Jets v Parramatta

SUNDAY, 28th May 2006Parramatta StadiumVB Premier LeagueNewtown v ParramattaKick-Off: 1.00pmDespite two recent defeats, Parramatta remains the benchmark team in the 2006 VB Premier League competition. This match will be a good test for the Jets, with the Eels looking to regain their composure back in front of their home crowd. There could well be late changes to both Premier League sides depending on how the State of Origin players in both NRL teams shape up for Sunday.There are no Jim Beam Cup fixtures this weekend.The Sydney Roosters NRL squad will be at the Jets Sports Club on Sunday evening, 28th May.The Sydney Roosters NRL squad and coaching staff will be at the Jets Sports Club at 6.30pm, Sunday, 28th May, following their NRL match against Parramatta at Parramatta Stadium earlier that afternoon. All the Roosters NRL players will be available for autograph signing, signing jerseys and other memorabilia items.Come along and meet Rugby League internationals like Adrian Morley, Craig Wing, Craig Fitzgibbon, Braith Anasta, Iosia Soliola and Anthony Minichiello and State of Origin representatives Brett Finch, Chris Flannery, Ashley Harrison and John Doyle, as well as all the other Roosters NRL and Newtown Jets VB Premier League squad members.Every child in attendance at the club will receive a free gift package!Spread the word to all your friends and neighbours for them to bring their children along to meet the mighty Roosters live at the Jets Sports Club on Sunday, 28th May.The Jets Sports Club is located in Holbeach Avenue, Tempe. Phone: 1300 36 36 90 or 95584043.

Bears Round 12 Lineups

THIS weekend the Bears are back at North Sydney Oval for a what should be a couple of tough matches against the Canberra Raiders. Barring any injuries to Melbourne Storm Origin players, both Chris Walker and Jamie Feeney should hopefully be available for the Red and Blacks.Jersey Flegg will play at 1:00 p.m. followed by the the Premier Leaguematch at 2:30 p.m. Bears Weekend LineupsPremier League1. Andrew Moodie 2. Daniel Watkins 3. Ryan Shortland 4. Filinga Filiga 5. Karl Johnson 6. Daniel Russell (c) 7. James Maloney 8. Aaron Trinder 9. Ben Ellis 10. Ben Cross 11. Scott Perrin 12. Matt Bartlett 13. Luke Fatnowna 14. Ryan Russell 15. Bede Tuohy 16. Michael Harper 17. Anthony Beare 20. Brad Domek 21. Chris Saab 22. Eddie Sua Jersey Flegg1. Daniel Phillips 2. Chris Heasman 3. Matt McDougall 4. Jason Saliba 5. Ryan Wilson 6. Blayden Baird 7. Gavin Duncan 8. Mafi Lolohea 9. Chris Dears 10. Pio Rokomaqisa 11. Mick Morris 12. Arnold Mano 13. Blayne Davis 14. Tala Ah-Fa 15. James Vainakolo 16. Michael Jones 17. Sean Bovis 18. Liam Foran 19. Tim McDonald 20. Tupou Peaua

Carnival Showdown at Kawana

THE RIGHT to represent Queensland will be at stake this weekend, when the most talented players outside the Wizard Cup face off in the QRL Division Open Age Carnival at Quad Park, Kawana.

Qld Cup 2006 Reaches Halfway Mark

WHICH Norths player aims to be a hometown hero when the Wizard Cup takes a special expedition to Bundaberg on Saturday night? What club has nine top-line players out injured? When was the last time Souths Logan beat Toowoomba? Read our Round 11 preview notes for answers to these questions and more.IPSWICH v EASTSQLD Group Stadium, Saturday May 27, 2.00pm *Live on ABC TVReferee: Clayton SharpeTHE STORY: Ipswich welcomes back skipper Danny Coburn from suspension as it aims to lift itself off the bottom of the Wizard Cup ladder. Opponent Easts is just as hungry, having not experienced victory since April 9. The two sides play biannually for the Luxury Paints Cup, with the away team winning in both clashes last year.THE STAT: Easts has at least nine top-line players missing through injury, with Marcus Jensen breaking his jaw in the club?s two-point loss to Tweed Heads. Others out are Steele Retchless (quad), Kev Stephensen (wrist), Aaron Kuskey (knee), Steve Beattie (knee), Anthony Armour (back), Drew Donovan (back), Michael Pearce (shoulder) and Jason Bulgarelli (calf).THE STAR: Ipswich utility Travis Baker played centre for Easts in the 1997 grand final against Redcliffe. The only remaining Tigers from then are Brett McPherson and Scott Sipple.CHANGES: IPSWICH ? In: Danny Coburn, Paul Jackwitz. Out: Lachlan Sippel, Andy Poynter. EASTS ? In: Trevor Exton, Alec Fata. Out: Marcus Jensen, Steve Goodhew.CHARGES: None.Ipswich Jets 1. Aaron WERTH 2. Ben McFADGEAN 3. Geoff CHALK 4. Chris SCANLAN 5. Jarrod BIGGS 6. Brendon MARSHALL 7. Ricky BIRD13. Danny COBURN (c)12. Joel REITHMULLER11. Matthew McPHEE10. Paul JACKWITZ 9. Chris PORTER 8. Joe SANG-YUMInterchange: 14. Mananui TE HEU HEU15. Bevan HEUIR16. Cameron MULCAHY17. Travis BAKERCoach: Trevor GILLMEISTER Easts Tigers1. Matt LOCKYER (C) 2. Donald MALONE 3. Shane NEUMANN 4. Mark McKENZIE 5. David TYRELL 6. Luke BRANIGHAN 7. Brett McPHERSON13. Mark CANTONI12. Mark MEREDITH11. Marty ALLEN10. Cameron DURNFORD 9. Jamie TOMLINSON 8. Scott SIPPLEInterchange: 14. Trevor EXTON15. Damian DURNFORD16. John TAMANIKA17. Alec FATACoach: Michael BOOTH SOUTHS LOGAN v TOOWOOMBABrandon Park, Saturday May 27, 3.00pm.Referee: Brett SuttorTHE STORY: After years of torment at the hands of the Clydesdales, Souths Logan would dearly love to gain revenge with its new-look side. Unfortunately for the Magpies they have lost try-thief Damian Willis to suspension and prop Geno Costin to injury. Fellow prop Josh Griffiths is also at long odds to play.THE STAT: Souths Logan has not beaten Toowoomba since June 30, 1996. In the last five seasons Toowoomba has averaged 52.2 points per game against the long-suffering Pies.THE STAR: Denan Kemp was a try-scorer for Queensland Under 19 against NSW Under 19 at Telstra Stadium on Wednesday. Had he arrived in the Wizard Cup at any other time than the Greg Inglis ?explosion?, his own feats would have raised more eyebrows. Since converting from soccer he has posted 16 tries in just 15 appearances.CHANGES: SOUTHS LOGAN ? In: John Andrews, Josh Henaway, Tim Cannard. Out: Damian Willis, Geno Costin, Tanu Wulf. TOOWOOMBA ? In: Leon Bott, Joel Moon, Lachlan Morgan. Out: Josh Phelps, Brett Seymour, Greg Eastwood.CHARGES: SOUTHS LOGAN ? Damian Willis (Grade 4 Dangerous Throw, Downgrade + Early Plea, 3wks + 93pts).Souths Logan Magpies 1. Quentin LAULU-TOGAGAE 2. Tyrone COPPEDGE 3. Michael ANSCHAU 4. John ANDREWS 5. Matt TEMPLEMAN 6. Brandon COSTIN (c) 7. Phil DENNIS13. Josh HENAWAY12. Tim CANNARD11. Jason MITCHELL10. Angus MARTIN 9. Cameron JOYCE 8. Josh GRIFFITHInterchange: 14. Stanley FAU15. Chris McGURK16. Josh ESSEX17. Dinny KYLECoach: Mark GLIDDON Toowoomba Clydesdales 1. Todd PARNELL 2. Gideon MZEMBE 3. Jamie SIMPSON 4. Leon BOTT 5. Denan KEMP 6. Joel MOON 7. Ben GREEN (c)13. Derricke WATKINS12. Fraser ANDERSON11. Neville COSTIGAN10. Ben VAEAU 9. John TE REO 8. Nick KENNYInterchange: 14. Lynden MURPHY15. Shane EASTWOOD16. Lachlan MORGAN17. Michael GREENCoach: Mark GEE NORTH QLD v WYNNUM MANLYDairy Farmers Stadium, Saturday May 27, 3.30pm.Referee: Michael WiseTHE STORY: The strange anomaly going into this game is that North Queensland was a last-up loser, while Wynnum Manly won in its last start. On the ladder however, the Young Guns are second and the Seagulls are ninth. Talented forward Jacob Lillyman has withdrawn from the Young Guns, while Mark Leafa left the Seagulls for English club Whitehaven on Monday.THE STAT: Former North Queenslander Jimmy Ahmat reaches 99 Wizard Cup games for Wynnum Manly this weekend. He will move to third all-time for the club in the modern State League era, trailing only Clayton Maher (146 games) and David Seage (113).THE STAR: Robert Tanielu ran for 108 metres, made 13 tackles without a single miss and incurred zero errors in his first NRL appearance for North Queensland a fortnight ago. Another strong showing in front of Graham Murray will push his credentials even more.CHANGES: NORTH QLD ? In: Dean Payne, Scott Smith, Scott Bolton, Dean Limpus. Out: Jacob Lillyman, James Andersen, Greg Byrnes, Jamie Frizzo. WYNNUM MANLY ? In: Zac Chisholm. Out: Mark Leafa.CHARGES: None.North Qld Young Guns 1. Jason BARSLEY 2. Neil SWEENEY 3. Josh HANNAY 4. Mark HENRY 5. Dean PAYNE 6. Brent McCONNELL 7. Brett FIRMAN13. Shane MUSPRATT12. Mark DALLE CORT11. Daniel STRICKLAND (c)10. Ray CASHMERE 9. Clint AMOS 8. Robert TANIELUInterchange: 14. Scott SMITH15. Scott BOLTON16. Ben LOWE17. Dean LIMPUSCoach: Mick CRAWLEY Wynnum Manly Seagulls 1. Bill WYATT 2. Rodney BARBA 3. Simon PHILLIPS 4. Steve IRWIN 5. Tangi ROPATI 6. Jimmy AHMAT (c) 7. Daniel SORBELLO13. John BRUCE12. Luke DALZIEL DON11. Darren BAIN10. Gary WINTER 9. Albert TALIPEAU 8. Fili SOFAInterchange: 14. Josh ROVELLI15. Matt ROSS16. Zac CHISHOLM17. Kerry SMITHCoach: Neil WHARTON NORTHS v CENTRAL Salter Oval, Bundaberg, Saturday May 27, 6.30pmReferee: Justin DavisTHE STORY: The first Wizard Cup game to be played in Bundaberg since 1998 will be staged at recently upgraded Salter Oval. Long-time powerhouse Norths will hope that relocating its home game there snaps a five-game losing streak. Devils back-rower Troy Hansen is a former Bundaberg Brothers junior.THE STAT: Norths has made five announced changes to the side which lost 42-10 against Toowoomba, calling on many of the club?s younger stars. In comparison Central has stayed steady with the same side which beat Ipswich 28-14.THE STAR: Former Brisbane, Bulldogs and Melbourne forward Dennis Scott recently likened Norths fullback Smith Samau to Matt Bowen. Word is he is being eagerly sought by a number of clubs. Scott wrote on the Melbourne Storm website that Samau could ?step his way out of a mousetrap?, such is his speed and footwork.CHANGES: NORTHS ? In: Smith Samau, Will Chambers, Jackson Nicolau, James Aubusson, Adam Blair. Out: Daniel Isaac, Josh Tatupu, Nathan Turner, Luke Samoa, Brendan Afitu. CENTRAL ? None announced.CHARGES: NoneNorths Devils 1. Smith SAMAU 2. Aaron MORGAN 3. Will CHAMBERS 4. Jackson NICOLAU 5. Chad LEACH 6. James AUBUSSON 7. Isaac KAUFMANN13. Anthony BOYD12. Troy HANSEN11. Aaron BULOW10. Scott ANDERSON 9. Brenton STONIER 8. Adam BLAIRInterchange: 14. Trent HENRICK15. Willie SCANLON16. Sika MANU17. Cody HERRINGTONCoach: Wayne TRELEAVEN Central Comets 1. Jimmy McCONACHY 2. Michael FAIRWEATHER 3. Anthony TOBY 4. Dallas WILLIAMS 5. McConkie TAUASA 6. Scott PORTER 7. Denny LAMBERT13. Mick ESDALE12. Tyron HAYNES11. Andrew DALE10. Marty OBORN 9. Herewini RANGI 8. Aaron SWEENEYInterchange: 14. Kristian MENE15. Mark SINIULA16. Wayne BARNETT17. Jade WOGANDCoach: Matt PARISH TWEED HEADS v REDCLIFFEPiggabeen Complex, Sunday May 28, 3.00pmReferee: Justin EastwoodTHE STORY: In danger of losing pace with front-runners Redcliffe, North Queensland and Toowoomba, fourth-placed Tweed would dearly love a win against the Dolphins. Redcliffe is out in front after last week?s gripping 16-14 win against the Young Guns.THE STAT: After famously getting the jump on Redcliffe 40-38 in their first-ever televised game in 2003, the Seagulls have been unable to beat the Dolphins since, losing five matches in succession.THE STAR: A week after scoring the last-minute match-winner against North Queensland, Rory Bromley has been left to sweat out his inclusion this weekend. If halfback Marty Turner fails a fitness test, he will come into the side at five-eighth, with Chris Fox at halfback. Tweed Heads has managed to successfully fight a dangerous throw charge against Eddie Harrison, one of the club?s best from Round 10.CHANGES: TWEED HEADS ? None announced. REDCLIFFE ? In: Ryan Cullen, Marty Turner. Out: Pat McGill, Rory Bromley.CHARGES: TWEED HEADS ? Eddie Harrison (Grade 1 Dangerous Throw, Not Guilty).Tweed Heads 1. James WOOD 2. Scott ELLA 3. Jay McDERMOTT 4. Josh VAUGHAN 5. Nat BARNES 6. Brad DAVIS 7. Tim MACCAN13. Matt POW12. Tom PRICHARD11. Eddie HARRISON10. Roy FRIEND 9. Matt KING (c) 8. Matt AUSTINInterchange: 14. Jeff MOATE15. Selasi BERDIE16. Dean ALLEN17. Joe CUDMORECoach: Steve MURPHY Redcliffe Dolphins 1. Ryan CULLEN 2. Kaine MANIHERA 3. Greg BOURKE 4. Nick EMMETT 5. Alwyn SIMPSON 6. Chris FOX 7. Marty TURNER13. Gerard PARLE12. Danny BURKE11. Grant FLUGGE10. Adam STARR 9. Michael ROBERTS 8. Troy LINDSAY (c)Interchange: 14. Mark SHIPWAY15. Richie RUSSELL16. Shannon FISH17. Pat GARDNERCoach: Anthony GRIFFIN BURLEIGH ? ByeCHARGES: Scott Sipple (Grade 1 Reckless High Tackle, Downgrade + Early Plea, 0wks +56pts).

Injury news ? Knights, Cowboys

NEWCASTLE coach Michael Hagan will decide later today whether to use hooker Danny Buderus and teenage five-eighth Jarrod Mullen in tonight's NRL showdown against St George Illawarra.

Melbourne Supporters Info - Dragons v Knights

DRAGONS Supporters, After a win over the Warriors and the bye last weekend, the Dragons now join a group of 5 teams sitting on 12 points on the NRL ladder. With this group sitting behind 5 teams leading the race on 16 points, the NRL ladder is in a position rarely seen in the past. This week the Dragons travel to Energy Australia stadium in Newcastle on Friday night to take on the Number 1 team in the comp, Joey Johns' Knights. The MBDS screening of the match will be back at SteakOut at Crown Casino, with the feed from Channel Nine in Sydney at 8:30pm. Should be another classic encounter between the two clubs who have had some great matches over the years. Crown wish to apologise for the inconvenience they caused MBDS members last night when the state of origin feed from Sydney didn?t come through. They also want to make clear that this problem has been repaired and they have a back up plan in place as well. They have assured me that the Friday night and Sunday afternoon matches will continue as well as the remaining State of Origin series. WHAT: Dragons v KnightsWHEN: Friday 26th May, 8:30pmWHERE: SteakOut Sports Bar, Level One Crown Casino GO THE DRAGONS!PS: Great to have Gaz on board for another 5 years!!!

Round 12 NRL preview

WELCOME to Round 12 everyone, following on from our first interstate clash of the season. In years gone by rep fixtures have sapped the players taking part of their full powers at club level, resulting in clubs with fewer reps coming back to the field. But I think this factor is beginning to wane a little as athletes become more professional and their bodies adapt to the rigours of midweek footy.

Warriors and Saints preview

SCRUM-HALF Michael Dobson makes his first appearance for Wigan in Saturday?s derby with St Helens.The Warriors, desperately in need of a win to kick-start their battle against relegation, moved quickly to snap up Dobson after Stacey Jones? recovery from a broken arm signalled the end of his loan spell with Catalans Dragons.Dobson made a big impression with the Dragons, scoring 79 points in his 12 matches, but he will not have experienced the hot-house atmosphere of a Wigan-Saints derby, which is expected to draw a 20,000-plus crowd to the JJB Stadium.He is still a teenager for 48 hours and coach Brian Noble is keen not to put the Canberra reserve under pressure, despite his side?s perilous position at the foot of the table.?He?s come here to enjoy his football so let?s allow him to do that,? he said. ?Placing unrealistic expectations on him would be unfair.?Dobson, fresh from a man-of-the-match display in the Dragons? 34-16 Challenge Cup win at Widnes, takes over from Dennis Moran.Wigan Warriors v St Helens, JJB Stadium, Saturday May 27 2006Wigan 18-man: Ashton, Brown, Dallas, Dobson, Fletcher, Goulding, Higham, Hill, Hock, Logan, McAvoy, O?Loughlin, Orr, Paleaaesina, Richards, Seu Seu, Tickle, Vaealiki.St Helens 18-man: Wellens, Gardner, Lyon, Talau, Meli, Pryce, Long, Fozzard, Cunningham, Cayless, Gilmour, Wilkin, Sculthorpe, Hooper, P. Anderson, V. Anderson, Smith, Fa?asavalu.Referee: A KleinCourtesy http://www.superleague.co.uk/

Catalans and Wakefield preview

KIWI Test legend Stacey Jones will make his eagerly-awaited comeback for the Catalans, after being given the all-clear to face Wakefield in Perpignan on Saturday.The 30-year-old has not played since breaking his arm in the opening minutes of the Dragons? second match of the season at Salford on February 17 but X-rays showed the break has fully healed.Jones whetted the appetite of the Dragons fans with a man-of-the-match performance in the 38-30 win against Wigan on the opening weekend of Super League XI and coach Mick Potter, who arrived at the club a month into the season, cannot wait to watch his little general in action.?His calmness and experience will help us out, just his ability to push and pull the players around,? said Potter.?I haven?t seen him play, apart from on a video of the Wigan game, and I?m certainly looking forward to working with him on the field.?He seems to have a lot of things covered that we?re trying to do. The players have responded to him at training and hopefully his return will boost the crowd a bit.?Wakefield are still without goalkicking stand-off Jamie Rooney, who on Friday signed a new three-year contract, but welcome back French forward Olivier Elima to face his fellow countrymen after a five-match absence.?They?ve got some big and skilful forwards and good strike players like Demetriou and Solomona,? said Potter. ?It makes for an interesting game.? Catalans Dragons v Wakefield, Perpignan Saturday May 26Catalans Dragons 18-man: Berthezene, Casty, Chan, Fakir, Fellous, Frayssinous, Guigue, Guisset, Hindmarsh, Hughes, Jampy, Jones, Mounis, Murphy, Rinaldi, Rudder, Verges, Wilson.Wakefield 18-man: Halpenny, Demetriou, Whittle, Jeffries, Obst, Griffin, Korkidas, Solomona, Betham, White, Wrench, MacGillivray, Elima, Applegarth, Catic, Saxton, Atkins, Watene.Ref: K KirkpatrickCourtesy http://www.superleague.co.uk/

Bradford aiming for Rhinos win

BRADFORD aiming for Rhinos win Bradford have the chance to leapfrog arch-rivals Leeds into second place by completing an engage Super League double over the Rhinos at Odsal on Friday.The Bulls were three points behind the Rhinos until claiming a 20-18 victory at Headingley six weeks ago and can now stake a claim to be the biggest challengers to leaders St Helens, who visit Wigan on Saturday.Leeds have lost three of their last six league matches, all in the absence of their inspirational skipper Kevin Sinfield, but believe they got back in the groove with last week?s 66-0 Challenge Cup win over Rochdale.?We?ve been though a tough patch but we got the right sort of performance at the weekend and hopefully we can build on that,? said Sinfield, who made his comeback from ankle and knee injuries in the cup tie.Bradford, too, hope they are over the worst after losing three of their last five matches, including a poor performance in last Saturday?s cup tie at St Helens, since Steve McNamara took over as head coach from Brian Noble.?We had a tough couple of days after the defeat at Saints,? admitted McNamara. ?We have tried to address the problems that cropped up at Saints.?Any time you under-perform, you want to try and put it right in the next game.?Bradford Bulls v Leeds Rhinos, Odsal, Friday May 26 2006Bradford 18-man: Hape, Deacon, Vagana, Fielden, I. Harris, Johnson, Newton, Lynch, Meyers, Gene, James, Ferres, Vainikolo, Henderson, Langley, B. Harris, St Hilaire, Withers.Leeds 18-man: Donald, Walker, Senior, Smith, McGuire, Burrow, Bailey, Diskin, Peacock, Lauitiiti, Ellis, Sinfield, Millard, Poching, Jones-Buchanan, Feather, Scruton, Williams.Referee: S GansonCourtesy http://www.superleague.co.uk/

Wigan sign Dobson, release Moran

WIGAN Warriors have signed scrum half Michael Dobson until the end of the season.

A night at the Opera

THE fans at Telstra Stadium on Wednesday night, including myself, were treated to an unbelievable spectacle of State of Origin football, as the Blues clinched a thrilling one-point victory.Prior to the 8pm kickoff, there was a resounding buzz in and around the ground as Blues fans flocked in numbers through the turnstiles, while Maroon guernseys were fairly seldom.To add to the unnerving anticipation of the big clash, two men, dressed in a Blues and Maroons jumper respectively jumped out of a plane and parachuted their way onto the sacred State of Origin turf.The match ball was placed in the centre of the ground with 10-minutes to kick-off. It was fittingly placed by a young boy named ?Bogan Campbell?. The name ?Bogan? truly epitomises the Australian culture that is entrenched within State of Origin football.With the loss of injured stars Matt Cooper and Craig Gower before the match, there was a certain aura around the ground, which encompassed lack of expectation from all NSW fans. When replacement half-back Brett Finch snuck over for the first four-pointer during the early stages of the match, the crowd were sent into raptures. The echoing roar was seemingly amplified as a result of the lack of expectation. The Blues forward pack continued to assert their dominance, before Matt King slid over in the corner to send the crowd into party mode.The roar from the crowd for the King try was equally as deafening as the Finch try, although as Willie Mason barged his way across the line in the 22nd minute the thunderous crowd of 72,773 seemed to lower their voice.The crowd, perhaps fearful of a one-sided affair, or the death of Origin, were in a state of shock, as the Blues had raced out to a 14-0 lead at the break, although it very well could have been 18-0 had Brett Hodgson slotted his first two conversions.The first try to Melbourne?s star winger Greg Inglis did little to quell the workings of the Mexican wave, as the four-pointer was seen purely as some sort of consolation for the Maroons.Inglis touched down for the second time with only eight minutes remaining to cut the deficit back to six points, which pushed the crowd to the edge of their seats.Steve Bell then slid over for the Maroons, and when Jonathon Thurstan slotted the conversion the small Queensland contingent within the crowd went wild.The dreaded, eerie feeling of a draw began to sink in, only before Finch booted a field goal to clinch a very memorable victory by one point, and to send the crowd into oblivion.Blues fans partied hard into the night at nearby pubs, while Maroons fans were left to ponder what could?ve been.

Round 12 NRL preview

WELCOME to Round 12 everyone, following on from our first interstate clash of the season. In years gone by rep fixtures have sapped the players taking part of their full powers at club level, resulting in clubs with fewer reps coming back to the field. But I think this factor is beginning to wane a little as athletes become more professional and their bodies adapt to the rigours of midweek footy.

Superleague Round 15 Preview

SUPERLEAGUE moves into the second half of the season on what is a Bank Holiday (long) weekend here in England. The battle for top six play-off places begins in earnest, as does the battle to avoid potential relegation at the other end of the table. Friday night?s televised game sees the Bradford Bulls host the Leeds Rhinos at Odsal. Bradford will be desperate to appease their home fans after putting in what could only be described as a poor showing in last weekend?s Challenge Cup tie against St Helens. Second rower Brett Ferres put pen to paper mid-week to remain at Bradford until the end of 2008. And Brian Smith is now on board for a short-term voluntary consultancy, so this game will show whether his presence can help the Bulls fortunes at all. Mid-week Leeds fans learned that fullback Richie Matthers is leaving the club to ply his trade for the Gold Coast, and there is also conjecture over the future of GB International Chev Walker next season. After a comfortable victory against lower division Rochdale last weekend, the Rhinos will be looking to increase the intensity in this clash to score a vital win.Saturday night?s televised game will be coming from the JJB Stadium where Wigan host St Helens. On current form this should be the greatest of mis-matches, pitting the competition leaders against the cellar-dwellers. There is talk that St Helens may rest International half Sean Long who has been unable to train with the side, and may go into the game with teenager Scott Moore at scrum half. Centre Willie Talau agreed to terms mid-week that will see him staying a Saint until the end of 2008. This is a derby game with a longstanding rivalry between the clubs, so if Wigan are ever going to lift this season you?d think it would be for this match. But after being knocked out of the Challenge Cup by Salford last weekend, Wigan?s confidence must be at an all time low and this clash probably won?t help matters.Also on Saturday evening, Les Catalans host Wakefield in Perpignan, in what should be Stacey Jones? comeback game for the Dragons. The French side were too good for lower division Widnes in their Challenge Cup tie last weekend, which also saw replacement halfback Michael Dobson leave the club with a Man of the Match award in his final game. It will be all systems go for Catalans with their main playmaker back on board, in front of what should be a healthy home crowd. But Wakefield will be fresh following their weekend off having already been knocked out of Cup competition, and have recent re-signed forward Duncan MacGillvray for another two seasons.In the first of Sunday?s games Warrington host Castleford, but will be without club captain Paul Rauhihi who has been ruled out for three months with a back injury. With forward Rob Parker also yet to return from injury the Wolves could be vulnerable up front. Castleford unsuccessfully tried to secure Michael Dobson after his stint with Catalans finished, but will be left to persist with 38-year old veteran Brad Davis as their scrum half. Castleford are another team that will be fresh after a weekend off, but Warrington have the in-from Lee Briers guiding their side around the park, and following a comfortable win over lower division Whitehaven will be looking to put these competition points in the bank.Also on Sunday, Hull host "giant-killers" Huddersfield ? the only team to beat St Helens so far this season. Hull have been slowly returning to form with six league wins on the trot, and will be fresh after not having played Challenge Cup last weekend. Huddersfield have also been more impressive of late, scoring wins over St Helens and Salford, as well as a Challenge Cup win over lower division York last start. This game should be a real tussle with the two points vital for both teams.Finally on Holiday Monday, Salford close the round hosting Harlequins at The Willows. The Londoners will be getting nervous as they are closest to relegation danger if Wigan suddenly regain some form. Mark McLinden has re-signed for another three seasons mid-week, and may make his return from injury in this game. Last weekend Harlequins put 82 points on lower division opposition to progress in the Challenge Cup, but this week will be a different story. Salford haven?t been true to their high-flying early season form of late, with losses to Castleford and Huddersfield in the past month. Other sides are waiting for the Reds to be the team to drop out of finals contention, leaving an opportunity for them to creep into the top six. But their destiny is in their own hands and the rest of their season starts here?Competition Table (after 14 rounds):St Helens 26 Leeds 20 Bradford 19 Hull 18 Warrington 16 Salford 16 Huddersfield 12 Wakefield 10 Castleford 10 Harlequins 9 Catalan 8 Wigan 4

Finch doesn't expect to be in Game 2

NEW South Wales half-back Brett Finch says he's still coming back down to earth following last night's thrilling one point victory over Queensland in the Origin Series opener at Telstra Stadium.Finch capped a wonderful performance with the match winning field goal in the dying minutes of the clash but doesn't hold out much hope of featuring in the return game in Brisbane on June 14. The Sydney Roosters playmaker says he expects Penrith half-back Craig Gower to come back into the side if he is fit.Gower underwent knee surgery yesterday and it is still uncertain if he will be available for the Suncorp Stadium match.

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