Rugby League Power Rankings How is your team placed?
By The Grubber

The Grubber is NRL News’ newest team member. With years of media experience in League circles, the Grubber has all the inside contacts to know what’s happening with your club. Here is his new ‘Power Rankings’ column.

Power Rankings:

1. Melbourne: Could probably field two sides and still sit atop the table. Great depth, solid offensive execution. Will be tested this Saturday at Brookvale, but should benefit from a longer turn-around than the Sea Eagles. Power score: 9/10, Odds of cracking it for a mention in the sporting pages of the Melbourne papers by 2050: 20-1.

2. Wests Tigers: Getting it done without Marshall through opposition specific game plans and solid completion. Young forward pack have met tough challenges in recent weeks and have come through nicely. Supporters finding it increasingly hard to continue talk of “NRL conspiracy” against them. Power score: 8/10, Odds of Brett Hodgson relinquishing fullback spot for Benji upon return: 100-1.

3. Manly: Solid defence and high completion rate has set up top of the ladder position. Need to improve offensive production and execute better when opportunities present themselves. Need all the points they can get at the moment with tough 6 game road stretch at end of season. Power score: 8/10, Odds of Laurie Daley being able to correctly pronounce “Nick Bradley-Qualilawa” during game commentary 30-1.

4. Cronulla: Mobile pack with outstanding back row and reliable, if not brilliant, half combination. Completion was outstanding against weakened Dogs. Kimmorley’s manager desperate to talk up price with ludicrous suggestions that other clubs are interested in signing him. Power score: 7/10, Odds of Sharks supporter being seen at away fixture: 100-1.

5. New Zealand: Play well in patches but consistently let themselves down at crucial stages. Will probably struggle for consistency for most of season. Teflon keen to reopen sponsorship discussions with Manu Vatuvei after talks stalled during ’06 Tri-Nations series. Power score: 7/10, Odds that local “NZ Sky” commentators would be employed by any other media organisation: 1000-1.

6. North Queensland: May lose premiership points for mistakenly fielding Queensland Cup team in NRL fixture vs. Parramatta. Club has vowed to check kick-off times more carefully in future. Power score: 7/10, Odds that Cowboys could win a game without Thurston 25-1.

7. Parramatta: Continue to rack up big scores against mediocre opposition. Smith and Finch may be beginning to settle down behind underrated forward pack. A great effort given that heart and soul of the club, Nathan Hindmarsh was missing. Power score: 7/10, Odds of Luke Burt being asked to endorse shoulder pads: 500-1.

8. Canterbury: Poor effort without stars. On the positive, SBW has finally begun to stand up when needed. Will struggle during Origin series but will surely improve when representative players return. Power score: 6.5/10, Progress report on number of chants Canterbury supporters have stolen off the Barmy Army so far this year: 1 (“We are the army, the Bulldog Army”).

9. Newcastle: A chance every week with Gidley’s current form. Mullen will no doubt come back to them an improved player no matter how badly he tanks the Blues in Origin. Power score: 6.5/10, Percentage of NSW selectors who mistakenly believed they were selecting former Newcastle #7 Andrew Johns for Origin: 75%.

10. South Sydney: Enjoyed much needed BYE with extensive Origin commitments. Supporters will hope that current slump is only temporary and not a hangover from losing culture. Well poised to pick up victories during the next couple of months. Power score: 6/10, Odds of John Sattler and George Piggins being seen enjoying the carvery at Souths Leagues: 60-1.

11. Penrith: Lean forward pack who may be beginning to turn the corner. Will battle without Gower though. Matt Elliot must find a way to improve completion rate and discipline or may soon find himself under pressure. Power score: 6/10, Number of pre-emptive warnings from Panthers director Greg Alexander to Craig Gower regarding the consequences of speeding from Police: 5.

12. Brisbane: Seem to be suffering the premier’s curse this year. Tough to gauge their true form during Origin period, however young players stood up well against Sea Eagles. Power score: 5/10, Number of words used per answer by Wayne Bennett during press conference: 1.

13. Gold Coast: Seem to have trouble winning away and now missing Preston Campbell like a fat kid misses cake. Power score: 5/10, Odds of newspapers dragging out “Remember the Titans” headline when losing streak is eventually broken: 2-1.

14. St George-Illawarra: Improving marginally week to week as rookies gain valuable NRL experience. Head may be returning to decent form and will be a crucial part of a rebuilding effort to try and salvage the season. Power score: 4.5/10, Number of weeks before Dragons board announce they have “full confidence in Nathan Brown”: 5.

15. Canberra: Just a young squad struggling to find their feet. Todd Carney may yet reinvent himself as race car driving instructor to Australian Idol Dean Geyer. Power score: 4/10, Odds of Canberra major sponsor CFMEU preventing Carney from switching careers without appropriate Race car Drivers Union membership: 13-1.

16. Roosters: Have now written off season by conceding that this year is a “rebuilding” one. Struggling for go-forward with senior citizens in front row. A tough ask to lose 4 players when propping up the ladder. Power score: 3/10, Odds of a second Roosters player bagging a Miss Universe contestant: 800-1.

And…some quick “around the grounds”:

1. Warren Smith: Who else read Warren Smith’s whine (he calls it a rant) in Big League last week? Just when I thought Smith’s op-ed pieces couldn’t get any less relevant, he chose to spend this week’s 300 words on the “success” of the Melbourne Storm. Specifically, a slap to the face of anyone who happens to disagree with, to put it bluntly, the existence of the Storm. Now we all know that Warren Smith is News Corp’s cabana boy, but isn’t even he stretching it a little far to suggest that the on-field performance (and modest growth in crowd figures) is somehow the final word on whether a team should exist in Victoria? OK, so Melbourne may be a great football team (and one that has certainly been consistent for a extended period of time), but wouldn’t we expect that?! I mean, this is an organisation which is effectively been financially underwritten by News Ltd. You’d think that they’d be able to construct a good football side considering that they don’t have the financial concerns and stresses of pretty much every side in Sydney. As for the crowds, I can’t say I’m that impressed with what they’ve achieved. We’re talking about the most solid (and at times exciting) side of the last five years. You’d be deeply concerned if they couldn’t draw the 15,000 they tend to get given the promotion the game has had in Melbourne in the last 18 months AND the fact that they have now been in the NRL for 9 seasons. I’m not calling for the demise of the Storm, but let’s put their “success” in perspective. Even Warren Smith should be prepared to admit that Melbourne exists solely as part of the Bigger Picture Ideology being pursued by the NRL and its boss News Ltd.

2. The Footy Show: I used to love the Footy Show like Phil Gould loves a Sharks loss. But now? Spare me from that drivel they serve up on a Thursday night. Why do I feel when I’m watching it that I’m sitting in the dressing sheds after a Newcastle Knights game circa 1997? Could it be because this program has become completely dominated by the Red and Blue? The Merewether Mafia have even found a way to work in Andrew Johns. Andrew Johns?! A man who has all the onscreen personality of a goal post. He even made Brett Kimmorley look like Rodney Dangerfield. Is anyone out there seriously prepared to argue that just throwing on an old tape of a game from say 1987, would rate any worse than the Footy Show? A lot of supporters would love to relive the old days of the 5 metre rule, no blood bin and a world without “The Chief”, “Matty” and “Barge-arse”.

3. Eric Growthe: Give us some respect Eric. Just a slight nod to our collective intelligence. The cellular telephony age has been with us long enough now that most of us know the difference between when a mobile phone is switched off and when it is “out of range”. Yours was clearly switched off. Can’t say I’m really that upset with you though. I know how the conversation would have gone with Denis Fitzgerald. “Listen Eric, I know Jamie is your mate, and you just wanted to help him out, but when it comes to the hearing, just switch your phone off son. We don’t help Manly, alright?”

Yours in league,
The Grubber.

State of Origin 2007 Preview

Ok, it’s the eve of Origin and NRL News takes a look at who will win the war and how it will be won.

Queensland have obviously lost some raw power in Carl Webb. The big battle axe has lost the battle with his hamstring injury and won’t be in the line-up. The halves are where Queensland will be so strong – Lockyer and Thurston holding the aces in this game.

A lot of talk has centered around Jarrod Mullen and his ability to cope with the pressure. I think Mullen will be assisted by a NSW forward pack intent on laying plenty of foundation. To combat the Queensland halves, the NSW forwards must get tough and bash the Maroons back.

Queensland will really need to win the wrestle at the ruck, losing this battle will make things harder for their talent on the fringes. Queensland have done well to put the focus on Mullen – but really there is some pressure on the Queensland pack – with NSW boasting a lot of the Australian forwards.

The bench is also an interesting situation. The NSW Blues have Gidley, Bailey, Tupou and Simpson ready to rock and roll. With Kurt Gidley in top form and playing a roving role or style can be expected.

Queensland have some impact men in Neville Costigan and Jacob Lillyman but Nate Myles.and Shaun Berrigan are only finding their best form in current NRL ranks. The big force for Queensland will be Justin Hodges. The agressive former Rooster always lifts for the big occasions and Justin Hodges loves to talk it up and act the goat Anthony Mundine style – after putting his Origin disasters of yesteryear behind him – he is a key man.

Paul Simpkins plays an interesting role – as he has let things flow in 2007, unlike colleagues such as Steve ‘The Terminator’ Clark.

Simpkins’ flowing style could suit the speed game of Lockyer and Thurston – but once again if the forward battle is lost, this speed game is nullified.

With Suncorp Stadium or the Cauldron as it is known as the venue for Game 1, State of Origin 2007 – the support will be fierece and Queensland are favorites in the eyes of NRL News.

So take care at the Caxton Hotel before the big game – and good luck to both sides in the big one!

NRL Team Line Ups Round 11 Named

Many teams have named their Origin stars to backup after a fierce Origin encounter. The fatigue and injuries of these players will play a part in determining how your team will fare. Expect big things from the stars that don’t play in Origin, guys like Sonny Bill Williams for the Bulldogs, Matt Bowen for the Cowboys, Ben Hornby Saints, Matt Orford for Manly, Billy Slater Storm, Brett Kimmorley for the Sharks, Craig Fitzgibbon for the Roosters (well overdue for a big one), Scott Prince for the Titans, Corey Parker for the Broncos, Craig Gower Penrith, Brett Hodgson for the Tigers and Eric Grothe for the Eels. All these players will be disappointed the spotlight isn’t on them – and will put in big games to show their wares. Bring on Round 11 of the NRL !

ALL the teamsheets for round 11 of the NRL premiership (all times AEST):

BULLDOGS: Luke Patten, Hazem El Masri, Daryl Millard, Willie Tonga, Andrew Emelio, Ben Roberts, Brent Sherwin, Chris Armit, Corey Hughes, Willie Mason, Sonny Bill Williams, Andrew Ryan (captain) , Reni Maitua. Interchange: Adam Perry, Lee Te Maari, Kane Cleal, Jarrad Hickey, Nick Kouparitsas, Mark O’Meley (two to be omitted).
COWBOYS: Matt Bowen, Brenton Bowen, Scott Minto, Paul Bowman, Ty Williams, Jason Smith, Johnathan Thurston (captain), Shane Tronc, Aaron Payne, Ray Cashmere, Steve Southern, Jacob Lillyman, Sione Faumuina. Interchange: David Faiumu, Scott Bolton, Sam Faust, Ben Vaeau, Jackson Nicolau, John Frith, Rod Jensen (three to be omitted).
Referee: Tony Archer

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, Trevor Thurling, Ben Jones (two to be omitted).
DRAGONS: Ben Hornby (captain), Jason Nightingale, Keith Lulia, Matt Cooper, 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, Dan Hunt (two to be omitted).
Referee: Steve Clark

MANLY SEA EAGLES v MELBOURNE STORM at Brookvale Oval, 5.30pm
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, George Rose, Mark Bryant.
STORM: Billy Slater, Steve Turner, Matt King, Anthony Quinn, Matt Geyer, Greg Inglis, Cooper Cronk, Brett White, Cameron Smith, Ben Cross, Antonio Kaufusi, Ryan Hoffman, Dallas Johnson. Interchange: Jeff Lima, Ian Donnelly, Jeremy Smith, Israel Folau, James Aubusson (one to be omitted).
Referee: Shayne Hayne

THE SHARKS v SYDNEY ROOSTERS at Toyota Park, 7.30pm
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, Phil Leuluai, Reece Williams Isaac De Gois.
ROOSTERS: Amos Roberts, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Sam Perrett, Joel Monaghan, John Williams, Setaimata Sa, Mitchell Pearce, David Shillington, Craig Wing, Danny Nutley, Shane Shackleton, Craig Fitzgibbon (captain), Ashley Harrison. Interchange: Mickey Paea, Lopini Paea, Nigel Plum, Mitchell Aubusson.
Referee: Sean Hampstead

TITANS: Richie Mathers, Matt Petersen, Mat Rogers, Brett Delaney, Smith Samau, Matt Hilder, Scott Prince (captain), Luke Bailey, Nathan Friend, James Stosic, Anthony Laffranchi, Mark Minichello, Luke Swain. Interchange: Kris Kahler, Michael Hodgson, Gavin Cooper, Josh Lewis.
RABBITOHS: Reece Simmonds, Nathan Merritt, Nigel Vagana, Shannon Hegarty, Paul Mellor, Jeremy Smith, Joe Williams, Peter Cusack (captain), Daniel Irvine, Roy Asotasi (capt), Luke Stuart, David Faalogo, Dean Widders. Interchange: Shane Rigon, Joe Galuvao, Manase Manuokafoa, Jaiman Lowe, Scott Geddes (one to be omitted).
Referee: Tony De Las Heras

BRONCOS: Karmichael Hunt, Steve Michaels, David Stagg, Justin Hodges, Darius Boyd, Darren Lockyer (captain), Shane Perry, Dane Carlaw, Shaun Berrigan, Petero Civoniceva, Tonie Carroll, Brad Thorn, Greg Eastwood. Interchange: Joel Moon, Ben Hannant, Mick Ennis, Corey Parker, Denan Kemp, Brent Tate (two to be omitted).
KNIGHTS: Kurt Gidley, James McManus, Adam MacDougall, Brad Tighe, Stephen Gordon, Marvin Karawana, Jarrod Mullen, Josh Perry, Danny Buderus, Clint Newton, Steve Simpson, Mark Taufua, Kirk Reynoldson. Interchange: Michael Young, Cory Paterson, Kade Snowden, Adam Woolnough, Daniel Tolar, Riley Brown (two to be omitted).
Referee: Ben Cummins

PANTHERS: Rhys Wesser, Michael Gordon, Michael Jennings, Luke Lewis, Nick Youngquest, Peter Wallace, Craig Gower (captain), Joel Clinton, Luke Priddis, Brendan Worth, Frank Pritchard, Tony Puletua, Nathan Smith. Interchange: Frank Puletua, Junior Moors, Tim Grant, Paul Aiton, Geoff Daniela (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.
Referee: Jared Maxwell

EELS: Luke Burt, Jarryd Hayne, Ben Smith, Timana Tahu, 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.
WARRIORS: Wade McKinnon, Patrick Ah Van, Tony Martin, Simon Mannering, Manu Vatuvei, Jerome Ropati, Michael Witt, Ruben Wiki (vice-captain), Nathan Fien, Steve Price (captain), Louis Anderson, Logan Swann, Micheal Luck. Interchange: Lance Hohaia, Wairangi Koopu, Epalahame Lauaki, Sam Rapira, Evarn Tuimavave (one to be omitted).
Referee: Paul Simpkins

Non Relevant: ARU Information, OzPortal, HeyLink!, LazyHints

Broncos Press Conference after Manly Loss (Click Play to Watch Video)

Boring Bennett, after Manly beat brave Broncos
Manly 18 def Broncos 6
John Chelsea

A boring, non-compliant and rude Wayne Bennett capped off another loss for the struggling Brisbane Broncos tonight – as he rode out his duties at the post game press conference in an amazingly unprofessional manner.

I am reasonably new to media circles, and while I’m sure coaches experience frustration and bad publicity on occasion – that’s no excuse for the way Wayne Bennett acted in the press conference tonight. Bennett gave one word answers, displayed ignorance and extreme arrogance! Watch the video attached and decide for yourself. David Gallop needs to have words with Broncos management and Bennett needs to be told in no uncertain terms – get your head out of the past and help move the game forward into the future. With a pay TV audience of possibly a hundred thousand watching, this footage is downright embarrassing for the NRL.

Now, on to the football – Manly remain on top of the NRL Ladder after Round 10 with tonights win over the Broncos, continuing to be equal with the Melbourne Storm as the top two teams meet next week in what should be a blockbuster.

Manly started with a flurry – plenty of early possession and 2nd man players saw 2 tries inside 10 minutes. The Manly forwards were impressive in the absence of Brent Kite, with Anthony Watmough having a blinder. Watmough was almost untouchable as he carted the ball up, skittling the young Broncos regularly and finishing the night with a strong effort, rising from a poor uncompleted tackle and beating 3 more defenders to the line.

I thought Orford was good tonight without being brilliant. While he did play a part in the Manly tries – his timing wasn’t there, and his passing was very average. Monaghan started at hooker and had minimal game time tonight – Des Hasler may be resting the star for next weeks big game, where Manly must backup on a short turn around for Saturday night.

Manly outside back replacement Nick Bradley had a busy and impressive night, scoring a double and having a faultless night pretty much. Des Hasler will be happy to know he has some depth with Nick Bradley in reserves.

The Broncos really did put in a good showing considering their Origin and injured stars weren’t there. Having something like 35% possession in the first 30 minutes really made things hard from the outset, but to their credit they hung in there and scrambled well in defence. The Broncos played very conservative for most of the game, at one stage having completed 24 of 24 sets – a rarity in modern day NRL. Last tackle options, discipline and inexperience proving the only missing ingredients.

The Brisbane Broncos will be excited about new prospect, Denan Kemp – with the youngster playing fullback tonight after only 3 years in the game of Rugby League. Denan Kemp was plucked from Soccer circles several years ago and hasn’t looked back. Debuting tonight at 20 years old – he made is impact at the 53m mark – Kemp took a Manly kick on the full from 25 metres out and ran the length of the field through 3 defenders and blistering speed to score an exciting try.

Our NRL ladder and points table is updated tonight, so be sure and check it. The link can be accessed at any time – simply scroll down and access our menu on the right hand side of the page. We have placed a link to the ladder here also:

Todd Carney police pursuit, Canberra ACT

Behave? Can he or Carney?
Adam Sutcliffe

Well we’re at it again. Todd Carney ‘The Hot Pursuit’ saga. Only 5 months ago the talented Canberra Raiders half was charged with doing burnouts in his car and being under the influence of alcohol while doing so.

Well he is obviously a car buff, because the Canberra kid was at it again – this time behind the wheel of teammate Steve Irwin’s Ute. Carney was apparently driving Irwin home, as Irwin had consumed a few drinks and didn’t want to risk driving.

During the trip, Police have attempted to pull the pair over for one reason or another – and Carney has panicked and hit the gas. Naturally the police have engaged in a pursuit and as they closed in on Carney and cornered the vehicle – he has taken off on foot, leaving Irwin to do the talking.

The Canberra half showed all his speed and successfully outran the Police, pretty hard to expect the Police to keep up with a first grade footballer. The next day Carney turned himself in to the Canberra police and was ready to face the music.

Lets get serious for a moment here. Ok, so the kid is young and is entitled to make mistakes – but why, regardless of circumstances would he get behind the wheel when he only 5 months ago was banned from driving for 5 years? It is so inconceivable that someone could be so stupid, let alone someone in the public spotlight who would easily be recognised in traffic. Any number of people sitting in Canberra traffic could have looked out their window and seen Carney sitting at the lights!

Well it’s hurt the kid big time now. We await the decision of Canberra officials as to whether they keep the talented star in the Canberra Raider ranks. Carney’s mum today sent a letter and contacted Raiders management to plea for leniency. Does he deserve it? We’d like to hear your view.

One things for sure, if it was a nuff nuff player – the Raiders would bone him for sure. However, it’s their future star here and kicking him out will hurt the player and the club. Can the Raiders handle the bad publicity either way?

nrl news on sunday – rugby league wrap up

Sharks turn corner in Dog win
Cronulla Sharks 30 def Bulldogs 20

The growing force that is the Cronulla Sharks surged on yesterday, accounting for a disjointed Dogs outfit at Telstra Stadium. The Sharks looked like running away with this one – but some expansive play and chancing of arm from the Dogs, saw them get a sniff towards the end.

The Sharks started Dykes and Kimmorley in the halves, and the much maligned pairing seemed to produce the goods. Regularly playing on opposite sides of the ruck, the elder statesmen of the NRL ran some nice plays and kept the Dogs guessing as to which side the Sharks would attack.

Big games from Greg Bird and Paul Gallen really lifted the Sharks – both these guys were impossible to tackle throughout the game. Bird has really come on this year, he has stepped up a class and troubles most opposition with his gusty and robust style. Gallen was much the same, the stocky backrower was like a runaway train at times, his final try typifying this guys style. Beating 4 defenders from 5 metres out, fending Sherwin twice and scoring a try which was really the impossible.

As with any NRL team, back to back wins promote confidence, and with every win the Sharks get they seem to be growing more than most. Their new fullback ‘Hows your Pappa?’ was stunning against the Dogs – defusing several bombs and always getting back into the field of play during sorties of attack from the Dogs. He ran with purpose and played with experience well beyond his years.

Ok, so the Bulldogs were without Willie Mason, Shrek O’Meley and Andrew Ryan – but it’s probably the most disjointed I have seen the Belmore outfit in some years. The experiment with Holdsworth in the forwards and Brent Sherwin and Ben Roberts in the halves didn’t set the world on fire. Roberts showed some good skill and evasion throughout the game, as did Holdsworth in the forwards – but Shifty Sherwin will do something brilliant then follow it up with a poor play – heaping pressure on himself and his team.

Big Jarrad Hickey had some strong touches and was hard to contain, the big bopper getting over for a late try to make the game a close one. Jon Green the rookie forward also had a nice save close to his try line – but the big units have monster shoes to fill and aren’t of the same calibre of the regular Dogs hardmen.

The Sharks forwards seemed to have really come of age, Luke Douglas looks to be the next big thing – strong, fit and able to offload and Reece Williams was lethal in defence for the Sharkies with some venomous hits.

It was a good game of football to watch this one, and as we approach Round 11 – Ricky Stuart must be complimented, as he was sacked last year from the Roosters – he is recruited into the Shire and gets their below par team to perform, locking them into the Top 8 and looking at the Roosters now – equal last in 2007 – the problem obviously wasn’t Ricky!

Wests Tigers Machine Rolls over Warriors
Wests Tigers 30 def Warriors 26

The juggernaut that is the wests Tigers continues to roll on and they held off a late finishing Warriors outfit to record their 5th win in succession.
The Tigers were helped by Wade McKinnon who had an usually off day and also by Steve Clark ‘The Terminator’ who true to his name was hardened in his resolve to police the game. Clark sent Anderson to the bin for 10 and in that period the Tigers capitalised to jump away on the scoreboard.

Good games for Payten, who was praised in depth by coach Sheens and new buy Morris continues to get better every week in his new role. It seems the Tigers are not missing Benji at all – as Liam Fulton is relishing the role at pivot, proving a star for the Tigers for most of this match.

The Tigers were actually outscored five tries to four by the Warriors but got home on the strength of Brett Hodgson’s boot, the full-back landing three conversions and four penalty goals compared to three of five conversions for Warriors centre Tony Martin.

The two sides went into half-time with scores locked at 12-12 but the Tigers scored two tries in 10 minutes after the break to shoot ahead 24-12 in the 50th minute.

John Morris scored his second try of the season in the 43rd minute, before flying winger Chris Lawrence finished off a 70-metre effort started by Taniela Tuiaki in the 49th minute.

But the Warriors hit back with a try to centre Simon Mannering on 57 minutes and clawed back to trail 26-22 with winger Patrick Ah Van’s try 15 minutes from time.

Hodgson then landed two crucial penalty goals in the final 10 minutes to keep the home side at bay, despite a late try to Lance Hohaia.

The Warriors have now slumped to three losses in a row after beginning the season with four wins from their first seven games.

In the opening stanza a late try to interchange player Ben Te’o drew the Tigers level 12-12 at half-time.

In a controversial finish to the opening half, Te’o crossed from close range on the right side, taking advantage of a Warriors outfit reduced to 12 men after Louis Anderson was sin-binned by Steve Clark in the 37th minute.

The visitors got off to a strong start, leading 8-0 after just 12 minutes following a converted try to Liam Fulton and a Brett Hodgson penalty goal.

But the Warriors went ahead by four points after tries to Manu Vatuvei (16th minute) and Jerome Ropati (29th minute).

Tigers 30 (L Fulton, B Te’o, J Morris, C Lawrence tries; B Hodgon 3 conversions, four penalties)
Warriors 26 (M Vatuvei, J Ropati, S Mannering, P Ah Van, L Hohaia tries; T Martin 3 conversions)

Melbourne Storm 26 def Sydney City 22
Storm rookies ruin Sydney City

The Storm weren’t hurt by the absence of several Origin stars and polished off a rudderless Sydney Roosters 26-2 in their round 10 NRL encounter at Olympic Park tonight.

Melbourne took a while to get on the scoreboard, perhaps shrugging off the effects of having just played on Monday, before powering away from the competition’s strugglers – the Roosters.

A Craig Fitzgibbon penalty late in the first half was all the Roosters could produce all night – as the Storm proceeded to run in five unanswered tries for their ninth win in 2007.

Origin-less second rower Ryan Hoffman got his team on their way, running on to a Cooper Cronk short ball on a second-man play and finding his way to the line untouched.

Wing sensation Israel Folau then continued his outstanding debut season in the top grade when he forced his way over for his 11th try right on half-time. This guy isn’t built heavy, but has amazing leg drive and his ability to beat several defenders rivals that of Adam McDougall back in the late 90’s.

Recently promoted James Aubusson, deputising at hooker for Queensland rake Cameron Smith, nabbed a 40-20 early in the second half which brought a try for Jeff Lima from the following set of 6.

Debutant centre Will Chambers strutted his stuff and stepped his way through some hapless Roosters defence to score in the 71st minute and electric full-back Billy Slater completed the scoring five minutes later.

There was no lack of effort from the Roosters but they simply could not find a way through the Storm defensive wall, especially without five-eighth Braith Anasta.

The visitors were forced to perform almost 80 extra tackles, with Fitzgibbon and Danny Nutley leading the way with 43 apiece.

Melbourne 26 (R Hoffman, I Folau, J Lima, W Chambers, B Slater tries; S Turner 3 conversions)
Sydney Roosters 2 (C Fitzgibbon 1 penalty goal).

Parramatta Eels vs Nth Queensland Cowboys Rnd 10 2007

Eels put on clinic for no-name Cowboys
Eels 44 def Cowboys 14

A confident Parramatta Eels side tonight has burnt a hapless Cowboys outfit to the tune of 30 points. The Eels did start favourites after the Cowboys had something like 7 first graders unavailable for selection through injury and Origin duties and the Western Sydney club didn’t disappoint – turning on the afterburners with a flashy performance tonight.

The Cowboys were under the guidance of Ian Millward, with Grahame Murray standing aside due to his Origin committments. While the Cowboys had to contend with these interruptions, it was no excuse for the poor showing tonight.

The North Queensland side committed just under 50 missed tackles and looked like passengers for the entire game.

When the Eels got a good share of early ball, Tim Smith and Luke Burt were like recurring night terrors for the Cowboys – involved in everything and popping up all over the park.

The Eels had good support through Feleti Mateo, who had the shoes of Nathan Hindmarsh to fill. Mateo has been been touted as the next Sonny Bill Williams, and he didn’t disappoint. The young, rangey back rower busting tackles at will and holding the pill like a tennis ball on virtually every hitup.

Ben Smith must also be given a big wrap for the home side. His vision in defence is impressive, he came in and shut down several dangerous situations and regularly turned these into counter attacking opportunities.

As the game wore on, the Eels forwards were busting the line at will, Aaron Cannings continuing his improving form this year – after a long stint on the sidelines with injury. PJ Marsh alos proved a handful out of dummy half and continued his claims for resigning by the Eels.

It is hard not to mention most of the Eels tonight, as the majority of the side all had input. Robinson made his return from injury and was solid and mistake free for most of the night, scoring a nice individual try after stepping inside a tiring Jason Smith. Luke Burt jagged man of the match honours after a haul of 24 points for the blue and gold. The custodian kicking 8 from 9 and keeping his percentage above 90% for 2007 and keeping his rank as the no.1 goal kicker ahead of Hazem El Masri.

The Eels tactics to target Jason Smith worked extremely well for them, with wave after wave being sent at the 35 year old playmaker. Smith would have felt every 1 of his 2 packs of cigarettes a day as he was forced to make plenty of tackles and still be called upon as the go to man when the Cowboys had their limited chances in attack. The only negative for the Eels was the lack of impact from Brett Finch. I hate to keep mentioning the pivot for the Eels, but he continues to be a passenger for the Eels and really only came to the forefront late in the game when tiring opposition was a factor. The Eels seem to be carrying the import and his size proves a problem with on-line defence.

The Cowboys were served well by Aaron Payne and Sione Faumuina – these two guys tried hard all night with Faumuina getting an early try off a nice Jason Smith face pass. Payne also had to do plenty of tackling, but had good space out of dummy half and put up good service all night. Especially quiet nights were had by Bowman and Matt Bowen for the Cowboys – with the two veterans rarely seen with ball in hand tonight.

The Cowboys held multiple debreifing sessions after the game, as the franchise fears for a repeat of the train wreck that was 2006. The Cowboys won’t want a repeat of their failed midseason form last year and all eyes will be on the North Queenslanders as they face fellow Queenslanders the Broncos next week.

Dragons vs Titans NRL Round 10
Friday Night Football from WIN Stadium

Dragons breathe fire once more
Dragons 28 def Titans 10

The St George Illawarra of old was on show at WIN Stadium, not only in style of play – but also their strip. As they wore the old school red Steelers outfits.

The change of clothes must have helped, because it was a committed and eager Dragons tonight – something we haven’t seen for a while. And doesn’t Simon Woolford add stability and direction to the team. While Hornby is a noted conductor for the Dragons, with Woolford in the side – they gain from years of experience and his guile and coolness under pressure is so valuable.

While Dean Young is not a full time pivot, but he played a good support role tonight and the Dragons got great service from their fringe men – with Chase Stanley and Nightingale having solid games. Nightingale really came of age tonight, with a top shelf chase down try and a massive save in defence midway through the second half.

As noted by the Channel 9 commentary, the forward pack at the Dragons really does have to stand up and be counted – guys like Poore and Sims really are at the age where they should be leading and I think tonight they did deliver. With Bailey gone, and Ryles going MIA so often – the younger forwards need to bare the weight and this has been noticably missing until tonight.

While the Dragons did still miss a lot of tackles tonight, the confidence has now stepped up a gear and things will grow from here – Brown will also be stoked with the discipline level from the Dragons, the end count being 8-4 in favour of the Dragons.

The Titans are facing a tough period in their young life. As we move into the mid-season, the new kids on the block are badly missing Presto – who provides that spark in attack and of course big Bull Bailey was out due to Origin commitments.

The attack didn’t flow tonight for the Gold Coast, so many times early on they were able to make a line break only for the last pass to go astray and be fumbled badly. Rogers was dangerous for the Titans, and in the first half he caused plenty of headaches for the Dragons. Sideshow Bob aka Matt Petersen was also dynamic and did everything he could to redeem himself from last weeks fiasco. Truely, Petersen was in everything and really should have been given more ball much earlier.

The Titans forwards really couldn’t be blamed either, I think it was a case of losing the wrestle in the play the ball and simply being so predictable in attack. The Gold Coast continued to turn the ball back on the inside on most plays and this became target practise for the Dragons hardmen.

A lot of talk centred around the fitness of both sides, and how the Billy Johnstone trained Titans would steam roll the puffy Dragons in the back end. This never eventuated, probably due to the fact that the Titans had to make 329 tackles, which was huge compared to the Dragons 269.

The Titans face the Rabbits next week in a home game for the Gold Coast.

NRL Round 10 2007 Preview and Tips

With State of Origin happening next week, a total of 4 teams will enjoy the bye this weekend – leaving a 6 games to choose from.

St George Illawarra Dragons vs Gold Coast Titans at WIN Stadium Wollongong
Tip: St George Illawarra Dragons
The Dragons at WIN will be desperate to get the win here, and should prove too much for the Titans – who had a hiccup last week against the Roosters. No Webster for the Titans and the couldron that is WIN will be their downfall.

NZ Warriors vs Wests Tigers at Mt Smart Stadium, New Zealand
Tip: NZ Warriors
This should be a great game, and a very hard one to pick. The Tigers are in good form and aren’t affected by Origin selections. The Warriors after some shock lossess will really pull out all stops in Auckland. Look for the NZ side to play physical and out muscle the smaller Tigers pack.

Parramatta Eels vs North Queensland Cowboys at Parra Stadium
Tip: Parramatta Eels
Not as one sided as everyone thinks. The undermanned Cowboys prove a danger to the plucky Eels and this match will be interesting considering no Jonathan Thurston and former Eel Ash Graham playing pivot. The soft, dewy surface as always will suit the Eels and they will be out to avenge last weeks loss.

Melbourne Storm vs Sydney Roosters at Olympic Stadium, Melbourne
Tip: Melbourne Storm
Melbourne will be too much for the Roosters, who also lose some key players to Origin duty. The Storm at home will rain down on any Roosters parade. Look for rookie Storm players to stake their claim in the top grade and for Billy Slater to have a blinder in the face of missing Origin selection.

Bulldogs vs Cronulla Sharks at Telstra Stadium, Sydney
Tip: Cronulla Sharks
The Bulldogs are rarely outsiders in most people minds, but their recent form and loss of Mason for this clash really hurts them. They have a spare parts or trial halves combination and many players that aren’t playing well in the outside backs. Look for the Sharks to dominate through Luke Douglas up front and guys like Greg Bird to give the rough stuff back to the usually gritty Dogs. Cronulla have Dykes and Kimmorley pairing in the halves and are sure to be hard to contain.

Manly Sea Eagles vs Brisbane Broncos at Brookvale Oval, Sydney
Tip: Manly Sea Eagles
Both sides heavily affected by Origin stars missing, but the Broncos really are fielding a reserve grade side. Expect to see Orford get some form back here, as well at Monaghan to play well after putting contract discussions behind him. Manly should do this comfortably. And Brooky faithful will turn up in droves being a Monday night game.

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