Elliott appointment needs to be thought out

AS a Raiders fan, our golden era is a time not likely to be repeated any time soon and this has become evident as Raiders management are set to offer current coach Matt Elliott a one year extension on his deal that expires at the end of the 2006 season long before the first round of the 2006 season.Sound absurd to you? Thought so! Glad I'm not alone.Long before a ball has been kicked in anger for season 2006, the Raiders are planning to offer an extension to a coach that led the team to 14th place on the premiership ladder after regressing from fourth in 2003, to eighth in 2004 to a whisker off the wooden spoon in 2005.Like any job, your tenure and value should be evaluated upon your performance and be results driven. So why would a club sign a coach for next season when they have no inclination as to how the side will perform this season? It sure is a remarkable leap of faith and one that would have Matt Elliott grinning from ear to ear. If only we could all secure a job under those circumstancesI think re-signing Elliott so early can only be a bad thing for the team as there is no pressure to perform and get the best out of the coach if the comfort zone has been established well before the start of the season.It is no surprise to see the captain come out and applaud the potential appointment but you would expect any captain of any team to put a positive spin to give the perception of stability within the ranks. By the way, I am in no way suggesting there is disharmony in Canberra, merely pointing out Clinton Schifcofske is doing what all captains do, and that is not rock the proverbial boat.If Raiders management were fair dinkum and I have my doubts if they are, they would keep their cards close to their chest and wait until at least mid season to see how the results have gone and if any new talent has emerged to replace the aging veterans who are the band aid solution for the Raiders to keep themselves out of the premiership cellar.This move has to be questioned by the fans and one wonders if the club really has the success of the football team as its main priority or are they interested in acquiring more leagues clubs to keep the poker machine cash cow ticking over?The Raiders are equal favourites with South Sydney for the wooden spoon and have a bare cupboard when it comes to depth and elite talent with many players looking for the door over the past three seasons and yet we are continually told we are close to the limit on our salary cap and we are the only club willing to offer misfits from other clubs (Willie Manu, Jamie Lyon, Lance Thompson) a contract but yet none are yet to put pen to paper and likely never will.The moves to re-sign Elliott so early in the piece reeks of desparation and part of this can be put down to the Raiders geographical disadvantage of not being close to Sydney, a small town and a place that is bitterly cold in winter. This is the perception among players and it rings true when you consider Canberra rarely receive a free to air match on television and viewed by all fans as boring and unimaginative with a negative style of play.When you consider Ricky Stuart, Tim Sheens, Brian Smith and John Lang are all off contract at the conclusion of this season and as all coaches have either won a premiership or at the very least, appeared in a grand final in the past five years, you would think it prudent of Raiders management to at least speak with other potential candidates, especially hometown coach Ricky Stuart who knows the club an what it takes to return the Raiders to the winners circle.Personally, I think Stuart would relish the challenge of moulding the Raiders into a cohesive football side with skill on both sides of the ball and get them to play with the high intensity and ferocity the Roosters defence has been renowned for over the past four seasons under Stuart.Even though Brian Smith has an unenviable record in grand finals, he has the wherewithal to mould players into quality footballers and have them produce consistent, high quality football for 26 weeks at least. We saw the results with Tim Smith and Ben Smith last season and apart from the melt down against the Cowboys, he had the Eels finish the regular season as minor premiers with a team that was not expected by many to challenge for the top eight, let alone the premiership.Tim Sheens has already left his legacy in Canberra and would be at long odds to return to the club considering he has nothing to prove in Canberra.I doubt John Lang would come and is still riding the high on his success from 2003 and may view Newcastle as a more attractive option should the opportunity arise.I have nothing against Matt Elliott and if he has the Raiders firing on all cylinders and are in the finals mix come mid-season, then a contract renewal/upgrade is in order and I will be the first to congratulate the club for its shrewd business acumen in securing one of the best coaches in the NRL.While we wait for a decision, I'm going to go and ask my employer for a raise on projects I am yet to start and hope they see their way clear to offer me a significant pay rise regardless of my performance.I'll let you know how I go!

Barrett granted permission to test UK market

ST George Illawarra Dragons captain Trent Barrett has been given permission to negotiate with English clubs, a decision being likely before the end of February. Today's development paves the way for Barrett to leave the NRL at the end of 2006.Dragons chief executive Peter Doust and Barrett's manager Wayne Beavis met today following earlier speculation which linked Barrett to Wigan in the UK."I've got no comment on the likely outcome of today's talks. I wouldn't have a clue," Doust said yesterday.Beavis was equally guarded and insisted that linking Barrett's name to Wigan was "purely market speculation". "There's nothing to the story," Beavis said yesterday.But this afternoon, Doust announced that the Dragons five-eighth wanted to see what interest he could attract from Super League clubs in England."He's going to contemplate a move overseas for 2007 and beyond," Mr Doust said."That doesn't mean that he's decided to go. He's just going to consider the offers and see what comes of it."I think that's the way things are going over there these days - they're looking to attract players of that calibre and so I think they'll be interested, no doubt."

NZ Maori defeat Fiji

AS part of the Australia Day Celebrations the New Zealand Maori team played Fiji at Coffs Harbour International Stadium on Thursday 26 January 2006. A very close and low scoring game, which was controlled extremely well by NRL referee, Shane Hayne in very wet conditions, saw the NZ Maori clock up a win over their Pacific Island counterparts, Fiji. Stand out players for the NZ Maori side were hooker, Cheyenne Motu with outstanding dummy half running which gained his team some good yards and Jason Paikea who was great under the high ball in the fullback position and could not be faulted for his strong running. This being the first hit out for many of the players this season the coaching staff were happy with the win for the start of their tour to Australia. They are now focusing on the Orara Sevens Tournament where they will play at Coffs Harbour on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 January 2006. RESULT NZ Maori 12Tries: J. Cassidy, A. TuaraGoals: N. Hohaia, J. Cassidy Fiji 6Tries: A. DulagamaGoals: F. Caucauba

Student Rugby League U-19 National Cup Final

UNDERDOGS Hopwood Hall College triumphed 18-14 over favourites St Helens College, who were unbeaten going into the final and had defeated Hopwood earlier in the season 17-10.But St Helens made them sweat when all looked lost, trailing 18-6 with seven minutes remaining, as they scored two tries in the closing minutes and were pushing for a match winner. Hopwood held on in a pulsating finale in which man of the match David Chrimes scored a brace and substitute Jack Burns scooted over for the decisive score on 73 minutes.Chrimes just edged out his stand off Jordan Turner who was a superb link for his forwards and backs with his passing and kicking game and made the two opening tries for his side.For St Helens it appeared to be a case of stage fright and they have now lost their second major final in the last twelve months. They found difficulty in completing sets of six, lost possession in good field position and on three occasions also failed to find touch when awarded. Although they gave there all it was only in the last five minutes of each half they came to life and posted points on the board.Hopwood opened the scoring on three minutes on their first set of six when on the last tackle Turner put a bouncing grubber into the in goal and Chrimes was first to the ball to touch down, with Turner adding the extras. On Hopwood?s next attack Chrimes made another barnstorming run but was stopped by a shell shocked St Helens. They slowly got back into the game and levelled the game up five minutes from the break following a Hopwood drop out, when winger Andrew Bethell scooted in from the play the ball in the corner. Ryan Rogers converted a magnificent touchline kick, but on the stroke of half time missed a relatively easy penalty which would have given them an 8-6 lead.The second half was a carbon copy of the first and Hopwood went 12-6 ahead on 43 minutes. Turner put a high bomb up on the last tackle, St Helens let the ball bounce and Hopwood regained possession and Chrimes in support scored his second try.Turner missed a penalty attempt seven minutes later and on 70 minutes his last tackle drop goal attempt was disallowed.On their next set Hopwood scored then continued to turn the screw, not giving St Helens any space. On 73 minutes they scored a third converted try as Burns drove through defenders close to the line from the play the ball.With five minutes remaining St Helens counter-attacked and kept the ball alive and winger Ian Lenton went in at the corner, but skipper and loose forward Craig Wilson missed the conversion. This breathed new life into the side and with a minute remaining Wilson went over the whitewash and hit the upright with the conversion to make it 18-14.St Helens stormed up field looking for the match winner but the referee's whistle brought to an end a dramatic final which was a credit to the student game.A name to remember for the future Jordan Turner who appears to have all the elements a stand off should have.HOPWOOD HALL COLLEGE 18 defeated ST HELENS COLLEGE 14Hopwood Hall College : 1. Fletcher, 2. M. Howley, 3. Chrimes, 4. Dewhirst, 5. Foy, 6. Turner, 7. Clough, 8. Cookson, 9. Whitmore, 10. Hopkins, 11. Duerden, 12. Gray, 13. McGriffin. Subs: 14. Burns, 15. Brandford, 16. Blackmore, 17. Moore, 18 P. HowleySt Helens College : 1. Quinn, 2. Bethell, 3. Smith, 4. Walsh, 5. Lenton, 6. Haggerty, 7. Rogers, 8. Mannion, 9. Forber, 10. Holland, 11. Taylor, 12. Manchester, 13. Wilson. Subs : 14. Gregory, 15. Leyland, 16. Appleton, 17. Harper, 18. Key.

Titans names side for maiden outing

AN historic day for the NRL?s newest club the Gold Coast Titans when coach John Cartwright this afternoon named the side which will play in the Orara Valley Axemen Seven?s competition this weekend.Cartwright said, ?It?s basically an opportunity to get some of our good juniors together and see how they perform against more experienced opposition. It?s great to be representing the Titans for the first time particularly in one of our catchment areas. We hope to develop a great relationship with the Coffs Harbour area in the future.?The team is made up of members of the Titans Elite Academy and Queensland Cup players from Titans Feeder clubs - Burleigh Bears, Ipswich Jets and Tweed Heads Seagulls. Cartwright named former Penrith Panthers back rower Matt Pow as Captain of the Inaugural Sevens side and will be looking to the current Seagulls Queensland Cup player to lead the younger team members from the very first clash, when they take on Malta on Saturday morning. As far as results go, Cartwright is not expecting miracles but is more focused on looking at the individual to see how competitive they are and what sort of attitude is displayed. He said, ?It?s very hard to go into a 7s tournament expecting to win. That?s the appeal of the game, it?s fast, open and gives all sides a chance.Regardless of the result this weekend the enormity of the Titans becoming a reality also holds great significance. ?There is enormous excitement from within the Titans club about this 7s tournament. I think it?s a realization from all the people who have worked so hard on making the club a reality of how close we are to 2007.We have also had a lot of local media coverage which suggests a high level of interest from our supporters?, said CartwrightThe Titans will play Malta, the Australian Maoris and Crescent Head in the first round of competition on Saturday.If you require any further information please call Ian Buchanan on 0407 242156Gold Coast Titans 7?s Team? John Dean- Ipswich Jets ? Chris Sandow ? Gold Coast Titans Elite Squad? Shannon Walker - Gold Coast Titans Elite Squad? Matthew Pow (C) - Tweed Seagulls? Matt Austin-Tweed Seagulls? Dimitri Pelo- Burleigh Bears? Nat Barnes-Tweed Seagulls ? Michael Walker - Gold Coast Titans Elite Squad? Dennis Gordon Gold Coast Titans Elite Squad ? Bo Dene Thompson Gold Coast Titans Elite Squad ? Mitchell Herlihy Gold Coast Titans Elite Squad ? Matthew Lindsey-Tweed Heads Seagulls ? Matthew Francis - Gold Coast Titans Elite Squad ? Ben Thomas - Gold Coast Titans Elite Squad? STAFF? John Cartwright - Coach? Scott Sattler ? Football Manager

Charity Shield Essential for Dragons in 2006

DRAGONS coach Nathan Brown believes the Charity Shield is an essential component of the Dragons preparation for the 2006 season when they take on the Rabbitohs at Telstra Stadium on February 18 in their first match of the year.The Dragons have vivid memories of their start to the 2005 season and their 30-6 loss in the annual clash last year."The Charity Shield is always a tough match and we will definitely be looking to turn the tables on last years result and start the season well," said Brown. "It is great opportunity for us to put into practice what we have been working on in the pre-season in front of a big crowd at Telstra Stadium, replicating the environment we will face in our first NRL Premiership match.Captain Trent Barrett and new re-cruit Sam Isemonger are also looking forward to the clash and recognise the importance of the match. The first match of the year is something we all look forward too and it is a good indicator for where we are at," said Barrett. "We are lucky to always have such a tough match against the Rabbitohs and the atmosphere always adds that something extra"."The Charity Shield is something that I have always watched, it is not your average trial game and it is something that I am very much looking forward to being involved with," added Isemonger.The Charity Shield has always been an exciting and tough encounter for both Clubs and when the concept was established in 1982 the tradition began to support local charities and causes. In 2006 proceeds from the Charity Shield will be committed to the St George and Wollongong Public Hospitals in the Dragons' communities."There are many worthwhile charities in need of help however, along with South Sydney, we felt that it was important to stick with the traditions of the Charity Shield and support causes in our local communities," said Dragons Chief Executive Officer Peter Doust.The Dragons team for the Charity Shield will be announced at the Dragons Media and Charity Shield Launch on Tuesday, February 15.The Dragons second and final pre-season match is against the Roosters at Wollongong on Sunday, February 26.2006 CHARITY SHIELD FACT SHEETCharitiesThe major beneficiaries of the 2006 Charity Shield will be the St George Public Hospital, Wollongong Public Hospital, Sydney Children's Hospital and Humpty Dumpty Foundation.Charity Shield Program: Saturday, February 184pmGates open4.30pmJersey Flegg (under 19): Dragons v Rabbitohs6pmPremier League: Dragons v Rabbitohs7.30pmFOX telecast preview program8pmFOX live broadcast, NRL trial, Dragons v RabbitohsTicket SalesTickets are on sale for an exclusive priority period to Dragons Red V Members and Rabbitohs Members from 9am Thursday, January 19.Tickets are on sale to the general public on Monday, January 23.Tickets can be purchased from any Ticketek outlet, online at www.ticketek.com.au or by phone on 132 849.Ticket PricesPremier Reserved Seating - Adult $25; Children/Concession $15; Family (2 adults, 2 children under15) $65.General Admission - unreserved seating - Adult $20; Children/Concession $10; Family (2 adults, 2children under 15) $45.ResultsIn the 22 Charity Shield matches contested since 1982, The Dragons have won 13 times; Rabbitohs 6; draws 3.1982 - St George 9-7 at Redfern Oval.1983 - St George 28-10 at Redfern Oval.1984 - South Sydney 24-6 at Redfern Oval.1985 - St George 10-8 at Redfern Oval.1986 - St George 12-0 at Redfern Oval.1987 - St George 28-14 at Redfern Oval.1988 - South Sydney 30-6 at Redfern Oval.1989 - South Sydney 20-16 at SFS.1990 - Drawn 10-all at SFS.1991 - Drawn 16-all at SFS.1992 - South Sydney 21-20 at SFS.1993 - St George 10-8 at SFS.1994 - St George 14-11 at SFS.1995 - St George 18-10 at SFS.1996 - St George 30-6 at SFS.1997 - St George 26-18 at SFS.1998 - St George 14-4 at SFS.1999 - South Sydney 16-14 at SFS.2002 - Drawn 20-all at Aussie Stadium.2003 - St George 28-10 at Aussie Stadium.2004 - St George 34-8 at Aussie Stadium.2005 - Souths 30-6 at Aussie Stadium.

Pierce appointed CEO at Sharks

GREG Pierce has been appointed chief executive of NRL club Cronulla after serving in a caretaker role following the death of Sharks legend Steve Rogers earlier this month.Pierce has held a number of positions at the Sharks over the past 12 years, including Development and Operations Manager, Welfare Manager, Football Manager and Football Club administrator. In recent times he worked directly under Rogers.Pierce also served as assistant coach of the Kangaroos from 2001-2003, was the NSW Resident's coach in 2002, the City Firsts coach in 2000-2001 and played first grade for the Sharks in 1984 and 1985.

Berrigan's playing future unclear

BRISBANE Broncos hooker Barry Berrigan is anxiously awaiting the results of neck scans that will determine if he can keep playing.The 30-year-old brother of Broncos centre Shaun Berrigan visited a specialist this week to find out why he is still suffering pain after undergoing fusion surgery in late 2004. Berrigan has been suffering pain for the past 10 days.He expects to know his fate next week when he gets the scan results. The Broncos recently recruited former Dragons rake Michael Ennis who will make a suitable replacement if Berrigan is unable to resume his career.

Clash of the Titans

KNIGHTS and Titans will do battle in fourteen dynamic minutes of rugby league action to kick off the 2006 Orara Valley Sevens at Coffs Harbour this weekend, January 28 and 29.With two international fixtures ultimately kicking off the Orara Valley Axemen Big Week of League on January 26, it will be the Malta Knights and the Gold Coast Titans that kick off the two-day Sevens carnival, underwritten by resident local and Hollywood star Russell Crowe.History beckoning, the Titans who will make their entry into the NRL competition in 2007 are fielding a squad jam-packed with players from the Gold Coast?s elite academy as well as QLD Cup talent that includes captain and ex Penrith Panthers back rower Matt Pow leading out the Titans for the first time.Maltese Rugby League will enter the code?s history books for the second time in only three months, as the first up opponents to the newly formed Gold Coast, who are being represented under the ?Titans? banner for the first time. Titans? head coach John Cartwright isn?t denying the excitement leading up to this weekend.?There is enormous excitement from within the Titans club about this Sevens tournament. I think it?s a close realization from all the people who have worked so hard on making this club a reality of how close we are to 2007? said Cartwright.Cartwright isn?t expecting miracles in the Titans? first outing.?It?s very hard to go into a Sevens tournament expecting to win. That?s the appeal of the game, its fast, open and gives all sides a chance?Opening the tournament against the Malta Knights before taking on Crescent Head and the Australian Maoris, Cartwright is using the budding sevens tournament to test his players who are challenging for roles in the club?s approaching NRL return in 2007.?It?s basically an opportunity to get some of our good juniors together and see how they perform against more experienced opposition? Cartwright said.Ten of the fifteen players selected in Malta?s sevens squad were members of a history making rugby league tour to Malta 12 weeks ago, taking on the England Lionhearts, selected from England?s amateur rugby league conference competitions. Malta defeated England 36 to 6.Newcastle Knights premier league utility Daniel Spiteri was consequently sent off in the third minute of the historic encounter after tensions simmered in the international friendly on a muggy 30-degree plus afternoon.Evenly, Ashley Klein, the Engage Super League 2005 referee of the year dismissed Spiteri and his opposite number Lionhearts? Brendan Lewis as well as placing a further member of each team in the sin bin.Spiteri is adamant that his return for Malta at the Orara Valley Sevens will bring a positive bang.?People insist on bringing up the darkest moment in my footy career. It was very disappointing and won?t happen ever again??Is the pope a catholic? There is more fire in me then the sun itself, controlled though, no send offs this time!? Spiteri assures.Spiteri, who has been granted a release from the Newcastle Knights, is motivated to play to his best at the Orara Valley Sevens, granted there will be scouts from several NRL clubs about.?Huge incentive, all you have do to is look of likes of Benny (Sammut) and Clewsy (Brad) and you see what playing at the top level does for you, to be earning a huge salary and doing it by playing footy which is something you love would be great? said Spiteri.Only weeks before the fateful match, Spiteri was the instrumentalist in a last second try that helped Malta to a 24-22 win over Greece in Sydney, dashing sixty metres to bring the pro Maltese crowd into raptures.?The try itself just proved his evasiveness? ?He was positioned on the left wing and scored on the opposite (right hand side) of the field? Malta coach Joe Grima said.South Sydney Rabbitohs have named flying winger Luke MacDougall as captain in a line-up selected from throughout the foundation club?s grades, jersey flegg to first grade.Drawn into the same group as defending champions Lebanon, Fiji A has listed former Tigers NRL star James Langaloa in their 15-man squad.Malta Knights sevens squad:N Attard, S Azzopardi, S Borg, B Clews, P Galea, A Grech, W Grech, P Harris, P Marzella, J Micallef, S Micallef, B Russell, B Sammut (C), J Sammut, D Spiteri.2006 Orara Valley Sevens TournamentSaturday 28th January (Day One)9:00am MALTA vs GOLD COAST Titans10:40am MALTA vs CRESCENT HEAD Roos11:40am MALTA vs WAIRERE AUSTRALIAN Maoris The Maltese Rugby League Association, a voluntarily run organisation whose main source of income is the retailing of their popular merchandise range which includes replica jerseys, polo shirts, t-shirts, caps and dvd?s. During the Orara Valley Sevens, supporters have the opportunity to purchase the Malta Knights jersey at a special price of only $75.Related links:http://www.malteserugbyleague.comwww.oraravalleyaxemen.com

North Sydney Legends On Show At Coffs Harbour

MATT Seers, Greg Florimo, Josh Stuart and Craig Wilson are some of the North Sydney stars that will be on show at the Orara Valley Sevens held between 27th and 29th of January 2006. Four days of festivities will include demonstration matches by the ?Old Boys? of North Sydney, St George and that mixed bag team ?The Barbarians?, a legends golf day and dinner as well as 2 days of sevens football in the beautiful Orara Valley. And so the North Sydney Bears will battle the St George Old Boys team on the evening of Australia Day at Coffs Coast International Stadium and will play again on Saturday at Coramba Sports Ground against a Coast and Valley Old Boys team. In between the boys will be playing golf and dinning for charity.TEAM LIST:Adam Muir Andrew King Anthony Peredis Brenton Pomery Craig Wilson Greg Florimo Josh Stuart Matt Seers Michael Buettner Peter Phillips Wayne Portlock Willie Leyshon

North Sydney Legends On Show At Coff Harbour

MATT Seers, Greg Florimo, Josh Stuart and Craig Wilson are some of the North Sydney stars that will be on show at the Orara Valley Sevens held between 27th and 29th of January 2006.

Scottwood Trust National Rugby League 7's 2006

WAITANGI Weekend sees the holding of the 3rd Annual Scottwood Trust National Rugby League Sevens Tournament at the North Harbour Stadium, Albany, Auckland.The Tournament will see the 10 Bartercard Cup teams competing against 8 Provincial teams plus a Defence Force team and also the winners of last seasons Mad Butcher Fox Memorial, the Manurewa Marlins.The tournament commences at 9.00am on Saturday the 4 February 2006 and will see 20 teams divided into 5 pools striving to qualify for the Cup, Plate and Bowl Sections. Sunday the 5 February 2006 will commence at 10.00am with the various sections playing a sudden death knock out competition to find the Cup, Plate and Bowl Finalists. In all, the Tournament will see 47 games of fast, open, entertaining Rugby League and it is hoped that some new stars of the future are exposed. To this end the Kiwi Coach and the NZ Warriors have expressed their interest in viewing the abundance of talent on show.The winners of the Cup section will represent the NZRL at the St Mary?s Sevens in Sydney on the weekend of 11 ? 12 February 2006.Ticket Prices:Adults - $10.00 (1 Day Pass)*Special Offer ? National Rugby League Sevens Giveaway*Upon purchasing an Adult 1 Day Pass you will receive a voucher for 30 pre-cooked BBQ sausages. The voucher can be used at any Auckland Mad Butcher store and is valid until 6 March 2006. Child [Under 16] - $5.00 (1 Day Pass) Adult (2 Day Pass) - $15.00 Kids Under 12 - FREE Carparking ? FREE Tickets are available from Mad Butcher stores and at Gate B on the day.SCOTTWOOD TRUST NEW ZEALAND RUGBY LEAGUE NATIONAL SEVENS 2006 DAY 1 SATURDAY 4th FEBRUARY 2006Game Time Ground POOL Match SCORE1 9-00AM Stadium A Taranaki v Tamaki 2 9-00AM Oval A Mt Albert v Cant / Prov 3 9-20AM Stadium B Well / Prov v Otago 4 9-20AM Oval B Central v Cant / Bulls 5 9-40AM Stadium C Gisborne v Manurewa 6 9-40AM Oval C Wellington v Counties Man 7 10-00AM Stadium D West Coast v Waicoa Bay 8 10-20AM Stadium D North Harbour v Hawkes Bay 9 10-40AM Stadium E Southland v Defence Force 10 11-00AM Stadium E Northland v Waitakere 11 11-20AM Stadium A Taranaki v Cant / Prov 12 11-40AM Stadium A Tamaki v Mt Albert 13 12-00AM Stadium B Well / Prov v Cant / Bulls 14 12-20PM Stadium B Otago v Central 15 12-40PM Stadium C Gisborne v Counties 16 1-10PM Stadium C Manurewa v Wellington 17 1-30PM Stadium D West Coast v Hawkes Bay 18 1-50PM Stadium D Waicoa Bay v North Harbour 19 2-10PM Stadium E Southland v Waitakere 20 2-30PM Stadium E Defence Force v Northland 21 2-50PM Stadium A Taranaki v Mt Albert 22 3-10PM Stadium A Tamaki v Cant / Prov 23 3-30PM Stadium B Well / Prov v Central 24 3-50PM Stadium B Otago v Cant / Bulls 25 4-10PM Stadium C Gisborne v Wellington 26 4-30PM Stadium C Manurewa v Counties 27 4-50PM Stadium D West Coast v North Harbour 28 5-10PM Stadium D Waicoa Bay v Hawkes Bay 29 5-30PM Stadium E Southland v Northland 30 5-50PM Stadium E Defence Force v Waitakere FINAL DAY QUALIFIERSSCOTTWOOD CUP Pool winners, plus Qualifier 6SCOTTWOOD PLATE Qualifiers 7 to 12 SCOTTWOOD BOWL Qualifiers 13 to 20

Hape inspires Bulls to victory

ENGAGE Super League champions Bradford Bulls warmed up for their World Club Challenge clash in impressive fashion with a comfortable 28-10 victory at new-look Huddersfield. The Bulls, who will return to the Galpharm Stadium for their meeting with the Australian champions on Friday week, were superbly led by new captain Iestyn Harris in their first major pre-season friendly. Even without the rested Paul Deacon, Lesley Vainikolo and new signing Stanley Gene, the champions were too strong for a generally disappointing Giants team, for whom ex-Bradford favourite Robbie Paul made a quiet debut. Former Leeds winger Marcus Bai marked his first appearance for the Bulls with a try but the star performer with a try in each half was New Zealand Test centre Shontayne Hape, who picked up from where he left off in November?s Tri-Nations triumph.Bradford had the game sewn up at half-time when they led 22-0 thanks to tries from Bai, Hape, hooker Ian Henderson and substitute Brett Ferres, with Harris kicking four conversions. Huddersfield, who also had Albert Torrens, Martin Aspinwall, Stephen Wilde, Steve Snitch and Matt Gardner making their first appearances, suffered from a chronic shortage of ideas near the visitors? line. Centre Chris Nero touched down a neat kick from Paul 14 minutes into the second half to enable his side to avoid being whitewashed, but the Bulls increased their lead when the forceful Hape crossed at the corner for his second try and Harris landed a fourth goal. The home side at least had the final say when Torrens, who was the pick of their new signings, followed up a kick from England international Chris Thorman to score his side?s second try and Thorman added the goal.

Weakened Wildcats defeated by Tigers

CASTLEFORD geared up for their return to engage Super League with a satisfying 33-20 triumph over a depleted Wakefield Wildcats team.Australian Luke Dyer, winger Waine Pryce and Michael Shenton all crossed twice for the Tigers, who handed debuts to seven off-season recruits in a spicy pre-season clash.Dyer and Pryce opened their accounts inside eight minutes as Wakefield, who rested all four of their new signings, crumbled under early pressure.Winger Semi Tadulala put the Wildcats on the board before Dyer streaked over to make it 16-4.A try double from Wakefield three-quarter Jason Demetriou in the final two minutes of the first half, allied to two conversions from hooker David March, squared it up at the break.Pryce completed his brace, courtesy of a fine pass from debutant Richard Fa?aoso, only for Wakefield to again hit back as lucky winger Austin Buchanan climbed highest to touch down off Ben Jeffries? pinpoint kick.But Cas finished with a flourish, running in three tries in the final 10 minutes, including a superb double from Shenton.On 70 minutes the teenager evaded a posse of defenders to plunge over the line and four minutes later showed good strength to barge his way past two would-be tacklers.Former Wakefield half-back Paul Handforth landed a drop-goal to make the game safe and Australian winger Damien Blanch put the icing on the cake by twisting his way over the whitewash in the final minute.

Harlequins on a high

HARLEQUINS began their new life on a high note with a resounding 46-6 victory over engage Super League new boys Catalans Dragons in Perpignan.The Londoners, who have traded in their old Broncos tag for the new glitzy Quins look, ran in nine tries to one in a pre-season friendly at Stade Municipal St Esteve watched by a crowd of around 4,000. New signing Mark Gafa was the top scorer with two tries and five conversions while fellow centre Tyrone Smith also bagged a brace of touchdowns.Scrum-half Thomas Leuluai, out for six months with a broken ankle, marked his comeback with the game?s first try and Quins also gave a run-out to Duncan James, one of three youngsters from Harlequins rugby union team. The match marked the culmination of a fortnight?s training camp for Harlequins, who fly back to London on Sunday to continue their preparations for the new campaign. The Catalans, who chose not to play New Zealand scrum-half Stacey Jones, have a second friendly against Hull at the KC Stadium next Sunday as they build up to their opening League match against Wigan at Stade Aime Giral on February 11.

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