Cronk shines in Ballina trial

MELBOURNE halfback Cooper Cronk has steered the Storm to a 38-18 victory over the Parramatta Eels. The pre-season trial was played in humid conditions over 20 minute quarters at Kingsford Smith Park in Ballina.In a first half where referee Gavin Badger handed out 13 penalties, the Storm were able to stamp their authority on proceedings with tries to Billy Slater, Steve Turner and Matt Geyer, Cronk's kicking game was instrumental in setting up Geyer's try. Parramatta replied with tries to Luke O'Dwyer and Tim Smith, O'Dwyer's try being set up by new five-eighth Brett Delaney. The only injury in the first 40 minutes was Parramatta's Peter Lewis who was carted off after being flattened by Storm recruit Michael Crocker. Lewis was able to return to put in a strong performance in the second half.At half time, Melbourne held a 16-12 lead.The second half saw Parramatta experimenting with new combinations which resulted in numerous handling errors. Melbourne extended their lead and tries to Cronk in the 45th and 54th saw the score blow out to 28-12. Chris Walker, who limped off with cramp late in the match, and Kiwi international Jake Webster crossed as well to make in seven tries for the Storm. Jarryd Hayne scored Parramatta's only try in the second half.Best player on the park was Melbourne's Cooper Cronk. Five-eighth Geyer and fullback Slater were standouts as well as Nathan Friend who came on to replace Cronk in the second half. Parramatta's Delaney, who appears to have 'bulked up' in the off-season played strongly. Halfback Tim Smith and utility Dean Widders who, along with Delaney, was trialed in the five-eighth position put in strong performances. Rookie forward Zeb Taia was also a standout for the Eels.Scorers:STORM 38Tries: Cronk 2, Slater, Turner, Geyer, Walker, WebsterGoals: Inglis 3, C Smith 2EELS 18Tries: O'Dwyer, T Smith, HayneGoals: Burt 2 , DelaneyHalf time: Storm 16-12Three quarter time: 28-12Kickoff: 5:45pm.Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina. Crowd: Approx 7,000Referees: Gavin Badger and Steven ClarkLeagueunlimited Players of the match:3 - C Cronk (Storm)2 - M Geyer (Storm)1 - B Slater (Storm)Pic: Cooper Cronk (

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Catalans upset Wigan to win debut Super League match

A huge disappointment for the Wigan Warriors, as they were narrowly defeated in their engage Super League opener against the new boys the Catalans Dragons in the south of France.Over 11,000 watched the history making clash, 2,000 in cherry and white and in a real nipand tuck encounter it was the home side that snatched the points.Wigan were off to the worst possible start losing possession straight from the kick off and from the scrum the home side spread the ball to the left and within sixty seconds the French side were off to a flying start through a Mark Hughes try in the corner. The conversion hit the upright and the Dragons led 4-0.On seven minutes Wigan replied as David Vaealiki found winger Brett Dallas to crash in at the corner, referee Ashley Klein checking with the video official before the try was given. Dallas just managing to ground the ball. Danny Tickles conversion hit the posts; the game was all-square at 4-4.On 11 minutes Danny Tickle was involved in sending in Iafeta Paleaaesina for Wigans second try under the sticks, the big prop showing a turn of pace and enjoyed diving over for the try, this time Tickle hit the extras to make it 4-10.The Catalans hit straight back on 16 minutes, a clever Stacey Jones kick and Frayssinous gathered for the try and he hit the conversion to make it 10-10.On 31 minutes, the Dragons scored their third try, a short pass found the strong Jamal Fakir and he was able to power over, Frayssinous hit the conversion, 16-10 to the home side.Catalans were reduced to ten men with Fakir thrown in the sin bin for two offences in quick succession and from the next tackle Dennis Moran stepped left and right to confuse the home defence for the Warriors third try. It was a simple goal, which Tickle notched to square the game again at 16-16.Just when it looked as if the sides would be level at the interval Ian Millward?s men found a gap as Mark Calderwood raced clear. From the support play, O?Loughlin and Moran involved for a Jerry Seuseu try, his first for the club. Tickle was accurate with the extras to make it 16-22 after forty minutes.On 46 minutes, the Catalans Dragons squeezed in for a try, their fourth in the corner through Renaud Guigue, the goal was missed 20-22. On 52 minutes the home side were in again, swift handling and Justin Murphy crossing on the right hand side to make it 26-22 as Fraysinnous slotted the goal over once more.Wigan wasted a great opportunity on 63 minutes as Sean O?Loughlin lost the ball with the try line in his sights.On 70 minutes the Warriors responded, Aussie Pat Richards with the try, handing off the Dragons full back on the right hand touchline. Calderwood with a quick tap from his own twenty and the ball through numerous hands before Ashton sent Richards away, Tickle hit the goal. There then followed another penalty and Wigan led 26-30.The Dragons were not done, Ian Hindmarsh with a try for the home side to square it at 30 all with five minutes left. Frayssinous had pressure for the conversion and he hit it through the sticks to make it 32-30.A Julian Rinaldi try in the dying moments which took a decision from the video ref and with Frayssinous the goal it mean?t the points for the home side in the bag and it ended 38-30.CATALANS DRAGONS 38Tries: Hughes, Frayssinous, Fakir, Guigue, Murphy, Hindmarsh,Rinaldi Goals: Frayssinous 5 Team: Laurent Frayssinous, Justin Murphy, John Wilson, Teddy Sadaoui, Mark Hughes, Sean Rudder, Stacey Jones, Chris Beattie, Julien Rinaldi, Adel Fellous, Jerome Guisset, Jamal Fakir, Ian Hindmarsh. Subs: Renaud Guigue, Pascal Jampy, Gregory Mounis, Alex Chan.Defeated WIGAN WARRIORSTries Dallas, Paleaaesina, Moran, Seuseu, Richards Goals: Tickle 5Team: Chris Ashton, Mark Calderwood, Pat Richards, David Vaealiki, Brett Dallas,Joel Tomkins, Dennis Moran, Scott Logan, Mick Higham, Iafeta Paleaaesina, Harrison Hansen, Danny Tickle, Sean O'Loughlin. Subs: Kevin Brown, Jerry Seuseu, Wayne Godwin, Danny Orr.Referee: Ashley KleinHalftime: Wigan 22-16Venue: Stade Aime Giral, Perpignan (Catalans)Crowd: 11,122

Raiders offer Elliott contract extension

CANBERRA has tabled coach Matthew Elliott a new one-year deal to prevent him from being poached by rival NRL club Newcastle.Elliott, who is off contract after 2006, has been approached by the Knights to replace Michael Hagan from next year, but says his preference is to remain in the nation's capital. Raiders CEO Simon Hawkins says he is confident of a deal being struck with Elliott soon.

Bears pride and passion on display in trial wins

THE Bears Harold Matthews team has applied a combination of pride, passion and teamwork to defeat their Manly counter-parts on Sunday. In a solid win, momentum built as the talk of pride in being a Bear brought on a renewed aggression in attack and defence. Resisting the urge to name any standouts coach Kevin Nichols said, ?Everyone put in and everyone stood up and worked together, showing pride in their jersey and the passion of the Bears?.In their first hit out of the season The North Sydney Premier League team hammered a combination A grade/Jim Beam Cup Windsor side 60 to nil. The Bears started off by taking on Windsor A-Grade in two 20-minute halves. Then using the same 19-man squad played two more 20-minute halves against Windsor?s Jim Beam Cup side who won the Cup last year.The most impressive aspect of the display was that Windsor was unable to cross the Bears try line, due to urgency in defence and pride in the line shown by the team. An added bonus was that all 10 kicks for goal were successful.Also against Manly on Sunday the Bears S.G. Ball side upped the tempo to play a competitive match against a Sea Eagles team that finished in 4th spot in 2005. The forwards in particular impressed for the Bears. Hard-hitting and hard to bring down the Bears regrouped well after their hit out against Penrith last week. On hand for support were Liam Foran and Premier league?s Ben Black.PHOTO: Harold Matts? player ?Junior Rika? snatches the ball mid air on his way to a spectacular try against Manly. Photo: Steve LittleNext week sees the first trial match of the Steve Carter coached Jersey Flegg team against the Roosters at Henson Park at 2:00pm on Saturday the 11th February. On the same day the Premier League side will play the Newtown Jets at 5:00pm. While the Junior Reps sides play one more trial against Mt Annan on the 18th February before the season proper.For more action photos of the North Sydney Junior Reps and Premier League over the weekend go to the photos section - North Sydney Rugby League Football Club can be contacted on 9466 8860, by e-mail [email protected], or check out the website at

Souths board approves privatisation proposal

PETER Holmes s Court's bid to privatise the South Sydney Rabbitohs has moved a step closer after his joint proposal with Hollywood star Russell Crowe was given the green light by the NRL club's board.The board's approval now means Souths members will have the chance to vote on the proposal, which would see Holmes a Court and Crowe pay $3 million for 75 per cent of the football club. The board voted 6-3 in favour of the deal tonight, with the members to have their say on March 19 when an extraordinary general meeting will be held.

ESL Round 1 Preview

THIS Friday Night Engage Super League XI kicks off when newly promoted Castleford Tigers entertain Challenge Cup holders, Hull FC. The following day sees two new Super League clubs make their debut when Harlequins RL, the former London Broncos, host this seasons favourites St Helens at the famous Twickenham Stoop. That same evening across the Channel, in the South of France, Les Catalans Dragons welcome the Wigan Warriors.On Sunday sees the completion of Round 1 when World and Super League Champions Bradford Bulls make the journey to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats. Meanwhile last seasons Challenge Cup and Super League Runners-up, the Leeds Rhinos, look forward to the visit of the Huddersfield Giants at the newly named Headingley Carnegie Stadium. Across the M62 in Cheshire, Warrington Wolves (this season?s dark horse) play the Salford City Reds in the final match of the round.As the salary cap and the controversial 20/20 rule starts to bite, this years Super League promises to be the closest ever. During the close season quite a number of clubs have recruited well-known British and NRL players, which will make this years competition the most exciting season since the inception of summer rugby.It is very encouraging that most clubs have reported increased season ticket sales with this extra revenue is appears that rugby league at club level in the Northern hemisphere is looking stronger than ever.

Marshall rules out opening night comeback

INJURED Wests Tigers five-eighth Benji Marshall hopes to be back on the playing field ahead of schedule, but has all but ruled out being available for the NRL season opener.The premier hosts St George Illawarra at Telstra Stadium on March 10 to kick-off the 2006 season in a rematch of last season's epic preliminary final. Marshall underwent surgery on his right shoulder shortly after the Tigers' grand final success last year but is already on the training paddock with contact work set to begin in two weeks.

Souths board to hear privatisation proposal

THE Peter Holmes a Court-Russell Crowe privatisation proposal will finally be heard by the South Sydney Board tonight.Holmes a Court will outline his proposal to the board which will then make a decision as to whether it will be passed to the members to vote on. Rabbitohs chief executive Shane Richardson says he is hopeful the board will reach a decision tonight.Holmes a Court and Crowe are offering to pay $3 million for 75 per cent of the football club, which would give them the right to appoint four of the seven board members. The deal would also allow Souths members to retain control of the club's colours, name and logo and where the Rabbitohs play their home matches.Club patriarch and Souths Leagues Club chairman George Piggins has been a vocal opponent to the bid, believing the football club should remain in the hands of the members and the community.

Lyon yet to decide future

JAMIE Lyon is still undecided on his future plans as he prepares to embark on his second engage Super League campaign with pre-season favourite St Helens.The Australian centre is under contract with the Minor Premiers until the end of the year and the club is desperate to extend his deal at Knowsley Road. However, he is being courted by a number of Australian clubs - including Manly and the newly-formed Gold Coast franchise ? who would love to take him back to the NRL in time for the 2007 campaign.But the 24-year-old says he could find the lure of a return to his homeland with the chance to resume his representative career with New South Wales and the Kangaroos too good to turn down.

Gower likely to remain a Panther

PENRITH playmaker Craig Gower is likely to remain at the 2003 NRL premiers this season.Shortly after arriving in Sydney after his honeymoon in Vietnam, Gower has made it clear he wants to remain with the Panthers despite his recent disagreement with the club. Gower has told the Australian newspaper he wants to stay with the club and that the issue of him wanting to leave the Panthers was blown out of proportion.The Panthers livewire was axed as skipper and fined $100,000 - $70,000 of which was suspended - following allegations of misbehaviour at a charity golf tournament late last year. Penrith chief executive Glenn Matthews has welcomed Gower's latest comments and says he will meet with the player shortly to discuss a few issues.

Presenting? the Col Murphy Roast!

COME along and pay tribute to one of the genuine larger-than-life characters of both Rugby League football and the Newtown Jets. When: Sunday, 12th March 2006, 3.00pm Where: Souths Juniors Leagues Club, Anzac Parade, Kingsford Hosted by: The one and only Johnny Lewis. $50.00 per head - All profits from this function will go to children?s cancer research. Contacts: ?Chook? Certoma on 8802 4808 or 9564 6016; Ricky McVicar on 0414 250 598. Tickets are limited so make your reservations as soon as possible. Don?t miss what is sure to be a terrific afternoon. ?Murph? has been one of the definitive tearaways of Rugby League football, so his Roast will certainly be an occasion to remember! (Col Murphy pictured at a Sevens tournament in 2004).

Emerald Group Help Redcliffe Develop

IN RECENT times the Redcliffe Dolphins have become quite adept at staking their own territory. A new logo, a new jersey and a heightened emphasis on the ?Dolphin? are tell-tale signs the club is fiercely marking its own patch of turf.It could be considered a natural progression then that the club should form an alliance with the leading property developer on the Redcliffe peninsula, Emerald Group.Announcing a significant three-year sponsorship at Bayswater Apartments today, Redcliffe Chief Executive James Hinchey joined with Emerald Group Executive Chairman Eddy Faress to officially put pen to paper.The deal links two of the most prominent icons of the peninsula and ensures the Dolphins can remain front-runners from the Queensland Wizard Cup level right down to junior grades.?This allows us to maintain the standard we are known for,? said Hinchey, a grand finalist in four Queensland Wizard Cup seasons.?As the State League grows in levels of professionalism, it certainly doesn?t become any cheaper to run the clubs.?Emerald Group has contributed an amount that would compare very favourably and it allows us to really compete.?A further two-year option exists on the deal, which would then take the partnership between the Dolphins and Emerald Group through to the end of 2010. A long-time St George fan, Emerald boss Faress has transferred his passion for the red-and-white to the Dolphins, a club he considers central to the way of life on the peninsula.?Redcliffe Leagues Club is a true icon out this way and we look forward to a long and healthy relationship,? Faress said.?We?ve got another seven or eight years worth of development work left in the Redcliffe area - that?s without taking any more on the books.?It only seems fitting to me that we play our part and get as involved with the local community as we can.?Describing himself as the ?smallest lock ever? in the old Sydney Police Rugby League, Faress marvels at the talent on disposal at Dolphin Oval.A new affiliation with the Brisbane Broncos has seen several Dolphins train with the NRL squad ? including Shane Perry, Nick Emmett, Pat Gardner, Danny Green and Kaine Manihera.Linchpin Perry, 28, has been perilously close to being called up for the Broncos in previous years, given shortages in the club?s halves.Meanwhile 20-year-old Manihera has joined the Dolphins at the behest of the Broncos, with the young Kiwi viewed as a potential first-grader of the future.

Smith extends stay at Rhinos

LEEDS Rhinos have received a massive boost ahead of the start of the new engage Super League season this Sunday at Headingley Carnegie against Huddersfield with the news that Head Coach Tony Smith has agreed a new one year extension which will keep him at Leeds until at least the end of 2007.Smith, who will come up against his former club this Sunday, was named engage Super League Coach of the Year last season and was due to be out of contract at the end of the 2006 season. However, he has agreed a one year extension now having moved to Headingley Carnegie at the start of the 2004 season.Commenting on the announcement Smith said, ?I?m delighted to have been offered and accepted an extension to my contract. It is an honour to coach a club that is always competitive and pushing for titles. I would like to thank Paul Caddick and Gary Hetherington for their backing and I had no hesitation in signing my new contract.?I have enjoyed my time already here at the club and I am looking forward to the future and working with the exciting players and backroom staff we have in place now at the Rhinos. The strength of our team both on and off the pitch was a major factor in my decision and we will have some exciting times in the future.?I am pleased to have got the extension sorted out before the start of the season and we can now concentrate on the year ahead and doing our best. Having recently been back to Australia, my family are very happy here in England and this is certainly home for us now,? added Smith.Chief Executive Gary Hetherington added, ?We are delighted Tony has accepted this extension and we are now looking forward to continue our progression under him and his coaching team over the next two years at least. Tony has done a tremendous job in his two years already at Headingley Carnegie and we are all looking forward to the new season now, starting on Sunday at home against Huddersfield.?

Robbo Reckons

PEOPLE often say to me Robbo what do footy players do in the off season. Well this year it looks they get married since my last column these members of the Dolphin family have tied the knot Grant Flugge, Russell Lahiff, Trent Leis as well as trainer Garry Worden and former players Mark Shipway and Barry Denduck. So guys from me and all the millions and millions of the Robbo Reckons column fans, congratulations and all the best for the future. It certainly has been an interesting month back at training under the sadistic slave driver I mean strength and conditioning Coach Tony Guilfoyle. I rocked up and thought I?m pretty fit for an ex player turned car salesman but I didn?t even make it onto the field I knocked up just watching them go through their paces and I quickly realised I had nothing. The sessions have quickly sorted out the men from the boys. And it has been the two old war horses Troy Lindsay and Adam Starr leading the way again in most of the runs. It is interesting you can never get out of Starry and Cow their real ages or who is older. Both say they are 27 which by my reckoning would mean Starry played first grade for Redcliffe at the age of 15 and both played for Steve Bleakley?s colts outfit in 1992 at the age 15 which I doubt for some reason. Another familiar (old) face who rocked up at training during the month was former Dolphin hooker Danny Russell but gone are his is long flowing blonde locks and they are replaced by a bald melon. It?s a long way from Fabio to Kojak as a former team-mate (whose name rhymes with Ziggy) of ours said. Also spotted popping their heads in at training to say G?day has been the Dolphins Cowboys contingent Shane Tronc, Gavin Cooper and Charlie Vis. Sammy Obst also had a run around with the boys but don?t get to excited he won?t be back in a Dolphin jersey just yet. Sammy was keeping his fitness up before jetting back to the UK where he will be playing in the English Superleague competition for the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats. Walking into the club a couple of Sundays back was like walking into a time tunnel for you older Dolphin fans. Standing around the bar having a beer together was Ian Thinee, Tony Obst, Peter Leis, Bevan Bleakley, Forrester Grayson, Brian Winney, Bob Jones, Des Webb, Arthur Watkins, Phil Massey, Trevor Day and Vic Tighe, I had to look at a calendar to make sure it was 2004 and not 1974. Somethings never change Bevan was even asking guys did they want to arm wrestle. Even fitting in with time period was the entertainment with John McSweeney singing up on stage. And he even got ?Charlie? and ?Thino? up on stage to belt out a version of the Redcliffe club song. And if you know Trevor and Ian they both have a high opinion of their singing a view not shared by some of their former team-mates in attendance on the day. With Christmas coming up there would be nothing better for a Christmas present than a new car I reckon. So if you are in the market for a new car pop out and see the Keystar team for the best deal on the Peninsula. Until next month, Cheers Robbo PS Merry Christamas

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