Referee's report - Round 20

GAVIN Badger, a product of the South Sydney District, makes his long awaited return to NRL Refereeing this weekend when he will control the Newcastle and South Sydney clash at Energy Australia Stadium in Newcastle. This will be Gavin?s first NRL fixture since Round 16 where he was in the middle when New Zealand obliviated Souths 66-0 in record fashion. Badger replaces young Ben Cummins, who has been dropped to running as a touch judge on Friday Night, because of not using the video referee when needed over the past couple of weeks.Shayne Hayne also returns to the middle this weekend after a week off when he will control the all important clash between the Tigers and Eels. Hayne, who was in charge of the Bulldogs? golden point victory of the Warriors, will be looking to continue his good form with the whistle as we lead in to the time when referees push for Semi Final positions.Jarred Maxwell has been rewarded for a good performance when in charge of the Rabbitohs and Sea Eagles fixture on Saturday night, and will be returning to Telstra Stadium to be in charge of the always fiery Bulldogs-Roosters encounter.Steve Clark will once again take the number one referee position in to round 20 when he will referee Friday night footy down in Melbourne between the Storm and the Sharks. Clark, who had a sound game when in charge of the Bulldogs-Dragons match, is the front runner to replace retired Tim Mander as the Grand Final referee.One of the men closely behind Clark in the race for the Grand Final position, Paul Simpkins, will be the man with the whistle when the Dragons travel down to the Nation?s Capital, to take on the Canberra Raiders. Simpkins, who is a member of the South Sydney District, was the frontrunner for the Grand Final last year before wasting it on a bad call in the Storm v Cowboys Semi Final.Tony Archer will be in charge of the all Queensland fixture when the Cowboys are at home to the Broncos this Saturday night in Townsville. Archer, who refereed his first finals match last year in Wollongong between the Dragons and Sharks, will be looking to have a sound game to improve his chances of an appearance once again in the finals.Jason Robinson, who was a junior referee in the Penrith District, will travel to Brookvale Oval on Sunday afternoon, where he will be the man in the middle for Manly?s first home match in three weeks when they take on the Penrith Panthers. Robinson has held his position for the last three weeks in First Grade although talented referees Tony De Las Heras and Gavin Badger have been pushing for his spot. Former State of Origin referee Sean Hampstead will have a week off this weekend after crossing the Tasman for the Warriors-Eels match. Hampstead who did not appear in the Finals last year, will be looking to repeat his good form of the first half of the season, which earned himself an Origin appearance.

Aus v GB Uni Test Preview

AUSTRALIA is preparing itself for a tough final Test against Great Britain in Brisbane on Wednesday night, following close results in the opening matches of the international Universities series.Although the Aussies have a 2-0 advantage, they will head into the the third encounter at Kev McKell Oval, Arana Hills expecting a hard-fought encounter.The First Test in Sydney last Wednesday brought a 24-16 win to the home side, while the Second Test in Coffs Harbour on Saturday also saw the green-and-gold triumph with a 26-18 victory.Kick-off in the Third Test is at 7pm. Kev McKell Oval can be accessed via Dawson Parade (off Samford Rd) and is the home ground of the Western Districts Panthers and Arana Hills Junior Rugby League.In recent years University Rugby League has provided a number of players who have gone on to impact at higher levels including Nick Kenny (Brisbane Broncos/Toowoomba Clydesdales), Jordan Atkins (Burleigh Bears), Gerard Parle (Redcliffe Dolphins) and Kev Stephensen (Easts Tigers).Following the Third Test, Great Britain will remain in the Sunshine State to play Queensland Tertiaries on Saturday, July 22 at Davis park. Kick-off is at 2pm.On Saturday, July 29 Queensland will play New Souths Wales, also at Davies Park with a 2pm kick-off.Wednesday July 19Australian Universities v Great Britain Universities, Kev McKell Oval, Arana Hills. Kick-off 7pm.Saturday July 22Queensland Tertiary v Great Britain Universities, Davies Park, West End. Kick-off 2pm.Saturday July 29Queensland Tertiary v New South Wales Tertiary, Davies Park, West End. Kick-off 2pm.

Warriors sign Michael Witt

MANLY utility Michael Witt is joining the Vodafone Warriors on a one-year deal for the 2007 season while rookies Patrick Ah Van and Sam Rapira have signed new upgraded three-year contracts. In announcing the trio of signings today, Vodafone Warriors head coach Ivan Cleary said the club?s first-grade roster for next season was now almost completed. ?They?re signings that really help us to build depth in our squad,? he said. ?In Michael we have a player who has the ability to play in both positions in the halves as well as being a quality goal kicker. ?And with Patrick and Sam it?s clear we have players with great futures in the game. ?As rookies they?ve both impressed in first-grade football, Patrick mainly on the wing but also at fullback as we saw last weekend, and Sam coming into the side as an interchange prop. ?They?ve looked comfortable at this level from the moment they first came into the side.? Born on New Year?s day, 1984, Witt (22) has had a lean season at NRL level this year with just one appearance for the Sea Eagles after being used 19 times in 2005. ?With Matt Orford arriving at Manly this year it hasn?t been one of my best seasons,? he said from Sydney. ?I?ve been in premier league all year but believe I can still make a contribution at first-grade level. That?s why I?m coming to the Vodafone Warriors. I want to have a chance of playing in the NRL again.?

Barrett Returns for Raiders Clash

CAPTAIN Trent Barrett will make his return from suspension in a re-shuffled Dragons side for their clash against the Raiders at Canberra Football Stadium on Sunday. Barrett, 28, who has played ten matches this year will replace Mark Gasnier at five-eighth who has been ruled out of the match with a calf strain. Also returning to the side after injury is Jason Ryles (back), Dean Young (ankle) and Clint Greenshields (calf), whilst an injury to Daryl Millard shifts Ben Hornby into the centres. Unavailable Dragons are:Mark Gasnier (Calf), Ben Creagh (Quad), Corey Payne (Concussion), Shaun Timmins (Quad), Wes Naiqama (Ankle). NRL DRAGONS TEAMv Canberra Raiders 3.00pm Sunday 23 July Canberra Stadium Coach: Nathan Brown 1. Clint GREENSHIELDS 2. Colin BEST 3. Ben HORNBY 4. Matt COOPER 5. Brett MORRIS 6. Trent BARRETT (c) 7. Mathew HEAD 8. Luke BAILEY 9. Aaron GORRELL 10. Justin POORE 11. Sam ISEMONGER 12. Dean YOUNG 13. Matt BICKERSTAFF 14. Michael HENDERSON 15. Jason RYLES 16. Danny WICKS 17. Ashton SIMS LOWER GRADE TEAMSPremier League v Canberra Raiders 1.00pm Sunday 23 July Canberra Stadium Coach: Steven Price 1. Reece SIMMONDS 2. Josh MORRIS 3. Beau RYAN 4. Keith LULIA 5. Tom HEWITT 6. Reece BLAYNEY 7. Jamie KEITH 8. Charlie LEAENO 9. George NDAIRA 10. Chris HOUSTON (c) 11. Tom HABERECHT 12. Lee TE MAARI 13. James JIMENEZ 14. Dan HUNT 15. Willie TUPOU 16. Lagi SETU 17. Bryson GOODWIN Jersey Flegg v Canberra Raiders 11.20am Sunday 23 July Canberra Stadium Coach: Corey Pearson 1. Rota SETU 2. Ian CATANIA 3. Ryan MILLARD 4. Junior SEUMANUTAFA 5. Luke IRWIN 6. Matt SEAMARK 7. Blake DUREAU 8. Chris FARRELL 9. Brad DAVIDSON (c) 10. Jhi TANNER 11. Matt PRIOR 12. James KEELAN 13. James GREHAN 14. Luke YOUNG 15. Francis LANGIFISI 16. Luke MUTTDON 17. Lewis McPHAIL 18. Matt MUNDINE 19. Daniel JARVIS 20. Nathan WYNN

Sharks pay price for Bott stuff-up

CRONULLA is facing a $10,000 fine for failing to register Leon Bott prior to last Sunday's 38-32 NRL loss to Sydney Roosters.

Conn to become 23rd Titan

EMERGING NRL player Daniel Conn this afternoon became the latest signing for the Gold Coast Titans.

Bulldogs side to play Roosters

1. Luke Patten 2. Hazem El Masri 3. Sonny Bill Williams 4. Willie Tonga 5. Andrew Emelio 6. Daniel Holdsworth 7. Brent Sherwin 8. Mark O'Meley 9. Tony Grimaldi 10. Roy Asotasi 11. Willie Mason 12. Andrew Ryan (c) 13. Reni Maitua

Time running out for Tevita Latu

BEAURACRACY appears to have stymied disgraced Kiwi international Tevita Latu's rugby league comeback.

Sea Eagles side to play Panthers

BRETT Stewart, Michael Robertson, Chris Hicks, Steve Matai, Paul Stephenson, Travis Burns, Matt Orford, Jason King, Michael Monaghan, Brent Kite, Luke Williamson, Glenn Stewart, Ben Kennedy (c)

Broncos side to play Cowboys

1. Darius Boyd 2. Tame Tupou 3. Justin Hodges 4. Brent Tate 5. Scott Minto 6. Darren Lockyer (c) 7. Brett Seymour 8. Shane Webcke 9. Shaun Berrigan 10. Petero Civoniceva 11. David Stagg 12. Brad Thorn 13. Tonie Carroll

Roosters side to face Bulldogs

1. Amos Roberts 2. Sam Perrett 3. Iosia Soliola 4. Ryan Cross 5. Vince Mellars 6. Braith Anasta 7. Josh Lewis 8. Adrian Morley 9. Craig Wing 10. David Shillington 11. Anthony Tupou 12. Craig Fitzgibbon' 13. Chris Flannery

Refs should be held accountable - NRL

ST George Illawarra coach Nathan Brown has voiced his support of an NRL initiative to make referees more accountable after his side was found to be on the wrong end of a match-winning decision.The NRL have announced that all contentious refereeing decisions would be scrutinised in a new weekly report to provide greater transparency and accountability by officials.Referees boss Robert Finch released the first report on Monday, which stated the Bulldogs should not have been awarded a crucial try in their thrilling 22-16 NRL win over the Dragons on Friday night.Video referee Bill Harrigan awarded a controversial 21st minute try to Bulldogs halfback Brent Sherwin, who got the benefit of the doubt despite a suggestion of obstruction from Mark O'Meley on Matt Bickerstaff.Brown said the decision had a "huge" bearing on the game, but supported any move to clear up contentious decisions."We all make mistakes," Brown said."Sometimes the referees are ridiculed because sometimes some people don't know the rules."I think this new policy could be a good one because it actually enlightens some people on the rules."It doesn't give us the two points back but it's good they've said they're wrong and put their hands up."We can now get on with life."The Dragons coach said the hardest mistakes to swallow where those made by the video referee."I thought Steve Clark ref'd pretty well and did a good job in a tough, close game," he said."The video referee should get most of them right."We had a chance late in the game but couldn't quite hit the front again but obviously sometimes you get a couple of calls and unfortunately the other day we didn't get one."Maybe somewhere down the track we'll get one that comes back our way."You can't get the perfect players so you can't expect the perfect ref."It's hard for anyone not to expect referees to not make mistakes."As long as you try to be consistent, hopefully everyone learns from it."NRL chief operating officer Graham Annesley said the initiative will be trialled for the remainder of the 2006 season."Contentious refereeing decisions often create emotional debate at the time but rarely is there any official announcement clarifying whether the officials were right or wrong," Annesley said."This is another important step in demonstrating transparency and accountability across all parts of our game and where a referee does make a mistake we will continue our policy of acknowledging the error."Conversely, where the officials have made the correct call the NRL has a responsibility to back them up publicly."

Panthers side to play Manly

1. Rhys Wesser 2. Michael Gordon 3. Danny Galea 4. Luke Lewis 5. Luke Rooney 6. Preston Campbell 7. Craig Gower 8. Joel Clinton 9. Luke Priddis 10. Craig Stapleton 11. Matthew Cross 12. Tony Puletua (c) 13. Frank Pritchard

Panthers sign Smith

PENRITH has signed 23-year-old Raiders winger/centre Nathan Smith on a two year deal.

Cowboys team to play Broncos

1. Matt Bowen 2. Ashley Graham 3. Mark Henry 4. Josh Hannay 5. Matthew Sing 6. Travis Norton (c) 7. Johnathan Thurston 8. Matthew Scott 9. Aaron Payne 10. Carl Webb 11. Steve Southern 12. Luke O'Donnell 13. Paul Bowman

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