Wests Tigers terminate contract of Taane Milne

Former Wests Tigers utility Taane Milne

The Wests Tigers have terminated the contract of Taane Milne after for illicit drug use. 

It was Milne’s second contravention under the NRL’s Illicit Drugs Policy.

His first incident occurred at a previous club and his second, at the Wests Tigers.

The Tigers issued a statement on their website regarding Milne’s dismissal.

“After due process and full consideration, and in collaboration with the NRL’s Illicit Drug Policy guidelines, the club has made the decision to terminate Milne’s playing contract.

His behaviour contradicts the values, behaviours and culture being created at the club.

Wests Tigers have committed to providing Milne with support and counselling during this challenging time.”

Tigers winger Thompson signs contract extension

Wests Tigers winger Corey Thompson

A surprise packet in the Wests Tigers side this season, Corey Thompson’s good form has been rewarded with a new deal. 

The contract extension will see the winger stay until the end of the 2019 season.

A standout since joining the club, Thompson came to the Tigers from English Super League side, the Widnes Vikings.

In the end, the decision to stay was an easy one for Thompson.

“It was a pretty easy decision, I’ve loved my time here so far,” said Thompson.

“Ivan gave me the opportunity to come back here and prove myself and I think I’ve had a great month of footy to start the year off.

“My focus is now just to keep the same attitude I have and to make the team each week.”

Playing with confidence, Thompson praised the coaching staff for the work they have done with he and the side.

“Ever since day one, I’ve leant so much off Ivan and all the other boys,” continued Thompson.

“I’m playing with confidence at the moment and that’s down to the coaching staff and what they’ve taught all of us.

“I feel like I’ve been here for a couple of years now with how well I’m settled into this club.”

Hard work means a new deal and coach Cleary knows it is justified for the speedy winger.

“Corey has been impressive in how he’s committed himself to training and his efforts on the field since joining the club,” said Cleary.

“His new contract is a great reward for his hard work and I look forward to seeing him continue to develop over the coming seasons.”

 

NRL Teams Rd 5

It is literally do-or-die for some NRL teams in round five. For others, they continue to fly high. 

In true rugby league fashion, though, the unpredictability keeps us all on our toes as inconsistency reigns supreme.

Without further adieu, here are the teams for round five of the NRL Telstra Premiership:

Canberra Raiders v Canterbury Bulldogs (#NRLcancby); GIO Stadium, Canberra; Thursday, April 5. Kick-off: 7:50 pm.

Raiders: 1. Jack Wighton 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker (C) 4. Joey Leilua 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Aidan Sezer 7. Sam Williams 8. Iosia Soliola 9. Siliva Havili 10. Junior Paulo 11. Joseph Tapine 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Luke Bateman.

Interchange: 14. Ata Hingano 15. Shannon Boyd 16. Dunamis Lui 17. Liam Knight.

Reserves: 18. Jack Murchie 19. Michael Oldfield 20. Blake Austin 21. Josh Papalii.

Coach: Ricky Stuart.

Bulldogs: 1. Moses Mbye 2. Brett Morris 3. Josh Morris 4. Will Hopoate 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Jeremy Marshall-King 7. Kieran Foran 8. Aaron Woods 9. Michael Lichaa 10. David Klemmer 11. Josh Jackson (C) 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 13. Adam Elliott.

Interchange: 14. Fa’amanu Brown 15. Danny Fualalo 16. Francis Tualau 17. Kerrod Holland.

Reserves: 18. Greg Eastwood 19. Asipeli Fine 20. John Olive 21. Rhyse Martin.

Coach: Dean Pay.

Ricky’s View: Both sides have had inconsistencies but none more so than the Raiders. Several games this year, they should have won but failed to. As the pressure mounts on Stuart and his players, can they buck the trend?
The Dogs have looked good in patches but have failed to kick-on. Is this game the jumpstart they need? Moses Mbye shapes as a key from the back.
Bulldogs by 16.


Cronulla Sharks v Sydney Roosters (#NRLcrosyd); Southern Cross Group Stadium, Cronulla; Friday, April 6. Kick-off: 6 pm.

Sharks: 1. Josh Dugan 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Ricky Leutele 5. Valentine Holmes 6. Matt Moylan 7. Chad Townsend 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Matt Prior 11. Luke Lewis 12. Wade Graham (C) 13. Paul Gallen (C).

Interchange: 14. Kurt Capewell 15. James Segeyaro 16. Ava Seumanufagai 17. Joseph Paulo.

Reserves: 18. Trent Hodkinson 19. Kurt Dillon 20. Edrick Lee 21. Jack Williams.

Coach: Shane Flanagan.

Roosters: 1. James Tedesco 2. Reece Robinson 3. Latrell Mitchell 4. Joseph Manu 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Luke Keary 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Sio Siua Taukeiaho 9. Jake Friend (C) 10. Dylan Napa 11. oyd Cordner (C) 12. Ryan Matterson 13. Isaac Liu.

Interchange: 14. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 15. Zane Tetevano 16. Mitch Aubusson 17. Victor Radley.

Reserves: 18. Nat Butcher 19. Kurt Baptiste 20. Mitchell Cornish 21. Lindsay Collins.

Coach: Trent Robinson.

Ricky’s View: Both these competition heavyweights have been disappointing by their own standards and will want to start producing some form and consistency.
As they look to bounce back and achieve that, several returning players gives the Sharks an added boost. Is it enough, though, to defeat a Roosters side eager to return to the winner’s circle?
Roosters by 8.


St George Illawarra Dragons v South Sydney Rabbitohs (#NRLsgisou); WIN Jubilee Oval; Friday, April 6. Kick-off: 8:05 pm.

Dragons: 1. Matt Dufty 2. Nene Macdonald 3. Euan Aitken 4. Tim Lafai 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Gareth Widdop (C) 7. Ben Hunt 8. James Graham 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Tariq Sims 13. Jack de Belin .

Interchange: 14. Luciano Leilua 15. Kurt Mann 16. Leeson Ah Mau 17. Hame Sele.

Reserves: 18. Jeremy Latimore 19. Zac Lomax 20. Jacob Host 21. Blake Lawrie.

Coach: Paul McGregor.

Rabbitohs: 1. Alex Johnston 2. Dane Gagai 3. Greg Inglis (C) 4. Hymel Hunt 5. Robert Jennings 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Thomas Burgess 9. Damien Cook 10. Sam Burgess 11. John Sutton 12. Angus Crichton 13. Campbell Graham.

Interchange: 14. Adam Doueihi 15. Mark Nicholls 16. George Burgess 17. Tevita Tatola.

Reserves: 18. Robbie Farah 19. Jason Clark 20. Braidon Burns 21. Kyle Turner.

Coach: Anthony Seibold.

Ricky’s View: The Dragons are flying high right now and are on cloud nine. Although the Rabbitohs are no slouches, the form of the Dragons is seemingly unstoppable right now but all streaks have to end at some point. Is this the round? It won’t be a blowout but the Dragons will just have too much firepower.
Dragons by 10.


Wests Tigers v Melbourne Storm (#NRLwstmel); Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland; Saturday, April 7. Kick-off: 3 pm.

Tigers: 1. Tuimoala Lolohea 2. Corey Thompson 3. Esan Marsters 4. Kevin Naiqama 5. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak 6. Benji Marshall 7. Luke Brooks 8. Russell Packer (C) 9. Pita Godinet 10. Ben Matulino 11. Chris Lawrence 12. Robbie Rochow 13. Matthew Eisenhuth.

Interchange: 14. Jacob Liddle 15. Alex Twal 16. Michael Chee-Kam 17. Josh Aloiai.

Reserves: 18. Tyson Gamble 19. Tim Grant 20. David Nofoaluma 21. Sauaso Sue.

Coach: Ivan Cleary.

Storm: 1. Billy Slater 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Curtis Scott 4. Young Tonumaipea 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Brodie Croft 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith (C) 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 11. Joe Stimson 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Kenny Bromwich.

Interchange: 14. Brandon Smith 15. Tim Glasby 16. Christian Welch 17. Sam Kasiano.

Reserves: 18. Justin Olam 19. Patrick Kaufusi 20. Ryley Jacks 21. Felise Kaufusi.

Coach: Craig Bellamy.

Ricky’s View: The Tigers have already won once over the Storm this year but can they do it again? By the Storm’s standards, their season has been more inconsistent than usual and they will be out to get it back on track.
The Tigers defensive resolve was found wanting late on against the Eels but will it shore up once more against a resolute Storm outfit. The Storm don’t often lose many in a season and with Craig Bellamy screaming down the their throats, I’m leaning towards Melbourne in a close one.
Melbourne by 6.


New Zealand Warriors v North Queensland Cowboys (#NRLwarnql); Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland; Saturday, April 7. Kick-off: 5:30 pm. 

Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (C) 2. David Fusitu’a 3. Peta Hiku 4. Solomone Kata 5. Ken Mamalo 6. Blake Green 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Bunty Afoa 9. Issac Luke 10. Agnatius Paasi 11. Leivaha Pulu 12. Tohu Harris 13. Adam Blair.

Interchange: 14. Jazz Tevaga 15. Sam Lisone 16. Simon Mannering 17. Anthony Gelling.

Reserves: 18. Ligi Sao 19. Mason Lino 20. Tevita Satae 21. Charnze Nicholl-Klokstad.

Coach: Stephen Kearney.

Cowboys: 1. Ben Hampton 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Justin O’Neill 4. Javid Bowen 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Michael Morgan 7. Johnathan Thurston (C) 8. Matt Scott (C) 9. Jake Granville 10. Scott Bolton 11. Coen Hess 12. Gavin Cooper 13. Jason Taumalolo.

Interchange: 14. Te Maire Martin 15. John Asiata 16. Corey Jensen 17. Ethan Lowe.

Reserves: 18. Francis Molo 19. Lachlan Coote 20. Enari Tual 21. Kyle Laybutt.

Coach: Paul Green.

Ricky’s View: The surprise packets of the year, the Warriors continue to impress. Even without Shaun Johnson, they dismantled the Roosters last week. With talent across the park, they evenly match the Cowboys in every key position or better it.
The Cowboys have also had an inconsistent season as Thurston and Morgan fail to find their attacking mojos as a cohesive unit. They need it if they are to beat a red-hot Warriors side.
Warriors by 10.


Newcastle Knights v Brisbane Broncos (#NRLnewbri); McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle; Saturday, April 7. Kick-off: 7:30 pm. 

Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Shaun Kenny-Dowall 3. Sione Mata’utia 4. Nathan Ross 5. Ken Sio 6. Brock Lamb 7. Mitchell Pearce (C) 8. Herman Ese’ese 9. Slade Griffin 10. Jacob Lillyman 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 12. Aidan Guerra 13. Mitch Barnett.

Interchange: 14. Jamie Buhrer (C) 15. Chris Heighington 16. Jacob Saifiti 17. Daniel Saifiti.

Reserves: 18. Luke Yates 19. Jack Cogger 20. Danny Levi 21. Cory Denniss.

Coach: Nathan Brown.

Broncos: 1. Darius Boyd (C) 2. Corey Oates 3. James Roberts 4. Jack Bird 5. Jamayne Isaako 6. Anthony Milford 7. Kodi Nikorima 8. Matthew Lodge 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Korbin Sims 11. Alex Glenn 12. Matt Gillett 13. Josh McGuire.

Interchange: 14. Sam Thaiday 15. Joe Ofahengaue 16. Tom Opacic 17. Jaydn Su’A.

Reserves: 18. Jonus Pearson 19. Tevita Pangai Jr. 20. Gehamat Shibaski 21. Payne Haas.

Coach: Wayne Bennett.

Ricky’s View: One of the games of the round, both sides boast impressive players in head-to-head battles. Pearce and Ponga are the two keys for the Knights as they go from strength to strength. For the Broncos, the possible return of Pangai Jr. is an added boost to their forward pack in dire need of power and aggression.
A close one but the Knights to edge it. Just. Knights by 2. 


Gold Coast Titans v Manly Sea Eagles (#NRLgldman); Marley Brown Oval, Gladstone; Sunday, April 8. Kick-off: 2 pm. 

Titans: 1. Michael Gordon 2. Anthony Don 3. Dale Copley 4. Konrad Hurrell 5. Philip Sami 6. Kane Elgey 7. Ashley Taylor 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Nathan Peats 10. Ryan James (C) 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Will Matthews 13. Jai Arrow.

Interchange: 14. Mitch Rein 15. Max King 16. Bryce Cartwright 17. Morgan Boyle.

Reserves: 18. Leilani Latu 19. Jack Stockwell 20. Keegan Hipgrave 21. Tyronne Roberts-Davis.

Coach: Garth Brennan.

Manly: 1. Matthew Wright 2. Brad Parker 3. Dylan Walker 4. Brian Kelly 5. Akuila Uate 6. Lachlan Croker 7. Daly Cherry-Evans (C) 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Marty Taupau 11. Joel Thompson 12. Frank Winterstein 13. Jake Trbojevic.

Interchange: 14. Jackson Hastings 15. Shaun Lane 16. Lloyd Perrett 17. Jack Gosiewski.

Reserves: 18. Lewis Brown 19. Tom Trbojevic 20. Toafofoa Sipley 21. Taniela Paseka.

Coach: Trent Barrett.

Ricky’s View: With Tom Trbojevic unlikely to play for Manly, how does that affect them? Producing a stellar display at fullback in their win v Canberra, not having him is a big blow. His replacement Matt Wright lacks the same impact and influence and so more pressure will be on Cherry-Evans to perform.
The Titans are flying high after their comprehensive win over Brisbane. Philip Sami was the man after he scored a hat-trick and bamboozled Broncos defenders repeatedly. Who wins, though, for this, like others, is no easy tip.
Titans by 4. 


Parramatta Eels v Penrith Panthers (#NRLparpen); ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park; Sunday, April 8. Kick-off: 4 pm.

Eels: 1. Will Smith 2. George Jennings 3. Michael Jennings 4. Kirisome Auva’a 5. Josh Hoffman 6. Corey Norman 7. Mitch Moses 8. Daniel Alvaro 9. Kaysa Pritchard 10. Tim Mannah (C) 11. Manu Ma’u 15. Kenny Edwards 13. Nathan Brown.

Interchange: 12. Tepai Moeroa 14. Beau Scott 16. Peni Terepo 17. Tony Williams.

Reserves: 18. Cameron King 19. Suaia Matagi 20. David Gower 21. Kane Evans.

Coach: Brad Arthur.

Penrith : 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Josh Mansour 3. Waqa Blake 4. Dean Whare 5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 6. Tyrone Peachey 7. James Maloney 8. Trent Merrin 9. Peter Wallace (C) 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Isaah Yeo 13. James Fisher-Harris.

Interchange: 14. Wayde Egan 15. Corey Harawira-Naera 16. Moses Leota 17. James Tamou.

Reserves: 18. Jarome Luai 19. Nick Lui-Toso 20. Sione Katoa 21. Kaide Ellis.

Coach: Anthony Griffin.

Ricky’s View: If the Eels are going to start winning games, it has to start with this one. They looked better at the back end of their Tigers loss but didn’t do enough earlier to get themselves in the game.
Penrith are fresh off a Maloney-led masterclass but still need the consistency. Beating an Eels side low on confidence will only further their own but can they do it?
Penrith by 10.


 

Bunnies edge Bulldogs in Good Friday classic

South Sydney Rabbitohs forward Sam Burgess.

Trailing late in the game, the South Sydney Rabbitohs had to do something. And they did. Scoring two tries in the final seven minutes gave them a narrow but classic 20-18 Good Friday win over the Canterbury Bulldogs.

The match could have gone the other way, had the Bulldogs made the most of their chances and held onto the ball. Instead, Souths capitalised and came away victorious.

The fierce rivals traditionally put on a show when it comes to the Good Friday clash and this one was no different.

However, it was mired with controversy when Souths scored from an overlap after referee Ben Cummins failed to allow Josh Jackson time to return to his position of centre.

This resulted in a try to the Bunnies and was perhaps a turning point in the game.

”I’m sorry Josh, I didn’t realise,” Cummins said at the time.

The Bulldogs case was made harder when their best player this season, fullback Moses Mbye, went off after a sickening head clash.

With the crackdown on penalties at the forefront, neither team was safe, both pinned for repeated infringements.

It was a day to remember for the Morris brothers as Brett and Josh combined on two occasions to give the latter two tries in the match.

In an embarrassing moment for Bulldogs half Kieran Foran, from right in front, he managed to kick the ball under the crossbar, missing the conversion.

Although the Bulldogs gave their best efforts to salvage something in the game, it was not to be.

The win gives the Bunnies their second success of the season as the Bulldogs are left to lick their wounds. They are sweating on the fitness of Moses Mbye (possible jaw/cheekbone) and Aiden Tolman (ankle).

Not a team to fear the clock winding down, Bunnies coach Anthony Seibold said his team had prepared for these late-game situations.

”We’ve done a lot of drills in the preseason and into the season where we’ve put scenarios on the scoreboard and had the clock ticking down,” Seibold said.

”When we were down six points with seven and a half minutes to go, that was a game scenario that we’ve practised at training numerous times during the preseason.

”The boys were talking about it on the field, that this was a training scenario. We were really confident that we could at least give ourselves a chance and we did.”

Jackson was left frustrated in the post-game press conference of this Good Friday clash, at Cummins’ inability to hold up play to allow him to get back in the defensive line.

“I got there in the end but missed the tackle,” Jackson said afterwards.

“I probably should have made the tackle but I would like to have been set when they tapped the ball.

“He blew the try and I went over to talk to him. I think it was after that that he realised what had happened. I was playing out in the centres and that is exactly where they went. He basically owned up to the fact that he had made a mistake.”

Player of the Game:

3. Sam Burgess

2. Cameron Murray

  1. Josh Morris

Maloney the man as Panthers shock Cowboys

Penrith Panthers five-eighth James Maloney

Dealing with the absence of Nathan Cleary, it was James Maloney who stood up when it mattered for the Penrith Panthers. 

Putting on a masterclass display that saw him score a try, kick goals for fun and seal the win with a field goal, it was the Maloney show.

Making the North Queensland Cowboys look slow and lethargic, Maloney steered the ship for Penrith from the outset.

In the end, the 33-14 was a convincing one for the Panthers as they outplayed the Cowboys in every facet of the game.

In a night with few highs for the Cowboys, the loss was made worse by injuries to both Javid Bowen and Jordan McLean.

Looking to turn their slow starts this season around, Penrith did so as a penalty goal and a try to Viliame Kikau put them up 8-0.

A freakish, lucky try then ensued, as ricochets, bobbles and good fortune saw Maloney nab a try of his own.

Penrith did well in defence to hold on at the back end of the first-half, after James Tamou was sent to the sin-bin.

They could hold out forever, though, as Kyle Feldt scored the first of his two tries in the corner.

But it was the Maloney show in this one, as a 40/20 and then further penalty goals gave Penrith a 20-4 lead.

As the sides exchanged further tries, Maloney put the icing on the cake with a calmly slotted field goal.

There was nothing but praise for Maloney from Penrith coach Anthony Griffin post-game.

“He was really good Jimmy; he really lifted, as everyone did, but in particular, I thought he controlled the game really well,” Griffin said.

“He’s an experienced play-maker and that’s why he’s been brought here, to give us that type of direction and I thought he did a really good job of that tonight.

“With Nathan [Cleary] not there… there it put a lot more work on his plate but it probably simplified it for him too where he could just get in and do most of the kicking and direct the play.”

Although the Cowboys now have just one loss from their opening four games, coach Paul Green says they may be down but they are not out.

“I wasn’t happy with it, but I saw a definite improvement in the areas I asked, you know it was four tries to three, two tries off kicks,” Green said.

“When things aren’t going your way it’s funny how the bounce of the ball doesn’t go your way, but I thought there was an improvement in those effort areas that I asked for tonight.

“I did see a reaction from our players in the areas that we said we wanted to improve in.”

Player of the Game:

3. James Maloney

2. Viliame Kikau

  1. Kyle Feldt

NRL Teams Rd 4

Just two NRL teams remain undefeated – the New Zealand Warriors and the St George Illawarra Dragons – and two winless – the Canberra Raiders and Parramatta Eels.

A surprise for many, this season has seen upsets galore, surprising results but plenty of action.

As we near round four of the competition, the excitement is expected to heat up.

So, without further adieu, here are the teams for round four of the NRL Telstra Premiership:

North Queensland Cowboys v Penrith Panthers (#NRLnqlpen); 1300 Smiles Stadium, Townsville; Thursday, March 29. Kick-off: 8:05 pm (AEDT) & 7:05 pm (local).

Cowboys: 1. Ben Hampton 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Justin O’Neill 4. Javid Bowen 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Michael Morgan 7. Johnathan Thurston (C) 8. Matt Scott (C) 9. Jake Granville 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Coen Hess 13. Jason Taumalolo.

Interchange: 14. Te Maire Martin 15. John Asiata 16. Scott Bolton 17. Ethan Lowe.

Reserves: 18. Corey Jensen 19. Lachlan Coote 20. Francis Molo 21. Enari Tuala.

Coach: Paul Green.

Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Josh Mansour 3. Waqa Blake 4. Dean Whare 5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 6. Tyrone Peachey 7. James Maloney 8. James Tamou 9. Peter Wallace 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Isaah Yeo 13. Trent Merrin.

Interchange: 14. Jarome Luai 15. Corey Harawira-Naera 16. Moses Leota 17. James Fisher-Harris.

Reserves: 18. Wayde Egan 19. Nick Lui-Toso 20. Liam Martin 21. Kaide Ellis.

Coach: Anthony Griffin.

Ricky’s View: This would have been a very different conversation if Nathan Cleary was playing. Unfortunately, his MCL injury has him ruled out with that, the Panthers chances of winning. So much hinges on his play and with Tyrone Peachey forced to move into the halves, too much pressure is on James Maloney.
Although the Cowboys are not yet the well-oiled machine they can be, they should have too much class as Michael Morgan and Johnathan Thurston find their mojo again. Cowboys by 16.


South Sydney Rabbitohs v Canterbury Bulldogs (#NRLsoucby); ANZ Stadium; Friday, March 30. Kick-off: 4:10 pm.

Rabbitohs: 1. Alex Johnston 2. Richie Kennar 3. Greg Inglis (C) 4. Dane Gagai 5. Robert Jennings 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Doueihi 8. Thomas Burgess 9. Damien Cook 10. Sam Burgess 11. John Sutton 12. Angus Crichton 13. Cameron Murray.

Interchange: 14. Hymel Hunt 15. Mark Nicholls 16. George Burgess 17. Tevita Tatola.

Reserves: 18. Robbie Farah 19. Jason Clark 20. Braidon Burns 21. Kyle Turner.

Coach: Anthony Seibold

Bulldogs: 1. Moses Mbye 2. Brett Morris 3. Josh Morris 4. Will Hopoate 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Jeremy Marshall-King 7. Kieran Foran 8. Aaron Woods 9. Michael Lichaa 10. David Klemmer 11. Josh Jackson (C) 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 13. Aiden Tolman.

Interchange: 14. Adam Elliott 15. Danny Fualalo 16. Francis Tualau 17. Fa’amanu Brown.

Reserves: 19. Renouf Toomaga 20. Kerrod Holland 21. Asipeli Fine 23. John Olive.

Coach: Dean Pay.

Ricky’s View: Both teams enjoyed last round wins, their first of the season. Traditionally, the contest between these two sides on Good Friday is firey, antsy and full of action, so expect the same. Momentum is everything in the NRL and both teams will want their key players to step up once more.
Purely because of one man at this stage, Moses Mbye, the Dogs will win this one in my books. His form at fullback has been great to start the year and if the Dogs are to win, he looms as a key player yet again. Dogs by 6.


Cronulla Sharks v Melbourne Storm (#NRLcromel); Southern Cross Group, Stadium, Cronulla; Friday, March 30. Kick-off: 8:05 pm. 

Sharks: 1. Josh Dugan 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Ricky Leutele 5. Valentine Holmes 6. Matt Moylan 7. Chad Townsend 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Matt Prior 11. Luke Lewis 12. Wade Graham (C)  13. Paul Gallen (C)

Interchange: 14. Kurt Capewell 15. James Segeyaro 16. Ava Seumanufagai 17. Joseph Paulo.

Reserves: 18. Kurt Dillon 19. Trent Hodkinson 20. Edrick Lee 21. Braden Uele.

Coach: Shane Flanagan.

Storm: 1. Billy Slater 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Will Chambers 4. Curtis Scott 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Brodie Croft 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith (C) 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 11. Joe Stimson 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Dale Finucane.

Interchange: 14. Tim Glasby 15. Kenny Bromwich 16. Christian Welch 17. Sam Kasiano.

Reserves: 18. Young Tonumaipea 19. Patrick Kaufusi 20. Ryley Jacks 21. Brandon Smith.

Coach: Craig Bellamy.

Ricky’s View: A 2016 NRL grand final rematch. The Sharks were the victors that season and will want to build on a last-start win. Their attack is not as fluid as it once was, with combinations still forming and settling. Players understanding their roles and learning new systems.
They will have to get in gear quick, though, as the Storm look ominous early as they always do. Rarely do they lose many games and with Captain Cam leading the way, it is hard to back against them. A nail-biter looms in this one, that’s probably a sure bet. Storm by 4. 


Sydney Roosters v New Zealand Warriors (#NRLsydwar); Allianz Stadium, Moore Park; Saturday, March 31. Kick-off: 5:30 pm. 

Roosters: 1. James Tedesco 2. Reece Robinson 3. Latrell Mitchell 4. Joseph Manu 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Luke Keary 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Sio Siua Taukeiaho 9. Jake Friend (C) 10. Dylan Napa 11. Boyd Cordner (C) 12. Ryan Matterson 13. Isaac Liu.

Interchange: 14. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 15. Zane Tetevano 16. Mitch Aubusson 17. Victor Radley.

Reserves: 18. Nat Butcher 19. Kurt Baptiste 20. Mitchell Cornish 21. Lindsay Collins.

Coach: Trent Robinson.

Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (C) 2. David Fusitu’a 3. Peta Hiku 4. Solomone Kata 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Blake Green 7. Shaun Johnson 8. James Gavet 9. Issac Luke 10. Agnatius Paasi 11. Leivaha Pulu 12. Tohu Harris 13. Adam Blair.

Interchange: 14. Jazz Tevaga 15. Ligi Sao 16. Tevita Satae 17. Bunty Afoa.

Reserves: 18. Mason Lino 20. Anthony Gelling 21. Albert Vete 22. Charnze Nicholl-Klokstad.

Coach: Stephen Kearney.

Ricky’s View: Perhaps the match of the round this one. After a shock round 1 loss, the Roosters have hit back and seem to have found their mojo – in part anyway. The Warriors, a season surprise packet, sit as joint leaders after three rounds.
This, their first real test, will determine where they are at. A tough one to pick as both sides boast an array of talent; Tuivasa-Sheck v Tedesco, Harris v Cordner and Cronk v Johnson. The Warriors look the goods this year and I like their new found attacking spark. Warriors by 1. 


Manly Sea Eagles v Canberra Raiders (#NRLmancan); Lottoland, Brookvale; Saturday, March 31. Kick-off: 7:35 pm. 

Sea Eagles: 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Matthew Wright 3. Brad Parker 4. Brian Kelly 5. Akuila Uate 6. Lachlan Croker 7. Daly Cherry-Evans (C) 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Martin Taupau 11. Joel Thompson 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic.

Interchange: 14. Jackson Hastings 15. Shaun Lane 16. Lloyd Perrett 17. Kelepi Tanginoa.

Reserves: 18. Lewis Brown 19. Thomas Wright 20. Frank Winterstein 21. Jack Gosiewski.

Coach: Trent Barrett

Raiders: 1 . Jack Wighton 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker (C) 4. Joey Leilua 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Aidan Sezer 7. Sam Williams 8. Iosia Soliola 9. Siliva Havili 10. Shannon Boyd 11. Josh Papalii 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Luke Bateman.

Interchange: 14. Ata Hingano 15. Junior Paulo 16. Dunamis Lui 17. Joseph Tapine.

Reserves: 18. Liam Knight 19. Blake Austin 20. Michael Oldfield 21. Jack Murchie.

Coach: Ricky Stuart.

Ricky’s View: Both teams had a round three to forget with poor performances in their losses. The Raiders have looked in all sorts at times and Manly joined them last week, with uninspiring displays. As they both look to bounce back, who has more desire?
Who wants the win more? It is tough in some ways with the talent on display. Will be it close or a blow-out?
Leaning towards Manly in this one, just an inkling. Manly by 12.


St George Illawarra Dragons v Newcastle Knights (#NRLsginew); WIN Stadium, Wollongong; Sunday, April 1. Kick-off: 4:10 pm. 

Dragons: 1. Matt Dufty 2. Nene Macdonald 3. Euan Aitken 4. Tim Lafai 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Gareth Widdop (C) 7. Ben Hunt 8. James Graham 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Tariq Sims 13. Jack de Belin.

Interchange: 14. Luciano Leilua 15. Kurt Mann 16. Leeson Ah Mau 17. Hame Sele.

Reserves: 18. Jeremy Latimore 19. Zac Lomax 20. Jacob Host 21. Blake Lawrie.

Coach: Paul McGregor.

Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Shaun Kenny-Dowall 3. Sione Mata’utia 4. Tautau Moga 5. Nathan Ross 6. Brock Lamb 7. Mitchell Pearce (C) 8. Herman Ese’ese 9. Slade Griffin 10. Jacob Lillyman 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 12. Aidan Guerra 13. Mitch Barnett.

Interchange: 14. Jamie Buhrer (C) 15. Chris Heighington 16. Jacob Saifiti 17. Daniel Saifiti.

Reserves: 18. Ken Sio 19. Jack Cogger 20. Danny Levi 21. Luke Yates.

Coach: Nathan Brown.

Ricky’s View: The Knights lost their opening game of the season last year in what was somewhat of a reality check. Although many tipped they wouldn’t be flying as high as this, they have played well enough to deserve their current spot .
That all in mind, with the form they are in, you’d be mad to tip against the Dragons. Hunt and Widdop are combining brilliantly and live-wire Dufty destroyed the Titans in round 3 on his own. Dragons by 10.


Brisbane Broncos v Gold Coast Titans (#NRLbrigld); Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane; Sunday, April 1. Kick-off: 6:30 pm. 

Broncos: 1. Darius Boyd (C) 2. Jonus Pearson 3. James Roberts 4. Jack Bird 5. Jamayne Isaako 6. Anthony Milford 7. Kodi Nikorima 8. Matthew Lodge 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Korbin Sims 11. Alex Glenn 12. Matt Gillett 13. Josh McGuire.

Interchange: 14. Sam Thaiday 15. Joe Ofahengaue 16. Tom Opacic 17. Jaydn Su’A.

Reserves: 18. Todd Murphy 19. Sam Tagataese 20. Gehamat Shibaski 21. Patrick Mago.

Coach: Wayne Bennett.

Titans: 1. Michael Gordon 2. Anthony Don 3. Dale Copley 4. Konrad Hurrell 5. Philip Sami 6. Kane Elgey 7. Ashley Taylor 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Nathan Peats 10. Ryan James (C) 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Will Matthews 13. Jai Arrow.

Interchange: 14. Mitch Rein 15. Max King 16. Bryce Cartwright 17. Leilani Latu.

Reserves: 18. Morgan Boyle 19. Ryan Simpkins 20. AJ Brimson 21. Tyronne Roberts-Davis.

Coach: Garth Brennan.

Ricky’s View: The Broncos are on the climb and the Titans are on the decline. Or, so it seems. They had very different round three games; the Broncos winning narrowly and the Titans losing heavily.
There is always a bit of spice in local derbies but who gets the job done? Based on form alone, although I like the Titans side, I have to pick the Broncos. Broncos by 18. 


Wests Tigers v Parramatta Eels (#NRLwstpar); ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park; Monday, April 2. Kick-off: 4 pm.

Tigers: 1. Corey Thompson 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Esan Marsters 4. Kevin Naiqama 5. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak 6. Benji Marshall (C) 7. Luke Brooks 8. Russell Packer 9. Pita Godinet 10. Ben Matulino 11. Chris Lawrence (C) 12. Robbie Rochow 13. Matt Eisenhuth.

Interchange: 14. Matt McIlwrick 15. Alex Twal 16. Michael Chee-Kam 17. Josh Aloiai.

Reserves: 18. Tyson Gamble 19. Tim Grant 20. Jacob Liddle 21. Tuimoala Lolohea.

Coach: Ivan Cleary.

Eels: 1. Will Smith 2. George Jennings 3. Michael Jennings 4. Kirisome Auva’ 5. Josh Hoffman 6. Corey Norman 7. Mitch Moses 8. Daniel Alvaro 9. Kaysa Pritchard 10. Tim Mannah (C) 11. Manu Ma’u 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Nathan Brown.

Interchange: 14. Beau Scott 15. Kenny Edwards 16. Peni Terepo 17. Tony Williams.

Reserves: 18. Cameron King 19. Suaia Matagi 20. David Gower 21. Marata Niukore.

Coach: Brad Arthur.

Ricky’s View: An interesting contest looms in this one. The Eels have the rub of the green over the Tigers in recent contests but their form this year leaves more questions than answers.
As the Tigers look to bounce back from last week, they have been a defensive juggernaut in 2018, repelling attack after attack.
Can the Eels break the drought? They need to give it everything they have got but an opening win has to come sometime, right? Eels by 4. 


 

Phythian released by Knights for contravening NRL drugs policy

Former Newcastle Knights utility Dylan Phythian

The NRL and its clubs have always been stringent when it comes to drugs in any form and Newcastle Knights utility Dylan Phythian is the latest casualty.

After recording a second contravention under the NRL’s Illicit Drug Policy, the Knights made a decision to release Phythian from the remainder of his contract.

An up-and-coming utility, Phythian was facing a 12-match ban as a result of the findings.’

As the Knights look to build the right culture moving forward, such behaviour does not tie in with their beliefs.

Despite his release, the Knights will continue to offer Phythian support and counselling.

Although they are sad to make the decision, the Knights were left with no choice.

“It’s a sad day for Dylan and the club but it’s clear this culture doesn’t fit with us,” Knights CEO Phil Gardner said.

“We were left with no option. We have to have a club that we’re proud of and that the community is proud of.

“We are a developing club so the behaviour sets a benchmark. As a person, you’ve either got integrity or you don’t. We keep our word and we have to expect the same.”

Stanley becomes latest Wolfpack recruit

Canterbury Bulldogs utility back Chase Stanley.

Released by the Canterbury Bulldogs at the end of 2017, Chase Stanley has a new home, signing with the Toronto Wolfpack.

Still only 28, Stanley slowly made a name for himself coming through the ranks at the St George Illawarra Dragons.

This prompted the opportunity to make his first-grade debut for the Dragons, as well as stints at the Melbourne Storm and the Canterbury Bulldogs.

In total, Stanley played in 110 NRL games and scored 28 tries in that time.

It could have been more, however, had it not been for chronic knee injuries cruelling his career.

Fit and raring to go now, Stanley makes the move to the Wolfpack and is excited by the challenge that lies ahead.

“To play football overseas is something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Stanley.

“The opportunity to challenge myself both as a player and as person in a different part of the world is something I’m looking forward to.

“For me personally, I’m keen to embrace the culture of the Wolfpack and play some tough and consistent football.”

With the Wolfpack setting their sights on the Super League, Stanley believes the club is primed to reach their goals.

“I believe this club can achieve its ultimate goal of reaching Super League so this move is the chance to be a part of something really exciting,” he continued.

“I can’t wait to get over to Canada.

I’ve never been, so to be able to play rugby league over there and put it on the map is a bonus and great for the game.”

Wolfpack head coach Paul Rowley welcomes the addition of Stanley to the squad and the team.

“Chase is a welcome addition to the team and adds real quality to our backline options,” said Rowley.

“I’m looking forward to working with Chase and excited to see him play in our colours.

He’s a fantastic player and a quality person who has worked within some first class environments so we’re looking forward to him getting started.”

Broncos halt Tigers undefeated run with golden point win

Brisbane Broncos winger Jamayne Isaako.

Was it contentious or should we applaud the refs for making a call in golden point? Either way, the Brisbane Broncos have ended the Wests Tigers undefeated run, winning 9-7 in golden point.

Playing at Campbelltown Stadium in front of a raucous home crowd, the Tigers faithful were up in arms when Robbie Rochow was penalised for not being square at marker.

Attempting to block a possible field goal attempt, the penalty meant the Broncos had a chance to go for goal.

From there, unsung winger Jamayne Isaako kicked the winning goal to give the Broncos the win.

As the teams initially traded penalty goals, steely defensive resolve was the name of the game in this one.

With the Tigers clinging onto a 6-4 lead, it was Isaako who slotted a penalty goal and then a field goal to give the Broncos a 7-6 lead.

In a scoreline you do not see often in rugby league, Tigers halfback Luke Brooks slotted one of his own to make it 7-all.

The loss denied the Tigers the chance to win their opening three matches. Had they done so, it would have been the first time they started a season with three wins in the club’s history.

The Tigers must be applauded for their new approach to the game and Ivan Cleary deserves credit.

This time last year, after three rounds, they had conceded 100 points. This coincided with the sacking of coach Jason Taylor.

In 2018 after three rounds, the Tigers have conceded just 25 points.

Despite their first loss of the season, the Tigers grittiness and resilience is a big part of their newfound resolve.

Cleary was left puzzled by the golden point penalty given by the referees.

”No. No I don’t,” he said when asked if it should have been a penalty,” the baffled Tigers coach said.

”It’s one thing to give penalties in golden point, which historically just don’t [happen]. And the other one is was it a penalty? I actually don’t think it was.

”Look, we all make mistakes, but that’s a big one. You can tell by the way the Broncos guys reacted it’s almost like they were embarrassed to win.

It throws golden point in a whole new light. A draw’s probably a fair result. Unfortunately ,not tonight.”

Man of the moment Isaako said he practiced his kicking and backed himself to produce big moments.

‘At the time I copped a cork being dragged out at the end,” Isaako said.

”But I said I’d cop one for the team and I’m grateful to have been able to knock it over and get the win. It’s definitely something I like to pride myself on, my kicking.

”I come from a rugby background and growing up I idolised Dan Carter. Being here in Brisbane, definitely in my spare time I like to get out and practice my kicking.”

Player of the Game:

3. Jamayne Isaako

2. Russell Packer

  1. Korbin Sims

Bulldogs honour club legend Steve Folkes with win against Penrith

Canterbury Bulldogs fullback Moses Mbye.

In an emotional contest that saw the Canterbury Bulldogs club honour the late, great, Steve Folkes, they prevailed to record their opening win of the season.

As they farewelled their favourite son, the Bulldogs first win of the season was a tight affair, as they held off a fast-finishing Penrith Panthers side to win 20-18.

That was not the main focal point, though, with boom Panthers half Nathan Cleary injuring his knee.

The enigmatic half played on with the injury after he sustained it in the 11th minute but failed to return at half-time.

Penrith coach Anthony Griffin opened up on the injury sustained by Cleary.

“We think he’s got a medial ligament problem. It happened early in the first half, around the 11th minute,” Griffin said.

“I didn’t actually see it but the doctor tells me it happened early. They checked him on the field and he wasn’t too bad. But when he came in and cooled down at halftime and they had another look at him, they pulled him.

“We’ll get a scan tomorrow and see what’s going on.”

The game itself from a playing perspective was dominated by one man – Bulldogs fullback Moses Mbye.

In what was arguably the best game of his career, he finished with two tries, two goals and three line-breaks.

It proved too much for Penrith as their right side attack was too hot for the Panthers edge defence to handle.

It was a blow for Penrith who were looking to win three straight games to start a season for the first time since 1997.

It was another ugly start for the Panthers, who conceded a try in the early stages to Mbye, his first.

It could have gotten worse had the NRL bunker not seen an obstruction but it was in vain, as Josh Morris scored an intercept try in his 200th club match.

Will Hopoate then extended the Bulldogs lead with a swift play but as they had done two weeks running, the Panthers mounted a mini-comeback.

Tries to Isaah Yeo, Dylan Edwards and Josh Mansour cut the lead to just two points but giving away a late penalty was the Achilles heel, ending their hopes.

Griffin was critical of his side for starting poorly for the third week running.

“Can’t fault our courage. When we get ourselves behind we’ve got a tremendous amount of team spirit… they play for each other and tonight without a halfback it was nearly a really good win there,” Griffin said.

“But we’ve got to fix those starts and when we do that – and we will do that – it will make it a lot easier for us.”

A surprise to everyone was the decision to start Jeremy Marshall-King in the halves but it worked.

Still young and learning, he drew praise from Bulldogs coach Dean Pay for his efforts.

”I just said to him during the week ‘your attack will look after itself; we just need you to make sure you make your tackles.’ He was really good in that area,” said Pay.

“Right from day one he had a great attitude towards his footy and his training.

”I’ve always liked the kid, he’s very coach-able. I think he’s got a bright future.”

Player of the Game:

3. Moses Mbye

2. Jeremy Marshall-King

  1. Reagan Campbell-Gillard.

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