Knights, Sea Eagles & Eels

NEWCASTLE halfback Andrew Johns says Test backrower Steve Simpson will handle the bulk of captaincy duties in Friday's qualifying final with Manly at EnergyAustralia Stadium.

Cameron Smith Player of the Year

LEAGUEUNLIMITED.COM Player AwardsAfter 26 rounds of NRL football, Melbourne Storm hooker Cameron Smith has taken out the 2006 Player Awards.Smith scored the maximum three points from our live score updaters on the weekend to finish on 30 points overall.Never far away from the front runners, Smith caught up and then shared the lead with Canberra Raiders fullback Clinton Schifcofske in round 21. The following week Smith grabbed outright top spot on the leader board, withstanding some late charges in the rounds that followed to take out the award.Schifcofske was runner-up with 26 points and was streets ahead as our fullback of the year. Meanwhile Eels second rower Nathan Hindmarsh and Sea Eagles half back Matt Orford shared third spot on 25 points.On 23 points are Storm?s Greg Inglis and Bulldogs powerhouse Willie Mason. An outside back with pace to burn, Inglis played centre for much of the season but was equally at home at full back or on the wing. Willie Mason joins Hindmarsh in the back row in our team of the year.Panthers five eighth Preston Campbell was next up on 21 points. Heading off to join the Gold Coast Titans in 2007, ?Presto? is the surprise packet in edging out Broncos? pivot Darren Lockyer (19 points) in our team of the year.Sea Eagles veteran Ben Kennedy also scored 19 points overall and our live score updaters have him packing into lock forward position.The three-quarter line looks ominous with Dragons centre Mark Gasnier (17 points) and the Broncos centre/fullback Justin Hodges (14 points) pushing Inglis out to the wing. The other wing spot is taken up by Bulldogs champion goal kicker Hazem El Masri (14 points).Our two top scoring prop forwards are the Warriors? Steve Price (14 points) and Broncos front rower Petero Civoniceva (12 points).Top 13 points scorers by position 1-13:Clinton Schifcofske (Raiders), Greg Inglis (Storm), Mark Gasnier (Dragons), Justin Hodges (Broncos), Hazem El Masri (Bulldogs), Preston Campbell (Panthers), Matt Orford (Sea Eagles), Steve Price (Warriors), Cameron Smith (Storm), Petero Civoniceva (Broncos), Nathan Hindmarsh (Eels), Willie Mason (Bulldogs), Ben Kennedy (Sea Eagles).Top scoring players by club - total points:Cameron Smith (Storm) - 30Willie Mason (Bulldogs) - 23Darren Lockyer (Broncos) - 19Andrew Johns (Knights) - 19Matt Orford (Sea Eagles) - 25Mark Gasnier (Dragons) - 17Clinton Schifcofske (Raiders) - 26Nathan Hindmarsh (Eels) - 25Matthew Bowen (Cowboys) - 17Steve Price (Warriors) - 14Scott Prince (Tigers) - 17Preston Campbell (Panthers) - 21Adam Dykes (Sharks) - 14Craig Fitzgibbon (Roosters) - 11 Nathan Merritt (Rabbitohs) - 7 The full leader board is below.The players of the match are decided by our live score updaters and tallied here each week on Monday?s Expert League wrap.Want to be a live score updater? For further enquiries, email usMonday?s Expert League Wrap - Round 26, 2006Round 26 kicked off with the Cowboys finishing their season on a high note in defeating the eighth-place Parramatta Eels by 22-8 in Townsville. Despite the win, it?s back to the drawing board for last year?s grand finalists. The Eels however, are in the top eight and will be looking to bounce back when the NRL Finals series kick off next weekend.Meanwhile Saturday rugby league saw the Raiders defeat the Sharks 26-24 at Toyota Park. It?s the end of the road for the Sharks who have crashed to a club record of 10 consecutive losses. The Raiders secure seventh spot but led 26-0 at half time and had to withstand a spirited comeback from the Sharks.Saturday night took us to the SCG where the sixth-placed Dragons came from behind to post a 36-16 victory over the Sydney Roosters, the Roosters finishing their season in second last spot.Meanwhile, minor premiers the Storm continued their winning run in defeating the fifth-placed Sea Eagles by 30-20 in Melbourne. Regardless of what happens in the finals, it has been a tremendous achievement from the Storm in amassing 44 competition points in season 2006.Sunday football saw the Broncos wrap up third spot in defeating the Warriors 36-12 in Brisbane. The Warriors will no doubt reflect upon a season where they were stripped of four competition points prior to a ball being kicked off in 2006, and then ending their season in 10th place and four points out of the top eight.The final round of the regular season saw last year?s premiers Wests Tigers thrash this year?s wooden spooners South Sydney by 52-18. Wests Tigers end their season in 11th spot while for the Rabbitohs, they can only improve upon a forgettable season.Meanwhile, last year?s wooden spooners, the Newcastle Knights had the bye in round 26 to lock up forth spot on the NRL ladder, and a home final next Friday night.UPCOMING MATCHES:Finals Week 1, 8-10 September 2006FRIDAY:Knights v Sea Eagles, 8:00pm ? EnergyAustralia StadiumSATURDAY:Broncos v Dragons, 6:30pm ? Suncorp StadiumBulldogs v Raiders, 8:30pm ? Telstra StadiumSUNDAY:Storm v Eels, 4:00pm ? Olympic Park, MelbourneMATCH RESULTS:League Wrap: Round 26, 1 September ? 3 September 2006North Queensland Cowboys: 22Tries: Matthew Bowen(2), Aaron Payne, Neil SweeneyGoals: Josh Hannay 3/4Parramatta Eels: 8Tries: Jarryd Hayne(2)Goals: Mark Riddell 0/1, Brett Delaney 0/1Half time: Eels 8-6Venue: Dairy Farmers StadiumCrowd: 18,351Referee: Shayne players of the match:3 - Matthew Bowen (Cowboys)2 - Wade McKinnon (Eels)1 - Shane Tronc (Cowboys)Cronulla Sutherland Sharks: 24Tries: Luke Covell(2), Brett Kearney, Ben PomeroyGoals: Luke Covell 4/5Canberra Raiders: 26Tries: Todd Carney(2), Alan Tongue, Simon WoolfordGoals: Clinton Schifcofske 5/5Half time: Raiders 26-0Venue: Toyota ParkCrowd: Crowd: 9,289Referee: Steven players of the match:3 - Todd Carney (Raiders)2 - Kevin Kingston (Sharks)1 - Phillip Graham (Raiders)Sydney Roosters: 16Tries: Ryan Cross, Amos Roberts(2)Goals: Craig Fitzgibbon 1/3, Amos Roberts 1/1St George Illawarra Dragons: 36Tries: Matt Cooper, Clint Greenshields(2), Wes Naiqama, Brett Morris(2), Justin PooreGoals: Aaron Gorrell 2/4, Wes Naiqama 2/3Half time: Roosters 16-8Venue: Sydney Cricket GroundCrowd: 17,142Referee: Russell players of the match:3 - Ben Hornby (Dragons)2 - Jason Ryles (Dragons)1 - Ryan Cross (Roosters)Melbourne Storm: 30Tries: Michael Crocker, Matt Geyer, Greg Inglis, Cameron Smith, Steve TurnerGoals: Matt Geyer 1/1, Cameron Smith 4/5Manly Sea Eagles: 20Tries: Brett Stewart, Steve Matai, Steve Bell, Michael RobertsonGoals: Matt Orford 2/4Half time: Storm 16-10Venue: Olympic Park MelbourneCrowd: 13,991Referee: Paul players of the match:3 - Cameron Smith (Storm)2 - Brett Stewart (Sea Eagles)1 - Steve Turner (Storm)Brisbane Broncos: 36Tries: Shaun Berrigan, Justin Hodges(2), Karmichael Hunt, Darren Lockyer, Shane PerryGoals: Darren Lockyer 2/2, Corey Parker 4/4New Zealand Warriors: 12Tries: Todd Byrne, George GatisGoals: Lance Hohaia 2/2Half time: Broncos 18-6Venue: Suncorp StadiumCrowd: 47,193Referee: Sean players of the match:3 - Justin Hodges (Broncos)2 - Darren Lockyer (Broncos)1 - Shaun Berrigan (Broncos)Wests Tigers: 52Tries: Shane Elford, Robert Farah, Daniel Fitzhenry(2), Chris Heighington(2), Todd Payten, John Skandalis, Shannon McDonnellGoals: Daniel Fitzhenry 1/1, Scott Prince 7/8South Sydney Rabbitohs: 18Tries: Scott Geddes, Yileen Gordon, David PeacheyGoals: Joe Williams 1/1, Nathan Merritt 1/1, Eddie Paea 1/1Half time: Tigers 30-0Venue: Leichhardt OvalCrowd: 18,440Referee: Tony De Las players of the match:3 - Scott Prince (Tigers)2 - Daniel Fitzhenry (Tigers)1 - Chris Heighington (Tigers)Penrith Panthers: 22Tries: Tony Puletua, Trent Waterhouse, Rhys Wesser, Paul Aiton, Michael GordonGoals: Michael Gordon 1/2Canterbury Bulldogs: 30Tries: Chris Armit, Dallas McIlwain, Luke Patten(2), Matthew UtaiGoals: Hazem El Masri 5/5Half time: 12-allVenue: CUA Stadium, PenrithCrowd: 13,363Referee: Tony players of the match:3 - Luke Patten (Bulldogs)2 - Hazem El Masri (Bulldogs)1 - Michael Gordon (Panthers)Newcastle Knights v ByeFULL DRAW, RESULTS & LINKS TO LIVE SCORES ? CLICK HERELEAGUEUNLIMITED.COM PLAYER AWARDS 2006LEADER BOARDThe players awards are decided by our live score updaters.Want to be a live score updater? For further enquiries, email us.30 pointsCameron Smith (Storm)26 pointsClinton Schifcofske (Raiders)25 pointsNathan Hindmarsh (Eels), Matt Orford (Sea Eagles)23 pointsGreg Inglis (Storm), Willie Mason (Bulldogs)21 pointsPreston Campbell (Panthers)19 pointsAndrew Johns (Knights), Ben Kennedy (Sea Eagles), Darren Lockyer (Broncos)18 pointsDanny Buderus (Knights), Cooper Cronk (Storm)17 pointsMatthew Bowen (Cowboys), Mark Gasnier (Dragons), Scott Prince (Tigers), Johnathan Thurston (Cowboys)15 pointsHazem El Masri (Bulldogs),14 pointsAdam Dykes (Sharks), Justin Hodges (Broncos), Steve Price (Warriors)13 pointsAlan Tongue (Raiders)12 pointsPetero Civoniceva (Broncos), Jason Smith (Raiders), Sonny Bill Williams (Bulldogs)11 pointsRoy Asotasi (Bulldogs), Craig Fitzgibbon (Roosters), Paul Gallen (Sharks), Karmichael Hunt (Broncos), Grant Rovelli (Warriors), Brett Stewart (Sea Eagles), Rhys Wesser (Panthers)10 pointsRobert Farah (Tigers), Aaron Payne (Cowboys)9 pointsMathew Head (Dragons), Brett Hodgson (Tigers), Brent Webb (Warriors)8 pointsBrett Kimmorley (Sharks), Jarryd Hayne (Eels), Steve Menzies (Sea Eagles), Corey Parker (Broncos), Andrew Ryan (Bulldogs), Ruben Wiki (Warriors), Dean Young (Dragons)7 pointsSteve Bell (Sea Eagles), Todd Carney (Raiders), Ben Hornby (Dragons), Wade McKinnon (Eels), Nathan Merritt (Rabbitohs), Mark O?Meley (Bulldogs), David Peachey (Rabbitohs), Amos Roberts (Roosters), Jason Ryles (Dragons), Steve Simpson (Knights)6 pointsLuke Bailey (Dragons), Trent Barrett (Dragons), Nathan Cayless (Eels), Craig Gower (Panthers), Nathan Fien (Warriors), Ryan Hoffman (Storm), Luke Lewis (Panthers), Jarrod Mullen (Knights), Jerome Ropati (Warriors), Lance Thompson (Sharks)5 pointsDean Collis (Tigers), Peter Cusack (Rabbitohs), Brett Finch (Roosters), Matthew Gidley (Knights), Phillip Graham (Raiders), Aaron Gorrell (Dragons), Simon Mannering (Warriors), Luke O'Donnell (Cowboys), Luke O?Dwyer (Eels), Luke Patten (Bulldogs), Luke Priddis (Panthers), Brad Thorn (Broncos)4 pointsDarren Albert (Sharks), Greg Bird (Sharks), Brian Carney (Knights), Matt Cooper (Dragons), Sione Faumuina (Warriors), Daniel Fitzhenry (Tigers), Michael Gordon (Panthers), David Kidwell (Storm), Scott Hill (Storm), Lance Hohaia (Warriors), Anthony Laffranchi (Tigers), Adam MacDougall (Rabbitohs), Fuifui Moimoi (Eels), John Morris (Eels), Clint Newton (Knights), Josh Perry (Knights), Brent Sherwin (Bulldogs), David Simmons (Sharks), Billy Slater (Storm), Jamie Soward (Roosters), John Sutton (Rabbitohs), Milton Thaiday (Knights), Anthony Tupou (Roosters), Steve Turner (Storm), Paul Whatuira (Tigers), Lincoln Withers (Raiders)3 pointsTravis Burns (Sea Eagles), Luke Burt (Eels), Joel Clinton (Panthers), Darius Boyd (Broncos), Luke Covell (Sharks), Michael Crocker (Storm), Greg Eastwood (Broncos), Clint Greenshields (Dragons), Nathan Hinton (Knights), Brett Kearney (Sharks), Luke MacDougall (Rabbitohs), Reni Maitua (Bulldogs), Manase Manuokafoa (Rabbitohs), Adam Mogg (Raiders), Sam Perrett (Roosters), Michael Robertson (Sea Eagles), Matt Sing (Cowboys), Tame Tupou (Broncos), Matthew Utai (Bulldogs), Anthony Watmough (Sea Eagles), Carl Webb (Cowboys), Jake Webster (Storm), Joe Williams (Rabbitohs)2 pointsBrenton Bowen (Cowboys), George Carmont (Knights), Keith Galloway (Tigers), Awen Guttenbeil (Warriors), Ashley Harrison (Roosters), Kevin Kingston (Sharks), Wairangi Koopu (Warriors), Tom Learoyd-Lahrs (Raiders), Tony Martin (Warriors), Anthony Minichiello (Roosters), Mark O'Meley (Bulldogs), Peter-John Marsh (Eels), Benji Marshall (Tigers), Steve Matai (Sea Eagles), Todd Polglase (Rabbitohs), Luke Rooney (Panthers), John Skandalis (Tigers), Craig Smith (Knights), Tim Smith (Eels), Iosia Soliola (Roosters), Steven Southern (Cowboys), Craig Stapleton (Panthers), Timana Tahu (Eels), Clinton Toopi (Warriors), Shane Tronc (Cowboys), Evarn Tuimavave (Warriors), Nigel Vagana (Sharks), Trent Waterhouse (Panthers), Shane Webcke (Broncos), Michael Weyman (Raiders), Craig Wing (Roosters)1 pointShaun Berrigan (Broncos), Paul Bowman (Cowboys), Ben Creagh (Dragons), Ryan Cross (Roosters), Luke Davico (Knights), Shayne Dunley (Sea Eagles), Michael Ennis (Broncos), Shaun Foley (Roosters), Nathan Friend (Storm), Matt Geyer (Storm), Kurt Gidley (Knights), Tony Grimaldi (Bulldogs), Chris Heighington (Tigers), Chris Hicks (Sea Eagles), Daniel Holdsworth (Bulldogs), Lee Hookey (Panthers), Matt King (Storm), Josh Lewis (Roosters), Todd Lowrie (Knights), Daryl Millard (Dragons), Ryan O'Hara (Tigers), Shannon McDonnell (Tigers), Sam Rapira (Warriors), Mark Riddell (Eels), Shane Rodney (Panthers), David Shillington (Roosters), Justin Smith (Cowboys), Brent Tate (Broncos), Sam Thaiday (Broncos), Willie Tonga (Bulldogs), Taniela Tuiaki (Tigers), Ben Walker (Rabbitohs), Simon Woolford (Raiders), William Zillman (Raiders)

McClennan's Auckland side makes Final

THE Auckland Lions booked themselves a spot in the Bartercard Cup grand final with an impressive 27-14 win over the Canterbury Bulls in Auckland on Sunday.The Brian McClennan coached Lions put on a ruthless display in front of a parochial crowd at Western Springs Stadium.The Auckland side opened the scoring early with a try to centre Paletasala Ale.They had enjoyed plenty of possession in the first few minutes and it told when Ale shot down the touchline to score.Captain Steve Buckingham added the extras to give the Lions a 6-0 lead.But while they held the lead their bench was reduced to three men after Ale ? who was injured in the process of scoring - was forced to leave field.The try sparked the Bulls into action and they quickly answered back when centre Lee Fidow showed plenty of skill to sneak through the impressive Lions defence to collect Canterbury?s first try of the match.And it wasn?t long before Fidow struck again.The Bulls showed plenty of skill with the ball in hand and that took its toll on the Lions? defence.Again Fidow managed to find his way to the line and the Bulls took the lead 8-6.Repeat penalties from the Lions gifted the Bulls plenty of territory.But McClennan?s men showed they were up to the challenge keeping the roaring Bulls at bay.It didn?t take the Lions too long to get back into the swing of things and they regained the lead when fullback David Fisiiahi charged over to finish off a brilliant piece of team play.With Buckingham?s conversion the Lions held a 12-8 advantage.With veteran forward Julian O?Neil on the field guiding their forward pack the Lions started to take control.They added another try to Miguel Start soon after and with Buckingham on target they held an 18-8 lead at halftime.The Lions came back from the break and quickly got back into their work.Their fourth try showed just how much talent is on show in the Auckland team.They put together a great piece of team work to set Wayne McDade up with a great try under the posts.Again Buckingham collected the extras and the Lions had a commanding 24-8 lead.But the Bulls were not about to give up.The Phil Prescott-coached side made the most of any chance and it wasn?t long before Lusi Sione notched up their third of the game.Wing Scott Hurrell added the conversion to shorten the gap to 24-14.With penalties going against them the Lions were forced to do plenty of defensive work.But to their credit their line held and they managed to force the Bulls on to the back foot again.A timely penalty saw Buckingham add an extra two points to Auckland?s tally midway through the second half.And then with the clock winding down the skipper nailed a brilliant field goal to finish the game 27-14.The Bulls second place finish at the end of the regular season will see them earn a life as they look to the elimination game to be played tonight between the Tamaki Leopards and Waitakere Rangers.The winner of this game will face Phil Prescott?s Canterbury side next week in the last chance to book a place in the Grand Final.The Rangers vs Leopards match will be televised live and free-to-air by Maori Television at 8pm tonight from Mt Smart Stadium

Finals build-up in full swing

THE build-up to this year's finals kicks off with captains from all eight clubs participating in this week's qualifying finals to gather in Sydney this morning.

engage Super League Rd 26 Review

LEEDS Rhinos 54 (Senior 3, Thackray 2, Donald 2, Gibson, Lauiti?iti tries; Sinfield 9 goals) def. Warrington Wolves 16 (Sullivan, Barnett, Swann tries; Briers 2 goals). Att: 17,349.

Canterbury Bulls face hard road to final

THE Canterbury Bulls will have to take the long route to the Bartercard Cup rugby league grand final after coach Phil Prescott admitted they were "never in the game" yesterday against the defending premiers.

Lion Red Fox Memorial Semi Wrap

MINOR premiers Mt Albert secured the first Lion Red Fox Memorial Grand Final berth with a hard fought and nail biting 26-24 win over the Papakaura Sea Eagles at Fowlds Park. The Sea Eagles will be ruing missed opportunities outscoring the opposition but failing to convert any of their 6 tries. Mt Albert looked a little jaded but continued to prove they can withstand pressure games with Simon Iremaia, Jack Noble and TJ Aoese their best. For Papakura Damien Valeli was impressive along with Solomon Foki and Afoa Fangubu.

QLD Cup: When boys become men

SEVENTEEN Toowoomba players will contest their first ever Queensland Wizard Cup grand final, after the youthful Clydesdales trampled Redcliffe 56-22 in Saturday?s major semi at Clive Berghofer Stadium.

Federation Shield TV coverage

THE RFL has announced that following the agreement to broadcast the two Federation Shield 2006 fixtures to be played in France live across southern France/Catalonia, including Barcelona, with French television company Canal Plus, a revised fixture list has been issued.France will now play Samoa in Colomiers on Sunday, October 29 rather than Saturday, October 28, while the France v Tonga fixture will now kick off at 3.45pm on Sunday, November 5.The England v France game on October 22 and the Shield Final on November 12 will be televised live by Sky Sports.What?s more, a special offer for Rugby League?s newest international tournament, the Federation Shield 2006, has been announced by the RFL.Now all Rugby League club season ticket holders who want to see matches involving England, France, Samoa and Tonga this autumn will qualify for a special discounted ticket deal.The Federation Shield already offers fantastic value for money with tickets priced at ?15 and ?10 for adults, and ?5 for concessions.All junior season ticket holders can take advantage of a ?Quid a Kid? offer, while adult tickets are available with a ?5 reduction. Senior Citizens can also purchase their concession tickets for ?1.Tickets can be purchased from RFL Ticketing on 0870 990 1313. Season ticket numbers will have to be stated to receive the offers above.Simon Malcolm, the RFL?s Director of Marketing, said: ?The Federation Shield will offer fans the opportunity to see some of the engage Super League?s best players as well as up-and-coming international stars.?We wanted as many Rugby League fans as possible to have the opportunity of watching these exciting fixtures as well as rewarding them for their loyalty to their sport of Rugby League throughout 2006?.The revised fixture list is as follows:- 22 October 2006 at Headingley Carnegie Stadium, LeedsTonga v Samoa (3.45pm)England v France (5.45pm) 29 October 2006 at Twickenham Stoop, LondonEngland v Tonga (3.00pm)29 October 2006 at Benichou Stadium, ColomiersFrance v Samoa (5.30pm)5 November 2006 at KC Stadium, HullEngland v Samoa (3.00pm)5 November 2006 at Municipal Stadium Pierre, Antoine, CastresFrance v Tonga (3.45pm) 12 November 2006 at Halton Stadium, WidnesFederation Shield Final (3.30pm)Source:

R26: Wigan near safety

AN near-perfect first half performance and a hat-trick of tries from Michael Dobson helped Wigan Warriors to a commanding 38-16 victory over engage Super League champions Bradford Bulls.The match had been hyped as Brian Noble and Stuart Fielden coming up against their old club but it was another former Bull, Mickey Higham, who did most to help the Warriors gain the early upper hand.Despite a much-improved second-half show from the Bulls, Wigan retained their lead and finished with a 22-point cushion.The Warriors crossed four times in the first half through Chris Ashton, Dobson and Pat Richards, who scored two tries.Although the Bulls restored some pride after the break through Michael Withers, Andy Lynch and Karl Pryce, further scores by Dobson, who crossed twice to complete his treble, and Wayne Godwin saw the Warriors home in front of 15,830 spectators at the JJB Stadium.There was some predictable early special treatment for Fielden from his old team-mates in the Bradford pack but it was the irrepressible Higham who almost fashioned the opening score after five minutes.The hooker, who was signed by Bradford from St Helens in the close season only to be immediately swapped for Wigan?s Terry Newton, made a fabulous dart from dummy half on halfway that cut the defence to shreds.His inside ball found Bryan Fletcher, who handed onto Dobson only for the cover defence to stop him a yard short.The respite was only brief, however, as over half the Warriors played their part in a super team move before Ashton took Danny Orr?s final ball to race under the posts.Fielden got one back with a massive hit on the unfortunate Ben Harris but the Bulls made big metres on their next set and only desperate defence from Sean O?Loughlin halted Newton, another trying to impress former employers.The home side were undeniably on top and it was another Higham break that led to them extending the lead on 17 minutes.Ashton again was in support and, although it looked like he had the pace to hold off the chasing Lesley Vainikolo, he handed onto Richards for a walk-in.Dobson was next to notch a four-pointer moments later and again it was a team effort.A long ball from Fletcher on halfway released Orr, who chose the perfect time to offload to his half-back partner, whose second goal saw the Warriors lead 16-0 with barely a quarter of the game gone.The Bulls tried to hit back but the Warriors? defence was proving up to the task, Michael Withers finding no way through after a good break down the middle.On half-time, the Warriors defence looked to be stretched on their own line, only for Richards to pluck a long ball meant for Marcus Bai out of the air and race 100 metres for his second try.Dobson?s boot made it 22-0, and not even a rare mistake from Fielden from the kick-off could allow the Bulls back in as the hooter sounded to a crescendo of cheers from the home faithful.The first half could scarcely have got worse for the Bulls and they needed to do something fast to get themselves back into the game.What would not have been in the script was Withers to drop a routine pass from Vainikolo for Dobson to pick up the pieces and score his second try within a couple of minutes of the restart.Another successful goal pushed the lead out to 28-0, only for Withers to make amends with Bradford?s first try four minutes later.Good hands left saw Karl Pryce walk through the right-centre channel and Withers was in support to cross for a try that Paul Deacon converted.The Bulls had a sniff of a comeback but Godwin burrowed his way over from close range within five minutes to shut the door on the Yorkshiremen, Dobson again on the mark.Andy Lynch reduced the gap on the hour after taking a superbly-timed inside ball from Deacon and Pryce then picked off an ill-advised long ball from Fletcher deep in Wigan territory to reduce the gap to three converted scores at 34-16.With nine minutes remaining, Henderson found a gap, only for Fielden to pull off the try-saving tackle.Dobson made sure he sneaked the man-of-the-match plaudits from a host of worthy challengers in the dying seconds when he outpaced Withers to score in the corner to complete his hat-trick.Wigan Warriors: Ashton, Calderwood, McAvoy, Vaealiki, Richards, Orr, Dobson, Paleaaesina, Higham, Fielden, Hock, Fletcher, O'Loughlin.Replacements: Logan, Godwin, Hansen, Tickle.Bradford Bulls: Withers, Vainikolo, Hape, B. Harris, Bai, I. Harris, Deacon, Vagana, Newton, Lynch, McKenna, Ferres, Langley.Replacements: Henderson, Meyers, Burgess, Pryce.Wigan Warriors: (22) 38.Tries: Ashton, Richards 2, Dobson 3, Godwin.Goals: Dobson 5.Bradford Bulls: (0) 16.Tries: Withers, Lynch, Pryce.Goals: Deacon 2.Referee: A KleinAtt: 15,830Source:

R26: Saints tame Wildcats

ST Helens all but secured top spot in the engage Super League with a hard-fought 34-12 win over relegation battlers Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.

R26: Rhinos celebrate in style

KEITH Senior provided the inspiration as Leed Rhinos celebrated the opening of their new stand in style with a 54-16 victory against engage Super League rivals Warrington Wolves.

Tigers boil up some Rabbit stew

ROUND 26 Wests Tigers 52 v South Sydney Rabbitohs 18at Leichhardt OvalReferee: Tony De Las HerasMatch Summary:Wests Tigers have annihilated South Sydney at historic Leichhardt Oval by 52-18 this afternoon, adding further misery to an already disastrous week in the club?s history.After sacking their coach mid-week and facing a backlash over life memberships in today?s print media, Souths put in one of their more gutless performances of the season which has yielded only three victories in total.By contrast the Tigers turned up in a positive fashion with the obvious aim of ending the season on a high and sending off departing stars John Skandalis, Scott Prince, Anthony Laffranchi and Shane Elford in style.And that?s exactly how things played out.It was 18-nil after 25 minutes of play with Todd Payten grabbing one earlier in the third minute before Robbie Farah and Shannon McDonnell continued the feast.The surprise of the day was a first half brace of tries to forward Chris Heighington who completed his effort prior to the break with the Tigers taking an unassailable 30-nil halftime advantage.It looked as though the pain would be unrelenting for the Bunnies as veteran John Skandalis scored just after the break in his last game for the club.Soon after though there was some relief for Souths fans who remained at the ground, presumably to exorcise this season from themselves entirely, as fullback David Peachey crossed for the visitor?s first try of the day. The enigmatic custodian was clearly the Bunnies best among a very ordinary team on the day.Both teams swapped tries for the remainder of the game with Daniel Fitzhenry notably scoring a double as Souths finished up with a further two touchdowns to finish the game at 52-18.Whilst this game was a dead rubber the difference between the two cultures of the clubs couldn?t be more obvious.Wests went out there intent on putting a difficult season behind them and farewelling some of their long-serving players from the club in happy circumstances. They can at least now look forward to next season with a few fond memories as they head to the pub tomorrow.Souths, on the other hand, were a rabble and the off-field issues that have been dogging the club in recent times clearly took their toll today. With several mid-year signings coming to the club the past few weeks provided an opportunity for some existing players to stake a claim for next season. Unfortunately this will slip them by with unaccomplished performances of today?s magnitude. Fans can only hope that Jason Taylor will pull out a bag of tricks next season, similar to what he has done with Parramatta, and get them on the road to improvement.Scorers:Wests Tigers: 52Tries: Shane Elford, Robert Farah, Daniel Fitzhenry(2), Chris Heighington(2), Todd Payten, John Skandalis, Shannon McDonnellGoals: Daniel Fitzhenry 1/1, Scott Prince 7/8South Sydney Rabbitohs: 18Tries: Scott Geddes, Yileen Gordon, David PeacheyGoals: Joe Williams 1/1, Nathan Merritt 1/1, Eddie Paea 1/1By the Clock:Muggy day here at Leichhardt Oval where the Tigers and Rabbitohs square off in a dead rubber.Both teams as per the program.1 min: NEWS We're underway here at sunny Leichhardt.3 min: TRY Wests TigersAn early try here to the home side with mobile prop Todd Payten scoring the first of the day from short range. Captain Scott Prince nudges the conversion over and the Tigers are off to a good start. Tigers 6-013 min: NEWS Both teams competing pretty well here with an even share of possession and minimal mistakes.20 min: TRY Wests TigersRobbie Farah bags up the next try for the Tigers after a good piece of back-up. Fitzhenry converts this one and the home side are pulling away. Tigers 12-025 min: TRY Wests TigersSpeedster Shannon McDonnell advances the gap with his first of the day. Prince converts. Tigers 18-027 min: NEWS Video referee denies Robbie Farah a second try. The Tigers are dominating everything right now.33 min: TRY Wests TigersBig forward Heighinton gets in on the act for the Tigers as they start to change gears and really get moving here at Leichhardt. Prince adds the extras and they are running wild. Tigers 24-038 min: TRY Wests TigersAmazingly, Heighinton gets his second for the day. It woulf be a rare occasion for this forward. Prince converts and they might break the half ton here today. Tigers 30-040 min: NEWS Halftime: Well, it's a bloodbath here. The Rabbitohs have very little to combat the Tigers who are enjoying throwing the ball about and making good use of it when they have it. The home side might rack up a cricket score here.41 min: NEWS Underway in the second half.43 min: TRY Wests TigersThe carve-up continues here as John Skandalis crashes over to continue the humiliation. Prince converts. Tigers 36-045 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsThe Bunnies finally get on the board through enigmatic fullback David Peachey. Leading try-scorer Nathan Merritt adds the extras. Tigers 36-651 min: TRY Wests TigersThe Tigers are showing no mercy here as Fitzhenry crosses the stripe. Conversion unsuccessful but the Tigers are killing it at the moment. Tigers 40-659 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsBuddy Gordon scores as the Rabbitohs try to inject som respect to the scoreline. Williams converts. Tigers 40-1261 min: TRY Wests TigersNormal transmission has resumed with Shane Elford notching one up in his name. Prince converts and the Tgiers are hungry for more. Tigers 46-1271 min: TRY Wests TigersGeez this is a smash-up. Fitzhenry gets another as the Tigers continue to run rough-shod over an uninterested Souths team. Prince converts and they could make 60. Tigers 52-1274 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsBig Scott Geddes finds his way to the line as defence becomes an after-thought here at Leichhardt. Eddie Paea converts. Tigers 52-1880 min: NEWS It's all over here at Leichhardt where a few of the Tigers like Prince and Skandalis have received a fitting players of the match:3 - Scott Prince2 - Daniel Fitzhenry1 - Chris Heighington-----------------------------------------

Dogs claim scrappy victory over Panthers

ROUND 26 Penrith Panthers 22 v Canterbury Bulldogs 30at CUA Stadium, PenrithReferee: Tony ArcherMatch Summary:The Canterbury Bulldogs have spoiled John Lang?s farewell party in claiming an uninspiring 30-22 victory over the Penrith Panthers amid trying conditions.The superior boot of Hazem El Masri proved to be the difference as both sides ran in five tries each in a sometimes entertaining game. But with a very strong wind and periods of showers the game failed to reach any lofty heights. The fact nothing other than pride was on the line probably assisted in keeping the game as an average encounter with Canterbury seemingly having their eye on next week?s semi-final against Canberra during periods throughout the second half.Penrith dashed to an early lead through captain Tony Puletua after Canterbury kicked dead on the full from the kick-off before the visitors hit back five minutes later with a try to Chris Armit and the conversion from El Masri put them in front.The Panthers were tenacious at times though and clearly wanted to end-off their departing stars and coach with a win. They put two tries back to back to open up a 12-6 lead when powerful winger Michael Gordon snapped up a kick in the 17th minute before a super effort from Paul Aiton in the 25th put the Doggies on notice.Canterbury squared the ledger five minutes later when Luke Patten scored the first of his two tries and the scores remained unchanged as the teams headed into the sheds for halftime.With Patten scoring again just following the break to take the score to 18-12 it appeared as though the visitors may run away with things particularly since Preston Campbell and Luke Rooney failed to return to the field. But in a great turnaround Penrith put on two tries through electric fullback Rhys Wesser, which was spectacular, and barnstorming backrower Trent Waterhouse and with Gordon adding one goal the Panthers looked pretty good at 22-18.As the game wore away, sadly the Panthers did too. Matt Utai scored in the 60th minute with replacement forward Dallas McIllwain grabbing another in the 70th. El Masri?s perfect boot allowed a comfortable 8-point gap and the Doggies held on from there.Canterbury will now host the Canberra Raiders at Telstra Stadium next Saturday at 8.30pm with a keen eye to book a Grand Final Qualifier in week 3 of the semis. They will welcome back inspirational forward Willie Mason which will be a welcome boost.For Penrith, their season is now over but under the circumstances I think they had a reasonable year. Constant injuries, in particular to star halfback Craig Gower, was a thorn in the side and they only had a modest playing list to begin with. Whilst John Lang took them to a premiership and was a superb coach, incoming Matt Elliott will no doubt bring a fresh feel to the club and something to look forward to in 2007.Scorers:Penrith Panthers: 22Tries: Tony Puletua, Trent Waterhouse, Rhys Wesser, Paul Aiton, Michael GordonGoals: Michael Gordon 1/2Canterbury Bulldogs: 30Tries: Chris Armit, Dallas McIlwain, Luke Patten(2), Matthew UtaiGoals: Hazem El Masri 5/5By the Clock:Hot and steamy day out here at Penrith where the Panthers will be looking to send off coach John Lang with a victory. A strong breeze blowing out here.Changes: Panthers halfback Craig Gower has again succumbed to injury and is replaced by Craig Trindall. Matt Bell comes onto the bench.Bulldogs are as per the program.1 min: NEWS Canterbury gets us underway with a kick-off that goes dead on the full.2 min: TRY Penrith PanthersTrindall and Stapleton conspire on the short side to put captain Tony Puletua over the line for the first try of the day. Campbell can't convert. Panthers 4-07 min: TRY Canterbury BulldogsAs the Bulldogs press close to the line, Armit steams onto the ball and grounds it next to the posts. There was a hint of a loose ball but the video ref has awarded the try. El Masri converts easily. Bulldogs 6-414 min: NEWS The Panthers made a good break through Gordon and Pritchard backs up only to commit a double-movement and squander a good opportunity.17 min: TRY Penrith PanthersA clever kick by Campbell finds it's way into the in goal area and Michael Gordon swoops on it after it going through Matt Utai's legs. Campbell can't convert with this gale force at work. Panthers 8-624 min: NEWS Another double movement ruling here this time against Daniel Holdsworth.25 min: TRY Penrith PanthersSuper try from replacement Paul Aiton as Craig Trindall starts the movement along with Tony Puletua and Lee Hookey. Campbell misses again. Panthers 12-630 min: TRY Canterbury BulldogsLuke Patten picks up some scraps following a loose pass and scores under the posts. El Masri converts. 12 all.35 min: NEWS Preston Campbell struggling with an ankle injury.40 min: NEWS Halftime: It's been an interesting contest out here at Penrith Park. The Panthers have scored three tries to two but with unsuccessful conversions the Bulldogs have squared the ledger at 12-all.This one could go anywhere from there but you'd imagine that the Bulldogs would want to put in a solid effort heading into the semis.41 min: NEWS Underway in the second half. Campbell and Rooney don't make it back for the second half.42 min: TRY Canterbury BulldogsPatten gets on the outside of Pritchard and races away for his second of the day. El Masri gets the kick from the touchline in difficult circumstances. Bulldogs 18-1244 min: TRY Penrith PanthersElectric fullback Rhys Wesser finishes off a great move including Gordon and Waterhouse to score for the Panthers. Gordon converts with Campbell off the field and we're locked up again. 18 all.50 min: TRY Penrith PanthersWaterhouse crashes over the line after exposing a lazy Sonny Bill and the Panthers press ahead again. Gordon splays it but the conditions are terrible. It's started to rain and the wind has picked up even further. Panthers 22-1860 min: NEWS The Panthers are starting to gain some further momentum and an upset is on the cards here.60 min: TRY Canterbury BulldogsSome good work out wide from the Dogs, using their numbers, Maitua gets it to Utai and he brings it around to score next to the posts. El Masris converts to take the lead back for the Bulldogs. Bulldogs 24-2270 min: TRY Canterbury BulldogsLooks like the Bulldogs will win this one, but they haven't been too enthusiastic today. Dallas McIllwain crosses for the club and El Masri converts to open up an 8-point lead. Bulldogs 30-2280 min: NEWS Canterbury come away with a scrappy win but will now look to focus on the semi players of the match:3 - Luke Patten2 - Hazem El Masri1 - Michael Gordon-----------------------------------------

Broncos rout Warriors for third place

ROUND 26 Brisbane Broncos 36 v New Zealand Warriors 12at Suncorp StadiumReferee: Sean HampsteadMatch Summary:The Brisbane Broncos have claimed third spot on the NRL ladder with an emphatic 36-12 destruction of the Warriors at Suncorp Stadium this afternoon in front of 47,193 fans.The Broncos set the tone for the match when Shane Perry raced past Warriors defenders to score in the 8th minute. After 20 minutes Shaun Berrigan doubled the Broncos lead as he ran through non-existent Warriors defence to score under the posts.Soon after it was 18-0 as Karmicheal Hunt scored out wide. The Warriors managed to get one back with not long to go in the half when Gatis bombed for Byrne who dotted down out wide.The Warriors threatened to make a match of it as Gatis claimed a try 10 minutes into the second half. With 20 minutes to go Lockyer sliced through the Warriors defence off a short pass to score under the posts. Justin Hodges claimed a brace of tries in the final stages of the match to turn a tight game into a rout.Next week the Broncos will host the Dragons in the 3rd vs 6th final at Suncorp Stadium, while the Warriors will face a variety of alcoholic beverages come Monday morning.Scorers:Brisbane Broncos: 36Tries: Shaun Berrigan, Justin Hodges(2), Karmichael Hunt, Darren Lockyer, Shane PerryGoals: Darren Lockyer 2/2, Corey Parker 4/4New Zealand Warriors: 12Tries: Todd Byrne, George GatisGoals: Lance Hohaia 2/2By the Clock:Happy Fathers day from Suncorp Stadium. Today we have one of the clashes of the season, the Broncos hosting the Warriors.The Warriors have Todd Byrne in for Nathan Fein. Darius Boyd is in for Stephen Michaels on the Broncos side.Super crowd under sunny skies in Brisbane. The Warriors are in grey and the Broncos in maroon.1 min: The Broncos kick off!4 min: Price makes a break but can't offload to support.7 min: The Warriors just stop a Broncos attacking raid.8 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosPerry races over from a short ball from Lockyer. Lockyer converts. Broncos 6-012 min: The Warriors find touch just outside the Broncos 20.13 min: The Warriors are penalised for interfering in the play the ball. The Broncos knock on on the first play.16 min: The Broncos very strong defensively, the Warriors not making too much ground.17 min: INJURY - Darius Boyd looking unwell after a hitup.17 min: The Warriors get a penalty after a strong Vatuvei hitup.21 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosBerrigan races over from dummy half. Very poor Warriors defence. Parker converts. Broncos 12-024 min: INJURY - Webb injured after a big hit from Carroll, and is coming from the field.25 min: The Broncos make a break and get six more tackles.25 min: Tate just loses the ball chasing a Lockyer kick. The Warriors in all sorts of trouble.28 min: NEWS VIDEO REF - For a Broncos try...28 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosGreat ball movement from the Broncos sees Hunt score out wide. Parker converts. Broncos 18-031 min: The Warriors get a penalty while hot on attack.31 min: The Warriors get a line dropout off a lucky deflection.35 min: VIDEO REF - For a Broncos try...35 min: NO TRY - BroncosTate penalised for a double movement.36 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsGatis bombs from dummy half, Byrne flies high and claims the first points against the Broncos in almost three weeks. Hohaia converts. Broncos 18-640 min: ATTEMPTED FIELD GOAL Brisbane BroncosLockyer just puts a field goal attempt under the bar. Broncos 18-6HALF TIME: With the Broncos looking totally dominant. Brent Webb has played his last minutes for the Warriors, he is out for the rest of the match with rib cartilage damage.40 min: Back underway at Suncorp.42 min: Hodges just averts a Warriors 40/20.46 min: Anderson loses the ball with the Warriors hot on attack.47 min: A Broncos try called back for a forward pass.47 min: CROWD - 47,19349 min: Warriors get six more tackles off a McGuire error.50 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsRovelli puts up a bomb, Vatuvei knocks it back to Gatis who dots down. Hohaia converts as McGuire is taken from the field after an accidental knee from Wiki. Broncos 18-1252 min: Warriors looking far better in the 12 minutes of this half.54 min: Ropati kicks through for Byrne who recovers and gets it away to Hohaia, but the pass was ruled forward.56 min: The Warriors put up another bomb, Vatuvei looks best to get the ball but he swings and misses.58 min: The Broncos bringing their intensity back. The Warriors throw a forward pass on the last tackle.59 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosLockyer collects an offload and steps Ah Van to score under the posts. Parker converts. Broncos 24-1263 min: NEWS VIDEO REF - For a Broncos try...63 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosAfter a very dodgy knock on call against Ropati, the Broncos get a scrum 10 out. Hodges scores a few plays later. Parker converts. Broncos 30-1267 min: The Broncos have another try called back for a forward pass.70 min: Good desperation defence from the Warriors keeps the Broncos out.71 min: Hunt takes the ball across the sideline with Vatuvei chasing down a kick.72 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosRopati loses the ball at one end of the field, two plays later Hodges avoids defenders to dot down out wide. Lockyer converts off the post. Broncos players of the match:3 - Justin Hodges2 - Darren Lockyer1 - Shaun Berrigan-----------------------------------------

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