Manly’s Home Semi Final

The headlines are hitting hard – ‘Manly Sea Eagles risk losing home semi-final’ as Warringah Councils hiring fees threaten the venue and its attractiveness to the NRL.

However the concern that Manly may lose their home semi-final is nothing more than a scare campaign to try and force the Warringah Council into reducing their fees.

Yes, it’s true that Warringah Council do have excessive hiring fees on Brooky come semi-final time. Estimated at $75,000 for the night – however it seems to be a case of the NRL throwing the headlines out there in hope of scaring local Manly fans and generating plenty of heat on Warringah Council in the hope they bend over and drop the fees.

The NRL does have the right to move the game from Manly’s home ground of Brookvale Oval if financial conditions do not suit; however even if there was a deadlock between the council and the NRL – Manly fans would happily part with $20 each additional gate fees to ensure the game stays in Manly.

Prior to the headlines hitting the media outlets the NRL had not even approached the Council to discuss things. However this has changed today – with both parties arranging crisis meetings to avert this problem.

Don’t fret all you Manly fans, you will certainly have your home semi-final even if it costs you more at the gate. Even though everyone loves to hate Manly and they love being hated – no one deserves to lose their hard earned home semi-final.

We’d like to hear from you Manly fans – would you pay additional gate and ticket prices to ensure the game stays at Brookvale?

NRL Teams and Lineups Round 21

Energy Australia
Friday, 7.30PM Channel 9 Live
1. Kurt Gidley
2. James McManus
3. George Carmont
4. Adam MacDougall
5. Cooper Vuna
6. Marvin Karawana
7. Luke Walsh
8. Adam Woolnough
9. Michael Young
10. Mitchell Sargent
11. S Simpson(c)
12. Daniel Abraham
13. Reegan Tanner

14. Terence Seu Seu
15. Kirk Reynoldson
16. Matthew White
17. Jesse Royal
18. Brad Tighe
19. Josh Perry*
20. Zeb Taia*
21. Cory Paterson*

* – Subject to fitness test

1. Ben Hornby
2. Jason Nightingale
3. Chase Stanley
4. Matt Cooper
5. Josh Morris
6. Rangi Chase
7. Jamie Soward
8. Justin Poore
9. Simon Woolford
10. Jason Ryles (c)
11. Beau Scott
12. Chris Houston
13. Ben Creagh

14. Adam Peek
15. Ashton Sims
16. Dan Hunt
17. Tony Caine
18. Lagi Setu

Telstra Stadium
Friday, 7.30PM Channel 9 Live
1. Luke Patten
2. Hazem El Masri
3. Daryl Millard
4. Willie Tonga
5. Cameron Phelps
6. Ben Roberts
7. Brent Sherwin
8. Jarrad Hickey
9. Corey Hughes
10. Chris Armit
11. Sonny Bill Williams
12. Andrew Ryan (c)
13. Reni Maitua

14. Adam Perry
15. Nick Kouparitsas
16. Brad Morrin
17. Fred Briggs

1. Jarryd Hayne
2. Krisnan Inu
3. Ben Smith
4. Timana Tahu
5. Eric Grothe
6. Brett Finch
7. Tim Smith
8. Aaron Cannings
9. Mark Riddell
10. Fuifui Moimoi
11. Nathan Hindmarsh(c)
12. Ian Hindmarsh
13. Feleti Mateo

14. PJ Marsh
15. Weller Hauraki
16. Chad Robinson
17. Junior Paulo

Carrara Stadium, Gold Coast
Saturday, 5.30PM Fox Sports 3 Live
1. Chris Walker
2. Jake Webster
3. Mat Rogers
4. Brett Delaney
5. Smith Samau
6. Preston Campbell
7. Scott Prince(c)
8. Luke Bailey(c)
9. Nathan Friend
10. Ian Donnelly
11. Anthony Laffranchi
12. Mark Minichiello
13. Luke O Dwyer

14. Michael Hodgson
15. Daniel Conn
16. Gavin Cooper
17. Luke Swain
18. Clint Amos

Wests Tigers
1. Brett Hodgson(c)
2. Daniel Fitzhenry
3. Dean Collis
4. Paul Whatuira
5. Chris Lawrence
6. John Morris
7. Benji Marshall
8. Keith Galloway
9. Robbie Farah
10. Bryce Gibbs
11. Taniela Tuiaki
12. Chris Heighington
13. Liam Fulton

14. Ben Galea
15. Dene Halatau
16. Bronson Harrison
17. Ben Te’o
18. Shannon Gallant

Dairy Farmers Stadium
Saturday, 7.30PM Fox Sports 3 Live
1. Matt Bowen
2. Scott Minto
3. Ashley Graham
4. Paul Bowman
5. Brenton Bowen
6. Ben Farrar
7. Johnathan Thurston
8. Ray Cashmere
9. Aaron Payne
10. Carl Webb
11. Sam Faust
12. Justin Smith
13. Sione Faumuina

14. David Faiumu
15. Scott Bolton
16. Matt Bartlett
17. Matt Scott

1. William Zillman
2. David Howell
3. Phil Graham
4. Colin Best
5. Bronx Goodwin
6. Todd Carney
7. Michael Dobson
8. Dane Tilse
9. Lincoln Withers
10. Scott Logan
11. Neville Costigan
12. Glen Turner
13. Alan Tongue(c)

14. Josh Miller
15. Tom Leraoyd-Lahrs
16. Matt Bickerstaff
17. Joe Picker
18. Trevor Thurling
19. Brett Kelly

CUA Stadium, Penrith
Saturday, 7.30PM Fox Sports 3 Live
1. Jarrod Sammut
2. Geoff Daniela
3. Michael Jennings
4. Maurice Blair
5. Nick Youngquest
6. Peter Wallace
7. Craig Gower(c)
8. Joel Clinton
9. Luke Priddis
10. Bryan Norrie
11. Frank Pritchard
12. Mathew Bell
13. Nathan Smith

14. Frank Puletua
15. Mathew Cross
16. Mark O’Halloran
17. Paul Aiton
18. Tim Grant

1. Nathan Merritt
2. Fetuli Talanoa
3. Nigel Vagana
4. Shannon Hegarty
5. Paul Mellor
6. Ben Rogers
7. Eddie Paea
8. Peter Cusack(c)
9. Issac Luke
10. Roy Asotasi(c)
11. John Sutton
12. David Fa’alogo
13. Dean Widders

14. Shane Rigon
15. Luke Stuart
16. Shannan McPherson
17. Scott Geddes

Aussie Stadium
Sunday, 2.00PM Fox Sports 1 Live
1. Sam Perrett
2. Amos Roberts
3. Mitchell Aubusson
4. Joel Monaghan
5. John Williams
6. Braith Anasta
7. Craig Wing
8. David Shillington
9. Heath L`Estrange
10. Lopini Paea
11. Anthony Tupou
12. Craig Fitzgibbon(c)
13. Ashley Harrison

14. Danny Nutley
15. Nate Myles
16. Setimata Sa
17. Shane Shackleton
18. Iosia Soliola

1. Wade McKinnon
2. Michael Crockett
3. Jerome Ropati
4. Simon Mannering
5. Manu Vatuvei
6. Michael Witt
7. Grant Rovelli
8. Sam Rapira
9. George Gatis
10. Steve Price(c)
11. Ruben Wiki (vc)
12. Logan Swann
13. Micheal Luck

14. Wairangi Koopu
15. Evarn Tuimavave
16. Epalahame Lauaki
17. Nathan Fien

Suncorp Stadium
Sunday, 3.00PM Channel 9
1. Darius Boyd
2. Steve Michaels
3. Nick Emmett
4. Justin Hodges
5. Craig Frawley
6. Tonie Carroll
7. Shane Perry
8. Ben Hannant
9. Shaun Berrigan
10. Petero Civoniceva(c)
11. Corey Parker
12. Brad Thorn
13. Greg Eastwood

14. Dane Carlaw
15. Dave Taylor
16. Ian Lacey
17. Sam Thaiday

Sea Eagles
1. Brett Stewart
2. Michael Robertson
3. Steve Bell
4. Steve Menzies
5. Chris Hicks
6. Jamie Lyon
7. Matt Orford(c)
8. Mark Bryant
9. Michael Monaghan
10. Brent Kite
11. Anthony Watmough
12. Glenn Stewart
13. Luke Williamson

14. Matt Ballin
15. Glenn Hall
16. Adam Cuthbertson
17. Jack Afamasaga
18. Clint Halden
19. Jason Wells

Toyota Park
Monday, 7.00PM Fox Sports 1 Live
1. Mitch Brown
2. David Simmons
3. Ben Pomeroy
4. Reece Williams
5. Luke Covell
6. Adam Dykes
7. Brett Seymour
8. Jacob Selmes
9. Isaac De Gois
10. Craig Stapleton
11. Paul Gallen
12. Luke Douglas
13. Henry Perenara

14. Ben Ross
15. Cameron Ciraldo
16. Fraser Anderson
17. Anthony Watts

1. Billy Slater
2. Matt Geyer
3. Matt King
4. Israel Folau
5. Steve Turner
6. Greg Inglis
7. Cooper Cronk
8. Ben Cross
9. Cameron Smith
10. Brett White
11. Clint Newton
12. Ryan Hoffman
13. Dallas Johnson

14. Jeff Lima
15. Adam Blair
16. Garrett Crossman
17. Anthony Quinn
18. James Aubusson
19. Sam Tagataese

NRL Power Rankings Round 20

The Grubber has just submitted his report for Round 20 and the Warriors are the big movers this round, reaching 4th spot in the eyes of the Grubber as Cronulla fall way down below the hapless Panthers to reach the cellar in this weeks ‘NRL Power Rankings’ – Thanks once again to the Grubber for his unmistakable style of reporting; especially as he narrowly avoided flying coins this week as he braved proceedings at Parramatta Stadium!

1. Melbourne Storm: Probably a minor hiccup against the Roosters. They’ll certainly hope so anyway. Poor control in the ruck area and a defence that failed to scramble is what cost them. Face a relatively easy task this week against Cronulla and surely won’t be taken by surprise again. Don’t quite deserve to lose their top spot on the Power Rankings just yet. Power score: 9/10, Odds that loss against the Roosters will cause anyone to question their premiership credentials: 100-1.

2. Manly Sea Eagles:
Defeated another hoodoo this weekend with hard fought victory over Parramatta (hadn’t won at Parramatta Stadium since 1997). Superior fitness and mental toughness is proving to be a major asset in tight matches and the class of Brett Stewart has been the difference for them in several victories this season. Power score: 8.5/10, Odds of any commentator giving Manly even a remote chance of winning the premiership: 100-1.

3. Parramatta Eels: Did everything right in the first half against Manly, but momentary lapses, and a limited recovery time from Monday night cost them at the back end. Remain a serious threat in this premiership and have all the guns to get the job done against Canterbury on Friday night. Power score: 8/10, Odds that fiscally challenged homeowners in Parramatta will be defaulting on their mortgages as a result of coin attacks on Monday players: 10-1.

4. New Zealand Warriors: Power in the pack and solid offensive execution in the backs is a winning formula for the Warriors at the moment. Add in excitement machine Wade McKinnon and the Warriors looks to have their most complete outfit since the Grand Final appearance in 2002. Power score: 8/10, Odds that the Warriors will crack the 12,000 mark for a home game this season: 5-1.

5. Wests Tigers: As predicted, the return of Marshall and Hodgson added sufficient firepower to blow the Cowboys off the park. Remains to be seen whether Tigers defence can stand up against a quality opposition (JT did look to be in bad shape) and it may not be tested a great deal given easy run home. Power score: 7.5/10, Odds that Laurie Nichols would have supported a merged club playing in a competition half owned by News Ltd: 100-1.

6. Canterbury Bulldogs: Had lady luck on their side against St George-Illawarra and with O’Meley, Mason and Ryan likely to miss Friday night’s clash with Parramatta they could be in for a tough night. Younger players have stepped up before though and they may still prove hard to beat. Power score 7.5/10, Odds that Bulldogs players will use self-imposed nightclub ban as a motivation for adopting their now cliched “siege mentality” for this weekend’s clash with the Eels: 2-1.

7. Sydney City Roosters:
Outstanding go-forward and dummy half running had Melbourne on the back foot for most of the match. With a win against the Warriors and their relatively easy run home, they’re not out of this race yet. Tactical refusal of the front office to comes to terms with Freddy may be sufficient motivation for the side to do it for their old mate. Power score: 7.5/10, Odds that Roosters v Souths clash in round 25 will somehow be crucial in the finals fate of at least one team: 3-1, and if so, it should make for a classic.

8. Brisbane Broncos: Did enough against a very ordinary Cronulla outfit. Don’t look like quite the real deal at this stage however the return of Ennis and Hodges this week, and the commemorative nature of Sunday’s clash with Manly should be enough to inspire them into a better performance. Power score: 7/10, Odds of a Manly player recreating Don McKinnon’s effort from Round 1, 1988 and taking a leak on the field: 50-1.

9. South Sydney Rabbitohs: Continue to grind out victories in must win matches and will probably start as favourite in several of their remaining games. Tough attitude in defence isn’t complemented with attacking flair however and this may be their downfall against decent opposition. Power score: 7/10, Odds of Lleyton Hewitt ever attending another Souths game: 20-1.

10. St George-Illawarra Dragons: Didn’t quite do enough to overcome a depleted Bulldogs side and Saturday night’s effort was probably indicative of their 2007 campaign – at times near enough, but never quite good enough. Power score: 6.5/10, Odds that Matthew Head will somehow leave the UK Super League and return to the Dragons: 10-1.

11. Canberra Raiders: Did the job against the “Ill Disciplined Panthers” (yes, the tag is back) but it’s very hard to see them cracking the 8 despite their positioning. Also hard to see them making much of an impact once they’re out of their own backyard but should prove to be a thorn in the side of clubs with claims in the remaining 5 rounds. Power score: 6.5/10, Odds of Ikin/Geyer/Gilbert commentary team lining up again: 10,000-1.

12. Gold Coast Titans: Their likely poor ladder finish doesn’t really do justice to their previously solid season and it will be fascinating to see what they have left in the remaining fice rounds given that a top 8 finish looks extremely unlikely. Power score: 6/10, Odds of Scott Prince lining up Benji Marhsall in a season ending injury this Saturday night: 100-1.

13. North Queensland Cowboys: Forwards not going forward, brittle defence and an injured JT all make for a struggling football side. Probably wishing they could blame a sex scandal this year for their current form. Presented with a great opportunity to get things going again this weekend with the Raiders at Townsville. Power score: 5.5/10, Number of times since 2005 that the Cowboys have had 50 points put on them by the Tigers: Twice.

14. Penrith Panthers:
Offered their usual late flurry of points once the game was beyond reach – and this time it really was. A lot of soul searching to be done in the off season by Elliott and his crew. Power score: 4/10, Number of times professional sports commentary teams have referred to one of their colleagues as “riding the ceramic bus”: 1 and only (Friday night, Canberra v Penrith on Channel Nine).

15. Cronulla Sharks: Were woeful in attack and defence against Brisbane and it will surely take a miracle (or food poisoning of the Storm’s top 25 players) for them to knock off competition leaders Melbourne on Monday. Alright, stranger things have happened – just can’t remember any. Power score: 3.5/10, Odds that Ricky Stuart will overtake Brian Smith to claim the mantle of “coach that most players would least like to play under” after petulant outburst in wake of loss to Brisbane: 2-1.

16. Newcastle Knights: Nothing positive to say about this rabble at the moment and lamenting the loss of Johns and their late 90’s performance enhancing program won’t bring either of them back. Need to start muscling up in the line and working on set completion if they are to threaten again this season. Power score: 3.5/10, Number of Newcastle players who will play Origin next year: Probably none at this rate.

Yours in league,
The Grubber.

Wests Tigers Blitz Cowgirls

Wests Tigers 54 def Cowboys 10

Playing in front of a full house tonight at Leichhardt Oval, the Tigers have returned to some of their best form – putting on a clinic and really belittling the Cowboys with constant one way traffic.

Both sides were coming off 2 successive losses and desperately needed the points as finals time approaches. The Tigers making a real feast of the win, grabbing some valuable points differential out of the win – amazing the Tigers missing only 4 tackles all game.

After 10 minutes of game time it did look like this one would be a real arm wrestle – but the Tigers strung some good second phase play together and their forwards began punching through centre field. Keith Galloway in particular was outstanding in the engine room, skittling Cowboys defenders – noted defenders too in Sione Faumuina and Carl Webb were spewed out of Galloway’s path as he charged through.

With the forwards winning the battle, the Tigers skills men did their part. Brett Hodgson returning to have some good touches, earning an early try assist to John Morris – this early touchdown typifying the missing urgency from the Cowboys.

As the Tigers rained bombs and grubbers down on the Cowboys – the Queenslanders just didn’t seem to attack the football. Several times they let kicks bounce dangerously and rarely challenged the Tigers to 50/50 balls.

The Cowboys will be absolutely desperate next week against the Raiders and should do the Canberra boys in considering its away from the ACT fortress.

In the post match press conference, Cowboys coach Graham Murray wasn’t pulling any punches – admitting the Cowboys are certainly in a slump and truly struggling with injuries across the board. For the Tigers; Sheens was obviously happy – but concerned the Cowboys weren’t at the top of their game. Sheen’s commenting on the form of Bryce Gibbs – the stocky prop getting good praise from his boss.

The Tigers travel to the Gold Coast next weekend and face the Titans – still smarting from their loss to Souths in the thriller on Saturday night.

Pos Team P W L B Streak5 F A Diff Pts
1 Melbourne Storm 19 16 3 1 LWWWW 494 233 261 34
2 Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 19 15 4 1 WWWWL 466 269 197 32
3 Parramatta Eels 19 11 8 1 LWWLW 431 384 47 24
4 New Zealand Warriors 19 10 9 1 WWWLW 448 337 111 22
5 Brisbane Broncos 19 10 9 1 WLWWW 421 329 92 22
6 The Bulldogs 19 10 9 1 WWLWW 438 390 48 22
7 Wests Tigers 19 10 9 1 WLLWW 440 414 26 22
8 North Queensland Cowboys 19 10 9 1 LLLWW 393 506 -113 22
9 South Sydney Rabbitohs 19 9 10 1 WWLLW 295 297 -2 20
10 Canberra Raiders 19 8 11 1 WLWLL 439 496 -57 18
11 Gold Coast Titans 19 8 11 1 LLLLL 333 419 -86 18
12 Sydney Roosters 19 8 11 1 WWWLL 322 495 -173 18
13 Newcastle Knights 19 8 11 1 LLLWL 342 534 -192 18
14 The Sharks 19 7 12 1 LLLLL 344 309 35 16
15 St George Illawarra Dragons 19 7 12 1 LWLWW 345 423 -78 16
16 Penrith Panthers 19 5 14 1 LLWLL 387 503 -116 12

NRL News

NRL warns Eels about Rowdy Crowd

A warning from the NRL today to rowdy Parramatta Eels fans; who yesterday took to throwing coins at Jamie Lyon in his return to his former home. Eels fans still angry at his disappearing act several years ago and subsequent defection to Manly to link up with Noel Cleal.

The NRL has put Parramatta Officials on notice regarding the behaviour and warned repeated incidents would result in a fine from the NRL body.

Manly Sea Eagles player Luke Williamson and a Manly trainer were hit by flying coins after they missed the original target – Jamie Lyon.

NRL News

Sharks Ponder their Future

The Cronulla Sharks once again have promised so much and delivered so little this year. When Ricky Stuart was appointed coach of the Sutherland Shire club – things looked positive for the men from Shark Park as the start of NRL 2007 neared.

While Cronulla don’t have a team littered with superstars there is certainly enough talent in the ranks to make a good impression on the NRL. As the middle of the year rolled around, things were looking good for the Sharks – Ricky Stuart had the team playing some good football, Greg Bird, Paul Gallen and Luke Douglas were now big names and were disposing of quality opposition.

There were big wraps thrown the way of the Cronulla Sharks, Footy Show Panelist Matt Johns declaring – “this Cronulla side is the one that can finally win the competition!” Ok, so that kind of statement adds some pressure, so does the fact that Cronulla have never ever won a premiership – disappointing considering they have now been in the competition for such a long time.

Every NRL team does have to deal with pressure, for some reason the Sharks once again have just not coped with it in 2007. Sure, like other teams the Sharks have experienced large injury problems – but their performance against Manly last weekend showed what they are capable of. However, after their loss yesterday to an understrength Brisbane Broncos side – their season is now over, even winning all their remaining games might not get them into the NRL Top 8 Finals fray.

To compound the problem, the Sharks continue to have one of the worst crowd attendance figures in the NRL. Poor results over the past few years has seen their legion of fans simply fade away. Toyota Park, Shark Park, Caltex Field or Endeavour Field – whatever you want to call it used to be a fortress – with plenty of home town folk crowding into the smallish stadium with a grandstand that doubles as a leagues club. Friday and Saturday night games were always specials to sell-out and ensure Cronulla had huge support as their team rolled to another victory.

While the NRL Top 8 Final series may be lost to the Cronulla Sharks now – Ricky Stuart and his side had better start playing some highly entertaining football and not only win their remaining games – but give the Cronulla Sharks fans something to want to come back for next year – or there may be nothing left in years to come.

NRL News

Jamie Lyon has last laugh at Parra

The Manly Sea-Eagles have made second spot a fortress now, putting a massive table gap between themselves and the Eels on the NRL table with a thrilling 32-24 win against the Parramatta Eels at a vocal Parramatta Stadium today.

The Eagles scored six tries to four, in a gutsy win that featured a superior 2nd half thrust from the Manly side, with former Eel Jamie Lyon scoring twice in a total of a 4 try second half haul for the Sea Eagles.

Manly flanker Michael Robertson opened the scoring for the visitors in just the third minute, with a precision Matt Orford cross field kick finding the unmarked Robertson to score in the corner.

Sea-Eagles skipper Orford missed with his sideline conversion to leave Manly with an early 4-0 lead.

The visitors extended their lead in the 15th minute through try scoring machine Brett Stewart. Another Orford cut out found Robertson unmarked on the wing, with the flashy winger able to offload back inside for Stewart to dive over in the corner.

Orford again missed from nearly the identical position, keeping the Sea-Eagles 8 points ahead.

Parramatta winger Eric Grothe swung the momentum the Eels way in 18th minute, steamrolling Michael Robertson with a trademark Grothe run – the giant winger then palming off four Manly defenders in a spectacular 40 metre burst.

Rookie Eels winger Krisnan Inu converted from out wide to close the gap to 8-6.

The Eels took the lead in the 28th minute, with a sublime Tim Smith chip giving Ben Smith a mismatch one on one contest in the air against Matt Orford – Ben Smith taking the kick and scoring in one motion. Inu converting for the Eels to lead 12-8.

The Eels were having a good majority of the possession and finally were turning it into points – however it seemed Manly were able to score with much more ease. Touching down whenever the Eagles had a even a sniff of the Manly line. Field position looking the key to winning this game from very early on.

A Manly error gave the Eels prime field position as the possession rate to Parramatta continued to grow, with Eels custodian Jarrad Hayne steping through some lost Sea-Eagles defence to score under the posts in the 32nd minute.

Inu getting the easy conversion from in front to setup an 18-8 lead, the scores remaining the same into the half time break. The score looking certain to change with both sides showing their prowess in attack, and surely Hagan would not have been too confident with only a 10 point lead.

Manly came out of the sheds firing, with two early touchdowns in the second half, with Steve Menzies and Brent Kite going over for scrambling tries to give the Manly Sea Eagles a small 20-18 lead in the 50th minute.

In what was a gripping second forty minutes with both sides going try for try, Eels winger Inu flew into the corner for a converted try in the 55th minute to get the lead back for the Eels and seemingly setting the scene for a local victory, only for Manly to quickly hit back hard three minutes later through a Jamie Lyon try.

It was impossible to tell who would end up on top, the local and vocal crowd seemed certain to roar the Eels home – but a gutsy and defensively sound Eagles outfit refused to budge.

Both sides continuing to unleash some impressive football over the final twenty minutes, with Manly centre Lyon wrapping up the match with his second four pointer in the 72nd minute.

The Eels have to back up quickly and face the strength of the Canterbury Bulldogs at Telstra Stadium next Friday night, while the Sea-Eagles travel to Suncorp Stadium next Sunday to meet the injury ravaged Brisbane Broncos.

Manly Sea-Eagles 32
Tries: Jamie Lyon 2, Michael Robertson, Brett Stewart, Steve Menzies, Brent Kite
Goals: Matt Orford 4

Parramatta Eels 24
Tries: Eric Grothe, Ben Smith, Jarrad Hayne, Krisnan Inu
Goals: Krisnan Inu 4

Brisbane Broncos 30 def Cronulla Sharks 16

BRISBANE Broncos will have to sweat on medical reports on two more players after Tonie Carroll and David Stagg were injured in the 30-16 win over the Sharks at Suncorp Stadium.

With captain Darren Lockyer and Brent Tate both out for the rest of the season and Australia fullback Karmichael Hunt battling to get back for the finals, Brisbane’s depth will be further tested should Carroll (neck/shoulder) or Stagg (ankle) or both be ruled out for extended periods.

Carroll looked in trouble when the medicab came onto the field in the 44th minute.

But after being inspected by the team doctor, he got to his feet and walked to the sideline.

Stagg’s body was twisted backwards in a 57th minute incident in which he tried to save teammate Steve Michael from being pushed into touch.

Brisbane scored five converted tries and always looked in control.

Its goal line defence was outstanding in the first half, especially when they turned up in numbers to drive Sharks winger David Simmons into touch after defending for three sets of six.

Brisbane’s third try to forward Dane Carlaw came off the back of successive crunching tackles from Carroll who twice drove Sharks attackers backwards into the turf.

Tries to winger Michaels in the seventh minute, Corey Parker (ninth minute) and Carlaw (27th minute) gave Brisbane a comfortable 18-4 lead at half-time.

The Sharks’ only first-half points came from a try to speedy replacement Isaac De Gois who cashed in a perfect pass from Adam Dykes to score in the 22nd minute.

De Gois finished with two tries while Dykes scored a try from dummy half in the 69th minute.


NRL News

Channel 9 Chases Laurie Daley

Reports today that Channel 9 are chasing FOX Sports commentator Laurie Daley in an effort to sure up their Rugby League stocks for 2008.

Laurie Daley is the no.2 man over at FOX Sports behind the very talented Warren Smith. Daley not only calling the premier Monday Night NRL game on FOX, but also co-hosting the NRL on FOX program on Wednesday nights – a show that enjoys a much stronger following among NRL enthusiasts than the variety based Footy Show on Channel 9.

Reports suggest Channel 9 want Laurie Daley to co-host the Footy Show with Matthew Johns in 2008 – meaning long time host Paul Vautin could be lost to the show altogether. The Footy Show on Channel 9 has endured horror ratings for several years now, with many serious NRL fans switching off – as Channel 9 continue to show a variety style Footy Show; where games, singing and topical affairs are discussed and NRL analysis is hardly touched on.

FOX has been setting the standard for NRL commentary and weekly shows – leading the way with the likable Warren Smith and supported by a panel including: Wayne Pearce, Gary Freeman, Gordon Tallis and Adrian Lam. The success for FOX lying in the fact they televise a stack of ‘live’ games and follow it up with weekly informative NRL programming – such as NRL Teams on Tuesdays, NRL on FOX Wednesdays and Super League on Thursdays attracting a strong following among diehard NRL folk.

Channel 9 were also given a scare on Friday night as no. 2 commentator Andrew Voss was struck down mid-game with food poisoning. The commentary left to novice off-siders Ben Ikin and Mark Geyer – as the public was again treated to comedy capers and amateurism rather than quality NRL calling.

Not only is Channel 9 finding things hard, the Continuous Call team on Radio 2GB are also struggling too – not only with the Brohman and Fulton feud – but with keeping on the topic of NRL. Similar to the Channel 9 Footy Show – The Continuous Call team including Ray Hadlee, Bob Fulton and Darryl Brohman continue to talk less football every week; preferring to chat about dagwood dogs, the pecking order of their crew and all things non-NRL related for hours on end. Opposition over at the ABC must be thanking their lucky stars as the public tune into real NRL analysis with Warren Ryan and the team.

NRL News

Super Saturday NRL Results

Game 1: Warriors 52 def Knights 10

The NZ Warriors were dynamic in Auckland last night, putting the foot on the gas pedal immediately to splice open the Knights and continue on with it through out the match.

The Warriors forwards are simply unstoppable right now, Steve Price and Ruben Wiki battering rams for which other teams have no answer. As they roll forward with good play the ball and ruck speed – the remainder of the team are falling in beautifully behind them. Halves Grant Roveli and Michael Witt are directing the outside backs to perfection – choosing the right options – as fullback Wade McKinnon remains one of the best players in the NRL at present.

Warriors coach Ivan Cleary would also be delighted with the Warriors defence – the NZ men keeping the Knights to only 10 points in a comprehensive display. The Warriors face the Roosters in Sydney next weekend for what should be a blockbuster – given the Roosters current form.

Game 2: South Sydney 20 def Titans 14

South Sydney turned a massive corner last night, these days they seem to be in the habit of winning. They were able to pull this game from the jaws of defeat, through solid attitude and good defence. Taylor has his men believing – the Bunnies raced out to a lead, scoring two tries but missing the costly conversions. Souths had plenty of ball and their attack initially was impressive, they did tend to lose their way on final tackle options as the game wore on and this allowed the Titans to get a sniff – through Bailey and improved forward muscle the Titans were well and truly back into the game at half time.

As the arm wrestle ensued in the second half – it was a patient and believing South Sydney side that were able to pinch a try late in the piece. Half back Paea continues to be a good choice in the middle and South Sydney coach Jason Taylor has been justified in his decision to use Nathan Merritt at fullback for the Bunnies. The win keeps Souths well and truly in the hunt for the NRL finals Top 8 series in 2007.

Game 3: Bulldogs 28 def Dragons 24

It was an unconvincing win for the for the Bulldogs; facing the much improved Dragons at WIN stadium. The Bulldogs were carved up mid field early on and looked shell shocked for much of the first half. Jason Ryles for the Dragons in particular looked the best he has in years – the much maligned and injured forward put his hand up and did the hard stuff – helped the Dragons establish a big lead in this match.

Jamie Soward was simply untouchable at times, the Dragons halfback regularly stepping through the Bulldogs line with fancy footwork and troubling the retreating forwards plenty.
In the end – the experience and patience of the Bulldogs shone through. Some crafty tries to old stager Hazem El Masri in the second half sparked the Dogs and they simply waited for the Dragons mistake – coming in the 73rd minute, with the young Saints letting a bomb bounce and spilling the pill for the Dogs to claim an unexpected win after the early play going against them.

NRL News

Roosters stun Storm in grinder

Sydney Roosters 26 def Melbourne Storm 16

The Sydney Roosters have pulled off the upset of the NRL 2007 season tonight with a hard fought, grinding win over NRL leaders the Melbourne Storm.

Roosters coach Brad Fittler now equals the current NRL record for sequential wins by a coach taking over mid-season. He shares the record with former Manly coach Peter Sharp, who jointly holds the record after taking over from Bob Fulton at Manly in 1999.

Fittler had the Roosters primed for this contest, they bolted out of the gates and played a physical, committed style for which the Melbourne Storm had no answer. Man of the match Braith Anasta spoke after the match about the belief Freddy Fittler has instilled in the club, as they sent the Storm home with their tails between their legs. The Roosters handing other clubs a blueprint for how to beat the Melbourne Storm – through a controlled game of simplicity, gang tackling and good field position – through smart touch finders from tackle 5.

First Half:
The Roosters started the game with the expected enthusiasm, hitting the Storm with brutal front on defence and gang tackling in most cases. With speed off the defence line and numbers into tackles – the Roosters looked similar to yesteryear when they pioneered the brutal gang tackle style.

The Storm seemed a little put off the Roosters style and through frustration and lack of possession they gave away a couple of penalties that kept the Roosters on the early roll.

The Roosters began to take advantage of their early possession, touching down through Anthony Topou on a nice wide movement, then a 5m charge from Ashley Harrison saw them score again near the posts, after a good dummy run from Craig Wing that drew several Storm tacklers.

When the Roosters scored again through John Williams out wide, the score was 20-0 to the Sydney City Roosters and Melbourne were absolutely shell-shocked. Fittler’s game plan looked to be going well, the Roosters finding touch on most final tackles – keeping Anthony Quinn busy in his corner.

The possession evened out slightly towards the end of the first half, the Storm getting some quality ball from penalties and managing to score a scrappy try off a Rooster fumble late in the half. The Roosters defence answering all that the Storm could throw at them in the first period.

Second Half:
The Roosters maintained their up-tempo and committed style of play and continued to dig in for the second half. As the half wore on, it became a grinding war of attrition – the flamboyant Melbourne Storm seemingly lost, in a style of game they aren’t used to. Used to leading by big margins in most matches, the Storm didn’t know how to handle the dog fight and changed their style.

Instead of their usual pinpoint kicks and sweeping, precise attacking plays – the Storm chipped too early, threw hospital passes and sent their wide men into touch. The Roosters also struggled with 5th tackle options – but were doing enough in defence and adjusted to the arm wrestle much better than the Storm did.

The clock became the Storms enemy, they pushed the envelope and just couldn’t remain calm in the face of a defeat. The outcome and reluctance of the Storm to adjust to a grinding style game of NRL – will play on the mind of Craig Bellamy and his officials. A style that is always seen in semi-finals and grand finals in the NRL.

Match 2; Canberra Stadium

Canberra Raiders 34 def Penrith Panthers 30

It was scrappy in patches, a quality of NRL certainly a few pegs down from the previous Roosters and Storm clash – but flashes of brilliance from the Raiders and a minute occasional sprinkling from the Panthers gave some excitement to fans.

The Raiders continue to win well at home, the scoreline flattering the Panthers who ran in 2 late tries. The Panthers will certainly deserve their wooden spoon this year – the Matt Elliott coached side looking woeful on many occasions. Silly offloads, dropped ball and a continuing lapse in concentration at crucial times will see Penrith struggle to win any more games this season.

Reports after the game suggest their were racial slurs made by the Canberra crowd towards the Penrith team and Panthers officials have lodged an official complain with the NRL over the matter.

The full match report courtesy of AAP is below:

CANBERRA were denied three tries by the video referee but still managed to hold out National Rugby League cellar dwellers Penrith 34-30 at Canberra Stadium tonight.

Video ref Chris Ward refused Raiders centre Colin Best twice in the first half while replacement forward Tom Learoyd-Lahrs was ruled to have been held up after dashing 25 metres to cross the line early in the second half.

But it did not stop the Raiders, who have struggled with consistency throughout the season, from maintaining their strong home record in a game where the score board failed to show the true extent of Canberra’s dominance.

Penrith held the lead only once, in the first half, before the Raiders grabbed two late tries to head 18-10 at the break.

A hat-trick to centre Phil Graham and moments of individual brilliance from five-eighth Todd Carney and winger Bronx Goodwin help inspire the Raiders to a convincing win.

Goodwin left Penrith’s Richie Williams bright red with embarrassment in the first half when he snuck under Williams’ watch to ground a down field kick as the Panthers fullback stood over it, waiting for the ball to run dead.

In the second half, Carney showed what the Raiders have missed for a good portion of the season when he stepped around a string of Panthers defenders and sprinted 40 metres to score.

While Best was twice denied his centre partner Graham was red hot in just his second match back from a lengthy injury lay-off.

As good centres do, Graham was always in the right place to finish off work started in the middle of the field by Carney and halfback Michael Dobson.

Penrith came home strongly in the final 10 minutes with three tries against lacklustre Canberra defence, but it will be little consolation for coach Matt Elliott in his first game back at the capital since leaving the Raiders at the end of last season.