Cronulla Handshake lets Josh Hannay Out

The Cronulla Sharks have finally done the right thing and allowed Josh Hannay to exit his contract and find a role elsewhere. More than likely in the UK Super League.

The former Queensland Maroons Origin rep and North Queensland Cowboys star, Hannay was signed to the Cronulla Sharks by previous coach Stuart Raper. When Ricky Stuart arrived, he didn’t have Hannay in his plans and pushed the rangy centre out of reserve grade and into the park football ranks.

To not even allow Josh Hannay to play reserve grade was an outrage. So moves this week by Greg Pierce at the Sharks to allow Hannay to move on are welcomed; and take some of the stench away from the ugly saga that took place.

To his credit, Josh Hannay refused to complain throughout the ordeal. He took it all in his stride and deserves a good deal moving forward.

It would be a shame to lose Hannay from the NRL, at only 27 years old – he still has plenty to offer and is an exciting player to watch. Someone like Hannay would be an ideal fit for the struggling Panthers or Dragons – as he adds plenty of experience and stability to an NRL side.

South Sydney Rabbitohs pip Newcastle Knights Round 16

NRL: South Sydney Rabbitohs 28 def Newcastle Knights 23

It was a nail biting, momentum shifting match as heavy winds blew at Energy Australia Stadium. The Rabbitohs leading early and looking to coast, until the Knights grabbed the initiative and kept it for the next 50 minutes.

Adam McDougall lived up to the hype, having a massive game against his former club. The powerhouse winger sending a post try celebration Russell Crowe’s way with a phone throwing special after he went over early. McDougall setup another try and narrowly missed bagging his second with the video referee correctly awarding a knock-on.

McDougall was aided by the young Knights halves, with Jarrod Mullen and Luke Walsh again putting together some champagne Rugby League. Long cut out balls, then short popped passes leading to tries. It was a full range of tricks from the halves who plyed both sides of the ruck and also together at various stages.

Newcastle will also be happy with the debut by barnstorming winger Cooper Vuna. This guy is an agile big man with speed to burn, putting on a display to burn past David Peachy to score untouched.

But it was to be the Bunnies night. Sean Hampstead nearly handing Newcastle victory with an incorrect call on an alleged Ben Rogers strip. Rogers merely cleared the ruck and McManus spewed the ball out for the Knights. When Hampstead handed the Knights the penalty Luke Walsh waltzed downfield to pot a 20m field goal – seemingly giving the Knights the win.

Souths again injected youngster Issac Luke into dummy half and we will be hearing plenty about this kid. I caught some vision of him last week, and was blown away not only by his dummy half elusive running – but his defence was immaculate. Not only faultless, but he was driving guys back that were twice his size. Issac Luke again showed us his wares, with plenty of work at dummy half and a match breaking scoot between two defenders to setup Roy Asotasi beautifully under the posts to tie the match late.

Man of the match Asotasi is back to career best form. The former Bulldog has said he needs to lift his improving side and not rely on other superstars as he may have done at the Dogs. Asotasi was untouchable most of the night, scoring his first try untouched off a nice Stuart Webb setup play from 5m. But it was every single hitup that the RoyBoy made that was so impressive, he constantly required 3 Knights to bring him down, always poked out of the other side and regularly had the ball carrying arm free – amazing stuff. Asotasi capped off a big night, with a late try off the work of Issac Luke.

Reece Simmonds had an unhappy night after getting a late call up for Nathan Merritt, the lively winger spilling a few balls and looking a little edgy. Simmonds is a class player, but probably got a little nervous after getting his chance tonight. Rounding out the wraps for the Bunnies, halves combination Jeremy Smith and Ben Rogers were well polished tonight. Smith has really become the experienced ship captain these days, driving the team around the park well – knowing when to find touch and rest the forwards and knowing when to spark things up with second phase player and good chatter. Ben Rogers the former Panther has always been someone with plenty of promise. The stocky, crafty pivot is looking the goods this past few weeks. He threw some choice passes, but regularly ran the ball to the line and pierced it too. He has a massive distance kicking game, probably just needs to work on his discipline – although I see him being a mainstay for the Bunnies now.

This win keeps the Rabbitohs in the mix for the Top 8. Sneaking the Souths boys into 8th spot on percentages pending other matches this round.

It makes things tougher for Newcastle however, with the Knights and Brian Smith heading to his old house in Parramatta – Cumberland Oval, or Parramatta Stadium as they call it these days. It’s Hagan v Knights and Smith v Eels – with the homeground being oh so important. We wait with anticipation for the big one next Monday Night – It’s going to be big time Bundy Monday!

NRL Round 16 Experience the Key

As we move into NRL Round 16, it seems experience is the missing ingredient for nearly all teams, as State of Origin drains the NRL stars.

The UK Super League is also draining talent with rumors that Matt King will sign for big dollars soon.

Where does this leave your NRL team in terms of experience? Amazingly the South Sydney side rank first, followed by Manly and then the Warriors of all teams.

This week, this is how they stack up (Combined Player Matches):

South Sydney Rabbitohs (1689)
Manly Sea Eagles (1450)
NZ Warriors (1215)
Bulldogs (1164)
Gold Coast Titans (1091)
Sydney Roosters (1049)
Wests Tigers (976)
Brisbane Broncos (866)
Canberra Raiders (854)
Penrith Panthers (845)
Newcastle Knights (701)
St George Illawarra Dragons (527)

So understandably the Bunnies should be favorites against Newcastle tonight at EnergyAustralia Stadium, regardless of their poor record at EA Stadium. The Knights look exposed with several major strike weapons out, including Buderus, Gidley and Simpson.

The Titans face the Warriors on the Gold Coast and will want the 5 game win streak notched up, with the young club having some talent missing due to injury. The Titans will be strong at home, and their unpredictable style should hurt the Warriors.

The savaged Pathers face the baby Broncos at CUA Stadium with many tipsters choosing the Panthers against the hampered Broncos side. While this maybe true, the Panthers are still in dire straights. The Petero signing will help lift confidence, the injection of Brett Firman will add stability and experience to the young side. The Panthers in a close one.

The Tigers will be desperate to shake the cobwebs out, as they travel to Canberra and face the monstrous Raiders in their backyard. The Tigers have made too many changes for my liking, although they do have a much better winning percentage in day games – the Raiders will be too tough.

Oki Jubilee Stadium hosts the Dragons v Sea Eagles match, and this could be a cricket score – even with the Eagles missing Steve Bell, Brent Kite and Jamie Lyon – they still look like a talent laden side. The Eagles in will win in cruise control.

Monday night NRL sees the Bulldogs battle the Roosters. Pretty hard to go past the Bulldogs here. They too are missing some Origin stars, but their recent form improvement and the poor defence and discipline of the Roosters makes for tipping the Dogs.

Craig Gower Rugby Affair


Is it any wonder Craig Gower is leaving Penrith for the seclusion of French Rugby?

The comments I’ve seen about Craig Gower in the last 24 hours have been outrageous. The extremely talented and durable Gower has given his heart and soul for the Penrith club for over a decade and the decision to move on was totally amicable. With the Penrith Panthers regularly hinting that they would be happy if Gower wanted to get out of his extended contract earlier than planned.

Sure, Craig Gower hasn’t been setting the football field on fire of late, but neither has the Penrith forwards, or many Penrith players at all for that matter.

So often is the case when the Panthers struggle, the high profile Gower cops all the flak. What about Matt Elliott? The new coach, bringing new ideas and the change of style that may have affected Penrith so much? He’s received a little bit of press, but for the war torn Gower he’s been the face of Penrith’s pain for the last few years.

Amazingly, everyone seems to have forgotten that Gower won the Panthers a premiership in 2003! Just 4 short years ago, but media and local supporters alike are ready to tear him to shreads already. Tell this to supporters from Cronulla or New Zealand, who have never ever won the premiership. Ever.

Take for example the Daily Telegraph. The Tele approached Gower for a story yesterday on his departure; Gower refused the interview because the Telegraph has hammered him in the past and treated him unfairly. Gowers comments to Tele reporter Dean Ritchie were “Its nothing personal, but the time has come. Enough if Enough. You’ve Hammered me!” Gower stated.

This was probably a bad move for Craig; as the Daily Telegraph has simply waged war on him in this mornings newspaper (Wednesday June 27). Headed by a full back page tirade.

The Tele didn’t stop there, they also published all the negative reader comments they could dig up on Gower. Publishing 5 comments that absolutely slammed Gower, all by persons with no full name listed. How professional.

The Tele kept going, they also got Ray Hadlee to comment on the saga. Firing up Bolts is always sure to get some shock jock action. So the Tele ran with negative comments from Bolts Hadley. And published links to Hadlees Rugby League Radio show where Gower has recently commented.

And people still wonder why Craig Gower left? It’s an absolutely severe case of Tall Poppy Syndrome.

Sure, Gower is no angel and he has had bad headlines in the past. Craig Gower hasn’t killed anyone. He makes mistakes like the rest of us.

It is such a shame that a talented NRL player can be driven out of the game by club supporters and media pressure.

Don’t slam Gower for walking away, the man has been pushed to absolute breaking point. And has plenty of reasons to get out of the country.

Penrith and Gower probably should agree to sever ties now however. Gower admirably does not want to leave him teammates in the lurch, but for club and player – the best situation is to shake hands now and move on.

To those that continue to burn the former Australian, State and Club captain, I’m sure Craig Gower will be having the last laugh as he suns himself on the French / Spain border. Where the Daily Telegraph and Ray Hadlee will be the furtherest things from his mind.

NRL News from the Grubber

NRL News’ – ‘The Grubber‘ wants to get a few things off his chest, here they are:

1. TripleM Monday Night Football – It’s great. They don’t bother you with meaningless, trivial details like the score, field position or the tackle count. Instead they focus on the important stuff, inane and annoying nicknames, bad metaphors and time wasting crosses to their sideline eye. Worse still is when they travel to Queensland and invite Kevin Walters into the box – yeeesh! And I thought Laurie Daley was biased!

2. The Final Winter – I attended the premiere of “The Final Winter” on Sunday night. For those who haven’t heard anything about this movie (and I was in that camp until Sunday), it’s loosely based on the drama that was the Newtown Jets in the early 80’s, before John Singleton’s inept management led to their exclusion from the NSWRL. It’s not a true story, but it certainly brings in some of the themes in the code at the point in time including the cleaning up of the game’s image and the move toward a more corporate style management. It’s also kind of like “This Sporting Life”, which is one of the great sporting movies of all time and which also focused exclusively on rugby league. The cast was there for the premiere and they answered questions afterwards, so that was pretty cool. I was pretty impressed with the movie. The attention to detail in respect of the historical nuances is great, and the action on the field is pretty good too (and a whole lot better than Footy Legends from what I’ve heard). There’s also heaps of cameos (worth looking out for) and the acting performances from the non-actors (Matt Nable and Matthew Johns) are pretty decent. Hopefully it gets a reasonably decent release and plenty of league fans will go and see it.

(NB: The Final Winter is a Rugby League Film recently screened at the Sydney Film Festival) for more information on ‘The Final Winter’ please see the IMDB Movie Information Database – www.imdb.com

Yours in League,
The Grubber

NRL Round 16 Team Lineups

NRL Round 16 team lineups. NRL Teams Storm, Eels, Cowboys and Sharks have the bye.

*Newcastle Knights
name Zeb Taia on an extended bench, in the same week they snared the promising back rower from Parramatta.
*Souths
retain Ben Rogers at pivot, keeping Joe Williams in reserve grade. Hardman Jaiman Lowe is also back from suspension this week, and named on the bench.
*Former Parramatta workhorse Luke O’Dwyer gets a shot for the Titans, earning a bench role.
*The Warriors welcome back Ruben Wiki.
*The Raiders have Todd Carney back at half and get Michael Weymann back from suspension.
*The Tigers inject
Beau Ryan onto the wing and throw Robbie Farrah in at half.
*Dragons
are boosted by the return of Adam Peek from suspension and are captained by Ben Creagh.
*Daniel Holdsworth is fighting for a bench spot with the Bulldogs, with Steve Folkes to trim 2 from his bench.
*Roosters welcome back Amos Roberts at fullback for their Monday night clash with the Bulldogs.

FRIDAY
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS at EnergyAustralia Stadium, 7:30pm

KNIGHTS: Nathan Hinton, James McManus, George Carmont, Brad Tighe, Adam MacDougall, Jarrod Mullen, Luke Walsh, Mitchell Sargent, Terence Seu Seu, Adam Woolnough, Daniel Abraham, Cory Paterson, Reegan Tanner. Interchange: Michael Young, Chris Bailey, Jesse Royal, Kade Snowden, Matthew White, Zeb Taia (two to be omitted).
RABBITOHS: David Peachey, Nathan Merritt, Nigel Vagana, Shannon Hegarty, Paul Mellor, Ben Rogers, Jeremy Smith, Peter Cusack (captain), Stuart Webb, Roy Asotasi (captain), Luke Stuart, David Faalogo, Dean Widders. Interchange: Isaac Luke, Shane Rigon, Manase Manuokafoa, Jaiman Lowe.
Referee: Sean Hampstead

SATURDAY
GOLD COAST TITANS v NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS at Carrara Stadium, 5:30pm
TITANS:
Preston Campbell, Matt Petersen, Mat Rogers, Brett Delaney, Jake Webster, Josh Lewis, Scott Prince (captain), James Stosic, Nathan Friend, Ian Donnelly, Luke Swain, Mark Minichiello, Matt Hilder. Interchange: Luke O’Dwyer, Michael Hodgson, Gavin Cooper, Clint Amos, Kris Kahler (one to be omitted).
WARRIORS: Wade McKinnon, Patrick Ah Van, Todd Byrne, Simon Mannering, Manu Vatuvei, Michael Witt, Grant Rovelli, Ruben Wiki (captain), Nathan Fien, Evarn Tuimavave, Louis Anderson, Logan Swann, Micheal Luck. Interchange: George Gatis, Lance Hohaia, Wairangi Koopu, Epalahame Lauaki, Sam Rapira (one to be omitted).
Referee: Shayne Hayne

PENRITH PANTHERS v BRISBANE BRONCOS at CUA Stadium, 7:30pm
PANTHERS:
Liam Georgetown, Geoff Daniela, Michael Jennings, Luke Lewis, Nick Youngquest, Brett Firman, Craig Gower (captain), Tim Grant, Keith Peters, Frank Puletua, Frank Pritchard, Tony Puletua, Nathan Smith. Interchange: John Nuumaalii, Mark O’Halloran, Shane Rodney, Joel Clinton, Paul Aiton (one to be omitted).
BRONCOS: Denan Kemp, Steve Michaels, David Stagg, Darius Boyd, Craig Frawley, Shane Perry, Michael Ennis, Dane Carlaw, Ian Lacey, Ben Hannant, Corey Parker, Brad Thorn (captain), Greg Eastwood. Interchange: Dave Taylor, Joel Moon, John Te Reo, Nick Kenny, Mick Roberts, Nick Emmett (two to be omitted).
Referee: Gavin Badger

SUNDAY
CANBERRA RAIDERS v WESTS TIGERS at Canberra Stadium, 2pm
RAIDERS:
William Zillman, David Milne, Marshall Chalk, Colin Best, Brett Kelly, Terry Campese, Todd Carney, Troy Thompson, Lincoln Withers, Scott Logan, Nigel Plum, Glen Turner, Alan Tongue (captain). Interchange: Josh Miller, Dane Tilse, Trevor Thurling, Michael Weyman, Ryan Hinchcliffe, Ben Jones (two to be omitted).
TIGERS: Daniel Fitzhenry, Beau Ryan, Dean Collis, Paul Whatuira, Taniela Tuiaki, John Morris, Robbie Farah, Todd Payten (captain), Dene Halatau, Bryce Gibbs, Liam Fulton, Chris Heighington, Chris Lawrence. Interchange: Danny Galea, Stuart Flanagan, Bronson Harrison, Ben Galea, Keith Galloway, Shannon McDonnell (two to be omitted).
Referee: Steve Clark

ST GEORGE-ILLAWARRA DRAGONS v MANLY SEA EAGLES at Oki Jubilee Stadium, 3pm
DRAGONS:
Josh Morris, Jason Nightingale, Chase Stanley, Keith Lulia, Tom Hewitt, Rangi Chase, Jamie Soward, Justin Poore, Simon Woolford, Dan Hunt, Beau Scott, Chris Houston, Ben Creagh (captain). Interchange: Adam Peek, Ben Ellis, Lagi Setu, Corey Payne.
SEA EAGLES: Michael Robertson, Nick Bradley-Qalilawa, Shane Neumann, Steve Menzies, Chris Hicks, Travis Burns, Matt Orford (captain), Jason King, Michael Monaghan, Mark Bryant, Anthony Watmough, Glenn Stewart, Luke Williamson. Interchange: Matt Ballin, Glenn Hall, Sione Finefeuiaki, Jack Afamasaga, Adam Cuthbertson (one to be omitted).
Referee: Tony Archer

MONDAY
BULLDOGS v SYDNEY ROOSTERS at Telstra Stadium, 7pm
BULLDOGS:
Luke Patten, Hazem El Masri, Daryl Millard, Willie Tonga, Cameron Phelps, Ben Roberts, Brent Sherwin, Jarrad Hickey, Corey Hughes (captain), Kane Cleal, Sonny Bill Williams, Nick Kouparitsas, Reni Maitua. Interchange: Adam Perry, Brad Morrin, Adam Brideson, Jon Green, Daniel Holdsworth, Aaron Wheatley (two to be omitted).
ROOSTERS: Amos Roberts, John Williams, Joel Monaghan, Sia Soliola, Sam Perrett, Setaimata Sa, Mitchell Pearce, David Shillington, Craig Wing, Danny Nutley, Anthony Tupou, Craig Fitzgibbon (captain), Mitchell Aubusson. Interchange: Frank Paul-Nuuausala, Lopini Paea, Danny Williams, Ashley Harrison.
Referee: Jared Maxwell

BYE: PARRAMATTA, NORTH QUEENSLAND, SHARKS, MELBOURNE.

State of Origin Lineups Named (Game 3)

The NSW State of Origin selectors have again stuck fairly solid with the squad that has been beaten in this years Origin series. The only NSW Origin player to lose out was Melbourne Storm prop Brett White who loses his spot all together.

Greg Bird is the new face at pivot and fellow Shark Paul Gallen is welcomed back into the NSW side, earning a spot on the starting roster.

NSW squad: Brett Stewart, Matt King, Jamie Lyon, Matt Cooper, Jarryd Hayne, Greg Bird, Brett Kimmorley, Brent Kite, Danny Buderus (captain), Willie Mason, Nathan Hindmarsh, Andrew Ryan, Paul Gallen. Interchange: Luke Bailey, Steve Simpson, Ryan Hoffman, Kurt Gidley.

The Queensland Origin selectors understandably stuck with the same team that has won them the series. It seems injury hasn’t stopped them from getting everyone back on the field. The Qld State of Origin team is:

XXXX QUEENSLAND MAROONS
v New South Wales ‘Wizard’ Blues
Suncorp Stadium
July 4, 2007

1. Karmichael HUNT (Brisbane Broncos)
2. Brent TATE (Brisbane Broncos)
3. Steven BELL (Manly Sea Eagles)
4. Justin HODGES (Brisbane Broncos)
5. Greg INGLIS (Melbourne Storm)
6. Darren LOCKYER (c) (Brisbane Broncos)
7. Johnathan THURSTON (North QLD Cowboys)
8. Steve PRICE (New Zealand Warriors)
9. Cameron SMITH (Melbourne Storm)
10. Petero CIVONICEVA (Brisbane Broncos)
11. Tonie CARROLL (Brisbane Broncos)
12. Carl WEBB (North QLD Cowboys)
13. Dallas JOHNSON (Melbourne Storm)

Interchange:
14. Shaun BERRIGAN (Brisbane Broncos)
15. Jacob LILLYMAN (North QLD Cowboys)
16. Nate MYLES (Sydney Roosters)
17. Neville COSTIGAN (Canberra Raiders)

NRL Power Rankings Round 15 by The Grubber

The Grubber continues to like what he sees from the Melbourne Storm, with the southerners still perched high on the Power Rankings.

Big movers this week in the Rankings are the Bulldogs and Brisbane – both having solid wins against fancied opponents.

1. Melbourne: Clearly missed the control and direction of Cronk, but right now there is nothing stopping this outfit. Hard to see any team topping them at this point. Power score: 9/10, Number of Storm players who will use bye weekend to escape Melbourne media attention: 0.

2. Parramatta: On track for a top 4 finish and were explosive in the first half against the Roosters. Clocked off in the second stanza however and against a better side this may cost them. Power score: 8/10, Player who was happiest that Brett Finch was playing against him and could absorb the hatred of Roosters fans: Craig Wing.

*3. Brisbane: Were devastating in the first and second halves against the Tigers. Looking like the team that won a premiership last year. Power score: 7.5/10, Odds of Seventycentsalitre ever missing an Origin game through suspension: 100-1.

4. Canterbury: Dominating display against Manly may have set up season revival. Were simply devastating in the forwards on Friday night and remain a premiership force. Power score 8/10, Increase in police presence at Brookvale last Friday night: 400%.

5. Manly: Were very ordinary against Canterbury and 4th minute try to Watmough may have been the worst possible opening. Will be without numerous stars this weekend and face a real test against the Dragons. Power score: 7/10, Number of times NSW Police will send “riot squad” van to Brookvale again this year: 0 (unless of course Manly draw the Bulldogs in a home final).

6. Gold Coast: Welcomed the return of Preston Campbell and did enough to win at home. Hard to see them being a force in this premiership but may still have some surprises left in them. Power score: 7/10, Odds of Chris Walker seeing any NRL action in 2007: 20-1.

7. Wests Tigers: Had their pants pulled down by the resurgent Broncos. Did well to fight for 80 minutes though and thankfully didn’t just throw in the towel at half time. A better team than the score line suggested. Power score: 6.5/10, Most recent entrant to the “Willie Mason Haterz” club: Robbie Farah.

8. New Zealand: Belted the “Ill-disciplined Panthers” through solid execution and good ball movement. Will be eager to make it three in a row against the Titans this weekend. Power score: 6.5/10, Odds of Michael Witt ever scoring 20 points in a game again: 100-1.

9. North Queensland: Somehow managed to hold on against the Raiders through the individual brilliance of several of their star players. Not really looking like a top 4 outfit at this stage but there are still 10 rounds to go. Power score: 6.5/10, Odds that the Warriors would have lost two points had they fielded a 14th man: 2-1.

10. Canberra: Will need to arrest recent slide in order to stay in touch with the rest of the top 8. A more solid effort around the ruck will be required to notch up their next win. Power score: 6/10, Odds of “play the ball” drills being upped at Raiders training this week: 2-1.

11. South Sydney: Executed well and defended solidly to beat Cronulla in another scrappy effort. Still struggling to score points however and on any other day Covell’s boot would have probably been the difference. Power score: 5.5/10, Excuses left for Ricky Stuart in defending Sharks form: 1, maybe 2.

12. Cronulla: Still struggling massively to put points on the board and season will soon be reaching a crisis point if they cannot arrest this slump. Halves look genuinely lost. Power score: 5.5/10, Number of Sharks halves combinations who have lined up for NSW: 0.

13. Newcastle: Couldn’t quite do enough to challenge the Titans but there are still some positives in their performances of late. Buderus is rising to the challenge of taking over Joey’s mantle. Power score: 5.5/10, Number of times Matthew Johns drops the F-bomb in The Final Winter: 2,345.

14. Roosters: Didn’t muscle up in defence against the Eels and off-field issues may have started to take a toll on the transit lounge club. Power score: 5/10, Most interesting clash remaining this year: Round 25, Roosters v Rabbitohs at Homebush.

15. St George-Illawarra: Outclassed for 70 minutes by the Storm however will back themselves as a good chance of defeating a massively depleted Manly side at home this weekend. Power score: 4.5/10, Odds that Nathan Brown’s top 8 prediction for Dragons will come to fruition: 20-1.

16. Penrith: Struggled again to mount pressure and are probably the easy beats of the NRL at the midpoint of the season. Must improve handling and offensive execution if they are to avoid the spoon. Power score: 4/10, Odds of Matt Elliot lasting out the season: 5-1.

Yours in League,
The Grubber

(PS – Stay Tuned for my Around the Grounds Article Tomorrow!)

Brisbane Broncos bury Wests Tigers

Brisbane Broncos 48 def Wests Tigers 18

It was the Brisbane side of late 2006 revived. The Broncos lived up to the hype in front of their home fans, on a cold and wet night at Suncorp. Amazing that 30,000+ Brisbanians still turned up in shocking conditions. Monday night footy has been a massive success.

When the Broncos scored off their first set, it always looked like being a long night for Wests Tigers lovers – but to their credit, the young Tigers hung in. They scored from their own kick off and tried hard to make a game of it.

The Broncos were simply too hot, on the back of Tonie Carroll magic they charged in for try after try. Carroll was simply impossible to tackle, the big unit hitting the line at speed and defenders barely able to lay a hand on him let alone stop him.

The left hand edge defence for the Tigers was extremely poor. Brisbane smartly kept peppering this side, with Carroll setting up 2 tries then scoring 1 himself soon after.

Whenever the Tigers got a sniff, discipline let them down. Giving away silly penalties and thus throwing away any field position they had.

Referee Shane Hayne had a night he’d like to forget, not playing advantage to the Tigers early in period 1, where they would have scored and then giving the Tigers an obvious ‘make up’ call soon after when Tuiaki was clearly bundled into touch, with the referee actually blowing his whistle – then changing the call (both Hayne and touch judge getting it wrong).

While the match was over early, with the Broncos running riot – a minor blow up between Petero Civoniceva and Bryce Gibbs injected some excitement. The crowd got right into the mood, and gave Civoniceva a standing ovation as he was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes (for being the third man into a flare up)

The Broncos face the Panthers next week (minus their Qld Origin Component) and the Wests Tigers have a horror road trip. Facing Canberra in the ACT on a cold wet night.

State of Origin Game 3 Talk

As we move closer to State of Origin Game 3 in Queensland, at the home of Rugby League ‘Suncorp Stadium’ – don’t let anyone tell you this game is a dead rubber.

The Queensland Maroons will want the perfect end to the series by enforcing the clean sweep and NSW Blues Selectors have hinted they will use the best available talent rather than using the game as a ‘testing ground’ for younger players.

NSW Blues selectors are reported to be deciding between Greg Bird and Jarrod Mullen at five eight, with Bird said to have a slight edge after his gutsy performance for the Sharks on the weekend. Bird proved he is not only a mongrel type of player, but has plenty of stamina and took one hell of a beating as the match with South Sydney got spiteful in the back end. This is the stuff the Blues need for the final State of Origin match.

The Maroons have selections issues of their own, with Brent Tate walking the injury tight rope and selectors knocking on Gold Coast Titans doors to get to Mat Rogers. The Queensland Maroons selectors have even gone as far as asking Steve Price and Petero Civoniceva to make themselves available next year for selection, due to their faultless displays in 2007 State of Origin.

If NSW Origin selectors are serious about winning this one, they need to get some grunt into the forward pack. Now this time, lets not ‘talk’ grunt. Lets actually select guys that will enforce. A few names that spring to mind are: Lance Thompson, Anthony Watmough and Paul Gallen. All these guys can go the distance and can handle themselves when needed.

And what about the refereeing; do we want a referee trying to do a Bill Harrigan impersonation where only 3 penalties the whole match are blown? Or do we want a tad more discipline to keep the sides apart enough so some attacking League is played?

Let us know who’d you pick for NSW or QLD for State of Origin Game 3. Email: NRLfeedback@gmail.com