NRL Judiciary Talk
By The Professor ‘Aaron’

So, as we’ve learned in previous seasons, you can’t be selected by an English team in order to serve a suspension, but it appears now that you can be stuck with carry over points from an offence that occurred in England, in another season! Next they’ll be telling us that Mat Rogers can add the points he scored during his time in the (curiously named) “Super” rugby series to his existing league tally.

This has surely got to change.
I can’t even recall the Lyon incident off the top of my head (and I have seen the game twice on replay).

Whatever happens, let’s hope the club fights it better than the Hopoate charge in 2005. I mean, you always knew he was going down for a looong time the moment we saw him carrying the VCR into the hearing (apparently its purpose was to show footage of the incident from a different angle, perhaps from the grassy knoll at the back of the Brooky Hill, a la JFK). You would have thought the judiciary would have had their own VCR though, or that some flunky (e.g. Peter Peters) could have carried it for him.

What does it mean to say that Matai is an “overly agressive” player? Especially when you described him simply as “agressive” four paragraphs earlier. Did he get more agressive in that space of time? Ben Smith was falling in that tackle (not to mention that he got his own back later with a cheap shot that went unreported). Matai is an in-your-face player. To the unitiated, that means he likes to get up into the line quickly and force the attacking player into a quick decision. If someone falls into a tackle on a dewy field (a la Ben Smith on Friday) that is just a natural consequence.

There has been a disturbing tendency in the last decade to acuse Maori or Pacific Islander players of being “overly agressive” or “dirty” just because they have speed and good defensive awareness (and I’m thinking of John Hopoate, Ruben Wiki and Matai right here). Give ’em a break. If Ben Smith hadn’t fallen it was a solid tackle at a crucial point of the game. Instead, you’re prepared to write off the character and integrity of a international player.

NRL New’s newest guru – ‘The Professor‘ – write your comments to him below.

Monaghan – Manly to Warrington

Michael Monaghan Signs with Warrington Wolves

Current Manly Sea Eagles Utility Michael Monaghan today officially signed a deal to join UK Super League club the Warrington Wolves.

The estimated $2 million dollar contract means Michael Monaghan will be tied to the Warrington Wolves for the next four years – and means the talented Rugby League half will be 31 when the agreement expires with the Wolves.

Monaghan leaves his post at Manly, on an estimated $240,000 a year – after losing the halfback spot to Matt Orford and facing competition at hooker from the new Manly talent Matt Ballin. Interestingly enough, Monaghan has been the form player for Manly in the halves in NRL 2007 and has been the driving force behind their top of the table near undefeated run.

Andrew Johns and Adrian Morley are both reported to have phoned Mick Monaghan to sing the praises of the Warrington Wolves and persuade him to sign up.

This is not all bad news for Manly, the Sea Eagles now have some serious cash freed up under the salary cap and can be active in the player market come 2008 or be more able to retain current players for 2008 – should they see continued good results and the inevitable rise in their players value. Manly were able to sign Jamie Lyon at only a fraction of his worth due to the role played by his surrogate father Noel Cleal and his desire to return to Australia and play in the NRL. Combine this factor with the upcoming juniors and strike weapons such as Orford, Bell, Matai and Wattmough and you can see why the future on the Northern Beaches looks promising.

NRL Teams for Round 10 Named

FRIDAY
ST GEORGE-ILLAWARRA DRAGONS v GOLD COAST TITANS at WIN Stadium, 7.30pm

DRAGONS: Ben Hornby (captain), Jason Nightingale, Chase Stanley, Wes Naiqama, Josh Morris, Dean Young, Mathew Head, Justin Poore, Simon Woolford, Jason Ryles (captain), Ashton Sims, Beau Scott, Ben Creagh. Interchange: Adam Peek, Danny Wicks, Corey Payne, Ben Ellis, Sam Isemonger (one to be omitted).
TITANS: Richie Mathers, Matt Petersen, Mat Rogers, Brett Delaney, Jake Webster, Matt Hilder, Scott Prince (captain), Kris Kahler, Nathan Friend, Brad Meyers, Anthony Laffranchi, Mark Minichello, Luke Swain. Interchange: Michael Hodgson, James Stosic, Gavin Cooper, Clint Amos.
Referee: Tony Archer

SATURDAY
NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS v WESTS TIGERS at 2pm

WARRIORS: Wade McKinnon, Patrick Ah Van, Tony Martin, Simon Mannering, Manu Vatuvei, Jerome Ropati, Michael Witt, Ruben Wiki (captain), Nathan Fien, Sam Rapira, Louis Anderson, Logan Swann, Micheal Luck. Interchange: Sonny Fai, Lance Hohaia, Epalahame Lauaki, Corey Lawrie, Evarn Tuimavave (one to be omitted)
TIGERS: Brett Hodgson (captain), Daniel Fitzhenry, Dean Collis, Paul Whatuira, Taniela Tuiaki, Liam Fulton, John Morris, Todd Payten, Robbie Farah, Bryce Gibbs, Ben Galea, Chris Heighington, Dene Halatau. Interchange: Chris Lawrence, Ben Te’o, Bronson Harrison, Jarrod Saffy, Tevita Metuisela (one to be omitted).
Referee: Steve Clark

PARRAMATTA EELS v NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS at Parramatta Stadium, 5.30pm
EELS:
Luke Burt, Joel Reddy, Ben Smith, Krisnan Inu, Eric Grothe, Brett Finch, Tim Smith, Nathan Cayless (captain), PJ Marsh, Aaron Cannings, Feleti Mateo, Ian Hindmarsh, Daniel Wagon. Interchange: Mark Riddell, Josh Cordoba, Zeb Taia, Chad Robinson, Junior Paulo (one to be omitted).
COWBOYS: Matt Bowen, Brenton Bowen, Ashley Graham, Paul Bowman, Scott Minto, Justin Smith, Jason Smith, Shane Tronc, Aaron Payne, Ray Cashmere, Steve Southern, Scott Bolton, Sione Faumuina. Interchange: Rod Jensen, Mark Henry, Sam Faust, Ben Vaeau, Ty Williams (one to be omitted).
Referee: Shayne Hayne

MELBOURNE STORM v SYDNEY ROOSTERS at Olympic Park, 7.30pm
STORM:
Billy Slater, Steve Turner, Will Chambers, Anthony Quinn, Israel Folau, Matt Geyer, Cooper Cronk, Antonio Kaufusi, James Aubusson, Ben Cross, Michael Crocker, Ryan Hoffman, Jeremy Smith Interchange: Matt Bartlett, Jeff Lima, Ian Donnelly, Sika Manu, Scott Anderson, Garret Crossman, Sam Tagataese (three to be omitted).
ROOSTERS: Amos Roberts, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Sam Perrett, Joel Monaghan, John Williams, Mitchell Aubusson, Mitchell Pearce, David Shillington, Craig Wing, Danny Nutley, Shane Shackleton, Craig Fitzgibbon (c), Ashley Harrison. Interchange: Mickey Paea, Lopini Paea, Nigel Plum, Setaimata Sa, Frank Paul Nuuausala (one to be omitted).
Referee: Gavin Badger

SUNDAY
BULLDOGS v CRONULLA SHARKS at Telstra Stadium, 3pm
BULLDOGS:
Luke Patten, Hazem El Masri, Daryl Millard, Willie Tonga, Andrew Emelio, Ben Roberts, Brent Sherwin, Jarrad Hickey, Corey Hughes (captain), Chris Armit, Sonny Bill Williams, Daniel Holdsworth, Reni Maitua. Interchange: Adam Perry, Lee Te Maari, Kane Cleal, Jon Green, Brad Morrin (one to be omitted).
SHARKS: Brett Kearney, Misi Taulapapa, Ben Pomeroy, Fraser Anderson, Luke Covell, Adam Dykes, Brett Kimmorley (captain), Ben Ross, Kevin Kingston, Craig Stapleton, Paul Gallen, Lance Thompson, Greg Bird. Interchange: Luke Douglas, Henry Perenara, Reece Williams, Isaac De Gois, Dayne Weston (one to be omitted)
Referee: Ben Cummins

MONDAY
MANLY SEA EAGLES v BRISBANE BRONCOS at Brookvale Oval, 7pm
SEA EAGLES:
Brett Stewart, Michael Robertson, Shane Neumann, Nick Bradley-Qualilawa, Chris Hicks, Travis Burns, Matt Orford (captain), Jason King, Michael Monaghan, Mark Bryant, Anthony Watmough, Glenn Stewart, Luke Williamson. Interchange: Matt Ballin, Glenn Hall, George Rose, Adam Cuthbertson.
BRONCOS: Darius Boyd, Steve Michaels, David Stagg, Nick Emmett, Denan Kemp, Joel Moon, Shane Perry, Dane Carlaw, Mick Ennis, Ben Hannant, Corey Parker, Brad Thorn (captain), Greg Eastwood. Interchange: Dave Taylor, Clifford Manua, John Te Reo, Nick Kenny, Ian Lacey, Mick Roberts (two to be omitted).
Referee: Jared Maxwell

State of Origin NSW and QLD Sides Announced.

Please see below for all the players from the NRL who have made the 2007 State of Origin teams for both Queensland and New South Wales. We wish both teams the best of luck in their Origin games this year, and welcome several new faces to the State of Origin arena. Unlucky to miss out on State of Origin Game 1 is – Brett Kimmorley (NSW), Hazem El Masri (NSW) and Billy Slater (QLD) who were ever so close for selection in the big Origin clash.

The Official NSW State of Origin Team is:

Anthony Minichiello, Matt King, Jamie Lyon, Matt Cooper, Jarryd Hayne, Braith Anasta, Jarrod Mullen, Brent Kite, Danny Buderus (capt), Brett White, Nathan Hindmarsh, Willie Mason, Andrew Ryan. Res: Luke Bailey, Steve Simpson, Anthony Tupou, Kurt Gidley

The Official QLD State of Origin Team is:

Karmichael Hunt; Brent Tate, Steve Bell, Justin Hodges, Greg Inglis; Darren Lockyer (c), Johnathan Thurston; Steve Price, Cameron Smith, Petero Civoniceva, Tonie Carroll, Carl Webb, Dallas Johnson. Res: Shaun Berrigan, Neville Costigan, Jacob Lillyman, Nate Myles.

Willie Mason and Mark O’Meley Missing

Melbourne Storm crush spare parts Dogs
Melbourne Storm 38 def Bulldogs 14

The Storm pulled off a big win tonight in Melbourne in front of just under 15,000 locals – seemingly disposing of the Bulldogs and really only pulling 4th gear.

The Bulldogs were pretty much outgunned in the talent department, with Willie Mason, Mark O’Meley and Matt Utai all missing from last week – the usual solid forward foundation was no where to be seen. Young hopes Armit, Cleal, Hickey and raw Jon Green were no match for the hardened Storm pack.

After some early arm wrestling, the class of Cooper Cronk shone through – Cronk scoring a double in the first half and try assisting for another touchdown. He was silky smooth for the Storm and guided them around brilliantly. Things got ugly for the Dogs as time went by – the Doggies missing a total 41 tackles in all, almost double that of the Melbourne Storm.

Billy Slater was at his usual best for the Storm in a faultless display, Hoffman did enough to ensure he is selected for State of Origin 1 in a NSW jersey. The only concern was some illegal play by Storm lock Dallas Johnson. Johnson entered as the third man into a tackle on Reni Maitua and hit him in the head with an intentional shoulder. It didn’t look good on the footage and was pretty much uncalled for – he’ll be in hot water for this.

For the Dogs, Trent Cutler used his chance well to play himself back into form. The nervous winger gaining the spot through the missing Matt Utai – Cutler shut down some tough situations in defence and showed some nice offloading and positional play in attack. Hazem El Masri had a fair game and probably did enough to get the State of Origin Wing Spot for NSW – but it’s Sonny Bill Williams who is starting to be discussed in NRL circles regarding his form and impact for the Bulldogs.

Sonny Bill Williams has unquestionable talent; but the giant second rower hasn’t had the impact of previous years. Sonny Bill has been able to string several games together now and match fitness or injury really shouldn’t be a factor in the equation. Tonight Sonny Bill had some nice touches, offloads and the occasional big hit – but the boy needs to really take the next step and lead from the front. In the absence of Willie Mason and Mark O’Meley – Sonny Bill Williams really should have been the forward leader, mentoring Armit, Hickey and Co and really leading by example. His offloads are becoming almost predictable, as the big man tries to offload on every tackle – which can prove very risky in certain situations.

In summary, another win to the Melbourne Storm and while the Bulldogs were without their prime forwards – the Storm are still a cut above the rest of the NRL. While they misfired against the Tigers recently, this Storm side is no.1 and most certainly the team to beat in NRL 2007.

Thanks for joining us at NRL News, and thank you for the continued feedback – we will continue with our policy of not simply writing match reports, but giving a general overview of how your team looked and performed overall.

Stay tuned for some big and exciting info at NRL News in the coming weeks. As we approach our 1,000,000 visitor mark, we will be looking to employ a new writer and will be running a prize draw for our regular readers. Thank you again for all your support.

NRL Judiciary Citings

  • Jamie Lyon Goneski’s for NSW
  • Webb and Lillyman Cleared for QLD
  • Steve Matai – time don’t fit the crime


Jamie Lyon has been charged with a dangerous throw today; a result of the agressive Manly tactics from Friday nights clash with Parramatta. Lyon has points in the bank already after an incident from the UK Super League last year – meaning even an early plea will see Lyon ousted for one week, and forcing him from the upcoming State of Origin match.

Carl Webb and Jacob Lillyman can breathe easy as the the two Cowboys big names have been cleared and are free from any penalties or suspension.

The suspension that has outraged some in the NRL community is the extremely light sentence handed to Manly hard man Steve Matai for his swing arm to the face of Parramattas Ben Smith.
Known as a physical and generally agressive player, Matai always pushes the boundaries and has a similar mentality to Justin Hodges in the way he antagonises opposition players.

In Friday’s clash with Parramatta, Manly successfully employed physical agression and bashed Parramatta into submission. Des Hasler employed the right tactics and Manly carried out instructions to the letter. When teams roll the dice and chose to employ the rough stuff, the NRL must do it’s job and enforce the correct suspension.

Steve Matai was only charged with a Grade 3 Careless High Tackle. To call this tackle careless was was the understatement of the year. Matai came in as the second tackler and cocked his arm heavily and swung it to the centre of Ben Smiths face, connecting, and breaking Smith’s nose instantly – with an instant heavy stream of claret spewing out.

The grading may have been correct had it not been the niggly Matai or the style in which the game was played. Matai is known as an overly agressive player and is considered a dirty contender by some in NRL circles, coupled with the fact that the tactics on the night were to win with physical supiriority – it all spells wreckless grading not careless.

Recently a Newcastle player, Kade Snowden was sin binned for 10 minutes for a borderline hold down against the Bulldogs. This binning heavily penalised the player and ultimately his team – being a man down for 10 minutes is a huge weight to bare.

Compare this to the Steve Matai incident.

Matai offends, Ben Smith felled, Matai on report. Ben Smith eventually returns to field, albeit in a reduced capacity. Manly win game. Steve Matai outted for one week with early plea.

For those NRL News readers that actually saw the incident, consider this – if the Matai tackle was on an Andrew Johns, Darren Lockyer or Benji Marshall; surely Matai would be getting a long, long holiday.

NRL News Sunday Review
Wests Tigers 27 def St George Illawarra 8

Today’s Rugby League saw the in-form Wests Tigers make it 4 wins back to back and amazingly shoot to 5th position on the 2007 NRL Points Ladder. This has been a stunning turn around for Tim Sheens’ men – considering they lost their first four matches of NRL in 2007.

Not only are Wests winning, but their style has improved considerably. They are executing impressive set plays – most notably the late switch play against the Dragons today. A beautiful angled dummy run from Payten sucked half the Dragons defenders in and Hodgson threw a nice ball wide which eventually got to Fitzhenry who scored untouched 7 metres in from the sideline. Chris Lawrence continues to grow and grow for the Tigers, the young winger fielding a late kick on the full about 20m out from his own line, and proceeded to charge upfield – showing good strength to beat a Saints tackle and streak away – out sprinting Morris and several other Dragons to score a try to seal the match.

The Dragons today were simply a team so woefully low on confidence. While the fact they have been fielding so many youngsters has hurt them in recent games, they really can’t blame the loss on this today. With Woolford a late starter and helping things, poor play from experience Ryles and Head were the catalyst for the loss. The Matt Head failed try put-down was a major turning point in the game, momentum swings in NRL these days can happen off penalties, basic errors and even heavy defence – when something like Head’s failed put down occurs its the equivalent of giving the opposition 4 points it hurts that much.

The St George Illawarra Dragons face the Gold Coast Titans next week at WIN Stadium – and they will need a huge home crowd to help them get over the line. The form of Chase Stanley and the ever willing Ben Hornby were the only positives for the Dragons today. Good luck Browny you’re going to need it.

Sydney Roosters 24 def Gold Coast Titans 18

Roosters fullback Anthony Minichiello, who along with hooker Craig Wing were the standouts in the gritty Roosters win – with the cellar dwellars getting an injection of confidence with a much needed win.

A referee blunder was the talk of this match with Sean Hampstead aka Mr Bean overruling a touch judge call as a forward pass allowed the Titans to score and a Scott Prince engineered fightback was on the cards.

The other talking point in the this game was the shockingly low crowd attendance at Aussie Stadium. Mothers day combined with poor Roosters form of late – saw a crowd of just over 6,000 people turn up.

The face of the NRL 2007 points table is starting to change now, with the points table looking much better for the likes of the Wests Tigers, Sharks and Knights who all move firmly into the top 8.

With the bye being handed out to 4 teams next week, all eyes will be on State of Origin and how the impact of injuries affects the NRL teams.

Exciting games next week should be the Warriors vs Wests Tigers in New Zealand, and the Bulldogs vs Cronulla Sharks at Telstra Stadium.

NRL Upsets Galore

Panthers and Raiders cause boilovers

The NRL matches last night threw up some amazing results, with the hot to trot Cowboys getting beaten by the Penrith Panthers 22 to 12. The Panthers who have been horribly out of form, were paying an amazing $3.90 with bookies to win in North Queesland. Juicy Juicy odds.

Sadly for the Panthers, they look to have lost Craig Gower to injury and he is in doubt for Origin selection.

In the other match last night the maligned Canberra Raiders grabbed a late try to beat South Sydney Rabbitohs 16-10. The stats read badly for the Bunnies now, having lost 5 of their last 6 games – possibly the missing Kidwell factor is hurting. The other problem Jason Taylor and the Rabbitohs face is their inability to score points – while turning in good defensive efforts, the Bunnies are not crossing the line enough.

The Rabbitohs will glady take the 2 points next week from the bye and will hope to recover in time to face the Titans in Queensland.

The Panthers also get a week off, as do the Raiders. Amazingly the Raiders will move to 10 points, and well away from their suggested Wooden Spoon zone and the forgotten Penrith Panthers will head up to 8 points. Once again showing that a week is a really long time in football and 2 weeks is an eternity.

In further NRL games today, the in form Wests Tigers take on the rookie brigade from St George Illawarra. The cellar dwelling Roosters face the inconsistent Titans in what should be an interesting battle between Cartwright and his old mentor club.

On Monday night its the blockbuster between the high flying Storm and the gritty Bulldogs.

In other NRL news, former Canberra Raiders custodian and captain Clinton Schifcofske has spoken out about his transfer to Rugby Union. The fullback has admitted his change to Union hasn’t been a happy one and has desires to return to the greatest game of all. We watch with interest as the likes of Tahu head to ARU land and see if the grass is greener.

NRL News Knights vs Warriors

Knights wake from Slumber to shock Warriors

Knights 24 def Warriors 18

In tonights 5.30 game the Knights have finshed strongly to overtake the Warriors with 2 minutes remaining. Down 18-6 at one stage the Knights held strong and were patient in their play to eventually run down the Warriors.

The Warriors simply surrendered possesstion too easily in the second period, and their completion rate read 31 from 42 sets. The dropped ball invited the Knights into the game and they took the offer with open arms.

Jarryd Mullen was at his best and the boom rookie may have just won himself a NSW Origin Jersey. His short and long kicking game was top shelf and some of his selective passing was equal to that of his mentor – the great Andrew Johns.

The Warriors will go home hurting from this one, they did everything right early on and looked to have a vital away win in the bag at half time. A second loss on the trot now, and Cleary will be desperate to get McKinnon back from suspension.

NRL News – Rugby League

Sharks win, as Locky limps off
Cronulla Sharks 16 def Brisbane Broncos 8

Cronulla came out firing in the second half of their round nine fixture against the Broncos at Shark Park on Friday night, putting on eight unanswered points to win the match 16-8.

After a lacklustre start to the match where they just managed to draw level with Brisbane at half-time, the Sharks put the Broncos’ defence to the test as they turned up the heat.

The Cronulla attack came up trumps, crossing the line once and slotting a penalty to keep Brisbane in the bottom half of the table.

The Broncos were lucky to keep the second half scoreline to what it was, with their defence constantly being left in the dust as the Sharks launched raid after raid up the middle of the park.

Greg Bird was the lone try scorer after the break, crossing the line in the 55th minute.

Some poor discipline around the ruck from Brisbane then gave up a penalty, which Luke Covell had no trouble with as he secured the extra two points.

The Broncos will need to reassess their game during the week after handing over momentum to the home side late in the first half.

They were unable to turn things around after the break and when captain and playmaker Darren Lockyer left the field in the 57th minute with an ankle injury, the visitors were left unable to answer the Sharks’ attack.

The Broncos could have taken a lead into the break, but both of Lockyer’s conversion attempts drifted wide of the posts.

NRL News – Rugby League

Your one stop shop for rugby league news