SATURDAY 1 July 2006
SATURDAY 1 July 2006 Rotorua International Stadium Rotorua Curtain Raiser Matches Kiwi Ferns vs NZ Maori WomenKiwi Ferns 50Tries: Aimee Gilbert, Sarina Fifo, Trish Hina, Lorina Papali?i, Elina Beets, Emma Cairns, Rona Peters (3)Goals: Trish Hina (7)NZ Maori Women 12Tries: Leah Witehira, Te Paea CooksleyGoals: Rochelle Potaka Halftime Score: 24 ? 6 To The Kiwi Ferns Waicoa Bay Under 18?s vs NSW Country U18?s NSW Country 36Tries: Kevin Gordon, Joe Latham, Brandon Cluff, Nick Skinner, Joel Thompson, Nathan Smith, Ben WybornGoals: Claude Gordon (4)Waicoa Bay Stallions 22Tries: Victor Reu, Kurt Kara, Isaac John, Tehumarire FordGoals: Isaac John (3) Halftime Score: 16 ? 6 To The Waicoa Bay Under 18?s Main Games - FinalsJim Beam Cup Selection vs Queensland Rangers (3 vs 4)Queensland Rangers 38Tries: Brett Woolley, Philip Wuersching, Jim Baira, Patrick Dall (2), Nathaniel Bowman (2)Goals: Philip Wuersching (1), Nathaniel Bowman (4) Jim Beam Cup Selection 26Tries: Wes Naiqama, Dan Randall, Willie Bishop, Keiron Herring, Scott JonesGoals: Aaron Mercer (3) Halftime Score: 22 ? 4 To The Queensland Rangers NSW Country vs NZ Residents (1 vs 2)NZ Residents 32Tries: George Tuakura, Sala Fa?alogo, Lusi Sione, Sonny Fa?i, Cooper Vuna (2)Goals: Steve Buckingham (4) NSW Country 18Tries: Lulia Lulia, Shaun Wessels, Daniel FrameGoals: Craig Field (3)Halftime Score: 20 ? 6 To The NZ ResidentsTRANS-TASMAN RUGBY LEAGUE CUP TOURNAMENT AWARDS 2006 Champions: NZ ResidentsBest Back: Nathaniel Bowman (Queensland Rangers)Best Forward: Grant Wooden (Jim Beam Cup Selection)Player Of The Tournament: Steve Buckingham (NZ Residents)
ARL LION RED FOX MEMORIAL RESULTS 1/7/06
ROUND 17 Canberra Raiders 12 v Parramatta Eels 18at Canberra StadiumReferees: Russell SmithMatch Summary:Parramatta has entered the winners circle tonight following an 18-12 victory against the Raiders in Canberra.The Eels are now within 2 wins of the top eight and are set to face the Newcastle Knights next weekend at Parramatta Stadium in a game that could make or break their season.The Eels got off to the perfect start with two quick tries to young winger Jarryd Hayne on the back of some poor defence down the Raiders left hand side.Following on from that the Raiders dominated the next half an hour of football but were unable to score. But in the final seconds of the first half young playmaker Todd Carney used his upper body strength to get through five Eels players and score beside the posts, putting Canberra back to within four points at the interval.The Raiders then started the second half poorly, with Parramatta backrower Glenn Morrison going through some ordinary defence by hooker Lincoln Withers to score on the fringe of the ruck and stretch the margin out to 2 tries.However, the Raiders weren't to be outdone hitting back almost straight away thanks to a backline movement finished by stand-in fullback Marshall Chalk and with half an hour remaining there was only 4 points separating the two sides. The lead was stretched out to 6 points when centre Brett Delaney took a penalty goal in the 65th minute.The only chance either side had from that moment on was when hooker Lincoln Withers dived for the line with 2 minutes to go but lost the ball according to referee Russell Smith. After further inspection when packing the scrum, it appeared that Dean Widders had actually stripped the ball and the Eels had gotten out of jail.The final score was 18 points to 12 to the Eels leaving the Raiders to slip out of the Top 8. Scorers:Canberra Raiders: 12Tries: Todd Carney, Marshall ChalkGoals: Todd Carney 2/2Parramatta Eels: 18Tries: Glenn Morrison, Jarryd Hayne(2)Goals: Brett Delaney 3/5Halftime: Eels 10-6.By the Clock:Good evening and welcome to Canberra Stadium.No changes for Parramatta however for the Raiders,Simon Woolford and Troy Thompson drop off the bench while Michael Hodgson goes from the bench to prop to replace Thompson.Alan Rothery will go from the bench to the second row with young gun Tom Learoyd-Lahs dropping back to the bench.Your referee for this one is Russell Smith.1 min: NEWS Underway in Canberra.5 min: TRY Parramatta EelsA 15 metre cutout pass from Tim Smith finds Jarryd Hayne who crosses for the first try of the night.Delaney from the sideline converts. Eels 6-08 min: NEWS Luke O'Dwyer for the Eels turns defence in to attack when he takes a cross-field kick from Jason Smith on his 20 metre line then takes off downfield before finding the turf near halfway.10 min: TRY Parramatta Eels10 minutes gone and already early warning signs for the Raiders.Jarryd Hayne steps and weaves around some poor defence and scores in the corner for his second try.Delaney misses the conversion. Eels 10-013 min: NEWS From a very lofty penalty count,the Eels have numerous sets on the Raiders line however O'Dwyer is forced over the sideline.17 min: NEWS A good second man play by the Raiders but fullback Marshall Chalk has been held up in goal.23 min: NEWS Going to the video for an Eels try ...24 min: NEWS NO TRY - Jason Smith knocks the ball on and Johnny Morris diving for the line can't hold on to the ball.36 min: NEWS The Raiders dominating the go forward but have no points to show from it.39 min: NEWS A few sets of six here for the Raiders on the Eels goal line to finish the half.40 min: NEWS Checking for a Raiders try ...40 min: TRY Canberra RaidersTodd Carney with 5 men on him somehow manages to get the ball down for the home sides first points.Carney converts his own try. Eels 10-6HALFTIME - The Eels got off to a flying start thanks to a poor defensive start to the match from the Raiders.The Raiders are slowly working their way back into the match and the try right on halftime was well deserved.41 min: NEWS 2nd Half Underway44 min: TRY Parramatta EelsThe Eels extend their lead as Glenn Morrison slices through some poor Raiders defence from a missed tackle from Lincoln Withers.Delaney converts the try. Eels 16-649 min: TRY Canberra RaidersThe Raiders are back thanks to a slick backline movement finished off by fullback Marshall Chalk.Carney converts. Eels 16-1254 min: NEWS Final warnings for Captain Croker,the next one goes to the sin bin!57 min: NEWS The second try in 5 minutes for the Eels that has been called back via a forward pass.63 min: ATTEMPTED PENALTY GOAL Parramatta EelsA penalty against Terry Martin for not getting to his feet to play the ball.However the kick at goal just misses by Delaney.Now the restart drop out goes out on the full! Eels 16-1265 min: PENALTY GOAL Parramatta EelsThis kick at goal from the dropout going out on the full is taken by Delaney and he gets the two points. Eels 18-1271 min: NEWS Todd Carney down injured for the Raiders after a good shot from Jarryd Hayne.75 min: NEWS The Raiders have the ball on their goal line,they must go 100m to win this one.78 min: NEWS Big finish coming up here!A goal line dropout coming up here.Could extra time be on the cards?79 min: NEWS Lincoln Withers dives for the line but is ruled to have lost the ball but the ball appears to have been stripped80 min: NEWS Michael Weyman drops the ball and that should be the game.However a forward pass and the Raiders have 16 seconds to go and 74 metres to run.Fulltime-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Wade McKinnon2 - Todd Carney1 - Fuifui Moimoi-----------------------------------------
ROUND 17 North Queensland Cowboys 16 v South Sydney Rabbitohs 14at Dairy Farmers StadiumReferees: Tony ArcherMatch Summary:The North Queensland Cowboys have done a houdini act and come from behind late in the game to snatch a 16-14 victory from the jaws of defeat against a gallant South Sydney Rabbitohs at Dairy Farmers Stadium this evening.Souths were coming off a hiding against the Warriors and their pride was at stake and for 75 minutes, it looked as though they would spring one of the upsets of the season but a late try to the Cowboys sealed the Bunnies fate and consigned them to a long flight home from Townsville tomorrow.The Cowboys were well below their best but with the Raiders imploding against the Eels, the Cowboys now find themselves back in the top eight and it may be the catalyst they need to breathe life back into their spluttering season.Scorers:North Queensland Cowboys: 16Tries: Aaron Payne(2), Brent McConnellGoals: Justin Smith 1/2, Brent McConnell 1/1South Sydney Rabbitohs: 14Tries: Mark Minichello, David Peachey, Jermaine PaulsonGoals: Ben Walker 1/3By the Clock:1 min: NEWS We are underway at Dairy Farmers Stadium!9 min: NEWS Still no score after both teams settle into their rythmn.15 min: NEWS Souths showing a lot more resolve than last week and are playing some solid footy.18 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsSouths score the opening try through evergreen fullback David Peachey. Conversion unsuccessful. Souths 4-025 min: NEWS Souths still holding the upper hand over the Cowboys with some enterprising play and good defence.26 min: TRY North Queensland CowboysThe Cowboys are on the board via Aaron Payne. Justin Smith converts the try to give the Cowboys a two point advantage. Cowboys 6-434 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsSouths take back the lead through a try to Mark Minichiello. Conversion successful. Rabbitohs 10-641 min: NEWS We are underway in the second half.50 min: NEWS Still no change to the half time score.55 min: TRY North Queensland CowboysHooker Aaron Payne gets a double to level the scores. I bet no one thought this match would be level with just over twenty minutes to go. Conversion unsuccessful. 10 all.65 min: NEWS Fifteen minutes remaining and Souths are hanging tough. Can they get the win in regulation or will extra time be required or will the Cowboys snatch the victory?68 min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsSouths take the lead once again through a try to rookie Jermaine Paulson. Conversion unsuccessful. Rabbitohs 14-1075 min: TRY North Queensland CowboysThe Cowboys come back to scoer and take the lead by two points with the successful conversion by Justin Smith. Oh so close for the Bunnies. Cowboys 16-1480 min: NEWS The Cowboys have defeated Souths by two points and the loss would be heartbreaking for the Bunnies, who probably deserved to win over an out of sorts Cowboys team.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Aaron Payne2 - Mark Minichiello1 - Peter Cusack-----------------------------------------
ROUND 17 New Zealand Warriors 28 v Penrith Panthers 22at Ericsson StadiumReferees: Ben CumminsMatch Summary:New Zealand has defeated Penrith at home tonight by 28-22, extending their winning streak to four in a row and at the same time preventing the Panthers from recording their seventh consecutive victory against the Auckland-based outfit.In a match that may prove crucial to the make-up of the final 8, the Warriors remained enthusiastic throughout and could have scored more points if they had shown a bit of patience and resolve, instead grassing a few genuine scoring opportunities.Man of the match Simon Mannering opened the scoring in the 4th minute when he crashed over out wide following a mistake by Preston Campbell where he spilled the ball into touch.It was a very hot and cold display from the zippy halfback, but he added a penalty goal in the 11th minute before Mannering struck again shortly after. Campbell put up a mid-field bomb that went backwards and as the Panthers tried to bat the ball back to continue attacking, the solid centre swooped on the ball and raced 60m to score.A terrible injury to Luke Lewis didn?t help the visitors either as the makeshift five-eighth stayed down following a tackle with initial reports suggesting he has nearly severed a finger, presumably getting his hand caught in an opponent?s studs. Whatever happened there was plenty of blood spurting from his hand as he left the field.Penrith then went on the attack with tries to Galea in the 26th minute and Hookey in the 37th putting them ahead by 14-10 with Campbell involved on both occasions. The score was unchanged as teams went to the sheds despite a late effort by Martin and Ah Van down the western flank that almost proved fruitful.The second half opened with a few handling errors courtesy of the greasy conditions at the ground but the Warriors found their rhythm and reclaimed the lead in the 48th minute through captain Ruben Wiki who stayed alive to receive a pass from halfback Grant Rovelli whilst attacking the line from close range.Soon after the Warriors put on a superb length of the field effort when Ah Van pounced on a grubber close to the line and wrong-footed the defenders before scooting 70m where he offloaded to Martin who finished off nicely. With the conversion the Warriors held a solid 22-14 lead and were looking good.But a try under the posts to Priddis in the 64th minute got the ball rolling for the Panthers again and Campbell added a further penalty goal three minutes later to level the game and set up a nail biting finish.Fittingly it was in-form fullback Brent Webb who scored the match-winner with five minutes left on the clock. The speedy custodian has been doing great things across the ditch for the past few rounds and has kept the hopes of Warriors fans alive as they look to resurrect their final 8 aspirations.Next week will be tough assignment for them against the Bulldogs and they?re shooting for five in a row for the first time since early 2003. Tonight may have been Penrith?s last roll of the dice as they slump to their ninth loss of the season and will host the Raiders next week in another crunch game.Scorers:New Zealand Warriors: 28Tries: Simon Mannering(2), Tony Martin, Brent Webb, Ruben WikiGoals: Tony Martin 4/5Penrith Panthers: 22Tries: Danny Galea, Luke Priddis, Lee HookeyGoals: Preston Campbell 5/5Halftime: Panthers 14-10Crowd: 8,723By the Clock:Cool night over here in Auckland, with the ground a little greasy.Changes for the Warriors: Guttenbiel goes back to the bench with Luck promoted.The Panthers are as per the program.1 min: NEWS The Panthers kick-off in the first half.3 min: NEWS A few mistakes early with Ropati dropping the ball cold then Campbell spilling it over the sideline.4 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsMannering crashes over out wide to open the scoring for the evening after the Warriors took possession in good field position following Campbell's mistake. Martin misses the goal from out wide but the home team is off to a good start. Warriors 4-08 min: NEWS A near miss for the Warriors down the western flank where Campbell is defending. They're clearly targetting him tonight.11 min: PENALTY GOAL Penrith PanthersCampbell hoists a penalty goal to put the Panthers on the board. Warriors 4-215 min: NEWS Loius Anderson denied a try for a double movement after going himself from dummy half. Silly play really.18 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsAn unbelievable try here. Campbell puts up a bomb about 40m from the Warriors line only for it to go almost backwards. It's fielded by a Panthers player who attempts to pass it back only to see Mannering swoop and run 60m to score. Martin converts and the Warriors are making hay while the sun shines. Warriors 10-222 min: NEWS The Panthers are being torn apart here. Lewis has left the field with what can only be described as a near-severed finger. There's blood everywhere reminiscent of Jason Stevens in the 1993 Grand Final. Hookey also went down a few tackles later and Mannering almost put another one on them.Aiton slips into five-eighth giving the Panters a very small halves pairing.26 min: TRY Penrith PanthersAfter a scrappy passage of play, the Panthers spread the ball wide and Galea finds some room with a good pass from Campbell assisting. Campbell adds the extras and we've got a tight contest on our hands. Warriors 10-829 min: NEWS Campbell kicks the ball out on the full handing the Warriors another good opportunity. He is having a very up and down match.35 min: NEWS Very greasy conditions here with Rapira loosing the ball whilst playing it, giving Penrith a good opportunity.37 min: TRY Penrith PanthersPenrith take the lead as Lee Hookey works a gap on the western side of the field and barges his way to the line. Campbell kicks it from the sideline and the visitors hold an unexpected lead close to the break. Panthers 14-1040 min: NEWS The Warriors go close again just as the bell sounds with Ah Van narrowly missing in the south-western corner. The Warriors do look the more enthusiastic outfit and I think they should beat the Panthers.Penrith have settled down a lot in the back end of the half, showing more committment and better execution. This one will go down to the wire with the winner keeping themselves withing striking distance of the top 8.41 min: NEWS New Zealand restart us here at Ericsson Stadium.46 min: NEWS End to end stuff here with both teams pressing the line but unable to score. Still a few handling errors but you can see there's a bit of desperation creeping into the game as both sides realise what's potentially at stake.48 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsWiki scores under the sticks after Rovelli took on the line and flicked a neat pass back. Martin converts and the Warriors are back in front. Warriors 16-1449 min: NEWS A try goes begging for the Warriors as Ropati makes a huge break only to hold up the pass too long and they stuff it.52 min: NEWS The Warriors are playing very enterprising footy but need to convert it into points or risk handing the lead back to Penrith.56 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsSensational length of the field effort with Ah Van making a break on his own line after scooping up a grubber. He dashes 70m before giving it to Martin on the inside who outlasts Rooney to score in the corner. Terrific try. Martin converts his own try, as so often happens, and the Warriors hold a good 8-point lead. Warriors 22-1461 min: NEWS Crowd: 8,723. Disappointing considering the Warriors are shooting for 4 in a row.64 min: TRY Penrith PanthersCampbell chips into the in-goal area and Priddis comes up with the ball, planting it just before the dead ball line. The Panthers are back in it and Campbell converts to reduce the deficit to 2 points. Warriors 22-2067 min: PENALTY GOAL Penrith PanthersPenrith draw level through Preston Campbell. Could we be going to extra time? 22 all.73 min: TRY New Zealand WarriorsThe Warriors have scored through Brent Webb and look to be home and not only that, but their finals dream is very much alive. Penrith are in real strife now. Warriors 28-2279 min: NEWS Tony Martin misses an easy shot at field goal and the Panthers have one more chance to send the game into golden point.80 min: NEWS It's full time and the Warriors have defeated the Panthers 28-22 and have recorded their fourth consecutive win. The Warriors face the Bulldogs next week while the Panthers are at home against the Raiders.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Simon Mannering2 - Jerome Ropati1 - Ruben Wiki-----------------------------------------
TEN rounds left to play in Superleague this season, with the top four clubs looking to still fight for the highest position possible, and probably another seven clubs still in contention for the remain two play-off spots. And don?t forget the five clubs that are still at risk of finishing last and facing relegation?. It?s Round 19 ? game on!
KANGAROO Tourist Ben Creagh has today agreed to terms with St George Illawarra for a further three seasons, until the end of 2009.The versatile backrower is another NRL local junior to re-sign with the Club this year along with Dean Young, Matt Cooper, Mark Gasnier, Mathew Head, Justin Poore and Ashton Sims.?This caps off a pretty big fortnight for the Dragons in completing our work to re-sign such a stand-out talent on and off the field in Ben Creagh,? said Dragons Chief Executive Officer Peter Doust.?Everyone at the Dragons is extremely happy that the core of our young NRL roster is happy to stay together and I am sure our supporters will be as well.?All have contributed to helping the Club balance our salary cap as I am sure they would have attracted significant offers on the open market?.Creagh, 21, cut short a promising basketball career to begin playing rugby league with Wollongong University at 14 years of age. In 2002 he played in the Grand Final qualifying Jersey Flegg side coached by Nathan Brown, alongside many of his current NRL team mates.The local junior made his NRL debut the following year against the Warriors in Round 22 and has played 56 first grade games to date. Last year Creagh was chosen in the NSW Origin Squad and was the youngest Kangaroo Tourist.?I am very very happy to be staying with the Dragons,? said Creagh.?This is a wonderful Club full of great people and I am looking forward to enjoying the next three years with the players and people around me?.Dragons Coach Nathan Brown was equally as excited to retain another rising star.?It is great news that we are able to keep Benny, he is a wonderful talent and it would have been disappointing for him to leave at 21 when he is yet to achieve his full potential,? said Brown.?It just shows the commitment that he and the others who have decided to stay have to our Club?.
SATURDAY July 1 sees the beginning of the Auckland Rugby League Lion Red Fox Memorial second round. Seven games played and seven remaining to determine the make up of the top five going into the play-offs. Fox competitions tend to very tight affairs but this one seems more so than usual and only four points separate second place to eighth place. Only the Mt Albert Lions stand out above the rest on 13 points but a quick glance at their ?for and against? shows that they haven?t exactly been flogging the others, but, like every other comp, a win by a point is still a win.It?s just too hard to pick a top five at this point. Mangere East, Papakura and Northcote all sit below the Lions on eight points. It may be pertinent to remember that two of Northcote?s points come from an East Coast Bays unregistered player indiscretion.Below these four teams, we have Te Atatu on six, East Coast Bays on five and Otahuhu and Marist on the bottom of the table, both with four points.For Auckland Rugby League, this is the first year of revamping this venerable competition, with a major step up in prize money and increased promotion, although this cynical old writer is yet to see much increase in promotion. To be fair, they have employed a full time ?Projects Manager? to work the promotions aspect and I do accept that these things often take some time. The manager is well known League identity, Gordon Gibbons, who, given time should bring some entrepreneurial aspects to the comp.Tomorrows games promise some fascinating match ups. Game of the round is undoubtedly the Mangere East v Papakura clash at Walter Massey Park. The Mangere club have been dogged by losing top players to the Counties Manukau Jetz Bartercard franchise and it?s not a hugely happy camp out in South Auckland. Papakura appear to be struggling a bit this season, but have still managed to rack up three wins.Cellar dwellers, Marist and Otahuhu hit out at Halberg Park. The Leopards are another club who have had two points deducted for not being in good order and they may find this very expensive at the business end of the season. Marist have managed a win and two draws and really are not that far off the pace.Te Atatu host Mt Albert at Jack Colvin Park. Te Atatu were the club to be in receipt of the two points removed from Otahuhu, so they are actually looking better than their two wins and five losses would suggest. They have a wily old coach in Del Hughes but I would tip another loss for them tomorrow with the Lions being on something of a roll.The North Shore derby between the Northcote Tigers and East Coast Bays Barracudas promises to provide huge entertainment and lots of fire. A true mate against mate encounter with no quarter given or received. East Coast Bays will be all out to get their points back off their neighbours.All games commence at 2.30pm.
MELBOURNE Storm Centre Jake Webster has become the Gold Coast Titans 17th signing agreeing to a 3 year deal with the fledgling club.
MANLY and Newcastle open round 17 of the NRL tonight with both clubs desperate for a win to stay on track for a finals berth. The Knights have lost four games in a row to slump from first to sixth on the NRL ladder, while the Sea Eagles are seventh after back-to-back losses.
MELBOURNE centre Jake Webster has signed a three-year deal with new NRL club the Gold Coast Titans. The New Zealand international becomes the 17th player to join the Titans and the third Storm player behind hooker Nathan Friend and fullback Steve Turner.Webster, 22, rejected an offer from Cronulla to head to south-east Queensland where his family is based. Queensland Origin forward Jacob Lillyman has agreed to re-sign with battling NRL club North Queensland for an additional two seasons. The 22-year-old debuted for the Maroons in their 30-6 thumping of New South Wales in Origin II but has been replaced by Brisbane hardman Tonie Carroll for Wednesday night's decider in Melbourne.Coach Graham Murray has named Lillyman on the bench for North Queensland's match against South Sydney in Townsville where the desperate Cowboys hope to halt a six-match losing streak.Catalans Dragons have signed Australian utility back Clint Greenshields on a three-year contract from St George Illawarra. The 24-year-old will join the French club next season and complete their overseas quota following the recent signings of Adam Mogg and Casey McGuire.
OFF to the Market to pick up a bargain
THIS time of year is very critical in determining the fate of each team as we approach the Origin decider in Melbourne next Wednesday. After trying to get their players into a rhythm all year, coaches will no doubt be chewing the corner off their clipboard as the prospect of being able to pick from their entire squad, injuries and suspension aside, for the remainder of the season becomes a reality.A deadly battle for top 8 positions is underway and I?m giving everyone down to the Warriors a shot at making the finals although I?m worried about both the Tigers and Panthers. With rep players suited up in the stands this weekend, tips will rely heavily on who their replacements are, but there?s only six games this round and that?s one less to get wrong than usual.The judges gave me 5 from 7 last week and I?ve put a couple of decent rounds back-to-back furnishing a cumulative total of 71/111 (64%) but I?m still doing it tough to make an impact. It reminds me of the time Little Miss Muffett tried to invade Turkey ? she had Kurds in her way.Sea Eagles v KnightsStraight off the bat we?ve got a tough one and it shapes as another in our recent line of outstanding Friday night games.For large parts of last week?s game I thought Manly were the better team and if Matai keeps running right at the end there, perhaps they would have got the result. Hodges took an intercept from a poor pass and some individual brilliance by Tate also got them over the line. It has punched a few holes in Fortress Brooky?s reputation but Newcastle haven?t won there since 1998 and that?s the only time in their history that they have.Manly are without Burns through suspension and Menzies through rep duty, which does weaken them a bit. Kite was dropped from NSW so he is starting at prop and Michael Witt gets his first crack in the top grade this season. Moving on to Newcastle, Hinton hasn?t impressed me at the back and they are really missing Thaiday. Kurt Gidley is injured with Buderus and Simpson out on NSW duty and recently the Knights have struggled without Bedsy in particular. There?s not too many holes in the rest of the team though.This is a hard pick with Newcastle sustaining four consecutive losses and the Sea Eagles two. In cases like this you tend to go with the home side but I?m going to lean against that this week. Whilst Newcastle are out of form I think the forwards cancel themselves out and the Knights have the better looking backline and will win the game there. I?m very disappointed that Carmont cut his hair as I was salivating at the potential clash of the pony-tails when he lines up against Matai.Warriors v PanthersSuper Saturday takes off in the Shaky Isle as the Panthers travel to Auckland to tackle a resurgent Warriors outfit.Penrith?s card isn?t looking too flash (6/14) but they were back in the winners circle last week after a three match losing streak and seven losses from their previous nine starts. Gower is lost to the club again after he was called up for NSW. Wesser is also out after jagging a wing spot for the Maroons. This forces Lewis to pull on the no.6 (sound vaguely familiar?), Youngquest goes to fullback and the rest of the backline sorts itself out. The pack is still pretty good.I don?t think they?re going to be any match for the Warriors at home though, and fair dinkum you Kiwi?s better show up this week! You deserted them against Newcastle and had free entry last week, so fair?s fair, get out to Ericsson Stadium and cheer them on. The backrow is playing unreal footy right now and even with Price out they still look imposing. The week before the last Origin game Wiki lifted, as he tends to do when Price is unavailable, so I think we can expect more of the same on Saturday. With Rovelli in the groove and Webb, Martin and Mannering all playing well I think they?ll get the chocolates here. I just hope they realise the Panthers will put up a bit more resistance than Souths.Raiders v EelsNext the Eels slither down the Hume Highway to play the red-hot Raiders outfit.Parramatta are coming off the bye and suffering from several internal dysfunctions that have cruelled their season. The team they?re fielding is as good as it gets for the visitors but I?m not sure they can?t take the Raiders if they put their minds to it. The likes of McKinnon, Morris, Smith, Moimoi and Morrison should see that they put up a good fight, but I don?t think they can win.Canberra are at near full-strength and despite the loss of Schifcofske, still boast an excellent backline. Learoyd-Lahrs, Tilse and Tongue played well last week and will back up again in fine fashion. My money is on the Raiders here and with their good form, coupled with Parra coming off the bye, I think they?re a good thing. Cowboys v Rabbitohs Finally, we travel to FNQ where the Rabbitohs look to recover from their worst loss ever. Somehow I don?t think Townsville is the place to do it.After a six game losing streak things are looking pretty grim for the Cowboys. They are outside the top 8 after leading for the first six weeks and playmaker Johnathan Thurston is on rep duty this week. But Williams makes a return as will a couple of rookies.As for the Rabbitohs, well this is the sort of game they could win from time to time. After being on the receiving end of a shellacking last week they really have nothing to lose this week. Their record at Dairy Farmers isn?t an overwhelming one, but with the changes they?ve made they could be competitive.But I?m going to stick with the home team to win here, I just think the Cowboys will have too much class. Broncos v SharksIf there?s one thing we?ve learnt over the past few weeks, it?s that we need to respect the Sharks.Personally, I don?t think I?ve paid as much respect to them as I should have; case in point last week v Newcastle. Anyhow, this week is a different matter. They have won their last four games in a row, but they?ve also lost their last four games against the Broncos. Home ground seems to be little advantage, but it slightly favours the Broncos.This week it will be a different case as the Sharkies catch a budget flight to Brisbane to meet the under strength Broncos. With a few injuries and their contribution to Origin, it?s hard to see anything but a victory to the visitors here, as they possess a superior backline and forward pack.Also, I thought that the Broncos were a bit fortunate against the Sea Eagles last week and look due for a loss. Similarly, Cronulla should have won by more and they?ll probably scrape home in this one and make it look like they weren?t really trying.Tigers v BulldogsI lost a bit of respect for the Tigers after last week?s defeat at the hands of Penrith. I think the loss suggests they may have forgotten how to win tight games, similar to the Manly game in round 14. And with Benji out they don?t have a ?go to? man at the moment. I?m sorry, but here I go again telling Tim Sheens how to pick teams. I?m no supercoach, but in the past the only bloke who?s done any good as a replacement five-eighth has been Ben Galea. I know, he?s a bit slow but he?s got a football brain on him. So by moving Farah to halfback you weaken an important position at hooker and also take the running of the game out of Prince?s hands. If Galea were to play 5/8 you could use him as an extra forward and let Prince roam free whilst not affecting the backrow considering the depth of talent they have there. At least Lolesi is back in the three-quarters again, so look for him to have a big game against his former club.The Bulldogs are missing Mason, O?Meley and Myles from their line-up but the exclusion of Ryan from the Blues outfit left a few people mystified, myself included. He?ll no doubt look to have a strong game just to remind everyone he can still play. Looking at their pack it?s still pretty impressive with Asotasi, Sonny Billy, Maitua and aforementioned Ryan. Tonga is back from injury and Utai from suspension so that adds to their firepower in the backs.A significant difference between the two teams is their respective benches. Whilst the Tigers? interchange players appear much stronger they haven?t had a lot of footy in them this year. Overall the Tigers have won 5 of the last 8 games between the clubs, but they were touched up 47-12 earlier in the year and I think the Doggies will get them again.The Dragons, Roosters and the Storm have the bye in Round 17. Given all their individual circumstances it?s probably a great time for each club to have a week off. The Dragons and Storm are riding high on the table and have a few people involved in State of Origin meaning they would have been under strength. Neither team can go backwards on the ladder, so that?s a good thing. The Roosters are in strife though, and look to have ?Jumped the Shark? for 2006. Blokes are swearing at each other on the field and the coach reckons it?s a good thing?whatever.
THE Dolphins now in their second full week back at training after the Christmas break. Coach Anthony Griffin and trainer Tony Guilfoyle have been putting the players through some tough sessions culminating in a tough cross country run at veteran prop Troy Lindsay?s property in the Caboolture hinterland. Both Griffin and Guilfoyle are happy with the work the players are putting in and can see marked improvement in some.Griffin nominated the senior players for special mention for their effort and leadership they have shown the younger players.