MELBOURNE is adamant its pack will step up to compensate for the loss of inspirational backrower Michael Crocker in Sunday's NRL grand final against Brisbane.
RICKY Stuart is expected to be confirmed as Cronulla coach today after the NRL club's board met last night.
GREAT Britain coach Brian Noble has included six uncapped players in his 25-strong squad for the Gillette Tri-Nations Series.Huddersfield Giants winger Martin Aspinwall, Hull FC prop Garreth Carvell, Wigan Warriors second rower Gareth Hock, Hull centre Kirk Yeaman and St Helens pair James Roby and Jon Wilkin are the new faces lined up to take on Australia and New Zealand.Leeds Rhinos forward Jamie Peacock was named as captain for the second successive year in the absence of the injured Paul Sculthorpe but Noble has yet to name a vice captain.?It?s a really exciting 25,? said Noble. ?Consistency of performance over the season is reflected in this team.?There are some very unlucky people not to be in the 25 because we have competition for every position.?Warrington Wolves captain Lee Briers, who was widely tipped for a call-up after an inspirational season for the Wolves, is on a 10-man standby list. Leeds skipper Kevin Sinfield and Bradford Bulls loose forward Jame Langley were not considered because of injury.The 25-strong Great Britain squad for the Gillette Tri-Nations Series is:Martin Aspinwall (Huddersfield Giants), Rob Burrow (Leeds Rhinos), Brian Carney (Newcastle Knights), Garreth Carvell (Hull FC), Gareth Ellis (Leeds Rhinos), Stuart Fielden (Wigan Warriors), Lee Gilmour (St Helens), Martin Gleeson (Warrington Wolves), James Graham (St Helens), Gareth Hock (Wigan Warriors), Richard Horne (Hull FC), Paul Johnson (Bradford Bulls), Leon Pryce (St Helens), Sean Long (St Helens), Danny McGuire (Leeds Rhinos), Adrian Morley (Sydney Roosters), Terry Newton (Bradford Bulls), Sean O?Loughlin (Wigan Warriors), Jamie Peacock (Leeds Rhinos, capt), Gareth Raynor (Hull FC), James Roby (St Helens), Keith Senior (Leeds Rhinos), Paul Wellens (St Helens), Jon Wilkin (St Helens), Kirk Yeaman (Hull FC).Standby-squad (who may return and play for England in the Federation Cup): Lee Briers (Warrington Wolves), Andy Coley (Salford City Reds), Mick Higham (Wigan Warriors), David Hodgson (Salford City Reds), Lee Radford (Hull FC), Andy Lynch (Bradford Bulls), Paul Cooke (Hull FC), Paul Wood (Warrington Wolves), Stuart Reardon (Warrington Wolves), Stepehen Wild (Huddersfield Giants).Source: superleague.co.uk
PACIFIC Island nations Tonga, Samoa, Cook Islands and Fiji are preparing to contest a round-robin qualifying tournament for the 2008 World Cup, starting next Friday, 29th September with a double-header at Campbelltown Stadium.The action will continue five days later at Western Weekender Stadium in St Mary?s, on Wednesday, 4th October, where the teams will swap opponents as they battle to qualify for Rugby League?s main event in 2008.The final match will be played between Fiji and Cook Islands on Saturday, 7th October at CUA Stadium, while Tonga and Samoa will transfer to the United Kingdom to finish their qualifying matches against England and France in late October and early November.Friday, 29 September 2006 Campbelltown StadiumTonga v Cook Islands kickoff at 5.45pmSamoa v Fiji kickoff at 7.40pmWednesday, 4 October 2006 Western Weekender StadiumFiji v Tonga kickoff at 5.45pmSamoa v Cook Islands kickoff at 7.30pmSaturday, 7 October 2006 CUA Stadium, PenrithFiji v Cook Islands kickoff at 7pmInternational Development Officer for the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF), Mr Tas Baitieri, said the tournament would showcase Pacific Island rugby league at its best.?This is the first time ever we?ve had a qualification process of this magnitude in the country,? Mr Baitieri said.?It shows that Rugby League is splitting its boundaries to new countries.?The World Cup campaign has already begun in Europe and there are only five spots left that are up for grabs, so the games are sure to be keenly contested.?Tickets are priced at $10 for adults. Children 16 and under are permitted free of charge.A three-venue ticket, available only at the opening game at Campbelltown Stadium, is priced at $20. Source: www.rlif.org
THE American National Rugby League have had to revise plans for the Atlantic Cup - Rugby League World Cup Qualifying bracket originally scheduled for October 21 through October 28 between the USA, South Africa, West Indies and Japan in Atlantic City, New Jersey. With the withdrawal of the West Indies and South Africa it now means that the USA and Japan will compete for the right to move on to the final qualifying stage in England next year against the third place Pacific Nation and the third place European nation to advance to the Rugby League World Cup Finals in Australia in 2008.The match between the Tomahawks and Samurais now looks like it will be played in Philadelphia on Saturday, October 28 at a venue to be determined. Although it would appear that Jack Pearson Stadium in Glen Mills will be the likely location.The American National Rugby League will assemble a strong squad to face the Samurais in an effort to secure the right to move on to England in 2007 for the three way tournament on the road to Australia 2008. A number of new young players from the local US Rugby League competition are expected to be selected to the national squad with a considerable number of veteran internationals having retired and the national coaching staff looking for young players to move the international program forward.If the USA Tomahawks are able to beat Japan and move on to the final qualifing bracket in England the AMNRL will be able to draw on a number of experienced professionals playing in Australia and England whom qualify via birth or grandparents such as Clint Newton (Newcastle - NRL), Shane Millard (Leeds - SLE), Matt Petersen (Parramatta - NRL), David Myles (Gold Coast - NRL), Brandon Costin (Souths - QLD Cup), Steele Retchless (Easts - QLD Cup), Ashley Lanfranchi (Souths - QLD Cup), Jovan Clarke (Souths - NRL) that will certainly strengthen the Tomahawks chances of advancing to the final World Cup in 2008.More information will be announced soon about the USA v Japan International on Saturday, October 28. Source: www.rlif.org
TONGAN head coach Jim Dymock is looking forward to his return to England.
FORGET the PR hype from the National Rugby League (and Channel Nine) about how "wonderful" it is that rugby league this Sunday night will have it first ever non-NSW grand final.A grand final week without a Sydney or NSW team, at the same time as an AFL grand final week with a Sydney team, presents real challenges for the NRL, and significant opportunities for the AFL.The Sunday night grand final will be a sellout, because it is an event, and more than 60,000 tickets were sold long before it was known that it would be a Melbourne Storm v Brisbane Broncos contest.But just how much media coverage, and public interest, the game will attract in Sydney this week will be the real test. Last week the Daily Telegraph ran a massive campaign to rally support behind the St George Dragons and the Canterbury Bulldogs in order to prevent an "out of town" grand final.This week the biggest-selling newspaper in NSW will have divided loyalties ? does it throw its weight behind a contest between two teams majority owned by News Limited, or does it try and drum up parochial support for the Sydney Swans in the AFL grand final?But whatever the Tele does, nothing could possibly match the sheer hide of Channel Nine yesterday. Having treated Melbourne Storm fans, and Melbourne rugby league fans generally, with contempt for close to 30 weekends this year, yesterday it put out a press statement saying how the live coverage of the Storm v Dragons game won its ratings period in Melbourne on Saturday night!And Victorian and Queensland fans hardly have cause to thank Nine for insisting on a Sunday night grand final, part of the justification for which is that the Monday after the grand final is a public holiday in NSW ? what a pity it is not a holiday in Victoria and Queensland as well!The AFL will be working overtime to promote the Swans in Sydney this week. The NRL will have its work cut out drumming up the level of grand final week support in Sydney, and NSW generally, that a game under increasing competition from other codes clearly needs.
SOME could argue that the NRL is merely a token national competition, given that it only consists of clubs from three states. But in saying that, there is no better advertisement for a national game than two non-NSW teams contesting a Grand Final. And with last weekend?s victories to the Brisbane Broncos and the Melbourne Storm, we will see just that come Sunday evening.But here?s the ironic part. The NRL has made a point in recent years of staging the Grand Final on the Labor Day long weekend. However, the Labor Day weekend is only held in NSW.Just how will Melbourne or Brisbane supporters fare trying to catch that last plane home after a grand final victory or loss on Sunday night? Not to mention getting to work on Monday morning.On that basis, the NRL should revert to a Sunday afternoon decider. But how unfair of me to think of the fans before the dollars generated by rising television ratings?There?s the gripe out of the way. Now to the weekend?s matches.Just what happened to the Bulldogs on Friday night? Willie Mason and co came out last week and told us all how great the Bulldogs are and how na?ve the media were to make references to the team?s two previous clashes with the Broncos this season, of which Brisbane were victorious.Until halftime, his statements had merit. The Bulldogs looked outstanding early and held a 20-6 advantage at the break. At that stage, you could be forgiven for penciling them in for a second Grand Final appearance in three seasons.But an inspiring halftime address from Brisbane Coach Wayne Bennett, combined with a suffocation of epic proportions from the Bulldogs, gave Brisbane a resounding 37-20 victory.I must question Steve Folkes? decision to start Friday night?s contest with four forwards on the bench. The injury to Daniel Holdsworth resulted in a major reshuffle and placed the Bulldogs on the back foot. All sides should have at least one backline player on the bench.The bench should be selected to replace injured players. Not to rest unfit forwards. The Dogs need to learn their lesson here.Having said all that, full credit must go to the Broncos for their comeback win. I fail to see evidence as to why Andrew Johns is currently a better player than Darren Lockyer. In the title for world?s best player, I think we have a new leader. Shane Webcke and Petero Civoniceva may be aging but they are still two of the world?s best props. We?ve been hearing all year that the Bulldogs boast the best forward pack in the competition; I fail to see how they?re superior to a Broncos pack which has out-muscled them on three occasions this season. I think overrated could be the adequate term used to describe both the Bulldogs? forward pack and their ability to rise to the occasion for crucial matches.Back to the drawing board for Willie and co in 2007 and I?m sure they?re indulging themselves in a few cold ones as we speak.Onto Saturday?s match and it was a professional display from the best team in the competition, the Melbourne Storm. St George Illawarra was never in this match. Right from the outset they found themselves on the receiving end after some vigorous and typical Melbourne defence.Even at 6-all, the Dragons were hard pressed to find their first try and Melbourne cracked the Dragons? line with ease. There?s no place for any doomsayers towards Nathan Brown ? the Melbourne Storm were just too strong.The Dragons will rue the fact that their current crop of players never played in a premiership, however. Trent Barrett, Shaun Timmins and Luke Bailey will all be moving on and this will enter a rebuilding phase for the Dragons? playing roster, one which will provide a true test of just how far Nathan Brown?s coaching career has developed.Melbourne?s X-factor would have to be its organisational skills in both attack and defence. They are, without question, the most organised unit in the competition. And you can look no further than coach Craig Bellamy for the side?s success this season.They have a workman-like forward pack which features names such as Brett White, Garret Crossman and Ian Donelly, a settled halves combination in Scott Hill and the ever-improving Cooper Cronk, and a formidable backline which terrorise its opposition week after week.The Storm illustrated each of these traits against the Dragons, and it has to hold them in good stead for the decider on Sunday evening.It will be a Grand Final to remember. I?ll stick my neck out and tip Melbourne but a Darren Lockyer blinder could swing this one the other way, which is why it will be a fascinating duel. I?m sure the Queenslanders and Victorians will be laughing all the way to Telstra Stadium with no NSW teams present, and the build-up should be fairly intriguing.Another issue this week has been the Sharks decision to sack Stuart Raper, with Ricky Stuart his likely successor. I think Stuart is Cronulla?s ideal choice in this situation. Raper tended to take a more relaxed approach to his coaching ? something the beach boys out at the shire probably relished for the wrong reasons. Stuart will deliver a no-nonsense approach and will command success from the outset. A mindset the Sharks, as a club, desperately need.
DISAPPOINTED DRAGONS FALL ONE SHORT AGAIN23 September 2006An absolutely gutted St George Illawarra Dragons outfit has fallen one match short of the Grand Final for the second consecutive year after being edged out by the Melbourne Storm 24-10 at Telstra Stadium tonight.Trying their hearts out, the Red V just wasn't able to execute to the best of their abilities when it mattered the most. Adding to the Dragons torture was being held up short or over the line on two occasions in crunch stages of the contest.A devastated coach Nathan Brown was left to rue the missed opportunities after the match.?We just didn't execute our plays too well tonight", said Brown.?It took us about 50 - 55 minutes before we could execute something decent out there and it hurt us in the end."With five first grade stars confirmed to be leaving the club next season, emotions ran high after the contest. No one more saddened at the result than departing Captain Trent Barrett who struggled for words when interviewed at the post match conference.The five-eighth, England bound next season after ten years in red and white, did all he could on the field to get his side home, but couldn't hide his disappointment after the game.?I'm very proud to be captain of this side", said Barrett.?It would have been real nice to play next week, but it's not to be."?I really don't know what to think now to be honest, my heads a bit all over the shop. It wasn't supposed to end this way."Along with their captain, ?The Bull' Luke Bailey, Clint Greenshields, Matt Bickerstaff and Shaun Timmins will all be moving on. The Dragons dodged a bullet early after Melbourne strike weapon Greg Inglis was disallowed a try after only four minutes. Inglis was ruled to have not grounded the ball properly after plucking a Cooper Cronk cross field bomb from the air.With the aid of some penalties, the Dragons were able to achieve some valuable field position, but struggled to get the ball over the stripe. Gorrell came agonisingly close after 11 minutes, but was ruled to have come inches short of the try line by video referees Chris Ward and Phil Cooley.A short time later, the Red V were made to pay for a mistake at their own end of the field. Pulling off a set play to perfection, the Storm registered their first points through Inglis. From the scrum base, two second man plays were engineered , culminating with Inglis breaking the outstretched arms of Mark Gasnier to score. Cameron Smith converted for 6-0.The Dragons continued to come close to scoring. Wes Naiqama dived over in the corner after 24 minutes, but the final pass from Matt Cooper was ruled to have gone forward by referee Steve Clark.Cooper made up for the pass in his sides next set of six, crossing out wide after rolling onto a classic Ashton Sims offload. Gorrell's conversion from 12 metres in from touch levelled the scores at six all.Sadly, the Dragons momentum was short lived after Matt King put Melbourne back in front just two minutes later. The International outside back flew high to grab a Cronk cross field bomb AFL style to score. Smith's conversion enabled Melbourne to take a six point lead into half time.Although no points were scored in the opening 20 minutes of the second half, the atmosphere and the desperation was building.With 19 minutes on the clock a controversial scrum feed was awarded to the Storm just ten metres out from the Dragons line. Referee Clark had ruled that Ben Creagh had knocked down a loose Melbourne pass, where as replays suggested that the Storm player passed the ball forward into Creagh.From the scrum, Melbourne added insult to the decision with a try to Steve Turner. In a well worked scrum mover, King stood up Gasnier one on one and put his winger away in the corner. Smith nailed the extras from the sideline to extend his sides advantage to 12.With close to 35,000 Dragons fans on the edges of their seats, their side almost gave them a reason to cheer when Naiqama looked to have scored with 11 minutes remaining. After numerous replays, the winger was ruled to have been miraculously held up by Inglis. The very next tackle however, the Dragons were in.Quick hands to Gasnier on the right allowed the International centre to get one back on his opposite number, standing up King and offloading to Morris who dived over in the corner.Mat Head failed with his conversion attempt, leaving the Dragons behind by eight with ten minutes remaining.More Dragons attacking raids followed in the ensuing sets, but the Storms scramble defence held firm.The death knell officially sounded with three minutes to go when Antonio Kaufusi cruised through some tired Dragons arms tackles to wrap up the contest.Brown summed up his feelings after the match with a quote from his wife."She told me after last year that , Nathan, you love football so much, but sometimes football doesn't love you back."In season 2006, the Dragons love of football would be unrequited once more.MELBOURNE STORM 24 ( G Inglis, M King, S Turner, A Kaufusi tries; C Smith 3 goals, M Geyer goal) d. ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 10 ( M Cooper, B Morris tries,; A Gorrell goal)Crowd: 40 901.Referee: Steve ClarkDRAGONS SHOT DOWN BY JETS IN CLOSING STAGES23 September 2006The St George Illawarra Dragons Premier League side have failed to make the Grand Final after being bundled out by the Newtown Jets 38-28 at Telstra Stadium.Despite leading 28-22 with eight minutes remaining, the Dragons were mowed down, with former team mate Josh Lewis the destroyer.Lewis helped to put his side in front with five minutes to go when he rolled in a grubber for Jaime Soward, then with 30 seconds to go, last years Jersey Flegg hero grabbed an intercept try to rub in the salt.The Red V weren?t without their fair share of warriors with Chris Sheppard putting in close to a match winning performance two weeks running. The number 7 was backed up with a strong performance by his engine room with Chris Houston and James Jiminez putting in huge efforts.The Dragons got off to a flyer, compliments of some light stepping from Chris Sheppard. Picking up from where he left off last week, the halfback jinked his way over the line from close range after just four minutes, alar Alan Langer style. Bryson Goodwin made no mistakes from in front.Not to be outdone however, the Jets rallied, with Josh Lewis the chief catalyst. It was a 40 metre bust from the former Dragon that put the Jets on the front foot. Two rucks later, an around the corner pass from Adam Schubert put Vince Mellars over. Lewis then levelled the score at 6 a piece with his conversion.Three minutes later, Newtown hit the lead when Lopini Paea burrowed his way over after receiving a batted down bomb from Jaime Soward. Lewis' conversion made it 6-12.Needing to arrest the slide, the Dragons went back to basics. With increased possession thanks to better ball control, the Red V began to mount pressure and on 18 minutes George Ndaira turned that pressure into points. Attacking 10 metres out, Ndaira split the markers and stretched out to score. Goodwin made no mistakes from in front to tie the game up at 12 all.The Red V found themselves back in front just four minutes later when consecutive sets once again produced points. James Jiminez broke from the scrum base ten metres out and with support players drifting wider, the lock forward dummied, then stepped off his right back on the inside to leave defenders clutching at air. The try was converted by Goodwin, giving his side an 18-12 lead.However the see-sawing nature of the contest continued when the Jets managed the level the scores for a third time with nine minutes left in the half through Luke Gordon. The stalemate held into the halftime break.After knocking over a penalty goal just after halftime, the Dragons then found themselves behind again after big Charles Tonga went over out wide after running off a Daniel Dumas short ball.With their season teetering on the brink of collapse, it was Sheppard again who grabbed is side by the scuffs of their jerseys and lead the way.With half an hour to go, Sheppard fired a telling face pass which gave his side a two on one. Beau Ryan then showed quick hands to shuffle the ball onto Goodwin who got over in the corner. Despite being unable to convert his own try, Goodwin's effort put his side back in front 24-22.Sheppard then orchestrated his sides next try to extend their lead to six with 25 minutes left.Attacking the Jets line, the half put up a pin point bomb which was plucked out of the air by Ryan. The centre - three quarters try was not converted, which still kept the door ajar for Newtown.With eight minutes remaining, the door was unfortunately flung open.Tries to Shaun Kenny-Dowell., Soward and then Lewis shattered the Dragons.NEWTOWN JETS 38 (V Mellars, L Paea, L Gordon, C Tonga, S Kenny-Dowell, J Soward, J Lewis tries, J Lewis 5 goals) d. ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 28 ( C Sheppard, G Ndaira, J Jiminez, B Goodwin, B Ryan tries; B Goodwin 4 goals)Knights defeat Dragons by a field goal24 September 2006The St George Illawarra Jersey Flegg team have today been denied the opportunity to defend their Premiership title, having been defeated 23-22 by the Newcastle Knights at Leichhardt Oval.A field goal with 45 second remaining broke the deadlock in the entertaining encounter played in hot and windy conditions. The Dragons opened the scoring in the 15th minute when Rota Setu burst through the Knights defensive line on half way centre field. Setu ran 20m, drew the fullback and passed inside to Richard Williams who raced away to score under the posts. Nathan Wynn converted to put Dragons ahead 6-0.Five minutes later Wynn spotted an overlap and spread the ball right through Jason White and Ryan Millard who drew the winger and passed to an unmarked Luke Irwin on his outside who easily scored. Wynn was unsuccessful with the conversion, the Dragons leading 10-0.In the 29th minute the Knights made a break down the left hand side and kicked ahead for fullback Sam Wooden to win the footrace and score the first points for his team. Luke Walsh converted, taking the score to 10-6.Four minutes before half time the Knights scored their second try through Hanan Laban, who pushed through the Dragons defence, taking three defenders across the try line with him, scoring adjacent to the right hand upright. Walsh?s conversion was successful, the Knights taking the lead 12-10.The Knights continued to pressure the Dragons defence scoring again, just two minutes later through centre Callan Richardson. The Knights had numbers on the right and stretched the Dragons, allowing Richardson to cross the line untouched. Walsh was again successful with the conversion and the Knights headed to the half time break leading 18-10.The Dragons came out firing in the second half scoring just two minutes after the break. Dan Hunt charged to the line from 10m out, taking three Knights defenders across the line with him. Wynn converted to take the Dragons to 16, just two points behind the Minor Premiers.In the 58th minute, Dragon Fullback Jason Nightingale scored a solo try, breaking the Knights line 40m out and shrugging defenders off all the way to the try line. Wynn converted from 15m to the right of the upright to put the Dragons in the lead, 22-18.In the 64th minute the Knight scored a miracle try in the right hand corner, having sent the ball through three sets of hands and being seemingly held up over the line before a speculative ball pooped out the back for Knights winger Akuila Uate to score. Walsh was unsuccessful with the conversation, the scores level at 22 all.The final minutes of the game were played at a frantic pace with both teams creating and blowing numerous opportunities. Such was the tension; both teams had a player sin-binned for fighting.In the end it was the Knights who took the opportunity with five eight Scott Dureau kicking a field goal with 45 seconds remaining to break the deadlock and march the Knights into the Grand Final with 23-22 victory.Knights 23 defeated Dragons 22.Knights 23 Tries: Sam Wooden, Callen Richardson, Hanan Laban, Akuila Uate. Goals Luke Walsh 3. Field Goal Scott Dureau 1Dragons 22 Tries Richard Williams, Luke Irwin, Jason Nightingale, Dan Hunt. Goals Nathan Wynn 3Source: dragons.com.au
ELEVEN players have been added to Australia's Tri Nations train on squad following the elimination of the Bulldogs and St George Illawarra from the NRL finals series.
BRISBANE prop Petero Civoniceva is clear to play in Sunday's Grand Final against Melbourne after the match review committee only charged him with a grade one careless high tackle.
IT was a day of contrasting outcomes for Australia?s oldest Rugby League club at Telstra Stadium on Saturday. The Newtown Jets have gone through to the VB Premier League Grand Final against Parramatta at Telstra Stadium next Sunday, following their thrilling 38-28 win over St. George-Illawarra in the Preliminary Final. In the 2006 Jim Beam Cup Grand Final, the young Newtown team?s inspired charge through a series of sudden-death finals matches came to an end when they were decisively beaten by the Sydney Bulls 56-22.The Jets began the VB Premier League Preliminary Final match badly, conceding an easy try to the Dragons after only four minutes. Newtown rallied and replied quickly with tries to centre Vince Mellars and second-rower Lopini Paea, which were both improved upon by half-back Josh Lewis. Repeated penalties and some flakey midfield defence by the Jets gave the Dragons the territorial platform for two converted tries midway through the first half. Newtown responded ten minutes prior to half-time with a fine try involving centre Mitch Aubusson and winger Troy Malcolm which was finished off by the interchange player Luke Gordon. Both teams went to the break locked up at 18-all.The Dragons quickly regained the lead with a penalty goal two minutes into the second half. Newtown?s scrum-base pairing of Josh Lewis and Jamie Soward put their skills on show when they combined with Gordon to send front-rower Charles Tonga over out wide. Lewis?s conversion attempt hit the upright and bounced away. The Dragons had slightly the better of this tense contest nearing the middle of the second half when they scored two unconverted tries to lead 28-22 with 24 minutes remaining.Newtown hung in and maintained their strength and composure as the clock inexorably ran down. With only eight minutes remaining Lewis and Soward turned on a superbly-executed set play which sent the impressive young winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall in at the southern left-hand corner. Repeat sets to the Jets had the Dragons defending desperately, and four minutes out from full-time Soward pounced on a beautifully-weighted in-goal grubber kick from Lewis to score by the posts, with Lewis?s conversion taking Newtown to a 32-28 lead. Lewis the supremo brought the house down with his last-minute intercept and 50 metre dash to score under the posts, with the concentration of Newtown supporters at the southern end in raptures. Mickey and Lopini Paea both had strong games in the Newtown forwards, along with Charles Tonga and hooker Heath L?Estrange. Best in the backs for the Jets were fullback Aidan Kirk, the very efficient winger Troy Malcolm, Vince Mellars and those masters of Rugby League alchemy, halves Lewis and Soward. Young Kiwi winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall made a genuine impact when he was introduced into the game in the second half. Newtown?s charmed run in the 2006 Jim Beam Cup finals series came to an abrupt end on Saturday night when they were comprehensively beaten by the Sydney Bulls by 56-22. The young Jets had been no sure things to make the playoffs as late as with three competition rounds remaining, so to advance as far as the Grand Final has been a sterling effort.The Jets hacked the pace with the Bulls throughout the first half and went into the half-time break 22-18 in arrears. Centre Darren Lang, lively five-eighth Charlie Herekotukutuku and classy wingman Anton La Vin had scored Newtown?s tries, all of which were converted by fullback Toufic Nicolas.Newtown?s hopes were blown away in the opening ten minutes of the second half as the Bulls raced away to a 40-18 match-winning lead. The Jets fought on gamely for the remainder of the match but their finals run had been derailed in that lethal ten-minute spell after half-time.Newtown coach Greg Matterson preferred not to single out any of his players for special praise but he emphasised his pride in his young team?s effort to fight so hard and to come so far in the competition. He added that every player could take plenty out of the season, during which they all had provided an invaluable backup to the Jets? successful VB Premier League campaign. Many thanks to the team?s major sponsor Anthony Tuite from the Royal Exchange Hotel, Marrickville whose generosity knew no bounds throughout the season.The Jets travel back to Telstra Stadium for next Sunday?s VB Premier League Grand Final against Parramatta, due to kick off at 3.50pm. Newtown supporters not going to the Stadium can watch the game live on the big screens at the Jets Sports Club (Holbeach Avenue, Tempe).Photo:Newtown front-rower Glenn Hall takes on the Dragons defence at Telstra Stadium on Saturday.Photo courtesy of Gary Sutherland Photography.
WITH wins to the Brisbane Broncos and Melbourne Storm over the weekend, the NRL will be celebrating its first ever 'non-Sydney' grand final.The Canterbury Bulldogs were the first to bow out on Friday night, going down 37-20 to the Broncos in a sensational turnaround of events. Leading 20-6 at half time, the Bulldogs were unable to withstand a second half onslaught from Brisbane as they racked up 31 unanswered points. The Broncos now advance to the premiership decider next Sunday.Saturday night was a closer affair which saw minor premiers Melbourne post an impressive 24-10 victory over the St George Illawarra Dragons. It?s the end of the road for the Dragons who rallied late in season but were simply outgunned on the day. The Storm rose to the occasion with tremendous combination of defence and fire power before scoring a late try to seal the deal. It was a polished display from Melbourne and they should earn favouritism for next Sunday?s grand final against the Broncos.All match results and details are listed below.NEXT SUNDAY - 1 October 2006:7:00pm - NRL GRAND FINALSTORM v BRONCOS - Telstra StadiumNSWRL Curtain Raisers2:00pm - Jersey Flegg Cup Grand FinalNewcastle Knights v Penrith Panthers - Telstra Stadium4:00pm - Premier League Grand FinalParramatta Eels v Newtown Jets - Telstra StadiumGrand Final Live Updates - ALL THREE GRADESLeagueUnlimited.com will be covering all three grades from 2:00pm on grand final day with up-to-the-minute live scores.FULL NRL DRAW, RESULTS & LINKS TO LIVE SCORES ? CLICK HEREWe are now looking for live score updaters for the 2007 competitionFor further enquiries, please email us MATCH RESULTS:League Wrap: Finals - Week 3, 22-23 September 2006National Rugby LeagueCanterbury Bulldogs: 20Tries: Brent Sherwin, Matthew Utai, Daniel HoldsworthGoals: Hazem El Masri 4/4Brisbane Broncos: 37Tries: Shaun Berrigan(2), Dane Carlaw, Darren Lockyer, Corey Parker, Brent Tate, Darius BoydGoals: Darren Lockyer 1/1, Corey Parker 3/6Field Goals: Darren LockyerHalf time: Bulldogs 20-6Venue: Aussie StadiumCrowd: 29.511Referee: Paul SimpkinsLeagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Darren Lockyer (Broncos)2 - Justin Hodges (Broncos)1 - Tonie Carroll (Broncos)Melbourne Storm: 24Tries: Greg Inglis, Antonio Kaufusi, Matt King, Steve TurnerGoals: Matt Geyer 1/1, Cameron Smith 3/3St George Illawarra Dragons: 10Tries: Matt Cooper, Brett MorrisGoals: Aaron Gorrell 1/1, Mathew Head 0/1Half time: Storm 12-6Venue: Telstra StadiumCrowd: 40,901Referee: Steven ClarkLeagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Matt King (Storm)2 - Cameron Smith (Storm)1 - Greg Inglis (Storm)LeagueUnlimited.com players of the match are decided by our live score updaters.NSWRL Premier League ResultsFriday, September 22 at Aussie Stadium:Parramatta Eels 20 defeated Manly Sea Eagles 16Saturday, September 23 at Telstra Stadium:Newtown Jets 38 defeated St George Illawarra Dragons 28NSWRL Jersey Flegg ResultsSunday, September 23 at Leichhardt Oval:Penrith Panthers 29 defeated the Bulldogs 22Newcastle Knights 23 defeated St George Illawarra Dragons 22
MERCURIAL Redcliffe Dolphins hooker Michael Roberts has continued his stellar record at QLD Wizard Cup level, claiming an unprecedented third Qantas Airways Player of the Year award.
THERE was one very interested but slightly nervous Redcliffe ``supporter'' on the sidelines of the Dolphins' Wizard Cup grand final match.