NRL Tables Turn on Titans

Brisbane Broncos 19 def Gold Coast Titans 18

The tables were turned in Brisbane tonight, with the Broncos getting home against the Titans in golden point extra time.

In a match not dissimilar to State of Origin 3; where fumbles, injury, defence and determination set the scene. After scoring early, the Titans also conceded soon after with the Broncos bouncing back.

In the middle third of the game, it became a war of attrition. You could see the big Broncos forwards tiring, already without Brent Tate – the Broncos lost Justin Hodges to a torn hamstring and the Australian centre will miss the next few weeks.

The Broncos Origin players really started to get tired legs and the Titans finally started to make some inroads. For so much of the game, the Titans spread the ball through the hands only to be bundled into touch on several plays. Scott Prince guilty of the ‘dummy and go, dummy and go – then pinning his outside men into a corner’.

When the Titans began turning the ball back inside and hitting it up the centre, they almost immediately had success. Mark Minichiello had a top shelf game and worked hard all night, getting plenty of metres and using his knack for receiving penalties while in possession – to get his side some piggy backs.

When Scott Prince put on two massive left foot steps from 10 metres out to score near the posts, it seemed like the game was done and dusted. The Titans were lifting and looked to be home free.

Shortly after this try, Broncos Dave Taylor and Greg Eastwood put a massive after kick hit on Scott Prince – flooring the Titans halfback and forcing him from the field. This proved the start of the momentum shift as the Broncos muscled up and looked for possession.

With minutes remaining, big Bronco Dave Taylor crashed over to lock things up and the all the momentum was with the Brisbane team.

As golden point kicked in, the Broncos grew an extra leg. They received the ball and hit it up 65 metres on 4 tackles and looked to Lockyer to seal the match with a 40 metre field goal. Lockyers kick brushing the left hand upright and spilling over the posts for the 1 point win – which sees Brisbane well in the Top 8 now.

It was an impressive display from some young Broncos tonight, but outstanding form was shown by former Rooster Ben Hennant. The young prop has a bunch of games under his belt now and is error free, eats the metres in attack and is tireless in defence. Hennant was able to lift the tempo for the other tiring Brisbane forwards.

Brisbanes only concern will be more injuries as they now lose Justin Hodges and have clouds over Tonie Carroll (elbow) and Petero Civoniceva (shoulder) – the Broncos are already without Karmichael Hunt, Dane Carlaw and Brent Tate – who all missed tonights game.

NRL Round 17: Bunnies The Hot Tip

As kickoff for NRL Round 17 nears tonight, one particular game on Saturday has some juicy odds that might be worth taking.

The Melbourne Storm travel to Gosford to take on South Sydney at BlueTongue Stadium and it’s probably the only time the Storm have looked beatable all year. The South Sydney side are paying $2.50 for the win and in front of a supportive crowd on the central coast – we certainly like their chances.

For the Melbourne Storm, Billy Slater comes back in at fullback after a 5 week layoff. Slater will need some time to find his touch and may be a little underdone fitness wise. No Greg Inglis means that 2 game junior Will Chambers comes in on the wing. Matt Geyer remains at pivot, with James Aubusson remaining at halfback for the injured Cooper Cronk. Dallas Johnson is listed to play, but late mail suggests he will be a last minute withdrawal. Coupled with some tiring legs from Matt King and Cameron Smith – the Storm will be in for a tough time.

For South Sydney, they boast a near full strength side. Apart from their major sidelined couple of David Kidwell and John Sutton, Souths welcome Nathan Merritt back on to the wing and have a team unaffected by Origin demands. The confidence from last weeks win and the positive media focus for South Sydney – all points to a good vibe for the Redfern club.

The final factor is the weather. At this stage showers are predicted for Gosford on Sunday, this again plays into the hands of South Sydney. The flashy and expansive Melbourne side would much prefer a dry, firm pitch and have never been one for an ‘arm wrestle.’

Final statistics;
All time games played: 11 Games, Rabbits won 2, Storm won 9
Game experience in each team: Rabbits 1701, Storm 1097
Points scored by listed players this year: Souths 154, Storm 292
Last Meeting: Storm 26 def Souths 10 at Olympic Park, Melbourne

NRL News Tipsters:
The Grubber: South Sydney Rabbitohs

State of Origin Injuries hit NRL teams

As our panelist ‘The Grubber’ predicted; the injury shockwaves from State of Origin 3 are still rippling through the NRL club sides and in this critical period leading up to the finals it can wreak havoc on clubs with limited depth and critical matches coming up:

Dallas Johnson – After copping a severe head knock, the talented Storm forward will miss at least 1 week as a precaution – fortunately for the Storm they have plenty of depth to cover.

Brent Tate – A season ending blow for the Brisbane Broncos, with a full knee rebuild needed. This will have an effect on Brisbane, as the club hit form in the last few weeks – losing an international centre will hurt.

Greg Inglis – A sideline stint of only a few weeks, the Storm do have Billy Slater ready to roll and he will cover for Inglis – however a few players missing for the Storm may place a few speed bumps in the 2006 Minor Premiers road ahead. (Don’t forget Kafusi is also out for the year from Origin 1)

Brett Kimmorley – The Sharks halfback will miss at least 1 game at a crucial time. The Cronulla boys face the Bulldogs this weekend in a blockbuster. The cost here could be huge. Both the Bulldogs and Sharks desperately need these 2 points on offer.

Nate Myles – Injured his shoulder, but after a brief fitness test today is expected to play. His minutes for the Roosters may be reduced however. Roosters not in a position to be affected, can’t realistically make the Top 8 and are already without some key players.

Karmichael Hunt – Suspected niggle in his ankle. Expected to play through the injury and line up this week. Should this problem worsen, the Broncos lose more backline power – with Tate already goneskis. Injuries must be at the forefront of Wayne Bennetts mind, expect Tonie Carroll to be protecting Darren Lockyer from harm in the weeks ahead.

Brett Stewart – Stewart possibly has a minor leg injury, hopefully for Manly fans it’s only a cork – but possibly an ankle or knee was giving him slight discomfort as a result of Origin 3. Punters will watch with interest.

Petero Civoniceva – *May now be a late starter tonight according to Broncos Media Releases. They do say the most important positions are the; 1, 6, 7 and 9. The Broncos don’t have a top line no. 7, their no. 1 is under a cloud – so you can see why Darren Lockyer will be ‘the boy in the bubble’ for the rest of the year.

Jarryd Hayne – Copped deep face wounds in Origin 3, said to be the result of either Brent Tates studs or advertising signage in the collision on the sideline. Michael Hagan may take the chance to rest Hayne and use Kris Inu at wing with Timana Tahu coming back into the Eels side this week.

The big winner out of the Origin series is the Wests Tigers. The Tigers didn’t lose any players to Origin and can be at peak fitness and energy levels when attacking other sides during this period. While in some cases Origin fatigue does even out, with most teams losing between 1 and 3 players – the Broncos, Cowboys and Melbourne really feel the pinch with these sides supplying the majority of Queensland Origin players.

State of Origin 3, 2007 – NSW Pride

By John Chelsea

As the dust settles for a mammoth State of Origin 3 contest in Queensland last night, one thing continues to surprise me and remain true every time that NSW wins an Origin match.

The NSW media and public either feels sorry for Queensland or looks for excuses as to why the NSW Blues won.

Call me an overly passionate New South Welshman – but lets give some major congratulations to the NSW Blues for preventing the series whitewash in front of a hostile Queensland crowd and constant media and internal pressure.

The NSW Blues can only play the team in front of them, while Queensland had some injury concerns – the Blues had to fight for every inch and endure a tight finish to grab the victory. Ok, so the Blues had some errors to contend with and some panicy attack at times.

However, in the past when NSW has won Origin – the NSW public gets concerned that Queensland will be a walk over in the future and begins to feel sorry for them. Maybe the NSW folk are more concerned about the ‘series’ and ‘future of the Origin concept’ as opposed to just being passionate about their team – the NSW Blues.

When the NSW Origin side won Game 3 last night, my first thoughts were “Gee, I hope the media give NSW full credit – rather than focus on Queensland and their injuries.” Sure enough, the NSW media focus was immediately turned on to Queensland and their courage under fire and one headline from NSW sports writer Roy Masters even stating “Even in defeat the Maroons score a win.”

I can’t see Wally Lewis or Gordon Tallis writing nice things about NSW in their Queensland Newspaper columns. Get real! When Queensland win, all of the state gets behind them.

Come on NSW, lets support our own guys! Let Queensland worry about themselves, they’re big boys, they can handle it and they sure as hell don’t think about our welfare in Origin – not a chance.

Do you think anyone from Queensland had concerns for Brett White in State of Origin Game 1 – where the Maroons broke his nose in tackle 1 and left him on the bench for most of the game? No.

Would any Queenslander feel sorry for Brett Kimmorley when he had his golden point pass intercepted? No way.

NSW won last night – with top notch defence, total commitment and massive courage in enemy territory. The NSW boys gave it everything for each other, their state and kept our pride in check.

Be proud NSW, wear your Blue colours today and don’t spend 1 second thinking about Queensland in their moment of failure.

State of Origin 3 – NSW bash QLD into submission

NSW has crushed Queensland in Origin 3, belting, bashing and breaking the Maroons into submission in a riveting Game 3 at Suncorp in Queensland.

The final score 18-4 to the Blues.

Greg Bird and Paul Gallen were the missing ingredient for a much enthused NSW Blues side. All the talk about the two Cronulla Sharks players injecting some physical punch – was right on the mark. Bird could really not be faulted. He ripped through Queensland with his tackles and finally the Blues had someone that the Maroons had to peek at – as they hit the ball up. Bird was so impressive at pivot, that teammate Adam Dykes may lose his spot at the Sharks. NRL News had Greg Bird for man of the match by a long shot.

Gallen was in a similar mood, passionate all game and setting up the final try.

With second phase play the plan for the NSW Blues, many errors saw them apply plenty of pressure to themselves. Fortunately rock solid defence kept them on top and the petrol was in the tank at the end – as Queensland had 4 players out of the game with injury.

Probably the only NSW player to have an off night was halfback Brett Kimmorley who was pulled from the field with 25 minutes to go – the Sharks halfback surely had injury niggles as he wasn’t at his sharpest tonight and had trainers check him over early in the night.

Jarryd Hayne had another stunning match out wide, defusing every bomb and working in small spaces in attack to score a brilliant first try. The combination with Matt Cooper was impressive, as both players were always in sync.

Debutant Hazem El Masri also impressed, providing perfection with his conversions and not letting anyone down with his defence.

Finally the NSW forwards get the last lot of kudos – with Willie Mason shining at prop, busting the line most times and regularly offloading. Kite impressed, as did the under pressure Luke Bailey.

The pressure really was on this NSW side, and that probably helped them in the end. They simply wanted this game much more than the Maroons. Their physical approach used by Qld in games 1 and 2 – was incorporated by NSW and this ultimately won them the match. Queensland weren’t durable enough to handle the heat and this eroded their reserves as the night wore on.

It sets the scene for another good series next year, with the claimed Queensland dynasty certainly beatable.

New South Wales 18
Tries: Jarryd Hayne, Matt King, Hazem El Masri
Blues: Hazem El Masri 3

Queensland Maroons 4
Tries: Justin Hodges
Goals:

Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Referee: Paul Simpkins
Crowd: 52,182

NRL News Around the Grounds with Grubber

1. Ben Kennedy:
Perhaps the most intriguing story this week was the reaction to the signing of BK for a $3 contract. That’s right. The reaction to the signing. Not the signing itself. The response from non-Manly fans (which describes a lot of people) and Manly Haterz was quite bizarre. The Grubber encountered a number of NRL followers who felt angered by the decision. Others said that it was “wrong” and still others argued that it was a “Manly rort”. I cannot understand any of that. Two parties, the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles and Ben Kennedy, freely contracted for a sum agreed by both parties. Kennedy didn’t sign under duress. He wasn’t extorted (in fact he actually negotiated the fee up from $1). BK is free to what he likes. Despite long stints at Canberra and Newcastle he bleeds Maroon and White these days. He was also said to be unhappy with the way Dragons fans treated his son at the semi-final last year, which is perhaps his motivation for returning. At any rate, the message is clear. Stop whining about Kennedy. He probably won’t play, but if he does he’ll do so as someone who was legitimately registered and signed. Get over it.

2. Origin:
Will I watch it? Sure, it’s tradition. Will I care? Not really, and if any player misses so much as a single club match as a result of injury through this game it will be a tragedy. To fix this going forward one of either two things must happen: 1) Scrap the dead rubber (although I cannot see Channel Nine agreeing to that or 2) Allow players selected for Origin to play for their club the weekend before.

NRL Round 17 Teams and Lineups

FRIDAY
BRISBANE BRONCOS v GOLD COAST TITANS at Suncorp Stadium, 7.30pm
BRONCOS: Karmichael Hunt, Steve Michaels, Darius Boyd, Justin Hodges, Brent Tate, Darren Lockyer (captain), Michael Ennis, Ben Hannant, Shaun Berrigan, Petero Civoniceva, David Stagg, Dane Carlaw, Tonie Carroll. Interchange: Greg Eastwood, Corey Parker, Brad Thorn, Dave Taylor, Ian Lacey, Nick Kenny (two to be omitted).
TITANS: Preston Campbell, Matt Petersen, Luke O’Dwyer, Brett Delaney, Smith Samau, Josh Lewis, Scott Prince (captain), Luke Bailey (captain), Nathan Friend, Ian Donnelly, Michael Hodgson, Mark Minichiello, Luke Swain. Interchange: Matthew Hilder, James Stosic, Gavin Cooper, Clint Amos, Kris Kahler (one to be omitted).
Referee: Steve Clark

WESTS TIGERS v PENRITH PANTHERS at Telstra Stadium, 7.30pm
TIGERS: Daniel Fitzhenry, Beau Ryan, Dean Collis, Paul Whatuira, Taniela Tuiaki, John Morris, Robbie Farah, Todd Payten (captain), Dene Halatau, Bryce Gibbs, Liam Fulton, Chris Heighington, Chris Lawrence. Interchange: Ben Galea, Stuart Flanagan, Bronson Harrison, Keith Galloway, Danny Galea (one to be omitted).
PANTHERS: Richie Williams, Geoff Daniela, Michael Jennings, Luke Lewis, Nick Youngquest, Brett Firman, Craig Gower (captain), Joel Clinton, Keith Peters, Frank Puletua, Frank Pritchard, Tony Puletua, Nathan Smith. Interchange: Tim Grant, Junior Moors, Bryan Norrie, Peter Wallace, Matt Adamson (one to be omitted).
Referee: Ben Cummins

SATURDAY
SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS v MELBOURNE STORM at Bluetongue Stadium, 5.30pm
RABBITOHS: David Peachey, Nathan Merritt, Nigel Vagana, Shannon Hegarty, Paul Mellor, Ben Rogers, Jeremy Smith, Peter Cusack (captain), Stuart Webb, Roy Asotasi (capt), Luke Stuart, David Fa’alogo, Dean Widders. Interchange: Isaac Luke, Shane Rigon, Manase Manuokafoa, Jaiman Lowe.
STORM: Billy Slater, Matt Geyer, Matt King, Anthony Quinn, Steve Turner, Greg Inglis, James Aubusson, Ben Cross, Cameron Smith, Brett White, Clint Newton, Ryan Hoffman, Dallas Johnson. Interchange: Jeff Lima, Adam Blair, Jeremy Smith, Sam Tagataese.
Referee: Jared Maxwell

NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS v NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS at Dairy Farmers Stadium, 7.30pm
COWBOYS
: Matt Bowen, Ashley Graham, Scott Minto, Paul Bowman, Ty Williams, Jason Smith, Johnathan Thurston (captain), Shane Tronc, Aaron Payne, Carl Webb, Steve Southern, Justin Smith, Sione Faumuina. Interchange: David Faiumu, Ben Farrar, Matthew Bartlett, Ray Cashmere, Matt Scott (one to be omitted).
WARRIORS: Wade McKinnon, Patrick Ah Van, Todd Byrne, Simon Mannering, Manu Vatuvei, Michael Witt, Grant Rovelli, Ruben Wiki, Nathan Fien, Steve Price (capt)ain, Louis Anderson, Logan Swann, Micheal Luck. Interchange: George Gatis, Lance Hohaia, Wairangi Koopu, Epalahame Lauaki, Sam Rapira, Evan Tuimavave (two to be omitted).
Referee: Tony Archer

MANLY SEA EAGLES v SYDNEY ROOSTERS at Brookvale Oval, 7.30pm
SEA EAGLES
: Brett Stewart, Michael Robertson, Steve Bell, Steve Menzies, Chris Hicks, Travis Burns, Matt Orford (captain), Jason King, Michael Monaghan, Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Glenn Stewart, Luke Williamson. Interchange: Glenn Hall, Sione Finefeuiaki, Mark Bryant, Jack Afamasaga, Adam Cuthbertson (one to be omitted)
ROOSTERS: Amos Roberts, John Williams, Joel Monaghan, Mitchell Aubusson, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Setaimata Sa, Craig Wing, Nate Myles, Heath L’Estrange, Danny Nutley, Anthony Tupou, Craig Fitzgibbon (captain), Braith Anasta. Interchange: David Shillington, Lopini Paea, Danny Williams, Ashley Harrison.
Referee: Gavin Badger

SUNDAY
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS v CANBERRA RAIDERS at WIN Stadium, 2pm
DRAGONS
: Ben Hornby (captain), Jason Nightingale, Chase Stanley, Matt Cooper, Josh Morris, Rangi Chase, Jamie Soward, Justin Poore, Simon Woolford, Dan Hunt, Beau Scott, Chris Houston, Ben Creagh. Interchange: Adam Peek, Corey Payne, Lagi Setu, Ben Ellis, Keith Lulai (one to be omitted).
RAIDERS: William Zillman, David Milne, Marshall Chalk, Colin Best, Bronx Goodwin, Terry Campese, Todd Carney, Troy Thompson, Lincoln Withers, Scott Logan, Neville Costigan, Josh Miller, Glen Turner. Interchange: Ryan Hinchcliffe, Dane Tilse, Trevor Thurling, Nigel Plum, Joe Picker, Ben Jones. (two to be omitted).
Referee: Sean Hampstead

CRONULLA SHARKS v BULLDOGS at Toyota Park, 3pm
SHARKS
: David Simmons, Mitch Brown, Ben Pomeroy, Fraser Anderson, Luke Covell, Adam Dykes, Brett Kimmorley (captain), Luke Douglas, Kevin Kingston, Craig Stapleton, Paul Gallen, Lance Thompson, Greg Bird. Interchange: Ben Ross, Jacob Selmes, Reece Williams, Isaac De Gois.
BULLDOGS: Luke Patten, Hazem El Masri, Daryl Millard, Willie Tonga, Cameron Phelps, Ben Roberts, Brent Sherwin, Mark O’Meley, Corey Hughes, Willie Mason, Sonny Bill Williams, Andrew Ryan (captain), Reni Maitua. Interchange: Adam Perry, Nick Kouparitsas, Kane Cleal, Jarrad Hickey.
Referee: Shayne Hayne

MONDAY
PARRAMATTA EELS v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS at Parramatta Stadium, 7pm
EELS
: Luke Burt, Jarryd Hayne, Ben Smith, Timana Tahu, Eric Grothe, Brett Finch, Tim Smith, Josh Cordoba, Mark Riddell, Fuifui Moimoi, Nathan Hindmarsh (captain), Chad Robinson, Daniel Wagon. Interchange: PJ Marsh, Ian Hindmarsh, Feleti Mateo, Aaron Cannings, Krisnan Inu (one to be omitted)
KNIGHTS: Kurt Gidley, James McManus, George Carmont, Brad Tighe, Adam MacDougall, Jarrod Mullen, Luke Walsh, Mitchell Sargent, Danny Buderus (captain), Adam Woolnough, Steve Simpson, Cory Paterson, Reegan Tanner. Interchange: Michael Young, Chris Bailey, Jesse Royal, Kade Snowden, Zeb Taia, Josh Perry, Cooper Vuna, Nathan Hinton, Daniel Abraham (five to be omitted).
Referee: Paul Simpkins

NRL Tables (Power Rankings) Round 16

‘The Grubber gives NRL News readers all his notes from the weekends games. The Bulldogs shoot to the top of the Grubbers ‘Power Rankings NRL Ladder’ and are hitting form at the right time. The same goes for the Broncos, as their nursery was let loose in Penrith – routing the hapless Panthers. This is how the NRL Power Rankings Table looks after Round 16, NRL 2007:

1. Bulldogs: Were simply awesome against the Roosters and were led ably by SBW and a resurgent Brent Sherwin. Will take some stopping in the coming weeks and a top 4 four finish is well within their grasp. Power score 8.5/10, Odds that anyone other than Willie Mason attacked Blues Coach Graham Murray in the media: 1000-1 .

2. Brisbane Broncos: Looking the team most likely to able to post a big score. Have done well to survive and thrive during the Origin period and have well and truly recovered from a terrible start to the season. Power score: 8/10, Odds of Seventycentsalitre ever turning down another $300,000 contract: 100-1.

3. Wests Tigers: Really turned up against recent rivals Canberra and through good go forward and some enterprising half play they came away with the win. Power score: 7.5/10, Number of punters who would have backed the “Draw at 80 minutes” option in this game: Heaps.

4. South Sydney Rabbitohs: Came back strongly in the second half to overcome horrible ref decisions. Probably one of their better wins of the season despite the Origin devastated opposition. Should draw much confidence from recent performances. Power score: 7/10, Odds of Jeremy Smith retaining his number 7 jersey next year: 300-1.

5. New Zealand Warriors: Continued their streak with a patchy performance against very weak opposition. Still need to make better use of their quality second-phase play. Power score: 7/10, Odds that Mark Geyer will use the late appearance of the Warriors at the Gold Coast game as another reason to try and have them kicked out of the NRL: 2-1.

6. Canberra Raiders:
Reasonably unlucky for the second week in a row. Have made a habit of winning these tight ones in recent years and so will hope that the last two losses aren’t enough to keep them out of the 8. Power score: 6.5/10, Odds of snow falling during a Canberra home game this year: 2-1.

7. Manly Sea Eagles: Continued their mid-season slide against the Dragons and will need a solid win this weekend to convince supporters that they are the real deal this year. Must consider replacing Monaghan with Ballin in order to give Orford more freedom and control. Power score: 6.5/10, Number of commentators who managed to correctly pronounce the names of the Manly side last weekend: 0.
8. St George-Illawarra Dragons: Youngsters really stepped up against Manly and commitment and desperation got them them the win. Creagh is one of the three best players in the NRL right now. Power score: 6/10, Odds that the Roosters would take back Soward right now if they could: 2-1.
9. Gold Coast Titans: Praise and expectation finally caught up with them and they were woeful in defeat against a shaky Warriors side. Will do better when flying under the radar. Power score: 6/10, Odds of Preston Campbell putting in another display like that any time soon: 20-1.

10. Newcastle Knights: Scoreline probably flattered them against Souths. Were short of their three best players however and will hope that this weekend beings a solid 80 minute performance. Power score: 6/10, Number of exotic try celebrations to be performed again by Adam "Needles" McDougall again this year: 0.


11.
Sydney City Roosters: Were mere bowling pins to be scattered in the wake of the SBW wrecking ball performance. Will rate themselves a good chance against Manly this weekend though if they can improve ruck area play. Power score: 5.5/10, Likelihood of Nick Politis taking over the coaching role himself this year: 3-1

12. Penrith Panthers: Were made to look ordinary against Bennett’s Babes and key off field issues have clearly take their toll on the Panthers. Capable of far more than they are producing. Power score: 4/10, Odds of Matt Elliot and Craig Gower lasting out the season: 1000 -1.

Bye Teams:

Melbourne Storm: Will be torn between on the one hand wanting to continue momentum and their winning ways and on the other getting a possible slump well out of the way before the finals. Seem to possess the mental fortitude this year to win the competition but Brisbane and Canterbury loom as threats.

Parramatta Eels: Remain on track for a top 4 finish and should back themselves to grab the number 2 spot ahead of Manly.

North Queensland Cowboys: Haven’t quite put it together yet, however any side with Thurston and Bowen is capable of doing some damage. Will look to cement their tough at home reputation so as to fight for a top 4 spot.

Cronulla Sharks: Still struggling to put points on the board. Halves combination doesn’t seem the answer for them right now and depending on the performance of the Kimmorley-Bird duo may wish to try their luck with that pairing in place of the UK-bound Dykes.

Yours in League,

The Grubber

(NRL News would like to thank ‘The Grubber’ for his continued sideline eye, bringing all of us the NRL Power Rankings Table / Ladder – see if you can guess which team The Grubber supports? Email NRLfeedback@gmail.com)

State of Origin 3 Talk Heats Up

As we move closer to tomorrow nights State of Origin 3 at Suncorp Stadium, there has been plenty of talk out of the NSW Blues camp regarding coach Graham Murray.

The rumor mill is in overdrive, talking about player revolts, unhappiness and poor game plans. This could actually be a ploy to fire up the NSW Blues side even more, at this stage it’s unclear. Some sources point to Willie Mason starting the uprising against Graham Murray, but really it could all be a PR stunt.

The NSW Blues will need every ounce of passion, skill and even some luck to take the victory from Suncorp tomorrow night. While Queensland Maroons have secured the series victory, I can’t recall a Game 3 with so much attention and interest riding on the result.

Interestingly Chris Close and Queensland Maroon sources have brought up the 2000 Series Origin in which NSW under Wayne Pearce won the series 3-0. The final game seeing a blowout scoreline and the now famous Bryan Fletcher ‘grenade’ post try celebration. Chris Close led the charge of unhappiness over the ‘disrespectful’ showing.

With Choppy bringing up old baggage and the NSW camp possibly using PR to fire everyone up – at least it makes for a very interesting game.

While the game is in Queensland and the Maroons will be Origin favourites – NRLnews.com seems to think the NSW Blues can still get the cash. Some poor referee calls and bad bounces have seen the NSW Blues miss some chances in Game 1 and 2 and surely the luck must fall their way this time around.

Prediction NSW by 4 points.

Bulldogs Blitz Luckless Roosters

Bulldogs 38 def Sydney Roosters 6
(Monday, July 2, 2007)

The Bulldogs have continued their winning ways and disposed of the Sydney Roosters in ruthless style tonight at Telstra Stadium, Homebush.

It was good to see 20,000+ fans check in to Telstra as Monday night football continues to be a big winner for the NRL. Considering the cold weather and the extensive Fox TV coverage, it’s pleasing to see the faithful turn out in big numbers and it’s a good advantage the NRL has over rival codes who don’t have a similar product.

Injured half Mitchell Pearce made it hard for the Roosters early, with his injury causing the youngster to miss 2 penalty kicks for touch – with one resulting in an early Bulldogs try. These two critical early mishaps really forced the Roosters on to the back foot for most of the game. Had possession and completions been allowed to play out here, we really could have seen a different footy game.

The Roosters did well to hang on during the first half. As the Bulldogs got more possession, Sonny Bill Williams got into his zone and simply was impossible to stop. If two defenders came in on SBW, then he would basketball lob or reverse flick it to his outside or inside men. He was just in one of those moods.

While Jarrad Hickey and Sonny Bill Williams scored for the Dogs, the Roosters finally got a decent possession swing but were only able to jag 1 try. They were penalised for a double movement in one instance and bombed a certain try in another, so they could have led at half time.

When the second half got underway the Bulldogs got a much better roll on in the forwards. Hickey and Kouparitsas were both having good games, but reserves Morrin, Brideson and Wheatly were super strong for the Dogs. So much so I feel Folkes may even keep some of these fringe guys on the bench moving forward this season.

The Roosters kept hanging on for grim life, but as the Dogs forwards rolled on – you then had SBW carving out wide and Cameron Phelps bagging a double for the night and playing strongly in all areas. The other big plus for the Dogs was the combination and kicking games of Ben Roberts and Brent Sherwin. Shifty was back to his deft best with the kicks and Roberts took the pressure off nicely when needed.

The Roosters, while beaten comprehensively really won’t be too devastated with the result. Had Mitchell Pearce been fully fit and not made crucial early errors and become a passenger in defence – this could have been a different game. Craig Wing looked eager and played his best game in a while and I continue to like the look of Roosters sub forward Lopini Paea. For the last few weeks Paea has been a runaway train, the big man reminds me of the Penrith forwards of 2003 – he hits the line so hard and busts it with ease. Keep your eye on this man!

Last mention is for referee Jarred Maxwell, he literally got every call right tonight. Kept discipline in the game and went to the video and sideline men only when needed. Top showing from the ref with only 21 games under his belt.

Next week the Bulldogs head over to Sharkville to play Cronulla and the Roosters have the killer road trip to Brookvale where they face a real uphill battle against Manly.

To see the full Steve Folkes – NRL Media Press ConferenceClick Here

To see the full Chris Anderson – NRL Media Press ConferenceClick Here

Your one stop shop for rugby league news