Raiders snatch victory in extra time

ROUND 4 Canberra Raiders 21 v Penrith Panthers 20Match Summary:Canberra Raiders fullback and skipper Clinton Schifcofske has potted an 87th minute field goal to sink the Penrith Panthers by 21-20 at Canberra Stadium tonight.Minutes earlier and on the stroke of full time, centre David Howell scored out wide. Schifcofske kept Canberra in the match by successfully converting Howell's try to lock the scores up at 20-all and sending the match into Golden Point extra time.Following an attempt at field goal from Raiders hooker Simon Woolford and then two shots from Panthers half back Craig Gower, Schifcofske chanced his boot. After one unsuccessful attempt, Schifcofske kicked the winning point from 25 metres out.For the Panthers, it was their second golden point game of 2006 when in round two they defeated the Dragons thanks to the boot of five-eighth Preston Campell.Played in chilly conditions, the Raiders struck first with a try in the 10th minute before the Panthers hit back 10 minutes later. Both sides continued to swap four-pointers and at half time it was two tries each with the Raiders holding a slender 10-8 lead.Canberra went further ahead in the second half when winger Adam Mogg got his second try. But the Panthers were not be outdone with forward Frank Pritchard running wide and crashing over to level up the scores again.Panthers fullback Rhys Wesser put the visitors in the box seat following a 60 metre movement and tremendous display of attacking football, Gower handling the ball three times with Luke Priddis backing up to deliver the final pass to a flying Wesser.At 20-14 and with time running out, it looked like the Panthers were ready to go on with it. But a try in the final minute to Howell, and Schifcofske's conversion, turned the tables with the home side ultimately coming out on top.Scorers:Canberra Raiders: 21Tries: Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, David Howell, Adam Mogg(2)Goals: Clinton Schifcofske 2/4Field Goals: Clinton ShifcofskePenrith Panthers: 20Tries: Luke Lewis, Frank Pritchard, Rhys Wesser, Lee HookeyGoals: Preston Campbell 2/5Canberra StadiumReferee: Gavin BadgerBy the Clock:Players on the field. A small crowd on hand of approxinately 7,000. Chilly night in Canberra, Raiders will have a slight breeze behind them in the first half.Kick off!10 min: TRY Canberra RaidersCentre Adam Mogg scores in the corner for the Raiders, Jason Smith and Lincoln Withers creating the opportunity. Clinton Schifcofske unsuccessful with the conversion attempt. Raiders 4-020 min: TRY Penrith PanthersLee Hookey scores out wide for Penrith. Preston Campbell unable to add the extras. 4 all.24 min: TRY Canberra RaidersForward Tom Learoyd-Lahrs steamrolls his way through to score for Canberra. Conversion successful. Raiders 10-430 min: TRY Penrith PanthersLuke Lewis scores out wide for the Panthers. Campbell unable to convert. Raiders 10-8Half time: Raiders 10-8A tightly fought match and too close to call.41 min: NEWS Second half underway with Panthers kicking off. Raiders have a horror start allowing the ball to go dead and forcing a line drop out. Panthers on the attack but they lose the ball and Raiders are off the hook.44 min: TRY Canberra RaidersMogg gets a double racing 25m downfield. Set up by Craig Frawley who delivered a beaut offload.Sideline conversion unsuccessful. Raiders 14-856 min: TRY Penrith PanthersPritchard scores out wide following sustained pressure, big Frank Pritchard on the burst and near impossible to stop.Conversion from Campbell is a ripper. 14 all.59 min: TRY Penrith PanthersRhys Wesser scores after Craig Gower takes off up the middle of the park, finds Luke Priddis in support who gives it to Wesser.Campbell adds the extras. Panthers 20-1465 min: NEWS Panthers winger Luke Rooney NO TRY after being held up. Raiders right side defence looks suspect.68 min: ATTEMPTED FIELD GOAL Penrith PanthersLong range field goal from (over 40 metres out) from Campbell unsuccessful. Panthers 20-1471 min: NEWS Forward Shane Rodney (Panthers) comes off with concussion.73 min: ATTEMPTED PENALTY GOAL Penrith PanthersCampbell unsuccessful with penalty goal attempt, 15m in from touch and 25m out.Panthers 20-1480 min: TRY Canberra RaidersHowell scores out wide. Pressure kick from Clinton Schifcofske to lock it up at 20-all and it leaves the boot perfectly. Siren sounding in the background, we're going into golden point time. 20 all.82 min: ATTEMPTED FIELD GOAL Canberra RaidersSimon Woolford has a shot at field goal - unsuccessful. 20 all.82 min: NEWS Jason Smith (Raiders) comes off with concussion.83 min: ATTEMPTED FIELD GOAL Penrith PanthersCraig Gower has a shot at field goal for the Panthers - unsuccessful. 20 all84 min: ATTEMPTED FIELD GOAL Penrith PanthersGower has another shot at field goal - right in front - very close but unsuccessful.20 all85 min: ATTEMPTED FIELD GOAL Canberra RaidersClinton Schifcofske now has a shot and that's the first half of extra time. Still 20 all87 min: FIELD GOAL Canberra RaidersSchifcofske gets a clean kick in from 25m out and the Raiders have come back in extra time to win! Raiders players of the match:3 - Clinton Schifcofske (Raiders)2 - Luke Priddis (Panthers)1 - Simon Woolford (Raiders)-----------------------------------------

Sea Eagles score comeback win over Roosters

ROUND 4 Manly Sea Eagles 30 v Sydney Roosters 22Match Summary:The Manly Sea Eagles had to come back from a double figure deficit for the second week in a row to record their second win of the 2006 season, 30-22 over the Sydney Roosters. The Roosters lead 20-12 at half time.The Roosters scored two early tries to Jamie Soward and Adrian Morley to lead 12-0 after only nine minutes. The Sea Eagles struck back quickly with a nice try to Brett Stewart after a cross field kick, and then Steve Matai scored in the 22nd minute. Two sideline conversions from Matt Orford levelled the match at 12-all. A Fitzgibbon penalty goal and a magnificent breakout try to Anthony Minichello gave the Roosters a 20-12 halftime lead.The Roosters extended their lead to 22-12 after Travis Burns was penalised in possession for dissent, and Amos Roberts added the penalty goal. Steve Bell was then awarded a controversial try after Steve Menzies caught a bomb and Bell caught the Roosters defence short, despite replays showing that Menzies may have knocked the ball on. Matt Orford scored a great solo try after breaking up the middle and then diving over in the middle of a Minichello tackle, his conversion put the Sea Eagles ahead for the first time, 24-22. The match was sealed with seven minutes to go with another controversial try to Travis Burns, after it appeared the defence was obstructed, the final score Manly 30, Roosters 22.Scorers:Manly Sea Eagles: 30Tries: Travis Burns, Brett Stewart, Matt Orford, Steve Matai, Steve BellGoals: Matt Orford 5/5Sydney Roosters: 22Tries: Anthony Minichiello, Adrian Morley, Jamie SowardGoals: Craig Fitzgibbon 3/3, Amos Roberts 2/2Brookvale OvalReferee: Tony ArcherBy the Clock:Teams about to run out at Brookvale.1 min: NEWS The Roosters get us started!3 min: NEWS Video referee for an early Roosters try.3 min: TRY Sydney RoostersAn Anasta kick deflects off the posts and is dived on by Jamie Soward. Awarded via benefit of the doubt. Fitzgibbon converts. Roosters 6-09 min: TRY Sydney RoostersAn error from the Sea Eagles has Adrian Morley crash over. Fitzgibbon adds the extras. Roosters 12-014 min: NEWS Video referee for an Eagles try.14 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesA cross kick finds Robinson who passes the ball back to Stewart who scores out wide. Orford nails the sideline conversion. 12-619 min: NEWS Video referee for a Roosters try...20 min: NEWS No try - Roosters penalised for obstruction.22 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesSteve Matai breaks through a few weak tackles and scores out wide. Orford repeats his touchline success. 12 all.30 min: PENALTY GOAL Sydney RoostersAfter a high shot from Kennedy, Fitzgibbon converts the penalty goal. Roosters 14-1235 min: TRY Sydney RoostersA great breakout and top support play has Minichello scoring for the Roosters. Roberts converts. Roosters 20-1240 min: NEWS The Eagles break out just on half time, but Matai loses the ball near the line.40 min: NEWS Back underway at Brookvale!45 min: PENALTY GOAL Sydney RoostersBurns is penalised in possession for dissent, and Roberts slots the penalty goal. Roosters 22-1252 min: TRY - Sea EaglesMenzies comes down with the high ball and the ball gets to Bell who scores. Orford converts.Roosters 22-1859 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesOrford breaks up the middle and scores in some tackles. He converts his own try and Manly take the lead. Sea Eagles 24-2273 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesSeveral penalties put the Roosters on their own line, Burns steps inside and scores in the tackle of Minichello. Try awarded by the video referee. Orford converts and it looks like this game is settled. Sea Eagles 30-2280 min: NEWS The Eagles show some starch and get up to beat the players of the match:3 - Matt Orford (Sea Eagles)2 - Steve Bell (Sea Eagles)1 - Steve Menzies (Sea Eagles)-----------------------------------------

Sharks post first win of year over Souths

FULLTIME score: Cronulla Sharks 24 defeat South Sydney 22Round 4Match summary:The Cronulla Sharks have posted their first win of 2006 narrowly defeating the South Sydney Rabbitohs 24-22 in breezy conditions at Toyota Park tonight.With a strong wind at their backs in the first half, the Sharks opened the scoring after just one minute when Souths made an error from the kickoff. Souths struck back in the 17th minute to make it 6-all.Sharks scored three times between the 30th and 40th minutes, including a decisive blow right on halftime, to post a commanding half time lead of 20-6.With a favourable breeze in the second half, Souths showed some good ball control to get back into the match, scoring in the 50th minute to narrow the margin to eight. But poor defence allowed the opposition to make inroads and the Sharks added an unconverted try in the 59th minute.Souths continued to make a contest of it with a try in the 65th minute before posting a consolation try in the final minute of play.Toyota ParkReferee: Shayne HayneCronulla Sutherland Sharks: 24Tries: Phil Bailey, Beau Scott, Lance Thompson, Luke Douglas, Tevita LatuGoals: Luke Covell 2/5South Sydney Rabbitohs: 22Tries: Todd Polglase, John Sutton, Nathan Merritt, Paul MellorGoals: Joe Williams 2/2, Nathan Merritt 1/2 Live Commntary:Teams coming onto the field with outside back Adam MacDougall and halfback Joe Williams making their first 2006 appearances for the understrength South Sydney.Sharks forward Ben Ross will be playing this game with a fractured cheek bone. Sharks have a strong wind in the first half after Souths win the toss and elect to run against the breeze. Sharks to kick off...1 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland SharksCentre Beau Scott scores out wide for Sharks. Souths make a blunder receiving from kick off, going into touch. Sharks score in the following play. Luke Covell converts from the sideline. Sharks 6-013 min: Possible try to Sharks. Video ref checking...VERDICT: NO TRY. David Simmons busted through some ordinary defence and put the ball down under the posts. But he fumbled it in the one-handed put down. Poor finish to a nice move. Souths marker defence leaving a lot to be desired.17 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsSouths fullback Todd Polglase scores next to the posts. The Rabbitohs strike back and its all evens Conversion from Joe Williams is OK. 6 all.25 min: Possible try to Sharks. Video ref checking...VERDICT: After an eternity the video ref rules NO TRY, the player Luke Douglas deemed to have fallen short. Play the ball is the ruling.25 min: Yet another possible try to Sharks. Video ref checking...VERDICT: NO TRY. Five-eighth Adam Dykes ruled to have made a double movement. Penalty to Souths.30 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland SharksDouglas not denied this time. Set up by Dykes who worked away from dummy half, Douglas shows some neat footwork to step through the defence and score next to the posts.Converted by Covell. Sharks 12-637 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland SharksTevita Latu crashes over 15m in from touch. Adam Dykes again featuring in the lead up work as the South Sydney line cracks again. Sharks 18-640 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland SharksLance Thompson scores wide of the ruck. A killer blow for Souths. Covell's conversion attempt goes across the face of goal. Sharks 20-6Half time: Sharks 20-6Souths will have the wind in the second half but whether or not this is worth 14 points remains to be seen.Some dispute in the lead-up to the last try as Souths supporters were appealing for a penalty moments earlier following a dangerous tackle on fullback Polglase.Adam Dykes in great form for Sharks with a top kicking game and getting plenty of support on the edge of the ruck. Shannon Hegarty and John Sutton are Souths' best.Players on the field and second half underway...47 min: NEWS NO TRY - Sharks denied after back rower Reece Williams loses the ball while crashing through. Souths fulback Polglase copping a hammering as Souths forwards are simply opening up.50 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsFive-eighth John Sutton scores after winger Nathan Merritt drew in two defenders up the middle of the park, opening up a yawning gap for Sutton who raced through from 25m out.Williams converts from almost in front. Sharks 20-1259 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland SharksPhil Bailey scores out wide for the Sharks after Brett Kimmorley takes full advantage of of a broken defensive line and grubbers into the in-goal.Conversion attempt from Covell misses. Sharks 24-1264 min: Possible Souths try. Video ref checking....VERDICT: NO TRY. After Kimmorley knocked on behind the line, Hegarty was unable to cleaning regather to score. Goal line drop out.65 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsWinger Paul Mellor scores for Souths after a beaut flick pass from Polglase. Mellor improves his position to score 15m in from touch. Conversion attempt from Merritt is waved away. Sharks 24-1675 min: NEWS Souths penalised for a high tackle on Darren Albert. Sharks get the penalty and are deep in Rabbitohs territory.39 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsMerritt scores a late try in the corner for Souths after they put on some dazzling football. Merriit kicks the conversion from the sideline. Sharks 24-22Fulltime: Sharks 24-22.An entertaining comeback towards the end from Souths but Sharks get home with a wet sail and post their first win of the year, the try just before halftime proving decisive.Sharks still have some work to do with ball control and poor completions while Souths, despite showing some good skills in the second half, have to play for the entire 80 minutes. In all, Souths missed 38 tackles which has to be addressed if they want to make an impression in 2006. players of the match:3 - Adam Dykes (Sharks)2 - Todd Polglase (Rabbitohs)1 - John Sutton (Rabbitohs)-----------------------------------------

Cowboys impress against Eels

ROUND 4 Parramatta Eels 18 v North Queensland Cowboys 26Match Summary:The Cowboys came back from trailing 14-0 early in their match against Parramatta at Parramatta Stadium on Friday night to complete an impressive 26-18 win. The Eels led 14-6 at half time.The Eels scored against the run of play in the eighth minute with a 90 metre try to Eric Grothe Jnr. The lead was extended after 18 minutes after Tim Smith sent a great inside ball to Wade McKinnon who scored under the posts. The lead was extended to 14-0 with a Mark Riddell penalty goal in the 34th minute. Just before half time the Cowboys scored the first six points in their 26-0 run with a try to Matthew Scott after a Nathan Hindmarsh error.The Cowboys closed the gap to 14-12 after McKinnon played the ball back to no dummy half right under his own posts, and from the next play Faiumu scored under the posts. Nine minutes later the Cowboys took the lead with the first of Matt Sings two tries after creating an overlap on the right hand side. The Eels were controversially denied a try by the video referee after it was ruled Riddell had used McKinnon as a blocker as he dived from dummy half. Following this there was a punch up that saw Chad Robinson and Justin Smith sin binned, and just before the players came back onto the field Johnathan Thurston converted a penalty goal for a 20-14 lead. Moments later Rod Jensen broke up the middle and found Sing in support who scored his second under the posts. Wade McKinnon scored a late try that could have kept the Eels in the match, only for Riddell to miss the conversion.Scorers:Parramatta Eels: 18Tries: Eric Grothe, Wade McKinnon(2)Goals: Mark Riddell 2/3, Brett Delaney 1/1North Queensland Cowboys: 26Tries: David Fauiumu, Matthew Scott, Matt Sing(2)Goals: Johnathan Thurston 5/6By the Clock:Just several minutes away from kickoff at Parramatta Stadium.1 min: NEWS The Cowboys kick the game off!3 min: NEWS Cowboys get the first attacking opportunity through an Eels error, but a poor pass finds touch.8 min: TRY Parramatta EelsAfter having to defend several repeat sets inside their 10 the Eels hold the Cowboys out and spread the ball wide to Grothe who runs 90 metres to score. Riddell lands the easy conversion. Eels 6-013 min: NEWS On their first real attacking opportunity Tim Smith throws a 'forward pass' that led to Brett Delaney crossing the line, called back.17 min: NEWS Cowboys giving away plenty of penalties in an effort to slow the game down..18 min: TRY Parramatta EelsA magnificent step and inside ball from Tim Smith puts Wade McKinnon in under the posts. Delaney converts. Eels 12-020 min: NEWS Luke O'Dwyer currently down injured. Back up now.23 min: NEWS Eels really dominating possession, getting plenty of penalties and repeat sets.24 min: NEWS An unmarked Grothe drops a pass that would have seen him score in the corner.31 min: NEWS Cowboys win a goal line drop out.34 min: PENALTY GOAL Parramatta EelsAfter a penalty for dissent, Mark Riddell kicks a penalty goal. Eels 14-036 min: NEWS Marsh makes a great run up the middle, but throws a pass to the Cowboys.37 min: TRY North Queensland CowboysOn the back of a great last tackle run, then a Hindmarsh error, Matthew Scott barges over from close range. Thurston converts. Eels 14-640 min: NEWS Half time. The Eels have really dominated the first half but would be dissapointed to only lead by 8.40 min: NEWS Second half underway.41 min: TRY North Queensland CowboysAn awful error from the Eels that had McKinnon playing the ball back to no dummy half leads to a Faiumu try one play later. Thurston converts. Eels 14-1244 min: NEWS Just as the Cowboys were getting momentum Thurston loses the ball as he's tackled.50 min: TRY North Queensland CowboysThe Cowboys draw an overlap and Sing scores out wide. Thurston converts. Cowboys 18-1455 min: ATTEMPTED PENALTY GOAL North Queensland CowboysThurston misses a penalty goal. Cowboys 18-1458 min: NEWS Cowboys get held up over the line and can't score on the last play.59 min: NEWS PJ Marsh out for tonight with an ankle ligament injury.60 min: NEWS Video referee for an Eels try.60 min: NEWS NO TRY - McKinnon is penalised for obstructing the marker.61 min: NEWS FIGHT - After a swinging arm from Chad Robinson the players come on for a dust up. 61 min: NEWS SIN BIN - Chad Robinson is sent to the sin bin for his swinging arm.61 min: NEWS SIN BIN - Justin Smith is sent to the sin bin for his reaction with the fight. Swinging arm is on report.66 min: NEWS After being stopped on the last tackle Stringer takes a huge air swing at Matt Sing.67 min: NEWS Ben Smith now coming off the field injured.72 min: PENALTY GOAL North Queensland CowboysAfter a holding down penalty on Hindmash, Thurston successfully kicks a penalty goal. The sin binned players return. Cowboys 20-1473 min: TRY North Queensland CowboysA break up the middle by Rod Jensen finds Matt Sing in support who scores under the posts. Cowboys 26-1477 min: TRY Parramatta EelsA cut out pass finds McKinnon totally unmarked out wide. Riddell misses the conversion. Cowboys 26-1880 min: NEWS The Cowboys complete an impressive comeback from 14-0 down to win players of the match:3 - Johnathan Thurston2 - Matt Sing1 - Tim Smith -----------------------------------------

Kiwis stick with McClennan

NZRL Executive Chairman, Selwyn Pearson is delighted to confirm that Brian McClennan has signed on as Kiwi coach through to the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.The announcement regarding the Kiwi coaching position follows a media session at Rugby League House, Auckland yesterday.

Bartercard Cup ? round 2 team lists

WAICOA BAY STALLIONS vs WELLINGTON ORCAS Davies Park, Huntly, New Zealand Saturday 1 April 2006 ? 2.30pm Kick Off

Flanagan's time in the sun

HE is the fun loving, pig shooting country cowboy who will be out to hunt down bigger opposition than normal this Sunday.

New Canberra coach could start immediately

CANBERRA is considering pitching Matthew Elliott's successor immediately into a hands-on coaching role at the Raiders this season.

Players "insulted" by NRL salary cap offer

PLAYERS association president Simon Woolford says players feel "insulted" by the NRL's offer to lift the salary cap by just $130,000 for next season.

Don't leave it all to Benji

WESTS Tigers' medical staff will today make a final decision on whether to clear star five-eighth Benji Marshall to take on Melbourne in their NRL encounter at Leichhardt Oval tomorrow.

Slow start not a surprise to Smith

PARRAMATTA coach Brian Smith says he has seen enough in the Eels opening three NRL games to suggest a win over a red-hot North Queensland side is achievable tonight.

Piggins headed for court over Souths

SOUTH Sydney Leagues Club chairman George Piggins has confirmed he will take his opponents to court in order to get a recount of the club's privatisation vote.

C.Cup final to move as Wembley faces delay

AFTER initial delays, work on the new stadium was set to be finished in time for soccer's Community Shield on August 13.But that game, along with an England soccer friendly in August and two Euro 2008 qualifiers in September and October, will now be played at other venues.The completion delay means that rugby league's Challenge Cup final on 26 August will also be held elsewhere.The official deadline for the handover of the stadium was due to take place on Friday, but the FA is still waiting to hear exactly when the builders will finish the stadium.Multiplex are due to make an announcement to the Australian stock exchange on what progress they have made.Wembley was originally supposed to stage the FA Cup final on 13 May as well as the Football League play-offs, but the decision was made to move them to Cardiff in February.Meanwhile, it has been reported that the Challenge Cup final will be moved to Twickenham, the HQ of rugby union in England."We have contingency plans in place," an RFL spokesman told BBC Sport."We have a contract with Wembley, but we have not yet been told that there is a problem or that we won't be able to hold the game there."An RFU spokeswoman confirmed the Twickenham stadium was available on 26 August, but refused to comment on whether the organisation had been in talks with the RFL."There has been a lot of speculation and we don't want to add to that at the moment," said the spokeswoman.About 35,000 Challenge Cup final tickets have been sold, with many fans travelling to London from rugby league's heartland in the north of England - meaning another venue in the capital is the most likely destination if Wembley is not ready in time.The BBC has also learned that the delay has also affected four music concerts scheduled for this year.The building of the stadium has suffered numerous problems, with a roof beam collapsing last week, resulting in building work being cancelled for a day.There have also been problems with underground sewer pipes at the stadium and workers were sent home on Tuesday after disputes over pay and threats of redundancy.

Round 4 NRL Preview

NEARING the end of another hard week at work, we turn our focus to Rugby League once more as the 4th round of NRL action is set to unfold. I was caught napping last week after trying to decipher the complex equation that is the Canberra Raiders as well as backing the Eels in what I thought would have been a team hell-bent on avenging the drubbing they suffered last year at Lang Park.But with 5/7 I can?t complain too much although the elusive perfect round is always a welcome bonus early in the year. I?m sitting on 16 from 21 picks and I?m pretty happy with that looking at this week?s games. The stakes are now higher and the teams are more desperate, so as a man once said to me on the hill at WIN Stadium whilst watching Albert Torrens line up a conversion from the sideline: ?This one could go anywhere!?Eels v CowboysRound 4 gets underway with the Cowboys visiting Sydney for the first time this season, taking on the smoked Eels at Parramatta Stadium.The Cowboys are the form team of the comp after three rounds, displaying not only a devastating attack but some stiff defence when called upon. They?ve lost Ty Williams with a broken ankle but simply call-up Origin centre Josh Hannay to take his place. They are still missing the services of Aaron Payne but the big news is Rockin? Rod Jensen has found his way to the bench for the first time this year.Parramatta?s line-up looks good on paper but it?s time for them to dominate matches through the forwards. Similarly, they had a great excuse for revenge last week but were ordinary against the Broncos and will need a big improvement if they are to get anywhere near the Cowboys this week. It?s also an important one for playmaker Tim Smith, who needs a big game to lift the spirits of the Parramatta faithful, and what better way to do it than in front of a parochial home crowd.But this game is one of those ones where you have to take the favourite, in this case the Cowboys, given their form and start to the year. I wouldn?t mind watching Parra win, but the Eels haven?t shown me enough to suggest they?re on the right path just yet and we know just what the Cowboys are capable of at the moment.Sharks v RabbitohsSuper Saturday kicks off down in the Shire where two desperate teams are facing up against one another, both so far possessing the stamina of a two-stroke engine.You get the feeling that if Cronulla could have overcome Manly last weekend we wouldn?t be entertaining thoughts of a possible Souths victory in this game. Don?t get me wrong, the Bunnies were woeful against the Dragons after what was a promising start, but the Sharks were real heart attack material last week and again displayed that they can lose a game from a position of ascendancy.It?s fair to say that Souths are a fickle mob when it comes to playing footy. After a terrific opening 30 minutes where they had it all their way, a few simple dropped balls and turnover?s sees an 8-6 lead blown out of the water by an opportunistic attack resulting in a 26-8 deficit at the break. They simply need to concentrate more and learn to dig in when the going?s a bit tough.The Bunnies took the points in a bit of a shock at Endeavour field last year and it wouldn?t surprise me if it happened again. Ross for the Sharks has a bit of a bruised head and a couple of the Cronulla boys have some injury concerns. With Mad Dog back for Souths they could really press hard, but I?m going to stay with the home team on this one.Sea Eagles v RoostersThis is another tough game with both teams sure to reflect on their last performances with some confidence. Despite the fact that Manly won by 2 and the Roosters won by 36, they would have been just as content with their respective results.Firstly, the Chooks had to wait 50 minutes before systematically tearing the Raiders apart in a precise and indiscriminate manner, finally showcasing some of the talent they have at the club. For Manly, I bet they were just pleased to record their first victory of the season after two losses.Neither team has made any major changes but the Roosters have Adrian Morley coming back from suspension to bolster their forward pack and Manly have discharged Kane Cleal to the Bunnies in what came as a bit of a shock. Last week will have inflated the balloon of self-belief for both clubs and it?s hard to choose a winner. I?m going to tip the Roosters as they remember how to score all of a sudden whereas the Sea Eagles were still a bit scrappy against the Sharks last week. And Brookvale Oval is representing more of a sand castle than a fortress these days.Raiders v PanthersI don?t know that it can get any lower for the Raiders or that it can get any better for the Panthers right now. Normally you?d be able to rely on the home ground advantage to a certain extent when Canberra play at home, but the wolves have separated the weak buffalo from the pack and are licking their lips.Penrith must be thinking that there?s never been a better time to come off the bye. Whilst their attack was a little blunt against the Bulldogs and Dragons they still managed to win and victory in tight games can give a team the confidence and patience to keep winning footy games even when they haven?t reached their potential.Matt Elliott has put the broom through the line-up and made quite a few changes in the forwards and bench. He?s also up against the club he?ll be coaching next year, with the man he?s deposing still without a job in ?07. That could add a bit of spice to proceedings.It remains to be seen how the bye affects the Panthers, and although no team this year has won coming off it, it?s very early days. Penrith must really fancy their chances here after a great start to the year which will allow them to play their natural game on Saturday night. I?m going to tip them against a Canberra team who are searching for a base to work from and will require a huge turnaround to secure victory.Tigers v StormSunday at Leichhardt Oval is a great tradition and one that the Balmain fans love, but they?re sure to have a nasty taste in their mouth after the last game these two clubs played here.Melbourne ran riot that day and scored a comprehensive 30-14 victory in what was an embarrassing day for Tigers. This year things will be a bit different, with injuries playing a key role. Benji Marshall and Shane Elford are back in the fold and should help correct a backline that has lacked direction and been impotent in their last two outings. But Farah and Fulton are still missing, and they?re absence is not to be taken lightly.The Storm have a terrific backline with the firepower to really put Wests under the pump. Cronk looks to have what it takes with good support from Hill, but I?ve got my concerns over the forwards, who are lacking a bit of mongrel with Crocker and Kafusi out. Both sides are last start losers and coincidentally got rolled by better packs who dominated them. This game will be more of a skilful encounter than a bash and barge affair. With Benji back the Tigers have more options, but I?m going to pick the Storm who have been good travellers in their enforced nomadic existence this season. I still don?t know what Lolesi is doing at lock though?Dragons v BroncosGame of the Day on Sunday where two bitter rivals take the field in what shapes as a rugged encounter in beachside Wollongong. The Dragons are reeling from an injury toll that has claimed their two international front rowers, lock, halfback and promising winger. Brisbane are more or less at full strength with Tate the only player of note missing from the line-up.The Broncos outclassed Parra last week and showed that they are a team on the improve, ignoring the dooms-dayer?s that were floating about after their round 1 lesson by the Cowboys. They have more options in attack these days and it?s encouraging to see Karmichael Hunt getting more involved. He was knocked out in this game last year by Shaun Timmins, who is out injured.The Dragons may or may not be buoyed by the news their coach has re-signed for a further two years. They?ve probably got other things on their minds, like trying to keep Barrett and Gasnier at the club. With Brown issuing a challenge to his young forwards to step up and make a fist of things whilst they have this opportunity, it?s easier said than done. One bloke who?ll probably have a fair bit to do with proceedings on Sunday is Shane Webcke and I?ve got a feeling he?ll be primed to teach the young kids a few tricks.The Dragons backline is looking better with Cooper back but I don?t think they have the forwards to lay a platform to work with. The Broncos will take the points with them back to Bris Vegas.Knights v WarriorsThe final game of the weekend sees the Warriors travel out of New Zealand for the first time this season, straight to rugby league?s latest graveyard. The Knights have won the past six games in a row at home but conceded the last contest here between the two clubs after Johns broke his jaw late in the first half. It?s sure to bring back a few bad memories for Joey who will be looking to put that behind him. The Warriors were a much improved team last week and finally recorded their first victory in New Zealand outside Auckland. I?m glad they got on the board as their season was in jeopardy had the folded for a third straight week.But there?s not much that can really help them in this one, unless Johns gets injured again. The Knights are like a bull in a china store at the moment and things don?t look like settling down. They could make a real mess of the Warriors, but whilst I expect the visitors will lose, I think they?ll fare a little better than most would have you believe.The Canterbury Bulldogs get a week off with the bye in round 4. They?ll need it to have a think about how they?re going to tackle the Raiders next week after a pretty disappointing start to the season.

First Time

SO the long wait is finally over. Summer has passed in a haze of sunshine and insect repellent; sight of sunbathers like so many rotisserie swine rotating for maximum UV exposure; smell of barbequed beast blending with the pungent smoke wafting off mosquito coils; sound of double-pluggers flapping against the pavement, a thin veneer of protection against the burning asphalt. All are going the way of our hard-earned tans; fading to memory.

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