2005 NRL GRAND FINAL
WESTS TIGERS 30 v NTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS 16
Wests Tigers have won the 2005 NRL premiership with an emphatic 30-16 victory over the North Queensland Cowboys tonight.
Premier League Grand Final
Parramatta Eels 31 def. Sydney Roosters 12
JERSEY Flegg Grand Final
St George Illawarra Dragons 30 def Parramatta Eels 20
2005 GRAND FINAL PREVIEW: Wests Tigers vs. North Queensland Cowboys
REDCLIFFE Dolphins coach Anthony Griffin thought he knew all about the anguish of coaching after his first Queensland Cup match in charge.
He had watched his new charges go down to a 60-point drubbing at the hands of Norths, his former employer.
But, according to Griffin, that was nothing compared with the tidal wave of emotions during the club's final two matches of the season.
After eliminating the Toowoomba Clydesdales 23-22 in week one of the semi-finals at Dolphin Oval, Griffin's men ran up against Norths in an elimination minor semi-final at Bishop Park.
The Devils had been favourites to take out the titles only a few weeks before, but the Dolphins dispelled any notions of that with a 33-10 thumping.
Then it was down to ominous task of fronting up to premiers Burleigh Heads at Pizzey Park in the preliminary final.
That Redcliffe got within a try of the premiers speaks volumes for the quality of the Redcliffe squad.
"I was shattered for my players," Griffin said. "As bad as it was for all the coaching and club staff, it was one hundred times worse for the players.
"I know how much it took out of them physically and the number of them that were playing with injuries.
"To be 18-6 behind to Burleigh at their home ground and come back and lead with three minutes was a great effort. I've never experienced anything like that finish before.
"At the start of the season I had no preconceived idea of what we wanted to achieve. All we were concentrating on was the work that was needed to help improve the place.
"But after the black opening day when he lost both the Colts and State League by 60 points, everyone responded and learned from their mistakes."
He said the Bears were still the benchmark of the Queensland Cup, and if his side had got through against them, he was confident they could go on and claim another Cup victory.
But the Dolphins are not resting on their laurels of third after missing out on the semi-finals last season.
The club is confident Griffin will re-sign for next season, along with virtually all of this season's squad. Missing will be Penrith-bound pair Liam Georgetown and Wayne Bond.
"It's a pity that we won't get to see those pair play for Redcliffe again as they have their best footy in front of them," he said.
Also back will be veteran forward Troy Lindsay, who during the finals again led by example.
"Troy tore his calf muscle at training on the Wednesday before the Burleigh match and needed pain killers in his calf to play," Griffin said.
"The physios said most players would have needed 10 days off, but that is the sort of player he is."
Griffin praised the standard of the Queensland Cup, saying the presence of the three NRL offshoots (Toowoomba, Norths and Young Guns) in the semis was a testament of how seriously they took the format and the improved depth of their squads.
"A number of their players are fulltime and so you have to be continually trying to improve to stay with the standard," he said.
"The good thing for us was that we learned from the tough patches during the year and everyone improved.
"I thought after our loss at home to Burleigh that we hit our straps and our form going into the finals was really good."
NEW Zealand international Sione Faumuina is poised to return for Hull?s make-or-break clash with Bradford Buls at Odsal on Saturday.
THE Widnes Vikings have not ruled out legal action to ensure they are not relegated from Superleague next season. In an eventful month for the club Widnes officials have doggedly argued that they are not without hope of staying in the top flight, while attempts had been made to prop up a National League One club to improve their chances of a reprieve.
LEEDS Trinity & All Saints RLFC will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in Student Rugby League when the club stages its annual Old Boys game on Sunday 9 October.
SUPER League champions Leeds Rhinos will be without centre Keith Senior for their qualifying semi-final at St Helens on Friday Sept 30.
PAT Richards has been cleared to play in tomorrow's NRL grand final against North Queensland, giving the Wests Tigers a huge boost on the eve of the decider.
A fitness test this morning will determine the grand final fate of giant Wests Tigers winger Pat Richards, with young flyer Shannon McDonnell poised to rekindle memories of another Tim Sheens selection stunt on the eve of the grand final.
WALES are hoping that either Iestyn Harris or Keiron Cunningham will be in the squad against Scotland in Bridgend in their opening Rugby League European Nations Cup game on Sunday 16 October.
The principality's two star players will clash on Friday when Harris' Bradford Bulls meet Cunningham's St Helens at Knowsley Road for a place in the engage Super League Grand Final on Saturday 15 October.
The winner will not be able to play for Wales due to the Grand Final date but one of the players will have a free weekend on October 15-16 making an appearance in a Welsh shirt a possibility.
"It would be a tremendous boost for Wales if Harris or Cunningham were able to appear," said Wales Rugby League Chairman, Mark Rowley. "Both are due to go straight into the Great Britain training camp for the Tri-Nations when their Super League season finishes so it all hinges on whether they are able to be released to play just the one game for us. We will be making every effort to ensure this happens."
Cunningham, who has played 13 times for Wales, last appeared in 2001 in the 33-42 defeat against England in Wrexham. However Harris has not been capped for even longer. Injured in 2001, his 17th and last match in a Wales Rugby League shirt was in the 2000 World Cup semi-final against Australia. Despite this, with 145 points scored for his country, he still holds the all-time Welsh record, 16 points ahead of Jim Sullivan and 46 ahead of Jonathan Davies.
Welsh fans will also be familiar with Harris in a different role as the stand-off played 25 times in three years for the Wales Rugby Union side from 2001-2004, making his union international debut after only two games at club level for Cardiff Blues.
All Welsh fans will be waiting with baited breath to see if he or Cunningham are able to pull on a Wales shirt again this autumn.
WESTS Tigers captain Scott Prince has capped a sensational week by being named in the 23-man Australian squad for the upcoming Tri Nations Series against New Zealand and Great Britain.
CENTRAL Queensland is once again gearing up for great rugby league action with the Rockhampton Leagues Club Central Queensland Comets preparing themselves to hog tie their big brothers from the north, the North Queensland Cowboys.
NORTH Queensland Cowboys Scholarship holder David Taylor led his team to a come from behind 30-26 victory over Central Highlands in an under 19s curtain raiser at Browne Park on Saturday, February 5.