AUSTRIA claimed its first victory on the international stage after a convincing win over spirited Estonians.
CASTLEFORD Tigers breathed new life into their fight for engage Super League survival with a potentially priceless 27-12 victory against Harlequins.
HULL FC?s inexorable rise hit new heights as a 26-12 victory over Catalans Dragons - their 17th from 18 games - virtually assured them of a second-placed finish in the engage Super League.
BEATEN Powergen Challenge Cup finalists Huddersfield Giants quickly got over their Twickenham blues to secure a precious 24-18 win over Salford City Reds that virtually banishes any danger of relegation from the engage Super League.
THE September 2006 edition of Rugby League Review has hit the stands and here's what's in store this month: Storming towards the TitleAs this season kicked off in March, few critics gave the Melbourne Storm any real chance of winning the Premiership. Some, like the former NSW Origin coach Phil Gould, reckoned they wouldn't even make the play-offs.The reason was simple. The Storm playmaker Matt Orford had departed for what he saw as greener pastures at Brookvale. And without a top-class No 7, the Storm were no hope. Adelaide sets goal to re-join NRLThe South Australian Rugby League (SARL) is confident that an NRL side can be based in Adelaide within five to ten years.The Adelaide Rams had two years in the top flight in 1997 and 1998 but were axed to make way for less teams in the NRL competition.Nations head for Orara ValleyAs many as 14 international sides could be playing in the 2007 Orara Valley Sevens which is quickly building up as the unofficial World Sevens.The two-day tournament will be held on the weekend of January 27-28 at Coramba Sports Ground, located eight kilometres west of Coffs Harbour.What good old days?Gone are the days of black and white television, stiff arms, blood on the pitch and with them some of Rugby League's finest moments. A time when men were men, you stayed on the field unless you couldn't walk and Match of the Round at the SCG was the place to be each weekend.There's no doubt that the good old days deserve their rightful place in the annals of Rugby League history but as the game progresses with each season do we reflect upon those days more kindly than the recent times?Available for $3.50 at your newsagency or guarantee your copy by subscribing. For more details, check out www.rugbyleaguereview.comIF IT?S RUGBY LEAGUE, RUGBY LEAGUE REVIEW HAS IT COVERED
CHALLENGING Convention James Frizelle?s automotive group and the Gold Coast Titans.Gold Coast Titans Managing Director Michael Searle is pleased to welcome James Frizelle?s Automotive Group and Audi Centre Gold Coast on board as a major sponsorship partner of the Gold Coast Titans for the next three years.?It?s yet another strong pledge of support from a long standing and well respected Gold Coast business.? Searle Said. To have partners such as James Frizelle?s Automotive Group and Audi Centre Gold Coast on board, sends a clear message to our supporters and to Rugby League fans around Australia. That message is that the Gold Coast Titans will be a force to be reckoned with both on and off the playing field.? ?We are particularly pleased James Frizelle?s Audi Centre Gold Coast in conjunction with Audi Australia has decided to ?Challenge Convention? by choosing the Gold Coast Titans as the vehicle to promote their outstanding product and organisations to a global audience on the National Rugby League stage.?For James Frizelle?s Automotive Group and Audi Australia, the opportunity to once again ?Challenge Convention? and Partner a National Rugby League team is very exciting, in that it?s the first time Audi has sponsored an NRL Club.Group General Manager Brett Frizelle is confident that like the new Audi Q7, the Gold Coast Titans will excite and exhilarate thousands of Gold Coasters when they debut in 2007. ?Our association with the Gold Coast Titans will enable us to broaden our reach, as Audi becomes the premium vehicle of choice for so many more Australians.??We have chosen to align ourselves with the Gold Coast Titans because of the community spirit the team brings to the coast. James Frizelle?s is about family and about providing motoring solutions to the community passion is the key to our success with Audi and I know locals will be passionate about the Gold Coast Titans.?James Frizelle moved to the Gold Coast and established the automotive business in 1985.At the time, the business which was located on what is now the Audi Centre Gold Coast Centre sold approximately nine vehicles per month and employednine staff. Today, James Frizelle?s Automotive Group is one of Australia?s most highly awarded motor groups and Audi Centre Gold Coast is delighted to be recognized as the Number One National Service Dealer.The company currently employs over 270 staff and sells in excess of 6,000 new and used vehicles per year, with an annual turnover in the order of $200 million.No stranger to challenging convention, James Frizelle is the first Audi dealer to enter into a sponsorship partnership with a National Rugby League Team and is confident the relationship will be a prosperous one. ?We are delighted to be supporting the Gold Coast?s newest addition, and we are confident that they will bring us tremendous exposure.? Mr James Frizelle said.Passion is the key to our success as a professionally run local family business and like Audi, we are confident locals will be passionate about the Gold Coast Titans.?
THE Newtown Jets suffered their second defeat at Henson Park this season when they were emphatically beaten by the St George-Illawarra Dragons 44-18 at Henson Park last Saturday. The Dragons had this final round VB Premier League match in the bag when they led 28-6 at half-time, but they had to see off a spirited fight-back by the Jets when Newtown battled back to trail 28-18 midway through the second half.Newtown had gone into this match with a somewhat under-strength side with a number of players playing out of position. The Jets? lack of cohesion and understanding was caught out in the seven minutes prior to half-time when the speedy Dragons stacked on three tries. Newtown remained in second position on the competition table regardless of the result and will now appear in the VB Premier League first qualifying final this Friday evening at Henson Park.The Jets? forwards lost nothing in comparison with their opponents and proved what a force they can be in the finals series. Front-rowers Glenn Hall (2 tries) and Mickey Paea never stopped trying and Lafi Manua had one of his better games in recent weeks. Backrowers Lopini Paea and Frank Winterstein also worked hard in attack. The makeshift halves pairing of Aidan Kirk (normally at full-back) and Troy Malcolm (usually a winger) did their best in tough circumstances and centre Vince Mellars showed plenty of admirable aggression and fire in one of his better displays of the season. The Royal Exchange Hotel Newtown Jets won their opening Jim Beam Cup finals match in convincing style when they swept aside last year?s premiers Windsor in the elimination semi-final played at OKI Jubilee Stadium last Saturday. Newtown won by 43-18 after leading 13-4 at the break and turned one of their best performances in this grade in the past two seasons.Coach Greg Matterson rated this win as an excellent team effort, with only a slight lapse in the last five minutes when Windsor scored two consolation tries. All the Newtown forwards worked particularly hard in the very warm conditions, while Toufic Nicolas, Luke Millwood, Charlie Herekotukutuku and Anton La Vin had outstanding games in the backline. Matterson believes his team is more than capable of stepping up another notch for next week?s second elimination semi-final to be played at Leichhardt Oval. Royal Exchange Hotel Jets supporters can watch the highlights of last Saturday?s elimination semi-final win on Fox Sports 1 this Thursday at 5.00pm.Newtown will host the Penrith-St Marys Cougars in the VB Premier League qualifying semi-final at Henson Park next Friday night (September 8th) at 7.30pm. This is understood to be the first time that the Newtown club has ever hosted a NSW Rugby League senior grade semi-final at Henson Park. In the Jim Beam Cup competition, the Royal Exchange Hotel Newtown Jets confront Wentworthville in the second elimination semi-final at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday, 9th September at 1.00pm.Photo:Hard-working Newtown Jets front-rower Glenn Hall is wrapped up by several Dragons defenders at Henson Park on Saturday.Photo courtesy of Gary Sutherland Photography.
XXXX STATEWIDE SCORE WRAP>>MAJOR COMPETITIONSQLD WIZARD CUPMinor Semi: Easts 28 d North Queensland 18.Major Semi: Toowoomba 56 d Redcliffe 22.Final Standings: Toowoomba 32, North Queensland 30, Redcliffe 28, Tweed Heads 22, Easts 22, Burleigh 21, Norths 17, Central 15, Wynnum Manly 13, Souths Logan 12, Ipswich 8.Preliminary Final: Redcliffe v Easts, Dolphin Oval, Saturday September 9, 2pm.QLD WOMENSMajor Semi: Ipswich Brothers 22 d Wests Centenary 10.Standings: Ipswich Brothers 31, Wests Centenary 24, Wests Mitchelton 16, Caboolture 5Preliminary Final: Wests Centenary v Wests Mitchelton, Wests Centenary RLFC, Saturday September 9, 4pm.ARRIVE ALIVE CUPNational Semi: Keebra Park 20 (Damon Harth, Kyle Bos, Kingi Akauola, Robert Lui tries; Matt Parata 2 goals) d St Dominic?s Penrith 6 (John Feiloakitau try; Michael Mate goal) at Dairy Farmers Stadium.National Final: Keebra Park SHS v TBC, Sydney, Friday September 22.>>> SOUTH EAST DIVISIONFOGS CUPMinor Semi: Souths Logan 40 d Easts 16.Major Semi: Burleigh 14 d Tweed Heads 12.Final Standings: Tweed Heads 35, Easts 26, Burleigh 25, Wynnum Manly 25, Souths Logan 24, Sunshine Coast 22, Redcliffe 17, Norths 16, Ipswich 12, Aspley 10, Western Districts 8. Preliminary Final: Tweed Heads v Souths Logan, Dolphin Oval, Saturday September 9, 12.05pm.FOGS COLTS CHALLENGEMinor Semi: Wynnum Manly 26 d Easts 18.Major Semi: Norths 50 d Redcliffe 16.Final Standings: Norths 32, Redcliffe 30, Easts 28, Aspley 24, Wynnum Manly 22, Tweed Heads 22, Souths Logan 19, Burleigh 17, Western Districts 11, Ipswich 10, Sunshine Coast 5. Preliminary Final: Redcliffe v Wynnum Manly, Dolphin Oval, Saturday September 9, 10.30am. XXXX BRISBANE SECOND DIVISIONNORTHSIDE ONEPreliminary Final: Banyo 50 beat Fortitude Valley Juniors 10.Final Standings: Dayboro 31, Banyo 25, Fortitude Valley Juniors 23, Samford 21, Pine Rivers 20, Sandgate Brighton Gaters 19, Aspley Demons 15, Northside Natives 10, Brook Sharks 9, Northern Suburbs Juniors 7.Grand Final: Dayboro v Banyo, Davies Park, West End, Saturday September 9, 3pm.SOUTHSIDE ONEPreliminary Final: St Brendans 32 beat Greenbank 12.Final Standings: St Brendans 32, Carina 32, Wests Inala 25, Greenbank 25, Mt Gravatt 20, Wynnum Manly Juniors 10, Capalaba Juniors 6, Logan Brothers 0.Grand Final: Carina v St Brendans, Davies Park, West End, Saturday September 9, 1.15pm.NORTHSIDE TWOPreliminary Final: Ferny Grove 27 beat Northern Raiders 20.Final Standings: Mitchelton 40, Ferny Grove 38, Normanby 36, Northern Raiders 28, Arana Hills 27, Deception Bay Bombers 26, Deception Bay Juniors 24, Aspley Demons 17, Fortitude Valley Juniors 12, Pine Central Holy Spirit 10, Burpengary 6.Grand Final: Mitchelton v Ferny Grove, Davies Park, West End, Saturday September 9, 11.30am.>>NORTHERN DIVISIONBENDIGO BANK PREMIERSHIP (Cairns)Minor Semi: Kangaroos 38 d Ivanhoes 36.Major Semi: Brothers 22 d Innisfail 20. Final Standings: Brothers 39, Innisfail 37, Kangaroos 35, Ivanhoes 27, Mareeba 26, Atherton 26, Tully 24, Mossman Port Douglas 18, Yarrabah 14, Suburbs 14, Edmonton 4.Preliminary Final: Innisfail v Kangaroos, Barlow Park, Sunday September 10, 3pm.TOWNSVILLE DISTRICTS RLMinor Semi: Sharks United 58 d Burdekin 16.Major Semi: Brothers 48 d Herbert River 4.Final Standings: Brothers 76, Herbert River 60, Sharks United 60, Burdekin 54, Centrals 38, Charters Towers 36, University 12. * Wins worth 4pts in TDRLPreliminary Final: Herbert River v Sharks United, Townsville Sports Reserve, Sunday September 10, 3.30pm.MERCURY CUP (Mackay)Grand Final: Souths 56 (Chris Weinert 2, Matt Harris 2, Adam Wright, Allan Heldsinger, Stuart Cruickshank, Heath Langdon, Luke Srama, Kerrod Toby tries; Adam Wright 7, Heath Carroll goals) d Moranbah 16 (Ross Sammutt, Nathan Rehtla, James Kimber tries; Ross Sammutt 2 goals).Reserves: Souths 32 d Magpies 16.Under 19: Brothers 24 d Norths 22.Under 17: Souths 36 d Whitsunday 14.Final Standings: Moranbah 28, Souths 26, Brothers 24, Sarina 16, Norths 14, Magpies 14, Whitsunday 10, Wests 4.MID WEST RLGrand Final: Katter Cup ? Doomadgee 30 (Maxi Peter, Glendon Connolly, Craig Logan, Chris Ned, Travis Fraser, Gaving Ahwing tries; Travis Fraser 3 goals) d Normanton 26 (Marcus George 3, Shaun Pascoe tries; Les Henry 5 goals).Final Standings: Doomadgee 24, Hughenden 24, Normanton 24, Cloncurry 12, Julia Creek 3, Richmond -6.GULF COMMUNITY LEAGUEFixture: Carnival at Mornington Island, Saturday September 9.Standings: Kowanyama 22, Burketown 19, Pormpuraaw 17, Doomadgee 8, Mornington Island 4.TORRES STRAIT RLStandings: Dragons 1st, Roosters 2nd, Knights 3rd, Suburbs 4th, Horn Island Brothers 5th. (Points unavailable)Finals: Minor Semi ? Knights v Suburbs, Ken Brown Oval, Saturday September 9, 2pm. Major Semi ? Dragons v Roosters, Ken Brown Oval, Saturday September 9, 4pm.>>CENTRAL DIVISIONEXTENDED LEAGUEPreliminary Final: CQU Norths 44 d Rockhampton Brothers 30.Final Standings: CQU Norths 13, Wallabys 12, Gladstone Brothers 12, Rockhampton Brothers 11, Fitzroy Gracemere 10, Yeppoon 8, Tannum Sands 4, Valleys 2, BiloelaGrand Final: Wallabys v CQU Norths, Marley Brown Oval, Sunday September 10, 3pm (Reserves ? Rockhampton Brothers v Wallabys, 1pm. Under 19 ? Fitzroy Gracemere v Tannum Sands, 11.30am).CENTRAL HIGHLANDS RLGrand Final: Clermont 44 (Ryan Bleakley 2, Ryan Nunan, Luke Goodale, Brendon Finger, Chris Geiger, Clayton Humphreys, Gary Zoutenbier tries; Luke Goodale 6 goals) d Blackwater 38 (Matt Charles 2, Dan Hoppe 2, Rohan Broom, Luke Ricciardi, Alex Sainsbury tries; Deon Callenen 5 goals).Reserve Grade: Bluff 36 d Peak Downs 12.Final Standings: Clermont 28, Blackwater 23, Emerald Tigers 22, Middlemount 17, Emerald Cowboys 9, Springsure 3.>>WIDE BAY DIVISION4BU-HITZ FM PREMIERSHIP (Bundaberg)Grand Final: Wests 29 (Wise Kativerata 2, Spencer Mariner, Joshua Tanner, Matthew Tanner tries; Joshua Tanner 4 goals; Corey Tanner field goal) d Across The Waves 22 (Mat Horne, Ben Guest, Scott Breen, Brett Cory tries; Michael Bani 3 goals).Supa 11s: Brothers 34 d Hervey Bay 12.Under 18s: Brothers 34 d Hervey Bay 30.Final Standings: Wests 21, Hervey Bay 20, Across The Waves 16, Easts 13, Wallaroos 10, Brothers 8*. * Deducted two points for fielding unregistered player. MAROOCHY RSL CUP (Sunshine Coast)Preliminary Final: Caloundra 39 d Kawana 18.Final Standings: Caloundra 34, Noosa 30, Kawana 24, Caboolture 24, Nambour 21, Maroochydore Coolum 17, Beerwah 12, Gympie Cooloola 11, Bribie Island 7.Grand Final: Noosa v Caloundra, Nambour Showgrounds, Sunday September 10, 3pm.>>SOUTH WEST DIVISIONWAGNER?S FIRST GRADE (Toowoomba)Elimination Final: Dalby 30 d Wattles 28.Qualifying Final: Brothers 42 d Goondiwindi 32.Standings: Valleys 40, Brothers 36, Goondiwindi 32, Dalby 28, Wattles 27, Oakey 26, Gatton 24, Pittsworth 19, Souths 14, Warwick 14, Newtown 4. Finals: Minor Semi ? Goondiwindi v Dalby, Clive Berghofer Stadium, Saturday September 9, 5pm. Major Semi ? Valleys v Brothers, Clive Berghofer Stadium, Sunday September 10, 2.30pm.ROMA DISTRICTS RLGrand Final: Red Bulls 32 (Anthony Crosland 4, Dale Murphy, Noel-Shaun Dingle, Stu Kelly tries; Anthony Crosland, Ryan Wehl goals) d Mitchell 24 (Matt Small, Shawn Mailman, Troy Frizzell, Mark Treasure tries; Brodie Edmeades 3, Daniel Dodd goal)Reserve Grade: St George 32 d Mitchell 16.Under 18: St George 26 d Chinchilla 18.Under 16: Chinchilla 20 d Mitchell 16.Final Standings: St George 19, Mitchell 17, Cities 16, Red Bulls 16, Miles 13, Chinchilla 9.Grand Final: Mitchell v Red Bulls, Bassett Park, Sunday September 3, 3pm.>>SOUTHERN DIVISIONQLD GROUP CUP (Ipswich)Minor Semi: Norths 30 d Goodna 10.Major Semi: Brothers 56 d South Burnett 10.Final Standings: Brothers 34, South Burnett 30, Goodna 22, Norths 22, Springfield 19, Fassifern 17, Redbank Plains 14, West End 10, Swifts 9, Laidley 3. Preliminary Final: South Burnett v Norths, QLD Group Stadium, Sunday September 10, 3pm.SMARTLEND CUP (Gold Coast)Preliminary Final: Burleigh 23 d Runaway Bay 22.Final Standings: Tugun 36, Burleigh 28, Runaway Bay 27, Southport 20, Beaudesert 18, Uni Parkwood 17, Tweed Heads 16, Nerang 8, Mudgeeraba 6, Helensvale 2. Grand Final: Tugun v Burleigh, Boyd St Oval, Sunday September 10, 3pm. (Reserves ? Tugun v Burleigh, 12.15pm. Under 19 ? Currumbin Tugun v Burleigh, 11am).
PLAYERS named today in the Australian rugby league train-on squad for the 2006 Tri Nations series and the Sept 30 Prime Minister's XIII match against Papua New Guinea after their NRL teams missed the playoffs:
NZRL coaching staff and selectors have confirmed that players will be added to the expanded train-on squad for the Kiwis and NZ?A? as clubs are eliminated from the NRL and UK Super League competitions.These squad additions will be released at 1pm Wednesday afternoon each week to allow time for various housekeeping tasks such as injury status confirmation, internal and club communication.Kiwis coach Brian McClennan has the added challenge of monitoring players and communicating with selectors/advisors across three countries with the timing becoming particularly important once UK SuperLeague play-offs commence.McClennan expects a tight Gillette Tri-Nations Battle suggesting the 2006 series will be one of the toughest.And that?s not just because the Kiwis will go into the tournament as the defending champions.McClennan?s men will get the chance to play in front of their home town fans across the country during this year?s series.And the significance of this is something the coach will impress on his team as soon as they come into camp.Just to be in front of a home crowd is very important especially given the fact that we very rarely play at home these days,? McClennan said.If you sat down with any Kiwi who had played more than 10 tests and asked them how many they had played at home they?d probably answer less than 20 percent.That?s just the way the world of rugby league is and we accept that.This time ? the first since 1989 ? we get to play three at home.How exciting is that.I?ll be talking to the boys about the importance of playing well in front of your home crowd because it doesn?t happen very often.?With the start of the Gillette Tri-Nations tournament just around the corner the excitement is building for what is set to be one of the closest competitions in international league history.The Australians will be strong as usual,? McClennan said.And the Great Britain team is going to be really exciting.They?re used to playing in summer conditions now.Normally when the Great Britain team came down to New Zealand to play there used to be white legs and red faces.They were used to playing in the winter, so I think they?ll be the dark horses.It?s going to be an exciting series. We?re excited about it and we?re looking for it.?
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.
LEAGUEUNLIMITED.COM Player AwardsAfter 26 rounds of NRL football, Melbourne Storm hooker Cameron Smith has taken out the 2006 LeagueUnlimited.com 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 LeagueUnlimited.com 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 HayneLeagueunlimited.com 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 ClarkLeagueunlimited.com 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 SmithLeagueunlimited.com 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 SimpkinsLeagueunlimited.com 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 HampsteadLeagueunlimited.com 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 HerasLeagueunlimited.com 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 ArcherLeagueunlimited.com 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 Leagueunlimited.com 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)
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
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.