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: www.therfl.co.uk

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: superleague.co.uk

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 farewell.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com 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 finals.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com 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 36-12-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Justin Hodges2 - Darren Lockyer1 - Shaun Berrigan-----------------------------------------

Preview: Hull v Catalans (R26)

HULL FC coach Peter Sharp is urging his players to sign off in style on Sunday as The Black and Whites take on Catalan Dragons in their final home game of the regular season.

Preview: Huddersfield v Salford (R26)

HUDDERSFIELD Giants coach Jon Sharp is adamant his side will not suffer a Powergen Challenge Cup final hangover when they return to engage Super League action at the Galpharm Stadium.

OKI tops Gong as home fixtures complete

27 August 2006For the fourth season in succession, Kogarah's OKI Jubilee Stadium has recorded a superior crowd average to Wollongong's WIN Stadium. After the completion of WIN Stadium's seven home games and Jubilee Stadium's five home games, Kogarah finished season 2006 with a crowd average of 13,700, compared to Wollongong's 12,885. Overall, the crowd averages are somewhat disappointing for the St.George Bank Dragons considering that the 2005 Kogarah average was 15,275 and the 2005 WIN average was 14,426. Despite Kogarah's decline from 2005, the following should be noted in relation to the five Jubilee fixtures in 2006:* OKI Jubilee Stadium recorded the highest ever Dragons' home crowd against the Melbourne Storm. * OKI Jubilee Stadium recorded the highest Dragons' home crowd against the Rabbitohs since 1999. * OKI Jubilee Stadium recorded a new Kogarah joint-venture ground record in round 19 against the Bulldogs. 19,500 tickets were reportedly sold for the Bulldogs' match, but the attendance was listed as 18,223. * The round 13 match against Parramatta, played in monsoon-like conditions, recorded the lowest crowd at Kogarah since the 1999 match against the North Queensland Cowboys. However, approximately 15,000 tickets were pre-sold for the Parramatta match but the attendance was reduced to 9,075. * The 14,211 attendance against the Wests Tigers in round 24 followed five successive Dragons' defeats and the Wests Tigers' abandonment of any top eight hopes. WIN Stadium's decline from 2005 was discernible, even though the venue maintained seven home games including a significant pre-season feature match against the Roosters. Despite concerns by the Wollongong Sportsground Trust that WIN Stadium would fail to keep seven Dragons' games at the venue going forward, the Trust managed to secure a feature match that Steelers' supremo Bob Millward feels should have a "...similar status as the Charity Shield." In line with Millward's thoughts, Wollongong Sportsground Trust Chairman Chris Christodoulou stated that, "We've still got seven first-class games, we haven't gone backwards in that regard." Since the return to the Dragons' spiritual home in 2003, OKI Jubilee Stadium's crowd average is 14,357 compared to WIN Stadium's 13,500. While in all eight seasons of the joint venture, WIN Stadium has finished behind the Dragons' Sydney home venues on crowd average. Using the Dragons rationale of including the Charity Shield against South Sydney in the Dragons' home game allocation, the overall Sydney crowd average in 2006 was 17,734 compared to Wollongong's 12,885.The success of the Dragons recording victories at Kogarah and WIN Stadium also reduced in 2006. The Dragons success rate at Kogarah reduced from 80% to 60%, while the Dragons' success rate at WIN Stadium reduced from 71% to 57%.The Dragons have now played 395 matches at Kogarah since 1950, recording 270 victories, 115 losses and 10 draws. Related articles:http://www.r2k.info/news/kogarahtriplewhammy.htmlhttp://www.r2k.info/news/okitopsgongagain.html

Dragons fire up but miss top four

ROUND 26 Sydney Roosters 16 v St George Illawarra Dragons 36at Sydney Cricket GroundReferee: Russell SmithMatch Summary:The St George Illawarra Dragons have come back from a first half deficit to comprehensively defeat the Sydney Roosters 36-16 at the Sydney Cricket Ground tonight.The victory however, was not enough to secure the Dragons a top four home finals berth. Despite their 30-20 loss to the Storm in Melbourne tonight, the Manly Sea Eagles maintain fourth spot on the NRL ladder courtesy of a better for-and-against points differential.Leading 16-4 after 20 minutes, the Roosters dominated the ruck as the Dragons forwards were on the back foot. An intercept try to centre Ryan Cross and a set play for winger Amos Roberts put the home side up by 10-0 after just 10 minutes. Both sides then traded tries with Dragons winger Brett Morris scoring the first of his two in the 14th minute before Roberts bagged his double in the 20th minute.But it would be the last time the Roosters would trouble the scoreboard. With props Jason Ryles and Luke Bailey leading from the front, the Dragons ran in six more unanswered tries beginning with a try to centre Matt Cooper just before half time. Trailing 16-8 at the break, Saints narrowed the gap in the 54th minute after a flying Morris leapt high to pull down a cross-field kick from skipper Trent Barrett. Half back Ben Hornby [pictured] also produced a superb kicking game, a feature of the match as he grubbered in for winger Wes Naiqama to score just three minutes later. Hooker Aaron Gorrell's conversion, the first successful Dragons goal of the evening, put the visitors 18-16 in front.Tries to Naiqama, forward Justin Poore, and a double to fullback Clint Greenshields completed the rout.The result denies sacked coach Ricky Stuart a winning send off and ends a disappointing season for the Roosters, the 2002 premiers finishing in second last place on the NRL ladder.The finals bound Dragons will finish the regular season in fifth or sixth position, depending on the result of Sunday's Broncos v Warriors clash.Scorers: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 2/3By the Clock:A good looking crowd coming into the Sydney Cricket Ground for tonight's match. Final match for 2006 for the Roosters looking to send coach Ricky Stuart out on a winning note. Meanwhile Saints are hoping for a cricket score to improve their for-and-against in their quest to nab a top four spot.Kick off!5 min: NEWS Still 0-0 with the Roosters enjoying early possession.6 min: TRY Sydney RoostersIntercept try to Ryan Cross. Craig Fitzgibbons converts. Roosters 6-010 min: TRY Sydney RoostersAmos Roberts scores off a set move and the home side goes further ahead. Fitzgibbon unable to convert. Roosters 10-014 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsWinger Brett Morris gets the Dragons on the board. Wide conversion unsuccessful. Roosters 10-420 min: TRY Sydney RoostersRoberts gets a double. Roberts converts his own try. Roosters 16-425 min: NEWS Roosters making plenty of yards as the Dragons are missing too many tackles.30 min: NEWS Still 16-4 to the Roosters. 32 min: ATTEMPTED PENALTY GOAL Sydney RoostersFitzgibbon misses penalty goal from 38m out. Dragons 36-1637 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsMatt Cooper scores out wide for the Dragons. Aaron Gorrell's conversion attempt unsuccessful. Roosters 16-8Half time: Roosters 16-8Roosters dominating in defence up the middle of the ruck, and then making the yards with the ball in hand. The same again in the second half will most likely see a Roosters victory.Dragons looking a little shell shocked as they head up the tunnel. They have made some inroads just wide of the ruck but their forwards need to roll up the sleeves.Still anyone's match but Saints with all the work to do.Second half underway...51 min: NEWS Still 16-8, Dragons bomb a try.54 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsMorris gets a double, scoring out wide. Dragons can't buy a goal tonight as conversion attempt is waved away. Roosters 16-1257 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsWes Naiqama scores to even it up and Aaron Gorrell converts to put Saints ahead. Dragons 18-1661 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsFullback Clint Greenshields scores. Gorrell converts. Dragons 24-1667 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsForward Justin Poore scores. Naiqama converts.Dragons 30-1679 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsGreenshields gets a double. Naiqama converts.Dragons 36-16Full time: Dragons 36-16A comfortable win for the Dragons, coming from behind after the Roosters dominated early on.Roosters 16-4 up after 20 minutes but were unable to make any further impression on the scoreboard, Saints running away with it in the second half.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Ben Hornby (Dragons)2 - Jason Ryles (Dragons)1 - Ryan Cross (Roosters)-----------------------------------------

Melbourne finish on a high note

ROUND 26 Melbourne Storm 30 v Manly Sea Eagles 20at Olympic Park MelbourneReferee: Paul SimpkinsMatch Summary:The Melbourne Storm have defeated the Manly Sea Eagles 30-20 at Olympic Park this evening.The game was played at a furious pace and up until the 60th minute, it was anyones game but with the game there for the taking Melbourne put their foot on the pedal and away they went. Both teams have electrifying backlines and both were in full flight with some superb end to end action from both teams with Greg Inglis, Steve Turner and Brett Stewart all providing some great highlights throughout the match.The match was high quality and for Matt Orford and Steven Bell, it was a sombre return to Olympic Park with both former Storm players having good games in a beaten side. Every time Orford touched the ball the Storm fans let him know this was no longer his home ground with the boos resonating throughout Olympic Park for the entire match.For Manly, a win would have secured them a top four berth but their immediate fate rests on the outcome of the Broncos/Warriors match tomorrow and if the Broncos win, Manly finish fifth and if the Broncos lose, Manly secure a home final.Melbourne will face off against the Eels next Sunday and on current form, it would take a massive effort from the Eels to shake the minor premiers at home.Scorers: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 2/4Crowd: 13,991By the Clock:1 min: NEWS We are underway at a packed Olympic Park. Plenty to play for with Manly trying to secure a top four berth and all important home final.6 min: NEWS Possible try to Greg Inglis...6 min: TRY Melbourne StormVideo ref came back with a ref's call and Paul Simpkins had no doubt what he thought, awarding the Storm the opening try. Conversion successful. Storm 6-011 min: NEWS Very open game with both sides happy to use the ball. Real end to end stuff at the moment but the Storm are looking by far the better side at the moment.15 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesSteve Bell has a happy homecoming scoring a try in heavy traffic as Manly hit back to possibly level the scores. Conversion successful. 6 all.25 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesManly hit the lead for the first time in the match and they are looking much better than Melbourne at the moment. Michael Robertson scored in the corner without a finger being lad on him. Conversion unsuccessful. Sea Eagles 10-635 min: NEWS Shayney Dunley put on report for a high shot. With his record, he could miss the entire finals series and half of next season. Certainly no love lost between these two teams.35 min: TRY Melbourne StormThe Storm are in through Cameron Smith just before the break. Conversion unsuccessful. 10 all.38 min: TRY Melbourne StormMelbourne hit the front again through Michael Crocker. Soft Manly defence allowed him to score right next to the posts. Crucial try right before half time. Conversion successful. Storm 16-1041 min: NEWS We are underway in the second half.53 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesManly score the opening try of the second half and it's game on in Melbourne. This one will go down to the wire. Brett Stewart finished off a good Manly backline move to get the Sea Eagles within two points. Conversion unsuccessful. Storm 16-1456 min: NEWS Possible try to Matt Geyer from the Storm. Video ref checking and I can't see too much wrong with the grounding.56 min: TRY Melbourne StormTry awarded after Matt Geyer caught a Cooper Cronk bomb to score in the corner. Conversion successful. Storm 22-1466 min: TRY Melbourne StormSteve Turner finishes off an excellent backline movement and the Manly Sea Eagles in one go with a great try in the corner. Conversion successful. Storm 28-1469 min: NEWS Cooper Cronk penalised for a double movement.74 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesConsolation try to Manly through Steve Matai. Looked to be held up for mine but the video ref awarded the try under the benefit of the doubt rule. Conversion successful. Storm 28-2080 min: PENALTY GOAL Melbourne StormMatt Geyer puts the icing on the cake for the Storm with a penalty goal on full time. Great game of footy. It was fast and furious and a good preview for what lies ahead in the finals. Storm 30-20-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Cameron Smith (Storm)2 - Brett Stewart (Sea Eagles)1 - Steve Turner (Storm)-----------------------------------------

Preview: Castleford v Harlequins (R26)

FORMER London Broncos skipper Terry Matterson is not expecting any favours from his old club when Harlequins RL take on his relegation-haunted Castleford Tigers side at the Jungle.Matterson was a popular player with the Londoners at the advent of Super League in 1996 but knows there will be no place for sentiment as he battles to keep the Tigers in the top flight."I don?t expect any favours," he said. "We need to earn our points and earn our win. We?ve certainly got to turn the corner big time from our form over the last month."A hat-trick of home wins over Huddersfield Giants, Warrington Wolves and Leeds Rhinos lifted Castleford to the brink of the top six but four successive defeats, including a club record 72-4 hammering by St Helens, have brought them back back into the mire.Saturday's final home game is followed by trips to Salford City Reds and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and Matterson is comforted by the knowledge that his team have control over their own destiny."It?s in our hands, that?s the main thing," he said. "We?ve got three games to go and, if we do our job, we?re going to be okay. There?s still an opportunity to jump a few spaces higher."In addition to claiming some notable scalps at the Jungle, Matterson is also able to draw encouragement from the Tigers? 34-20 win over Harlequins at the Stoop in March, although they went down 24-16 on a return visit four months later."We won down there after being down 14-0," he recalled. "It was one of our better performances."It?s not as if we?re trying to find something that we haven?t got. We?ve shown in the middle part of the season that we can play some good footie and mix it with the best teams."Emotions could be running high at Saturday's match, which will mark the final home appearance of popular skipper Danny Nutley and the much-travelled Deon Bird, who are both returning to Australia at the end of the season, and Matterson is expecting the vocal Tigers fans to play a key role."When the crowd get involved, they do make a difference," he said. "In three or four games we haven?t given them an opportunity to get involved."I think they?re realistic, they know where we?ve come from and how big a job it was. They?re very critical at times and rightfully so."I?ve struggled probably more than anyone at times but it?s how you bounce back and we?ve got an opportunity to bounce back."I didn?t think we were as bad in the last match at Bradford as the scoreline suggested. It was a much-improved performance and we got some positives out of that game."Castleford welcome back prop Danny Sculthorpe, Australian three-quarter Luke Dyer and back rower Richard Fletcher from injury, with youngsters Jason Payne and Michael Knowles dropping out.Harlequins are boosted by the return of skipper Mark McLinden, who has missed their last two matches with a back injury, but Luke Dorn continues at scrum-half in the absence of Thomas Leuluai. Centre Zeb Luisi and former Castleford winger Jon Wells are also back in the squad.Castleford Tigers 18-man squad: Platt, Shenton, Dyer, Sculthorpe, Henderson, Nutley, Bird, Huby, R. Fletcher, Viane, Fa'aoso, Manu, McGoldrick, Ward, Davis, Lupton, A. Fletcher, Brough.Harlequins RL 18-man squad: Bradley-Qalilawa, Budworth, Dorn, Gafa, Haumono, Heckenberg, Hopkins, Lucky Luisi, McLinden, Mills, Noone, Paul, Purdham, Randall, Smith, Stewart, Sykes, Williams.Referee: P BenthamSource: superleague.co.uk

Round 25 Team of the Week

WE saw some great footy last week with several emotional farewell?s and players strutting their stuff in front of packed houses. With positions 3-7 still to be decided, there was plenty of club?s displaying their wares for all to see.

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