THIS week's Forum 7's article chronicles the recent rise of joint-venture outfit the Wests Tigers. Previously the club has battled to become competitive but things seem to be changing out Leichhardt way, and Campbelltown, oh and Homebush...
THE final round of New Zealand's Bartercard Cup competition, before heading into the play-offs, has last year's champions Mt Albert Lions, and Counties Manukau Jetz both vying for top spot on the ladder at the end of the regular season. The Jetz are equal on points with Mt Albert but lie second on the table due to points differential.
NEWCASTLE Knights captain Andrew Johns will play for New Zealand on their 2007 rugby league tour of England.
A crowd of just over 2400 saw Valleys Juniors and Bears take out the first two premierships of the season.
REDCLIFFE prop Troy Lindsay will become the first player to play 200 Queensland Cup games when he lines up for the Dolphins against Norths at Dolphin Oval on Saturday.
Lindsay who made his first grade debut for Redcliffe in 1994 against the Brisbane Broncos at Dolphin Oval has played 243 first grade games and sits second behind Peter Leis 261 games in all time first grade appearances for Redcliffe.
KIWI league halfback and West Tigers star Benji Marshall is being teased to switch codes with the New Zealand Rugby Union admitting they have approached the 20-year-old.
IN this weeks Bulls Eye, coach Brian Noble looks ahead to Friday's Super League Round 25 game at Headingley when the two West Yorkshire giants, the Bulls and the Rhinos meet in the biggest derby in northern hemisphere rugby!!!
This is a big game and a big test of how we are going towards the end of the season?
Brian Noble: These are the very biggest games in the Super League and they excite players, coaches, officials and spectators alike. The atmosphere and the passion are what make them special for everyone. Leeds are very much the form team of the competition and are already set for a big day out next week in Cardiff. They have strength in every position and some of their players are playing right at the top of their game, so it is going to be difficult for us to go there ad get a result but we will be trying very hard to achieve that. Realistically we are looking to try and finish as high as possible in the table and third place is achievable but to do that we have to keep on winning and keep the momentum going so the two points at Headingley are certainly our goal tomorrow. We don't set those goals but I am sure the players will have it in their minds that it is possible for us to finish third and, as professionals, they will want to achieve that.
Leeds are playing very well at the moment?
Brian Noble: They are and they have a lot of players right on top of their game. McGuire has come back from a difficult season and shown he is back to his very best and Burrow comes on from the bench and gets them going forward. Marcus Bai and Keith Senior have really got a good partnership on the left and that's where Ali Lauti'iti plays and he is dangerous with his offloads. In the pack, Bailey and Ward are setting the platform and Barrie McDermott is playing well. McKenna and Jones-Buchanan work very hard and Sinfield is back in the side, so it is a well balanced outfit. I don't think they will have one eye on the final either because Tony Smith doesn't coach that way. If they are thinking about that and are off their game they may find they will be out for Cardiff, so they will be focused.
Were you happy with the way you played last week?
Brian Noble: Well we did some good things but I thought there was a lot of room for improvement. I am sure Leeds will have looked at the tape and see areas where they could exploit us so the focus this week has been on improving in certain areas. As you come to what is known as the business end of the season then it is all about gathering momentum and we have shown signs, both with the ball and in defence, that we are playing more like we know we can and should be.
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Squad: Brian Noble has named the following 18 man squad for the game: Deacon, Fielden, I Harris, B Harris, Withers, Johnson, Lynch, Parker, L Pryce, Peacock, Langley, Vagana, Paul, Hape, Henderson, Meyers, Vainikolo, Radford,
Milestones: Paul Deacon has scored 131 goals from 166 attempts for an average of 78.92%, Jamie Peacock, who will play his 200th game for the club at headingley this week, needs 4 point for a career total of 200 in club and representative football. Paul Johnson needs 8 points for a career total of 300. He has scored 73 tries in 183 games in club and representative football. Lesley Vainikolo has now scored 95 tries in only 97 appearances for the bulls
COACH Tony Smith looks ahead to the Rhinos game against Bradford Bulls at Headingley this Friday, kick off 8pm.
RUGBY league's team of the 1970s features three Immortals, an Englishman and players boasting 309 international appearances and 32 premiership medals.
MELBOURNE back-up hooker Nathan Friend has signed a two year deal with the Gold Coast from 2007, becoming the seventh player to link with the new NRL franchise.
PARRAMATTA forward Glenn Morrison will miss the rest of the NRL regular season after undergoing surgery today to have a plate inserted in a badly broken finger.
MANLY utility Steve Matai is free to play off the bench against Cronulla at Toyota Park on Sunday after being cleared of a grade one careless high tackle charge at the NRL judiciary last night.
THE new Gold Coast NRL franchise has taken its player roster to six after Parramatta utility Luke O'Dwyer agreed to terms.
Wests Tigers 54 v Canterbury Bulldogs 2
LAST week saw the cream of rugby league talent rise to the top. I still rate the Broncos and Cowboys as they both have problems that can be fixed over the next month, but you cannot go past the form of Parramatta, Wests Tigers and the Dragons. All three teams are steaming right now and circling one another with arms cocked like prize-fighters waiting to land a knock-out punch.