Knights leave it late against Tigers

ROUND 10 Wests Tigers 16 v Newcastle Knights 18at Campbelltown Sports StadiumReferee: Sean HampsteadMatch Summary:A 77th minute try to Irishman Brian Carney has given the Newcastle Knights an exciting 18-16 win over the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown this afternoon.The Knights opened the scoring with an 11th minute try to fullback David Seage following an Andrew Johns break. Four minutes later the Tigers responded with a great try to Daniel Fitzhenry that went unconverted. Steve Simpson scored off an inside ball after 28 minutes to give the Knights a 12-4 buffer. Not long before half time the Tigers scored a great team try the concluded with Shane Elford dotting down in the corner, and the try was converted from the sideline to cut the Knights lead to 12-10 at the break.Attack was limited in the second half ? an Andrew Johns after 58 minutes looked like being the only scoring in the half. On the 72nd minute the Tigers hit the front 16-14 following another long range team try, this time scored by Chris Heighington under the posts. But the 14,499 crowds hopes of a Tigers victory were dashed in the 77th minute when Brian Carney chipped for himself, and Brett Hodgson made a rare mistake, allowing Carney to kick through and score in the corner for the win.The Tigers can feel like the lost a match they shouldn't have won anyway, looking beaten with 10 minutes to go, only to take a lead briefly before the Knights snatched it back.Scorers:Wests Tigers: 16Tries: Shane Elford, Daniel Fitzhenry, Chris HeighingtonGoals: Brett Hodgson 2/3Newcastle Knights: 18Tries: David Seage, Steve Simpson, Brian CarneyGoals: Andrew Johns 3/4Crowd: 14,499Half time: Knights 12-10By the Clock:Counting down to kickoff at Campbelltown Sports Stadium today - the clash between the Knights and the Tigers. It's the battle of the '05 Premiers vs the '05 Wooden Spooners. Plenty of points in the offing today with two strong attacks and two less than stunning defences. Nice afternoon in Sydney on Mothers day.Both teams taking to the field now. The Knights are 1-17, while Galea is out for the Tigers and Galloway is in.1 min: Andrew Johns kicks off!10 min: The Tigers are making plenty of inroads when the spread the ball wide. Good scrambling defence saves the Knights.11 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsJohns breaks the line through some feeble tackles, Seage is in support on his right and Seage scores by the posts. Johns converts. Knights 6-015 min: TRY Wests TigersThe Tigers pass the ball out wide, attract an overlap and Lolesi darts down the touchline before throwing the ball inside to Fitzhenry who scores. Hodgson misses the conversion. Knights 6-423 min: Fitzhenry spills a kick into touch just a metre away from the Tigers goal line. Andrew Johns knocks on at the scrum base.28 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsJohns throws an inside ball to Steve Simpson who barges over from 5 metres out. Johns converts. Knights 12-432 min: Very end to end, open attacking football. A few errors creeping in though.34 min: The Tigers go on attack, they catch and pass down the line and look certainties to score only to have Anthony Quinn come up with an intercept.37 min: Tigers score a line drop out.38 min: TRY Wests TigersFollowing the line drop out, play drifts across field to Marshall who runs into an open space, and he contines across field before passing to Elford who scores out wide. Hodgson slots the touchline conversion. Knights 12-1040 min: The Tigers bust out and play rolls downfield, the ball goes to Elford who is taken into the corner post by Carney and Gidley.40 min: End of a frenetic half of football.The Tigers have a 51/49 possession advantage. They have completed 16/19 sets to the Knights 11/16. Both teams have missed heaps of tackles, 21 for the Tigers and 32 for the Knights, while having made a similar number of tackles. Both teams have already made over 700 metres, Tigers with 10 offloads to the Knights 4, and the Knights have made 5 errors to the Tigers 4.40 min: Teams returning to the field now.40 min: Tigers get the second half underway!48 min: After some very open football from both teams, the Knights pick up a line drop out.50 min: The Knights are getting hammered 6-1 in the penalty count.51 min: 6-2 now as Lolesi is penalised for obstruction, then 6-3 for a strip.55 min: A promising move for the Tigers comes to nothing as Collis loses the ball over the line.58 min: PENALTY GOAL Newcastle KnightsThe Tigers are penalised in possession for not standing up to play the ball. Johns lands the goal. Knights 14-1059 min: The Knights are looking a bit lost at the moment.64 min: The Tigers are throwing everything at the Knights but are unable to come up with points.66 min: Both teams are looking quite tired and are struggling in attack, compared to the first half.71 min: CROWD - 14,49972 min: TRY Wests TigersMarshall runs across field, offloads to a winger who finds Heighington who scores under the posts. Hodgson converts. Tigers 16-1475 min: Johns puts a bomb up, Hodgson comes down with it in traffic five metres out from his own line.77 min: VIDEO REF for a Knights try!77 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsCarney breaks down the sideline, he chips over the top for himself, Hodgson fumbles and Carney kicks ahead off the ground and he dives on the ball to score in the corner. Johns sprays the conversion. Knights 18-1680 min: NEWS The Tigers can't make anything of their final set, and the Knights win a thrilling players of the match:3 - Steve Simpson (Knights)2 - Craig Smith (Knights)1 - Benji Marshall (Tigers)-----------------------------------------

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 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 players of the match:3 - Mathew Head (Dragons)2 - Ben Kennedy (Sea Eagles)1 - Matt Cooper (Dragons)-----------------------------------------

Paul Franze signs for Castleford

CASTLEFORD Tigers have signed Australian centre Paul Franze from Guinness Premiership rugby union club London Irish until the end of the current season.

Broncos win dour contest

ROUND 6 Sydney Roosters 6 v Brisbane Broncos 24at Aussie StadiumReferees: Steve ClarkMatch Summary:The Brisbane Broncos have defeated the Sydney Roosters 24-6 in a dour Good Friday contest. The Broncos led 8-6 at half time.The Roosters took an early 6-0 lead with their only decent sequence of attack in the game, when they spread the ball to Amos Roberts who outpaced the Brisbane defence and scored out wide. Roberts converted the try. The Broncos hit back with a powerful try to Petero Civoniceva. A penalty just before half time gave the Broncos their 8-6 half time lead.The second half was very poor, with plenty of errors and little attacking enterprise. Corey Parker added a handful of penalty goals and Sam Thaiday scored a try on a nothing attacking set before Greg Eastwood sealed the game when the ran through poor Roosters defence.The Roosters wretched injury run continued with an injury to Iosia Soliola that will probably see him out for a month or more, while debutant Steve Meredith is out for the season needing a knee reconstruction.Scorers:Sydney Roosters: 6Tries: Amos RobertsGoals: Amos Roberts 1/1Brisbane Broncos: 24Tries: Petero Civoniceva, Sam Thaiday, Greg EastwoodGoals: Corey Parker 6/6By the Clock:A few minutes away from kickoff1 min: NEWS The Roosters kick off!5 min: TRY Sydney RoostersThe Roosters move the ball brilliantly to Roberts who outpaces the Brisbane defence and scores out wide. He converts his own try. Roosters 6-012 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosBig Petero Cinoniceva crashes over from close range. Parker converts. 6 all.17 min: NEWS The Broncos are peppering Vince Mellars and he is taking the bombs brilliantly.19 min: NEWS The Broncos force a goal line dropout on the Roosters second tackle.22 min: NEWS The Broncos are penalised for an obstruction on a lazy play.26 min: NEWS Very entertaining end-to-end contest at the moment. Some good attacking moments and pretty solid defence.32 min: NEWS Webcke penalised for a high shot, penalties 5-all.32 min: NEWS The Roosters break down the left side and Tupou makes a try saving tackle on Mellars metres from the line.37 min: NEWS Berrigan gets extremely close to scoring on the last tackle, but is tackled inches short.40 min: PENALTY GOAL Brisbane BroncosThe Roosters are penalised for a high shot, and Parker slots the penalty from 30 metres out, right in front. Broncos 8-640 min: NEWS Halftime at Aussie Stadium.The Roosters scored early, but the Broncos struck back with a try and a penalty goal just before halftime to lead 8-6.40 min: NEWS Back underway.46 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosThe Broncos put on a pretty average set after a Roosters error, but Thaiday goes through a gaping hole to score. Broncos 14-649 min: NEWS Soliola busts up the middle, but on the following play Minichello puts in a nothing kick which runs into touch.51 min: NEWS The Broncos make an error, but defend strongly and force an error on the last tackle.54 min: NEWS Soward finds Anthony Tupou with a solid falcon. A fairly scrappy game with not too much attacking enterprise.60 min: PENALTY GOAL Brisbane BroncosParker kicks a penalty goal. Broncos 16-663 min: PENALTY GOAL Brisbane BroncosThe Broncos initially get a penalty they can't kick for goal from. This is followed by Minichello getting penalised for backchat, and Parker kicks the penalty goal. Broncos 18-668 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosEastwood breaks away and scores under the posts, to all but kill of this match. Parker converts. Broncos 24-670 min: NEWS At the moment the most exciting parts of the match are the huge yards the Broncos are making off Rooster errors.79 min: NEWS Video referee for a Roosters try....79 min: NEWS NO TRY - The Broncos fumble the ball in the in goal but Anasta can't get downward pressure on the ball.80 min: NEWS The Broncos defeat the Roosters 24-6 in a less than memorable players of the match:3 - Corey Parker (Broncos)2 - Petero Civoniceva (Broncos)1 - Karmichael Hunt (Broncos)-----------------------------------------

Bartercard Cup Rd 4 teams & fixtures


NRL Centrbet Round 6 Preview

IT doesn't get any easier this week as we try and find a winner on round six of the NRL.An injury ravaged Roosters host Brisbane on Friday night, and the Bronco's also have injury problems. The game is a dead set toss of the coin, and that is how early trading has seen it as well, betting split down the middle.The Dragons are a club under siege at the moment, and they have to go to Brookvale on Saturday. Strangely enough, Manly have struggled there this year, losing to Canberra, and having to come from behind to beat both Cronulla and the Roosters. You have to wonder about that formline as well, so perhaps the Dragons can win here?Penrith will play Melbourne at Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide. The Storm are coming off the bye, will be without Slater and Hill, and are taking on a Penrith side that should be undefeated. Has to be a Panthers win in our book, whether Craig Gower plays or not.New Zealand were unlucky not to either beat Manly, or at least go close, and we can see the Warriors aiming up against Canberra on Saturday night. It looks a dangerous game, and the distinct lack of early business here has us thinking that most punters are as confused about it as we are. With Simon Woolford still out, we will give a slight nod to New Zealand.An avalanche of early money has come for the Tigers to beat Cronulla on Sunday. Kimmorley is out for the Sharks, a big loss, but surely that is averaged out with Benji Marshall being out of the Tigers side? There is a bit of mail floating around that Vagana will be a late inclusion into the Sharks side, so putting some trust in that info, we will go for the Sharks to win.The performance that Newcastle provided last week when beating the Dragons leaves us no alternative but to say they will put the Cowboys away! The North Queensland side have been the benchmark of the competition to date, but the Knights, with Johns back, look the goods here.The Bulldogs look the real good thing of the round on Monday, even thought Souths are capable of springing a surprise against one of these favoured teams. The Dogs will have Sonny Bill Williams back, and that will do their confidence no harm. Souths have named a better side this week as well, but the class difference should see the Bulldogs come away with the points.Gerard DaffySports Betting

Head confident of playing in Manly clash

ST George Illawarra halfback Mathew Head has declared he would be confident in first grade should he be called up when the Dragons take on the Manly Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval this Saturday. Head played for the Saints in the Premier League at WIN Stadium last Saturday night, the first graders were later thrashed 54-6 by Newcastle in the main fixture.A key player for the Dragons, Head was injured in round 14 of 2005 and has since sat out 10 months on the sidelines following a knee reconstruction."The knee pulled up pretty well yesterday so that was the big positive out of everything," Head told AAP."The things I did on the weekend shows that I'm capable of playing [first grade] and it's one of Brownie's [Nathan Brown] calls to see if he picks me." But in order to regain strength and confidence in his knee, Head has also said he is prepared to spend more time in the second grade if that's what coach Nathan Brown wants. "Me and Brownie have spoken before and we weren't going to rush things," Head said. "If it's positive for me to go into first grade this week well then so be it, but I'll just do what ever the coaches think. "It's pulled up a bit sore today but I'm pretty pleased I got through a full game of footy.""I don't want to go back too early and show that I'm not up to standard, because then I can get dropped and probably fade away in reserve grade.""I'll make sure that my knee's right and I'll be ready to go... but I'm willing to just bide my time and wait until I'm back playing footy."The Dragons have had their share of injuries this year with front rowers Jason Ryles and Luke Bailey sidelined until round 7. Meanwhile lock forward Shaun Timmins and centre/winger Wes Naiqama will make their return for the Saturday afternoon clash against Manly.

Round 6 NRL preview

EASTER is a great time of the year on the Rugby League calendar. The stock standard three days of footy gets extended to four with the inclusion of the Easter Monday holiday. This ensures a feast of action for the punter with games being played in all sorts of different locations.Last week I put in an underwhelming 4 from 7 which takes me to 22/35 on the leader board. This week is another challenging one for the tipsters among us, but I think I?ve got it worked out. The highlight will surely be Sunday, when the worst game of the round (Tigers v Sharks) is followed up by the best game of the week (Knights v Cowboys).Roosters v BroncosThe Good Friday blockbuster is turning into a war of the walking wounded. Both clubs are suffering heavy injury tolls with Cross, Morley and Fitzgibbon for the Roosters watching from the sidelines, while Tate, Hodges and Ennis are all nursing their wounds in Brisbane. Bennett has also dropped Seymour for Perry in a halves reshuffle.It?s an interesting clash this one and with both teams under-strength we can anticipate a desperate encounter with the crowd figure to be a genuine litmus test for the Roosters? popularity.I think Brisbane have too much upfront for the Roosters. Webcke and Civoniceva with Thaiday off the bench should prove too strong for the green-horned Roosters trio of Hall, Shillington and Tonga. Stuart?s tactics for the match will undoubtedly see him target Lockyer in defence as has been the recent trend. Ironically, whilst plotting his downfall this week, he?ll more than likely team up with him in a fortnight against the Kiwis.Sea Eagles v DragonsSuper Saturday kicks-off with what shapes as an exciting and evenly matched contest. You probably wouldn?t think that given the hiding the Dragons copped last week, but they?ll be hell-bent on erasing the nightmares of round 5. Likewise, the Sea Eagles are playing solid footy with the gear-stick seemingly stuck in third at the moment. I think they?ll fire up at home and really start to hit their straps.The Dragons have named Gasnier at five-eighth again, with Naiqama returning to the fold in the centres for Millard. Timmins also makes his long-awaited return with Bickerstaff likely to drop off a five man bench. There?s some suggestion that Brown might promote halfback Mat Head following his return from injury in Premier League last week, but we?ll have to wait until an hour before kick-off for that one.Manly?s pack played well last week against the bigger Warriors forwards and they?re going to need another similar effort this week against some good opponents. The one thing the hosts don?t want to get caught up in is taking the Dragons too lightly after last week?s shellacking. In 2000 the Dragons turned around a 50-4 drubbing at the hands of North Queensland to come out the following week and belt Auckland 54-0 after the casual Warriors turned up for a game of touch.I think the Dragons can get them here in a tight one and the game will show plenty about their mentality. If they lose at Brooky and play like busted?s, I think St George Illawarra fans could be in for a long season.Panthers v StormNext we travel to Adelaide for the first time in a while. There?s no sign of the Rams this time around but heading across to the City of Churches does invoke images of Graham Appo and Tony Iro running amok in their heyday. Ahh, bring ?em back I say!The Storm have had the bye, which might have been a good thing this time around. With Slater and Hill serving their first week of suspensions, the Storm are short on troops and the extra week will help with their combinations. Turner assumes the custodial duties with Geyer switching to five-eighth and Walker slotting in on the wing. Given the circumstances it?s not a bad line-up and Crocker returns to add some mongrel. Interesting to see Inglis remain in the centres with King. He impressed last year when deputising for Slater, but it would seem Bellamy is keen for him to remain in the three-quarters to expose their less-fancied rivals in Galea and Lewis.There?s a question mark over Gower after his injury last week, but the Telegraph would have you believe he?s fit and well after playing 18 holes on Wednesday. What better preparation for a game of Rugby League? I bet the Storm, and most likely Crocker, are pretty keen to test out that windpipe of Craig?s. But given their forward pack and the depleted Storm line-up, I think the Panthers will win. The game will be a huge test for Cronk, who is missing his regular buddy on his outside. Whilst I think Geyer is capable in the position, I?m not sure Inglis and King will get enough ball to trouble Galea and Lewis.Raiders v WarriorsThe final Saturday game sees us return to the Nation?s Capital where the Warriors travel across the ditch to take on the Lime Green. There?s generally a bit of spite in these ones, I recall a semi-final in 2003 at the SFS played with Origin-like intensity. Boy that one was a cracker, with old stager Ruben Wiki untouchable that night. He?s now at the Warriors and he returns ?home? to Canberra for the first time since he left the club.It?s hard to judge the Raiders based off last week?s form. They were starved of the ball all game by a clever Bulldogs outfit but towards the end of the match they chanced their arm and scored a couple of tries. The second to Carney involving a chip and chase was close to try of the week.The Warriors are a different case. They?re struggling to put consistency on the park and are susceptible to a loss away from home. Fien is controlling play well and the forwards are making ground up the middle, but they?re having difficulty finishing off plays when they make a break or pressure the line. Toopi looks to be recapturing some of his old form, Gatis is a good acquisition and Faumuina goes hard at five-eighth. But I?m leaning towards the Raiders on this one. I haven?t yet managed to pick them right this season, so I?m banking on breaking my duck this week.Tigers v SharksCronulla jump on the team bus and head down to Campbelltown Oval for their match-up with Wests on Sunday arvo in what is set to be a pretty ordinary affair. The Tigers and Sharks have some problems unfortunately and they can?t be fixed overnight. Kimmorley is out which will be a huge blow to Cronulla?s chances in this one. Likewise Marshall is unavailable and the Tiger?s attack will suffer as a result.Dykes shifts to half for Cronulla, making way for the untried Kearney at five-eighth. It could be a chance for Dykes to shine, as his game has been muffled of late. Ross is playing his heart out but without much support and very little on the bench it?s hard to see how they can win this one.Wests still have the crux of their team running around and welcome back Robbie Farah to hooker. He will give the Tigers better direction out of dummy half and will tidy up around the rucks. I?m also pleased to see Skando starting the match, giving them more bump and grind in the opening exchanges, although I still don?t know what Lolesi is doing at lock. I would have thought he?d be a better option at five-eighth than Fitzhenry, who has proven unimaginative in the position. The Sharks have a good record the ground winning 50% of the time, but I think the home side by a few.Knights v CowboysIf you only watch one game of footy this week make sure this is it. Very rarely do we get to see the two form players of the comp, in the two form teams of the comp, squaring off at one another in this sabre-rattling, fist-clenching, muscle-flexing Round 6 blockbuster. Fittingly for Easter Sunday, this is a clash of Biblical proportions.After Newcastle?s demolition job on Powder Puffs last week, they walk into the arena at Marathon Stadium as favourites in my book. I can?t see too much wrong with them at this stage. Foolishly I predicted they would lose last week, citing their defence as a bit leaky. Suffice to say I don?t regard that as a problem anymore. They are strong across the park and are at full-strength.The Cowboys are also at full-strength with the exception of Ty Williams. They?ve dropped Firman altogether this week with Justin Smith playing the role of five-eighth and Thurston to halfback. Their forward pack is menacing and they have Aaron Payne back from injury. Tronc and Webb off the bench could prove to be the difference as well as the under-rated Faiumu and my personal favourite Rockin? Rod Jensen.The only way for North Queensland to win this game will be through rolling the Newcastle forwards. If they can manage to create inroads through the middle of the ruck and then get the ball to Thurston and Bowen they might jag a win. But I can?t see it happening this time around. Newcastle were out to prove a point last week and I think they?ll do it again this week. Buderus had a huge game and his dummy half running in this match will be vital. And then of course, there?s Johns, Newcastle?s messiah. The sheer brilliance of the man cannot be overstated. His positioning of players, kicking, running and passing is above anyone else?s in the game. He will relish the chance to lock horns with Thurston, who is leading the LU Player of the Year Awards, as they both mark their territory ahead of the Anzac Test.Rabbitohs v BulldogsWe wrap things up on Easter Monday when the Bunnies do battle with the Bulldogs at each team?s home ground, the cavernous Telstra Stadium. Again, this is the easy pick of the week thanks to the atrocious form of Souths, but with Walker back I think they?ll do a little better.The big talking point though is undoubtedly the return of Sonny Bill Williams and that?s going to get plenty of people watching. After a ten month stint in body rehab, the walking ball of muscle is set to take the field against the team that ended his 2005 season. Strangely, he has a habit of injuring himself against the Rabbitohs, doing his ankle against them in 2004. All eyes will be on the clock at around the 20 minute mark when he takes the field and if at any stage he stays down after a tackle, a cold shiver will surely go down the spine of any Bulldogs fan.With Walker back Souths will at least have some direction and if they can compete in the forwards they?ll be in with some sort of chance. It?s hard to imagine a Bunny boilover as opposed to a Bunny boiling here though, with O?Meley and Mason in devastating touch last week. The Doggies halves will get another week to solidify their communication as well, but other than Sonny Bill there?s little impact off the bench. Dogs by plenty.The Eels have the bye this week and that's sure to result in some heavy self-examination. They've got a local derby next week against the Tigers at home and I bet they'll be fired up for it after the disappointment of their loss to Penrith.

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