All posts by ricky

Bryan Fletcher Rape Case Interview

Former leading NRL player Bryan Fletcher has had his name dragged through the mud as an investigation continues into Police handling of an alleged gang rape case in 2004.

Bryan Fletcher, former member of the Sydney Roosters and South Sydney NRL teams – was reported to be in the company of several men who allegedly gang raped a Finnish backpacker in 2004.

It’s alleged that the backpacker consented to sex with a first man; and afterwards up to 5 other males forced themselves on to the young woman.

Bryan Fletcher was allegedly identified as one of the three men in a taxi who dropped the woman off to an eastern suburbs house. Police Superintendant Adam Purcell is then alleged to have interviewed Bryan Fletcher ‘off-line’ and unrecorded in what he claims was a bid to avoid the media leaks- similar to the Bulldogs rape case a few years ago.

The Police Integrity Commission (PIC) claims that Supt. Adam Purcell gave Bryan Fletcher ‘a heads up’ – by talking to him unofficially. Fletcher co-operated with Police and a DNA sample was requested.

Fletcher admits to being in the house with several others and he knew of consensual sex with the girl- however he claims to have left the house to walk home on foot after a few drinks.

No charges were ever laid in the case, with the victom unwilling to go through court process. Fletcher was determined to be a ‘witness’ and not an alleged offender in the saga.

Supt Purcell, who has played a key role with the NSW Origin side, helping the league transform player behaviour and is now the local area commander in Hurstville, was yesterday under fire for meetings he had with Fletcher.

The commission heard that during one phone call, Fletcher pleaded with Supt Purcell to tell his wife and Souths CEO Shane Richardson that he was not involved in the gang rape.

Fletcher allegedly told Supt Purcell he was afraid his DNA might match the attackers’ because he had been kissing the backpacker as they danced at the Orient Hotel, The Rocks on that night.

An interview with Fletcher was never recorded and the star was not cautioned, meaning anything he said could not be used in evidence in court.

“You gave Mr Fletcher a heads up didn’t you?” counsel assisting the inquiry Michael King SC asked Supt Purcell yesterday. “Your actions were to provide, in effect, an unrecorded and advance warning to a possible suspect or person of interest werent they?”

Supt Purcell angrily rejected the suggestion and said he only wanted to prevent damaging leaks to the media.

After the Bulldogs were caught in a media storm over unfounded allegations of rape in the same year, he decided, as acting commander of Waverley police, he would interview Fletcher himself to prevent leaks.

Supt Purcell told the inquiry he had phoned Fletcher’s former coach Ricky Stuart, who contacted Ricketson, or possibly another player, to obtain the star’s number so he could call him in.
Fletcher attended Bondi police station but Supt Purcell did not record an interview he conducted with him. No other police were present throughout the interview.

The integrity commission continues investigating whether any police were involved in serious misconduct or criminal activity in relation to the investigation. The hearing continues.

Brent Tate Signs with Warriors

Brisbane Broncos outside back, Brent Tate has signed with the NZ Warriors until 2010. Tate will now join his brother in law Steve Price; who is married to Tate’s sister Jo. Tate’s wife is also of New Zealand heritage so the move is a good one for himself and the family. We wish Brent all the best in his new ventures.

Raiders Double Standards – Irwin Sacked

The Canberra Raiders yesterday confirmed new winger Steve Irwin has been sacked following the Police car chase with Todd Carney. The former Brisbane winger leaves the ACT having not played a single game for the Raiders.

How this young guy was thrown out of the club and local star Todd Carney was thrown a lifeline is simply outrageous. Lets consider the circumstances again, Carney was driving the Utility with Irwin as passenger. Carney led Police on a car chase, then left the scene; bolting on foot – Irwin stayed at the scene and assisted Police.

Following the events, the Police charged Todd Carney with various offences and Steve Irwin was totally exonerated by authorities. Fast forward a week – Todd Carney gets a lifeline from his Canberra Raiders club and new boy Steve Irwin gets thrown out on his ear.

This sends a shocking message to the Canberra Raiders playing squad. If you’re a top line player, have no fear – you can do what you want. If you’re a fringe first grader or average first grader, watch your step! Irwin wasn’t even committed of a crime and was booted out of the Raiders club.

The NRL needs to intervene here and severely reprimand the Raiders in the very least. This is an absolute outrage; and the Raiders are lucky they are a low profile club in comparison to some others – as this would be front page news anywhere else in the NRL.

The Raiders tried to soften the blow for Irwin by offering him a role with it’s Brisbane feeder club – South Logan Magpies. Accordingly Irwin and his manager refused the ridiculous offer.

NRL Power Rankings by The Grubber

The popular ‘Power Rankings’ returns this week, after a positive reception by NRL News readers. You wanted more of ‘Mr Grubber’ – you got it! The Grubber hits us with his expert analysis and the brutal truth about all things NRL.

1. (Equal) Melbourne: Stayed with the Sea Eagles for 77 minutes and other than a field goal there was nothing to split the two sides. Should bounce back strongly this weekend at home to Souths. Power score: 9/10, Odds of salary cap audit now that Client Newton has been signed: 3-1.

1. (Equal) Manly: Amazing defence set up victory against last year’s minor premiers. Have a core group of talented, committed players with solid NRL experience. Turn up every week and do what needs to be done. Opportunities to improve in attack. Power score: 9/10, Odds of Laurie Daley conceding that Manly will (in all likelihood) make the finals: 50-1.

3. Wests Tigers: Exciting enterprising attack and good control of ruck area has the Tigers in best form since ’05. Young forward pack continuing to improve with every outing. Power score: 8/10, Number of Tigers fans who have conveniently forgotten their previous complaints after losing in controversial circumstances: at least 50,000.

4. North Queensland: Belted out of sorts Canterbury side when it mattered. Thurston reportedly politely enquired of team-mates “do I [ expletive] have to [expletive] make every [expletive] tackle as well as set up every [expletive] try?”. Power score: 7.5/10, Odds that the Bulldogs will take another game to Brisbane any time soon: 100-1.

5. Brisbane: Very impressive with their talent back on deck, even if they were playing a Newcastle pub team. Need to capitalise on the occasions where stars are available. Bennett positively animated in press conference even offering whole sentences in response to questions. Power score: 7/10, Odds that Ben Ikin will now back Broncos for rare premiership double: 2-1.

6. Parramatta: Smith and Finch showing signs of a combination developing. A big test this weekend against the Tigers. Have the forward pack to match them but may lack speed around the ruck. Power score: 7/10, Odds that Parramatta will rename the “Cronin Stand” to the “Vatuvei Stand”: 3-1.

7. Cronulla: Current uncertainty regarding Kimmorley deal may have led to shock loss to Roosters. A tough assignment this weekend with road game against Cowboys. Power score: 7/10, Odds of Brett Kimmorley playing for any NRL side other than Cronulla: 30-1.

8. New Zealand: Teflon now desperate to beat out rival bidders in quest for Vatuvei’s crucial endorsement. Front office keen to investigate Manu’s suspicious purchase of $1000 worth of lubricant prior to Monday night game. OK, I’m done. That’s enough for “new Steve Mavin”. Power score: 6/10, Odds that Auckland Lions will be down a winger this Sunday: 2-1.

9. Gold Coast: Found a way to win without Preston Campbell though innovative ball handling, a compressed squeeze defence and clutch plays at end of match. Power score: 6/10, Odds of Brett Delaney being “mysteriously” benched in round 20 encounter with South Sydney: 2-1.

10. Canberra: Alan Tongue always dangerous around ruck area, especially when combining with Zillman and Withers. Probably one franchise player away from being a consistent top 8 threat. Power score: 5.5/10, Odds of Neville Costigan becoming Todd Carney’s 12-step sponsor: 200-1.

11. Canterbury: Forwards must find a way to fire up and bring back the intimidation. Accordingly, management have asked for tape of Folkes altercation with North Queensland fan to provide aggression training to Hickey and others. Power score: 5.5/10, Odds that we will see “Dogs of War” (what does that even mean?!) headline after next Canterbury victory: 2-1.

12. South Sydney: Poor structure in defence. Forwards appear to lack commitment. Coaching staff not helping by blaming losses on external factors. Power score: 5/10, Odds of Jaiman Lowe appearing in cameo role in “Cinderella Man” sequel: 2-1.

13. Penrith: Poorest ball control in the NRL at the moment (nowhere near as good as the Tigers outside backs). Created multiple opportunities for themselves to come back against the Tigers but couldn’t hold the pill when it counted. Will do well to forget “controversial circumstances” and realise they weren’t the best team on the day. Power score: 5/10, Number of Penrith “2003 Premiers” t-shirts starting to fade like Marty McFly’s photo at the end of Back to the Future: 10,000.

14. Roosters: Rep players carried on solid Origin form to post major upset win. Probably capable of a few more victories in this fashion. Performance in first ever golden point match in club history bodes well for future extra time encounters. Power score: 5/10, Odds that Jamie Soward will change his surname to that of a former league legend when negotiating next contract: 2-1.

15. St George-Illawarra: Expected to lose four more first-graders to injury and in addition to undertaking search for more Morris siblings have now published details of “fan try out day” on their website. Power score: 4.5/10, Percentage increase in “Oust Doust” signage for next home game: 150%.

16. Newcastle: Paul Harragon seems to have interpreted his directorial duties as requiring him to be some kind of stand over man and is shortly expected to confront Brian Smith behind the dressing sheds. Power score: 4/10, Odds of Josh Perry negotiating a contract that doesn’t include the words “match payments only”: 1000-1.

And…some quick “around the grounds”:

1. Wayne Bennett: What more is there to be said about this bloke? Seems like every journo in the game has taken a crack at him since his press conference at Brookvale last week. Perhaps most surprisingly one of his acolytes, Shane Webke, used his op-ed piece in last week’s Big League to subtly suggest that it was time for Bennett to move on. Webcke’s column included the line “he (Bennett) may well have to make some tough decisions yet”. Read between the lines and you find a strong undercurrent that it is time for Bennett to move on, and as the prevailing wisdom seems to suggest, for Craig Bellamy to step in. From where I’m standing, the moment Bennett even spoke to Nick Politis and the Roosters it was all over. The news of his negotiations with the Roosters made it obvious that everything was not as it seemed at Brisbane and that Bennett’s 20 year stranglehold on the position had weakened. Bruno Cullen seems well and truly sick of the old man’s antics.

2. Chris and Sticky: Ricky Stuart really doesn’t belong in a suit. He looks like a labourer who gets by with King Gee Monday to Friday and then has to don the bag of fruit for his best mate’s wedding. As soon as things start to get stressful the tie gets loosened, the jacket comes off and all of sudden he’s sweating like the guy in the Subway Sandwich suit at a Bulldogs home game. Well, he looked even worse last Saturday night. The nightmare was coming true. The club who negotiated behind his back with his old rival Wayne Bennett were solidly measuring up against his Cronulla side in probably the best Roosters performance of the season. As for the Sharks board? Well, they’re still feeling the financial headache of having paid out Chris Anderson’s unfair dismissal claim and would have relished the opportunity to get one over him. The set-up seemed perfect. But, as history will show, Cronulla couldn’t deliver a knock out punch and now Sticky and the Sharks will have to wait for another opportunity to trump Chris Anderson.

3. Ben Ikin: I was going to use this opportunity to get stuck into Laurie Daley, but that’s worth an entire column in itself. Instead, I thought I’d settle for having a crack at “Bennett’s Boy”, Ben Ikin, a man who tried to turn himself into the thinking man’s Julian O’Neill by donning a pair of spectacles. Now, I wouldn’t normally dream of hitting a man with glasses, but if Ikin thinks that the league loving world is even considering taking him seriously as an analyst, well then he better think again. Here we have a pretty mediocre player (who benefited from the Superleague war to get picked for Origin) who has been thrust upon us by the Nine Network despite him lacking limited talent as a commentator or analyst. Now, that might be fine for Fox (see Laurie Daley, Gordon Tallis) but with Nine’s budget couldn’t they do a bit better? The immediate concern however is that he requires urgent and extremely risky surgery to have his head removed from Wayne Bennett’s rectal cavity.

Yours in league,
The Grubber.

NRL Teams for Round 12, 2007

NRL teams – round 12

May 29, 2007

ALL the teamsheets for round 12 of the NRL premiership (all times AEST):

Rhys Wesser, Michael Gordon, Michael Jennings, Luke Lewis, Geoff Daniela, Peter Wallace, Craig Gower (captain), Joel Clinton, Luke Priddis, Frank Puletua, Frank Pritchard, Tony Puletua, Nathan Smith. Interchange: Brendan Worth, Junior Moors, Tim Grant, Paul Aiton, Nick Youngquest, Maurice Blair (two to be omitted).
SEA EAGLES: Brett Stewart, Michael Robertson, Steve Bell, Steve Matai, Chris Hicks, Jamie Lyon, Matt Orford (captain), Jason King, Michael Monaghan, Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Glenn Stewart, Luke Williamson. Interchange: Travis Burns, Glenn Hall, Mark Bryant, Adam Cuthbertson, Matt Ballin, Sione Finefeuiaki.
Referee: Steve Clark

Josh Morris, Jason Nightingale, Beau Scott, Matt Cooper, Chase Stanley, Rangi Chase, Jamie Soward, Justin Poore, Simon Woolford, Dan Hunt, Corey Payne, Chris Houston, Ben Creagh. Interchange: Adam Peek, Danny Wicks, Lagi Setu, Ben Ellis, Rick Thorby (one to be omitted).
BRONCOS: Karmichael Hunt, Steve Michaels, Darius Boyd, Justin Hodges, Brent Tate, Darren Lockyer (captain), Mick Ennis, Ben Hannant, Shaun Berrigan, Petero Civoniceva, David Stagg, Tonie Carroll. Interchange: Joel Moon, Greg Eastwood, Dane Carlaw, Corey Parker, Sam Thaiday (one to be omitted)
Referee: Shayne Hayne

SYDNEY ROOSTERS v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS at Bluetongue Stadium, 5.30pm
Anthony Minichiello, Amos Roberts, Sam Perrett, Joel Monaghan, John Williams, Braith Anasta, Mitchell Pearce, David Shillington, Craig Wing, Danny Nutley, Shane Shackleton, Craig Fitzgibbon (captain), Anthony Tupou. Interchange: Setaimata Sa, Lopini Paea, Nigel Plum, Ashley Harrison.
KNIGHTS: Nathan Hinton, James McManus, Luke MacDougall, Brad Tighe, Adam MacDougall, Marvin Karawana, Jarrod Mullen, Josh Perry, Danny Buderus, Kade Snowden, Steve Simpson, Corey Paterson, Kirk Reynoldson. Interchange: Michael Young, Reegan Tanner, Adam Woolnough, Daniel Tolar, Mitchell Sargent (one to be omitted).
Referee: Tony De Las Heras

NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS v SHARKS at Dairy Farmers Stadium, 7.30pm
Matt Bowen, Brenton Bowen, Scott Minto, Paul Bowman, Ty Williams, Jason Smith, Johnathan Thurston (captain), Shane Tronc, Aaron Payne, Ray Cashmere, Steve Southern, Sam Faust, Jacob Lillyman. Interchange: David Faiumu, Scott Bolton, Matthew Scott, Ben Vaeau.
SHARKS: Misi Taulapapa, Mitch Brown, Ben Pomeroy, Fraser Anderson, Luke Covell, Greg Bird, Brett Kimmorley (captain), Ben Ross, Kevin Kingston, Craig Stapleton, Reece Williams, Luke Douglas, Paul Gallen. Interchange: Dayne Weston, Phil Leuluai, Paul Stephenson, Isaac De Gois.
Referee: Paul Simpkins

Steve Turner, Matt Geyer, Matt King, Anthony Quinn, Israel Folau, Greg Inglis, Cooper Cronk, Ben Cross, Cameron Smith, Brett White, Jeremy Smith, Ryan Hoffman, Dallas Johnson. Interchange: Jeff Lima, Garret Crossman, Sam Tagataese, James Aubusson, Will Chambers, Sika Manu (two to be omitted).
RABBITOHS: David Peachey, Nathan Merritt, Nigel Vagana, Feluti Talanoa, Shannon Hegarty, Ben Rogers, Jeremy Smith, Peter Cusack (captain), Stuart Webb, Roy Asotasi (capt), Luke Stuart, David Faalogo, Dean Widders. Interchange: Shane Rigon, Joe Galuvao, Manase Manuokafoa, Scott Geddes.
Referee: Jared Maxwell

Richie Mathers, Matt Petersen, Mat Rogers, Brett Delaney, Jake Webster, Josh Lewis, Scott Prince (captain), Luke Bailey, Nathan Friend, Brad Meyers, Anthony Laffranchi, Mark Minichiello, Luke Swain. Interchange: Kris Kahler, Michael Hodgson, Gavin Cooper, Matt Hilder.
RAIDERS: William Zillman, David Milne, Marshall Chalk, Adrian Purtell, Bronx Goodwin, Terry Campese, Michael Dobson, Scott Logan, Lincoln Withers, Dane Tilse, Neville Costigan, Glen Turner, Alan Tongue (captain). Interchange: Josh Miller, Troy Thompson, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Michael Weyman, Ryan Hinchcliffe, Ben Jones (two to be omitted).
Referee: Gavin Badger

Wade McKinnon, Patrick Ah Van, Tony Martin, Simon Mannering, Michael Crockett, Jerome Ropati, Michael Witt, Ruben Wiki (vice-capt), Nathan Fien, Steve Price (captain), Louis Anderson, Logan Swann, Micheal Luck. Interchange: Lance Hohaia, Evarn Tuimavave, Sam Rapira, Wairangi Koopu.
BULLDOGS: Luke Patten, Hazem El Masri, Daryl Millard, Willie Tonga, Cameron Phelps, Ben Roberts, Brent Sherwin, Mark O’Meley, Corey Hughes, Chris Armit, Lee Te Maari, Andrew Ryan (captain), Sonny Bill Williams. Interchange: Adam Perry, Reni Maitua, Kane Cleal, Jarrad Hickey.
Referee: Sean Hampstead

WESTS TIGERS v PARRAMATTA EELS v at Telstra Stadium, 7pm
Brett Hodgson (captain), Daniel Fitzhenry, Dean Collis, Chris Lawrence, Taniela Tuiaki, Liam Fulton, John Morris, Todd Payten, Robbie Farah, Bryce Gibbs, Ben Galea, Chris Heighington, Dene Halatau. Interchange: Danny Galea, Shannon McDonnell, Bronson Harrison, Ben Te’o, Jarrod Saffy (one to be omitted)
EELS: Luke Burt, Jarryd Hayne, Ben Smith, Krisnan Inu, Eric Grothe, Brett Finch, Tim Smith, Nathan Cayless (captain), PJ Marsh, Aaron Cannings, Nathan Hindmarsh, Feleti Mateo, Daniel Wagon. Interchange: Mark Riddell, Josh Cordoba, Chad Robinson, Fuifui Moimoi.
Referee: Ben Cummins

Brian Smith and Clint Newton Fallout at Knights

Newcastle Knights coach Brian Smith is apparently the man responsible for Knights forward Clint Newton seeking and gaining a release from the club and today signing with the Melbourne Storm.

Newton held a press conference yesterday to explain his actions and announce his intentions to move on. Accompanied by his golfing father Jack Newtwon, Clint spoke of feeling unwanted by his long standing club and that Brian Smith has made his intentions clear – that the Knights forward wasn’t being considered in future plans.

Client Newton also reportedly had heated discussions with Newcastle Knights boardmember and Footy Show star – Paul Harrogan; before pulling the pin on his ties to the club. The spotlight has now moved to other Newcastle Knights forwards Adam Woolnough and Josh Perry – as the rumour mill kicks into overdrive. Surprisingly Newcastle fans flooded talk back radio this morning in support of the moves – feeling a clean out at Newcastle is well overdue.

In other NRL player movement, Jamie Soward was today signed by the St George Illawarra Dragons, moving from the Roosters to immediately start for the Dragons this week in the halves. The Saints released Luke McDougall who joins his brother at Newcastle and will also go close to getting a run in the side this weekend.

Manu Vatuvei Drops Bundle

Parramatta Eels haunt NZ Warriors all night
Eels 30 def Warriors 6

The Parramatta Eels tonight proved tipsters right, and ran away with the Monday Night NRL match against the Warriors by 24 points. The Eels survived the early arm wrestle and overcame a close half time scoreline of 12-6 to race away with the game and give the Warriors plenty of headaches at the same time.

Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei had one of the worst games any single player could have. The unlucky Kiwi winger simply dropped every ball that came his way, after his hands failed him early on – the Parramatta kickers targetted him all night and reaped the rewards time after time. The only positive for the Kiwi winger was an incorrect call by video referee Bill Harrigan who wrongly awarded a penalty to the Warriors for an alleged strip on Vatuvei that led to a Ben Smith try. Judging by the replays and Vetuvei’s handling – it was a blatent drop and Billy boy got it wrong.

The expected forward battle never eventuated with Warriors prop and noted hardman Ruben Wiki getting slightly over 40 minutes game time and less than 50 metres gained all night. While fellow prop Steve Price tried hard all night – the Eels front men hit the advantage line hard and simply blew the Warriors away with steam rolling runs. Obviously this made it much easier for small men such as Brett Finch and Tim Smith to kick for field position and play the smart way for the Eels.

Daniel Wagon for the Eels had an outstanding night, constantly threatening in attack with his kamakazi runs at the fringe – he seemed to be extremely enthusiastic for the Eels and this resulted in spoils for the veteran with an explosive try in the 47th minute – running on to a Tim Smith grubber at speed the Wagon touchdown was a good one in traffic.

Timana Tahu lasted only 40 minutes for the Eels after again hurting his hamstring. The injured centre will be disappointed by the latest setback after setting up a nice Hayne try tonight and being dangerous in attack and defence for the Eels. Kristian Inu will gladly and capably take the Tahu jersey for their clash with the Wests Tigers next Monday Night at Telstra Stadium.

The Warriors walk away from Parramatta Stadium with Manu Vatuvei staring at the crossroads of his career, with the bukly winger surely to be sacked after this latest nightmare and halfback Michael Witt who tonight failed to make an impact and was cannon fodder for his old teammates. Ivan Cleary was clearly the dejected man at the press conference and failed to highlight his areas of concern. As the Warriors try to play a structued and safety first game, it’s taking away the impact of their once feared forwards and things are going from bad to worse after such a good start the NRL 2007 season.

The Eels move into 6th position on the NRL 2007 table and we now have 4 teams anchoring the points table on 8 points.

Be sure and check our updated NRL Ladder today and check back tomorrow for our Tuesday review and report from ‘The Grubber!’ our newest NRL Rugby League Expert.

Remember NRL News gives you the opinionated reviews of every team, after every game. We tell you how it is, no matter how brutal. You don’t get boring minute by minute game reports here – simply the real outlook on your NRL team. Thanks again for your continued visits!

NRL Points Table after Round 11 (Click Here)

Parramatta v Warriors Preview

The out of sorts New Zealand Warriors are away from home, deep in the Golden West tonight – as they face the Parramatta Eels coming off a large home win against the star-less Cowboys last weekend.

The Ivan Cleary coached Warriors will be hell bent on making amends for the last few weeks, and after such an explosive start, the Warriors have fallen away recently. The Warriors won’t want to keep slipping back in the pack as we head into the middle phase of NRL in season 2007.

State of Origin team members Steve Price, Nathan Hindmarsh and Jarryd Hayne all return for this clash – as does Parramatta’s Timana Tahu, Fui Fui Moi Moi and Chad Robinson slips into the starting side for the injured star Feleti Mateo.

Parramatta are a different side in night games and win 50% more matches under the moonlight. As Phil Gould tells us nearly every week on Channel 9 commentary coverage – the Parramatta Eels do love the soft, dewy surface and it really brings their grinding style into play. The Eels have enjoyed good rotation from hookers PJ Marsh and Mark ‘Piggy’ Riddell (Pictured) – who have swapped perfectly this year to cause opposing teams headaches around the ruck. Riddell spoke with the media yesterday, and stressed the importance of the Eels getting a back to back win tonight and stringing a few wins together.

Looking at the Warriors, I think this could be the opposite. Their strong and speedy outside backs, who have a tendancy to get the dropsies – a la Manu Vatuvei and an out of sorts Wade McKinnon last week. Expect to see plenty of traffic at Manu’s wing, and the Eels will hunt former recruits Witt and McKinnon as the old boys got one up on them earlier in the year with a win in Auckland.

Home ground advantage, cover of darkness and the return of their stars – should see Parramatta outshine the Warriors as the game wears on.

Parramatta Eels by 16 points.

Stay tuned tomorrow, for our new column by ‘The Grubber’ – after great feedback from his first posting last week, our NRL News fans will continue to enjoy his specific opinion and sarcastic style on your teams – as opposed to other on-line NRL websites who simply provide minute by minute game reviews with no opinion provided.

Sunday NRL

Tigers hot, win 6 on trot
Wests Tigers 25 def Penrith Panthers 24

A controversial win today for the runaway Wests Tigers sends the 2005 NRL Premiers into 3rd spot on the NRL 2007 Points Table.

The Tigers started flat today at CUA stadium, but they warmed to the challenge as the hapless Panthers weren’t able to take advantage of the periods where they dominated. The Tigers were down 6-0 early, but it easily could have been 12-0 in their favour had some simple opportunities been taken.

The Tigers recovered and scored nice tries through Liam Fulton and Daniel Fitzhenry. The latter Fitzhenry try an absolute scortcher of a try, with the classy outside back beating 4 defenders and putting a massive step on Penrith fullback Rhys Wesser to speed around the fullback and score under the posts.

This try lifted the confidence of the Wests Tigers, and they led 25-12 with under 20 minutes to go. With the game seemingly over, the Panthers staged one of their big late combacks and go to within a point – with the controversy errupting after the Panthers declined to take a shot at goal after a late try. With the scores, 25-22 – the Panthers smartly declined the conversion shot (as the rules state it’s not mandatory) so they could quickly get back to receive a kickoff and score again. However rookie referee Jarred Maxwell incorrectly forced the Panthers to take the shot at goal and the wasted seconds ultimately ended the game for the mountain men.

The Wests Tigers have been unstoppable in the past 6 weeks and the Benji injury hasn’t hurt them at all, with the classy Liam Fulton slotting into the side and proving a match winner with 3 tries now in the past few weeks. The Tigers are lavishing in the skills and raw power of youngster Chris Lawrence and kiwi Taniela Tuiaki. The giant Tuiaki continues revelation for the Tigers, the big unit is a scary sight when he runs at the line, regularly requiring 3 opposition defenders to stop him. All this is capped off with sublime game plans from the exerienced Tim Sheens, not only do Sheens and Simmons have the blueprints – but their troops are one of the best at following instructions to the letter.

Penrith continue to lick their wounds and fans wonder what the future holds. Talk of the talented Peter Wallace heading to the Brisbane Broncos and the possibility of snaring Brent Tate continues to abound on club forums and gossip corners. New coach Matt Elliott needs to bring harmony some how and quickly, as things get worse – the public will cry out for a scape goat and this usually the coach. Elliott must be extremely frustrated with the fact that not only are Penrith troubled, but his old troops in Canberra find themselves well entrenched in the top 8 after a solid win this weekend.

Angry Penrith fans flooded 2GB and other talk back radio stations tonight, airing their frustrations to Andrew Moore, Steve Roach and Darryl Brohman on the Continuous Call team. Many of the calls related to Penrith CUA Stadium ground announcer Steve McCrae – who is under fire for critising his own team for poor performance.

Broncos belt Knights
Brisbane Broncos 71 def Newcastle Knights 6

A dynamic Broncos side today finally clicked into gear at the expense of a wounded, sick and sorry Newcastle Knights outfit. The reigning premiers, Brisbane scored 12 tries in a romp that lasted until the final minutes of the match.

Brisbane’s previous biggest NRL wins were 58-4 over North Queensland and 60-6 over North Sydney, both in 1998.

Newcastle were forced to make numerous changes to accommodate the savage losses of Origin stars Kurt Gidley (shoulder), skipper Danny Buderus (foot) and forward Steve Simpson (calf) who were all late withdrawals.

Brisbane led 25-6 at half-time. Centre Justin Hodges, winger Brent Tate and forward Tonie Carroll each scored a double in Brad Thorn’s 200th first grade game. Hunt was named man of the match.

Knight’s halfback Jarrod Mullen, whose passing game was impressive, scored the visitors only try in the 33rd minute beating Hunt and Hodges with a neat sidestep.

The win lifted Brisbane off the bottom of the NRL after the Roosters scored an upset win over the Sharks. The latest halfback experiment with Michael Ennis seemed to work well. I am sure Wayne Bennett was much more upbeat at the press conference, and maybe Brian Smith should have asked Wayne to answer his questions at the after match chat – as it seems to have worked well for old timer Bennett after last weeks arrogant showing.

Unrelated: DOTA, WoW

Raiders, Cowboys Win Friday Games

Cowboys 26 def Bulldogs 16

Tonight the Cowboys trounced the Bulldogs at Suncorp – with the audience treated to a Thurston sideshow. The Queensland halfback was in cruise mode – as he put on every trick in the book, making the Bulldogs rue their decision to turn their backs on him all those years ago.

The game was very uncontrolled early from both teams, with plenty of dropped balls and errors. The Dogs forwards tried to muscle up, but the Cowboys big men had every answer. Bluey Southern and Tronc in particular really gave the Bulldogs back the tough stuff.

As the forward battle swung the Cowboys way, Thurston was able to simply run amok and did entertain.

The Bulldogs remain in the NRL wilderness for 2007 and need to find the spark soon. Ben Roberts had a forgettable night and the outside backs aren’t a force with the dogs engine room misfiring.

Canberra 30 def St George Illawarra 6

The icey ACT was the graveyard tonight, as the sour Saints continue their horror run. The Raiders without bad boy Todd Carney (who as of today remains with the Canberra Raiders) – we served through Adrian Purtell who took a hat trick of tries home for the night.

Zilmann the Raiders custodian found his form from the early rounds and was a danger all night.

The Dragons failed to click in attack and rarely threatened the Green machine tonight in a comprehensive loss. The only positive for the Dragons right now, is Matt Cooper remains injury free and the only weapon the red vee possess.