WE are just past the halfway mark of the NRL season and it is time to announce the inaugural TV Commentator Awards for 2006.
THE Sharks are celebrating the news that in-form winger, Luke Covell, has signed a new two year contract to remain at the club. While goalkicking is what he is best known for, Covell has developed into a top class winger while at the Sharks.
SOME big scorelines from the week gone by has seen us put out a team with a penchant for attacking footy. The Warriors, Raiders and Dragons all racked up a few points against their opponents leaving us with some hard-fought contests where the Storm, Sharks and Broncos all played outstanding Rugby League. Penrith also got the money at home against the Tigers, with their season looking a bit gloomy these days. But not so for the Round 16 League Unlimited Team of the Week who just keep going from strength to strength.
EASTS has thrown a cat among the pigeons with a defiant 28-24 win over Redcliffe, unsettling the Dolphins from top spot and consolidating the Tigers? grip on fifth place.The big surprise of Round 14 was secured by two tries shortly after halftime, following an 18-14 advantage to Redcliffe at the break.Easts could have won by even more, were it not for an uncharacteristic off-day with the boots for goal-kicker Luke Branighan.Seemingly out of the finals equation just a fortnight ago when they lost comprehensively to Norths, the Tigers are now exerting pressure on fourth-placed Tweed Heads.?We?ve got the consistency back in our game and we?re finally playing for 80 minutes,? noted coach Michael Booth.?The boys have been putting in plenty of hard work, we?ve had a lot of setbacks with injuries and been pumped a few times, so it?s a very satisfying result.?Aside from their pre-existing woes, Easts also lost two players in the final 24 hours before the weekend?s clash. Centre Mark McKenzie pulled his hamstring during a light run, while Damian Durnford left the squad at 10am on game day to witness the birth of his child.Shane Neumann and Alec Fata were called in as the replacements and both played well. Neumann scored one of the key second-half tries to give the Tigers their fourth win against the Dolphins from their last six games.?It?s put a spring in the players? steps and the coach is not so cranky,? said Booth.In stark contrast, Redcliffe has been left to look over its shoulder, almost dropping back to third following a big win for Toowoomba against Ipswich.Seven members of the Dolphins squad still gained selection for the XXXX City team, coming in a season where the red-and-whites have lost just three games.Matt Lockyer and Branighan are the only players from Easts picked for City. Both were praised highly for their performance against the Dolphins, along with Steele Retchless and Mark Cantoni.The most surprising person to earn plaudits however was referee Michael Wise; earning a rare compliment from Booth, a coach not averse to taking match officials to task.?I think everyone got a good game of football because of him,? Booth said."I?ve been very critical of referees this season, but to their credit they are starting to interpret the ruck the same way.?Easts will next play against Wynnum Manly at Langlands Park on Saturday, July1. The same day Redcliffe meets Burleigh at Pizzey Park. EASTS 28 (Donald Malone 2, Matt Lockyer 2, Shane Neumann, John Tamanika tries; Luke Branighan 2 goals) d REDCLIFFE 24 (Ryan Cullen, Michael Roberts, Nick Emmett, Alwyn Simpson tries; Gerard Parle 4 goals) at Dolphin Oval.
LEEDS Rhinos hope to secure an early arrival of Kiwi and New Zealand Warriors centre Clinton Toopi so he can join them in time to boost their squad for the Super League title run-in.
Toopi was due to arrive at Headingley on a three-year deal from next season.
ST George Illawarra Backrower Ashton Sims has today agreed to terms with the Club for a further two seasons, until the end of the 2008 season.Sims, 21, began his rugby league career in Gerringong and has played 57 NRL games since making his debut in Round 9 of the 2003 season.This season started well for the local junior when he was named in the Australian Train-On Squad in January, but a wrist injury has sidelined him since Round 10, with his return to the field expected in Round 20.?I am very happy to have my future sorted, especially given that I have missed so many games of late,? said Sims.?I grew-up in this area and am very happy here at the Dragons.?I wanted to remain at the Dragons and am grateful to have this opportunity?.St George Illawarra Coach Nathan Brown said he was happy to know that Sims would be a part of his squad for the next two years.?Ashton is a talented and skillful player who fits well with our team and structure,? said Brown.?We are sure he will continue to improve and I am pleased that he has chosen to remain with us for the next two seasons?.Dragons Chief Executive Officer Peter Doust said he was happy to have finalised Sims?s immediate future with the Club.?Ashton is another outstanding local junior that we are delighted to have him remain with our Club,? said Doust. ?We believe he has accepted less money than what he could attract on the open market to remain a Dragon?.
THE Sydney Roosters Chairman, Mr Nick Politis and two legends of the Bondi Junction club Luke Ricketson and Brad Fittler have issued a joint statement to Roosters fans and critics alike.
THE South Sydney DRLFC has today terminated the services of assistant coach Arthur Kitinas for the 2006 season.Arthur has done a good job in difficult circumstances over the past 18 months as assistant coach, as well as Premier League Coach in 2002 and 2004 and caretaker Head Coach in 2004, but as he was not part of the Club?s plans for 2007 and beyond the Club felt it was time to implement changes now.Mark Ellison will step into a more senior role as Shaun McRae?s assistant and current Parramatta Head Coach Jason Taylor will be joining Souths in 2007. Scott Murray, who has been Mark Ellison?s assistant in Premier League, will assume the role of Premier League Coach.
NEW South Wales utility Ben Hornby will have scans this afternoon and is in some doubt for next week's series deciding State of Origin clash after injuring his groin at training.Hornby tweaked his groin while taking part in a ballwork session before being assessed by the Blues medical staff. Blues officials will wait until after they have the results of the scans before deciding whether or not a shadow player will be called into camp.Hornby says he is confident of overcoming the complaint in time for next Wednesday's match. The rest of the Blues side completed their first session in Melbourne without hiccup, new halves Craig Gower and Mark Gasnier having their first run together as they look to develop a combination ahead the Telstra Dome match.The Queensland State of Origin rugby league camp has been hit by a stomach virus with three players laid up in bed as a result.Prop Petero Civoniceva has yet to join the camp in Melbourne after being the first to contract the illness. He is due to fly in to Melbourne later this evening. Fellow forwards Nate Myles and Sam Thaiday are the latest victims of the stomach bug with both confined to their rooms.Neither will train with the rest of the Maroons squad this afternoon. With the series deciding match at Telstra Dome still a week away, Maroons coach Mal Meninga says none of the three players are in any doubt for the game.
ST George Illawarra Front Rower Justin Poore has today agreed to terms with the Club for a further three seasons, until the end of the 2009 season.
ST George Illawarra Prop Michael Henderson today became the 16th signing of the NRL?s newest club the Gold Coast Titans.
RUGBY league great Andrew Johns will play cricket for New South Wales in at least two Twenty20 matches next season. Cricket New South Wales has announced Johns will play against South Australia at Newcastle's No.1 Sports Ground on January 7 and at Telstra Stadium in Sydney on January 10.
WESTS Tigers coach Tim Sheens believes the unlikely State of Origin pairing of Mark Gasnier and Craig Gower could provide a long-term solution to the NSW halves crisis.Blues selectors have gambled on Test centre Gasnier at pivot, despite the fact he has played just four full games in the position for club side St George Illawarra.With few five-eighth options available following the representative retirement of the Dragons' Trent Barrett and the poor form of Sydney Roosters playmaker Braith Anasta, Sheens believes the current Blues pairing could become a regular one.
GB v NZ 2006 Great Britain 46 v New Zealand 14at Knowsley Road, St HelensReferee: Steve ClarkMatch Summary:Great Britain have run out convincing 46-14 winners over New Zealand at Knowsley Road in today's Test Match, in front of a healthy (and vocal) home crowd that certainly had plenty to cheer about.The Kiwis started the match looking like the stronger team, and were able to claim the first try through giant winger Lesley Vainikolo. But from that promising early start, things went rapidly downhill as the Kiwis struggled to contain a fired-up Great Britain pack that was able to find plenty of space all over the paddock.The Lions had reclaimed the lead by the 7th minute through Danny McGuire, and two further tries to Sean Long and debutant James Graham gave them an 18-4 lead at the break. Unfortunately for the home side, captain Paul Sculthorpe was forced from the field with knee ligament damage early in the match, and couldn't take any further part in the game.The Kiwis weren't too worried about the half-time deficit, and returned to the field with the hope that they would finish the match strongly. However, three tries to Great Britain within the first 12 minutes quickly proved this theory to be slightly inaccurate.The Lions continued to ram home their advantage, and pushed the score out to 36-4 before the Kiwis were able to hit back. Iafeta Paleaaesina managed to score thanks to an error from the home team, but normal service quickly resumed with further tries to Ade Gardner and Sean Long rubbing salt into some gaping Kiwi wounds.Every player for Great Britain put in a tremendous performance in this match. Stand-outs included fullback Paul Wellens, halves McGuire & Long, and a pack of forwards that were determined not to take a backwards step. Roosters prop Adrian Morley contributed strongly, and received strong support from Fielden, Newton and debutant James Graham.The Kiwis have promoted this match as a chance for some "lesser-lights" to press for inclusion in their Tri-Nations squad, and unfortunately several players may have written themselves out of the script. David Kidwell and David Solomona tried hard to produce some spark, but the team was obviously affected by the lack of an established halves combination. Ben Roberts tried hard in his International debut and has a promising future, but certainly isn't ready for this level of competition just yet.Scorers:Great Britain: 46Tries: Danny McGuire(2), James Graham(2), Sean Long(2), Keith Senior, Ade GardnerGoals: Sean Long 6/7, Paul Sculthorpe 1/1New Zealand: 14Tries: Henry Fa'afili, Iafeta Paleaaesina, Lesley VainikoloGoals: Stacey Jones 1/1, Ben Roberts 0/1, Motu Tony 0/1Halftime: GB 18-4By the Clock:TEAM LINE-UPS:Great Britain: Wellens, Gardner, Gleeson, Senior, Pryce; McGuire, Long; Fielden, Cunningham, Morley, Peacock, Ellis, Sculthorpe; Newton, Gilmour, Graham, O'Loughlin.New Zealand: Toopi, Vainikolo, Hape, Talau, Fa'afili; Roberts, Jones; Chan, Tony, Paleaaesina, Lauitiiti, Solomona, Kidwell; Paul, Hansen, Anderson, Betham.Welcome to Knowsley Road! The teams are taking the field to a rousing reception from a healthy looking crowd. No rain at the moment, but apparently the ground is still pretty wet.KICKOFF: We're underway!3 min: TRY New ZealandThe Kiwi forwards have steamrolled Great Britain with their first use of the ball, and moved straight into a good attacking position. Stacey Jones puts up a huge cross-field bomb, and Lesley Vainikolo gets on top of his opposite number to claim the try.Ben Roberts misses the conversion attempt. New Zealand 4-07 min: TRY Great BritainTwo penalties conceded by the Kiwis give Great Britain plenty of attacking possession, and Danny McGuire is able to dummy his way through the defensive line to cross in the corner.Paul Sculthorpe nails a great conversion from out wide. Great Britain 6-412 min: Great Britain are looking sharp out here, and the Kiwis are conceding plenty of penalties which isn't making their job any easier!13 min: VIDEO REF - Keiron Cunningham tries a trademark barge-over from dummy half, but is ruled to have lost the ball within plenty of Kiwi defense.13 min: The Kiwis are awarded their first penalty of the match, but they don't find touch with their kick!15 min: Stacey Jones misses out on a 40/20 kick by a matter of inches.16 min: Paul Sculthorpe has left the field and headed straight up the tunnel.18 min: The Kiwis survive an attacking set from Great Britain with some desperate defence on their own line.23 min: With the Kiwis just metres out from the Great Britain tryline, Clinton Toopi throws a "Toopi Special" that goes 20 metres backwards.25 min: A half-chance for the Kiwis - Stacey Jones spots a gap and tears up the middle, but his offload is snaffled by Terry Newton.26 min: TRY Great BritainFollowing a dropped ball from Willie Talau on his own 20-metre line, Terry Newton spots some space up the blindside that is well exploited by Keith Senior and Leon Pryce. James Graham is on hand to complete the movement and score a great try.Sean Long adds the extras. Great Britain 12-431 min: A huge Sean Long bomb is well claimed by Henry Fa'afili, who managed to hang on by his fingertips despite falling over at the same time.32 min: TRY Great BritainTerry Newton creates some space by attracting four defenders yet still managing to off-load the ball. Paul Wellens picks it up and passes to Sean Long, who is able to skip through for a try under the posts.Long converts his own try. Great Britain 18-435 min: NO TRY - Great Britain dot down in the corner through Ade Gardner, but the pass he received from Martin Gleeson is called forward.39 min: The Kiwis pull out every concievable off-load in an attempt to add to their score before halftime - it looks fantastic, but ultimately unsuccessful.40 min: A scrum win to the Kiwis on the stroke of half-time sees Stacey Jones put up a monster bomb to the corner, but Great Britain are able to get the ball over the sideline.HALFTIME: Great Britain 18 New Zealand 4Injury update: Paul Sculthorpe has suffered possible knee ligament damage, and won't be back for this match (at least).41 min: The second half is underway! Great Britain recover their own kickoff with a great chase.42 min: Gareth Ellis drops the ball with the tryline beckoning - a definite letoff for the Kiwis here.46 min: ON REPORT - Lesley Vainikolo, for a dangerous throw on Martin Gleeson.47 min: TRY Great BritainThe ensuing penalty gives Great Britain another attacking chance - this time, Paul Wellens makes a great bust up the middle and off-loads to Keith Senior for an easy run to the line.Sean Long kicks the extra two. Great Britain 24-449 min: TRY Great BritainIt's a carve-up!! Sean Long puts through a nice kick to the blindside that the Kiwis aren't able to contain. Paul Wellens picks up the loose ball and passes to James Graham, who is able to run 30 metres untouched to score his second try.Sean Long steps up again and adds another two points. Great Britain 30-452 min: The Kiwis are looking a bit shell-shocked now. Possession is running 70/30 in Great Britain's favour this half.53 min: TRY Great BritainFrom a scrum win 40 metres out, Danny McGuire receives the ball and jinks through some shaky Kiwi defence to claim his second try.Sean Long adds yet another conversion. Great Britain 36-458 min: The Kiwis are showing very little sign of being able to score again in this match, and are being completely out-enthused here.60 min: As usual, I've spoken too soon. The Kiwis have forced a goal-line drop out - can they score again??62 min: TRY New ZealandThe Great Britain defence held firm, but on attack Adrian Morley fumbles the ball straight to Iafeta Paleaaesina. "Feka" is able to crash over the line and claim a much-needed Kiwi try.Stacey Jones kicks the conversion. Great Britain 36-1065 min: Ali "Afroman" Lauitiiti knocks-on as the Kiwis continue to try and spark their attacking machine into gear.66 min: Another Great Britain fumble is claimed by Paleaaesina - who is penalised straight away for an incorrect play-the-ball.68 min: TRY Great BritainGreat Britain continue to swing the ball from sideline to sideline - and this time, Ade Gardner takes advantage of some space created by Martin Gleeson to cross untouched in the corner.Sean Long's conversion from out wide is waved away. Great Britain 40-1071 min: VIDEO REF - Great Britain are claiming a bizarre try here ...71 min: TRY Great BritainSean Long kicks deep, and the chasers are put onside by a Kiwi touch. Leon Pryce is then able to chip infield, and Stuart Fielden shows some remarkable soccer skills to get the ball around Robbie Paul. From there, Sean Long picks up the scraps and slides in for his second try.Long converts. Great Britain 46-1077 min: Leon Pryce throws Henry Fa'afili into touch with a great tackle while the Kiwis were looking dangerous out wide.80 min: TRY New ZealandIt took another 77 minutes, but another Kiwi attacking raid has finally paid off! Following a scrum win, the ball finds its way to Ali Lauitiiti who creates space for his outside men with a nice offload. Henry Fa'afili is backing up and scores in the corner.Motu Tony takes the conversion attempt, but it's waved away. Great Britain 46-14FULLTIME: Great Britain 46 New Zealand 14As the score suggests, there was pretty much only one side in the match tonight. Great Britain were strong across the park and have claimed a well-deserved victory over a rusty-looking Kiwis team.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Paul Wellens (Great Britain)2 - Sean Long (Great Britain)1 - Terry Newton (Great Britain)-----------------------------------------
FRIDAY, 30th June 2006