|HAROLD MATTHEWS PREVIEW - ROUND FOUR
Despite the big wet late last week, we managed to get through all bar one of the Junior Representative fixtures, with the clashes between the Centurions and Bears scheduled for the Central Coast postponed to a time and date yet to be confirmed.
A number of the games that did go ahead though were severely affected by the weather, and this made for some interesting results.
This was highlighted by an 8-8 draw between the Tigers and Bulldogs which was actually scoreless at half time.
The Tigers remain unbeaten through three rounds thanks to that draw however it is the Panthers, Raiders and Magpies that occupy the top three spots after they all made it three from three last weekend.
Casting our eyes forward to this weekend’s games and there are a number of fixtures that catch the eye, but none more so than the battle of the unbeatens between the Raiders and the Magpies down in the nation’s capital.
Despite having posted three wins to open up the season, the Magpies are yet to win a match by a double figure margin, in fact both their round one win over the Knights and last weekend’s victory against the Roosters were by just the two points.
But winning close games is often the hallmark of a good side and Shane Sultana will have a better idea of just how good his side is after this weekend.
The Raiders will be happy to be playing at home and avoiding a trip on the bus after spending the first three rounds on the road, but one possible cause for concern for the home side has been their goal kicking.
Last weekend the Raiders scored six tries and didn’t convert one, and the story was much the same the week prior against the Centurions.
The Raiders won both of these games comfortably however with a closer game on the cards here, some goal-kicking practice at training seems highly likely.
Another all top eight affair this round is the clash between the Sharks and the Roosters at Remondis Stadium on Friday night.
Both sides have started the year with two wins and a loss and ironically enough, both of the Sharks wins have been by the identical score line of 18-10.
Then on Saturday afternoon at the Belmore Sports Ground, fans will be treated to a smorgasbord of rugby league with not only two Junior Rep matches set to be played, but also two VB NSW Cup fixtures bookending the day.
The Bulldogs will take on the Rabbitohs in both the Harold Matthews Cup and SG Ball Cup at 1.45pm and 3.00pm respectively, and if you can’t make it out to Belmore on Saturday, Steele Sports and 2GLF will both be broadcasting these games as part of their coverage of this bumper day of footy at Belmore.
Other round four Harold Matthews Cup fixtures see the Panthers look to stay unbeaten when they host the Western Sydney Academy of Sport at Sportingbet Stadium in what is the first of five matches to be played at the ground on the day.
At noon on Saturday, Melbourne host the Central Coast down south while Illawarra host North Sydney at WIN Stadium in what is the first of three matches to be played there with the Illawarra Cutters playing the Wests Tigers in the VB NSW Cup at 3.00pm.
The Knights will be looking to maintain their spot inside the top eight when they head to WIN Jubilee to tackle a Dragons side that with a win may very well take the Knights spot in the eight.
The final couple of games of the round will see the South West Sydney Academy of Sport host the Balmain Tigers out Campbelltown on Saturday night while early Sunday afternoon at Brookvale, Manly will take on the Eels.
Once again the NSWRL twitter account @NSWRL will be providing halftime and fulltime match scores and you can follow the account by clicking here.
Click here to view all of the kick off times for this weekend’s games
Click here to view the Harold Matthews Cup ladder after three rounds
JUNIORS’ RESPONSE TO NEW COMP DELIGHTS IRL
|Shaun Timmins with Adam Dee, Chad Buttenworth, Riley Lord, Alex Barwick, Hamish McLaurin, Brandon Perry, Terry Kelly, Jayden Cecil, Brad Buffolin and Imran Hadaya. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN
Story & Photo By : MITCH JENNINGS Illawarra MERCURY
A move by the Illawarra Rugby League to rejuvenate junior playing stocks has brought swift results.
A new under-17s competition will feature as many as 10 teams in just its first year.
A large exodus of players from the game at the age of 16 saw the u18s competition reduced to five sides in 2013.
The decline prompted the Illawarra league’s board of management to implement a colts (u19s) and u17s divisions for this season in place of the u18s competition.
The healthy number of local clubs fielding sides in the new u17s division was boosted by an approach from the Cronulla Junior Rugby League, which had a similar exodus of players aged of 17, to enter three teams in a combined league.
De La Salle - Caringbah, Cronulla-Caringbah and Como-Janalli will join Thirroul, Wests, Helensburgh, Woonona-Corrimal, Dapto, Collegians Port Kembla and possibly the Shellharbour Stingrays in the new competition.
Illawarra District Rugby League manager Chris Bannerman said the team numbers had exceeded the board’s expectations.
‘‘We didn’t anticipate so much success in the first year given it’s a development competition but you’d have to say it’s been a raging success already,’’ he said.
‘‘We’re looking at having potentially 10 or 11 teams, which is beyond our expectations.
‘‘If we had got six initially we’d have been happy because that constitutes a viable competition, eight would’ve been great so to go beyond that is fantastic.
‘‘Wests, Collegians and Port Kembla are just a little bit shy of the numbers and are looking for some more interested kids but the signs are very encouraging.’’
Bannerman said that combining the competition with the Cronulla league would be mutually beneficial and even provide a blueprint for future collaboration.
‘‘I don’t think the traditional boundaries that were created many years ago have as much relevance these days so we’re certainly prepared to look not only in our district but beyond our borders to create viable competitions.
‘‘They’ve restructured like we have with 17s and 19s for similar reasons but they ran into a few roadblocks; the 17s particularly hadn’t quite got the response they were looking for,’’ Bannerman said.
HUNTER SPORTS RUGBY LEAGUE PROGRAM CONTINUES TO IMPRESS
The Hunter Sports High School Elite Rugby League Program has implemented new initiatives this year that places increased emphasis on the skills needed away from the Rugby League field.
Too many players at the elite level have demonstrated an inability to successfully navigate their way through the rigours and responsibilities that come with high profile sport.
Hunter Sports High School, in consultation with the Newcastle Knights and the NRL, has implemented a stream of educational lectures aimed at developing the knowledge and skills in every aspect of the student athlete’s life.
These modules that have been rolled out in the Elite Rugby League Program and include: career education, personal branding, cultural awareness and addressing violence within the community.
The program’s Rugby League Coordinator Justin Stewart said, “It is important to develop players at a younger age and develop skills, not only for on the field, but more importantly, for their everyday lives.”
Stewart added, “You could say we are more focused on developing the person who plays Rugby League, not just the Rugby League player.
Competing in the Elite Schools GIO Schoolboy Cup, Hunter Sports High has again taken a new approach to help with the development of their players.
As a part of the WAIYARANG community of schools, Hunter Sports High will wear a new playing strip aimed at acknowledging and building cultural awareness.
The players will also support the Breast Cancer Foundation by wearing pink socks in their GIO Cup games, while also participating in various fundraising activities for the Foundation.
The improvement the student athlete’s overall awareness of the broader community and their place within that community will be facilitated and developed by their participation in these initiatives.
PATRICIAN BROTHERS CLEAN UP AT gio SCHOOLBOY 9s
|Patrician Brothers Catholic College Blacktown win the 2014 gio schoolboy 9s (Photo By : steve monty / OurFootyTeam.Com)
Patrician Brothers Catholic College Blacktown have defeated Hunter SHS in the Final of this years gio Schoolboy 9's after an exciting day of elite knock out footy... MORE SOOON & Plenty of Gr8 action photo's
|CABOOLTURE PLAYERS GIVE CALOUNDRA’S TOMMY ROSS-BUZZA A DAY TO REMEMBER AT LEAGUE CARNIVAL
CHECK OUT THIS SHORT VIDEO
Dreams do come true 0:39
PROOF the positive spirit of rugby league is alive and well in our junior ranks was showcased at a nine-a-side rugby league carnival at Caboolture on Saturday.
Caboolture Junior Rugby League Club’s under-14s were asked to look out for Caloundra player tommy Ross-Buzza, who has Down syndrome, but no one expected the players to conjure up a dream try-scoring situation for him.
Under-14 coach Dean Bassett said the act was completely spontaneous from his players and it was a great thing to see.
“The first aid officer approached us and asked us to go a little bit easy, but they took it upon themselves to let the guy score a try,” he said.
“His dad came up to us afterwards and you could tell there was a fair bit of emotion. He loved it.”
Tommy’s mum Linda Ross said the footage, as well as her son’s excitement when he got home, brought tears to her eyes.
“It’s great to see him being accepted and that they accommodated for him. I think it’s wonderful sportsmanship.
“I watched the video and had tears in my eyes. When he came home he was just so happy.
“Children really are wonderful when they see a kid who needs a boost.
“It just shows how happily people can integrate and look out for each other.”
NEW-LOOK DEVILS AIM HIGH
Round 1 Connell & Meninga Cup teams - CLICK HERE
A NEW coach and leadership group will steer the Norths Devils when the defending Cyril Connell Cup champions open their 2014 campaign against Ipswich on Saturday.
The Devils blitzed Easts Tigers 44-6 in last year’s Connell Cup final before narrowly missing out on lifting the national championship trophy following a two-point loss to the Parramatta Eels.
While the ultimate prize eluded them, the season was a huge success for coach Craig Grauf and his talented team.
Grauf will this year coach the Devils’ Mal Meninga Cup team with the majority of players moving up into the Under 18 competition alongside him.
Craig Kennedy returns to guide the Bishop Park club’s Under 16 team and he couldn’t be happier with their progress heading into the new season.
“It’s a completely different squad to last year, but the boys have trained really hard,” Kennedy said.
“As far as I’m concerned, they’ve ticked every box. They’ve just worked their tails off during the summer. They’re fit and as ready as they can be.”
The new-look Devils squad, which started training last November, is loaded with “rugby league pedigree”.
Kennedy will this week announce a captain from the leadership group of Joe McGuire, Jackson Frei, David Fauid and Harry Sullivan.
McGuire is a younger brother of Broncos enforcer Josh, while Frei and Fauid each have an older sibling who has impressed in the Intrust Super Cup in recent times.
Kennedy said it was important for the Devils to hit the ground running with a strong first up performance at the North Ipswich Reserve on Saturday.
“We had them (Ipswich) in a trial a few weeks ago, but you can’t read too much into trials,” he said.
“We showed in both of our trials that we were fit. We’re going there expecting a quality opposition.”
In the other Round 1 (Pool A) Connell Cup games, Wynnum Manly plays Gold Coast White, Gold Coast Green meets the Easts Tigers and the Redcliffe Dolphins are at home to Souths Logan.
Pool B will feature three matches spread throughout central/north Queensland. Northern Pride launch their season against the Sunshine Coast, Mackay Cutters play the Central Crows and the CQ Capras clash with the Toowoomba Clydesdales.
In the Mal Meninga Cup, 2013 champions the Redcliffe Dolphins launch their title defence against Souths Logan at Dolphin Oval.
The Dolphins were impressive 44-16 winners over Gold Coast White in last year’s state final at Langlands Park.
The victory cemented Redcliffe’s berth in the national final against the Balmain Tigers, who took top honours with a hard-fought 24-12 victory.
Tony Vidler will coach this year’s Dolphins Meninga Cup team, replacing Ben Jones.
RAIDERS JUNIOR REPS MATCH REPORT – ROUND 2
The Raiders Harold Matthews side have continued their unbeaten run to the year by trumping the Central Coast Centurions 30-6. The SG Ball side registered their first loss of the year, falling 38-32 to the Central Coast.
Harold Matthews Cup (Under 16s)
The Canberra Raiders Harold Matthews side has continued their stellar start to the year with a comprehensive 30-6 defeat of the Central Coast Centurions at Mory Breen Oval.
Canberra had got their season off to a cracking start with a 20-10 victory over the Canterbury Bulldogs in Round 1 and backed it up again this week with another impressive showing.
After an evenly matched opening to the game, the Raiders’ superior fitness and enthusiasm levels wore the Centurions down and the Green Machine went into the sheds leading 18-0.
“It was a very even start to the game with both sides trading sets, but after defending back-to-back sets early in the first half we took advantage of Central Coast’s errors and started to play with some good shape,” Coach Adam Kyle said.
“The boys stuck to the plan of playing with enthusiasm and energy and really worked hard in defence.
“Our defence again was really strong throughout the game. The boys have set goals this season around making sure we defend strongly as a unit and so far it’s working well for us. As long as we keep working hard together the benefits will show.”
On the back of a staunch defensive effort, the Raiders registered three more tries in the second stanza with Under 15 Australian representative fullback Nick Cotric and centre-cum-back-rower Matthew finishing with doubles.
Whilst proud of the enthusiasm and resolute defensive effort portrayed by his side, Kyle believes that their composure and fluency in attack still needs work.
This is forgivable though considering it is still Round 2 of the competition.
“Our composure at times was lacking,” Kyle said. “We had a few chances in the game to put sustained pressure on the Central Coast but a few too many errors held us back.
“The boys are still learning what it’s like to play at this level and we can take some positive notes from this game.”
Another feature of the side’s play that needs some practice is their goal kicking considering they landed just one from seven attempts.
“There was a slight breeze but nothing major. Our middle unit have been letting us know they can kick if needed,” laughed Kyle.
Nonetheless, the young Raiders remain undefeated after two rounds and are sitting fourth on the ladder.
“We’re proud of the boy’s efforts but we don’t really look to much into ladder position in this age group,” Kyle said. “We just need to focus on being the best players and playing group as we can. If we can continue to learn and progress results will look after themselves.”
Canberra 30 (Nikola Cotric 2, Mathew Lyons 2, Bailey Simonsson, Jese Smith-Shields, Casey Wall tries; Lachlan Cooper goal) def. Central Coast 6 (Blake Storm try; Jayden Jones goal)
SG Ball (Under 18s)
Central Coast 38 (Jesse Bogle 2, Jacob Liddle 2, Jacob Saifiti 2, Luke Sharpe tries; Bailey Shiach-Wise 4, Natthew Downey goals) def. Canberra 32 (Lachlan Croker 2, Sione Afemui, Ryan Griffin, Christopher Hart, Leon Tupuola tries; Christopher Hart 4 goals)