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.

Brett White State of Origin NSW 2007

Could Brett White be the next Enforcer?

All NSW folk remember the good old days of Origin when they had Mark Geyer running around to keep the Maroons honest. The Maroons had it too good for too long; with guys like Mal Meninga, Greg Dowling, Sam Backo, Wally Lewis and Gene Miles all running riot over less daunting NSW players. Big physical hard men, that could really smash and bash the blues.

When NSW decided to select Mark Geyer and unleash him on the Queenslanders, the Blues finally had a player who wouldn’t back down and certainly didn’t take any crap. Who could forget the famous footage of Mark Geyer and Wally Lewis going at each other, with David Manson in between.

If we fast forward to recent times, not since Paul Harrogan or maybe John Hoppoate have the Blues had anyone who struck physical fear into the Queenslanders. While obviously there is less of the ‘biff’ and physical intimidation in Origin these days, the judiciary does seem to be much more lenient and turns a blind eye to the rough stuff in Origin. Love it or hate it, the rough stuff does add to the theatre of State of Origin and thankfully the relevant powers realise that.

Is Brett White the new tough guy to lead NSW in any on field battles? When you think of the real agressive, take no prisoners guys in the NRL you think of: Luke O’Donnell, Carl Webb, and Ruben Wiki. Any of these guys would strike fear into the hearts of most men, as when pushed over the edge – they respond with explosive, rapid fists that send many of todays players running for cover.

The difference between these guys just mentioned – is that they are not only talented and tough forwards, but they are caged beasts – that should things blow up, they can certainly handle themselves.

I actually feared for Danny Nutley recently, in a game against the Cowboys – Nutley struck out in a tackle and connecting and split the forehead of Luke O’Donnell. O’Donnell had to leave the field for a blood bin clean-up – but he was like King Kong unleashed upon return and made a beeline for Nutley (a noted hard man himself) and sent the older Nutley scurrying for cover.

In past State of Origin series we also saw Carl Webb make a fool of Luke Bailey in their on-field battle. Not only did Webb punish Bailey with several fearsome tackles, he lashed out and asserted his brutal authority over Bailey – for which there was no reply.

Can the Blues expect Brett White to fill this role? With all the talk in the media from White, suggesting he can be the enforcer for the Blues – does this mean he will tackle hard and hit the ball up hard? Or does it mean that NSW have a true hard head that can walk the talk if things turn ‘Rumble in the Jungle’?

One things for sure, White will be a marked man – and we wait with great anticipation to see the likes of Carl Webb coming for him and how the Blues rookie stands up to the test.

“Cattle Dog!” – it’s what everyone will be waiting and hoping for.

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


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


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

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

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

BULLDOGS v CRONULLA SHARKS at Telstra Stadium, 3pm
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

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.

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