Monday's Expert League Wrap - Round 1, 2006

A huge weekend of football to kick off round one of the NRL, but weekend of woe for punters with a number of upsets occurring around the grounds.Now in its fourth year, the LeagueUnlimited.com Player Awards are back with last year?s winner Andrew Johns joining six players on three points. The full leader board is below.The Leagueunlimited.com players of the match are decided by our live score updaters and tallied here each week on Monday's Expert League wrap.League Wrap: Round 1, 10-12 March 2006MATCH RESULTS:Wests Tigers: 24Tries: Anthony Laffranchi, Paul Whatuira (3), Michael CrockettGoals: Brett Hodgson 3/5St George Illawarra Dragons: 15Tries: Mark Gasnier (3)Goals: Wes Naiqama 1/3Field Goals: Trent BarrettHALF TIME: Dragons 10-8Telstra StadiumCrowd: 27,865Referee: Paul SimpkinsLeagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Mark Gasnier (Dragons)2 - Scott Prince (Tigers)1 - Paul Whatuira (Tigers)Newcastle Knights: 25Tries: Matthew Gidley, Adam Woolnough, Milton Thaiday, Brian Carney, Riley BrownGoals: Kurt Gidley 1/3, Andrew Johns 1/2Field Goals: Andrew JohnsParramatta Eels: 6Tries: Micheal VellaGoals: Luke Burt 1/1HALF TIME: Knights 8-6Energy Australia StadiumCrowd: 26,198Referee: Russell SmithLeagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Andrew Johns (Knights)2 - Milton Thaiday (Knights)1 - Danny Buderus (Knights)Canterbury Bulldogs: 22Tries: Hazem El Masri, Mark O'Meley, Luke Patten, Willie TongaGoals: Hazem El Masri 3/4Penrith Panthers: 24Tries: Craig Gower, Matthew Cross, Nick Youngquest, Lee HookeyGoals: Preston Campbell 4/5HALF TIME: Panthers 14-10Telstra StadiumCrowd: 17,510Referee: Sean HamptsteadLeagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Craig Gower (Panthers)2 - Willie Mason (Bulldogs)1 - Rhys Wesser (Panthers)Manly Sea Eagles: 14Tries: Brett Stewart, Steve Bell(2)Goals: Matt Orford 1/3Canberra Raiders: 27Tries: Todd Carney, Phillip Graham, Adam Mogg, Simon WoolfordGoals: Clinton Shifcofske 5/5Field Goals: Todd CarneyHALF TIME: Raiders 14-8Brookvale OvalCrowd: 17,135Referee: Shayne HayneLeagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Clinton Shifcofske (Raiders)2 - Jason Smith (Raiders)1 - Lincoln Withers (Raiders)New Zealand Warriors: 16Tries: Wairangi Koopu, Jerome Ropati, Manu VatuveiGoals: Tony Martin 2/3Melbourne Storm: 22Tries: Matt Geyer (2), Greg Inglis, Cameron Smith, Steve TurnerGoals: Greg Inglis 1/5HALF TIME: Storm 8-0Ericsson StadiumCrowd: 10,035Referee: Steven ClarkLeagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Cameron Smith (Storm)2 - Greg Inglis (Storm)1 - Wairangi Koopu (Warriors)Brisbane Broncos: 4Tries: Darius BoydNorth Queensland Cowboys: 36Tries: Matthew Bowen, Matt Sing, Jonathan Thurston (3), Neil SweeneyGoals: Jonathan Thurston 6/7HALF TIME: Cowboys 24-0Suncorp StadiumCrowd: 46,229Referee: Tony ArcherLeagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Jonathan Thurston (Cowboys)2 - Aaron Payne (Cowboys)1 - Paul Bowman (Cowboys)South Sydney Rabbitohs: 22Tries: Yileen Gordon, John Sutton, Ben Walker, Nathan Merritt(2)Goals: Ben Walker 3/3Sydney Roosters: 40Tries: Ryan Cross, Brett Finch, Anthony Minichello, Amos Roberts(2), Iosia Soliola, Jamie SowardGoals: Craig Fitzgibbon 4/4, Amos Roberts 2/3HALF TIME: Rabbitohs 18-6Telstra StadiumCrowd: 16,741Referee: Jason RobinsonLeagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Jamie Soward (Roosters)2 - Amos Roberts (Roosters)1 - John Sutton (Rabbitohs)Cronulla Sharks - ByeFULL DRAW, RESULTS & LINKS TO LIVE SCORES ? CLICK HERENext weekend?s matches:Round 2, 17-19 March 2006Fri 7:30 CANTERBURY BULLDOGS v WESTS TIGERS Telstra StadiumSat 7:30 (5:30 Syd) PARRAMATTA EELS v NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS Waikato Stadium NZSat 7:30 CRONULLA SHARKS v BRISBANE BRONCOS Toyota ParkSat 8:30 (9:30 Syd) NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS v MANLY SEA EAGLES Dairy Farmers Stadium Sun 2.30 SYDNEY ROOSTERS v MELBOURNE STORM Aussie Stadium Sun 3.00 ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS v PENRITH PANTHERS WIN StadiumSun 3.00 CANBERRA RAIDERS v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS Canberra Stadium SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS - BYEFOR CENTREBET ODDS ? CLICK HERELEAGUEUNLIMITED.COM PLAYER AWARDS 2006LEADER BOARDThe Leagueunlimited.com players awards are decided by our live score updaters.Want to be a live score updater? For further enquiries, email us.3 pointsMark Gasnier (Dragons), Craig Gower (Panthers), Andrew Johns (Knights), Clinton Shifcofske (Raiders), Cameron Smith (Storm), Jamie Soward (Roosters), Jonathan Thurston (Cowboys)2 pointsGreg Inglis (Storm), Willie Mason (Bulldogs), Aaron Payne (Cowboys), Scott Prince (Tigers), Amos Roberts (Roosters), Jason Smith (Raiders), Milton Thaiday (Knights)1 pointsPaul Bowman (Cowboys), Danny Buderus (Knights), Wairangi Koopu (Warriors), John Sutton (Rabbitohs), Rhys Wesser (Panthers), Paul Whatuira (Tigers), Lincoln Withers (Raiders)

Engage Super League round 5 Review

BRADFORD Bulls 18 (Pryce, St Hilaire, Vainikolo 2 tries; Deacon 1 goal) v Hull FC 12 (Brisoce, Domic tries; Brough 2 goals). Att: 10,700.Bradford extended their unbeaten run to 18 matches with hard fought win over Hull FC at Odsal. The Bulls opened the scoring after only 68 seconds when Karl Pryce barged over from close range. Hull, who were missing several key players, managed to hold out until the 33 minute when Bulls winger Lesley Vainikolo crashed over. But Hull never laid down and deservedly got on the score sheet just before half time through Sid Domic.At the start of the second half Vainikolo scored again but then turned villain by gifting a try to FC?s Kirk Dixon. With 20 minutes left on the clock the visitors cut the Bulls lead to only 14-12 with a Danny Brough penalty. Then with less than 10 minutes left Marcus St Hilaire, a surprise eve-of-season signing from Halifax, scored the important try to give the Bulls a cushion of 6 points. A draw looked on the cards with only minutes left when Shaun Briscoe spilled a pass from Peter Lupton with the line beckoning.Wigan Warriors 12 (Fletcher, Godwin tries; Tickle, Moran goals) v Warrington Wolves 24 (Fa?afili, Bridge, Barnett tries; Briers 4 goals, 4 field goals). Att: 16,640.The nightmare continued for Wigan Warriors as Warrington Wolves, led by their inspirational skipper Lee Briers, masterminded the visitors? first win at Wigan for over 13 years.The home side 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.After the break Briers then took control of the game by landing 4-drop goals, a penalty goal and converting a Henry Fa?afili try. Wigan?s only consolation was a last minute try for Wayne Godwin converted by Denis Moran which by then was only witnessed by a small section of the 16,640 crowd as most of the home fans had enough of another poor Warriors performance.Catalans Dragons 10 (Murphy, Dobson tries; Frayssinous 1 goal) v Leeds Rhinos 58 (Senior, Walker, Diskin, Smith, McGuire 2, Donald, Tansey, Burrow, Lauitiiti; tries Sinfield 7, Burrow 2 goals). Att: 5,783.Seven days after being out muscled by Champions Bradford Bulls, the Dragons were given another harsh lesson of life in the Engage Super League as they were ripped apart by a rampant Leeds Rhinos team manfully lead by captain Kevin Sinfield.The Game was over in the first ten minutes as the Rhinos raced to an 18-0 lead with two tries by Danny McGuire and a walk-in by scrum-half Rob Burrow. Catalans new short-team Australian signing Michael Dobson finally got the home side on the board, but four further Rhinos tries gave them a commanding 34-6 lead after only 20 minutes. Surprisingly the visitors did not add to their tally in the remainder of the opening period. However on the stroke of Halftime the Dragons prop Alex Chan was sent off for punching Chev Walker who in turn was sin binned for retaliating.Catalans showed plenty of spirit and opened the second half scoring from a Justin Murphy try in the corner. With 20 minutes left on the clock the Dragons finally cracked as the Rhinos racked up four further converted tries to send home the near 3,000 travelling away fans happy on a cold, wet and windy evening in the South of France.Salford City Reds 48 (Highton 2, Robinson, Finnigan 3, Brocklehurst, Fitzpatrick tries; Hodgson 8 goals) v Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 10 (J Field, Demetriou tries; March 1 goal). Att: 4,060Simon Finnigan scored a hat-trick for Salford as they continued their fine start to the Engage Super League season, outclassing a dismal Wakefield Wildcats at The Willows.The Reds remained in the top four of the league with a thrilling first half performance by scoring 6 unanswered tries from Paul Highton (2), Finnigan (2), Fitzpatrick and Brocklehurst all converted by David Hodgson.Finnigan completed his hat-trick early in the second half before Jamie Field and Jason Demetriou restored some pride to the visitors. In the final minutes Luke Robinson wrapped up the scoring for the hosts with a try. The only downside it that only 4,060 turned out to watch another sparkling Reds display.Harlequins RL 20 (Leuluai, Weisner, Hopkins, Clubb tries; Gafa 2 goals) v Castleford Tigers 34 (Sculthorpe, Fletcher, Pryce, Henderson, McGoldrick, Shenton tries; Huby 5 goals). Att: 3,535Castleford Tigers got their season back on track as they overturned a 14-point deficit to beat Harlequins and move above them in the Super League table.Quins suffered a bitter blow when they lost captain Mark McLinden to injury in the warm-up. The home team scored all their points in the first half with tries by Leuluai, Weisner, Hopkins and Clubb with two Gafa conversions.Castleford replied with a Waine Pryce try and Ryan McGoldrick then further reduced the gap when he sprinted 60 meters for a fine individual try. After half-time, the Tigers controlled the game with Andy Henderson rounding off victory with a 73rd-minute try.Huddersfield Giants 16 (Drew, Wild tries; Thorman 4 goals) v St Helens 18 (Gardner, Lyon, Fa?asavalu tries; Lyon 3 goals). Att: 8,010.St Helens held off a spirited Huddersfield Giants to keep their 100% record intact and return to the top of the Engage Super League in front of another bumper crowd at the Galpharm Stadium.A first minute Ade Gardner try opened the scoring for the Saints and Jamie Lyon added a second try just before the break. Chris Thorman kept the Giants in touch with two first-half goals and a third after the restart before a try from ex-Raider Brad Drew reduced the deficit to two.Maurie Fa'asavalu hit back with a try for Saints, with a late Stephen Wild four-pointer not enough for the hosts.

Morley awaiting news on high tackle report

SYDNEY Roosters prop Adrian Morley faces a nervous wait today to see whether he'll have to front the NRL judiciary over his controversial shoulder charge in yesterday's 40-22 win over Souths.Morley was reported for a high shot on Rabbitohs halfback Ben Walker early in the second half which helped spark his team's come-from-behind win. A number of other players will also come under scrutiny from the match review committee including Wests Tigers pair Anthony Laffranchi and Ryan O'Hara for a lifting tackle on St George Illawarra backrower Corey Payne and teammate Bryce Gibbs for a high shot on Dragons opposite Luke Bailey.Meanwhile, Premiers Wests Tigers will get a better idea today on how long star five-eighth Benji Marshall will have to sit out with a fractured cheekbone. Before undergoing x-rays at the weekend, it was believed Marshall could miss between four to six weeks.

Cowboys finally have the depth to dominate

NORTH Queensland captain Travis Norton believes Brisbane's one-time poor cousins finally have the depth to be considered an NRL power club after thrashing the Broncos on their home turf.The Cowboys hammered Brisbane 36-4 at Suncorp Stadium yesterday, with their reserve grade side, the Young Guns, also inflicting a 36-10 belting of Broncos' feeder club Toowoomba Clydedales. It was the Cowboys first win over the Bronocs in Brisbane since joining the NRL in 1995.

Stadium officials launch investigation

TELSTRA Stadium officials will look into the state of the playing surface following complaints from several players in NRL matches at the Olympic venue over the weekend.The ground hosted matches involving all three of its tenants. There were complaints about clumps of turf lifting and the surface having too many shifting sand patches.

Challenge Cup Round 3 Review

DEWSBURY side Thornhill Trojans are the only amateur team through by right to Monday?s Powergen Challenge Cup fourth-round draw.The Trojans knocked out professional opposition for the second time in seven years when they beat Workington 16-12 at Dewsbury on Saturday.There were no shocks among Sunday?s 11 ties, although five have still to be played after falling victim to the ice and snow.Super League side Catalans Dragons will be joined in the draw by fellow countrymen Toulouse, who reached the semi-finals in 2005 but were made to fight all the way by little Blackpool.Toulouse won 58-18 at Bloomfield Road in the corresponding tie 12 months ago but this time it took them 77 minutes to clinch an 18-10 success.The Frenchmen scored tries through Cedric Olieu, Cedric Gay and Trent Clayton, with captain James Wynn kicking two conversions and a penalty.Blackpool responded with tries from Steve Ormesher and Liam Bretherton, who also added a penalty.French Championship leaders Pia crashed out at Whitehaven on Friday night and today Limoux lost 24-10 at Batley, who never looked back after scoring two tries in the first seven minutes.Stand-off Neil Roden laid on both scores for centre Steve Jones and full-back Craig Lingard and also touched down himself in the first half.The two Russian representatives both experienced heavy defeats, with Lokomotiv Moscow going down 64-4 to National League Two newcomers Celtic Crusaders and Strela Kazan losing 80-0 to Leigh, who were in Super League last season.Crusaders made the perfect start when man of the match Tony Duggan scored the first of his four tries after only two minutes and half-back partner Luke Young kicked the first of 10 goals.Lokomotiv were at their best in the first 20 minutes and scored their only try when Sergey Dobrynin forced his way over.At Hilton Park, lively stand-off Carl Forber led the way for Leigh with a hat-trick of tries and five goals.Elsewhere, winger Wayne McHugh scored five tries, four of them in the first 32 minutes, as Featherstone beat Skirlaugh 36-14 and young full-back Richard Tillotson ran in a second-half hat-trick in Dewsbury?s 68-0 rout of Bradford Dudley Hill.New Oldham coach Steve Deakin helped his side stave off the threat of an upset against local rivals Saddleworth, and National League clubs Doncaster, Hunslet, Hull KR and Widnes also triumphed over amateur opposition.

Preview: Harlequins v Castleford (Round 5)

HARLEQUINS RL captain Mark McLinden will make his first appearance at the Twickenham Stoop against Castleford after recovering from a torn hamstring.The former Canberra Raiders half-back made a big impact in his first season with the London Broncos last year but has missed all four matches so far under their new guise after being injured in the build-up to the opening game against St Helens.?He?s named in the 20 and he will also be in the 17,? said coach Tony Rea.With Thomas Leuluai returning from a broken ankle against St Helens and Luke Dorn making his comeback from a hamstring injury in last week?s 10-6 win at Hull, Rea will have his trio of play-makers available for the first time.McLinden said: ?It?s been a tough month but I?m excited about playing my first game for Harlequins.?Harlequins RL v Castleford Tigers, Twickenham Stoop, Sunday March 12 2006Harlequins RL 18-man: Bradley-Qalilawa, Clubb, Dorn, Gafa, Haumono, Heckenberg, Hopkins, Leuluai, Lolohea, Lucky Luisi, McLinden, Mills, Purdham, Smith, Temata, Tookey, Weisner, Williams.Castleford 18-man: Platt, Pryce, Shenton, Dyer, Blanch, Handforth, Kain, Sculthorpe, Henderson, Nutley, Haughey, Bird, Whitaker, Fletcher, Viane, Fa'aoso, McGoldrick, Ward.Referee: S Ganson

Preview: Huddersfield v St Helens (Round 5)

HUDDERSFIELD Giants and St Helens have both announced their respective 18-man squads for the engage Super League clash at the Galpharm Stadium on Sunday.[i]Huddersfield are coming off a win against Wakefield last round, and a win here could see them jump into the top six. St Helens are undefeated and need this away win to keep Bradford from claiming the top spot on the table.[/i]Huddersfield Giants v St Helens, Galpharm Stadium, Sunday March 12 2006Huddersfield 18-man: Reilly, Aspinwall, De Vere, Donlan, Thorman, Paul, Crabtree, Drew, Nero, Snitch, Wild, Jones, March, Smith, McDonald, Raleigh, Gardner, Torrens.St Helens 18-man: P. Anderson, V. Anderson, Bennett, Cayless, Cunningham, Fa'asavalu, Gardner, Gilmour, Hooper, Lyon, Meli, Moore, Pryce, Roby, Sculthorpe, Talau, Wellens, Wilkin.Referee: R Silverwood

Morley hit mars Roosters victory

FULLTIME score: Round 1South Sydney Rabbitohs 22 v Sydney Roosters 40Match summary:The Sydney Roosters have produced a commanding second half performance to defeat the South Sydney Rabbitohs by 40 points to 22 at Telstra Stadium this afternoon, but not without controversy.The major talking point to come out of this match was Adrian Morley?s seemingly illegal hit on Rabbitohs halfback Ben Walker, midway through the second half. Under the new rules, any hit above the shoulder, regardless of whether it be the shoulder or from a swinging arm, is now deemed to be illegal. Morley appeared to strike Walker with the shoulder, leaving Walker with serious head injuries which forced him to leave the field. The hit led to a Roosters try. Referee Jason Robinson awarded the try without referring the decision to the video referee, which culminated with Morley being called to speak with Robinson on the halfway line. Morley was subsequently placed on report for an offence which, had he been caught out in the act, may have resulted in the first ejection from the playing arena in the 2006 season. Supporters were bemused with the fact that Robinson allowed the try to remain, despite the fact that Morley had committed an illegal offence in the process of the try being scored.Aside from the incident, the Roosters were clinical in their domination of the Rabbitohs, winning the second half by 34 points to 4 and winning the match 40-22.It was the Rabbitohs who came out firing early, taking an 18-6 lead into the halftime break and it seemed they would continue from where they left off last season with some promising performances.It was however the men from Bondi who prevailed, proving too strong for their southern Sydney rivals.Jamie Soward and Amos Roberts were outstanding for the visitors, while five-eighth John Sutton was clearly the best for the Bunnies. Braith Anasta was quiet early on, but appeared to erase a few cob-webs in the second half and created some opportunities for the Roosters, while Brett Finch had a solid start at hooker in his new-found role.The turning point though, was the Morley/Walker incident which occurred at the 55th minute, a time at which the Rabbitohs held an 18-16 advantage. The incident will no doubt be a bitter pill to swallow for the South Sydney faithful, and will come under the microscope with the video review committee tomorrow.With a past history of serious judiciary offences, one would expect that with closer video scrutiny, Morley?s moment of madness may result in a lengthy stint on the sidelines for the Great Britain international. Scorers:South Sydney Rabbitohs: 22Tries: Nathan Merritt, Yileen Gordon, John Sutton, Ben Walker Goals: Ben Walker 3/3, Nathan Merritt 0/1Sydney Roosters: 40Tries: Amos Roberts (2), Ryan Cross, Brett Finch, Anthony Minichello, Iosia Soliola, Jamie SowardGoals: Craig Fitzgibbon 4/4, Amos Roberts 2/3Venue: Telstra Stadium Crowd: 16,741Referee: Jason RobinsonHalf time: South Sydney 18-6Live commentary:Buddy Gordon takes the field for the injured Adam MacDougall. Shillington replaces Tupou in the starting line-up for the Roosters.0 min: NEWS And we're underway in the first half! Beautiful sundrenched day here in Sydney.7 min: TRY Sydney RoostersBraith Anasta throws a cut-out pass to Ryan Cross who beats the outside Rabbitohs men and finds Anasta back on the inside who gives it to Minichello to score his first for the year. Roosters 6-013 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsWalker makes up for some sloppy handling earlier with a great individual try. He grubbers through and puts pressure on Shillington who he strips the ball from, then barges over next to the posts, carrying Mini. He converts his own try easily. 6 all.21 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsAs Walker looks trapped with the ball on the last, he finds Polglase who bursts through the middle and chips to the wing for Gordon who scores a sensational try out wide. Walker converts from the sideline in grand fashion. Rabbitohs 12-627 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsThe Rabbits move the ball wide and find Rigon who presses the line before dropping it back behind him for Sutton to pick up and score and easy try, stunning the Roosters. Walker knocks it over and the Rabbitohs are playing a very enthusiastic and exciting brand of footy. Rabbitohs 18-628 min: NEWS Roberts kicks out on the full from the restart, giving Souths a penalty at halfway.35 min: NEWS Both teams a little scratchy early in the year with a few unforced errors creeping into play. The ground conditions are also leaving a little to be desired. The surface seems to be breaking up a fair bit and looks very soft underfoot.40 min: NEWS A great first half effort here from the Bunnies, leading a stunned Roosters outfit by 18-6 with some very enterprising play.40 min: NEWS Second half underway at Telstra Stadium43 min: TRY Sydney RoostersCross strolls in under the posts, running off a brilliant ball from new recruit Braith Anasta. Rabbitohs 18-1248 min: TRY Sydney RoostersSoliola scores an end to end try, a somewhat controversial one after Adrian Morley committed an illegal tackle on Ben Walker in the lead-up to the try. Rabbitohs 18-1650 min: NEWS Morley on report for the tackle on Ben Walker.52 min: TRY Sydney RoostersSoward crosses for another Roosters try. A bitter pill to swallow for fuming Souths fans after the Morley tackle escaped with just a report. Roosters 22-1858 min: TRY Sydney RoostersRoberts comes up with some excellent support play, running off Jamie Soward, who again is again causing havoc for the Souths defensive line and Roberts scores again. The Roosters are now running riot over the Rabbitohs. Roosters 28-1863 min: TRY Sydney RoostersFinch scores a well-deserved try in his debut game at hooker. This game is albeit over now. Roosters 34-1870 min: TRY Sydney RoostersRoberts is over again and the floodgates are now officially open. Roosters 40-1880 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsNathan Merritt grabs a consolation intercept try for the Rabbitohs on the siren. The Roosters have ended up the victors by 40 points to 22, a victory somewhat soured by Adrian Morley's cheap-shot on Ben Walker 15 minutes into the second half. Roosters 40-22-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Jamie Soward (Roosters)2 - Amos Roberts (Roosters)1 - John Sutton (Rabbitohs)-----------------------------------------

Cowboys run riot in Brisbane

ROUND 1Brisbane Broncos 4 v North Queensland Cowboys 36Match summary:The North Queensland Cowboys have poleaxed the Brisbane Broncos today Suncorp Stadium in a 36-4 thrashing. The historic victory marks the Cowboy?s first ever win over Brisbane in Brisbane and their highest ever margin over the Broncos.The game began tenuously for Brisbane, with man of the match Jonathan Thurston looking dangerous before playing a hand in the first try for winger Matt Sing in the 8th minute. Things just kept getting worse for the Broncos from there, with tries in 10th, 16th and 29th minutes taking the game from the Broncos in sensational fashion.Aaron Payne was devastating in this passage of play, breaking apart the Broncos through the middle of the ruck to set up tries for Matt Bowen and Thurston, making the Brisbane defence look second rate and heading to the change rooms at 24-0.After an extended break, things didn?t get any easier with replacement Cowboy Neil Sweeney busting his way through the defence and scoring the visitors fifth try, making things very embarrassing for the home team. The 2005 runners-up seemed to be on a mission to destroy Brisbane and Thurston was leading the charge, scoring his third try of the day in the 59th minute to make the score 36-0. It was all too easy at that stage with a quarter of the match left to play.But after a scheduled drinks break to allow for the searing heat in Brisbane, the Broncos were a steadier outfit and with 15 minutes left to play finally got on the board through debut winger Darius Boyd. Michael Ennis failed to convert from the sideline, breaking a 27 goal consecutive run.The game petered from there, disappointing Cowboys fans who were no doubt eyeing off the 50-point mark, but it wasn?t to be. Perhaps they were overcome by the conditions. Nevertheless it was an extraordinary victory for the Cowboys and they head back to Townsville full of confidence for their clash with the Manly Sea Eagles.For the Broncos, this couldn?t have come at a worse time. Coach Wayne Bennett seems to be under siege in his home town with former player Gorden Tallis telling him how he thinks things should be run and a host of people calling for his head. Last year the Brisbane coach controversially sacked his entire support staff and retired from the Australian coaching position. It?s certainly not the way he would have liked things to start out, but it?s a long season and a win next week against the Sharks.Scorers:Brisbane Broncos: 4Tries: Darius BoydNorth Queensland Cowboys: 36Tries: Matthew Bowen, Matt Sing, Jonathan Thurston(3), Neil SweeneyGoals: Jonathan Thurston 6/7 Suncorp StadiumReferee: Tony ArcherLive commentary:News coming out is that due to the heat in Brisbane, there will be a drinks break at the 20 minute mark and an extended halftime period. Both teams as per the program.0 min: NEWS Another great day up here at Suncorp.5 min: NEWS Both teams just sorting each other out in the opening exchanges here at Suncorp.8 min: TRY North Queensland CowboysVeteran winger Matt Sing goes over in the corner for the visitors, opening the scoring for the day. Thurston adds the extras.Cowboys 6-010 min: TRY North Queensland CowboysAaron Payne makes a bust up the middle of the field and is supported by Thurston who finds Bowen and he races 50m to score under the posts. A huge opening stand by the Cowboys has the Broncos shocked. Thurston pots it from in front to ram home the advantage. Cowboys 12-016 min: TRY North Queensland CowboysAaron Payne makes another huge bust up the middle of the Broncos ruck and finds back-up king Thurston again, who plants the ball under the black dot and Brisbane are in all sorts of trouble. Cowboys 18-020 min: NEWS We're having a scheduled drinks break here at Suncorp. And I thought the cricket season was over! 25 min: PENALTY GOAL North Queensland CowboysThurston lands a penalty goal to push them further in front. Cowboys 20-029 min: TRY North Queensland CowboysThurston bags his second for the day as the Cowboys run riot in Bronco-Town. Thurston misses his first conversion for the day.Cowboys 24-035 min: NEWS Some end to end action here as the Cowboys consolidate their enormous lead here at Suncorp Stadium.40 min: NEWS And the Cowboys go to the break with an astounding 24-0 lead over Brisbane. An extended break will be taken.41 min: NEWS And we're underway here in the second half after an extended period in the sheds, presumably to cut more oranges. The Broncos have a massive deficit to make up and could be on the end of a hiding here in front of their home crowd in the first game of the match.45 min: NEWS The opening stages of the second half are seeing some exciting open play footy as the Broncos desperately try to get on the board. The Cowboys aren't taking a backward step though.56 min: TRY North Queensland CowboysSweeney puts the Cowboys further in front with a smart try, and the score is becoming embarrassing for the Broncos. Thurston converts. Cowboys 30-059 min: TRY North Queensland CowboysIt's all too easy for the 2005 Dally M medalist and Qld halfback Jonathan Thurston, as he skips over from dummy half to rub salt into the wounds of the battered Broncos. Thurston converts. Cowboys 36-060 min: NEWS We've got another drinks break here at Suncorp, with play set to resume in about 5 minutes. Lockyer is on the bench icing an apparent injury to his elbow.63 min: NEWS Ty Williams narrowly misses scoring from a cross-field kick, then narrowly misses giving himself a serious neck injury.66 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosQuick hands from Hunt and Berrigan sees the Broncos get on the board through young winger Darius Boyd (on debut). Michael Ennis misses the goal from the sideline, ending a streak of 27 consecutive goals. Cowboys 36-480 min: NEWS And the Cowboys have recorded an historic victory here over the Broncos, beating the home side for the first time in Brisbane and by their biggest ever margin. The Broncos certainly need to take a look at themselves after this inept performance.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Jonathan Thurston (Cowboys)2 - Aaron Payne (Cowboys)1 - Paul Bowman (Cowboys)-----------------------------------------

Storm hold out Warriors in hard fought contest

ROUND 1New Zealand Warriors 16 v Melbourne Storm 22Match summary:The Melbourne Storm have opened their 2006 campaign with a gritty win over the New Zealand Warriors by 22-16 in Auckland. Both teams struggled to get some cohesion going throughout the match, but the generally ugly affair was punctuated with some thrilling moments.The Storm?s new half back, Cooper Cronk, began the season in solid fashion in the role vacated my Matt Orford. He tried several chips over the top for Billy Slater and generally ran the game well. Hooker Cameron Smith was a tower of strength, making almost 40 tackles and scoring a great solo try. Likewise, boom rookie centre Greg Inglis showed a bit of his potential, bagging a great try and being involved in many of the Storm?s attacking raids.It was Inglis who opened up the scoring in the 9th minute, palming off would-be Warriors defenders to race 60m and score. He was elected the goal kicker for the day and was pretty ordinary, missing his first attempt and only kicking one from five.The Storm extended their lead 17 minutes later through the first of Matt Geyer?s two tries after they put it through the hands close to the line and caught the Warriors napping out wide. They took the 8-point margin to the break but didn?t hold it for long after the resumption of play.The Warriors looked a different team in the second half with more purpose and commitment. They began playing more like a team and halfback Nathan Fien was doing well guiding them around the park.They scored in quick succession, the first in the 44th minute after some handy work from Faumuina and Webb, who found Ropati lurking out wide and reduced the deficit to 2 after Martin?s conversion. Three minutes later they crossed the stripe again to take the lead with a cross-field kick from Fien spilling over, with Koopu on hand to clean up the scraps. This had the Warriors up 10-8 and they did well to hang on for ten minutes before the Storm hit back through Smith, who sniffed out a try close to the line, converted by Inglis. Again it was backed up quickly, with the Storm carting the ball upfield through Crocker who offloaded to Inglis before Geyer found himself with another four pointer.Taking an 18-10 lead with 20 minutes to go put a dampner on the Warriors outlook, but they managed another try through Vatuvei in the 67th minute, before a sensational flick pass off the ground by Billy Slater gave Steve Turner the match winner in the corner. A tense 10 minutes was played out but the Storm?s 22-16 lead and ultimate victory was never under any real threat.Scorers:New Zealand Warriors: 16Tries: Wairangi Koopu, Jerome Ropati, Manu VatuveiGoals: Tony Martin 2/3Melbourne Storm: 22Tries: Matt Geyer(2), Greg Inglis, Cameron Smith, Steve TurnerGoals: Greg Inglis 1/5Ericsson StadiumReferee: Steven ClarkLive commentary0 min: NEWS Both teams as per the program. Michael Luck promoted to the starting side for Wairangi Koopu.Beautiful day over here in Auckland. The sun is shining bright and it looks to be a terrific game of footy ahead, as Steven Price leads out the Warriors for the first time in 2006.1 min: NEWS And we're underway in the first half!5 min: NEWS Cameron Smith dribbles a ball into the ingoal for Billy Slater, but he grasses the opportunity and is ruled offside.9 min: TRY Melbourne StormBoom rookie Greg Inglis snaps up the ball from a wayward scrumbase pass and takes on some flimsy Warriors defence down the western side of the field to race 60 metres and score. Unfortunately, his attempted conversion is nowhere near as pretty and the score remains. Storm 4-016 min: NEWS Both sides keen to use the ball and move things about in this game with possession changing hads a bit in the opening stages as they dust off the cobwebs.22 min: NEWS A bit of biff breaks out with Fien and Crocker pushing and shoving. Neither side can really hold onto the ball at the moment and give themselves a chance to mount an attack or sustain any pressure.26 min: TRY Melbourne StormA backline raid in the Warriors territory sees Matt Geyer sneak over out wide for the Storm's second try. Steve Clark goes to the video ref for confirmation and it's awarded. Inglis again fails, this time from a much more difficult position. Storm 8-035 min: NEWS Both sides doing a little better with the ball in hand now. Some of the hits are very intense with lots of argy-bargy going on.37 min: NEWS Billy Slater, known better for his blistering attack, reels in Clinton Toopi who looked certain to score of a scrum play. Great footy all round!40 min: NEWS And we go to the sheds with the Storm leading the Warriors by 8-0. Both teams squandered plenty of opportunities, with the second half likely to be focussed on keeping possession.It's still anyone's game from here though, with neither team really having the upper hand.41 min: NEWS And w're underway in the second half!42 min: NEWS Try disallowed to Tony MArtin for putting his foot in touch close to the line, after rookie Grant Rovelli produced a pinpoint cut-out pass to set things in motion.44 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsFaumuina and Webb engineer a great move down the eastern side of the field to put Ropati in for the Warriors first try. Tony Martin adds the extras and the Warriors are very much back in the action and looking a better side in the second half. Storm 8-647 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsFien puts up a cross field kick and the ball comes down for rampaging second rower Koopu, who shows a great pair of hands to ground it. Martin from out wide hits an upright and the crossbar before the conversion is waved away. The Warriors are a completely different team here and now have all the momentum. Warriors 10-855 min: NEWS A period of consolidation for both teams here as they start to find their rhythm.56 min: NEWS Ryan Hoffman for the Storm is taken from the field with a concussion.57 min: TRY Melbourne StormAfter working the ball upfield, Smith darts out from dummy half and scores next to the posts in a pretty simple effort. Inglis converts his first from the day, by far the easiest. Storm 14-1059 min: TRY Melbourne StormMatt Geyer scores his second try out wide after Crocker made some space up the middle of the field and found Inglis, who took on the defence and dished to the former Origin winger to go in next to the corner post. Inglis misses again from a tough position and Melbourne lead by 8. Storm 18-1066 min: NEWS Warriors putting some pressure on the Storm here with back-to-back sets.67 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsA nice chip into the ingoal by Fien sees Vatuvei swoop on the ball and score. Some doubt on the grounding sees the video referee award a benefit of the doubt to the Warriors. Tony Martin boots it from the sideline and the Warriors are back in the reckoning. Storm 18-1670 min: TRY Melbourne StormBilly Slater carries the ball to the line and produces a stunning flick pass to winger Turner as he hits the ground. Sensational stuff and a little hard to believe given the flow of play. Inglis misses again and is having a dog of a day with the boot. Storm 22-1677 min: NEWS Exciting final stages of the match here as the Warriors are throwing it around hoping to jag a try, with the Storm counter-attack also very flambuoyant.80 min: NEWS The Storm hold on to record a hard fought victory over the Warriors across the ditch in New Zealand.--------------------------------League Unlimited Player of the Match Awards:3 - C Smith (Storm)2 ? G Inglis (Storm)1 ? W Koopu (Warriors)--------------------------------

Preview: Les Catalans v Leeds (Round 5)

CATALANS Dragons are hoping the introduction of scrum-half Mick Dobson will help stop the rot against Leeds in Perpignan on Saturday.The Australian, signed as a short-term replacement for the injured Stacey Jones, flew into France on Monday night and goes straight into the team as the Dragons look to avoid a fourth successive defeat.?He?s a typical tricky half-back who has added a bit of zip to the joint,? said assistant coach Paul Donkin, who will be in charge for the last time with Mick Potter due to arrive next week.?Maybe our supporters have high expectations but we just want him to go out and give us a bit of an injection and steer the boys around a little bit more.?He?s a pretty level-headed kid and a real good learner.?Leeds, too, give a debut to a young half-back in Jordan Tansey as they look to maintain the pressure on early pacesetters St Helens, who visit Huddersfield on Sunday.The Rhinos tasted defeat at Stade Aime Giral last summer when they lost to London Broncos ?on the road? but coach Tony Smith believes the experience will be put to good use this time.?The trip was good as a promotional exercise for the game down there but it was also a vital fact-finding mission for us and we have put in place a lot of things that we learnt from it,? said Smith.?We are flying direct from Leeds to Perpignan to cut down on travel time and I?m confident everything has been done to minimise the disruption that travelling that far could cause.?Catalans Dragons v Leeds Rhinos, Stade Aime Giral, Saturday, March 11 2006 Catalans Dragons 18-man squad: Beattie, Berthezene, Chan, Bosc, Dobson, Frayssinous, Fakir, Guisset, Fellous, Hindmarsh, Murphy, Mounis, Sadaoui, Rudder, Verges, Wilson, Rinaldi, Teixido. Leeds 18-man squad: Mathers, Donald, Walker, Senior, Smith, McGuire, Burrow, Bailey, Diskin, Peacock, Lauitiiti, Sinfield, Millard, Poching, Feather, Ablett, Kirke, Tansey.Referee: I Smith

Preview: Salford v Wakefield (Round 5)

KARL Harrison, coach of engage Super League surprise packet Salford Reds, insists his team of high fliers will not be taking Wakefield lightly at The Willows on Saturday.Having so far claimed the scalps of Warrington and Wigan, in addition to newcomers Catalans Dragons, the Reds will be firm favourites to make it four wins out of five at the expense of the Wildcats, who have won just one of their opening four matches.But Harrison, who will give a debut to former Halifax, Castleford and Huddersfield centre or second rower Ryan Clayton, says his team are not getting carried away by their impressive start to the season.?We?re not in a position to shout from the rooftops,? he said. ?We?ve got to earn the credit and that?s what we intend to do.?There is no danger of complacency. People who under-estimate Wakefield, like they did Salford, are going to get a shock.?Salford captain Malcolm Alker added: ?We?ll take confidence from our results and it?s nice to go into games with confidence but there is a long way to go.?Salford?s eye-catching form has come as no surprise to Wakefield coach Tony Smith, who rates them the most improved team in Super League.?I?ve watched all four of their games and I have to say I?m really impressed,? said Smith.?They are the most improved team in Super League from last year. They have always been a methodical, well-coached side who do the basics well and now they?ve added a bit of class.?The Wildcats will hand the goalkicking duties to Ben Jeffries after David March missed all three shots in last week?s two-point defeat by Huddersfield.?David has admitted it?s started to affect his game so we won?t be asking him to kick again,? said Smith. ?It?s only fair.?We have lost two games because of goalkicks but I would never blame any of my players for not kicking goals because they don?t profess to be a specialist kicker.?We should have Jamie Rooney back in the next two weeks but I won?t push him just because of his goalkicking.?Salford City Reds v Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, The Willows, Saturday, March 11 2006Salford 18-man squad: Fitzpatrick, Hodgson, Moule, Dunemann, Robinson, Coley, Alker, Finnigan, Highton, Langi, Wilshere, Haggerty, Littler, Clough, Baldwin, Brocklehurst, Clayton, Jonkers.Wakefield 18-man squad: Halpenny, Demetriou, Tadulala, Jeffries, Obst , Griffin, March, Korkidas, Solomona, J. Field, Betham, White, Wrench, MacGillivray, Elima, Henderson, Applegarth, Saxton.Referee: P Bentham

Raiders too good for Manly at Brookvale

ROUND 1Canberra Raiders 27 def. Manly Sea Eagles 14Match summary:A perfect kicking display from fullback Clinton Shifcofske has steered the Canberra Raiders to a 27-14 victory over the Manly Sea Eagles tonight.The Raiders captain kicked five goals from as many attempts as the Raiders ran in four tries to three in front of a large Brookvale Oval crowd.Playing with three debutants in an under-strengthed outfit, the Raiders came out firing with a try to centre Phil Graham after just four minutes. Shifcofske converted from the sideline and then extended the Raiders lead with a penalty goal four minutes later.The Sea Eagles hit back in the 31st minute when newcomer Steve Bell scored. But five minutes later, Canberra found some space down the left side, winger Adam Mogg picking up the dregs to score out wide.Manly had the final say on the first half when Brett Stewart scored after some clever work from halfback Matt Orford.At half time, the Raiders were in front 14-8.The second half saw Shifcofske denied a four-pointer in the 47th minute when referee Shayne Hayne went to the video ref who ruled obstruction against the Raiders. Manly also came close with Stewart chasing a kick through which beat him to the dead ball line in the 48th minute.Manly had numerous opportunities but the Raiders eventually won the second half, scoring two tries to one. Todd Carney (55th minute) ran onto a Adrian Purtell break before Manly's Steve Bell got his double when he scored in the 58th minute.Canberra hooker Simon Woolford crossed for a decisive four-pointer in the 70th minute, Shifcofske's successful conversion making it 26-14.A field goal from Carney in the 73rd minute gave Canberra a 13-point buffer and put the match beyond doubt.The win may have have come at a cost for the Raiders with forward Josh Miller being placed in a leg brace after he was forced off early with a knee injury.Scorers:Manly Sea Eagles: 14Tries: Brett Stewart, Steve Bell(2)Goals: Matt Orford 1/3Canberra Raiders: 27Tries: Todd Carney, Phillip Graham, Adam Mogg, Simon WoolfordGoals: Clinton Shifcofske 5/5Field Goals: Todd CarneyBrookvale OvalReferee: Shayne Hayne Live commentary:First half underway to a packed house in Brookvale4 min: TRY Canberra RaidersGraham opens the scoring for the Raiders after a backline movement sees him score in the corner. Raiders 6-08 min: PENALTY GOAL Canberra RaidersSchifcofske puts Raiders further in front. Kick right in front. Raiders 8-031 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesBell on debut for Manly gets the home side on the board. Conversion attempt unsuccessful from Orford. Raiders 8-436 min: TRY Canberra RaidersMogg scores out wide and Raiders go further ahead just before the break. Another wide conversion from Schifcofske. Raiders 14-439 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesStewart scores for Manly just before half time. Follows great kick ahead from Orford. But also follows controversial ruling from referee Shayne Hayne who deemed a pass from Raiders to be forward. Orford's conversion attempt unsuccessful. Raiders 14-8Half time: Raiders 14-8.Raiders could be further ahead if not for a few handling errors. Not much in it but Manly with all the work to with ball security being an issue.Second half underway...50 min: NEWS Still 14-8 in favour of Canberra in the second half.55 min: TRY Canberra RaidersCarney crosses to give the Raiders a 12 point break. Raiders 20-859 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesBell gets a double. Orford gets his first conversion of the night. Manly back in the match. Raiders 20-1470 min: TRY Canberra RaidersWoolford scores. Raiders again 12 in front with 10 minutes to go.Raiders 26-1473 min: FIELD GOAL Canberra RaidersCarney pots a 1 pointer to put the match beyond doubt. Raiders 27-14Full time: Raiders 27-14 -----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Clinton Shifcofske (Raiders)2 - Jason Smith (Raiders)1 - Lincoln Withers (Raiders)-----------------------------------------

Panthers chalk up first victory in 2006

FULLTIME: Round 1Penrith Panthers 24 def. Canterbury Bulldogs 22Match summary:The Penrith Panthers have run out 24-22 winners over the Canterbury Bulldogs this evening at Telstra Stadium.In an error filled match, the Panthers held on to outlast the Bulldogs to register their first victory of 2006.The Bulldogs will have to go back to basics as they were poor in almost all aspects of their game, but their unforced errors at crucial stages throughout the match cost the Bulldogs dearly.For the Panthers, both Craig Gower and Preston Campbell had strong games while Rhys Wesser was always a threat from the back.Tony Puletua led well up front and his brother Frank followed suit while Joel Clinton set his sights on Willie Mason and they eventually came to blows midway through the second half.It?s too early in the season to write any team off and injuries are always a factor but the Bulldogs have now lost seven straight matches dating back to last year and that is a dubious 51 year record they have matched.Round 1 - FULL TIMETelstra StadiumReferee: Sean HamptsteadScorersCanterbury Bulldogs: 22Tries: Hazem El Masri, Mark O'Meley, Luke Patten, Willie TongaGoals: Hazem El Masri 3/4Penrith Panthers: 24Tries: Craig Gower, Matthew Cross, Nick Youngquest, Lee HookeyGoals: Preston Campbell 4/5Match commentary 1 min: NEWS Kickoff! We are underway at Telstra Stadium.4 min: TRY Canterbury BulldogsWillie Tonga opens the Bulldogs account as the Bulldogs spread the ball wide and it was too easy in the end. Bulldogs 4-010 min: TRY Penrith PanthersNick Youngquest scores out wide off the back off a very simple backline movement. The Bulldogs defence out wide was paper thin. Panthers 6-414 min: PENALTY GOAL Penrith PanthersPreston Campbell converts a penalty to extend the Panthers lead. Panthers 8-418 min: TRY Canterbury BulldogsThe Bulldogs hit back with a try to Luke Patten out wide. Defene hasn't been a high priority for either side so far tonight. Bulldogs 10-823 min: NEWS Both teams playing poorly with a lot of lost possession and poor defence making the game a wide open affair.30 min: NEWS Rhys Wesser drops the ball with the line wide open off a Craig Gower grubber. A lost opportunity to give the Panthers the lead.35 min: NEWS Penrith with repeat sets of six starting to apply the pressure to the Dogs defence.36 min: TRY Penrith PanthersGoer crosses under the sticks as the Dogs defence again goes to water with the Panthers putting players in motion. Panthers 14-1044 min: NEWS Bulldogs not showing the ball enough respect and are yet to make an impact in the second half.51 min: NEWS Grimaldi spills the ball on his own 30 metre line to add more pressure to the Dogs defence.53 min: NEWS Penrith on the attack on metres out from the Bulldogs line55 min: NEWS Priddis throws the ball to Andrew Ryan to give the Bulldogs a stay of execution.58 min: NEWS Possible try to the Panthers. Video ref decision pending.58 min: TRY Penrith PanthersLee Hookey scores in the corner to extend the Panthers lead. Panthers 18-1067 min: TRY Canterbury BulldogsEl Masri scores to get the Dogs back into the game. Bulldogs 22-1875 min: TRY Penrith PanthersCross scores to put the result beyond doubt to give the Panthers a hard fought first up victory in 2006 Panthers 24-1680 min: TRY Canterbury BulldogsO'Meley scores to give the final scoreline some respectability. Panthers 24-22 -----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Craig Gower (Panthers)2 - Willie Mason (Bulldogs)1 - Rhys Wesser (Panthers)-----------------------------------------

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