HULL take thriller
ROUND 14 North Queensland Cowboys 4 v Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 26at Dairy Farmers StadiumReferee: Sean HampsteadMatch Summary:The Cronulla Sharks continued their current rich vein of form with a 26-4 win at the expense of the fading North Queensland Cowboys. The Sharks led 8-4 at half time and ran away with the match in the second half.It only took nine minutes for the Sharks to open the scoring, Brett Kimmorley juking past several static defenders to score under the posts. The Cowboys responded with their only points on a poor night with a fairly spectacular try to Brenton Bowen. He jumped to collect a Matt Bowen bomb, juggled the ball on his way to the ground where he planted the ball. Covell rounded out the first half scoring with an impressive 38 metre penalty goal on 28 minutes.The Cowboys never really threatened in the second half. In the 49th minute Darren Albert was rewarded for energetically following up a kick for field position when the ball was fumbled by Brenton Bowen, and Albert won the race to get his hands on the ball in the in goal. The match was all but over just before the hour mark when Paul Gallen barged over, and the knife was twisted in the Cowboys wound with seven minutes to go when Hutch Maiava crashed over to score his first try of the year, and the Cowboys were consigned to the sixth loss in their last seven games.Scorers:North Queensland Cowboys: 4Tries: Brenton BowenCronulla Sutherland Sharks: 26Tries: Paul Gallen, Brett Kimmorley, Hutch Maiava, Darren AlbertGoals: Luke Covell 5/5By the Clock:Good evening from Townsville. Tonight we have the Cowboys facing up against the Sharks. Earlier in the year the Sharks upset the Cowboys and ended their undefeated start to the year.Last week the Cowboys went down to the Tigers 24-14, while the Sharks were victorious against the bye.Fine conditions are Dairy Farmers for tonights match. Both teams are on the field, and we're ready to go.1 min: The Cowboys get us underway!5 min: INJURY - Aaron Payne is injured after hitting the goalposts.9 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland SharksKimmorley gets the ball 10 metres out and he steps between two defenders and scores under the posts. Covell converts. Sharks 6-013 min: A great set from the Cowboys gets them onto the goal line, a long ball is intercepted by Vagana who runs 90 metres only to be pulled back for offside.14 min: The Cowboys waste a perfect attacking set with a poor play the ball on the last tackle.20 min: The Sharks make a mistake near their own line.22 min: Firman is held up on the 4th tackle when the Cowboys ought to have scored.23 min: TRY North Queensland CowboysOn the last tackle, Matt Bowen puts up a bomb that is juggled by Brenton Bowen, before he grounds the ball. Hannay misses the conversion. Sharks 6-428 min: INJURY NEWS: Aaron Payne on the sideline with one eye firmly shut.28 min: PENALTY GOAL Cronulla Sutherland SharksThe Cowboys are penalised for being offside, Covell lands the penalty from 38 metres out. Sharks 8-438 min: Both teams getting a little niggly.40 min: HALFTIME: The Sharks with a somewhat unexpected 8-4 lead at halftime.Lot of mistakes in the first half. Here's hoping for an improvement in quality for the second half.40 min: Teams returning to the field at Dairy Farmers.43 min: Sharks go on attack care of a penalty.47 min: Cowboys beggining to look semi decent on attack.49 min: VIDEO REF for a Sharks try...49 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland SharksA seemingly innocuous kick from Kimmorley is fumbled by Brenton Bowen and Darren Albert wins the race to dot the ball down. Covell converts from near the sideline. Sharks 14-453 min: The Cowboys now kick out on the full.54 min: A poor kick from the Sharks now goes out on the full.56 min: Covell pressures Sing on another ordinary kick and forces a drop out.57 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland SharksGallen barges over from close range after the drop out. Covell converts from next to the posts. It looks like the Cowboys are headed for defeat. Sharks 20-463 min: 17 minutes to go and the Cowboys look no closer to mounting a comeback.68 min: Nothing the Cowboys throw at the Sharks is even looking at denting this 16 point lead.72 min: The Sharks are held up on the fourth tackle. The following play forces a Matt Bowen error and results in a drop out.73 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland SharksMaiava barges over to open his try scoring account for 2006. Covell converts from under the uprights. Sharks 26-480 min: FULLTIME: The Sharks have run away with this match in the second half and have won 26-4.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Lance Thompson2 - Brett Kimmorley1 - Paul Gallen-----------------------------------------
ROUND 14 South Sydney Rabbitohs 34 v Brisbane Broncos 14at Telstra StadiumReferee: Ben CumminsMatch Summary:The South Sydney Rabbitohs have defeated the Brisbane Broncos 34-14 at Telstra Stadium this eveing to record their maiden victory in season 2006.Souths never let the Broncos hit the lead throughout the match and ran away with the match comfortably in the end to gain their breakthrough victory in 2006 and also defeat the Broncos for the first time since 1989.Brisbane were missing ten players from their first grade side and in the end the loss of so many players was simply too much to overcome and they now give up first spot on the NRL ladder to the Melbourne Storm pending the outcome of their match with the Parramatta Eels tomorrow.A rejuvinated David Peachey had an excellent game while Luke Macdougall was also very strong out wide, causing the young Broncos backs plenty of headaches with his powerful running.Ben Walker had an excellent night with the boot, landing five from six to give the scoreline the exclamation mark it deserved.Brisbane must now back up after Origin against the Dragons and there will be many out there deathriding the Broncos as this is where the mid-season slump usually starts.Souths won't be worried about next week for tonight at least. They have a lot of celebrating to do and the win may be enough to attract a few more high profile players to the club as we head towards silly season.Scorers:South Sydney Rabbitohs: 34Tries: Jaiman Lowe, Luke MacDougall(2), Todd Polglase, Nathan Merritt(2)Goals: Ben Walker 5/6Brisbane Broncos: 14Tries: Leon Bott, Brett Seymour, Fraser AndersonGoals: Corey Parker 1/3By the Clock:1 min: NEWS We are underway at Telstra Stadium!7 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsThe Bunnies open the scoring through Nathan Merritt. Good signs early for the Rabbitohs. Rabbitohs 4-010 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsLuke Macdougall is over as Souths score their second try. It's all read and green at Telstra at the moment. Rabbitohs 10-016 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosDebutant Fraser Anderson gets the Broncos first try to narrow the gap to four points. Rabbitohs 10-625 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosBroncos are in again, this time through Brett Seymour. Conversion unsuccessful. 10 all.34 min: NEWS With just over five minutes to half time, the scores remain locked at 10 all with Souths blowing a few scoring chances.37 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsSouths score a crucial try just minutes out from half time to take a six point lead. Jaiman Lowe was the scorer of the try. Rabbitohs 16-1041 min: NEWS We are underway in the second half.45 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosSpeester Leon Bott scores the opening try of the second half to get the Broncos back on track. Rabbitohs 16-1449 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsSouths hit straight back and with the successful kick, extend their lead to eight points which is a big one considering the weather conditions. Rabbitohs 22-1460 min: NEWS Three quarters of the match gone and the Broncos will need to work hard to get out of this one or they will have to live with the fact they are Souths first victims in 2006.61 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsOpen the champers because the Bunnies are home and hosed. Luke Macdougall scores to give the Bunnies a big lead with under twnety minutes remaining. Brisbane will need a miracle to get out of this one! Rabbitohs 28-1470 min: NEWS Ten to go and only a miracle will get the Broncos home now. Souths will be celebrating well into the night!70 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsLuke Macdougall is over as Souths score their second try. It's all read and green at Telstra at the moment. Rabbitohs 34-1476 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsSouths make it a night to remember as Todd Polglase puts the icing on the cake to give the Bunnies their first win over the Broncos since 1989 and their first win in 2006. Rabbitohs 34-1480 min: NEWS Souths have run out convincing winners over the Brisbane Broncos by 34-14 to record their first victory of the year. Congrats to the Bunnies on the win tonight against a Broncos side missing ten players through injury and Origin committments.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - David Peachey (Rabbitohs)2 - Luke MacDougall (Rabbitohs)1 - Ben Walker (Rabbitohs)-----------------------------------------
ROUND 14 Penrith Panthers 10 v St George Illawarra Dragons 20at CUA Stadium PenrithReferee: Jarred MaxwellMatch Summary:St George Illawarra Dragons utility Dean Young has turned on a sensational first half display to set up a 20-10 victory over the Penrith Panthers this evening.With heavy rain falling on CUA Stadium, the match was played in slippery conditions with the second half in particular seeing a number of handling errors.The game started awkwardly for the Dragons when forward Corey Payne and stand-in centre Ben Creagh collided after just two minutes of play. Both players were concussed and forced from the field with only Creagh returning later in the match. Payne's head gash was described by trainers as one of the worst ever seen as the Dragons bench was reduced to three men. This added to the Dragons woes with a number of players already missing through injury, suspension and representative duties.Despite this, St George Illawarra opened the scoring with hooker Aaron Gorrell slotting a penalty goal in the fourth minute. Saints extended their lead four minutes later when Young sold a dummy from close range to score under the posts.With several minutes remaining in the first half, Young was again on hand to break through, 10 metres on his own side of half way. With support on both sides, Young found Matt Bickerstaff on the inside. The back rower, still with plenty of work to do, ran 30 metres to touch down next to the uprights. The successful conversion from Gorrell saw the Dragons enjoying a 14-0 lead.But just before the break, Penrith struck back with five eighth Preston Campbell finding room around the ruck before offloading to forward Luke Swain. At half time, it was 14-6 in favour of the Dragons.The second half saw both sides trying to graft out territory as the rain got heavier. A try to Dragons centre Daryl Millard just after the break put the visitors up by 20-6.The Panthers were kept in the match and had their opportunities. But poor handling at crucial moments, and a soild Dragons defence, saw time eventually run out for the home side.A consolation try in the 75th minute to winger Luke Rooney narrowed the score line to 20-10, but did little for Panthers as they crashed to their third loss in a row. The result sees the Panthers side slip to 12th position on the NRL ladder with a bye coming up next round. Meanwhile St George Illawarra will celebrate what can be described as an ugly win but will enjoy a top eight position at the conclusion of this round. Next week the Dragons travel to Brisbane to take on the Broncos.Scorers:Penrith Panthers: 10Tries: Luke Rooney, Luke SwainGoals: Preston Campbell 1/2St George Illawarra Dragons: 20Tries: Dean Young, Matthew Bickerstaff, Daryl MillardGoals: Aaron Gorrell 4/4Crowd: 9,422By the Clock:Raining in Penrith.The Dragons have a numerous injuries, two suspensions and two players on rep duties. They are as per the side named on Tuesday ( http://www.leagueunlimited.com/article.asp?ID=10897 )The Panthers are fielding a strong side. However, fullback Rhys Wesser is a late withdrawal and will be replaced by Nick Youngquest. Forward Matt Cross is also out and will be replaced by Luke Swain. Penrith half back Craig Gower has been cleared of injury and is set to play.Panthers will be kicking off...Kickoff!2 min: NEWS Dragons forward Corey Payne and centre Ben Creagh collide and are concussed. Both being forced from the field to have a few stitches.4 min: PENALTY GOAL St George Illawarra DragonsAaron Gorrell kicks a penalty goal from right in front. Follws penalty against forward Craig Stapleton who was holding down Sheppard after he was involved in a bust upfield. Dragons 2-05 min: NEWS from the sheds is that Dragons front rower Corey Payne is heavily concussed and unlikely to return.8 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsDean Young dummies from close range and scores under the posts. Follows repeat sets to the Dragons. Gorrell converts. Dragons 8-020 min: NEWS rain getting heavier. Saints looking the goods early on and having the better of field posiition and possession. Poor ball control not helping Penrith's cause.21 min: NEWS Referee has a chat to Saints captain Ben Hornby as the penalty count favours the Panthers 4-1.31 mim: NO TRY - video ref denies Chris Sheppard for the Dragons after he crashes over from dummy half. Deemed to have used Gorrell (playing the ball) as a shield. Penalty to the Panthers.36 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsMatt Bickerstaff scores for Saints, a 60m try next to the posts after Dean Young carves them up, making a bust and finding Bickestaff in support. Gorrell converts Dragons 14-039 min: TRY Penrith PanthersPanthers are on the board after Luke Swain receives a ball on the burst from Preston Campbell. Swain crashes over next to the posts. Follows a tremendous break from Campbell and a penalty in the same set. Campbell converts. Dragons 14-6Half time: Dragons 14-6A late try has put Penrith back in the match after Saints have been the dominant team for most of the first half. Possession is fairly even although the Dragons are making more metres with the ball as the Panthers are missing a few too many tackles.Completions are good for both sides and errors have evened up. Penrith enjoying a 7-3 penalty count.Dean Young is in tremendous form and the best player on the paddock. Campbell and Luke Priddis looking dangerous for the Panthers.The rain looks to have settled in.Second half underway...44 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsDaryl Millard scores 15m wide of goal after running onto a neat grubber kick from Gorrell. Gorrell converts. Dragons 20-647 min: NEWS Dragons forward Danny Wicks makes a sensational break, running some 70 metres. He almost goes all the way before the cover defence finally reels him in.60 min: UPDATE Still 20-6 in favour of the Dragons. Penrith have come close a couple of times only to lose possession. Saints defending well but being kept honest for the last 10 minutes or so.70 min: UPDATE Penrith still unable to complete their opportunities and need to score three times in 10 minutes, which doesn't look like happening. Dragons chancing their hand more and continue to find space on the fringes of the ruck.75 min: TRY Penrith PanthersLuke Rooney scores in the corner following sustained pressure, the Dragons' line finally cracking. Presto unable to convert and 10 points is the difference. Dragons 20-10FULL TIME: Dragons finshing strongly and make another line break on the bell, Hornby kicks ahead and a Panthers player is on hand to kick it dead.Saints win 20-10 to post their fourth consecutive victory while the Panthers suffer their third loss in a row.Match was played in slippery conditions with ample dropped ball in the second half. But overall, the Dragons simply outplayed Penrith. Helped by a 12-5 penalty count, the Panthers had their chances with Saints having to do more tackling. But St George Illawarra looked better with the ball and made a heap more metres when in possession, especially up the middle.Penrith hooker Luke Priddis, front rower Joel Clinton and five eighth Preston Campbell were the best in a losing side. Half back Craig Gower looked contained.Dragons utility Dean Young was our man of the match as he dominated the first half. Half back Ben Hornby also showed plenty of class as did hooker Aaron Gorrell. Special mention to rookie front rower Danny Wicks who continues to impress for the Dragons.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Dean Young (Dragons)2 - Ben Hornby (Dragons)1 - Aaron Gorrell (Dragons)-----------------------------------------
QUINS and Wolves announce squads
HANSEN back for Wigan
ROUND 14 Manly Sea Eagles 16 v Wests Tigers 12at Brookvale OvalReferees: Shayne HayneMatch Summary:The Manly Sea Eagles have escaped from their Friday Night NRL clash with the Tigers with a 16-12 win, thanks to a last minute try to Brett Stewart. The match was deadlocked at 6-all at half time.It took half an hour for Manly to open the scoring, with a try to Chris Hicks. It only took the Tigers five minutes to respond, Anthony Laffranchi dotting down under the uprights. The first half was largely restricted by less than ideal conditions, including a poor surface that led to many players losing their footing on the slippery turf.The Tigers only took six minutes to post points in the second half, a slick backline move finished by Michael Crockett, Marshall converted from the sideline for a 12-6 lead. The six point lead looked unbeatable for much of the second half, and Benji hit the posts with a 58th minute penalty goal attempt looking for an eight point lead. The Eagles gave themselves a sniff with 10 minutes to go when Steve Matai scored in the corner after a Tigers mistake. It still looked as though the Tigers had the match leading 12-10, before Orford put up banana kick that beat Marshall and Brett Steward somehow maintained control of the ball to score next to the posts with only a minute to go ? Manly went up 16-12 and regathered the short kickoff. The Tigers had one last chance with two seconds to go, but knocked on before they could do anything.Scorers:Manly Sea Eagles: 16Tries: Chris Hicks, Brett Stewart, Steve MataiGoals: Travis Burns 2/3Wests Tigers: 12Tries: Anthony Laffranchi, Michael CrockettGoals: Benji Marshall 2/3By the Clock:Good evening from Brookvale Oval. Tonights game is the defending premiers the Wests Tigers vs the Manly Sea Eagles.Last week the Tigers were successful in winning the Grand Final replay 24-14, while the Sea Eagles were convincing in their 29-22 victory of the Panthers.Brett Hodgson is on Origin duty for the Tigers, and they take to the field 1-17. Manly are missing Menzies, Kite and Bells. Leuluai is starting ahead of George Rose.Menzies leads the Sea Eagles out through the 300 game banner and it is game time!A bit of damp at Brookvale tonight. Not a huge crowd in attendance tonight - there are some large gaps on the hills.1 min: The Eagles kick off!6 min: Manly squander a good attacking opportunity and lose the ball a few metres out. A few errors so far.7 min: Kennedy penalised for a high tackle and the Tigers get their first real attacking opportunity.10 min: Lot of players losing their footing on kick returns.13 min: The Tigers spread the ball on the last tackle, and winger is unable to hold onto a wayward pass the heads across the sideline.16 min: The Tigers make a break, but Elford can't hold onto the pass from Laffrachi.21 min: As the score suggests, a fairly even contest so far.22 min: Manly are unable to capitalise on a Tigers error - the Tigers lose the ball 10 out and Manly drop the ball 5 out.27 min: Tigers force a line drop out off a decent set in attack. Lolesi knocks on from the kick, which itself was a shocker.30 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesThe Sea Eagles move the ball wide, Hicks finds plenty of space ahead of him and he dots the ball down. Burns converts. Sea Eagles 6-035 min: TRY Wests TigersThe Tigers capitalise on a Manly error, Laffranchi barges over under the posts and he eventually manages to force the ball down. Marshall converts. 6 all.38 min: Tigers with the momentum at the moment.HALFTIME: 6-all in a less than memorable game.STATS: Tigers have a 53/47% lead in possession. Both teams are completing above 75% - Manly exactly that, the Tigers at 77%. Manly are 15/20, the Tigers 17/22. Offloads are three each, errors are 5-3 against the Tigers. Manly have made 175 tackles and missed 10, the Tigers are 164/14.40 min: Both teams out on the field for the second half.43 min: INJURY: Steve Matai suffering from a leg injury, and he has been interchanged. Or evidently he hasn't been interchanged. Still getting plenty of trainer support.46 min: VIDEO REF for a Tigers try...46 min: TRY Wests TigersThe Tigers spread the ball and Collis comes up with a nice pass to Crockett who somehow gets the ball down in the corner. Marshall converts from the touchline. Tigers 12-651 min: The Tigers have all the momentum, and the force a drop out.52 min: VIDEO REF for a Tigers try...52 min: NO TRY - Wests TigersThe video referee spins up a refs call, and Shayne Hayne says that Laffranchi was held up on the last tackle.54 min: Prince puts up a fantastic bomb that gets Steward forced in the ingoal, little pushing and shoving after the whistle.56 min: ATTEMPTED PENALTY GOAL Wests TigersThe Sea Eagles are penalised and Marshall hits the uprights with the penalty attempt. Tigers 12-662 min: Tuiaki makes a clean break, and the Tigers almost score on the next and last play.68 min: Still a tight contest. It's all a battle of field position, and the Tigers are winning that battle.70 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesThe Tigers make an error, and after 4 tackles Kennedy somehow gets the ball away to a support player who dribbles the ball across the ground to Matai who scores out wide. Burns hooks the vital conversion. Tigers 12-1075 min: Prince puts in a great kick that is recovered by Elford, who throws the ball into Brett Steward and Manly survive.79 min: VIDEO REF for a Manly try...79 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesOrford puts in a banana kick, the bounce evades Marshall and Brett Steward somehow picks up and juggles the ball, and he scores next to the posts. Burns converts. Sea Eagles 16-12FULLTIME: The Sea Eagles have come back and have stolen the match off the Tigers.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Ben Kennedy2 - Matt Orford1 - Anthony Laffranchi-----------------------------------------
THE Gold Coast Titans have further bolstered its? forward pack with today?s signing of Panthers second rower Frank Puletua. Puletua has signed a two year deal with the club and joins an already formidable group of forwards in Luke Bailey (Dragons) Anthony Laffranchi (Tigers) Luke Swain (Penrith) Brad Meyers (Bradford) Nathan Friend (Storm) Luke O?Dwyer (Eels).Puletua said, ?I am excited to be coming up to a new club that looks very professional. My time at the Panthers has been great and the fans and players have always been supportive but I can?t wait to play for the Titans.?Puletua?s departure from the Panthers is tinged with sadness for both club and player. Retaining the 28 year old under the salary cap was unachievable for the Panthers.Panthers General Manager Mick Leary said, ?The club believes Frank has been consistently one of our best forwards this season and unfortunately due to salary cap reasons the club is unable to retain Frank?Titans Head Coach John Cartwright said, ?It?s unfortunate for Penrith that Frank became a salary cap issue for them but there?s always a positive side to this type of situation and we are the winners in this case. I know Frank very well from my time at Penrith and I know he?s had mixed emotions about leaving the club. From my point of view he is everything I look for in a footballer ? he?s dedicated, a leader, he?s disciplined and a great man to have around the younger guys in the club. He?s a tradesman, he?s mobile, he?s got a great offload and plenty of game time in him? Puletua has been coached by Cartwright before, the reunion a factor in Puletua?s decision to move north. Puletua said, ?One of the positives for me in making the decision was to be able to play under Carty (Head Coach John Cartwright ) again. I enjoyed his coaching while he was at the Panthers and the chance to play under him is something I am really looking forward to. I have been really happy with my current form and I think I can continue that at the Titans with the staff they have on board to assist the players.?Titans Managing Director Michael Searle is excited by Frank?s interest and willingness to become involved in the Gold Coast community using his talents off the field as a graphic designer.
QUEENSLAND centre Justin Hodges says he's right to take his place in this Wednesday night's second State of Origin at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
A former missionary will make his debut for the Brisbane Broncos in tomorrow night's NRL match against South Sydney at Telstra Stadium.
ROUND 11 of New Zealand's Bartercard Cup is set to dish up yet another hefty helping of action packed rugby league for the die hard supporters to digest.
NSW coach Graham Murray says Willie Mason could make it in American football but he hopes the barnstorming forward will stick with rugby league. Mason is reportedly pursuing a dream of playing in the NFL.
LUCKY the Titans are just around the corner
WELCOME to Round 14 everyone. Don?t forget that State of Origin players will be cutting up the oranges this week.I was a very happy chappy sitting in the back bar of the Three Weeds in Rozelle last Sunday as the Tigers took on the Cowboys in the last game of the week. For, I had $20 on the Cowboys to win, and had earlier selected the Tigers to overcome them for a perfect round. I can?t say for sure that I?ll back it up with another perfect round, but here?s hoping.It?s not often I get to gloat but excuse me this one time. I?ve lifted my game to 58 from 90 (64%) in the space of seven days and I?m feeling rather chipper. But hey, it doesn?t get any easier this round and you?re only as good as your last pick, so buckle up boys and girls, we?re in for a fair ride! Sea Eagles v TigersFriday night begins with a feast out at Brookvale where the Tigers travel north to take on a sizzling Many club. The Sea Eagles have won the past two games there with the last Tigers victory at Brookvale taking place in early 2003.With Kite, Bell and Menzies missing the home side will do it tough, but after a stirring performance against the Panthers last week away from home, I think they?re up to the task. Manly?s backline contains a few no-names but they?ve been playing well lately and I thought they should have won by more last week.The Tigers on the other hand appear a bit disjointed and lacking direction. Prince and Marshall have both been firing of late but that?s about it. They need to start putting the foot on the pedal and accelerating in this competition otherwise they?ll be left behind.Being at home and going with form I?m taking the Sea Eagles here in what should be a good old-fashioned stoush.Panthers v DragonsSuper Saturday kicks-off in style with two rough and ready teams striding onto the pitch for the twilight match.The Dragons take the field minus Bailey, Cooper and Gasnier who are out thanks to Origin duty and suspension. Whilst they managed a win over the Eels last week I think they out-did themselves and will struggle away from home this week. Looking at their team, there are plenty of rookie players in there who could be exposed.For the Panthers, they welcome back favourite son Craig Gower who appears to have missed his chance with NSW this year. The rest of the side is more or less their best team so I think they?ll chuck in a good effort this week. They?ve had the benefit of a few home games this year and I think the Panthers will run away with this one. Cowboys v SharksThe second Saturday game throws up plenty of issues for the punter. Can the Cowboys bounce back from five losses out of the last six matches? Will Origin cripple them again? Will the bye affect the Sharks?All these questions shall be answered during the night but what will we choose?I think the Cowboys are due. They?ve lost plenty on the trot and will really need a victory against the Sharks here to solidify their lofty position on the competition table. There are a few missing thanks to rep duty, namely, Thurston, Webb and Lillyman but I think they have the juice to take home the points.Cronulla, whilst they have been good of late, will struggle to compete in the forwards against the Cowboys. Their backline?s cancel each other out but the bench is where I think North Queensland have the advantage.Rockin? Rod Jensen is back for the Cowboys and combined with a need to win and the Sharks returning from a week off, I think the people of FNQ will be happy with the result.Rabbitohs v BroncosThe final clash of Saturday night could well prove a stickler in the overall scheme of things. You see, the Bunnies haven?t beaten Brisbane since 1989! But ironically, since that time Souths are probably fielding their best line-up and Brisbane their worst. It?s also first place against last place.The new-age Baby Broncos are taking on the Rabbitohs out at Telstra Stadium in what?s sure to be a classic game. With Hodges, Hunt, Lockyer, Tate, Berrigan and Civoniceva missing from their line-up, Brisbane have had to search far and wide to field a team. Webcke?s presence should do enough to keep the Broncos on track however.As for Souths, well they?re fielding the best side they have all year. Sutton is back to five-eighth with a full complement in the backline and a no-nonsense pack of forwards. I think this is Souths? best opportunity to win a game this year but I simply can?t pick them out of respect to the opposition. The Broncos should win and keep the Bunnies at bay for long enough to secure victory.Roosters v WarriorsThis is a hard game?The Warriors travel across to Bondi to play a severely depleted Rooster?s outfit due to several factors. Wing, Anasta, Finch and Flannery are all on State duty whilst Minichiello and Roberts are injured. That?s a huge toll to overcome and whilst Morley and Fitzgibbon are both still in the pack, it?s no secret they?re looking elsewhere and their minds aren?t on the job.The Warriors had a tough loss against a committed Broncos outfit last week and I think they?re ready to strike on Australian soil for the first time since round 4 against a Joey-less Newcastle. With Wiki?s exoneration and Rovelli in form I think they will trouble Easts and slowly overcome them, even with Price taking a week off through rep duty.The Warriors to win, Easts will struggle to even compete.Eels v StormThese two teams are fairly evenly matched right now. The Eels, whilst struggling all year and missing 3 Origin players, will pull together following last week?s loss to the Dragons in difficult circumstances. As will the Storm, who are without several players through injury and suspension.Yet another drinking saga has engulfed the Eels and this isn?t too handy when it comes time to select a team. Hindmarsh is the big loss as he is always taking the ball up. With Grothe and Tahu missing, the Eels do look a little weak in the backs.But no more so that the Storm, who appear to be struggling to fill the loss of Inglis and Slater to Origin and suspension so far this year. They still have Crocker to come back but that won?t help them this week and they?ve looked susceptible to a loss for the past few games.Eels by a few.Bulldogs v RaidersThe long weekend winds up on Monday as Canberra travel up the highway to Homebush as they prepare to take on the Dogs. I was impressed with their efforts last week given the fact that a few players backed up from Origin and could have easily called in sick. With Sherwin back and Holdsworth taking the ball to the line more often, I think the Bulldogs will go well here.The Raiders have made a habit of un-seating big name clubs but I don?t think they hold anywhere near the impact against a side like the Bulldogs. They play similar styles of footy and if they get bodies in motion they?ll at least be competitive on the night. With Smith still out the play will revolve around several different players like Carney, Withers and the Schif, so Canberra could cause a few headaches.But I'll stick with an improving Canterbury.The Knights have the bye in Round 14, and oh boy, don?t they need it. Joey?s complaining about being tired and after two straight losses I bet they?ll be happy to sleep in for the next few days. They?ll need all the help they can get when they head to Auckland next week to take on the Warriors.
SUNCORP Stadium may be a long way from dusty Barcaldine, but hopes are high this weekend?s QRL Outback Carnival will provide an opportunity for an aspiring Jacob Lillyman, Matt Scott or even a Chris ?Choppy? Close.