FINALS 2006 Week 1 Canterbury Bulldogs 30 v Canberra Raiders 12at Telstra StadiumReferee: Shayne HayneCrowd: 14,628Match Summary:The Bulldogs have overpowered a strong-willed Canberra Raiders side 30-12 at Telstra Stadium tonight in the third qualifying final. In wet conditions, the Bulldogs crushed the hopes of a premiership for the Canberra team, who wanted to send senior players out on a winning note. But it was not to be.A powerful performance by the Bulldogs forward pack set the platform for their backs, who proved too strong for their counterparts in the slippery conditions. In the 68th minute, a Brent Sherwin kick set up a Hazem El Masri try to make the score 30-6, which sealed the win for the home team.However, the Raiders scored a consolation try in the 73rd minute, when Adrian Purtell crossed the white line to register four points.Although the Bulldogs were in control in the second-half, scoring three tries and restricting the Green Machine to one, the Raiders started the game well off the back of a Phil Graham try in the 7th minute.But it all fell apart as the Bulldogs side began to gain momentum and capitalize off knock-ons and poor ball security.The stars of the night were Bulldogs halves Brent Sherwin and Daniel Holdsworth who worked well together and directed their big and strong forward pack around the park. Willie Mason and captain Andrew Ryan also played well. Hazem El Masri also deserves a mention after picking up a try and kicking 5/5. The Bulldogs will now enjoy a week off where as the Raiders depart the 2006 finals series, in what is an end of an era.Captain Clinton Schifcofske, coach Matt Elliot, long serving veterans Jason Crocker and Simon Woolford and highly respected players Jason Smith and Michael Hodgson farewell the nation?s capital.Scorers:Canterbury Bulldogs: 30Tries: Hazem El Masri, Luke Patten, Andrew Ryan, Daniel Holdsworth, Andrew EmelioGoals: Hazem El Masri 5/5Canberra Raiders: 12Tries: Phillip Graham, Adrian PurtellGoals: Clinton Schifcofske 2/2By the Clock:In what should be an epic encounter, the second placed Bulldogs will take on the seventh placed Raiders tonight at Telstra Stadium.At the start of the year the Canberra side were favourites for the wooden spoon, but now after 26 weeks, they will face the 2004 premiers in the first week of the finals. They may not have as many stars as the other finals teams, but that doesn?t mean they?re pushovers. The Raiders play a simple game where pressure is limited on their key players. This allows the likes of Schifcofske, Carney, Smith, Withers and Woolford to work their magic and create something out of nothing.The Bulldogs will run into the match favourites. They?ll look to cause the Raiders problems by rushing up in defence, which will cause problems for the Green Machine attack. Three of the Bulldogs main forwards will be missing tonight, including Roy Asotasi, Reni Maitua and Tony Grimaldi. But Willie Mason is back from suspension.A few changes for the Dogs. Ben Roberts comes into the centres. Sonny-Bill Williams moves to lock and Nate Myles will start, moving Chris Armit to the bench. For the Raiders, Simon Woolford will start from the bench, making way for Lincoln Withers who will start at hooker. Craig Frawley has been ruled out. Jason Smith will start at five-eighth. Todd Carney moves to halfback.The third qualifying final will be underway soon.Kickoff - Clinton Schifcofske, the Raiders captain, gets us underway as the rain belts down. 2 min: NEWS Brent Sherwin puts a nicely waited qrubber kick into the in-goal but Schifcofske cleans up. Goal-line drop-out. 4 min: NEWS Phil Graham makes a great run and splits the Bulldogs line in half before passing to Schifcofske. The ball goes wide on the last to Purtell but he is rapped up. Bulldogs ball. 7 min: TRY Canberra RaidersOff the back of a Matt Utai knock-on, the Raiders capatilize. Jason Smith puts a kick in, just missing a Bulldogs player, and Phil Graham picks it up and scores. Schifcofske converts Raiders 6-010 min: NEWS A nice run and then offload from Dogs prop Willie Mason, but five-eighth Daniel Holdsworth knocks-on. Raiders recieve a penalty not long after and then head into Bulldogs teritary. But Crocker knocks-on. 12 min: NEWS The wet conditions are now coming in to play. Both teams are struggling with ball control. 15 min: NEWS Shane Hayne goes upstairs to Video referees Steve Nash and Bill Harrigan on a possible Andrew Ryan try. 15 min: TRY Canterbury BulldogsThe Bulldogs captain, Andrew Ryan, goes over. Video Referees give the thumbs up. El Masri converts. 6 all.17 min: NEWS Hayne again goes upstairs on a possible try to Utai. Should be disallowed due to players being in-front of the kicker.17 min: NO TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Utai's miraculous try which seemed to go through nearly every Bulldogs player try is disallowed. Play heads back up field for a Raiders penalty.21 min: NEWS More drop-ball from both teams but now, Jason Smith has put it down. Bulldogs have possesion in the Raiders half.25 min: NEWS The last person you'd expect to put in a left foot grubber kick in to the Raiders in-goal , Willie Mason, earns his side another set of six. Bulldogs once again have the ball inside the Raiders 20. 26 min: NEWS A bizarre bit of play, as Sonny-Bill Williams drops the ball on to the back of his heel, chip kicking over his head, into the Raiders in-goal. Williams looks proud of himself. Schifofske cleans up and gets the ball out in time.28 min: NEWS It's absolutely bucketing down now here in Sydney. The Dogs fullback Luke Pattern knocks on, and not long after, Phil Graham for the Raiders does to. 31 min: NEWS Brent Sherwin fails to play the ball properly and is penalised, right in front of the posts. Raiders elect to have a scrum. 32 min: NEWS Massive hit by Andrew Ryan and Willie Mason forces a Raiders knock-on and prevents a Raiders try.37 min: TRY Canterbury BulldogsBrent Sherwin delivers a beautiful flick pass to the flying Luke Patten close to the line who then dives over and scores. El Masri adds the extras. Bulldogs 12-6HALF-TIMEBoth teams have struggled with ball control this half which is understandable considering the conditions. Nevertheless, both sides have have thrown the ball around well, and shown some nice attacking skills. The Bulldogs may be leading on the scoreboard, but don't rule out the Raiders who aren't far behind stats wise (well in some stats anyway).Penalties: BULLDOGS 1 RAIDERS 3Line breaks: BULLDOGS 2 RAIDERS 1Tackles: BULLDOGS 127 RAIDERS 189Miss Tackles: BULLDOGS 2 RAIDERS 10Offloads: BULLDOGS 6 RAIDERS 0Errors: BULLDOGS 8 RAIDERS 8Posession: BULLDOGS 68% RAIDERS 32%Kickoff - The Bulldogs will get us underway in the second-half, as the rain buckets down again. 41 min: NEWS Lincoln Withers drops the ball off the kick-off and the Bulldogs now have the ball close to the Raiders line.45 min: NEWS Todd Carney boots the ball down field on the third tackle, catching the Bulldogs off guard. Smart play from the young player in the wet. 52 min: NEWS Raiders have blown a try. They were certain to cross the line, but the 3/4 Adam Mogg threw a ball along the ground to nobody.53 min: TRY Canterbury BulldogsA lovely offload from Bulldogs prop Mark O'Meley, and then a nice run and pass from the fullback Luke Patten, leads to a briliant run from Andrew Emelio who registers four points. El Masri adds another 2 points. Bulldogs 18-658 min: NEWS The Raiders will now recieve another set of six froma Bulldogs line drop-out. It came from a Simon Woolford grubber kick. Raiders now have the ball, but not for long, they've just turned it over. 62 min: NEWS Jason Smith will not return to the field, as he looks on from the sheds. More on this when news comes to hand. 64 min: TRY Canterbury BulldogsBulldogs five-eighth Daniel Holdsworth strolls over the line and may have rapped up the game for his team. Holdsworth picked the hole in the Raiders line well. El Masri converts. Bulldogs 24-667 min: ATTEMPTED FIELD GOAL Canterbury BulldogsBrent Sherwin tries to add another point, but the strike isn't good. Bulldogs 24-668 min: TRY Canterbury BulldogsBrent Sherwin puts in an early kick for Hazam El Masri who always knew it was on. He gets a lovely bounce and manages to get his first try of the night. He converts his own try. Bulldogs 30-670 min: NO TRY Canterbury BulldogsDaniel Holdsworth's try is disallowed and the Bulldogs are penalised. Holdsworth was ankle taped by Raiders players close to his line but just kept on sliding. Corey Hughes gave him a little nudge which was frowned upon by the video referees. Penalty Raiders.73 min: TRY Canberra RaidersAdrian Purtell gets his 5th try of the season and gets the last try of the night for the Raiders. Schifcofske converts, possibly for the last time on a rugby league field. Bulldogs 30-1277 min: NO TRY Canterbury BulldogsBen Roberts was never going to be awarded the try but the referee wanted to check it anyway, just to see if he crossed the side-line before he lost the ball.FULL-TIME: BULLDOGS 30 - RAIDERS 12Penalties: BULLDOGS 4 RAIDERS 6Line breaks: BULLDOGS 7 RAIDERS 2Tackles: BULLDOGS 255 RAIDERS 344Miss Tackles: BULLDOGS 12 RAIDERS 21Offloads: BULLDOGS 11 RAIDERS 3Errors: BULLDOGS 17 RAIDERS 18-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Daniel Holdsworth (Bulldogs)2 - Willie Mason (Bulldogs)1 - Hazem El Masri (Bulldogs)-----------------------------------------
FINALS 2006 Week 1 Brisbane Broncos 4 v St George Illawarra Dragons 20at Suncorp StadiumReferee: Paul SimpkinsCrowd: 50,387Match Summary:The St George Illawarra Dragons have claimed a memorable 20-4 victory over the Brisbane Broncos at a packed Suncorp Stadium tonight. The Dragons led 10-4 after an entertaining first half.The Dragons opened the scoring in the seventh minute with a try to Clint Greenshields after spreading the ball wide to Wes Naiqama. The Dragons had already threatened in the same manner earlier in the game. Aaron Gorrell missed the conversion and it was 4-0. The Dragons extended their lead to 10-0 after Aaron Gorrell dived over from dummy half after 23 minutes. The Dragons were denied another try five minutes later after Ben Creagh was ruled to have interfered with Justin Hodges while Hodges was attempting to take a bomb. The Broncos got one back in the 33rd minute off some Hodges magic, as he beat a defender and offloaded to Darius Boyd who scored in the corner.There was one theme to the second half ? the Broncos blowing attacking opportunity after attacking opportunity. Luke Bailey scored a raging try five minutes into the half to up the score to 16-4. The match was all but sealed on 54 minutes when Matt Cooper scored an unconverted try in the corner to put the Dragons up 20-4. The Broncos had many attacking opportunities afterwards, but failed to capitalise on any of them ? the best chance saw Hodges get across the line, but he dropped the ball in putting it down.The result guarantees the Dragons make it through to the next week of the finals, while the Broncos will sweat on the Canterbury/Canberra and Melbourne/Parramatta clashes. The result leaves Manly in all sorts of trouble, as they only need one upset to be knocked out unluckily.Scorers:Brisbane Broncos: 4Tries: Darius BoydGoals: Corey Parker 0/1St George Illawarra Dragons: 20Tries: Luke Bailey, Matt Cooper, Aaron Gorrell, Clint GreenshieldsGoals: Aaron Gorrell 2/3, Mathew Head 0/1By the Clock:Hello from Suncorp Stadium. Yet another 3rd vs 6th finals match coming from Suncorp Stadium.Several changes in the lineups tonight. The Broncos have lost Australian fullback Karmicheal Hunt to an injury, and bring Tame Tupou onto the wing. Head is onto the bench from the Dragons, Isemonger drops off the bench. Timmins moves to lock and Creagh is dropped to the bench.Both teams have taken to the field. Huge crowd in tonight.1 min: The Dragons kick off!3 min: The Dragons let a bomb bounce, the Broncos recover the ball but get wrapped up.5 min: The Dragons go on attack after some enterprising play, but lose the ball.6 min: The Broncos bomb Naiqama, and he defuses it comfortably.7 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsThe Dragons spin the ball wide and expose a Broncos overlap, Naiqama runs down the sideline and throws a suspicious looking forward pass to Greenshields who scores 10 in from the sideline. Gorrell misses the goal. Dragons 4-014 min: The Dragons throw another two suspicious looking passes while coming out of their own end.15 min: The Dragons put up a bomb, they throw it around after it bounces and a bad pass goes to Hodges who breaks away. Morris runs Hodges down, but Hodges gets away, and Jason Ryles ends up taking Hodges into touch, fantastic desperation.19 min: Barrett puts in a good kick and finds touch 10 out from the Broncos line. The Dragons looking the better side at the moment.20 min: The Dragons run the ball on the last tackle, Bickerstaff makes a break and puts in a kick for Naiqama who is beaten to the ball by Boyd.22 min: The Broncos spill a bomb on the Dragons go hot on attack.23 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsPoore is tackled inches out from the line. Gorrell picks the ball up from dummy half and dummies to pass right, and he dives over to score just to the right of the posts. Gorrell converts his own try. Dragons 10-027 min: The Broncos bomb Brett Morris, he takes the ball and makes a half break.28 min: VIDEO REF - for a Dragons try...28 min: NO TRY - DragonsThe Dragons put up a bomb, it is recovered by the Dragons and Wicks claims a try under the posts. Creagh is ruled to have interfered with Hodges trying to catch the ball.31 min: Lockyer puts in a kick, it hits the posts and Greenshields loses the ball forward, leaving Gasnier in an offside position to dive on the ball, and the Broncos get a penalty.33 min: TRY Brisbane BroncosOff the back of the penalty the Broncos go right. Lockyer offloads to Hodges who gets around his defender and offloads to Boyd who dives over in the corner. Parker misses. Dragons 10-437 min: The Broncos get a penalty and will go back onto attack.38 min: The Broncos lose the ball while on attack.39 min: Bailey gets put into a gap, he breaks away and kicks ahead, but it goes too deep.HALF TIME: And the Dragons have dominated the Broncos and lead 10-4.Back on the field for the second half.40 min: Back underway at Suncorp!45 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsBailey steams onto an offload and races away to crash over under the posts. Gorrell converts. Dragons 16-449 min: Some reasonable defence from the Broncos forces Greenshields into touch.50 min: VIDEO REF - For a Broncos try...50 min: NO TRY - BroncosGreenshields loses the ball coming out of the ingoal and concedes a drop out.51 min: Tate drops the ball while the Broncos are hot on attack.53 min: Tate loses the ball trying to play it and the Dragons will go onto attack.54 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsThe Dragons spread the ball wide to Cooper who runs right past the defenders and scores in the corner. Head misses the goal, but this could be game over. Dragons 20-460 min: Lockyer is trapped on the last tackle and the Broncos waste an attacking opportunity.61 min: The Dragons go close to scoring again.63 min: VIDEO REF - For a Broncos try...63 min: NO TRY - BroncosHodges puts on a great move to score in the corner, only he loses the ball in putting it down. Really dreadful play.66 min: The Broncos put in another poor kick on the last tackle.68 min: Lockyer puts in a clueless bomb on the last tackle, it looks as though the Broncos have given up.70 min: Hodges is wrapped up on the last tackle.72 min: Parker puts in a kick off the ground from a poor pass, and the Broncos are penalised for offside from the kick.75 min: Greenshields cleans up a Broncos grubber for a line drop out.77 min: Civoniceva loses the ball inside the Dragons 10, more or less summing up the Broncos night.79 min: The Dragons lose the ball trying to spread it wide.FULL TIME: The Dragons have claimed a memorable 20-4 victory over the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Matt Cooper2 - Luke Bailey1 - Jason Ryles-----------------------------------------
POWERGEN Challenge Cup finalists Huddersfield Giants will have all but one of their Twickenham line-up in action in their penultimate match of the season at Catalans Dragons.
ST Helens coach Daniel Anderson insists there will be no let-up from his double-chasing team when they take on Leeds Rhinos at Knowsley Road.The Powergen Challenge Cup winners are almost guaranteed to finish top of the engage Super League but Anderson, who has made a habit of resting players at various times this season, wants his side to take their winning run into the play-offs.Captain Paul Sculthorpe, who suffered a recurrence of his old knee injury in last Friday?s win over Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, is the only member of their Cup-winning side absent from Anderson?s 18-strong squad.Prop Nick Fozzard, who picked up a head injury in the same game, misses but centre Willie Talau returns from a hamstring injury and broken nose victim Jon Wilkin is also included."We?re not rotating anybody," said Anderson. "We will only rest players carrying injuries as a precaution."But we want to take some momentum into the play-offs. We?ve got two big games in a row and I?m really looking forward to them."Saints, who finish off the regular season with a trip to Warrington Wolves next weekend, have already completed the double over the Rhinos this year but both were close-fought duels.Leeds returned to form with a 54-16 thrashing of Warrington last week and they could still finish second if they win and Hull lose both their last two matches, which are testing affairs at Warrington and Wigan Warriors."It will be a close tussle between two quality sides," predicted Rhinos coach Tony Smith."We have come up against Saints twice already this season and both games have been real intense battles with both sets of players producing top quality performances so it should be no different on Saturday."Smith, still without stand-off Danny McGuire, sticks with the side that beat Warrington, which means there is no place for full-back or winger Lee Smith, who was named in the original squad.Hooker Matt Diskin makes his 150th appearance.St Helens 18-man squad: Wellens, Gardner, Lyon, Talau, Meli, Pryce, Long, Cunningham, Cayless, Gilmour, Wilkin, Roby, Bennett, Hooper, P Anderson, V Anderson, Graham, Fa?asavalu.Leeds Rhinos 18-man squad: Donald, Walker, Senior, Burrow, Bailey, Diskin, Peacock, Lauitiiti, Ellis, Sinfield, Millard, Jones-Buchanan, Scruton, Kirke, Gibson, Tansey, Thackray, Toopi.Referee: R SilverwoodSource: superleague.co.uk
REDCLIFFE won through to the 2006 Queensland Grand Final with an emphatic 30 - 16 win over Easts at Dolphin Oval today.The Dolphins' defence was the difference together with a sensational game from hooker Michael Roberts.Redcliffe will now take on long-time nemesis Toowoomba in their fourth meeting in a Grand Final. Toowoomba hold a 2-1 advantage to date. There is a striking resemblance to season 2000 (where Redcliffe triumphed) in that Redcliffe were demolished in the Major Semi only to defeat Easts in the Preliminary Final. Could history repeat itself?Unfortunately the Colts did not fare so well going down 42 - 20 to Wynnum. The A Grade and Colts Grand Finals will be Burleigh v Tweed and Norths v Wynnum respectively.
FINALS 2006 Week 1 Newcastle Knights 25 v Manly Sea Eagles 18at EnergyAustralia StadiumReferee: Sean HampsteadCrowd: 23,752Match Summary:The Newcastle Knights have kicked off the 2006 Finals Series with a bang coming from behind to beat the Sea Eagles 25-18 at a packed out Energy Australia Stadium in Newcastle tonight. The visiting Sea Eagles went into the break with a 12-0 lead but their achilles heel in the second half was their ball handling.In a game that lived up to its expectations, it was fiery at times with three sin bins in total throughout the match. This included a brawl ten minutes after halftime that resulted in the sinbinning of Knights? George Carmont and Sea Eagle Travis Burns. Just two minutes out from fulltime Manly captain Ben Kennedy was sinbinned after he escalated a situation after a spear tackle from Newcastle?s Danny Buderus.After all the possession with the Knights in the opening ten minutes, the away side opened the scoring on their first visit down in to the Newcastle 20. A long cut out pass from Matt Orford found Brett Stewart which sent him into a yawning gap as he sped away for the opening try.Once again the Knights had all the possession and on the back of a Brian Carney intercept were locked down in the Manly quarter. With numbers on his outside, hooker Danny Buderus lofted a long ball out to the wing which was intercepted by Manly?s Michael Robertson. He ran over 90 metres to stretch the margin out to 12.Frustration crept into the Knights as the game headed for the half time interval and it got even worse for the home side as Carmont had a try disallowed just a minute from halftime as he forced in touch ingoal from some outstanding Sea Eagles defence.The two sides entered the second half fired up for victory as less than ten minutes after the break a brawl started in a tackle with first punches thrown by Travis Burns. George Carmont reacted and was subsequently binned for ten minutes.On the back of this penalty going the home side?s way, Andrew Johns crashed over from close range to cut the margin back within a try.Just when things were looking positive for the Knights, in the space of two minutes veteran Craig Smith was put on report for a high tackle, which was followed by a miracle try for Manly that was finished off by Kiwi Steve Matai. A grubber kick through from Orford look to be heading for the corner post before Michael Robertson plucked the ball out of thin air and threw it back inside to Matai for the try.It may have looked bleak for the Knights, however it was Johns and Kurt Gidley who revived any hope that the home fans still had. Close to the line, Johns took the ball to the line and found LeagueUnlimited?s man of the match Kurt Gidley on the inside who scored under the posts.Under ten minutes later, Newcastle had levelled the score after Kurt Gidley once again took a ball back on the inside from Johns who stretched out and without any hint of a double movement scored beside the posts.After a field goal attempt from Andrew Johns was charged down from Ben Kennedy before rookie five-eighth Jarrod Mullen was given the honours of taking the next shot a minute later. He slotted the point and five out from fulltime the Knights were in front for the first time.With three minutes left in the match, Manly received another blow as captain Ben Kennedy was sent to the sin bin after escalating a situation following a 'spear tackle' from Danny Buderus.Just a minute later, Matt Orford had a field goal shot which was charged down by lock Reegan Tanner, which was followed by a penalty being awarded on the western touchline to the Sea Eagles for offside.The shot at goal from Matt Orford was waved away and caught by Jarrod Mullen who ran 99 metres before being stopped inches short of the try line. Later in the set the Knights sealed the match with a controversial try when winger Brian Carney appeared to be held after taking the ball from a cross-field kick. Referee Hampstead ruled play on and the Irish winger squirmed out of a tackle to score in the corner.Johns converted the try and the Knights had run out victors in the great escape 25-18. There are a few problems heading into next week for Newcastle however. Danny Buderus could miss the rest of the season through suspension after the lifting tackle he inflicted late in the match.Other problems include an expected crucial ligament tear to the knee of fullback David Seage that will leave him out for the rest of the season as well. Steve Simpson has a jarred shoulder which occurred early in the first half but is expected to play next weekend.Scorers:Newcastle Knights: 25Tries: Kurt Gidley(2), Andrew Johns, Brian CarneyGoals: Andrew Johns 4/4Field Goals: Jarrod MullenManly Sea Eagles: 18Tries: Brett Stewart, Steve Matai, Michael RobertsonGoals: Matt Orford 3/4By the Clock:For the Knights,Milton Thaiday is out with David Seage going to fullback.Todd Lowrie drops off the interchange bench with Jarrod Mullen to start from the interchange break with Kurt Gidley winning the number 6 jumper.Your referee for this First Qualifying Final is Sean Hampstead while the Sea Eagles are yet to win a game in the finals since 1990.Last year,finishing eighth,they were knocked out convincingly by the Eels at Parramatta Stadium while the Knights were wooden spooners.The Sea Eagles are on the way out,led by former Novocastrian Ben Kennedy in their all white jerseys.Here comes Joey Johns and the Knights in the navy blue jerseys.1 min: Manly kicks off!!!3 min: A vocal Newcastle crowd get a penalty for a Manly player being offside and they go straight on the attack.4 min: A cross-field bomb from Johns is tapped back by Carney and Matt Gidley goes within an inch of scoring off the rebound but is held up short of the line.6 min: Terrible news here for Newcastle as David Seage has done his knee and is assisted from the field.10 min: A knock on by Anthony Quinn in his own half sends Manly on the attack.12 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesA long cutout pass from Matt Orford sends Custodian Brett Stewart in to a yearning gap and he runs around to score outwide in the first points of the evening.Orford converts the try. Sea Eagles 6-014 min: A knockon on the first tackle from Manly sends Newcastle back on the attack.15 min: An amazing passage of play.Carney goes for the line on tackle 5 and is held up over the line,this if followed by Simpson going up the tunnel for Newcastle with a shoulder injury now Manly knock on on the first tackle.17 min: On the two injury fronts:Seage looks like a cruciate ligaement damage while Simpson a possible jarred shoulder.22 min: Touchjudge Steve Carrall is coming in for a report...It is a penalty to Newcastle on a late tackle from Matai on Johns but there looked to be nothing in it.26 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesAmazing passage of football by both sides..Manly attacks the Newcastle line before a Carney intercept sees Newcastle go on the attack with 3 consecutive attempts.Some amazing defence especially outwide by the visitors and the Knights with an overlap spin the ball outwide before winger Michael Robertson rushes up and takes an intercept to run 90 metres to score.Orford converts. Sea Eagles 12-030 min: A chip over the top from Johns is knocked on from Stewart so here come the Knights.32 min: Newcastle get a repeat set from a penalty but Matt Gidley throws the ball over the sideline,some outstanding goalline defence from Manly.35 min: Simpson back on for the Knights.37 min: A bit of push and shove in back play between Carmont and Hicks,the frustration really showing for the Knights.38 min: An error from Steve Bell and the Knights have two minutes and 20m to go to get something out of the first half.39 min: Going upstairs for an unlikely Knights try...39 min: NO TRY - George Carmont dives for the corner but great defence puts him over the touch ingoal line.Halftime - The Manly Sea Eagles are showing what it takes to win a premiership out there tonight.Some amazing cover and goal line defence with all the possession going Newcastle's way.On the Sea Eagles' first visit down field,Brett Stewart score through some poor defence from the Knights while their second try came from a 90m intercept.The Sea Eagles must hold on to the ball as their ball security has been quite poor in the first half,their defence is winning them the contest.The Knights have been attacking the fringes of the ruck including the centres till the cows come home,however to win this contest,they must go through the centre of the ruck using Danny Buderus.Both sides are back on the paddock,second half about to get underway.40 min: Knights kick off.46 min: Manly get a piggy back penalty and go on the attack as Carmont took out Steve Bell on a kick through.49 min: Referee Hampstead seems to be losing control as the Sea Eagles are giving too many penalties.50 min: Punch Up - A fight has started on the eastern touchline.Travis Burns and George Carmont are in the sin bin.51 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsAndrew Johns close to the line slices through some poor goal line defence and the Knights are back.A bit of push and shove after the try was scored aswell.Johns converts his own try. Sea Eagles 12-653 min: On Report - Veteran Craig Smith on report for a high tackle.54 min: Going to check for a Sea Eagles gem of a try...55 min: TRY Manly Sea EaglesOne of the tries of the season as a short grubber through by Matt Orford is plucked just before htting the corner post by Michael Robertson and before he hits the corner post he somehow flings the ball back in for Steve Matai to score in the corner.The conversion from the sideline from Orford is a ripper. Sea Eagles 18-657 min: Kurt Gidley runs the ball from 40 out on tackle 5 and gets to the 20 before offloading wildly to Craig Smith who can't hang on to it.61 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsThe Knights are back and it is the brilliance of Johns close to the line once again.Johns runs the ball to the line with runners inside and out and he hits Kurt Gidley on the inside who goes over under the posts. Johns converts and they are back within a try. Sea Eagles 18-1263 min: Orford knocks on when trying to play the ball and once again it is poor handling from the Sea Eagles and the Knights go on the attack.65 min: Andrew Johns limping near the sideline.69 min: Checking for a Knights try...70 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsTry Try Try!!!It is Kurt Gidley again who is having an absolute blinder in the second half.Johns attacks the line and on the inside is the five-eighth come fullback to score despite Hampstead checking for a double movement.Johns converts and we are locked up. 18 all.72 min: This time Matt Gidley goes on a surge down the western touchline but once again his trademark flick goes in to touch.73 min: Kennedy knocks on and the Knights go on the attack,the Sea Eagles are self-destructing.74 min: ATTEMPTED FIELD GOAL Newcastle KnightsAndrew Johns takes the snap from 30 out and it is charged down,the rebound is knocked on by Orford and the Knights get a repeat. 18 all.75 min: FIELD GOAL Newcastle KnightsJarrod Mullen has become a cult hero as from 25m out he plots a field goal to put the Knights in front for the first time. Knights 19-1877 min: A spear tackle from Danny Buderus and they run in from left right and centre with push and shove.Kennedy in the bin and Buderus on report.78 min: ATTEMPTED FIELD GOAL Manly Sea EaglesAn attempt from Orford is charged down by Reegan Tanner. Knights 19-1879 min: ATTEMPTED PENALTY GOAL Manly Sea EaglesA penalty to the Sea Eagles on the western touchline and they elect to shoot for goal.The shot is waved away and Mullen runs 99m before being held up inches away from the line. Knights 19-1880 min: TRY Newcastle KnightsIt is all over here in Newcastle with a controversial try.A bomb from Johns to the corner with just seconds remaining is taken on the full by Carney and he looks to be held about 5m out from the line.Quite a few seconds later he squirms away and Hampstead rules play on and awards the try to Carney.Johns from the sideline converts. Knights 25-18Fulltime - The Knights have gotten out of jail in a controversial yet dramatic ending.Article to come.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Kurt Gidley (Knights)2 - Steve Matai (Sea Eagles)1 - Brent Kite (Sea Eagles)-----------------------------------------
IT?S Finals time! And with the first of the Qualifying Finals kicking off tonight, we break down the two key men in each game.
While the Top 8 system remains in place for financial reasons to be fair the first week of the Finals has some delicious games on offer. That being said a Top 5 system would have two absolutely cracking games with the Bulldogs facing the Broncos in the Major Preliminary Semi Final and the Knights against the Sea Eagles in the Minor Preliminary Semi Final, but what is the sanctity of the Finals Series versus the income generated from another two games of football this weekend?
But we digress.
Here are the two key men in each Qualifying Final.
Friday ? Knights v Sea Eagles @ Energy Australia
Andrew Johns, Knights
We all know he is still the most dominant player in the game and the two week rest he had for some creative language was probably a good thing for the 32 year old. Looked to have been carrying some knocks in the previous couple of months and a little downtime surfing etc will have this champion primed for a big one against the Sea Eagles. Will particularly want to silence his critics by beating the Sea Eagles well before the last minute when a referee/touch judge call can have a significant impact on the result. Expect a big one from the game?s Number One.
Ben Kennedy, Sea Eagles
Will he be fit? There is no doubt Kennedy will play but regardless of the strong rumour that he wanted to play against the Storm in Round 26, Kennedy being 100% for this game is a pipedream. Manly?s vaunted backrow looked fairly average without him, although to be fair Steve Menzies has tried hard to fill in for Kennedy?s absence. Could be playing his last game of Rugby League so expect a huge hit up count and an 80minute performance from the big fella (even if he isn?t fully fit). Kennedy won?t be a major threat to run through the line but his ability to offload halfway through defenders will be devastating if Brett Stewart lurks around his captain every time he takes the ball up.
Prediction: Johns? err Knights by 7
Saturday ? Broncos v Dragons @ Suncorp
CASTLEFORD Tigers, who are hoping to secure their engage Super League status before the final weekend, are considering starting the match at Salford City Reds with 38-year-old assistant coach Brad Davis.The former Wakefield Trinity Wildcats scrum-half returned from a three-month lay-off with a dislocated shoulder to play a pivotal role as a substitute in last week?s 27-12 win over Harlequins RL."I am still thinking of starting with him," said head coach Terry Matterson. "I thought he made a difference last week and he will be better for the run."Castleford expect to have around 2,000 fans following them to Salford after local businesses laid on free transport."We?re taking about 22 coaches," said Matterson. "It?s going to feel like a home game."Salford, who still need a point to make sure of a first appearance ever in the play-offs, are without full-back Karl Fitzpatrick but have included utility back Stephen Myler in their 18-man squad.Salford City Reds v Castleford Tigers, Friday, September 8, kick-off 20:00Salford City Reds 18-man squad: Hodgson, McGuinness, Moule, Dunemann, Robinson, Coley, Alker, Rutgerson, Finnigan, Charles, Highton, Wilshere, Haggerty, Littler, Myler, Brocklehurst, Adamson, Lima.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.Referee: K KirkpatrickSource: superleague.co.uk
WAKEFIELD Trinity Wildcats captain Monty Betham claims the Wildcats are ready to fight for their engage Super League lives in the crucial clash against Bradford Bulls at the Grattan Stadium, Odsal.
MELBOURNE has received a massive boost today after injured trio Greg Inglis, Brett White and Ben Cross were rated likely starters for Sunday's qualifying finals against Parramatta.
INTERNATIONAL rugby league fever will visit the Western Weekender Stadium at St Marys when Malta takes on Lebanon on October 8 for the self professed Battle of the Phoenicians.Lebanon- who begin their qualifying course for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup only weeks later will make their first international appearance since their 42-14 defeat of France in the 2004 Mediterranean Cup in Tripoli.Lebanon hasn?t played a rugby league international in Sydney since they met a French Invitational touring team led by Paul Sironen in front of a 20,000 strong crowd at Telstra Stadium in 2001.Malta?s last appearance saw a historic 36-6 victory over the England Lionhearts at Marsa Stadium in what was the first official fixture of rugby league on Maltese soil.The Battle of the Phoenicians is set to attract a bumper crowd with Maltese and Lebanese migrants holding a strapping presence in Sydney?s multicultural community.Malta head coach Joe Grima has earmarked several NRL stars in his preliminary squad for the Mediterranean backed international including the Parramatta Eels? Michael Vella and Sydney City Rooster Shane Shackleton.NRL starters Hazem El Masri and Robbie Farah have both pulled on the Lebanese jersey in the past, yet this match will see Vella and Shackleton complete a first for Malta- an emerging rugby league nation.St George-Illawarra Dragons hooker George Ndaira has been sounded out as a possible starter for the Lebanese Cedars.Shackleton will finally achieve his Maltese representative honours after becoming a last minute omission last year following a decision by Roosters coach Ricky Stuart for the Roosters to begin pre-season training early.?I was so filthy I didn?t go to Malta last year? says the ginger haired Shackleton.Malta?s head coach is Parramatta Eels official Joe Grima and Grima is well aware of Lebanon?s well-built line-up, ?They?re (Lebanon) a very skilful side who possess great speed, mixed with their size and strength and are coached at a very high level?Officials for the Maltese and Lebanese rugby league governing bodies are expecting a capacity crowd at the Western Sydney venue, the Western Weekender Stadium.Photo: Malta?s Paul Harris and Lebanon?s Mohamed Chahalc/- PJ Robinson
BRISBANE coach Wayne Bennett has failed to kill off Sydney media speculation he'll end his 19 years with the Broncos to coach the Sydney Roosters next season.Bennett has been linked to an unconfirmed $2.4 million three-year offer from the Roosters to replace sacked coach Ricky Stuart. Bennett had an opportunity to lay reports to rest at a packed press conference following Brisbane's final training before tomorrow night's qualifying showdown with the Dragons, but declined to comment.Brisbane officials laughed off the possible shift yesterday but Bennett's failure to clear the air means the issue will fester through the finals series.
HOW deep is your club?
WE are nearly there. We have one Grand Finalist resting this weekend, and we have the last two teams that will fight it out for that coveted second GF spot in the penultimate game in the Lion Red Fox Memorial
THIS weekend should give some clarity over the final order of the top six as well as the identity of the club facing relegation, as there are only two rounds remaining before the play-offs and a maximum of four points up for grabs for each club. Getting close to the end of a long season for some clubs and with other clubs jockeying for positions, this week could very well be the week of the upsets? Game on!