Storm go home, Broncos stay in town

MELBOURNE has gone to extraordinary lengths to maintain its winning routine, flying back home to ahead of Sunday's Grand Final at Telstra Stadium.

Ellis breaks tackling record

NORTH Sydney 2006 Premier League hooker Ben Ellis, has impressed the rugby league community by making a record 1066 tackles for season 2006 despite not playing a full compliment of matches.The massive effort tops the number of tackles made by Canberra's NRL lock Alan Tongue who this year has made 1040 to set the NRL record, overtaking former Melbourne hooker Richard Swain's tackle count of 1004 tackles set in 2001.In what must surely be a new tackling record for rugby league over the home and away season, Ben Ellis has made his tackles in only 22 matches after missing 2 games with suspension. This means his average tackles per match sits at 48.45. While Alan Tongue has made his tackles over 24 matches.While many believe a Premier League record is not up to the standard of the NRL, 2006 Bears coach Josh White believes Ben's efforts prove beyond a doubt his commitment as a player, "He was outstanding, it's an enormous effort. It's not even technique it's his ability to put in again and again. Some players have just got the talent to keep going and Ben Ellis has got it big time!".But the mild mannered family man who last year was voted both Player of the Year and Players' Player for the North Sydney club and in 2006 Best Forward and Supporters' Player of the Year, has shown he is not just a defensive specialist by scoring 10 tries for the season to be the Bears leading try scorer. "When I'm in a position to make a tackle I do it. As the opportunities come my way I do my best. It's my role in the team" Said Ben.PICTURED: New Zealand born Ben Ellis runs up the ball against the Sharks in round 1. Who would have guessed this would be a record breaking year for the hooker. PHOTO: Steve Little.

Jets inspired by Greats

NEWTOWN Jets Draw Inspiration from Greats of the Past for Sunday's Grand FinalThe Newtown Jets take on Parramatta in Sunday?s VB Premier League Grand Final at Telstra Stadium. It might be 23 years since Newtown last played in the NSW Rugby League first grade premiership competition, and 25 years since Newtown played Parramatta in the 1981 first grade grand final, but the Jets are receiving plenty of good wishes from a variety of high-profile identities closely associated with the famous old Foundation Rugby League club.Newtown?s current Official Club Patron and Life Member John Singleton attended the Jets training session at Wentworth Park on Tuesday afternoon and spoke to the players. ?Singo?s? message was simple and straight to the point: ?I?m backing you blokes all the way! Go out and do the jersey proud!?Former Jets and NSW State of Origin front-rower and now the popular mine host at the Hurstville Ritz Hotel, Big Steve Bowden, laid on dinner for the 2006 VB Premier League Grand Finalists at the Ritz on Tuesday night. ?Bowdo? and several of his 1981 Newtown Jets team-mates Ken Wilson, Jim Walters, Ray Blacklock, Les Motto (Head Trainer) and Steve Blyth all spoke to the players and joined them for dinner in the stylishly-appointed Hurstville Ritz Function Room.The legendary Tom Raudonikis, who only recently underwent major bypass surgery, will be with the Newtown Jets team in the dressing rooms at Telstra Stadium prior to Sunday?s Grand Final. Raudonikis of course captained the Jets in the famous 1981 grand final against Parramatta.The Jets have received good luck messages in recent days from the following identities:Charles ?Chicka? Cahill, a member of Newtown?s 1943 first grade premiership winning team and a former President of the Newtown BluebagsLionel Williamson, former Newtown first grade captain and former Australian wingerFrank Hyde and family (Frank played with Newtown from 1934 to 1937)Dick Poole, former Newtown Bluebags captain-coach and former Australian captain-coach in 1957.The club has received a huge number of messages from other Newtown supporters and former players from within Sydney, in NSW, Queensland and overseas (including one email from a supporter in Finland!)

More "best player ever" nonsense

ONE gets the clear impression that the Melbourne Storm?s Greg Inglis is a remarkably level-headed 19-year-old ? and after today?s headlines he will surely need to be.

Carting it up with Stevo

WHO to hate?

Monaghan receives Ken Stephen Award

MANLY'S Michael Monaghan has been honoured with the 2006 Ken Stephen Award for services to Rugby League and to the community.

Overnight wrap: RLPA, Titan, Kiwis

RUGBY League Professionals Association boss Matthew Rodwell says no deal has been done with the NRL to water down the clout of the players' union.

NRL struggles for GF coverage ? in Sydney!

FOR years the Daily Telegraph has been rugby league?s flagship publication ? even in the off-season. But this year the change has been dramatic, and the AFL is the beneficiary.

5 added to NZ'A' Squad

THE New Zealand selectors have added another five players to the Kiwis and New Zealand ?A? train-on squad.Les Catalans Dragons halfback Stacey Jones is the first player from the UK Super League competition to be added to the train-on squad.Jones ? who was made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2005 ? was one of the stars of the Kiwis? 2005 Gillette Tri-Nations campaign and has played a huge role in Les Catalans? debut year in the Super League competition.Four Bulldogs players ? Sonny Bill Williams, Roy Asotasi, Matt Utai and Ben Roberts ? have also been added to the squad.The Bulldogs were knocked out of the NRL finals last weekend after being beaten by the Broncos 37-20 in the preliminary final.The Kiwis kick off their Gillette Tri-Nations campaign on October 14 against the Kangaroos at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland.The New Zealand A side will play Australia A the following week on October 21 at Melbourne?s Telstra Dome in the curtain raiser to the Kiwis? second game against their Australian rivals.Train-On Squad additions:Sonny Bill Williams, Roy Asotasi, Matt Utai, Ben Roberts (Bulldogs)Stacey Jones (Les Catalans)

Harris to play for Wales

IESTYN Harris today confirmed his availability for Wales for the World Cup Qualifier against Scotland at the Brewery Field on Sunday 29th October.The Bradford Bulls stand-off last played for Wales in the World Cup semi-final match against Australia in Huddersfield on November 19th 2000. He made his Welsh international debut against Australia on October 30th 1994 and is currently the country?s record points scorer for with 145 in his 17 games.Since then, he has had a spell in union with Cardiff Blues and Wales and on his return to league, has been unable to play for Wales due to his involvement with Great Britain.However because of his retirement from the Lions and the adjustment of his holiday dates, he can now play for Wales in their first qualifier for the 2008 World Cup.Wales Rugby League Executive Chairman Mark Rowley said: ?Iestyn confirmed his availability with us today and I?m over the moon with this news. We?ve been working hard to help him adjust his holiday dates so he can play and the fact that he was willing to do that in the first place proves his dedication to his country. We?re all looking forward to seeing him back in a Wales shirt on October 29th in Bridgend.?Source:

Overnight wrap: Sharks, Storm, trophy

NEW Cronulla coach Ricky Stuart says he will meet with Sharks skipper Brett Kimmorley in the coming days to discuss what role the veteran playmaker will have at the club next season.

Around the Grounds and Ref's report

WITH the NRL?s new rules about First Grade referees being able to do lower grade Grand Finals, the referees for this weekend are Paul Simpkins, Shayne Hayne, and veteran Steve Lyons.After spending many years thinking he wouldn?t achieve this goal, Paul Simpkins has been appointed to the NRL Grand Final in 2006. After Bill Harrigan retired at the end of the 2003 season, the number one position was up for grabs however it was Tim Mander who took the two deciders after Paul made costly errors in the previous matches before the Grand Final. Paul, however, has not done that this year. Last weekend he had a flawless performance with the only controversy coming from the video referees box. Steve Carrall and Rod Lawrence are on the line with Chris Ward and Bill Harrigan in the box.Shayne Hayne, who has had an outstanding year in 2006, has been named to do the Premier League between Parramatta and Newtown. Parramatta had a tight win over Manly last weekend while Newtown came from behind to beat the Dragons. Shayne refereed the NRL fixture in week one of the finals between the Bulldogs and Raiders but since then has done the Tigers v Manly and Dragons v Jets Premier League semi finals. The touch judges are Russell Turner and Steve Chiddy with Rickey McFarlane and Luke Potter in the in-goal. Despite not being from the NRL squad but the Premier squad in 2006, Steve Lyons has been appointed to do the Knights and Panthers Jersey Flegg Grand Final next Sunday afternoon. Last Sunday Newcastle beat the Dragons by a point and Penrith were too strong for the Bulldogs. Although doing the Premier League fixtures between the Dragons and Tigers in week one, Manly and Balmain-Ryde in week two and Parramatta v Manly in week three, Steve has been given the Flegg Grand Final behind Hayne. His touch judges are Jason Weinstein and Darren Lang with Andrew Zapantis and David Munro in the in-goal. Across to the players?and the Brisbane Broncos have named an unchanged side from the team that came from behind to beat the Bulldogs 37-20 last Friday night. The last time the Broncos played the Storm was in round 23, when the Storm came from 10-nil down to win 18-12 in one of Brisbane?s better performances of the season. Tame Tupou has been named as an 18th man just in case Karmichael Hunt succumbs to a niggling hamstring injury.Jeremy Smith has replaced Queenslander Michael Crocker on the Melbourne Storm bench for Sunday night?s Grand Final. Crocker injured his knee against the Dragons last Saturday night, and will sit out of his first grand final since making one in 2004 with the Sydney Roosters. These two sides also met in round 18 on a wet Friday night at Olympic Park when the Storm got the biscuits 10-4. Jake Webster, Garrett Crossman and Jamie Feeney have also been named on an extended bench pending any injuries in the lead up to the match.

Grand Final Teams & Fixtures - all grades

NATIONAL RUGBY LEAGUE GRAND FINALMelbourne v Brisbane7:00pm Sunday 1 October 2006 ? Telstra StadiumSTORM: 1. Billy Slater, 2. Matt Geyer, 3. Matt King, 4. Greg Inglis, 5. Steve Turner, 6. Scott Hill, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Antonio Kaufusi, 9. Cameron Smith (c), 10 Brett White, 11. David Kidwell, 12. Ryan Hoffman, 13. Dallas Johnson.Interchange: 14. Adam Blair, 15. Jeremy Smith, 16. Ben Cross, 17. Nathan Friend, 18. Jake Webster, 19. Garrett Crossman, 20. Jamie Feeney (three to be omitted)BRONCOS: 1. Justin Hodges, 2. Darius Boyd, 3. Brent Tate, 4. David Stagg, 5. Karmichael Hunt, 6. Darren Lockyer (c), 7. Shane Perry, 8. Shane Webcke, 9. Shaun Berrigan, 10. Petero Civoniceva, 11. Sam Thaiday, 12. Brad Thorn, 13. Tonie CarrollInterchange: 14. Corey Parker, 15. Dane Carlaw, 16. Ben Hannant, 17. Casey McGuire, 18. Tame Tupou (one to be omitted)PREMIER LEAGUE GRAND FINALParramatta v Newtown4:00pm Sunday 1 October 2006 - Telstra StadiumEELS: 1. Joel Reddy, 2. John Williams, 3. Taulima Tautai, 4. Ben Farrar, 5. Etu Uaisele, 6. Blake Green, 7. Marcus Perenera, 8. Brendan Oake, 9. Matt Keating, 10. Peter Lewis, 11. Feleti Mateo, 12. Zeb Taia, 13. Henry Perenera (c)Interchange: 14. Drew Dalton, 15. Krisnan Inu, 16. Aaron Wood, 17. John Frith, 18. Trent Hodkinson, 19. Tim Wynn, 20. Adam Peek (three to be omitted)JETS: 1. Aidan Kirk, 2. Troy Malcolm, 3. Mitch Aubusson, 4. Vince Mellars, 5. Aaron Lai, 6. Josh Lewis, 7. Jamie Soward, 8. Glenn Hall, 9. Heath L'Estrange, 10. Charlie Tonga, 11. Mickey Paea, 12. Lopini Paea, 13. Daniel DumasInterchange: 14. Lafi Manua, 15. Luke Gordon, 16. Michael Burns, 17. Adam Schubert, 18. Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 19. Danny Williams, 20. Rory Kostjasyn (three to be omitted)JERSEY FLEGG CUP GRAND FINALNewcastle v Penrith2:00pm Sunday 1 October 2006 - Telstra StadiumKNIGHTS: 1. Sam Wooden, 2. Akuila Uate, 3. Stephen Gordon, 4. Callan Richardson, 5. Jonathon Wright, 6. Scott Dureau, 7. Luke Walsh, 8. Tim Natusch, 9. Terence Seu Seu, 10. Kade Snowden, 11. Jacob Ling, 12. Cory Paterson, 13. Jon TupouInterchange: 14. Hanan Laban, 15. Larry Taufua, 16. Simon Allen, 17. Matthew Cooper, 18. Hayden Jeans (one to be omitted)PANTHERS: 1. Matthew Forwood, 2. Junior Ahio, 3. Michael Jennings, 4. Liam Campbell, 5. Geoff Daniela, 6. Jarrod Sammut, 7. Nathan Pill, 8. Brad McMillan, 9. Jaye Martleitner (c), 10. Tim Grant, 11. Corey Vlaciky, 12. Lawrence Enosi, 13. James NightingaleInterchange: 14. Blake Blackburn, 15. Ashley Hazelton, 16. Michael Leeds, 17. Nathan Russell, 18. Wiremu Weepu, 19. Mitchell Smith (two to be omitted)

League Player Ratings: Preliminary Finals

THE cream has risen to the top. No matter how loyal a fan you are to your team surely nobody can claim that the better team didn?t win either of the Preliminary Finals on the weekend. The Broncos produced arguably the greatest second half of football seen not only this year but perhaps for many a year to overwhelm the Bulldogs; while the Dragons just couldn?t turn back the Storm?s methodical and efficient style and saw another season pass by without that much anticipated title. But to the games and the standout individual performances. 1st PRELIMINARY FINAL

Eels v Jets GF teams

PARRAMATTA Eels v Newtown JetsPREMIER LEAGUE GRAND FINAL4:00pm Sunday 1 October 2006 - Telstra StadiumEELS TEAM LIST1. Joel Reddy2. John Williams3. Taulima Tautai4. Ben Farrar5. Etu Uaisele6. Blake Green7. Marcus Perenera8. Brendan Oake9. Matt Keating10. Peter Lewis11. Feleti Mateo12. Zeb Taia13. Henry Perenera (c) 14. Drew Dalton15. Krisnan Inu16. Aaron Wood17. John Frith18. Trent Hodkinson19. Tim Wynn20. Adam PeekJETS TEAM LIST1. Aidan Kirk2. Troy Malcolm3. Mitch Aubusson4. Vince Mellars5. Aaron Lai6. Josh Lewis7. Jamie Soward8. Glenn Hall9. Heath L'Estrange10. Charlie Tonga11. Mickey Paea12. Lopini Paea13. Daniel Dumas 14. Lafi Manua15. Luke Gordon16. Michael Burns17. Adam Schubert18. Shaun Kenny-Dowall19. Danny Williams20. Rory Kostjasyn

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