ESL Round 3 Review

ST Helens 13 Leeds 4 Tries: Gilmore, Meli Williams Goals: Lyon 2 Field Goal Long Att: 13,433 In a titanic struggle at Knowsley Road, the Saints kept up their 100% record by narrowly inflicting a first defeat on the Leeds Rhinos. Young teenager Danny Williams -on his first team debut - opened the scoring by pouncing on a Richard Mathers grubber kick. Minutes earlier he was denied a try by the Video referee for being just offside, after chasing Kevin Sinfield Kick. With seconds, remaining of the first half St Helens took the lead when Lee Gilmore latched on to a Paul Anderson short Pass. St Helens were soon in to their stride as they battered a resolute Leeds defence. They increased their lead when Jamie Lyon added a penalty goal from underneath the posts. The Rhinos were finding it hard to get out of their own half as Saints went in for the kill. Eventually after a superb long-pass by, ex Bulls star Leon Price Francis Meli crashed in at the corner. Leeds tried to get back on terms but they ran out of steam and time. A late Sean Long drop-goal clinched the points for the Saints to maintain their great start to the season. Bradford Bulls 34 Salford City Reds 4 Tries: Hape, Fielden, Gene, Hodgson Meyers, I Harris 2 Goals: Deacon 4, I Harris 1 Att: 10,062 Engage Super League champions Bradford Bulls brought Salford back down to earth with a convincing victory at Odsal Stadium. The game as a contest was over by half time as the Bulls raced into a 24-4 lead with Iestyn Harris touching down twice Brad Meyers and Stuart Fielden adding further tries with Paul Deacon kicking four goals. The only reply for the Reds was a sole David Hodgson try. In the second half the Bulls continued to apply pressure to the Salford line but after some resolute defending Shontayne Hape scored the Bulls fifth try and 10 minutes from time Stanley Gene wrapped up the scoring to give the champions their first home win of the season. Wigan Warriors 36 Huddersfield Giants 20 Tries: Ashton, Hansen, Brown, Nero, Evans, DeVere, Dallas, Paleaaesina.Godwin Torrens Goals: Tickle 6 Thorman, DeVere Att: 11,623 There was a huge sigh of relief at the JJB Stadium as the Warriors? recorded their first Victory of the season. The game was all but over as Wigan raced into a 30-4 lead at the break with tries by Chris Ashton, Kevin Brown, Iafeta Paleaaesina, Harrison Hansen and Brett Dallas all converted by Danny Tickle. A late first half try by Chris Nero got the Giants on the scoreboard. After the break, the Giants further reduced the lead when James Evans went in to give the visiting fans some hope. Huddersfield?s hopes of an unlikely fight back were dashed on 60 minutes, after Paul March was put in the sin bin for holding down. The Warriors then took the advantage by a Wayne Godwin Try. In the last tem minutes, the Giants scored two tries through Torrens and De Vere to give the scoreline a more flattering look. Harlequins RL 6 Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 26 Tries: Tookey Obst, Halpenny, Tadulala 3 Goals: Sykes March, Jeffries 2 Att: 3,554 Harlequins are still looking for their first win of the Super League after going down to an inspired Wakefield Wildcats at the Twickenham Stoop. Wakefield owed a lot to hat-trick hero Semi Tadulala- who opened his account in the first few minutes of the game. The flying Fijian scored his second try seven minutes later and on 27 minutes, Sam Obst punished an error by young Quin Tony Clubb to give the Wildcats a 14-0 Halftime Lead. With the further absent of influential skipper Mark McLinden; Quins came close to scoring but some good defence by Wakefield and some poor handling left the hosts with nothing to show. Trinity sealed the game when Colum Halpenny touchdown to give his team a 20-0 lead. Six minutes from time, Tadulala completed his hat-trick. Harlequins finally got on the scoreboard when Mark Tookey crashed over under the posts to score a consolation try. However, the Wildcats had the last laugh through a Ben Jeffries penalty goal to complete a well-deserved victory. Warrington Wolves 46 Hull FC 24 Tries: Bridge, Wainwright, Yeaman 2,Raynor, Brough Briers, Clark, Fa?afili 3, Barnett Goals: Briers 6 Brough 4 Drop Goals: Briers 2 Att: 9,359 In an extraordinary game at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington Wolves produced an unbelievable second half comeback to dent Hull FC unbeaten record. The Wolves were staring at a third successive defeat when they conceded two tries in the first 14 minutes and found themselves trailing 24-12 after a spectacular 90-metre try from Great Britain winger Gareth Raynor five minutes before half-time. The second half fight back was led by inspirational captain Lee Briers who galvanised his team, which led to them scoring 34 unanswered points. Kiwi winger Henry Fa?afili completed a hat-trick and ex Hull player Richie Barnett got on the score sheet as he squeezed in at the corner. Hull completely fell apart as the Wolves turned up the heat and in the final seconds of the game Lee Briers completed the scoring with a towering drop goal, which finally gave Warrington a most unlikely win to record their first victory of the season. Castleford Tigers 34 Catalans Dragons 28 Tries: Fletcher, Pryce, Huby Guigue, Wilson, Bosc, Viane 3, Shenton Beattie, Fakir Barnett Goals: Kain, Huby 2 Frayssinous 4 Att: 5,852 Castleford Tigers claimed their first win since returning to Super League by overcoming Catalans Dragons at the Jungle. The Tigers raced into a 16-0 lead with tries by Wayne Price, Gray Viane and Craig Huby as the Dragons will still feeling the effects of been without injured skipper Stacey Jones. Catalans managed to get themselves back in to the game with tries from Jamil Fakir and Thomas Bosc, but a Try by Richard Fletcher put Cas back in to the driving seat at halftime. After the break the Tigers increased their lead when Viane scored his second try in the corner, however Wayne Price was sin-binned, which resulted in tries from Chris Beattie and Renaud Guigue to pull the Dragons to within 4 points of the Tigers. With 17 minutes left on the Clock an unlikely Catalans victory was on the Cards when, former West Tiger John Wilson crashed in to the corner to put the French Side in front for the first time. The lead was short lived as the Tigers stormed back to claim victory with late tries from Shenton and Viane who rounded things off by completing his hat-trick much to the delight of the home fans.

South Sydney Rabbitohs 2006 season preview

LIKELY squad: Todd Polglase, Luke MacDougall, Buddy Gordon, Adam MacDougall, Shannon Hegarty, John Sutton, Ben Walker, Peter Cusack, Stuart Webb, Scott Geedes, Joe Galuvao, Luke Stuart, Ben RogersInterchange: Jaimain Lowe, David Fa?alogo, Manese Manukafua, Beau ChampionStrengths:The greatest strength for the Rabbitohs this season is depth. While it may not be ?quality? depth, they do have depth in numbers with players who have the ability to make the grade. Guys like Nathan Merritt, Todd Polglase, Paul Mellor, Ben Walker and Trent Young have all proven they are up to the task in first grade. This will prove a great advantage for the Rabbitohs push for a season revival.John Sutton is one of the best young talents in the game at the moment and a lot of South?s success will be put on this young man?s shoulders. Will he be able to withstand the pressure and lead his team to victory? Only time will tell.South Sydney?s junior development is really shining through now. Young players like Champion, Gordon, Sutton, Fa?alogo and Manukafua are all starting to come on in leaps and bounds and it should be exciting to see the new breed flow into first grade like promising players Ricardo Young, Troy Boston and Shannon McPherson.South?s bench is one of the most underrated in the competition. It contains a lot of impact and with Joe Galuvao mentoring the likes of Fa?alogo and Manukafua, it will only bode well for the South Sydney confidence. This bench will make or break the Rabbitohs? season. They have the starting 13 to mix it up with any team in the competition, but their bench needs to stand up and be counted.Weaknesses:The turmoil surrounding the acquisition of the South Sydney club has to be affecting the psychology of the players. The players would have to feel like they are concentrating too much on the acquisition and not enough on football.The Bunnies still lack one really great prop to complete their team along with a great centre. While Jaimain Lowe has potential and Adam MacDougall is a stalwart, they are not massive game breakers. The Bunnies have Michael Greenfield in reserve grade who in time will be that game breaker or Ricardo Young, but this is an issue they?ll have to address to be premiership contenders. Ben Walker is at halfback in this team because of the way he finished off last season and he has earned the right to retain his spot. While there has been speculation Joe Williams will get first crack due to his much improved attitude at training, Ben Walker does deserve the first chance to lead this team. Unfortunately, Joe Williams has an Owen Craigie style history in that he is a great talent but we rarely see it on the field. If he can get his act together, he can be the great playmaker the Bunnies need to win matches. If he doesn?t, then that?s something the Bunnies will struggle with, because Ben Walker isn?t a premiership winning halfback. One to Watch:South Sydney flyer Troy Boston is my player to watch from the Bunnies. The 19 year old, 180cm and 87kg winger was regarded as one of the most talented and naturally gifted players in the junior ranks for some time until injury hindered his progression to the top grade. Prior to last season he was tipped to be the first of the young brigade to make the progression to First Grade. Unfortunately, two season-ending injuries in a row has made him one of the last should he make his debut this season.Troy is held in high esteem within the rugby league community as one of the better young wingers in the ranks and definitely South Sydney rate him very highly. He is finally tipped to make his debut this year despite South?s buying depth in bulk. He will more than likely start the year in Premier League and will be made to earn his stripes by South?s coach Shaun McRae. There is no doubt that Troy will be a star of the future and a representative player once he gets a cemented place in the South Sydney line up. He is certainly a bright spark in what is a promising future for both himself and the club in general. Gains and Losses:Gains: Joe Galuvao, Jaiman Lowe, Stuart Webb, Nathan Merritt, Ben Rogers, Paul Mellor, Balin Cupples, Jack Rampling. Losses: Ashley Harrison, Scott Logan, Bryan Fletcher, Glen Hall, Garth Wood, Lee Hookey.Assessment:I am going to go out on a limb here that could get cut off at any second. I believe the Bunnies will push the 8 and may get even deeper than that. I seriously think that the Bunnies have a solid foundation in place this season, something they have lacked for a long time. They have a solid backline with a couple of solid game breakers. Good solid halves with a decent forward pack to get on top of a match with. Also if they reach their potential, they?ll have a bench with amazing impact. I believe the Bunnies can finish between 6th ? 11th this season?.no better and no worse than that.

Pacific Cup 2006 Round 2 Results

SUNDAY 26 February 2006 Waitemata Park, Henderson, AucklandFiji Bati vs Cook Islands Fiji Bati 40M. Koronui, S. Tora, S. Koronamara, A. Tani, A. Saravaki, V. Baleilomaloma, C. Clarke : TriesA. Tani (6) : GoalsPlayer Of The Day: Asaeli Saravaki (No.7)Cook Islands 18J. Burgess, W. Vaeau, R. Enoka, T. Taia : TriesW. Vaeau (1) : GoalsPlayer Of The Day: Jack Burgess (No.1)Halftime Score: 24 ? 6 To Fiji BatiNZ Maori vs TongaTonga 42K. Uasi, M. Richter (2), T. Moa (5) : TriesJ. Taufa?ao (5) : GoalsPlayer Of The Day: Aloisio Malangi (No.10)NZ Maori 14M. Wanoa, J. Limmer, D. Were : TriesJ. Trott (1) : GoalsPlayer Of The Day: Damon Trott (No.10) Halftime Score: 12 ? 6 To Tonga

Perry Making up for lost time in the NRL

AT an age when most top grade footballers are being consigned to the retirement list, Shane Perry possesses the enthusiasm of a rookie. The 28-year-old former Canterbury Bulldog thought his NRL days were over when he returned to Queensland Cup side Redcliffe in 2002. But four years on, the utility half is making up for lost time and thoroughly enjoying himself. "I feel like I'm 21 again," said Perry, who after an impressive performance for the Broncos during last weekend's 28-20 win against Canberra at Port Macquarie, has retained his place on the bench for tonight's pre-season match against Melbourne Storm at Clive Berghofer Stadium. "I'm playing each game now as if it is my last," Perry said. "I'm enjoying footy and I'm happy with where I am. "There are a few blokes who are injured at the moment who have to come back, so we'll just see what happens." Perry made his NRL debut in 1999 for Wests before linking with the Bulldogs where he became a Reserve Grade regular from 2000-01. But a lack of opportunity and having family in Brisbane, convinced him to return to Queensland. Redcliffe's affiliation with the Broncos allowed him to train with the club, who were so impressed that they offered him an NRL lifeline. "When I first came back, NRL was still a goal, but I also wanted to do well with Redcliffe," Perry said. "But then the years passed and I thought that it (NRL) was not going to happen." But Perry came off the bench against Canberra last weekend and didn't look back. A Perry grubber that set up the first of Brisbane winger Tame Tupou's three tries sparked a run of 28 unanswered points. Perry said that Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett had already discussed using him as cover for the expected injuries and unavailability during the State-of-Origin series. Perry said he was looking forward to tonight's game on a ground which holds good memories, despite regularly turning up as a Redcliffe enemy. "It's a good ground, but it's usually cold here," he laughed. The Broncos-Storm game is scheduled to start at 7.30pm. This article is courtesy of the Toowoomba Chronicle

Weekend Trial Results NRL 2006

NRL Trials 25-26 February 2006Sat 25 Feb: Raiders 82 - Jim Beam Cup Teams 6Sat 25 Feb: Cowboys 42 - Rabbitohs 0Sat 25 Feb: Storm 58 - Broncos 10Sat 25 Feb: Panthers 26 - Eels 24Sat 25 Feb: Manly 42 - Wests Tigers 18Sat 25 Feb: Knights 22 - Sharks 4Sat 25 Feb: Warriors 24 - Bulldogs 20Sun 26 Feb: Roosters 16 - Dragons 12For a more extensive list of NRL and QRL trials - click here.

Roosters Defeat Dragons In Trial Match

THE Sydney Roosters have defeated the St George Illawarra Dragons 16-12 at WIN Stadium this evening in the Dragons second and final pre-season match.Both teams scored three tries with goal kicking being the difference in the wet and slippery conditions. A crowd of 6722 braved the weather and saw a number of players participate with both Nathan Brown and Ricky Stuart using over 20 players throughout the game in an attempt to finalise combinations before the NRL season begins. Representative stars Trent Barrett, Jason Ryles and Braith Anasta were missing from the clash with all expected to the play in the opening round of the Telstra Premiership in less than two weeks.The Dragons started the game well with fullback Clint Greenshields crossing the line in just the third minute after receiving an inside pass from Mark Gasnier. Wes Naiqama was unsuccessful with the conversion.The Roosters then dominated possession for the remainder of the first half scoring the next 16 points to head into the break with the 12 point lead.Centre Ryan Cross scored the opening two tries for the Roosters in the 7th and 35th minutes. Cross finding holes in the Dragons defence on both occasions and taking defenders with him over the line. Craig Fitzgibbon converted the opening try and Amos Roberts was unsuccessful with the conversion after the second.In the final minute before half time Roosters replacement Jamie Soward found himself on the end of a Brett Finch kick to score in the left hand corner with Roberts successful on this occasion making the score 16-4 at half time.While the Roosters were kept scoreless in the second half, Wes Naiqama scored twice for the Dragons with both he and Aaron Gorrell unsuccessful in their conversion attempts.Naiqama?s first try in the 53rd minute was a reward for his defensive efforts in keeping the Roosters trapped inside their own goal line as he crossed the line on the Dragons? second play after the Dragons received the line drop-out.Mark Gasnier broke through the Roosters line on half way and ran through the centre of the field, delivering a pass to the flying Naiqama who scored his second try in the 72nd minute.Coach Brown indicated that he was pleased with the improvement in his side from last weekend, but indicated that there was still work to be done.?There were some good signs out there for us, especially in the first 20 minutes,? said Brown. ?We came through the game injury free and have a good indicating of where we are at and know what needs to be done in readiness for the season.?We lost a bit of direction when we changed some personnel around and we still need to work on our ball control but these are things that we can fix,? added Brown.Stand in skipper Ben Hornby agreed there was room for improvement in the Dragons.?The conditions were not great out there, especially for the halves,? said Hornby. ?But we did some good things and know there is a way to go to where we want to be at?.The Dragons play the Tigers in the opening round of the Telstra Premiership on Friday, March 10.ROOSTERS 16 Tries: Ryan Cross 2, Jamie Soward; Goals Craig Fitzgibbon, Amos Roberts. DRAGONS 12 Tries: Clint Greenshields, Wes Naiqama 2.PREMIER LEAGUEDRAGONS 18 Tries Brett Morris, Beau Ryan 2, Goals Reece Blayney 3 defeated NEWTOWN JETS 12 Tries: Pierce Sapsford, Lelea Paea, Nigel PlumJERSEY FLEGGDRAGONS 30 Tries: Matt Seamark, Dan Hunt, James Keelan, James Grehan, Lewis McPhail; Goals Nathan Wynn 3, Blake Dureau 2. ROOSTERS 28 Tries: Shaun Foley, Sam McCartney, Mitchell Pearce 2, Mitch Aubusson; Goals: Shaun Foley, Jeremy Gordon

Weekend Trial Results Qld Cup 2006

TWEED defeat Burleigh in Gold Coast clashIn a fiery encounter, Tweed Heads have defeated the Burleigh Bears 16-10 in a Queensland Cup trial at Carrara Stadium on Saturday.Tweed Heads five-eighth Brad Davis led his team well. Burleigh were let down by a handling errors and a low completion rate.Tweed Heads Seagulls 16 (Nat Barnes 2, Scott Gray tries. Brad Davis 2 goals)defeatedBurleigh Bears 10 (Trent Leis, Jamie Russo tries. Phil Ramage goal)(5:30pm) Carrara Stadium , Gold Coast.Young Guns overcome determined CometsThe North Queensland Young Guns have defeated a gallant Central Comets 20-14 in a Queensland Cup trial in Mackay on Saturday.Following tries to centre Odell Manuel, forward Jade Wogand and winger Jim McConachy, the Comets led their more fancied rivals by 14-4 at half time.Last year's wooden spooners, the Comets looked a chance of causing a pre-season upset. But poor handling let them down in the second half.With a number NRL first graders in their side, the 2005 Queensland Cup champions came back to score 16 unanswered points, the winning try being scored by centre Charles Vis late in the match.NQ Young Guns 20 (Charles Vis, Rod Jensen, Jamie Frizzo, Steve Southern tries. Scott Smith, Mark Henry goals)defeatedCentral Comets 14 (Odell Manuel, Jade Wogand, Jim McConachy tries. Scott Porter goal).(5:00pm) Mackay Junior Rugby League Grounds.Devils thrash Clydesdales in ToowoombaIn sign of things to come, Norths Devils have defeated the Toowoomba Clydesdales 58-10 in a Queensland Cup trial at the Clive Berghofer Stadium on Saturday.The match was a curtain raiser to a Broncos v Storm NRL trial and by coincidence, the Broncos suffered the same scoreline defeat later that night.The understrenghthed Clydesdales were totally outclassed by Norths.Norths second rower Sam Tagataese dominated proceedings with three tries. A Wellington (NZ) junior, Tagataese developed impressively in Queensland before joining the Melbourne Storm feeder club.(5:30pm) Clive Berghofer Stadium.Phillips bags a double as Wynnum down Dolphins in trialWynuum-Manly Seagulls have defeated the Recliffe Dolphins 20-10 in a Queensland Cup trial match at Kougari Oval on Saturday.Wynnum fullback Simon Phillips scored two tries to take the game away from Redcliffe.Wynnnum captain Jimmy Ahmat was rested to allow him more time to recover from an ankle injury. Team mates Royce Simms and John Bruce also sat out the match.Redcliffe forward Troy Lindsay reportedly left the field with a medial ligament strain. Wynnum-Manly Seagulls 20 (Simon Phillips 2, Shaun Daylight, Luke Dalziel-Don tries. Jimmy O'Brien 2 goals)defeatedRedcliffe Dolphins 10 (Pat Gardner, Alwyn Simpson tries. Greg Bourke goal)(7:00pm) Kougari Oval.Easts experience too good for Ipswich Easts Tigers have defeated Ipswich Jets 34-8 in a Queensland Cup trial match at Langlands Park on Saturday.A more experienced outfit, the Easts side were able to run away with the match after leading by just two points at half time. A number of handling errors from Ipswich saw Easts cross for three tries in eight minutes after the break.Easts Tigers 34 (Chris Parker, Ben Smith, Luke Branighan, Brett McPherson, David Wood, Steve Goodhew; Luke Branighan 5 goals)defeatedIpswich Jets 8(7:30pm) Langlands Park.For a more extensive list of NRL and QRL trials - click here.

Cas and Dragons announce squads

CASTLEFORD and Catalans Dragons have announced their 20-man squads for Sunday's clash in round three of the engage Super League.Castleford v Catalans Dragons, Sunday February 26, kick-off 15.30Castleford 20-man: Platt, Pryce, Shenton, Dyer, Blanch, Handforth, Kain, Sculthorpe, Henderson, Nutley, Mason, Haughey, Roarty, Bird, Huby, Fletcher, A. Smith, Viane, Fa?aoso, McGoldrick.Catalans Dragons 20-man: Guigue, Murphy, Wilson, Hughes, Verges, Frayssinous, Beattie, Berthezene, Guisset, Hindmarsh, Mounis, Bosc, Rudder, Zitter, Chan, Fellous, Touxagas, Fakir, Casty, Rinaldi.Ref: S GansonThanks to

Wolves and Hull announce squads

WARRINGTON?S pack is bolstered by the return of Australian Chris Leikvoll and the long-serving Mark Hilton but new signings Paul Rauhihi and Rob Parker are still on the sidelines and young second rower Andy Bracek drops out because of illness.Hull have skipper and hooker Richard Swain back from injury but prop Ewan Dowes is still out with hamstring trouble and Liam Higgins is set to continue to deputise.Warrington v Hull, Halliwell Jones Stadium, Saturday February 25, kick-off 6pmWarrington 18-man: Grose, Fa?afili, Martin Gleeson, Kohe-Love, Briers, Sullivan, Leikvoll, Clarke, Hilton, Swann, Wainwright, Noone, Mark Gleeson, Westwood, Wood, Lima, Barnett, Bridge.Hull 18-man: Blacklock, Briscoe, Brough, Carvell, Cooke, Domic, Higgins, R. Horne, King, Lupton, McMenemy, Radford, Raynor, Swain, Thackray, Tony, Whiting, Yeaman.Ref R Silverwood Thanks to

Quins and Wildcats announce squads

HARLEQUINS welcome back centre Tyrone Smith, who missed last week?s draw at Bradford through injury, but they are still without last year?s top tryscorer Luke Dorn and skipper Mark McLinden, who have both failed to recover from hamstring injuries. Teenager Tony Clubb is poised to make his home debut.Wakefield give a debut to loan signing Tommy Saxton at centre but they have lost second rower Jamie Field with an ankle injury and young forward Mark Applegarth is in coach Tony Smith?s 18-man squad.Harlequins RL v Wakefield, The Twickenham Stoop Saturday February 25, kick-off 3pmHarlequins RL 18-man: Bradley-Qalilawa, Gafa, Haumono, Heckenberg, Hopkins, Leuluai, Lolohea, Lucky Luisi, Mbu, Mills, Purdham, Smith, Sykes, Temata, Tookey, Weisner, Williams, Clubb.Wakefield 18-man: Halpenny, Demetriou, Whittle, Tadulala, Jeffries, Obst , Griffin, March, Korkidas, Solomona, Betham, White, MacGillivray, Elima, Henderson, Applegarth, Catic, Saxton.Ref I Smith Thanks to

Canberra Raiders 2006 season preview

LIKELY squad: Clinton Schifcofske, Marshall Chalk, Craig Frawley, Jermaine Ale, Phil Graham, Jason Smith, Todd Carney, Michael Weyman, Simon Woolford, Troy Thompson, Alan Tongue, Josh Miller, Jason Croker, Interchange: Dane Tilse, Tom Learoyd-Lars, Andrew Lomu, Lincoln WithersStrengths:Despite Canberra not having the best team in the competition on paper they still have quality players in key positions. Schifcofske, Smith, Woolford and rising star Todd Carney all provide a solid nucleus for the Raiders to work with and if they can work with the speed in the backline it could push the Raiders.They have a young forward pack. Michael Weyman is one of the better junior props going around and while being injury-plagued, has the talent to do anything. Dane Tilse has taken Canberra?s lifeline and the once Australian Schoolboy will be looking to put his name in the press for positive reasons. New recruit Learoyd-Lars comes to the club with huge raps and hopefully will realise his unlimited potential.Canberra possesses a speedy backline which could turn it on against any backline in the competition. Former Roosters junior Jermaine Ale debuted this year for the Green Machine however was dropped soon after. Hopefully this season he gets his chance. Chalk and Graham on the wings top off the backline as both are genuine speedsters. Weaknesses:Relying on Jason Smith. He is as vital to Canberra as Johns is to Newcastle. Without him Canberra can go nowhere. Todd Carney is potentially a great organiser, but so far in his short career he has not shown these skills. If Smith was to suffer an injury, it would put immense pressure on the young man.The Raiders? defence in the backline is looking shaky. Craig Frawley and Jermaine Ale aren?t noted defenders while Chalk and Graham aren?t big on tackling either. Luckily they have one of the better defensive fullbacks in the game. However, he?s probably going to have to work overtime this season. Matthew Elliot?s coaching strategy is also a weakness. His inability to pick the correct players and promote younger players with promise really hinders the club?s development. It took only till the end of last season for Carney to have a permanent place in the team. He was ready in 2004, but Elliot?s refusal to play him put Carney back 2 years in his progression. Hopefully he doesn?t do the same with promising youngsters Willie Raston, Alan Rothery and also William Zillman.The Raiders also have a lack of depth in their playing ranks. A lot of that is due to players not getting the opportunity to play first grade and being stuck in premier league. The Raiders, however, were forced to blood a lot of players in 2005 and only a handful seemed up to the task. One to Watch:Queensland under 19?s representative William Zillman is one to watch out for in the Raiders? ranks this season. The 20-year-old starred in Premier League in 2005 both through scoring tries and goal kicking at a high percentage. His efforts were rewarded with a Queensland birth, where the super talented five-eighth was up against team-mate Todd Carney, selected for NSW. Zillman was a shining light in the match. His pairing with Rugby Union convert Berrick Barnes was the great feature of the game. Something that will go a long way for Zillman?s progression in first grade is his versatility. Whether he is playing halfback, five-eighth, centre or fullback, he has the ability to star and the switch will not hinder his impact on the game. While Zillman may have to wait in line for injuries to occur to the Raiders? ranks, when he gets his opportunity he will succeed and prove to us all what a quality player he is. Gains and Losses:Gains: Tom Learoyd-Lars, Trevor Thurling, Dane Tilse.Losses: Matt Adamson, Ian Hindmarsh, Michael Robertson, Ben Cross, Ryan O'Hara, Michael Howell, Damon Alley-Tovio.Assessment:I don?t believe the Raiders have what it takes to challenge for the title this season. I believe, however, if Jason Smith remains fit and healthy, then they may be able to sneak into the 8. However, one injury to Jason Smith and it will be spoon territory for the Green Machine. Their young forwards need to step up and set a platform and their young backs need to remain fit and use their agility and speed if they are to have any success in 2006.My tip ? Between 8th-15th ? I think 13th

Preview: Bradford v Salford (Round 3)

SALFORD will put their 100% record on the line against Bradford at Odsal, where they have never won in Super League and have suffered some embarrassing defeats.The Reds successfully followed up their shock opening win at Warrington with an emphatic defeat of newcomers Catalans Dragons, but coach Karl Harrison admits a tussle with the defending champions will provide a more accurate gauge of their form.?It?s certainly a different challenge for us,? he said. ?They are a quality team, the world club champions, so it?s big test for us. Bradford at Bradford is always difficult."We started the season really well and we?re looking to build on that. Bradford had a hit and miss start and they?ll be wanting to rectify the wrongs from last week.?It?s a real big challenge and this will tell us where we are at at the moment.?The Bulls have three points from their opening two games but struggled to beat Wakefield and needed a late penalty to snatch a draw with Harlequins.Coach Brian Noble knows his side need to improve but is expecting a difficult test from the side with the best defensive record from the opening two rounds.?They are the form team of the competition,? he said. ?I think defensively they are very strong and well structured. They have some good go-forward in them as well.?They have not had the best record here in the Super League era and I am sure they will be looking to put that right tomorrow.?Their position in the table shows how solid they have been this year and the fact they have only conceded six points is testament to their commitment to each other in defence.?It will be a very difficult game for us and the conditions, if they stay wet, won?t help us at all.?Bradford are boosted by the return of winger Lesley Vainikolo, who has a remarkable scoring record of 112 tries in just 106 games.The versatile Karl Pryce is likely to drop to the bench, with young forward Matt Cook dropping out of the squad.Salford are without the suspended John Wilshere, so David Hodgson is set to revert to full-back with Anthony Stewart regaining his place on the wing, and back-row forward Chris Charles is recalled for his first match of the season in place of the injured Ian Sibbit (groin).Bradford Bulls v Salford City Reds, Odsal, Friday February 24 2006Bradford 18-man: Hape, Deacon, Vagana, Fielden, B. Harris, I. Harris, Johnson, Lynch, Bai, Gene, Pryce, Ferres, Vainikolo, Henderson, Langley, McKenna, Withers, Meyers.Salford 18-man: Fitzpatrick, Hodgson, Moule, Stewart, Dunemann, Coley, Alker, Rutgerson, Finnigan, Sibbit, Highton, Langi, Haggerty, Littler, Clough, Baldwin, Brocklehurst, Jonkers.Referee: R Laughton

Preview: Wigan v Huddersfield (Round 3)

WIGAN are hoping to avoid their worst start to a season for 21 years after being beaten in the closing stages of both their opening games against the Catalans and Leeds and are looking to get off the mark against Huddersfield at the JJB Stadium.Coach Ian Millward was delighted with his side?s battling performance against the Rhinos and is refusing to press the panic button.?If we keep improving at that rate, we will win more than we lose,? said Millward. ?The camp is very buoyant.?There are 28 rounds in Super League and there are still 26 great performances left in Wigan.?Huddersfield did the double over the Warriors in 2005 and it was their 26-24 win at the JJB Stadium - their first away victory over Wigan for 48 years - which cost Denis Betts his job as coach, paving the way for Millward to take over.?Huddersfield have been a bit of a bogey team for Wigan over the years,? admitted Millward.?Their form is very impressive. They had a good win against Warrington and they suffered a close loss to Leeds. They?ve recruited very well and have a lot of attacking flair.?Friday?s match marks the return to the JJB Stadium of Wigan-born pair Stephen Wild and Martin Aspinwall, who joined Huddersfield in the close season and scored their first tries for their new club last Sunday.?Making a first return to a former club can always be an emotional moment,? admitted Aspinwall.?But Wildy and me have already done that in the pre-season game earlier in the month and, as a result, it won?t seem quite so bad on Friday. Our sole focus will be on the game rather than the occasion.?Millward has named an unchanged 18, with stand-off Danny Orr hoping for a recall after being surprisingly dropped against Leeds last Friday.Huddersfield are hoping influential Australian hooker Brad Drew will shake off a leg injury sustained in Sunday?s win over Warrington to enable him to maintain his ever-present record for the club. Paul March will step into his shoes if he fails to make it.Wigan Warriors v Huddersfield Giants, JJB Stadium, Friday February 24 2006Wigan 18-man: Ashton, Calderwood, Vaealiki, Richards, Dallas, Orr, Moran, Logan, Higham, Hargreaves, Tickle, Hansen, O?Loughlin, Paleaaesina, Seu Seu, Godwin, Brown, Tomkins.Huddersfield 18-man: Reilly, Aspinwall, Evans, De Vere, Donlan, Thorman, Paul, Crabtree, Drew, Nero, Snitch, Wild, Jones, Jackson, March, Smith, McDonald, Torrens.Referee: P Bentham

Preview: St Helens v Leeds (Round 3)

AT least one of Super League?s four 100% records will go on Friday night when St Helens, the title favourites, take on beaten Grand Finalists Leeds at Knowsley Road.Both sides have made impressive starts to the season and it would surprise no one if the Roses showdown is repeated in October?s Grand Final.Saints coach Daniel Anderson would like nothing better than to do battle at Old Trafford with his old Parramatta colleague Tony Smith, the Leeds boss, but insists it is too early to make judgements.?It may pan out that way - I hope so anyway - but it?s too early to tell,? he said.?Hull are going all right too, they are scoring 40 points a game and not letting many in.?Even the teams that are losing don?t seem to be playing that bad either.?Anderson began his reign at Saints with a 38-24 win over the Rhinos last May, and they went on to pip their rivals to top spot, but Leeds gained their revenge when it mattered most, in the final eliminator.Smith, who will give a debut to teenage winger Danny Williams, is hoping for a repeat of that 19-16 victory as they look to build on their opening successes.?The challenge of going to Knowsley Road is always one we look forward to and seems to bring the best out in us,? he said.?We know Saints are a very dangerous side. They have quality players across the field, having recruited well and getting players of the quality of Sean Long and Paul Sculthorpe back to full fitness.?St Helens are without prop Nick Fozzard but Paul Anderson has recovered from injury to take his place and second rower Jon Wilkin is also back in the squad after sitting out last week?s win over Castleford.St Helens v Leeds Rhinos, Knowsley Road, Friday February 24 2006St Helens 18-man: P. Anderson, V. Anderson, Cayless, Cunningham, Fa?asavalu, Gardner, Gilmour, Graham, Hooper, Long, Lyon, Meli, Pryce, Roby, Sculthorpe, Talau, Wellens, Wilkin.Leeds 18-man: Mathers, Donald, Walker, Senior, McGuire, Burrow, Bailey, Diskin, Peacock, Lauitiiti, Ellis, Sinfield, Millard, Poching, Jones-Buchanan, Feather, Scruton, Williams.Referee: A Klein

Catalans appoint Mick Potter as new coach

SUPER League newcomers Catalans Dragons have appointed Australian Mick Potter, a former assistant at Bradford Bulls, as their new head coach.Potter, who cut his coaching teeth as right-hand man to fellow countryman Matthew Elliott at Odsal in the early years of Super League from 1996-99, succeeds Englishman Steve Deakin, who was sacked just before Christmas.Potter has spent the last four years as coach of St George Illawarra?s Premier League team, whom he took to two Grand Finals.Dragons chief executive Grant Mayer said: ?This is a great day for the club. To sign someone with as much experience as a player and a coach as Mick Potter is a great testament to the project we have here.?David Waite, Matt Adamson and Paul Donkin have done a fantastic job here with the team since Christmas, however we are now really looking forward to the next stage and that means having a single dedicated head coach.?Potter was recommended for the post by former Great Britain coach David Waite, now director of football at the Catalans.He played under Waite as captain and full-back for St George and also played for Canterbury Bankstown and Perth Reds.After leaving Bradford in 1999, Potter took charge of the New South Wales Under-17s, guiding them to consecutive wins over Queensland.Potter is now making arrangements for the move from Australia to France and is expected to be in Perpignan for the Dragons? third home match against Leeds on March 11.

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