WAYNE Bennett says he'll remove Brisbane five-eighth Darren Lockyer from the defensive firing line if he has to this NRL season.Lockyer missed 11 tackles against North Queensland last weekend, raising further concerns the Australian captain is being targeted by forwards continually running at him. Bennett says Lockyer is staying where he is for now but if the problem persists he'll have the courage to return him to his former position at fullback.Brisbane takes on Cronulla tomorrow with Bennett looking for his players to turn around their abysmal completion and handling rates from the 36-4 first-round loss to the Cowboys. Centre Justin Hodges has withdrawn with a side strain with utility Casey McGuire shifting from lock into the backline.
NICOLSON Sports Consultancy is pleased to offer 2006 Rugby League Players Alamanc for download through Legends World of Sport on League Unlimited this weekend. After launching the Almanac last season, the 2006 edition is a cleaner crisper version featuring the most comprehensive playing rosters of all 15 NRL clubs.The Almanac, featuring over 700 players and the two new inductees to the NSC Rugby League Honour Roll, will cost you $22.00 AUD to download this year. But for your hard earned you not only get the 2006 Almanac but NSC will be delivering weekly League Player Ratings (LPR) directly to your inbox throughout the season.LPR will analyse the performance of every single NRL player each weekend and give them a objective rating out of 10. Only subscribers will have access to the full list of LPR each week. That means 238 exclusive individual ratings in PDF format will be sent directly to your inbox allowing you to track your favourite player and team?s performance.These ratings will not be available freely online. Only a weekly leader board will be listed in NSC?s League Unlimited Column every Thursday morning.The 2006 NSC Almanac and 2006 League Player Ratings are available only through Legends World of Sport on League Unlimited for much less than you will pay for a subscription to the print magazines on the market.http://www.leagueunlimited.com/static/nsc.aspEnjoy the footy in 2006.Regards,Warrick NicolsonNicolson Sports [email protected]: 0402 851 485 Fax: 02 9653 1483
BRISBANE centre Justin Hodges has pulled out of tomorrow night's NRL clash with Cronulla in Sydney with a side strain.Hodges, Brisbane's best in their 36-4 loss to the Cowboys last weekend, has been replaced in the centres by utility Casey McGuire (pictured). Neville Costigan comes off the bench to fill McGuire's lock role with big Tame Tupou the new interchange player.Coach Wayne Bennett says he's just looking to his side to improve on some abysmal ball control.
ST George Illawarra Dragons centre Matt Cooper has been ruled out of this Sunday's game against the Penrith Panthers. Its understood the NSW and Australian centre has suffered a hamstring injury. His replacement Daryl Millard is expected to make his first grade debut.Cooper's omission comes after captain and five-eighth Trent Barrett was also ruled out after being hospitalised early in the week with a virus.In other news utility Shaun Timmins - who will also miss the match - has been cleared of serious injury following knee surgery on Wednesday. The Dragons will also be without winger Wes Naiqama who suffered an ankle injury last weekend and injured second rower Ben Creagh (knee) has yet to play in 2006.Meanwhile half back Mathew Head's recovery continues to remain on hold. Head suffered a season-ending knee injury in June 2005 (round 14). He was scheduled for a return in early April (round 5) but there is speculation this has been put back until round 9.The Dragons will be blooding two rookies in Millard and hooker George Ndaira this Sunday as well as forward Andrew Price who has played just one first grade game.The revised Dragons NRL team for Sunday's match in Wollongong is:1. Clint GREENSHIELDS2. Reece SIMMONDS3. Mark GASNIER4. Darryl MILLARD5. Colin BEST6. Dean YOUNG7. Ben HORNBY (c)8. Luke BAILEY9. Aaron GORRELL10. Jason RYLES11. Corey PAYNE12. Ashton SIMS13. Andrew PRICE14. Justin POORE15. Michael HENDERSON16. Matt BICKERSTAFF17. George NDAIRA
WIN CORPORATION, owner of Australia?s largest and leading regional television network, has covered a substantial amount of the Illawarra Steelers debts to joint venture partner St George, which will enable the Dragons to continue playing home matches in Wollongong.WIN Corporation Executive Chairman, Mr Andrew Gordon made the announcement today saying his media company?s investment of $6.5m in the Steelers would enable the repayment of most of the club?s debt to St George Leagues Club.?WIN Corporation originated in the Illawarra and proudly it is still based here today.WIN has always prided itself on showing strong support for locally based, national sporting teams,? said Mr Gordon. ?We believe the Steelers are a fundamental thread in the fabric of this region and I do not intend for this district to lose hosting NRL matches at WIN Stadium.?The deal is conditional on the Dragons arranging a new license agreement with the NRL until 2011 and negotiating a similar term arrangement with Wollongong Sportsground Trust ? allowing the St George Illawarra Dragons to play half of their home matches at WIN Stadium, plus a NRL pre-season fixture annually.?Mr Gordon said that besides providing the funding, which will be used solely to discharge the majority of the Steelers debt to St George Leagues Club; WIN Corporation will also receive 24 per cent of the Steelers share in the joint venture.?We will also provide business opportunities and management to improve the performance of the Steelers Club and ensure long-term continuation in the NRL by way of the joint venture,? he added.Steelers Chairman, Mr Peter Newell said his directors and members were indebted to Andrew Gordon, WIN Corporation and of course Bruce Gordon for their support of the club and the benefits NRL participation brings to the Illawarra region?s economy. ?The amount of money WIN Corporation has made available is one of the biggest investments that I can recall involving sport in the Illawarra,? said Mr Newell. ?The Steelers will still carry a level of debt, but WIN have given us the chance to not only survive, but will work with us on our future.?Mr Newell said that Andrew Gordon would be appointed to the St George Illawarra Dragons Board as one of the Steelers representatives.?WIN Corporation CEO, Mr George Papadopoulos will also be invited to join the Illawarra Steelers Board in an ex-officio capacity. Both these appointments will add strength and business experience to the respective boards.?The Steelers debts will not only be substantially reduced, but WIN?s involvement will enable the club to continue the propagation and development of the game of rugby league in the Illawarra and South Coast region,? Mr Newell said.St George Leagues Club and Dragons Chairman Warren Lockwood, who welcomed the involvement of WIN Corporation with the Dragons explains its impacts for the Dragons and St George Leagues Club.?A commitment from a corporate partner of the quality of WIN Corporation is a major coup for rugby league across the region and the game itself,? said Mr Lockwood.?In times when there is continuing pressure being mounted on the Licensed Clubs, debt reduction programs are essential.?The St George Leagues Club has always understood and supported the strategy of the St George Illawarra Dragons from the beginning. An essential component of this strategy, was sustaining viability of the Steelers and their contributions to the Dragons.?The repayment of capital and interest on loans extended by the St George Leagues Club will enable the Licensed Club to plan for its next phase of refurbishment and better cope with the pressure from increasing poker machine tax.?
GREAT Britain hooker Matt Diskin has agreed a new four-year contract with Leeds Rhinos which will keep him at Headingley until at least the end of the 2010 engage Super League season.
THURSDAY - 16th March 2006
CATALANS Dragons forward Alex Chan has escaped a suspension despite being found guilty of punching at a Rugby Football League disciplinary hearing.
STRUGGLING Wigan have suffered a major injury blow with the loss of prop forward Iafeta Paleaaesina for six weeks with a torn calf muscle.
CASTLEFORD coach Terry Matterson made a dream return to the capital as the Tigers overturned an early 14-point deficit to move above Harlequins at the bottom of the table with a 34-20 over the London side.
ST Helens held off a spirited Huddersfield by 18-16 to maintain the only 100% record and return to the top of the engage Super League.
LEEDS picked up where arch-rivals Bradford had left off seven days earlier as the Stade Aime Giral witnessed a beating of the engage Super League rookies Catalan Dragons by 58-10.The Rhinos led 18-0 after just seven minutes, dishing out a triple whammy before the home side had even had possession of the football.After displaying a distinct lack of enthusiasm at times during their hammering by the Bulls last week it was anticipated that Tony Smith's team would feel the Catalans backlash but the reality was far from it.The Rhinos were on the board after just 63 seconds, when stand-off Danny McGuire was in support to take Ali Lauitiiti's pass and go on from close range.Before the Dragons could draw breath they went further behind after Leeds won a scrum against the head - a real rarity in rugby league - and Rob Burrow picked up the loose ball to stroll over from five metres.The visitors then extended their advantage immediately from the restart when McGuire took the kick-off on the full to exchange passes with Lee Smith and then race in from halfway.The home side hit back on their first attack when debutant Michael Dobson crossed for Laurent Frayssinous to convert, but Leeds were at it again when Scott Donald benefited from a brilliant Kevin Sinfield break to touch down.Keith Senior then made the most of some good fortune to get his name on the sheet while centre Chev Walker plus five Sinfield goals put the Rhinos 34-6 in front at the break.Catalan prop Alex Chan felt the wrath of referee Ian Smith when he was sent off for fighting, Walker taking 10 minutes for his part in the fracas, though the home side did reduce their deficit when Justin Murphy crossed with half an hour remaining.Leeds then put coachless Dragons firmly back in their place when Matt Diskin regained some momentum with their seventh score and the Rhinos cruised home after Lauitiiti, debutant Jordan Tansey and winger Lee Smith all joined in the scoring spree.Sinfield finished with seven goals and Burrow added a further two.Catalans Dragons: Frayssinous, Murphy, Wilson, Sadaoui, Verges, Rudder, Dobson, Chan, Rinaldi, Beattie, Hindmarsh, Guisset, Mounis.Replacements: Fellous, Teixido, Bosc, Fakir.Leeds: Mathers, Donald, Walker, Senior, Smith, McGuire, Burrow, Bailey, Diskin, Peacock, Lauitiiti, Poching, Sinfield.Replacements: Feather, Millard, Kirke, Tansey.Catalans Dragons (6) 10.Tries: Dobson, Murphy. Goals: Frayssinous.Leeds (34) 58.Tries: McGuire 2, Burrow, Donald, Senior, Walker, Diskin, Lauitiiti, Tansey, Smith. Goals: Sinfield 7, Burrow 2.Referee: I Smith (Oldham)Att: 5,783
SIMON Finnigan scored a hat-trick for Salford as they continued their fine start to the engage Super League season by outclassing a dismal Wakefield at the Willows by 48-10.The Reds? fourth win in five games was founded on a thrilling first-half performance in which Paul Highton (2), Finnigan (2), John Fitzpatrick and Andrew Brocklehurst all touched down to secure a 36-0 interval lead.Finnigan then wrapped up his hat-trick before Jamie Field and Jason Demetriou restored some pride to the visitors in the final quarter, and Luke Robinson added another late on for Salford.The in-form Reds burst into the lead from their first set following a high kick from Andrew Dunemann.Wakefield's Paul White appeared to lose sight of the ball, which bounced in the in goal area and back over his head for Highton to touch down.Wakefield then twice came within five metres of the Salford line but their New Zealand forward David Solomona then spilled the ball in his own half to hand the initiative back to the hosts.Scrum-half Luke Robinson lobbed the ball behind Wakefield's defence and Finnigan pounced on the ball - barely breaking his stride - to ease over with 11 minutes gone.Wakefield's scrum-half Sam Obst, back from a one-game suspension, was held out as he attempted to find an opening moments later.But then Salford hammered home their superiority, forcing the Wildcats back for Fitzpatrick inside in the 19th minute to touch down under the posts.Four minutes later, the Wildcats were again on the back foot, and Brocklehurst found a gap following Robinson's pass to go over.The Willows crowd were then expecting a cricket score after Finnigan charged over from close range for his second try in the 28th minute. Highton also added a second from close range a minute before the interval.Although Wakefield briefly stemmed the flow Finnigan registered his hat-trick within six minutes of the restart.The Reds loose forward strolled over after being fed by Dunemann, with David Hodgson making it seven from seven with the kick.Ryan Clayton, a close-season signing from Huddersfield, then came on for his debut, while hooker John Clough and prop Gareth Haggerty also came on for Salford at half-time.On the hour mark, Wakefield finally got themselves on the score sheet when Jamie Field bundled over on the right, and David March added the extras to make it 42-6.Demetriou further cut the gap five minutes later after breaking clear just inside his own half, and the Australian centre could have added another score moments later but knocked on with the try line at his mercy.Aaron Moule was denied a late try by the video referee but Robinson gained some reward for his endeavour by forcing his way over in the final minute, and Hodgson scored after the hooter for a 100% record with the boot.Salford: Fitzpatrick, Hodgson, Moule, Littler, Wilshere, Dunemann, Robinson, Baldwin, Alker, Highton, Coley, Brocklehurst, Finnigan.Replacements: Clough, Haggerty, Clayton, Langi.Wakefield: Halpenny, White, Demetriou, Henderson, Tadulala, Obst, Jeffries, MacGillivray, Betham, Elima, Solomona, J. Field, Applegarth.Replacements: Griffin, Korkidas, March, Saxton.Salford (36) 48.Tries: Highton 2, Finnigan 3, Fitzpatrick, Brocklehurst, Robinson. Goals: Hodgson 8.Wakefield (0) 10.Tries: J. Field, Demetriou. Goals: March.Referee: P Bentham (Warrington)Att: 4,060
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