Rammo's rant

SOME could argue that the NRL is merely a token national competition, given that it only consists of clubs from three states. But in saying that, there is no better advertisement for a national game than two non-NSW teams contesting a Grand Final. And with last weekend?s victories to the Brisbane Broncos and the Melbourne Storm, we will see just that come Sunday evening.But here?s the ironic part. The NRL has made a point in recent years of staging the Grand Final on the Labor Day long weekend. However, the Labor Day weekend is only held in NSW.Just how will Melbourne or Brisbane supporters fare trying to catch that last plane home after a grand final victory or loss on Sunday night? Not to mention getting to work on Monday morning.On that basis, the NRL should revert to a Sunday afternoon decider. But how unfair of me to think of the fans before the dollars generated by rising television ratings?There?s the gripe out of the way. Now to the weekend?s matches.Just what happened to the Bulldogs on Friday night? Willie Mason and co came out last week and told us all how great the Bulldogs are and how na?ve the media were to make references to the team?s two previous clashes with the Broncos this season, of which Brisbane were victorious.Until halftime, his statements had merit. The Bulldogs looked outstanding early and held a 20-6 advantage at the break. At that stage, you could be forgiven for penciling them in for a second Grand Final appearance in three seasons.But an inspiring halftime address from Brisbane Coach Wayne Bennett, combined with a suffocation of epic proportions from the Bulldogs, gave Brisbane a resounding 37-20 victory.I must question Steve Folkes? decision to start Friday night?s contest with four forwards on the bench. The injury to Daniel Holdsworth resulted in a major reshuffle and placed the Bulldogs on the back foot. All sides should have at least one backline player on the bench.The bench should be selected to replace injured players. Not to rest unfit forwards. The Dogs need to learn their lesson here.Having said all that, full credit must go to the Broncos for their comeback win. I fail to see evidence as to why Andrew Johns is currently a better player than Darren Lockyer. In the title for world?s best player, I think we have a new leader. Shane Webcke and Petero Civoniceva may be aging but they are still two of the world?s best props. We?ve been hearing all year that the Bulldogs boast the best forward pack in the competition; I fail to see how they?re superior to a Broncos pack which has out-muscled them on three occasions this season. I think overrated could be the adequate term used to describe both the Bulldogs? forward pack and their ability to rise to the occasion for crucial matches.Back to the drawing board for Willie and co in 2007 and I?m sure they?re indulging themselves in a few cold ones as we speak.Onto Saturday?s match and it was a professional display from the best team in the competition, the Melbourne Storm. St George Illawarra was never in this match. Right from the outset they found themselves on the receiving end after some vigorous and typical Melbourne defence.Even at 6-all, the Dragons were hard pressed to find their first try and Melbourne cracked the Dragons? line with ease. There?s no place for any doomsayers towards Nathan Brown ? the Melbourne Storm were just too strong.The Dragons will rue the fact that their current crop of players never played in a premiership, however. Trent Barrett, Shaun Timmins and Luke Bailey will all be moving on and this will enter a rebuilding phase for the Dragons? playing roster, one which will provide a true test of just how far Nathan Brown?s coaching career has developed.Melbourne?s X-factor would have to be its organisational skills in both attack and defence. They are, without question, the most organised unit in the competition. And you can look no further than coach Craig Bellamy for the side?s success this season.They have a workman-like forward pack which features names such as Brett White, Garret Crossman and Ian Donelly, a settled halves combination in Scott Hill and the ever-improving Cooper Cronk, and a formidable backline which terrorise its opposition week after week.The Storm illustrated each of these traits against the Dragons, and it has to hold them in good stead for the decider on Sunday evening.It will be a Grand Final to remember. I?ll stick my neck out and tip Melbourne but a Darren Lockyer blinder could swing this one the other way, which is why it will be a fascinating duel. I?m sure the Queenslanders and Victorians will be laughing all the way to Telstra Stadium with no NSW teams present, and the build-up should be fairly intriguing.Another issue this week has been the Sharks decision to sack Stuart Raper, with Ricky Stuart his likely successor. I think Stuart is Cronulla?s ideal choice in this situation. Raper tended to take a more relaxed approach to his coaching ? something the beach boys out at the shire probably relished for the wrong reasons. Stuart will deliver a no-nonsense approach and will command success from the outset. A mindset the Sharks, as a club, desperately need.

Dragons Game Day Wrap - All Grades

DISAPPOINTED DRAGONS FALL ONE SHORT AGAIN23 September 2006An absolutely gutted St George Illawarra Dragons outfit has fallen one match short of the Grand Final for the second consecutive year after being edged out by the Melbourne Storm 24-10 at Telstra Stadium tonight.Trying their hearts out, the Red V just wasn't able to execute to the best of their abilities when it mattered the most. Adding to the Dragons torture was being held up short or over the line on two occasions in crunch stages of the contest.A devastated coach Nathan Brown was left to rue the missed opportunities after the match.?We just didn't execute our plays too well tonight", said Brown.?It took us about 50 - 55 minutes before we could execute something decent out there and it hurt us in the end."With five first grade stars confirmed to be leaving the club next season, emotions ran high after the contest. No one more saddened at the result than departing Captain Trent Barrett who struggled for words when interviewed at the post match conference.The five-eighth, England bound next season after ten years in red and white, did all he could on the field to get his side home, but couldn't hide his disappointment after the game.?I'm very proud to be captain of this side", said Barrett.?It would have been real nice to play next week, but it's not to be."?I really don't know what to think now to be honest, my heads a bit all over the shop. It wasn't supposed to end this way."Along with their captain, ?The Bull' Luke Bailey, Clint Greenshields, Matt Bickerstaff and Shaun Timmins will all be moving on. The Dragons dodged a bullet early after Melbourne strike weapon Greg Inglis was disallowed a try after only four minutes. Inglis was ruled to have not grounded the ball properly after plucking a Cooper Cronk cross field bomb from the air.With the aid of some penalties, the Dragons were able to achieve some valuable field position, but struggled to get the ball over the stripe. Gorrell came agonisingly close after 11 minutes, but was ruled to have come inches short of the try line by video referees Chris Ward and Phil Cooley.A short time later, the Red V were made to pay for a mistake at their own end of the field. Pulling off a set play to perfection, the Storm registered their first points through Inglis. From the scrum base, two second man plays were engineered , culminating with Inglis breaking the outstretched arms of Mark Gasnier to score. Cameron Smith converted for 6-0.The Dragons continued to come close to scoring. Wes Naiqama dived over in the corner after 24 minutes, but the final pass from Matt Cooper was ruled to have gone forward by referee Steve Clark.Cooper made up for the pass in his sides next set of six, crossing out wide after rolling onto a classic Ashton Sims offload. Gorrell's conversion from 12 metres in from touch levelled the scores at six all.Sadly, the Dragons momentum was short lived after Matt King put Melbourne back in front just two minutes later. The International outside back flew high to grab a Cronk cross field bomb AFL style to score. Smith's conversion enabled Melbourne to take a six point lead into half time.Although no points were scored in the opening 20 minutes of the second half, the atmosphere and the desperation was building.With 19 minutes on the clock a controversial scrum feed was awarded to the Storm just ten metres out from the Dragons line. Referee Clark had ruled that Ben Creagh had knocked down a loose Melbourne pass, where as replays suggested that the Storm player passed the ball forward into Creagh.From the scrum, Melbourne added insult to the decision with a try to Steve Turner. In a well worked scrum mover, King stood up Gasnier one on one and put his winger away in the corner. Smith nailed the extras from the sideline to extend his sides advantage to 12.With close to 35,000 Dragons fans on the edges of their seats, their side almost gave them a reason to cheer when Naiqama looked to have scored with 11 minutes remaining. After numerous replays, the winger was ruled to have been miraculously held up by Inglis. The very next tackle however, the Dragons were in.Quick hands to Gasnier on the right allowed the International centre to get one back on his opposite number, standing up King and offloading to Morris who dived over in the corner.Mat Head failed with his conversion attempt, leaving the Dragons behind by eight with ten minutes remaining.More Dragons attacking raids followed in the ensuing sets, but the Storms scramble defence held firm.The death knell officially sounded with three minutes to go when Antonio Kaufusi cruised through some tired Dragons arms tackles to wrap up the contest.Brown summed up his feelings after the match with a quote from his wife."She told me after last year that , Nathan, you love football so much, but sometimes football doesn't love you back."In season 2006, the Dragons love of football would be unrequited once more.MELBOURNE STORM 24 ( G Inglis, M King, S Turner, A Kaufusi tries; C Smith 3 goals, M Geyer goal) d. ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 10 ( M Cooper, B Morris tries,; A Gorrell goal)Crowd: 40 901.Referee: Steve ClarkDRAGONS SHOT DOWN BY JETS IN CLOSING STAGES23 September 2006The St George Illawarra Dragons Premier League side have failed to make the Grand Final after being bundled out by the Newtown Jets 38-28 at Telstra Stadium.Despite leading 28-22 with eight minutes remaining, the Dragons were mowed down, with former team mate Josh Lewis the destroyer.Lewis helped to put his side in front with five minutes to go when he rolled in a grubber for Jaime Soward, then with 30 seconds to go, last years Jersey Flegg hero grabbed an intercept try to rub in the salt.The Red V weren?t without their fair share of warriors with Chris Sheppard putting in close to a match winning performance two weeks running. The number 7 was backed up with a strong performance by his engine room with Chris Houston and James Jiminez putting in huge efforts.The Dragons got off to a flyer, compliments of some light stepping from Chris Sheppard. Picking up from where he left off last week, the halfback jinked his way over the line from close range after just four minutes, alar Alan Langer style. Bryson Goodwin made no mistakes from in front.Not to be outdone however, the Jets rallied, with Josh Lewis the chief catalyst. It was a 40 metre bust from the former Dragon that put the Jets on the front foot. Two rucks later, an around the corner pass from Adam Schubert put Vince Mellars over. Lewis then levelled the score at 6 a piece with his conversion.Three minutes later, Newtown hit the lead when Lopini Paea burrowed his way over after receiving a batted down bomb from Jaime Soward. Lewis' conversion made it 6-12.Needing to arrest the slide, the Dragons went back to basics. With increased possession thanks to better ball control, the Red V began to mount pressure and on 18 minutes George Ndaira turned that pressure into points. Attacking 10 metres out, Ndaira split the markers and stretched out to score. Goodwin made no mistakes from in front to tie the game up at 12 all.The Red V found themselves back in front just four minutes later when consecutive sets once again produced points. James Jiminez broke from the scrum base ten metres out and with support players drifting wider, the lock forward dummied, then stepped off his right back on the inside to leave defenders clutching at air. The try was converted by Goodwin, giving his side an 18-12 lead.However the see-sawing nature of the contest continued when the Jets managed the level the scores for a third time with nine minutes left in the half through Luke Gordon. The stalemate held into the halftime break.After knocking over a penalty goal just after halftime, the Dragons then found themselves behind again after big Charles Tonga went over out wide after running off a Daniel Dumas short ball.With their season teetering on the brink of collapse, it was Sheppard again who grabbed is side by the scuffs of their jerseys and lead the way.With half an hour to go, Sheppard fired a telling face pass which gave his side a two on one. Beau Ryan then showed quick hands to shuffle the ball onto Goodwin who got over in the corner. Despite being unable to convert his own try, Goodwin's effort put his side back in front 24-22.Sheppard then orchestrated his sides next try to extend their lead to six with 25 minutes left.Attacking the Jets line, the half put up a pin point bomb which was plucked out of the air by Ryan. The centre - three quarters try was not converted, which still kept the door ajar for Newtown.With eight minutes remaining, the door was unfortunately flung open.Tries to Shaun Kenny-Dowell., Soward and then Lewis shattered the Dragons.NEWTOWN JETS 38 (V Mellars, L Paea, L Gordon, C Tonga, S Kenny-Dowell, J Soward, J Lewis tries, J Lewis 5 goals) d. ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 28 ( C Sheppard, G Ndaira, J Jiminez, B Goodwin, B Ryan tries; B Goodwin 4 goals)Knights defeat Dragons by a field goal24 September 2006The St George Illawarra Jersey Flegg team have today been denied the opportunity to defend their Premiership title, having been defeated 23-22 by the Newcastle Knights at Leichhardt Oval.A field goal with 45 second remaining broke the deadlock in the entertaining encounter played in hot and windy conditions. The Dragons opened the scoring in the 15th minute when Rota Setu burst through the Knights defensive line on half way centre field. Setu ran 20m, drew the fullback and passed inside to Richard Williams who raced away to score under the posts. Nathan Wynn converted to put Dragons ahead 6-0.Five minutes later Wynn spotted an overlap and spread the ball right through Jason White and Ryan Millard who drew the winger and passed to an unmarked Luke Irwin on his outside who easily scored. Wynn was unsuccessful with the conversion, the Dragons leading 10-0.In the 29th minute the Knights made a break down the left hand side and kicked ahead for fullback Sam Wooden to win the footrace and score the first points for his team. Luke Walsh converted, taking the score to 10-6.Four minutes before half time the Knights scored their second try through Hanan Laban, who pushed through the Dragons defence, taking three defenders across the try line with him, scoring adjacent to the right hand upright. Walsh?s conversion was successful, the Knights taking the lead 12-10.The Knights continued to pressure the Dragons defence scoring again, just two minutes later through centre Callan Richardson. The Knights had numbers on the right and stretched the Dragons, allowing Richardson to cross the line untouched. Walsh was again successful with the conversion and the Knights headed to the half time break leading 18-10.The Dragons came out firing in the second half scoring just two minutes after the break. Dan Hunt charged to the line from 10m out, taking three Knights defenders across the line with him. Wynn converted to take the Dragons to 16, just two points behind the Minor Premiers.In the 58th minute, Dragon Fullback Jason Nightingale scored a solo try, breaking the Knights line 40m out and shrugging defenders off all the way to the try line. Wynn converted from 15m to the right of the upright to put the Dragons in the lead, 22-18.In the 64th minute the Knight scored a miracle try in the right hand corner, having sent the ball through three sets of hands and being seemingly held up over the line before a speculative ball pooped out the back for Knights winger Akuila Uate to score. Walsh was unsuccessful with the conversation, the scores level at 22 all.The final minutes of the game were played at a frantic pace with both teams creating and blowing numerous opportunities. Such was the tension; both teams had a player sin-binned for fighting.In the end it was the Knights who took the opportunity with five eight Scott Dureau kicking a field goal with 45 seconds remaining to break the deadlock and march the Knights into the Grand Final with 23-22 victory.Knights 23 defeated Dragons 22.Knights 23 Tries: Sam Wooden, Callen Richardson, Hanan Laban, Akuila Uate. Goals Luke Walsh 3. Field Goal Scott Dureau 1Dragons 22 Tries Richard Williams, Luke Irwin, Jason Nightingale, Dan Hunt. Goals Nathan Wynn 3Source: dragons.com.au

11 added to Test squad

ELEVEN players have been added to Australia's Tri Nations train on squad following the elimination of the Bulldogs and St George Illawarra from the NRL finals series.

Civoniceva clear to play grand final

BRISBANE prop Petero Civoniceva is clear to play in Sunday's Grand Final against Melbourne after the match review committee only charged him with a grade one careless high tackle.

Mixed fortunes for Jets

IT was a day of contrasting outcomes for Australia?s oldest Rugby League club at Telstra Stadium on Saturday. The Newtown Jets have gone through to the VB Premier League Grand Final against Parramatta at Telstra Stadium next Sunday, following their thrilling 38-28 win over St. George-Illawarra in the Preliminary Final. In the 2006 Jim Beam Cup Grand Final, the young Newtown team?s inspired charge through a series of sudden-death finals matches came to an end when they were decisively beaten by the Sydney Bulls 56-22.The Jets began the VB Premier League Preliminary Final match badly, conceding an easy try to the Dragons after only four minutes. Newtown rallied and replied quickly with tries to centre Vince Mellars and second-rower Lopini Paea, which were both improved upon by half-back Josh Lewis. Repeated penalties and some flakey midfield defence by the Jets gave the Dragons the territorial platform for two converted tries midway through the first half. Newtown responded ten minutes prior to half-time with a fine try involving centre Mitch Aubusson and winger Troy Malcolm which was finished off by the interchange player Luke Gordon. Both teams went to the break locked up at 18-all.The Dragons quickly regained the lead with a penalty goal two minutes into the second half. Newtown?s scrum-base pairing of Josh Lewis and Jamie Soward put their skills on show when they combined with Gordon to send front-rower Charles Tonga over out wide. Lewis?s conversion attempt hit the upright and bounced away. The Dragons had slightly the better of this tense contest nearing the middle of the second half when they scored two unconverted tries to lead 28-22 with 24 minutes remaining.Newtown hung in and maintained their strength and composure as the clock inexorably ran down. With only eight minutes remaining Lewis and Soward turned on a superbly-executed set play which sent the impressive young winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall in at the southern left-hand corner. Repeat sets to the Jets had the Dragons defending desperately, and four minutes out from full-time Soward pounced on a beautifully-weighted in-goal grubber kick from Lewis to score by the posts, with Lewis?s conversion taking Newtown to a 32-28 lead. Lewis the supremo brought the house down with his last-minute intercept and 50 metre dash to score under the posts, with the concentration of Newtown supporters at the southern end in raptures. Mickey and Lopini Paea both had strong games in the Newtown forwards, along with Charles Tonga and hooker Heath L?Estrange. Best in the backs for the Jets were fullback Aidan Kirk, the very efficient winger Troy Malcolm, Vince Mellars and those masters of Rugby League alchemy, halves Lewis and Soward. Young Kiwi winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall made a genuine impact when he was introduced into the game in the second half. Newtown?s charmed run in the 2006 Jim Beam Cup finals series came to an abrupt end on Saturday night when they were comprehensively beaten by the Sydney Bulls by 56-22. The young Jets had been no sure things to make the playoffs as late as with three competition rounds remaining, so to advance as far as the Grand Final has been a sterling effort.The Jets hacked the pace with the Bulls throughout the first half and went into the half-time break 22-18 in arrears. Centre Darren Lang, lively five-eighth Charlie Herekotukutuku and classy wingman Anton La Vin had scored Newtown?s tries, all of which were converted by fullback Toufic Nicolas.Newtown?s hopes were blown away in the opening ten minutes of the second half as the Bulls raced away to a 40-18 match-winning lead. The Jets fought on gamely for the remainder of the match but their finals run had been derailed in that lethal ten-minute spell after half-time.Newtown coach Greg Matterson preferred not to single out any of his players for special praise but he emphasised his pride in his young team?s effort to fight so hard and to come so far in the competition. He added that every player could take plenty out of the season, during which they all had provided an invaluable backup to the Jets? successful VB Premier League campaign. Many thanks to the team?s major sponsor Anthony Tuite from the Royal Exchange Hotel, Marrickville whose generosity knew no bounds throughout the season.The Jets travel back to Telstra Stadium for next Sunday?s VB Premier League Grand Final against Parramatta, due to kick off at 3.50pm. Newtown supporters not going to the Stadium can watch the game live on the big screens at the Jets Sports Club (Holbeach Avenue, Tempe).Photo:Newtown front-rower Glenn Hall takes on the Dragons defence at Telstra Stadium on Saturday.Photo courtesy of Gary Sutherland Photography.

Monday?s Expert League Wrap - Finals Week 3

WITH wins to the Brisbane Broncos and Melbourne Storm over the weekend, the NRL will be celebrating its first ever 'non-Sydney' grand final.The Canterbury Bulldogs were the first to bow out on Friday night, going down 37-20 to the Broncos in a sensational turnaround of events. Leading 20-6 at half time, the Bulldogs were unable to withstand a second half onslaught from Brisbane as they racked up 31 unanswered points. The Broncos now advance to the premiership decider next Sunday.Saturday night was a closer affair which saw minor premiers Melbourne post an impressive 24-10 victory over the St George Illawarra Dragons. It?s the end of the road for the Dragons who rallied late in season but were simply outgunned on the day. The Storm rose to the occasion with tremendous combination of defence and fire power before scoring a late try to seal the deal. It was a polished display from Melbourne and they should earn favouritism for next Sunday?s grand final against the Broncos.All match results and details are listed below.NEXT SUNDAY - 1 October 2006:7:00pm - NRL GRAND FINALSTORM v BRONCOS - Telstra StadiumNSWRL Curtain Raisers2:00pm - Jersey Flegg Cup Grand FinalNewcastle Knights v Penrith Panthers - Telstra Stadium4:00pm - Premier League Grand FinalParramatta Eels v Newtown Jets - Telstra StadiumGrand Final Live Updates - ALL THREE GRADESLeagueUnlimited.com will be covering all three grades from 2:00pm on grand final day with up-to-the-minute live scores.FULL NRL DRAW, RESULTS & LINKS TO LIVE SCORES ? CLICK HEREWe are now looking for live score updaters for the 2007 competitionFor further enquiries, please email us MATCH RESULTS:League Wrap: Finals - Week 3, 22-23 September 2006National Rugby LeagueCanterbury Bulldogs: 20Tries: Brent Sherwin, Matthew Utai, Daniel HoldsworthGoals: Hazem El Masri 4/4Brisbane Broncos: 37Tries: Shaun Berrigan(2), Dane Carlaw, Darren Lockyer, Corey Parker, Brent Tate, Darius BoydGoals: Darren Lockyer 1/1, Corey Parker 3/6Field Goals: Darren LockyerHalf time: Bulldogs 20-6Venue: Aussie StadiumCrowd: 29.511Referee: Paul SimpkinsLeagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Darren Lockyer (Broncos)2 - Justin Hodges (Broncos)1 - Tonie Carroll (Broncos)Melbourne Storm: 24Tries: Greg Inglis, Antonio Kaufusi, Matt King, Steve TurnerGoals: Matt Geyer 1/1, Cameron Smith 3/3St George Illawarra Dragons: 10Tries: Matt Cooper, Brett MorrisGoals: Aaron Gorrell 1/1, Mathew Head 0/1Half time: Storm 12-6Venue: Telstra StadiumCrowd: 40,901Referee: Steven ClarkLeagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Matt King (Storm)2 - Cameron Smith (Storm)1 - Greg Inglis (Storm)LeagueUnlimited.com players of the match are decided by our live score updaters.NSWRL Premier League ResultsFriday, September 22 at Aussie Stadium:Parramatta Eels 20 defeated Manly Sea Eagles 16Saturday, September 23 at Telstra Stadium:Newtown Jets 38 defeated St George Illawarra Dragons 28NSWRL Jersey Flegg ResultsSunday, September 23 at Leichhardt Oval:Penrith Panthers 29 defeated the Bulldogs 22Newcastle Knights 23 defeated St George Illawarra Dragons 22

Roberts wins Qantas Player of the Year

MERCURIAL Redcliffe Dolphins hooker Michael Roberts has continued his stellar record at QLD Wizard Cup level, claiming an unprecedented third Qantas Airways Player of the Year award.

Perry Pumped by Dolphins Success

THERE was one very interested but slightly nervous Redcliffe ``supporter'' on the sidelines of the Dolphins' Wizard Cup grand final match.

PL, JF and Jim Beam results

PREMIER LeagueWhilst the 2006 National Rugby League Grand Final will make history as being the first senior final to involve two inter-state teams, the VB Premier League Grand Final will see traditional rivals Newtown take on the Parramatta in a battle between what were two powerhouse Sydney teams in the early 1980?s.The Parramatta Eels and Newtown Jets, who both last played each other in a senior Grand Final back in 1981, have been the form teams of the 2006 VB Premier League season. Parramatta finished the regular season as minor premiers, with an impressive 19 wins from 24 games whilst Newtown finished a clear second with 16 wins and 2 draws from their 24 outings.In the third week of the finals Parramatta just defeated the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at Aussie Stadium, scoring an intercept try with just six minutes left on the clock to separate the two teams locked on 16-all.Whilst at Telstra Stadium, the Jets fought back from being down 28 ? 22 with just eight minutes on the clock to score 16 unanswered points through Shaun Kenny-Dowell., Jamie Soward and then Josh Lewis to secure the win for the famous club.The Jets will now take on Parramatta at Telstra Stadium at 4pm next Sunday. The game will be shown live on Channel 9 as well in NSW and Queensland.Results:Friday, September 22:Parramatta Eels 20 defeated Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 16 at Aussie StadiumSaturday, September 23:Newtown Jets 38 defeated St George-Illawarra Dragons 28 at Telstra StadiumFixtures:Sunday, October 1:4:00pm ? Parramatta Eels v Newtown Jets at Telstra StadiumJersey Flegg CupTwo thrillers took place at Leichhardt Oval today when the Panthers took on the Bulldogs and Knights took on the Dragons in the preliminary finals round of the Jersey Flegg Cup.The Penrith Panthers defeated the Bulldogs 29 ? 22 in the first game of the day, whilst only one point separated minor premiers, Newcastle when they took on the St George-Illawarra Dragons.The Knights and Panthers will now play in the Jersey Flegg Cup Grand Final next week at Telstra Stadium.Results:Sunday, September 23:Penrith Panthers 29 defeated the Bulldogs 22 at Leichhardt OvalNewcastle Knights 23 defeated St George-Illawarra Dragons 22 at Leichhardt OvalFixtures:Sunday, October 1:2:00pm ? Newcastle Knights v Penrith Panthers at Telstra StadiumJim Beam Cup / Metro CupThe Sydney Bulls have won their third Jim Beam Cup / Metro Cup title in five years after defeating the Newtown Jets in the Jim Beam Cup Grand Final yesterday at Telstra Stadium.The Bulls, who finished the season as minor premiers, where too strong for the Jets, running out 56 ? 22.Results:Saturday, September 22:Sydney Bulls 56 defeated Newtown Jets 22 at Telstra StadiumSource: nswrl.com.au

engage Super League Elimination review

WARRINGTON Wolves 18 (Sullivan, Westwood, Fa?afili tries; Briers 2 goals, 2 field goals) def. Leeds Rhinos 17 (Burrow, McGuire tries; Sinfield 4 goals, field goal). Att: 10,508.

Civoniceva, Crocker & Inglis

THE Grand Final hopes of Brisbane enforcer Petero Civoniceva go on the line today with the match review committee to hand down its charge sheet from the preliminary finals.

Bulls end Reds' season

NEW Zealand Test centre Shontayne Hape scored four tries as defending Super League champions Bradford Bulls hammered play-off debutants Salford City Reds 52-6 in their elimination play-off at the Grattan Stadium.

Wolves knock out Rhinos

WARRINGTON Wolves skipper Lee Briers snatched a dramatic 18-17 victory for the outsiders with a long-range drop goal two minutes from the end of their engage Super League elimination play-off against Leeds Rhinos.

Melbourne Storm into GF as Dragons bow out

FINALS 2006 Week 3 Melbourne Storm 24 v St George Illawarra Dragons 10at Telstra StadiumReferee: Steven ClarkMatch Summary:The Melbourne Storm have set the stage for an all 'interstate' grand final following a polished 24-10 victory over the St George Illawarra Dragons tonight. With the Brisbane Broncos defeating Canterbury Bulldogs last night, Sunday week's premiership decider will be the first between two non-Sydney teams in NSWRL-NRL history.Greeted by a hostile Telstra Stadium bathed in red-and-white, the Storm ran in two tries to one in the first half to post a 12-6 lead at the break.Following close calls for both sides, the first try came with rookie sensation Greg Inglis crossing in the 14th minute. The Dragons struck back in the 25th minute with centre Matt Cooper running onto a tremendous offload from backrower Ashton Sims. Less than two minutes later, Storm centre Matt King pull down a precision kick from half back Cooper Cronk to put Melbourne ahead by six points.The second half developed into an arm wrestle as the stakes in the sudden-death clash were raised. The Storm however, were on the ascendancy, with quick play-the-balls and mounting pressure on the back of a solid defensive effort.The turning point was delivered in the 61st minute when Melbourne winger Steve Turner scored out wide courtesy of an overlap.Saints were still in the contest when winger Brett Morris scored out wide with 10 minutes remaining. But the conversion attempt was waved away and the Dragons found themselves eight points behind with as many minutes remaining. With four minutes remaining, Storm forward Antonio Kaufusi scored under the posts to confirm victory and end the Dragons' season.Scorers:Melbourne Storm: 24Tries: Greg Inglis, Antonio Kaufusi, Matt King, Steve TurnerGoals: Matt Geyer 1/1, Cameron Smith 3/3St George Illawarra Dragons: 10Tries: Matt Cooper, Brett MorrisGoals: Aaron Gorrell 1/1, Mathew Head 0/1NEXT WEEK:2006 NRL Grand FinalMelbourne Storm v Brisbane BroncosSunday 1st October 2006 - 7:45pm at Telstra StadiumBy the Clock:Fantastic night in Sydney for this grand final qualifier between The Storm and the Dragons, the winner taking on the Broncos in next week's premiership decider.Curtain raiser results: Newtown Jets defeated Dragons 38-28 in the Premier League preliminary final;Sydney Bulls defeated Newtown 56-22 in the Jim Beam Cup grand final.Dragons and Melbourne players are on the field. Referee Clark blows time on... and the match is underway!4 min: NEWS Dragons hooker Aaron Gorrell looks to have copped a heavy knock while tackling and there's a stoppage while he is being attended to.5 min: Possible TRY to Storm. Video ref looking...VERDICT: NO TRY. Storm denied after Greg Inglis was unable to properly ground the all. A close call.6 min: NEWS Dragons with opportunity after fullback Clint Greenshields comes with the ball while tackling his opposite Billy Slater. Dragons on the attack from 10m out but knock on and are unable to capitalise.10 min: Posssible TRY to Dragons. Video ref looking...VERDICT: NO TRY. Gorrell not able to properly ground the ball. And as with the Storm no try, a close call.14 min: Possible TRY to Storm. Video ref looking...VERDICT:14 min: TRY Melbourne StormInglis runs through gap from 10m out following an excellent set move from the scrum. Video ref checks for double movement but there was never any doubt. Follows a repeat set at the Dragons' line. Cameron Smith converts from almost in front. Storm 6-023 min: NEWS NO TRY - Dragons denied after last pass to winger Wes Naiqama is called back by the ref as going forward. Naiqama diving over in the corner but no dice.25 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsCentre Matt Cooper runs through after backing up second rower Ashton Sims from close range. The Dragons attacking down their left side and getting some ball. Gorrell converts from wide out. 6 all.26 min: Possible TRY to Storm. Video ref looking....VERDICT:26 min: TRY Melbourne StormCentre Matt King pulls down cross field kick from half back Cooper Cronk. Video ref checks for grounding but its OK. Follows Dragons error after restart. Smith 15m in from touch successful with the conversion. Storm 12-633 min: ATTEMPTED FIELD GOAL Melbourne StormCronk misses field goal attempt from 40m out after they were getting a roll on. Storm 12-6Half time: Storm in front 12-6.Saints have had their opportunities and field position but have only managed the one try and are being met by some solid defence from the Storm. Support play up the middle of the ruck is a feature of Melbourne's play and they have two tries to show for their efforts. They are out-muscling their opposites in the middle and up front.Storm applying the pressure and have the momentum, but there's only six points in it and this match is far from over.Second half underway...41 min: NEWS ON REPORT - Dragons prop Justin Poore on report for a lifting tackle on Storm winger Matt Geyer.42 min: NEWS Storm come within a whisker of scoring after Inglis leaps up to a cross field kick. The ball spills out on the way down.50 min: Still no change to the score as both sides are lifting the tempo.52 min: Storm with the best opporunity since the break. Quick play-the-balls and they have the numbers. A huge hit on forward Ben Cross from Naiqama saves a try.53 min: NEWS Inglis comes off with an injury. Forward Mick Crocker also coming off for the Storm with a knee injury.56 min: NEWS A hurt Greenshields comes off for the Dragons. Meanwhile referee is cautioning Storm players for a bit of niggle.58 min: NEWS INJURY UPDATE. Shoulder injury for Inglis but he should be back. Crocker trying to get right with work on the kne. Greenshields has ankle injury and probably 50/50.61 min: TRY Melbourne StormAn overlap develops and winger Steve Turner gets a try in the corner following sustained pressure. This could be a killer blow as we approach the latter stages. Smith conversion is a ripper. Storm 18-664 min: NEWS INJURY UPDATE - Both teams lose a player each. Greenshields will take no further part. Crocker will take no further part. But Inglis coming back on.68 min: Possible TRY to Dragons - video ref looking...VERDICT: HELD UP! Naiqama very close as Saints keep the pressure on with one more play.69 min: Possible TRY to Dragons - video ref looking...VERDICT:69 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsWinger Brett Morris scores in the corner as Saints run it on the last tackle. Mathew Head misses an important conversion but its game on! Storm 18-1074 min: ATTEMPTED FIELD GOAL Melbourne StormA Storm attempt at one-pointer hits the upright and is waved away. Storm 18-1076 min: TRY Melbourne StormForward Antonio Kaufusi busts through some ordinary defence to score under the posts and put the match beyond doubt. Coverted successfully by Matt Geyer. Storm 24-1078 min: NEWS FIGHT - Not much in it, a minor dust up in the scrum.79 min: NEWS Dragons make a late charge but Naiqama is nailed by the Melbourne cover defence in the corner.FULL TIME: The Storm win 24-10.The minor premiers Melbourne Storm have posted a well deserved victory with a polished performance. The St George Illawarra Dragons gave it a solid shot but were simply beaten on the day by a well drilled Melbourne outfit.The season is over for Saints, but possible glory awaits Melbourne as they go on the meet Brisbane Broncos on Sunday 1st October in the 2006 NRL grand final.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Matt King (Storm)2 - Cameron Smith (Storm)1 - Greg Inglis (Storm)-----------------------------------------

Broncos submit astonishing second half to dismantle Bulldogs

FINALS 2006 Week 3 Canterbury Bulldogs 20 v Brisbane Broncos 37at Aussie StadiumReferee: Paul SimpkinsMatch Summary:The Brisbane Broncos have become the first team to qualify for the 2006 Grand Final after staging a remarkable second-half comeback to defeat Canterbury Bulldogs by 37-20.They now face the winner of Melbourne and St George-Illawarra after piling on six tries in the second half to bash the usually dominant Bulldogs forward pack and complete a trifecta of victories over the Belmore club this season.Opening the scoring in the ninth minute, Brisbane survived an obstruction challenge by the video referee to plant the ball next to the posts. This only seemed to incite the Bulldogs, who went on a 20-point rampage to assert their dominance over the game.Asotasi opened up the Broncos defence in the 12th minute hitting a gap and offering the ball to Holdsworth who was swamped by Broncos defenders but still managed to ground the ball over the line.Not long after, Holdsworth left the field with an injured ankle and didn?t return with initial reports suggesting he?d injured his ligaments. It had no affect on them as Maitua entered the fray in the centres and Roberts went to five-eighth, providing instant results with Sherwin scoring under the posts following a brilliant off-load from Mason close to the line.El Masri knocked over a penalty goal in the 26th minute before Utai barged his way over the top of Boyd two minutes later to open up a 14-point lead. In a great open move the Bulldogs pushed the ball wide and the nuggetty Kiwi winger hit Boyd one-on-one to score - a scenario most wingers would fail to contain and as it was the Brisbane flanker did a reasonable job trying to defend his line.The scores remained at 20-6 into the break with the Broncos looking out on their feet and Canterbury cruising towards victory.But unbeknown to the Doggies, they wouldn?t score another point as whatever Wayne Bennett said at halftime had a profound effect on the Broncos. Firstly, Hodges replaced Hunt at fullback in what proved to be a masterstroke. Five minutes into the second half Hodges fielded a kick in his own in-goal area and took off, beating 3 Canterbury defenders and found Berrigan on his outside screaming down the western wing. Hodges gave the ball to Berrigan who tore off downfield, staving off two attempted tackles before scoring in the corner whilst being harassed by Mason towards the sideline. It was an astounding try and one of the most memorable in recent finals games, bringing the crowd of almost 30,000 to their feet.Whilst still trailing by 20-12, this try was clearly the turning point of the match as Brisbane began to mount an unanswered 31-point second half haul that embarrassed the Bulldogs in the finalFurther tries to Carlaw (49th minute), Boyd (60th minute) and Lockyer (67h minute) took the game away from Canterbury as they struggled to find options late in the tackle count and began to play one-out footy.A rugged effort by Brent Tate from close range put the game in Brisbane?s keeping as they lead 32-20 with just under 10 minutes to play. Lockyer snapped a field goal in the 78th minute while Parker rubbed salt into the wounds with a late try to wrap-up the game by 37-20.Some concern will go through the Broncos camp after Petero Civoniceva was placed on report by the referee for a high shot on Sonny Bill Williams. But it emerged that he would survive a Grade 2 careless high tackle with an early guilty plea.Other than that, Lockyer was brilliant as was Hodges and the Broncos march on towards their sixth Grand Final in their 19th season since entering the NSWRL.Canterbury will be left disappointed after failing to qualify for their second Grand Final in 3 years during an otherwise successful year.Scorers:Canterbury Bulldogs: 20Tries: Brent Sherwin, Matthew Utai, Daniel HoldsworthGoals: Hazem El Masri 4/4Brisbane Broncos: 37Tries: Shaun Berrigan(2), Dane Carlaw, Darren Lockyer, Corey Parker, Brent Tate, Darius BoydGoals: Darren Lockyer 1/1, Corey Parker 3/6Field Goals: Darren LockyerBy the Clock:Welcome to the first Qualifying Final of 2006 where the winner of tonight's game between Canterbury and Brisbane will advance to this year's Grand Final.We've had an absolutely cracking day in Sydney. It's a bit hot, a bit humid and you can smell the sweet September air.The ground is filling up nicely and this was the stage of the 1998 Grand Final, the last one played at the SFS, and these two teams took the field.Changes:Asotasi is into the starting side, so is Roberts who comes into the centres. Maitua back to the bench with Myles as well. Perry and Armit make up the rest of the bench. Some big changes in there. Brisbane are sure to test Roberts but the bench no longer carries as much impact with SBW and big Roy starting.For the Broncos, Hunt goes to fullback as he suggested with Hodges into the centres. Tate moves to the wing and the rest of the team is unchanged.This is going to be an absolute bell-ringer.Canterbury kick-off and we're underway here at the Footy Stadium!2 min: NEWS Both teams shaping up right now. No mistakes as they've both come to play.5 min: NEWS There's been some ridiculous off-loads. Civoniceva, Thaiday, SBW and Mason all in on the act.6 min: NEWS Hughes knocks-on in his own territory and the Broncos have a good opportunity here 40m out.8 min: NEWS Bulldogs muscling up here. Very strong defence.9 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosFirst try of the night goes to Shaun Berrigan who scored from a bit of broken play close to the Bulldogs line. Thorn for Brisbane was examined by the video ref for an obstruction but the try was awarded. Lockyer converts and the Broncos take an early lead. Broncos 6-012 min: NEWS Bulldogs responding here with some strong runs, good metres being made.12 min: TRY Canterbury BulldogsHuge try here as Asotasi makes a break about 30m out, pumps downfield, Holdsworth in support scores after being tackled a few metres out and being carried over the line. El Masri converts and we're back on an even kiel. 6 all.14 min: NEWS Sherwin kicks out on the full in an apparent 40-20 attempt.16 min: NEWS Broncos on the charge here.16 min: NEWS Tate denied a try as a textbook shephard from Lockyer gets pulled up.17 min: NEWS Holdsworth just limped off. Maitua has come on into the centres with Roberts moving to 5/8. Left ankle injury from the collision with Carroll in the aforementioned obstruction.19 min: NEWS An attacking raid by the Bulldogs is shut down, goal line drop-out by Brisbane goes 60m.21 min: TRY Canterbury BulldogsSherwin in under the sticks after Mason off-loads under intense traffic. Try awarded by the video ref after Simpkins wanted to check for a knock-on. El Masri converts and the Bulldogs have hit the lead for the first time tonight. Bulldogs 12-623 min: NEWS Looks like Holdsworth might be out for the rest of the game with this ankle injury.26 min: PENALTY GOAL Canterbury BulldogsEl Masri knocks over a penalty goal as Berrigan gets warned for holding down Emelio. Handy 8-point lead. Bulldogs 14-627 min: NEWS Penalties starting to flow for Canterbuy.28 min: TRY Canterbury BulldogsUtai scores out wide after receiving a great cut-out pass from Sherwin. The nuggetty winger runs over Boyd, but it was almost impossible to stop. El Masri knocks over the conversion from the sideline and the Bulldogs are looking good. Bulldogs 20-631 min: NEWS Roberts hits a 40-20 and the Bulldogs are on the attack again.33 min: NEWS Consecutive penalties to Brisbane gives them a god attacking opportunity.34 min: NEWS Tate muffs a good chance and Canterbury have the ball again.35 min: NEWS The Bulldogs have all the momentum right now.39 min: NEWS Brisbane just hanging on here, looking forward to halftime.40 min: NEWS Halftime here at the SFS where the Bulldogs are looking very good. They are in control of the contest and are displaying all the signs of a Grand Final side.Brisbane dropped their bundle late in the second half and Utai's try really hurt them. They can come back but need to start playing more enthusiastically and perhaps try something different. Hodges to fullback?The second half presents an intriguing contest as the Broncos fight to continue their season against a dominant Canterbury team.Brisbane have made 62 more tackles and are in desperate need of possession. If it evens out, they could come home.41 min: NEWS Brisbane restart proceedings...42 min: NEWS Hodges back to fullback, Hunt to the wing.43 min: NEWS Some bruising play here with the Broncos hurting Canterbury.45 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosA 100 metre try from the Broncos! Hodges fields the ball in his own in-goal and runs about 40m breaking 3 tackles before giving a ball to Berrigan who goes the rest of the length, fending off challenges from two players before carrying Mason over the line almost upside down. What an beauty! Parker boots it from the sideline and it's game on. Bulldogs 20-1248 min: NEWS Hodges has spiders on him at the moment...49 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosAfter a turnover from the Bulldogs, Brisbane pressure the line and Dane Carlaw powers over out wide to score with several defenders hanging off him. The Broncos aren't going to die wondering tonight. Canterbury have fallen asleep. Parker converts from almost the exact same spot and we have a ball-tearer here at the SFS. Bulldogs 20-1854 min: NEWS Rubbish option from Lockyer who lets the Dogs off the hook with a poorly directed bomb.57 min: NEWS SBW a little ginger after being monstered by Civoniceva. The Brisbane prop is on report and it doesn't look real good. Swinging arm to the head of SBW.58 min: NEWS Tate knocks-on. He is having an absolute shocker, the guy can't hold the ball at all.60 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosThe Broncos are in again after spinning it wide on the eastern flank. Lockyer gives it to Tate who runs about 30m before offloading to Boyd who beats Patten and brings it around under the sticks. Tate redeems himself well after a string of mistakes. But Parker misses his easiest attempt of the night. Broncos 22-2067 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosThe Broncos are in again and I think they've got this one. Lockyer steps through in the middle of the park before giving it to Carroll. He runs 20m, beating Utai before holding off Patten and giving it back to Lockyer to score next to the posts. The Broncos are on fire! Amazingly Parker misses again from an easy position. Broncos 26-2069 min: NEWS Canterbury take a short kick and Sherwin recovers.70 min: NEWS Terrible call by the ref there after McGuire charges down a kick and the Bulldogs are refused an extra set of six.71 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosThe Broncos are in again this time through Tate. Lockyer junks and weaves before finding Tate who beats Maitua and Patten to the line. The video ref checks for a double movement and awards the try. Parker kicks it this time and Brisbane open up a 12-point lead. Broncos 32-2076 min: NEWS Crowd: 29,51178 min: FIELD GOAL Brisbane BroncosLockyer puts the icing on the cake with a nifty field goal to wrap things up with 2 1/2 minutes left. Broncos 33-2079 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosBrisbane are just destroying them now with Parker crossing out wide to make the score embarrassing. Parker misses from the sideline and the Broncos run out very handsome winners. Broncos 37-2080 min: NEWS All over here at the SFS. An amazing comeback from Brisbane and they qualify for their sixth Grand Final.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Darren Lockyer2 - Justin Hodges1 - Tonie Carroll-----------------------------------------

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