874 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesBrent Kite scores next to the posts, forcing his way over while surrounded by defenders. Orford adds the extras. Dragons 26-2476 min: NEWS Dragons survive a Manly raid and are now working it out of their own half.78 min: NEWS Manly in possession on halfway, they kick ahead and almost score. Hornby grounds it. Dragons forced into a line drop out!79 min: NEWS Mat Head intercepts to defuse another Manly raid and looks to have saved the Dragons.Full time: Dragons 26-24End-to-end football and Saints get the points in an entertaining match. Halfback Mathew Head returning to first grade and putting on a great show after 10 months out of the game. Backrower Shaun Timmins made a successful return as well and centre Matt Cooper looked in very good form in scoring his two tries.Manly were let down by poor discipline in the second half while Saints slowly gained the ascendancy. It'll be a case of 'what if' for the home side who probably know they can do better. Forwards Ben Kennedy and Steve Matai were Manly's best along with Shayne Dunley who was a handful from dummy half.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Mathew Head (Dragons)2 - Ben Kennedy (Sea Eagles)1 - Matt Cooper (Dragons)-----------------------------------------

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