NRL Teams Round 4 2010

NRL Teams for Round 4 of the 2010 NRL Premiership, starting with the big Storm and Dragons clash, along with the Broncos v Roosters clash – both Friday Night.

FRIDAY

MELBOURNE STORM v ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS at Etihad Stadium, 2.10pm

STORM: Billy Slater, Luke MacDougall, Greg Inglis, Dane Nielsen, Anthony Quinn, Brett Finch, Cooper Cronk, Aiden Tolman, Cameron Smith (capt), Jeff Lima, Adam Blair, Kevin Proctor, Todd Lowrie. Interchange: Ryan Hinchcliffe, Hep Cahill, Ryan Tandy, Jesse Bromwich, Bryan Norrie (one to be omitted)

DRAGONS: Darius Boyd, Brett Morris, Beau Scott, Matt Cooper, Jason Nightingale, Jamie Soward, Ben Hornby (capt), Matt Prior, Luke Priddis, Michael Weyman, Jeremy Smith, Ben Creagh, Dean Young. Interchange: Jon Green, Nick Emmett, Dan Hunt, Jarrod Saffy.

Referees: Jared Maxwell, Gerard Sutton

SYDNEY ROOSTERS v BRISBANE BRONCOS at Sydney Football Stadium, 8.35pm

ROOSTERS: Todd Carney, Anthony Minichiello, Phil Graham, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Sam Perrett, Braith Anasta (capt), Mitchell Pearce, Lopini Paea, James Aubusson, Frank Paul Nuuausala, Aidan Guerra, Mitchell Aubusson, Nate Myles. Interchange: Daniel Conn, Martin Kennedy, Brad Takairangi, Nick Kouparitsas

BRONCOS: Corey Norman, Antonio Winterstein, Alex Glenn, Ben Te’o, Gerard Beale, Darren Lockyer (capt), Peter Wallace, Nick Kenny, Andrew McCullough, Scott Anderson, Ashton Sims, Sam Thaiday, Matt Gillett. Interchange: Lagi Setu, Ben Hunt, Mitchell Dodds, Josh McGuire, Mitch Rivett (one to be omitted)

Referees: Tony Archer, Matt Cecchin

SATURDAY

CRONULLA SHARKS v PARRAMATTA EELS at Toyota Stadium, 5.30pm

SHARKS: Albert Kelly, Blake Ferguson, Nathan Stapleton, Ben Pomeroy, Luke Covell, Trent Barrett (capt), Tim Smith, Kade Snowden, John Morris, Luke Douglas, Grant Millington, Anthony Tupou, Paul Gallen. Interchange: Adam Cuthbertson, Josh Cordoba, Paul Aiton, Siosaia Vave, Taulima Tautai (one to be omitted)

EELS: Jarryd Hayne, Krisnan Inu, Joel Reddy, Timana Tahu, Eric Grothe, Daniel Mortimer, Jeff Robson, Nathan Cayless (capt), Matt Keating, Fuifui Moimoi, Nathan Hindmarsh, Ben Smith, Feleti Mateo. Interchange: Kris Keating, Tim Mannah, Brendan Oake, Justin Poore, Justin Horo (One to be omitted)

Referees: Ashley Klein, Tony De Las Heras

NTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS v GOLD COAST TITANS at Dairy Farmers Stadium, 7.30pm

COWBOYS: Ty Williams, John Williams, Ashley Graham, Willie Tonga, Will Tupou, Ray Thompson, Johnathan Thurston (capt), Matthew Scott, Aaron Payne, Antonio Kaufusi, Scott Bolton, Steve Rapira, Luke O’Donnell. Interchange: Anthony Watts, James Tamou, Willie Mason, Carl Webb, Leeson Ah Mau (one to be omitted)

TITANS: William Zillman, Kevin Gordon, Mat Rogers, Joseph Tomane, David Mead, Greg Bird, Preston Campbell, Luke Bailey (capt), Nathan Friend, Brad Meyers, Anthony Laffranchi, Mark Minichiello, Ashley Harrison. Interchange: Matt White, Sam Tagataese, Will Matthews, Riley Brown, Michael Henderson (one to be omitted)

Referees: Steve Lyons, Alan Shortall

SUNDAY

NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS v MANLY SEA EAGLES at Mt Smart Stadium, 2pm

WARRIORS: Lance Hohaia, Kevin Locke, Brent Tate, Jerome Ropati, Bill Tupou, Joel Moon, James Maloney, Sam Rapira, Aaron Heremaia, Russell Packer, Lewis Brown, Jacob Lillyman, Micheal Luck (capt). Interchange: Wade McKinnon, Jeremy Latimore, Jesse Royal, Ben Matulino.

SEA EAGLES: Ben Farrar, Michael Robertson, Jamie Lyon (co-capt), Steve Matai, Tony Williams, Kieran Foran, Trent Hodkinson, Jason King (co-capt), Matt Ballin, Josh Perry, Anthony Watmough, Shane Rodney, Glenn Stewart. Interchange: Joe Galuvao, Brent Kite, Matt Cross, Chris Bailey, Terence Seu Seu, Vic Mauro (Two to be omitted)

Referees: Ben Cummins, Chris James

CANBERRA RAIDERS v WESTS TIGERS at Canberra Stadium, 3pm

RAIDERS: Josh Dugan, James Stuart, Jarrod Croker, Joel Thompson, Daniel Vidot, Terry Campese, Josh McCrone, David Shillington, Alan Tongue (capt), Scott Logan, Joe Picker, Bronson Harrison, Shaun Fensom. Interchange: Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Trevor Thurling, Troy Thompson, Dane Tilse

TIGERS: Beau Ryan, Lote Tuqiri, Blake Ayshford, Chris Lawrence, Mitch Brown, Benji Marshall, Tim Moltzen, Bryce Gibbs, Robbie Farah (capt), Keith Galloway, Todd Payten, Gareth Ellis, Chris Heighington. Interchange: Andrew Fifita, Liam Fulton, Mark Flanagan, Daniel Fitzhenry, Junior Moors (One to be omitted)

Referees: Shayne Hayne, Brett Suttor

MONDAY

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v PENRITH PANTHERS at EnergyAustralia Stadium, 4pm

KNIGHTS: Shannon McDonnell, Akuila Uate, Junior Sa’u, Adam MacDougall, Cooper Vuna, Jarrod Mullen, Scott Dureau, Ben Cross, Isaac De Gois, Evarn Tuimavave, Steve Simpson (capt), Cory Paterson, Mark Taufua. Interchange: Matt Hilder, Daniel Tolar, Richie Fa’aoso, Wes Naiqama, Cameron Ciraldo (owo to be omitted)

PANTHERS: Lachlan Coote, Michael Gordon, Michael Jennings, Adrian Purtell, Brad Tighe, Luke Lewis, Luke Walsh, Tim Grant, Kevin Kingston, Petero Civoniceva (capt), Gavin Cooper, Nigel Plum, Joseph Paulo. Interchange: Masada Iosefa, Matthew Bell, Nathan Smith, Sam McKendry, Shane Elford, Frank Puletua (two to be omitted)

Referees: Jason Robinson, Bernard Sutto

SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS v CANTERBURY BULLDOGS at ANZ Stadium, 7pm

RABBITOHS: Rhys Wesser, Nathan Merritt, Colin Best, Beau Champion, Fetuli Talanoa, John Sutton, Chris Sandow, Luke Stuart, Issac Luke, Roy Asotasi (capt), Sam Burgess, David Taylor, Ben Lowe. Interchange: Scott Geddes, Shannan McPherson, Michael Crocker, Jason Clark.

BULLDOGS: Luke Patten, Steve Turner, Josh Morris, Jamal Idris, Bryson Goodwin, Ben Roberts, Brett Kimmorley, Ben Hannant, Michael Ennis, Chris Armit, Blake Green, Andrew Ryan (capt), David Stagg. Interchange: Yileen Gordon, Danny Williams, Jarrad Hickey, Ben Barba.

Referees: Gavin Badger, Phil Haines.

Bellamy wants big crowd for Dragons

Melbourne Storm head coach Craig Bellamy has called on all Victorian sports fans to come along to the Club’s Good Friday blockbuster against the St George-Illawarra Dragons at Etihad Stadium.

With both teams unbeaten in their opening three games of the season, most rugby league experts have installed the Storm and Dragons as premiership favourites, with the winner of this game to assume outright favouritism.

Bellamy, who will face-off with his former mentor Wayne Bennett, has issued a call to arms for the huge top of the table clash – also the Storm’s first game in Melbourne this year.

“We’re hoping to get a big crowd there, there’s no other sporting events on in Melbourne so a big turnout would be great,” said Bellamy.

“It’s our first game in Melbourne for the 2010 season, we’re unfurling the 2009 premiership flag and it would be a great sight to see as much purple in the crowd as we can.

“Good Friday has always been a day for families to do things together, and given the fact kids under-15 get in free with a paying adult, it’s a really good opportunity for everyone to come and watch us play.”

The Melbourne Storm will be supporting the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal on the day by providing the opportunity for spectators to make a contribution, while the Club will also make a donation at the end of the game.

“In conjunction with the Royal Children’s Hospital we’re hoping to raise some money for those guys as well,” said Bellamy

“It’s a great cause steeped in tradition here in Melbourne, and it should be a really good game so there’s plenty of good reasons for everyone to get along and watch.”

Tickets for the Good Friday clash are available through Ticketmaster online at www.ticketmaster.com.au, by phone on 136 100, or at any Ticketmaster outlet.

Ricardo: NRL Round 3 Wrap

After the dust has settled on NRL Round 3, Mr NRL – Ricky Ricardo takes you in-depth for every single match. Here’s how RR saw things this Round:

Round 3: Weekly Wrap-up

Parramatta Eels v Wests Tigers

This game can be summed up in a few words really. The Benji Marshall show. Flicks, behind the back passes, precision kicks etc. You name it, and Benji had it up his sleeve. He received some great support from dummy half courtesy of Robbie Farah, and strong support from Todd Payten who was playing first game back from injury.
The Tigers previously weak-ish defence was also much improved from the week before, and if they keep it up, they could be a top 4 candidate.

With young players, Beau Ryan, Mitch Brown and Tim Moltzen all having solid games, we could see the emergence of a relatively young Tigers team going all the way.

The Eels on the other hand were relatively sloppy with the ball and flat at times. They miss a halfback who has the ability to organise the team and create something out of nothing, much like Tim Smith did before he left. Robson whilst strong in defence lacks the creativeness to really trouble opposition defences.

The main killer for the Eels though was their ball control. They seem to be making more errors of late, something of which DA will be fuming about, so it’s something they need to fix up. Their completion rates as a result, also aren’t that great nor is their metreage. The Eels need to dominate their upcoming games against the Sharks and the Raiders to send a message to the rest of the League.

St George Illawarra Dragons v North Queensland Cowboys

Looks like the Dragons might just be the team to beat this year. They seem to be outclassing their opponents in every game they’ve played so far and the game against the Cowboys was no different. The halves combination between Hornby and Soward seems to be working better then ever, not to mention the increased load of Darius Boyd becoming more involved in the attack.

Their forwards continue to set the benchmark for the rest of team to follow with Weyman, Prior and Hunt all taking charge and making good metres to get the Dragons in a good position. With the potency on the wings in Brett Morris and Jason Nightingale, they’ll be a very tough side to beat.

The Cowboys, to be honest, are the Cowboys of old. The team that they’ve always been really. They have one great game, followed by a very poor game. They’re far too inconsistent and clearly need new blood in the backline and the forward pack.

The impact of Mason hasn’t seemed to help them all that much, as none of the other forwards apart from Bolton and Scott seem to be making any real gains. It’s also evident that they rely too heavily on JT. Rd 1, down by 16 odd points, who almost wins the game for them? JT. Rd 2, down by the same amount, who wins it for them? JT again.

The Cowboys are like a WWE Wrestler with their signature move. They wait until they’re down and out before finally being able to execute it. They don’t always come out with the glory, but they go down with a fight. They need to start games well, rather than end games well.

Penrith Panthers v Melbourne Storm

It seems as if heart and spirit just isn’t enough these days if a team can’t convert opportunities into points, and that’s exactly what happened with the Panthers. Despite showing true signs of coverage, never-say-die attitudes, and a great deal of spirit, they lacked the execution to put the Storm to the sword. They need someone to step up and take charge. Someone who will put their hand up and ask for the ball to create that magic moment that the entire NRL world wants to see. We’re yet to see a moment like that from the Panthers, and you have to wonder just how long it will be before we see one. They have the team to challenge for the top positions, but they don’t have the execution to do so at this stage.

There’s not much that can be said about the Storm, but you have to give them credit where it’s due. They know that regardless of whether they’re leading a game or trailing a game that they can never take their foot off the accelerator, and it was for that reason as to why they won. They never gave up, they worked hard for each other and were rewarded with the winning try due to some Brett Finch brilliance. It has to be a concern though that the lesser known sides are pushing them all the way. The big test comes this week against the Dragons. The big question though is, are the Storm ready for this game mentally?

Manly –Warringah Sea Eagles v Newcastle Knights

Manly burst straight out of the blocks and recorded an easy win by NRL standards. They executed their opportunities well and new halves pairing Foran and Hodkinson seems to be doing the trick beautifully for them, so far at least. Whilst their forwards haven’t been outstanding, they’ve been doing their job enabling the halves to get a roll-on and get the attacking advantage with the majority of their kicks. They still have a long way to go though with their defence still quite suspect at times, particularly on the wings and on the fringes of the ruck. Hasler will be looking for some improvement this week.

The Knights just couldn’t match the intensity and the attitude. When Mullen doesn’t fire, the Knights don’t fire, simple as that. Even if Gidley had of been playing, their play would have been flat. It seems as if all of the off-field issues are starting to surface once again and heap the pressure back onto the players. Whether or not they can deal with is the question, but if they don’t, then they could find themselves drifting away from the top 8 very soon.

Gold Coast Titans v Canberra Raiders

Yes, the Titans won, but by gosh they were sloppy with the ball at times. All you hear is talk of them getting better every year, but to be honest, they’re playing some very average footy. With Prince out for at least a month, it’s only going to be even harder to get the wins. Too many penalties, too many dropped balls, and far too much indiscipline, particularly from star recruit Greg Bird. The Titans really need to start bringing their A game, before other teams start bringing their A game to them.

A young side is never expected to achieve big things, but they sure never give up. The Raiders despite the loss, had the right attitude, and the right mindset, but they just lacked the finishing touch. The killer blow to get some points on the board. That will come with time, and they have the players to create something in experienced campaigners Terry Campese and Alan Tounge, so it’s just a question of when. The young guns coming through are amazing as well. First Josh Dugan and now Shaun Fensom.

Brisbane Broncos v New Zealand Warriors

One has to worry about Brisbane’s player depth. Israel Folau, Denan Kemp, Justin Hodges, Jowral Yow Yeh, Corey Parker, Matt Gillett and Steve Michaels are all injured, and it makes you wonder just how much the young players are going to have to step up when they aren’t normally used to doing so. Either they’ll man up and just get the win, or they’ll get blown off the park. They certainly don’t want to be blown away. If they’re not careful, they too might find themselves out of the race early.

Perhaps a darkhorse nobody saw coming in the Warriors? They dominated last week, executed fantastically well and have many players stepping up and taking charge. It won’t be easy though with The Beast out for at least a few weeks, but they have the depth to replace him. Just how much will they miss him is anyone’s guess, so we’ll just have to find out. James Maloney has been a revelation since his arrival at the Warriors. They finally seem to have found a halves combination that works and gets the job done.

Canterbury-Bansktown Bulldogs v Sydney Roosters

After two shockers, who would have thought the Dogs would play the way they did? No-one! And if you did, well then you must have had some luck along the way. Josh Morris was superb and virtually unstoppable close to the try-line thanks to some great lead-up work from the halves and fellow backs. The forwards set the platform for the team to get a roll-on.

The question is, was it a one-off, or are the Bulldogs back and ready to rumble?

If ever there was a time when a team’s confidence would be shattered, now would be that time for the Roosters. After being on a high for the first two weeks of the season, they’ve come crashing back down after being humiliated in a 46 point loss. Can they bounce back? Is player morale down? What will Brian Smith do during the week to get the player’s confidence back?

One thing’s for sure, any more complacency or cockiness, and the Roosters could start the season the same way they finished 2009.

Cronulla Sharks v South Sydney Rabbitohs

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no and no. Couldn’t help but use Phil Gould’s words to describe the Sharks performance. Perhaps the worst performance from any team this year. Albert Kelly is not a fullback, end of story. John Morris is not a halfback, end of story. Ricky Stuart, what are you doing?

Evidently, the positional changes flopped and big-time and so Stuart has some tough decisions to make over the next few days. We’ll have to see if he springs anymore surprises this week. Tim Smith is expected to feature, but will he start or come off the bench? Will he even have an impact against his former side? Or will he simply crack under the pressure, and as a result, the Sharks capitulate.

If they want to have any chance of winning, it’s simple. Hold onto the ball, and complete your sets.

Perhaps the best game of the season from the Bunnies, particularly Issac Luke. The halves still aren’t clicking the way they should though by any means. But you can’t discount Luke’s effort as it was amazing. This is after he actually went to the wrong stadium before the game and only just made it onto the field in time before kick-off.

The Bunnies still have a long way to go though. They need Sandow in particular to step up and take charge. He seems to be intimidated by opposition defences when he has the ball-in-hand. He needs to change that and fast, before he coughs the ball up and costs his team the game.

Ricardo: NRL Team of the Week

Expert weekly NRL commentary from Ricky Ricardo, today RR picks his team of the week. Some interesting, some would say controversial appointments by Ricardo – but RR rarely gets it wrong. Here’s how we saw things after NRL Round 3, 2010:

RickyRicardo’s Team of the Week Rd 3

Fullback: Lance Hohaia – Perhaps one of the most under-rated players in the game, Hohaia single-handedly led the charge for the Warriors in their crushing win over the Broncos. He scored a try himself and was involved in various others, to solidify his position as a hard-working under-rated fullback.

Winger: Lote Tuqiri – Who would have thought that the big man would have made such a successful return to League and so quickly too? He’s scored 4-5 tries already this season to be amongst the leading try scorers, and he’ll undoubtedly score more. Fantastic player to watch in full flight.

Centre: Josh Morris – Words simply can’t describe the man’s performance over the weekend. 4 tries in one game is phenomenal, and the skill and speed that he showed to create them and score them was incredible. Definitely get your money on him for leading try scorer.

Centre: Beau Champion – The under-rated centre does it again. Perhaps one of the Rabbitohs who doesn’t receive as many accolades, he sure knows how to make a statement. He scored the opening two tries with some good skill and good awareness. Definitely an important player in the Souths system.

Winger: Brett Morris – The Morris brothers keep on doing it. Josh with 4 and Brett with 3. They actually have a competition going to see who can score the most tries. Loser has to buy the other a case of beer. Nothing like a bit of brotherly rivalry, hehe.

Five-Eighth: Benji Marshall – Only one word can describe this man. Freak. His running game, his passing game, his kicking game, were all phenomenal and it doesn’t look like he’s about to slow down. If he keeps this up, the Tigers are a chance to really cause some problems this year. Never seen anything like it.

Halfback: James Maloney – A journeyman of the NRL has finally found a home at the Warriors. After being previously left out of Parramatta and Storm sides in the past, Maloney has shown his talents after bagging three tries in a fantastic effort against the Broncos. Great creativity with some of his tries and others, and definitely has played himself into form over the last two weeks. Very under-rated player also.

Prop: Tim Mannah – Perhaps the Eels best player in an otherwise poor effort from the club. Coming off the bench, he gave them a bit of a spark with his strong runs, good leg-drive and enthusiasm. He might only be young, but you can tell that Mannah loves the game and has a lot of enthusiasm every time he plays the game.

Hooker : Isaac Luke – Had his best performance of the year as did the Bunnies, to help them get the job done for the Bunnies. Whether or not he can keep it going remains to be seen, but with Sutton/Sandow at the helm, they’ll either be hot or very cold.

Prop: Aiden Tolman – This man is the future of the NSW Front Row forward stocks. Every single week, he makes in excess of 15 hit-ups, 100 metres and 25 tackles. He is an absolute machine for a young player and he just keeps getting better and better.

Second Row: Anthony Laffranchi – Starting to re-capture his form of 2007-2008 that saw him play Origin. Whether or not he can maintain it, remains to be seen, but if he can, he could be an outside chance of regaining his Origin spot in the second row for NSW.

Lock: Shaun Fensom – Perhaps the best up-and-coming second rower/lock in the game. Amassed a phenomenal 56 tackles despite the Raiders loss, and has every chance of making a NSW side that are in desperate need of defensive workhorses. Hindmarsh along with Fensom in the NSW second row, will be a very hard to team to get past.

Reserve 1: Jason Nightingale – Now a mainstay on the wing for the Dragons following Dell’s departure, he didn’t disappoint bagging two tries and being involved in a lot of the attack. Great combination with the Dragons backs to wreak havoc.

Reserve 2: Steve Matai – After toning down his levels of aggressiveness, Matai has become a more aware player, and he showed this after he bagged two tries on the weekend. Whether or not the aggressiveness stays away remains to be seen though.

Reserve 3: Scott Anderson – Easily the Broncos best player in an otherwise poor performance from the club. He’s come a long way since the early days at the Storm and will only get better.

Reserve 4: Mitchell Pearce – The only Roosters player who looked interested in the shellacking at the hands of the Dogs. Scored a try, ran, passed and tackled his heart out as always.

Player of the Week: Benji Marshall

Your NRL Teams Progress Report

At the completion of NRL Round 3, how is your team traveling? Is it time to panic, or should you be
quietly confident and start planning the celebration party for October? Well expert NRL commentator
Scrappy Coco rejoins us with his ideas on how things are going for your mob:

Titans:

If your a Goldy fan, then you should be extremely happy. Not just because you’re undefeated, but
because Cartwrights boys have played poorly for the most part and have still won their matches.
These guys have a tonne of talent and have plenty of improvement to come. Be Happy.

Storm:

Much the same as the Titans, have played only average – but the Storm have still managed to keep
winning. Like always Bellamy has done wonders introducing new players into his well oiled
machine and they continue their winning ways. McDougall, Finch and Lowrie all settled well. Your’re fine.

Dragons:

Many didn’t think the Dragqueens would have the firepower or precision of last year. They’ve showed
they haven’lost any of their Wayne Bennett precision, and there has been a glimmer of power in
attack. Confidence growing by the week, so could be another good year for the joint venture.
While fans can relax, they better not overreact like they did last year.

Bulldogs:

While there might have been some hiccups in the past fortnight, it looks like the Bulldogs showed enough
to prove they won’t be also-rans this year. Despite Hannant wanting out and concern over new face Steve
Turner – everything should be OK. Have plenty of attacking grunt and if Barba continues to get a look-in
this side will pump. Smile Doggies fans.

Wests Tigers:

Smart off-season buying looks to have paid dividends. Lote Tiquiri has slotted in nicely, Mark Flanagan
also looks like a hard worker. If Jason Cayless can discover vintage NRL form, this team will have a
bench with even more impact. Their attack remains peerless, if they can remain enthusiastic in defence
then they’ll be a shot. Tiggers faithful, hold the corks just yet.

Eels:

Were heaped with praise and pressure in pre-season after some strong offseason buying. However, the
cinderellas of 2009 are yet to find cohesion. Losing Shackleton for the year was a huge blow, not just
for the playing ranks but for confidence too. This side thrives on confidence more than most, a decent
win could see them get rolling. Fans, the verdict is still out on the 2010 model Eels.

Roosters:

Have been a massive success story for 2010. New coach, new attitude and playing with a new confidence.
Their attacking structure looks great, the element of X-Factor now there with Carney from fullback and
even Mini on the flanks. Well balanced squad-wise. Were given a reminder about attitude in defence last
week by the Bulldogs – probably a good early season reminder, that things need to be perfect every week
to keep winning. Fans should be much happier this year, remain confident.

Penrith:

Looked the goods in pre-season and Round 1, but have slipped back to their old ways and are losing in
the back end of games. Looking at the roster of the Panthers you would think they can make the Top 8
this year. Walsh and Burns are creative, fast-moving halves and if needed they have other playmakers in various
positions to offer attacking options. A little like the Tigers in that they can rack up points in
attack but have no clue how to stop the leaks in defence. Border-line finals chance at this stage.

Warriors:

The Kiwis were written off before it began this year, but have surprised all and sundry with their
solid completions in 2010. Have continued their second-phase footy, but it seems most of it is
sticking so far. Maloney has been a real purchase and if Price, Mannering, Luck and Tate can play
most games this year – this side can really surprise. Still, it’s a long season and they don’t travel
well – hence fans don’t bank on the NZ outfit making the Top 8 just yet.

Manly:

Surprised even their most passionate fan on the weekend, beating Newcastle easily. They’ve had plenty
to contend with since winning the prize in 2008. They’ve lost the personnel they once had and can’t
keep away from injury or scandal. Don’t look to have the playmaker to consistently deliver them wins
in 2010. Lyon is their man, but he is slowing down and injury is always a worry. Probably time for
Manly fans to put the Moet back in the cabinet.

Souths:

Like Parra, there was plenty of media hype around the Bunnies. They bought big and everyone from fans
to punters and critics were watching closely. They looked to be trying too hard early on and the
pressure told more on halves Sandow/Sutton as opposed to new forwards Taylor and Burgess. The Sharks
have given these guys a leg up now, played them into form. Looking more confident with each game.
Bunnies should make the Top 8, so fans can rest easy.

Cowboys:

Much like predicted, have been inconsistent so far in 2010. Look to have a decent squad, but are yet
to fully gel. Missing Bowen big time and with JT as the main attacking threat, enemy teams are running
traffic at JT exclusively to wear him down. Real fears for this team, don’t look like improving enough
on last year. Might be a struggle. Fans should be concerned.

Knights:

Were tipped for spoon honours given their horror preseason dramas. But despite losing Hicks and Houston,
the Knights have performed admirably even without Kurt Gidley. Veterans Simpson and McDougall have been
playing with plenty of passion, but my fears of injuries are just around the corner. These guys are
both players in the ‘NRL News Most Injured Allstars Side’ and regularly go down with problems. However,
are playing vibrant, uptempo footy. Flip the coin for making the Top 8.

Raiders:

Are following their usual pattern or showing heaps of potential and being hard to beat at home. They
remain full of speedy, youthful backs that can cut sides to pieces. The reintroduction of Adam Mogg
will give them experience and guidance. Just need the likes of a Michael Monaghan to be resigned from
the UK and they’ll have a real tilt at things. Probably can’t make the Top 8 this year.

Broncos:

Hmmm, worrying times. Are hurting in terms of injury and depths of their squad and they don’t have the
Yoda style coach to get them out. Bennett was always a big factor in giving this side belief. Many NRL
sides have young, talented backs and when forward packs perform – they can do their thing. But combine
a struggling forward pack with young in-experienced backs and you have a receipe for disaster. Won’t
make the Top 8 this year.

Sharks:

Are specials for the wooden spoon. Not only is this side playing without confidence or luck, their
organisation at times makes them look like a park footy side. Are in such a black hole, no one – least
not Ricky Stuart knows where to start getting them out. Shire fans have endured decades of pain, having
never won a title is big burden – so they will handle not making the Top 8

Sharks Play Souths into Form

Ok, mortgage your house, sell the car, gather all the money you can and race down to the nearest bookie and put it all on Cronulla for the wooden spoon.

The Sharks were condemned to their 13th consecutive defeat tonight, losing to the Bunnies 30-8 at Toyota Park.

It was a brave crowd of 10,000 out for Monday Night Football, with conditions wet and testing for both sides.

But the match was only ever a contest for the first 10 minutes. The Sharks scored first through Luke Covell after only a few minutes and it looked like their luck might finally be ready to change.

It wasn’t to be.

What was interesting to watch, was the reactions of both teams when they scored.

When Cronulla scored their try, almost all the team celebrated like no tomorrow. They looked relieved. The pressure continues to build on them in regards to their maligned attack and inability to win games. This is a team down on it’s luck and totally ecstatic just to score points.

When the Bunnies went over for their first try, sure there was a celebration – but nothing like the display the Sharks put on after their touchdown. You see, South Sydney were confident. They weren’t arrogant, but they were seemingly always confident of scoring points and getting the win.

Cronulla’s poor run of form continues to spiral them out of control.

The Rabbitohs had an amazing completion rate tonight, made even more impressive given the wet conditions. They were guilty of showboating a little at the backend of the game, but given their lead – they can be forgiven.

The Sharks struggled to hold the ball at the best of times, and as usual – when they fell further behind, they begin to panic and their problems escalate. When behind, they start trying to score from every play and naturally this puts way too much pressure on the team.

Rookie Albert Kelly was thrown the keys to the fullback position and the kid was under the pump from the get-go. The Bunnies bombed him beautifully and would send down a physical chasing team that had the custodian walking on egg shells.

The ploy worked and Kelly coughed up or didn’t get near several bombs, some leading to Bunnies trys.

Sandow and Sutton looked more confident in this game, it seems the Sharks have played the Bunnies into form and now with the monkey off their backs, the Souths side should start to dust themselves off and get into gear.

For Cronulla though, the future remains bleak.

At times tonight they looked like a park football side. Basic errors in defence were made worse by an attack formation that was desperate and disorganised.

To make matters worse, not only was expensive signing Albert Kelly crashing and burning – their other signing Dean Collis left the field with injury in his first outing for the club.

If the Sharks lose next week, they will equal he record set by the Wests Magpies for the longest losing streak in NRL history.

Dogs thump Roosters 60-14

The Bulldogs roared back to the winners circle today with a belting win 60-14 over the previously unbeated Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium.

It was the biggest win the Canterbury Bankstown side have ever achieved over the Roosters, with the result beyond doubt early on – the Doggies leading 30-4 at the halftime break.

The Roosters were never in the hunt, hampered by their non existent completion rate of less than 50 percent.

The Dogs will be encouraged by the continued development of Ben Barba, he’s always had a bagful of potential – but his skills were on full show today when he was injected into the game off the bench.

Many believe Barba is better than Thurston at the same age and he is certainly the future for Belmore if they can hang on to him.

Amazingly try scoring machine Josh Morris had a hat-trick of touchdowns inside the first 40 minutes for the Dogs and finished with 4 for the match. Fantasy League players will be licking their lips at the prospect of Morris sending their teams scores into orbit.

Morris’ fortune was a nightmare for Shaun Kenny-Dowall, SKD saw plenty of traffic and simply was unable to contain the rampaging Doggies flyer.

Canterbury would also be happy with Steve Turners game, the former Storm edge man settling more today and was impressive after a stuttering few appearances earlier in the year.

There were some signs of a comeback in the second term, with the Roosters having a hot 5 minute period just after the break – but it was soon forgotten when Jamaal Idris scored a hot try to put it beyond doubt.

It just wasn’t the Roosters day today and they’ll be happy to forget this one in a hurry – while the Dogs get the monkey off their back and open the account for 2010 in style.

Warriors whack Broncos 48-16

It was an ambush after halftime that left Brisbane beaten and battered, the NZ Warriors in a romp winning 48-16 after leading 14-10 at the break.

This was a physical encounter with both sides suffering injury woes, Folau breaking a finger and will miss some weeks for Brisbane – certainly a player they cannot afford to be without.

The NZ Warriors were led well by James Maloney who bagged 28 points of his own and was highly involved for the Kiwi outfit.

The only bad news for the NZ side were injuries to both Simon Mannering and Manu Vatuvei who suffered hamstring injuries.

The signing of former Melbourne player Maloney looks to be a good one for NZ. The former Storm fringe player was impressive with his kicking and looks to be a real prospect.

The Broncos inexperience as really shown today, the injuries compounding the problem and no doubt Ivan Henjack will be scratching his head at how to rectify the situation with limited personnel.

When the Warriors got confident in the 2nd term, their trademark second phase play was in full gear – allowing them to pile on the points and develop some early season confidence with this strong win away from home.

Storm beat fading Panthers

The Storm have kept their perfect 2010 NRL record intact, skipping away from the fading Panthers at CUA Stadium tonight to win 16-10.

The problem remains for Penrith, they can’t seem to stay with teams in the backend of games and coach Matt Elliott may want to look at fitness issues as his chargers seem to lose focus.

Penrith did have some chances late in the piece, but struggled with consistent attack. At times they relied on the brilliance of Jennings alone and couldn’t continually heap pressure on the solid Storm.

For Melbourne, the returning Cooper Cronk did a good job considering the length of time he’s been away from the game. Coming off from an injury during a long offseason, Cronk slipped nicely back into the Premiership winning team.

The Storm aren’t quite in top gear just year, but their still unbeaten and other teams will be worried about what the Storm can do when they finally click.

The big positive for Melbourne is their ability to discover, unearth or rediscover NRL talent.

Luke McDougall again played well and the speedy flanker was amongst the points for his side. Finch too performed well and has never looked back since relocating from Parramatta.

Melbourne should be been further ahead at the break, but botched a few early chances in their initial raids.

The loss will be a frustration for the Panthers who showed good promise in the pre-season and looked the goods with new faces and players returning from injury. Penrith did seem to miss Burns and he will be welcomed back with open arms when he lines up next for the side.

The Panthers are away to the Knights next weekend and the Storm lineup against fellow front runners the Dragons in a big clash.

Dragons Rock Solid over Cows

Continuing their unbeaten start to the 2010 NRL season, the Dragons have again impressed with a strong showing against the North Queensland Cowboys – winning 33-8 at WIN Stadium.

At times having their critics for their limited attack, the St George Illawarra side tonight showed just what it could do with the ball in hand – with weapons Cooper, Morris and Nightingale all impressing.

The defence for the Dragons is at impregnable, they concede very few tries and it was the same again tonight – they strangled the life out of the Cowboys and the visiting side could only manage a touchdown with 10 minutes remaining in the game.

“I think the scoreline probably flattered us a little bit – the Cowboys were much better than that,” Dragons coach Wayne Bennett said.

“We got away there at the end.

“We’re not trying to play razzle dazzle, we weren’t trying to control the ball any more than normal either, it just happened.”

The Cowboys admitted to being frustrated by the home side’s stellar defensive stand, which extended North Queensland’s miserable run in first halves this season, which has now yielded just four points in 120 minutes.

“They don’t give you much,” Cowboys coach Neil Henry said.