Panthers comeback sinks Sharks

ROUND 24 Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 28 v Penrith Panthers 32at Toyota ParkReferee: Jason RobinsonMatch Summary:The Penrith Panthers have put together 24 points in 17 minutes to defeat the Cronulla Sharks 32-28 at Toyota Park this evening.The Sharks were leading 28-8 midway through the second half and looked set for a big win. But in an amazing turnaround, the Penrith forwards suddenly went up a gear, rolling over the top of their opponents.Penrith opened the scoring after 11 minutes and were in again 10 minutes later to take an 8-0 lead. The Sharks stepped up to the challenge late in the half, scoring two quick tries and at half time, held a narrow 10-8 lead.The Sharks went further ahead after the break with winger Darren Albert getting the first of his double. Albert was in again in the 48th minute and at 22-8, the home side appeared to be cruising. With five eighth Adam Dykes calling the shots, Sharks back rower Paul Gallen scored his second try and at 28-8, a thrashing looked to be on the cards.But the Panthers were far from done with fullback Rhys Wesser sparking a revival with a try in the 63rd minute. Forward Craig Stapleton capped of sensational second half to score six minutes later and put the visitors just eight points behind.With the momentum going all their way, the Panthers closed the gap to two when Wesser bagged his double in the 71st minute. Centre Lee Hookey scored the match winner with two minutes remaining.With two rounds to go, the result effectively ends Cronulla's season. Sitting on 22 competition points, the Sharks are at best four points adrift of the top eight. It is the eighth consecutive loss for the Sharks while the Panthers move up to 24 competition points and still an outside chance of earning a finals berth. Scorers:Cronulla Sutherland Sharks: 28Tries: Paul Gallen(2), Reece Williams, Darren Albert(2)Goals: Luke Covell 4/5Penrith Panthers: 32Tries: Luke Rooney, Rhys Wesser(2), Craig Stapleton, Lee Hookey, Michael GordonGoals: Preston Campbell 4/6By the Clock:The NRL's 'Sixties week' and a beaut afternoon for footy in Sydney - the season on the line for both sides.Kick off...!10 min: NEWS Still 0-0. Both sides sorting each other out and pretty evens for possession. Panthers having a better share of field position and getting a repeat set now.11 min: TRY Penrith PanthersWinger Michael Gordon scores out wide after Preston Campbell and Rhys Wesser combine to create the overlap. Campbell unsuccessful with conversion. Panthers 4-020 min: NEWS Still 4-0 to the Panthers. A couple of opportunities for the Sharks who come close, but are repelled by the visitors.21 min: TRY Penrith PanthersWinger Luke Rooney scores in the corner on the back of some sharp passing from Trent Waterhouse and Lee Hookey. Campbell unable to convert. Panthers 8-027 min: NEWS Panthers half back Craig Gower injured following a head knock on the ground. Seems OK. Brief stoppage while he is attended to.29 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland SharksBack rower Reece Williams runs through a gap and scores next to the posts. Follows repeat sets at the line as the Sharks are bombing Campbell. Luke Covell converts. Panthers 8-632 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland SharksPaul Gallen dives on a loose ball 5m in from touch following a grubber from Adam Dykes. Campbell fumbles and the Sharks hit the front. Wide conversion attempt from Covell is waved away. Sharks 10-835 min: NEWS Panthers bomb a try after Danny Galea is unable to take pass on the chest, with the line wide open.Half time: Sharks 10-8The home side just in front. Possession evens with the Panthers getting sonme quick play-the-ball in the first half hour before the Sharks responded in the same manner. The Panthers on the back foot for the last 10 minutes of the half. This match is up for grabs.Second half underway...45 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland SharksDarren Albert scores near the posts after surviving video ref scrutiny, firstly over the decoy runners and then over the put down. Covell coverts. Follows another fumble from Presto in the in-goal. Sharks 16-848 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland SharksAlbert gets his second as the Panthers open up from close range. A soft try coming off the back of some easy yards as the Panthers invite their opponents downfield. Sharks taking full advantage and look to be killing them. Covell converts from easy range. Sharks 22-854 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland SharksGallen gets a double, scoring near the posts. Follows a grubber from Dykes and Wesser is unable to clean it up. Plenty of chasers sees in the video ref get involved but Gallen gets the nod. Covell converts Sharks 28-863 min: TRY Penrith PanthersWesser scores 10m wide of the posts after the Panthers forwards get a roll on downfield. Wesser heavily involved and trying to spark a comeback. Campbell converts. Sharks 28-1469 min: TRY Penrith PanthersFront rower Craig Stapleton storms over the defence to score 10m wide of the posts. Campbell converts and only 8 points in it now. Sharks 28-2071 min: TRY Penrith PanthersWesser scores his 101st carerr try 15m wide of the posts. The Panthers forwards are now carving their way through the Sharks pack. Campbell converts and Penrith have all the momentum. Sharks 28-2675 min: Possible TRY to the Panthers... video ref looking...VERDICT: NO TRY. Danny Galea stopped by a try saving tackle from Albert who pushes him into touch.76 min: NEWS Panthers win the scrum against the feed!77 min: NEWS Sharks survive as the season for both clubs all comes down to the last few minutes. 77 min: NEWS Lance Thompson (Sharks) knocks on!78 min: Possible TRY to Panthers... video ref checking...VERDICT...78 min: TRY Penrith PanthersLee Hookey gets the green light and scores what should be the match winner. Follows grubber from Campbell. Campbell converts. Sensational comeback. Panthers 32-2879 min: NEWS Sharks get the ball from the kick off!80 min: Panthers survive and its all over.Full time: Panthers win 32-28.An incredible match with no clear winner until the final seconds. Amazing comeback from the Panthers who looked shot to bits mid way through the second half. 20 points behind at one point, the Pnathers have scored 24 points in 17 minutes to take the match and effectively end the Sharks' season.Fullback Rhys Wesser and prop Craig Stapleton were great for Penrith while five eighth Adam Dykes and lock forward Paul Gallen were standouts for the Sharks.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Rhys Wesser (Panthers)2 - Craig Stapleton (Panthers)1 - Adam Dykes (Sharks)-----------------------------------------

Bailey enters Titans fracas

ST George Illawarra Dragons forward Luke Bailey has thrown his weight behind the Gold Coast Titans in urging his future team mates not to turn their backs on the latest NRL franchise.In an interview published in the Gold Coast Bulletin, Bailey confirmed his commitment to the Gold Coast. Widely heralded as major coup for the Titans, the international front rower will be joining the fledgling club on the field in 2007.The Titans this week were sticking by their guns in a tug-of-war with the Melbourne Storm over outside back Steve Turner. Then yesterday Penrith Panthers back rower Frank Puletua was reportedly seeking a release from his contract with the Titans. ?I am a little surprised at these blokes getting cold feet because it is not such a dramatic change.? Bailey told the Gold Coast Bulletin.?This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. What a great challenge starting out with a new club, you don?t get many opportunities like this.?Turner, 21, reportedly agreed to a two year deal with the Gold Coast Titans on June 19.In accepting the deal, Turner said, ?The opportunity to play in my preferred position at fullback excites me. I have been behind some great players at the Storm and have been appreciative for the support they have shown me but the chance to concentrate on the number 1 jersey at a brand new club is something that is too good to pass up.?Despite coming to a verbal agreement with the Titans, Turner did an about-turn last Tuesday, announcing he had re-signed with the Storm. Titans managing director Michael Searle immediately went on the front foot, providing extensive documentation to NRL CEO David Gallop. Gallop?s preliminary ruling was that an agreement was reached between the Titans and Turner. In addition, Gallop says he's received an email from Turner's manager David Riolo which fully supports the Titans' case.In the same week, rumours were circulating that Newcastle Knights' international winger Brian Carney was homesick for Ireland. Soon after, Gold Coast product and Parramatta Eels utility Luke O?Dwyer was rumoured to be having second thoughts. Both these players have since reconfirmed their commitment to the Titans.Searle yesterday moved to play down any concerns over the signing of Frank Puletua. ?I have spoken to his manager and Carty (coach John Cartwright) had spoken to Frankie? and it would be exceptional circumstances for our club to consider a release to any player at such a late stage of the season,? he said. Meanwhile Luke Bailey expressed no doubts as to where he stands on the Turner dispute.?A deal is a deal whether it is a handshake or on paper,? he said.

Round 23 Team of the Week

DRAMA was the name of the game as Round 23 drew to a conclusion on Sunday amid all sorts of shenanigans. Refereeing blunders, blow-ups, injuries and suspensions dominated the weekend with the top 8 done and dusted but the make-up still very much in the air. So all things considered we?ve rolled out the finest 17 for the Round 23 League Unlimited Team of the Week.

Purchase tickets for the Tigers' clash

19 August, 2006Tickets are still available for the Saints vs Tigers match at OKI Jubilee Stadium. Seating is available in the recently constructed northern terrace, while hill tickets are also available.Call (02)9587 1022 to purchase your tickets and avoid the queues. After purchasing your tickets in advance, simply pick up your tickets behind OKI Jubilee Stadium at the Dragons' ticketing tent on game day.For additional information on OKI Jubilee Stadium, please visit the R2K website at www.r2k.info

Bartercard Cup Round 18 Preview

BARTERCARD CUP - ROUND 18 PREVIEW

Preview: Bradford v Castleford (R25)

BRADFORD Bulls and Castleford Tigers have announced their respective 20-man squads for the engage Super League clash at Odsal on Friday, August 18.

Preview: Wakefield v Leeds (R25)

WAKEFIELD coach John Kear will not be fooled by talk of a crisis at Leeds when the Rhinos visit Belle Vue for a crucial engage Super League clash on Friday.

Preview: Wigan v Huddersfield (R25)

HUDDERSFIELD Giants? Australian hooker Brad Drew will lose his ever-present record when the Powergen Challenge Cup finalists go to Wigan Warriors on Friday.

QRL Finals this weekend

AUGUST and September - it's the time when legends are born and heroes are made. Check out where you can see finals football in the Queensland Rugby League this weekend.FRIDAYBRAD BACKER SHIELD (Fraser Coast)Grand Final: Brothers v Wests, Eskdale Park, Maryborough, Friday August 18, 7.30pm. (Curtain-raiser: Rovers v Titans, 6pm).SATURDAYARRIVE ALIVE CUPQueensland Final: St Brendan?s Yeppoon v Keebra Park SHS, Browne Park, Rockhampton, Saturday August 19, 6pm.CENTRAL BURNETTGrand Final: Eidsvold v Calliope, Eidsvold, Saturday August 19, 4pm.WESTERN RLPreliminary Final: Tambo v Cunnamulla, Tambo, Saturday August 19, 3pm.CENTRAL HIGHLANDS RLMajor Semi: Clermont v Blackwater, Clermont, Saturday August 19, 7pm. BORDER LEAGUEPreliminary Final: Killarney v Stanthorpe, Killarney, Saturday August 19, 2pm.SMARTLEND CUP (Gold Coast)Elimination Semi: Southport v Beaudesert, Owen Park, Southport, Saturday August 19, 5pm. BSDRL ARTHUR SPARKS SHIELDPreliminary Final: Arana Hills v Logan Brothers, Davies Park, West End, Saturday August 19, 3pm.BSDRL SOUTHSIDE TWOPreliminary Final: Beenleigh Juniors v Sunnybank, Davies Park, West End, Saturday August 19, 1.15pm.BSDRL SOUTHSIDE THREEPreliminary Final: Slacks Creek v Logan Wanderers, Davies Park, West End, Saturday August 19, 11.30am.SUNSHINE COAST GYMPIE AMATEURSPreliminary Final: Kilcoy v Yandina, Pomona, Saturday August 19, 3.30pm.SUNDAYROCKHAMPTON DISTRICT RLGrand Final: Rockhampton Brothers v Fitzroy Gracemere, Browne Park, Sunday August 20, 3pm.GLADSTONE DISTRICT RLGrand Final: Wallabys v Gladstone Brothers, Marley Brown Oval, Sunday August 20, 3pm.WIDE BAY AUSTRALIA CUP (Northern Districts)Grand Final: Biggenden v South Kolan, Biggenden, Sunday August 20, 2.45pm.ROMA DISTRICTS RLMajor Semi: St George v Mitchell, Bassett Park, Sunday August 20, 3pm.MERCURY CUP (Mackay)Minor Semi: Brothers v Sarina, Mackay JRL, Sunday August 20, 2pm.Major Semi: Moranbah v Souths, Mackay JRL, Sunday August 20, 3.45pm. 4BU-HITZ FM PREMIERSHIP (Bundaberg)Minor Semi: Hervey Bay v Wallaroos, Salter Oval, Sunday August 20, 1.30pm. Major Semi: Wests v Across the Waves, Salter Oval, Sunday August 20, 3.10pm.CENTRAL HIGHLANDS RLMinor Semi: Emerald Tigers v Middlemount, McIndoe Park, Emerald, Sunday August 20, 3pmSMARTLEND CUP (Gold Coast)Qualifying Final: Burleigh v Runaway Bay, Pizzey Park, Miami, Sunday August 20, 3pm.

Titans don?t want Turner?s career to stall

GOLD Coast Titans Managing Director Michael Searle and Coach John Cartwright today reinforced their commitment to Steve Turner, saying the 21 year old Melbourne Storm player will be welcomed at the Gold Coast club with open arms once his 2006 National Rugby League commitments have ceased.?Coach John Cartwright and I look forward to having Steve join his new team mates on the Gold Coast later this year. It is with great disappointment that we have heard Steve may consider sitting out the next three National Rugby League seasons. The Gold Coast Titans stress this would be a regrettable outcome, and this decision can only be made by Steve.? Searle said.?The last thing we want is for Steve?s promising career to be placed on hold; in fact we are confident that his career will flourish under the strong coaching team we have assembled at the Club. We are also sure Steve will enjoy his time on the Gold Coast and at the Titans.??We did consider an application for release made by Steve Turner last week, however there were no compassionate grounds and it was decided the Club would be setting a horrible precedent if we were to grant a release simply because the player changed his mind or had been persuaded to stay on at his present club.?

Alena Attard crowned Miss Malta

?MY grandparents made a lot of hard decisions and did without, so that my family could have every opportunity in life? said the 2006 Miss Malta Knight, Alena Attard.Alena Attard paid respect to her family values in an emotion charged speech expressed after she was crowned the 2006 Miss Malta Knight at the Maltese Rugby League Association?s annual fundraiser in Sydney on Saturday night.The 21-year-old from Hoxton Park in Sydney?s west was one of 14 contestants vying for the Miss Malta Knight pageant title with a red hot field gracing the catwalks in front of an audience of 400 individuals at the Blacktown Reception Lounge.Following its inaugural success in 2005, the evening was again a tremendous success that hosted prominent members of the Maltese community including the Maltese High Commissioner to Australia- His Excellency Dr Ivan Fsadni, NSW Consul General to Malta- Miss Joanna Pisani as well as Maltese-Australian sporting personalities including Parramatta Eels? rugby league star Michael Vella and ironwoman and model Miss Candice Falzon.His Excellency Dr Ivan Fsadni extended his four-year term in Australia in order to attend the Miss Malta Knight Pageant before leaving to Malta on Sunday.In a speech, Fsadni paid admiration to the Maltese Rugby League Association?s efforts in their emergence from oblivion and committed to continuing his support for the efforts of the Maltese governing body for rugby league as he moves on to represent Malta in the Netherlands following the conclusion of his Australian post.In addition to the overall major honours on offer, this year?s event welcomed the addition of the Miss Charity and Miss Congeniality titles also. These subsequent credits went to Lisa Maree Micallef and Natalie Grima respectively.Sarah Axisa was runner-up to Alena Attard for the Miss Malta Knight crown and Attard acknowledged all the entrants? participation on the night.?All of the girls involved were not just beautiful, but sweet and friendly? said Attard.?It?s such an honour to have bestowed upon you that I?m sure it will take some time before it really sinks in??I can?t stop smiling? she said excitedly.Attard is confident that the Maltese Rugby League Association?s new pageant title holder can assist them in the year ahead, stating ?I also have the organisational and promotional skills to help the MRLA with any function or promotion they maybe holding as well as an abundance of energy and enthusiasm?Master of Ceremonies Pauly Fenech again proved a return hit with the diverse audience that reflected the integration of the Maltese community within Australia.Award winning musical artist Steven Anthony and his support band entertained throughout the night and young entertainer Amanda Bonnici grabbed everyone?s hearts with her final rendition of ?Viva Malta?.Following jibes throughout the night by several on-stage speakers, those on hand made the most of a number of special items to go under the hammer with auctioneer Doug Keen presenting a gripping memorabilia auction.The pageant itself was given full marks by all that were present and the newly inducted Attard praised the MRLA by saying ?the Miss Malta Knight Pageant has been a wonderful experience; the entire evening was full of excitement and laughter, particularly for all the girls running around the change room?

Eels officials clear Smith

PARRAMATTA rugby league club officials have cleared halfback Tim Smith of any wrongdoing after an allegation he was involved in a drunken incident yesterday.

Lion Red Fox Memorial Final Round

YOU know, there are times when we have to stop and think just why our great game is, indeed, the greatest game of all. Right now, in the ARL Lion Red Fox Memorial, you don't have to give it a second thought. With one round left, two teams are assured spots in the semis, an unbelievable five other teams are playing for the remaining three spots on the ladder.Congratulations to the Mt Albert Lions on both taking out the Rukutai Shield, as Minor Premiers, and being season holders of the Roope Rooster Trophy. One leg left for these guys to take out the treble, and gee whiz, they would have to be favourites to take the Fox home.Congratulations also to the Papakura Sea Eagles, who cemented their second place finish last week end.Well, that is one and two sorted out, just a matter of the last three spots now and we can start the play-offs. Mangere East Hawkes are in third place on thirteen points. Tomorrow at Birkenhead War Memorial, they play the Northcote Tigers who are in fourth place on twelve points. The Tigers haven?t won a game in the last three weeks and were beaten by the Hawkes, 34/12, in their last encounter. The Tigers could do it, but I'm really doubtful. It would take an amazing turn around in form. The winner of this will be assured a spot. The loser will be relying on other results going their way.Marist Saints are in fifth spot by virtue of for and against and seem to be peaking at the right time, recording wins against the Hawkes and the Tigers in the last two weeks. It's fair to say that they have the easier run tomorrow, against East Coast Bays at Freyberg Park. Providing they can turn their twelve points into thirteen tomorrow, they are a royal chance of being semicontenders.Otahuhu Leopards, it must be said, have a real tough one at their home ground of Henham Park. The Lions will not be resting on their laurels and will be out to finish their campaign on a high. The Leopards are sitting on eleven points and it's going to take some miracle of large proportions for them to be turning out next week. Still - stranger things have happened, but I can?t see Mt Albert doing them any favours.Te Atatu Roosters have the next biggest ask, as they take on the Papakura Sea Eagles at Jack Colvin Park. The Roosters have not really looked the goods at all this year and, if I'm being honest, I think tomorrow will be their swan song. Their only hope is that the Sea Eagles take their foot off the pedal a little, but good sides don't do that.So - there we have it. We are poised for a magic day of footy, at the end of which, we will know those teams who will battle it out for the oldest, proudest and most prestigious trophy in this country.As usual, all games will commence at 2.30pm

Smith and Grothe in trouble again

PARRAMATTA rugby league halfback Tim Smith is at risk of being sacked by the NRL club after allegedly being thrown out of a pub for drunken behaviour last night.

Wrap: Harrigan, Bennett, Turner

FORMER leading whistleblower Bill Harrigan believes constant criticism of the NRL's referees will only hurt the game in the long run.

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