MARCUS St Hilaire scored the match-winning try on his debut to send champions Bradford to the top of the engage Super League with a 18-12 win over Hull.Lesley Vainikolo, who destroyed Hull with 10 tries in two games against them last season, tormented them again at Odsal with a try in each half, taking his remarkable tally to 114 in 108 appearances for the Bulls.But injury-hit Hull made the champions work for their victory, which extended their unbeaten run to 18 matches and enabled them to leapfrog St Helens into pole position ahead of Saints? game at Huddersfield on Sunday.Vainikolo, making only his second league appearance of the season, was a lurking menace throughout the first half but had to wait until seven minutes from the break to claim his first try.Bradford had scored the first try after just 68 seconds but in between Hull enjoyed much of the play and deservedly got on the scoreboard just before the interval.Without five regulars through injury, Hull gave a debut to 20-year-old forward Scott Wheeldon but, with experienced half-backs Paul Cooke and Richard Horne leading the way, they caused all sorts of problems for the champions.Bradford, who brought in St Hilaire following the withdrawal of full-back Michael Withers with a shoulder injury, made a dream start after Hull?s Great Britain forward Jamie Thackray lost the ball inside his own half.Skipper Iestyn Harris, influential throughout, sensibly worked the ball out wide, where centre Karl Pryce, a player with the physical presence to match Vainikolo, barged his way over the line.It looked like being the only score of the half as defences dominated but the Bulls broke away for Pryce to take another cut-out pass from Harris and feed his winger, who was unstoppable from such close range.Paul Deacon kicked his first goal to make it 10-0 but Hull struck back immediately, courtesy of some smart work from substitute Peter Lupton.First he palmed down a pass from Pryce to break up a dangerous attack and then produced a half-break which enabled Horne to put in a clever kick for centre Sid Domic to collect and touch down.Danny Brough?s touchline conversion cut the gap to just four points and keep the match finely balanced.It took Vainikolo just four minutes of the second half to add to his phenomenal tally, taking another long pass from Harris to bounce off opposite number Motu Tony and claim his second try of the match.But the ?Volcano? turned from hero to villain five minutes later when a fumble on his own line allowed Kirk Dixon to score Hull?s second try.The ending might be considered fortuitous but some magnificent build-up justified the score, with Brough, Horne and Cooke handling superbly to give full-back Shaun Briscoe the position to put in the grubber kick.Brough?s second goal cut Bradford?s lead to just 14-12 and set up a tense final quarter.St Hilaire and substitute Matt Cook both spilled possession inside their own half to keep Hull on top and the Bulls were twice forced to drop out from their own posts.The decisive score came 10 minutes from the end when St Hilaire, a surprise eve-of-season signing from Halifax, took Ben Harris? pass to crash over for the all-important try.Even then, Hull had a chance to snatch a draw, with Briscoe spilling a pass from Lupton with the line beckoning and then knocking on in another promising position.Bradford: St Hilaire, Bai, B. Harris, Pryce, Vainikolo, I. Harris, Deacon, Fielden, Henderson, Lynch, McKenna, Hape, Langley.Replacements: Vagana, Cook, Gene, Ferres.Hull: Briscoe, Dixon, Domic, Yeaman, Tony, Cooke, R. Horne,Thackray, Brough, King, Radford, Hill, Whiting.Replacements: Carvell, Wheeldon, Chester, Lupton.Bradford (10) 18.Tries: Pryce, Vainikolo 2, St Hilaire. Goals: Deacon.Hull (6) 12.Tries: Domic, Briscoe. Goals: Brough 2.Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington)Att: 10,700
A determined Warrington side ground out a memorable victory over Wigan by 24-12 at the JJB Stadium which continues the Warriors? poor start to the engage Super League campaign.Wigan had opened the scoring through new signing Bryan Fletcher, making his debut after recovering from bowel surgery, but despite seeing little of the ball in the Wigan half, Warrington hit back through Richie Barnett and Chris Bridge to lead at the halfway mark.And scrum-half Lee Briers took over in the second period with four drop goals, a penalty and a conversion to Henry Fa?afili?s try to increase the pressure on Wigan and their coach Ian Millward.The Warriors had welcomed back captain Sean O?Loughlin, who missed last week?s defeat at Salford with a groin strain, with Paul Prescott handed his first start in a year following a serious knee injury.There was also a huge reshuffle in the backs with Brett Dallas switching to full-back to replace Chris Ashton, Pat Richards moving to the left wing and Kevin Brown named at right centre.Warrington had Logan Swann and Rob Parker back in the squad after injury, with Danny Lima dropping out of the 17 after 50 successive appearances.The Warriors signalled their attacking intentions very early by kicking to the wing of Barnett at every opportunity, and it almost paid dividends twice in the opening quarter of an hour.On the first occasion, Barnett fumbled into the hands of Brown, who was penalised for offside as he touched the ball down.Shortly afterwards, Barnett needed two attempts to mop up the danger, at the expense of a drop out, with Brown again sniffing around.The Wolves were seeing very little of the ball, but Martin Gleeson came close to holding onto an interception with only open space ahead of him.Wigan introduced Fletcher for his debut on the 20-minute mark, and he took just three minutes to register his first try for the club, taking a beautiful short ball from Danny Orr to cross the line.Danny Tickle added the extras for a 6-0 lead, but the Wolves hit back within four minutes to the delight of their vocal away following.On virtually their first time in possession in Wigan territory, a super long ball from Briers allowed Toa Kohe-Love to put Barnett in at the corner, with Briers? touchline conversion tying the scores.And the Wolves went in front on the stroke of half-time, when Bridge took advantage of hesitancy in the home defence to kick ahead twice and beat Dallas to the ball, with Briers? second goal making it 12-6.Warrington started the second half determined to add to their score, and it took very good defence from the Warriors to hold them out.Briers saw an attempted drop goal charged down, and the Welsh international was hauled down inches short from the repeat set.The half-back did land a one-pointer moments later to extend the advantage to seven points, and he tagged on a penalty goal after he was taken out late by Wayne Godwin, an offence which saw the young hooker despatched to the sin bin for 10 minutes.Dennis Moran then saved the Warriors when he won the race to Briers kick at the expense of a drop out, but Briers added his second drop goal to make the score 16-6 on the hour.Ben Westwood then squandered a gilt-edged chance to seal the points when he ignored a two-man overlap only to succumb to the cover defence, only for Briers to add his third drop goal moments later to push the lead out to 17-6 with time running out.The Warriors were finding it increasingly difficult to break out of their own half, though, and quick hands by Briers and Gleeson put Fa?afili in for his side?s third try of the night, which Briers converted to make it 23-6.Godwin?s late score, converted by Moran, was scant consolation for the home side, with a sizeable portion of the 16,640 crowd already making their way home, with Briers? fourth drop goal in the dying seconds wrapping up two deserved points.Wigan: Dallas, Calderwood, Brown, Vaealiki, Richards, Orr, Moran, Logan, Higham, Paleaaesina, Hansen, Prescott, O?Loughlin.Replacements: Tickle, Fletcher, Hargreaves, Godwin.Warrington: Grose, Fa?afili, Martin Gleeson, Kohe-Love, Barnett, Briers, Bridge, Leikvoll, Clarke, Wood, Swann, Wainwright, Westwood.Replacements: Noone, Hilton, Mark Gleeson, Parker.Wigan (6) 12.Tries: Fletcher, Godwin. Goals: Tickle, Moran.Warrington (12) 24.Tries: Barnett, Bridge, Fa?afili. Goals: Briers 4. Drop Goals: Briers 4.Referee: A Klein (London)Att: 16,640
REDCLIFFE coach Anthony Griffin has anointed youngster Chris Fox as a player to watch by having him play understudy to veteran five-eighth Shane Perry for the Dolphins' Queensland Wizard Cup match against Ipswich this Saturday. Following a first-round bye, the Dolphins kick off their season with a trip west, where 20-year-old Fox will be looking to out-fox Jets playmakers Ricky Bird and Brendon Marshall. With Perry returning from National Rugby League with the Brisbane Broncos, Fox will narrowly miss out on filling the Dolphins' No.6 jersey on debut and partnering half Marty Turner. Fox, the Dolphins' FOGS Cup best and fairest winner last year, and Turner, formerly of NRL side Melbourne Storm, are part of an 18-man Redcliffe squad that features established names and fresh faces. The squad was announced at the club's season launch last Friday. Big-hitting Mark Shipway has been named in FOGS Cup, but is expected to force his way back into the Wizard Cup squad before too long."Mark brings a lot of experience to our pack. He's been away and has played NRL and in England, so there's no doubt that he'll add something," Griffin said. Two other players with NRL experience former Canberra Raider and Wests Tiger Alwyn Simpson and fellow ex-Tiger Adam Fletcher are the Dolphins' new wingers. Up front, Norths recruit Pat Gardner will look to ground the Jets' rugged forward pack alongside new Redcliffe skipper Adam Starr. ?I think the Young Guns are definitely the standouts and everyone else is a good chance of making the top five," Griffin said. After tackling Ipswich at Queensland Group Stadium on Saturday at 4pm the Dolphins host the Central Comets at home the following week.This article is courtesy of the Redcliffe and Bayside Herald
ROUND 2 has come upon us in the NRL with some great clashes lined up. Last week was a tough one, and I came away relatively unscathed with 5 from 7, but was caught eating plenty of humble pie as the Raiders made short work of a Manly outfit sadly lacking in cohesion. Other than that, I thought Penrith played some gutsy footy to overcome the supposed might of the Bulldogs pack, whom I had my hard-earned on.Anyhooo, let?s sink our teeth into these ones?Bulldogs v TigersPlease all stand to attention for Harmony Day, and what better was to celebrate something peaceful than for 26 blokes to run into each other at speed for 80 minutes.The Tigers have the wood over Canterbury a bit lately, beating them at Homebush twice last year in two very different matches. The first was a breath taking one-point victory thanks to a Scott Prince field goal in the final minute. The other was an absolute smash-up with the Tigers winning 54-2, preventing the Bulldogs from even crossing the stripe.Things will be different out here this time though. The Bulldogs have lost 7 games in a row now and are entering some scary territory with regards to consecutive loss records. Last week they seemed to control the game for a fair while and then lost their way before Penrith took over and came away with victory. As such I think Steve Folkes will have them pretty revved up for the game this week and keen to tear Wests apart.For the Tigers, the loss of Marshall is a critical blow to their penetration of the defensive line. They are using Daniel Fitzhenry at 5/8 outside Scott Prince who did look pretty good last week. Their victory over the Dragons was probably understated given how many tries they bombed, but plenty of that attacking flair was being generated by Benji. But I think the Bulldogs will be too desperate on Friday night and will come away with the points, but they?ll do it tough. The Tigers bench these days is a pretty awesome sight.Eels v WarriorsNext we travel to the Isle of the Long White Cloud where Parramatta are playing a ?home? game against the Warriors in Waikato. New Zealand was a happy hunting ground for the Eels last year, defeating the Warriors at both Ericsson and Waikato Stadiums with relative ease.This year both teams meet after suffering first round losses in matches they were perhaps expected to win. The Warriors especially need to begin their climb up the ladder from -4 as it will only become a steeper hill with every week they lose. Last week against the Storm there were some encouraging signs for New Zealand, but too many handling mistakes let them down. They brought the reliable Todd Byrne back onto the wing and kept Grant Rovelli on the bench. He made for a great impact weapon last week and really got the team moving.Out at Parra, coach Smith has decided to include Mark Riddell in the team at starting hooker this week after dropping the portly rake to Premier League in round 1. Other than that the team is pretty much as it was last week with Daniel Wagon a likely omission from the five man bench.Looking at Parramatta?s start over the past few years suggests that they rarely drop two games early in the season. Plus their team looks more formidable and with Riddell back I think he will add the spark that was missing from last week?s feeble surrender to Newcastle. Parra by a few.Sharks v BroncosThe second instalment of Super Saturday comes to us from Cronulla where the Sharks play their first game of the year with a new look team against first round whipping boys the Broncos. Ben Ross, Lance Thompson, Darren Albert, Darren Mapp and Tevita Latu have all been named in a new look Sharks line-up. David Simmons assumes the fullback duties with Peachey over in the UK somewhere and Phil Bailey is in the centres, which I?m not entirely comfortable with.Brisbane arrives in the Shire with their bums still a bit sore after the Cowboys showed them what-for last week. Wayne Bennett has been copping it from all angles and the Broncos have now lost eight in a row, their equal worst ever losing streak. But, they have won the past three encounters between these two sides, including two held down at Endeavour Field.I think the Broncos can hit back here to take the win, but in part I think it will be Cronulla?s preparation that helps them. It?s always tough having the bye in the first round and with so many new faces at the club it?s going to be hard to get rhythm so early in the season ? just look at Manly last week. Despite the fact I think they?ll lose, Cronulla do have the forward pack and a pretty clever no.7 to take the game to Brisbane, but I think the Broncos will be out to prove to the world that last week was an unsightly aberration.Cowboys v Sea EaglesWith stubbie in hand you should now be relaxing comfortably in the lounge room as the third game of the night kicks-off in our beloved FNQ.The white-hot Cowboys are the new premiership favourites after Johnathan Thurston delivered a 9.5/10 performance last week against the Broncos (sorry, he did miss a goal). Their first game was reminiscent of Melbourne?s blockbusting start to 2005 where they towelled up a few highly fancied sides and they look set to continue emulating them. North Queensland certainly have all the hallmarks of a great team this year ? fitness, speed, size, flamboyance and their depth is astonishing. Hannay and Webb are still playing Queensland Cup and the signs aren?t good that they?ll be making a return to first grade anytime soon. It comes as no surprise that the Cowboys have made no changes to their line-up and go into this one against the Sea Eagles as raging hot favourites.Manly must be gritting their teeth at the prospect of this game. They took Canberra too lightly last week and got shown up by a more committed team. Now they face an uphill battle to get new combinations happening in a cauldron atmosphere at Dairy Farmers Stadium. I?m not going to say they can?t do it but this round I?m going to stick with the Cowboys who, if they get on a roll early again, could make things really ugly for Des and his boys.Roosters v StormSunday kick?s off with what?s sure to be a free-flowing game of footy. Michael Crocker returns to his previous home to tackle a Roosters outfit minus controversial Englishman Adrian Morley. As expected Shillington steps in to fill the void which should see Tupou start the game this week.But I?m not a huge fan of their new hooker policy. Looking around the NRL these days there are so many good hookers in the more traditional mould ? Buderus, Priddis, Smith, Woolford, Riddell and Farah. I?m afraid to say that the Roosters have one sitting on the bench in Wing and instead decide to recycle their disused halfback Finch instead of just biting the bullet and dropping him.The Storm were impressive in short spells last week against the Warriors and I think if the Roosters allow them the kind of latitude they afforded to Souths in their game last week then there could be some feathers ruffled out at Bondi. Melbourne are the type of team who can feed of the uncertainty of their opponents and once they smell blood in the air it can get ugly. I thought King and Inglis were outstanding last week and looking out wide at the Roosters three-quarter line, I think they?ll struggle to contain them.I?m taking the Storm here in what may or may not be an upset.Dragons v PanthersThe Panthers travel down to Wollongong to face the newly privatised off-field juggernaut that is the St George Illawarra Dragons. It?s a shame they?re not so all-conquering on the field though.WIN Stadium is somewhat of a graveyard for Penrith however ? the last time they won there was in Round 1 1991 against the Steelers. Over the last three years they?ve been a regular visitor there and each time have put up a good show, but they?ve ultimately come away empty handed on each occasion.There?s little else in my mind than the word peculiar to describe the team Nathan Brown named on Tuesday afternoon. Whilst I like and respect Dean Young as a player, I tend to prefer him at hooker mostly or in the back row. I?m very uncertain of his ability to play five-eighth or whether he will in fact do so on game day. Nevertheless, Brown has decided that not one, not two, but three hookers will be playing for the Dragons this week, with Aaron Gorrell wearing the number nine and young gun George Ndaira coming off the bench to make his first grade debut. This must send a terrific vote of confidence to Chris Sheppard who would have been the obvious choice to come in at halfback for the ill Barrett with Hornby moving to 5/8.The Panthers must fancy themselves in this one and I have to admit I?m leaning in their direction. Rhys Wesser looks pretty sharp this year as does their halves combination. Penrith certainly displayed a clever and also tough brand of footy last start against Canterbury. So what will they produce here? I think they can get away with the win based off the fact that the Dragons have an unsettled line-up at the moment and I?m not confident Gasnier will see enough ball to make the sort of impact he did last week.Raiders v KnightsThe last game of the round kicks-off in the Nation?s Capital where it?s sure to be a little crisp. Lucky for the folk down there it happens to be ?Canberra Day? on Monday and it?s no small coincidence that they scheduled a rugby league match the day prior so every one can have a good night out at the pub afterwards. Smart people them Canberrans.Back to the footy, and the Raiders beguiled everyone last week including me whose mouth was agape for most of the match as so many green jersey?s were in motion for a good portion of the game. There must have been many happy Raiders fans last Saturday and the relinquishing of the captaincy seems to have given Simon Woolford a new lease on life. He had a top game as did a number of other players, the only sour note being the season-ending injury to Josh miller.Newcastle was likewise rather impressive as they dispatched Parramatta to the boundary in their first outing. But I fear there is much improvement in the Knights line-up. Mr Carney will probably want to forget about his little incident at the Steyne last Monday night and the attention could possibly put him off a bit. They have a solid pack and the best halfback running around but I just have this feeling about the Raiders again.Last year you would have said if you target Jason Smith then you can shut them down. But this year it?s a different story, they have a few other playmakers who have stepped up, judging by last week anyway. However, I think this theory can actually apply to the Knights, whereby if you target Johns then you go a long way to stopping the team and everyone knows Canberra are hard to beat at home.I?m going to tip the Green Machine, because it just wouldn?t be fair on Canberra Day if the local boys don?t get a win.The Rabbitohs have the bye this week and it?s probably just as well. On Sunday they?ll finally work out who owns the club and the week off could provide a type of release to the impasse which has dogged them of late.
OWNERS need to tow the line.Season 2006 has kicked off and it?s worth reflecting on what has been a busy off season. One of the lasting controversies has been the issue of team ownership. For most of us ownership is a fickle concept. Anyone with money (or a decent credit rating) can buy a car, but ownership is useless without a licence. Lose your licence and your vehicle might as well be scrap metal. As untouchable as we felt when we bought our first cars, most of us have learnt that we are all answerable for our actions. That is unless we own a Rugby League team.Much like player managers were in the ?90s, team owners are the new untouchables of the NRL, enjoying this freedom because they are answerable to no-one but themselves. While players, officials and even David Gallop has a boss or bosses, owners by definition run their own race. And it?s this freedom that is making fans and administrators of other codes nervous. A classic example of this is being played out at Manchester United this season. When new team owner Malcolm Glazier bought a majority share in the English Premier League club, fans became concerned that he would move the team away from their spiritual home of Old Trafford. While rumours of Glaziers planned move were false, the thought that the new owner could move the team on a moments notice has made the Red Devil?s fanbase uneasy. Man U fans now spend more time fighting the intentions of their team owner (through movements such as ?Stop Malcolm Glazier?) than barracking for their football team.The untold power of team owners was undoubtedly considered when the NRL handed out punishment to the Warriors for salary cap breaches. During the numerous interviews David Gallop conducted following the announcement, the NRL chief was careful not to tread on the toes of Warriors majority owner Eric Watson. And with good reason, Watson has made a significant financial investment in Rugby League over many years. Gallop understands if the Kiwi millionaire feels like he has been treated unjustly he has every right to take his money elsewhere, or even declare the Warriors bankrupt (as we have seen previous Warriors owners do). This is the modern day challenge for Rugby League administrators: maintaining a balance between the interests of private investors in the game and ensuring the integrity of the competition is maintained. It is ironic that, as South?s members vote for or against privitisation on Sunday, their ownership model could answer the NRL difficulties. Thanks to determined members, Peter Holmes a Court?s proposal has been adjusted to include several non- negotiable guarantees that must be adhered to by the new owners. Such guarantees could form the basis for the NRL to establish a team?s owners register. Registration could involve provisions ensuring any changes to team colours, playing venues and mascots are under the control of members. These provisions could even be decided by each individual clubs fanbase through a ballot. This would also provide an opportunity for the NRL to include negotiated criteria as to how owners are answerable and punishable if their club breaches NRL laws. Private investors are now accustomed to regulation. By far the majority of industries are regulated in some way, and major shareholders understand they are answerable if something goes awry. In the NRL, such regulation would ensure investors would think twice about any underhand dealings, or at least ensure their staff aren?t tempted to bend the laws. But the greatest benefit this form of regulation would provide for the NRL is that it would weed out any investors with questionable intentions. Just like on the field, Rugby League needs it?s money men to be first class.
LAST week?s MBDS event was a great night despite the Dragons going down to the Wests Tigers. The event was held at the Steak Out and the crew there treated us with gold class status as they always do. This week we?ll be watching the Dragons match at our other very special venue at Crown, The Pub This week?s round 2 match for the Dragons is against the Penrith Panthers at WIN Stadium in Wollongong. The match will be the Sunday Channel nine game and once again, Crown will be delivering the feed direct from Sydney at 4pm. It should be a fantastic night in Melbourne town on Sunday with the Commonwealth Games in full swing, and what better way to start the evening than with a Dragons NRL match. What: St George Illawarra Dragons V Penrith PanthersWhere: The Pub, level 1 Crown Complex, When: Sunday 19th March, 4pm See you there
ST George Illawarra's future on the south coast is secure, with WIN Corporation announcing it has purchased a quarter share in the NRL joint venture club for $6.5 million.The money put forward by the regional television network will help ease the financial burden on the Steelers Club, the Illawarra arm of the Dragons, which is struggling to pay back a loan of $8 million to its joint venture partner, the St George Leagues Club. The financial boost, for which WIN will acquire 24 per cent of the joint venture, will see Wollongong maintain its quota of hosting half of the Dragons' NRL matches at WIN Stadium each year and enable to Steelers Club to work towards financial viability.Dragons chairman Warren Lockwood says having WIN as a corporate partner is a major coup for rugby league across the Illawarra.
WIN Television Corporation has purchased a quarter share of the St George Illawarra NRL club in a deal worth more than $6 million.It is understood that the Illawarra contingent of the merger has struggled to repay an $8.29 million loan granted by St George a few years back as their League?s club was undergoing renovation and some financial problems.The details of the deal will be announced in Illawarra today.
PENRITH NRL coach John Lang believes St George Illawarra still pose a huge threat even without ill skipper Trent Barrett.Barrett will miss Sunday's WIN Stadium clash as he continues his recovery from a stomach virus which caused him to spend a night in hospital earlier in the week. Lang says that while Barrett's absence is a bonus for the Panthers, he says the Dragons have too many class players to be taken lightly.Dragons coach Nathan Brown has named regular hooker Dean Young at pivot, though Lang isn't expecting Young to play like a traditional five-eighth. Lang has added Kiwi international Frank Pritchard to his bench, replacing Mark O'Halloran.
BRISBANE coach Wayne Bennett has revealed his embarrassment for his players and the fans following Sunday's 36-4 flogging at the hands of North Queensland.Bennett says he appreciated the fact fans didn't walk out early after the Cowboys led 30-0 midway through the second half. The longtime Broncos mentor says he knows his side is better than the performance suggested, claiming it was just a bad day at the office.The Broncos have lost their last eight games going back before last season's finals series.
NRL players hoping to join the new Gold Coast franchise for hard-core partying or an extended holiday are in for a rude shock after tough conditioner Billy Johnstone signed a three-year deal with the Titans.The Kangaroos, Queensland Origin and North Queensland conditioner will head to the tourist strip at the end of this season to help the Titans prepare to enter the 2007 competition. Titans boss Michael Searle expects Johnstone's signing will frighten off some players but says he doesn't want them on the Gold Coast if they're not prepared to train under a strict regime.Johnstone was the Gold Coast Giants' inaugural signing and captained the first national rugby league team in the region.
CANBERRA has re-signed centre David Howell for two more NRL seasons.Widely tipped as a future star for the Raiders, Howell has been a priority signing since the end of last season. The 22-year-old arrived at the club last season after debuting with St George Illawarra in 2003.
ROUND 1 of the competitions saw the Dolphins sit the weekend out with the first up bye however this weekend sees the Club traveling west to tackle Ipswich in 3 grades who are sure to provide stiff competition after bolstering their ranks in the off-season with guys looking for an opportunity with the Titans in 2007.Last weekend wasn?t wasted with the Club holding its season launch in the Des Webb Lounge of the Redcliffe Leagues Club on Friday. The event was well attended and the Dolphins would like to thank EMERALD Executive Chairman Eddy Faress, Mark Schulman from PAYNTER DIXON and Howard White from IGT for coming along. Thanks also to the players, staff, coaches and their partners for making the night an enjoyable occasion.This seasons Colts side is a young, talented outfit and should play their best footy towards the back end of the season. This is not to say they won?t do well early as we are sure they will it will just take a few rounds for the younger guys in the squad to adjust to the standard of competition they are now in. Some of the guys to keep an eye on this year will be Matt Gillett, Foisa Peni, Asher Elemani, Phil Daisy and Logan Sullivan. Enjoy the year boys, we are sure you will do the Dolphins proud.Grant Cleal?s A Grade squad go into the Ipswich match with some patchy trial form behind them. With an injury free senior squad at the moment the players will be keen to impress for selection in the Premier Grade when the opportunity arises and our supporters should see an improvement in the team?s performance this weekend. It?s great to see a number of last seasons Colts progress into the side with Scott Gillis, Brad Massey and Dominic Fallini all featuring.The Premier Grade confronts a bit of an unknown with the Jets not giving much away throughout the off-season. The word is the Jets will field a young side with a number of players making the move into the QLD Wizard Cup from the Premier League in Sydney. Dolphins Coach Anthony Griffin has been happy with the player?s application and anticipates an improved level of competition this season with the Jets providing the first insight into how the Dolphins stack up in 2006. Off season signings Marty Turner, Pat Gardner, Adam Fletcher and Alwyn Simpson are the new faces in the squad for the first fixture and have been rewarded for some good form in the trials.Congratulations to Shane Perry on making his debut for the Broncos last weekend against the Cowboys, unfortunately the result didn?t quite go as he would have liked however he can be proud of his effort. Shane?s elevation into the Broncos has provided a timely reminder to the rest of the players of the value the new Dolphins/Broncos affiliation provides and of opportunities that are available.Don?t forget to come down to Dolphin Oval for the round 3 games when the Western District Panthers take on our lower grades in the Fogs Cups and the Premier Grade come up against the Central Comets in the QLD Wizard Cup.This weeks teamsQueensland Wizard Cup1. Ryan Cullen 2. Alwyn Simpson 3. Nick Emmett 4 Greg Bourke 5. Adam Fletcher 6. Chris Fox 7. Marty Turner 8. Adam Starr (c) 9. Michael Roberts 10. Pat Gardner 11. Grant Flugge 12. Danny Burke 13. Danny Green Interchange 14. Shannon Fish 15. Duane O'Grady 16. Danian Jentz 17. Clint FrazerCoach Anthony GriffinFogs A Grade1. Mark Christensen 2. Kaine Manihera 3. Pat McGill 4. Rory Bromley 5. Lucas Dearden 6. Matt Anderton 7. Chris Jelich 8. Daniel Jones 9. Scott Gillis 10. Darren Glase 11. Richard Russell 12. Mark Shipway 13. Gerard Parle (c) Interchange 14. James Douglas 15. Brad Massey 16. Dominic Fallini 17. Chris GiumelliCoach Grant ClealFogs Colts Challenge1. Phil Daisy 2. Dion Porteous 3. Matt Gillett 4. Michael Wilson 5. James Derbyshire 6. Bob Jones 7. Asher Elemani 8. Greg Malenstein 9. Tom Donnelly 10. Matt Handcock 11. Foisa Peni 12. Logan Sullivan 13. Tim Benson (c) Interchange 14. Jon Broad 15. Jordon Brown 16. Sam Schull 17. Angus CameronCoach Craig Ingebrigtsen
ANYONE who has access to a replay of last Friday Night's clash between the Wests Tigers and Dragons get it out and have a look at the incident just before halftime involving Benji Marshall and Reece Simmonds. Put it on super slow motion and take a close look where Simmonds? shoulder hits Marshall... While Simmonds is putting his arms around Marshall in his effort at tackling the Tigers five-eighth look at the top of Simmonds? left shoulder and witness how it collects Marshall on the chin. While the side of Simmonds? head appears to impact on Marshall's cheekbone and thus broke it, it is clear that contact has been made by Simmonds? shoulder with the head of Marshall. Now with the Adrian Morley hit every comment/report says that the issue is not with intent but the fact Morley?s shoulder made contact with the head of an opponent. Now I'll go on the record now - Morley did not intend to knock Walker out. It was one of those plays where the playmaker drifts wide into the defence trying to pick out a gap runner and Morley, as Walker's designated defender, slides with him. Walker held the ball longer than he could afford to and not expect not to be tackled. Both player?s momentum resulted in Walker?s head colliding with Morley?s sliding shoulder. There was never any intent on Morley's part to wallop Walker in the melon, but yes (I cannot nor can the Roosters or Morley deny) there was clear and indisputable contact with the head from Morley's shoulder. Go out next weekend in your game (if you play league/union) and carry the ball on the angle towards the outside of your defender, hold onto it too long, see if you run into the bloke and see if the momentum you and the defender are carrying doesn't result in a significant body clash. The difference here is Walker almost bends into line and thus Morley's shoulder and as Morley realises Walker still has the ball he shifts some of his weight back towards the way he was coming from. Try running at a good speed and changing your body weight back the other way and see if your shoulder does not dip like Morley?s. Now if we go back to Marshall and Simmonds quickly and break down that play you?ll find Brett Hodgson takes the ball on the left edge running into half gap. He draws the inside defender leaving Marshall and Simmonds marking up only metres apart close to the sideline. Simmonds rushes in and tries to smash Marshall to shut down the play and to negate the room outside him. The hospital pass Hodgson delivers does not help Marshall at all but Simmonds intends to rush in and close down the play. Simmonds launches himself (sadly not quite in the Martin Masella/Tongan Torpedo style) towards Marshall to wrap the ball up, hits Marshall hard and does the job to stop the play. But since his shoulder connects with Marshall's chin (so his head) and his own head connects with Marshall's cheekbone (which results in the fracture) ? does that not entail attacking the head of an opponent. Now if the issue here regarding suspension is purely intent then I believe Morley should have been exonerated. But the issue being used as reasoning for the two week suspension Morley will serve is simply that significant contact with the head of the attacker was made by the shoulder of the defender - then why was Reece Simmonds praised for his intentional ball and all tackle on Marshall and Morley is chastised yet again as the villain when there was no intent in his clash with Walker outside of containing (not laying out the ball carrier) Walker?s run with the football. If I was any kind of judiciary I would have let Adrian Morley off on the basis of a clear lack of intent regardless of the contact made. The circumstances certainly showed he had no desire to flatten Walker in a tackle otherwise he would have rushed out and made short work of Walker. But had he done that and not completed the tackle he would have been criticised for not sliding across and for rushing out with a low percentage play. So in essence Morley does the right thing defensively and is now on the sidelines for two weeks because of it. Reece Simmonds (Beau Champion etc) also made the right play in his game but showed far more intent to come in and level Benji Marshall. So what is the argument? Is it simply Intent vs. Contact or a combination of both? Either way if Morley is on the sidelines then Simmonds and probably a good number of players from the weekend matches should be as well. But this is the NRL judiciary we're talking about so...Look out for the NSC Rugby League Almanac, comprising every player at each club, to be launched soon on League Unlimited.
FRIDAY, 17th March 2006Wests v Canterbury at Telstra Stadium, 7:30pmTigers: Brett Hodgson (c), Michael Crockett, Dean Collis, Paul Whatuira, Jamaal Lolesi, Daniel Fitzhenry, Scott Prince, Bryce Gibbs, Robbie Farah, John Skandalis, Anthony Laffranchi, Todd Payten, Ben GaleaInterchange: Ben Reynolds, Keith Galloway, Ryan O'Hara, Sam HarrisBulldogs: Luke Patten, Hazem El Masri, Andrew Emelio, Willie Tonga, Matt Utai, Daniel Holdsworth, Brent Sherwin, Chris Armit, Corey Hughes, Roy Asotasi, Willie Mason, Andrew Ryan (c), Tony GrimaldiInterchange: Reni Maitua, Mark O'Meley, Adam Perry, Jon Green, Billy NgawiniReferee: Steve ClarkSaturday, 18th March 2006Parramatta v New Zealand at Waikato Stadium (Hamilton), 5:30pmEels: Wade McKinnon, Luke Burt, Ben Smith, Timana Tahu, Eric Grothe, John Morris, Tim Smith, Nathan Cayless (c), Mark Riddell, Paul Stringer, Nathan Hindmarsh, Chad Robinson, Glenn MorrisonInterchange: PJ Marsh, Dean Widders, Josh Cordoba, Michael Vella, Daniel Wagon (one to be omitted)Warriors: Brent Webb, Todd Byrne, Tony Martin, Clinton Toopi, Manu Vatuvei, Jerome Ropati, Nathan Fien, Ruben Wiki, Lance Hohaia, Steve Price (c), Awen Guttenbeil, Michael Luck, Louis AndersonInterchange: Grant Rovelli, Evarn Tuimavave, Epalahame Lauaki, Wairangi KoopuReferee: Sean HampsteadCronulla v Brisbane at Toyota Park, 7.30pmSharks: David Simmons, Darren Albert, Beau Scott, Phil Bailey, Luke Covell, Adam Dykes, Brett Kimmorley, Ben Ross, Kevin Kingston, Hutch Maiava, Reece Williams, Lance Thompson, Greg BirdInterchange: Phil Leuluai, Luke Douglas, Cameron Ciraldo, Tevita Latu, Luke Harlen, Darren Mapp (two to be omitted)Broncos: Karmichael Hunt, Steve Michaels, Justin Hodges, Shaun Berrigan, Darius Boyd, Darren Lockyer (c), Brett Seymour, Shane Webcke, Michael Ennis, Petero Civoniceva, Dane Carlaw, David Stagg, Casey McGuireInterchange: Brad Thorn, Ben Hannant, Neville Costigan, Greg Eastwood, Tame Tupou (one to be omitted)Referee: Russell SmithNorth Queensland v Manly at Dairy Farmers Stadium, 9.30pm (AEDT)Cowboys: Matt Bowen, Neil Sweeney, Ty Williams, Paul Bowman, Matt Sing, Johnathan Thurston, Brett Firman, Mitchell Sargent, Aaron Payne, Shane Tronc, Jacob Lillyman, Luke O'Donnell, Travis Norton (c)Interchange: David Faiumu, Steve Southern, Justin Smith, Matthew ScottSea Eagles: Brett Stewart, Paul Stephenson, Steve Bell, Steve Matai, Chris Hicks, Michael Monaghan, Matt Orford, Jason King, Shane Dunley, Brent Kite, Steve Menzies, Anthony Watmough, Ben Kennedy (c)Interchange: Travis Burns, Luke Williamson, Kylie Leuluai, Mark Bryant, Adam Cuthbertson (one to be omitted)Referee: Paul SimpkinsSunday, 19th March 2006Sydney v Melbourne at Aussie Stadium at 2.30pmRoosters: Anthony Minichiello, Amos Roberts, Ryan Cross, Iosia Soliola, Sam Perrett, Braith Anasta, Jamie Soward, David Shillington, Brett Finch, Craig Fitzgibbon (c), Anthony Tupou, Chris Flannery, Ashley HarrisonInterchange: Craig Wing, Nigel Plum, Shane Shackleton, Lopini PaeaStorm: Billy Slater, Matt Geyer, Matt King, Greg Inglis, Jake Webster, Scott Hill, Cooper Cronk, Garret Crossman, Cameron Smith, Antonio Kaufusi, David Kidwell (c), Michael Crocker, Dallas JohnsonInterchange: Brett White, Ryan Hoffman, Ian Donnelly, Steve Turner, Jamie Feeney (one to be omitted)Referee: Tony ArcherSt George Illawarra v Penrith at WIN Stadium at 3.00pmDragons: Clint Greenshields, Reece Simmonds, Mark Gasnier, Matt Cooper, Colin Best, Dean Young, Ben Hornby (c), Luke Bailey, Aaron Gorrell, Jason Ryles, Corey Payne, Ashton Sims, Andrew PriceInterchange: Justin Poore, Michael Henderson, Matt Bickerstaff, George Ndaira.Panthers: Rhys Wesser, Lee Hookey, Danny Galea, Luke Lewis, Nick Youngquest, Preston Campbell, Craig Gower, Joel Clinton, Luke Priddis, Craig Stapleton, Matthew Cross, Tony Puletua (c), Shane RodneyInterchange: Frank Puletua, Bryan Norrie, Frank Pritchard, Luke SwainReferee: Shayne HayneCanberra v Newcastle at Canberra Stadium, 3.00pmRaiders: Clinton Schifcofske (c), Adrian Purtell, Phil Graham, David Howell, Adam Mogg, Jason Smith, Lincoln Withers, Willie Raston, Simon Woolford, Troy Thompson, Ben Jones, Jason Croker, Alan TongueInterchange: Todd Carney, Terry Martin, Tom Learoyd-Lars, Michael HodgsonKnights: Milton Thaiday, Brian Carney, Matthew Gidley, George Carmont, Anthony Quinn, Kurt Gidley, Andrew Johns (c), Craig Smith, Danny Buderus, Josh Perry, Steve Simpson, Kirk Reynoldson, Reegan TannerInterchange: Adam Woolnough, Daniel Tolar, Riley Brown, Todd Lowrie.Referee: Jason Robinson