THE Go Sport Balmain Tigers now find it difficult to make this year's semi-finals after going down to the second placed Cronulla Sharks 34-18 at Toyota Park on Sunday.
A large degree of publicity has been given to the position of Queensland State of Origin coach following the team?s lacklustre performance in the third match of this year?s series.
THE Go Sport & IGT Balmain Ryde-Eastwood Tigers have lost the Pringle-Ryan Shield following a tough 34-26 defeat by Newtown at Henson Park on Saturday.
THE North Sydney "Flair Bears" put on a stunning last quarter performance in front of a packed Newcastle crowd on Saturday afternoon at Energy Australia Stadium.
THE Newcastle Knights finals chances are still alive, but only just after they escaped with a 28-all draw against North Sydney, after leading 16-0 at the break and 28-4 with twenty minutes remaining. Only poor goal-kicking by the Bears was the saving grace.
NORTH Qld Young Guns 34 defeat Tweed Heads Seagulls 30
THE stars seemed to be in alignment for Nick Emmett to join the Pepsi Dolphins this season.
Even though the talented centre played only 11 matches for Souths- Logan last season because of injuries, he was on the minds of both Redcliffe CEO James Hinchey and incoming coach Anthony Griffin.
"I spent last year with the Magpies in the Queensland Cup and got on well with Griffo," he said. "Before Anthony was appointed this year, James Hinchey had rung me and asked what I was doing for the 2005 season.
"When I found out Anthony had been appointed it made it all the easier to join Redcliffe."
The Dolphins had prior knowledge of Emmett's abilities from his stint with the Redcliffe 2000 Colts side.
''I had signed with Parramatta from the Hervey Bay Seagulls and they wanted me to join a professional club for a year before coming to Sydney," he said.
"I had played under 18s and A grade with Hervey Bay as a centre and wing and met someone from Redcliffe at a school carnival so it all worked out well."
Emmett's three seasons with the Eels were soured by a succession of injuries, especially a lower back complaint which still troubles him.
He said his three seasons at Parramatta were enjoyable with stints in the Jersey Flegg and Premier Leagues.
"It was very hard and very competitive, but definitely a learning experience," the 23-year-old said.
"When I came back to Brisbane I had sort of retired with my back injury but Anthony called and I played some of the season with Souths."
Emmett's luck appears to have changed with his move to Dolphin Oval as he has missed only one fixture with injury.
He has shared duties in the centres with veteran Greg Bourke as the Dolphins have overcome a tentative start to the season to forge their way into the top five.
"This year has been great for me," he said. "I'm getting my form back and things are starting to look good, although I treat my back on a week-to-week basis.
"We're turning things around, especially as Souths only won one game last season.''
Few centres in the Queensland Cup would match Emmett for power with his 100 kilogram frame.
"I started at 107 kilos after I was in a good paddock in the off-season," he said. "There are a lot of good e3cntres in this competition.
"Greg Inglis is all class, but hopefully he is playing NRL when we meet Norths again. Bob Blair was at Souths when I was there and he is tough and really strong.
"He's from Maryborough and is only 20, however I think he will be playing NRL in a few years time.''
Emmett said coach Griffin had changed the Dolphins style of play.
"I believe there is a new professionalism to the club," he said. "Things have changed this season but it takes a while before everyone is on the same page.
"There's no reason why we can't win the grand final this season. If not this season, then in years to come. I can see us going from strength to strength as we start to gel as a team as we play more matches together.''
Living at Chermside, he has been working as a windscreen fitter with Windscreens O'Brien at Geebung this year.
As regards his own future, Emmett trots out the perennial 'I'll take it one year at a time', which with his injury in mind, is on the money.
TOYOTA FOLEY SHIELD
Grand Finals: Cairns 36 d Mackay 32 (A Grade), Cairns 18 d Townsville 14 (Under 19), Townsville 34 d Mackay 26 (Under 17).
NORTHS DEVILS 40 defeat EASTS TIGERS 10
WARRINGTON Wolves have officially confirmed the signing of Australian star Andrew Johns on a short-term deal.
ST Helens have agreed to release winger Darren Albert after completing the signing of New Zealand international Francis Meli.
OFFICIAL Challenge Cup Semi Final Report - Sunday 31st July 2005. Full time: Leeds Rhinos 56 Toulouse 18
SUPER League bottom club Leigh Centurions have parted company with coach Darren Abram by mutual consent.
OFFICIAL Challenge Cup Semi Final Report - Saturday 30th July 2005. Full time: Hull FC 34 St Helens 8