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Oh my Gaz - Australian Rugby league News
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globalrugbyleague - Sat, 03 Mar 2007 22:20:00 GMT
St.George-Illawarra coach Nathan Brown will be forced to find a new five-eighth for 2007 after Mark Gasnier picked up what was quite probably the first season ending injury during tonight's Charity Shield clash at Telstra Stadium.

Despite ending the Rabbitohs two-year winning streak in the annual pre-season clash, the cost of victory made the triumph bitter sweet for a team which had already lost Brett Morris to a broken hand days earlier.

Gasnier - replacing former skipper Trent Barrett in the number 6 jersey this season - left the field in the 63rd minute and ran right up the tunnel clutching his shoulder after completing a two-on-one tackle on Nigel Vagana.

Despite initial reports that the injury was not serious, it was later confirmed as a torn pectoral.

With no further games to be played until the Dragons meet the Gold Coast Titans in round 1, coach Brown will need to quickly make a decision on just who will replace Gasnier.

A partnership between Mathew Head and Ben Hornby in the halves will now have to be seriously considered along with up and coming names such as Richard Williams and former Wests Tigers star Rangi Chase.

The seriousness of the loss of Gasnier was highlighted by a solid first half performance, with the Kangaroos star having a hand in both of the Dragons' first half tries.

A 10-all half-time score off the back of two tries each from both teams re-affirmed Nathan Brown's pre-match suspicion that this game would be tighter then in previous encounters and the second half backed up that theory also.

Neither side was able to regain the ascendancy until the 61st minute when Nigel Vagana narrowly missed the corner post to score what appeared to be a match winning try care of a David Peachey deflection from the high ball.

However in a moment which in the end proved crucial, Joe Williams missed a second attempted conversion which minutes later would come back to haunt the reigning Charity Shield premiers.

The Rabbitohs in control of the lead looked like defending their way to a third consecutive Charity Shield win until David Fa'alogo dropped a pass from Joe Williams, allowing Ben Hornby to collect the ball before racing 80m to score under the sticks.

Williams - until his last minute blooper - had had an outstanding night while competing with Jeremy Smith for the starting halfback spot in his side's opening round clash against a revitalised roosters unit.

Troubled winger Wes Naiqama then converted the match winning goal to break the hearts of all the Rabbitohs fans making up the 23,000 that attended tonight's game.

Naiqama also scored the Rabbitohs first try of the night and ended his week on a happier note.

Thankfully the Rabbitohs escaped without any serious injury to any of their prize recruits including Roy Asotasi. Other NRL clubs were not so lucky in their trials.

The Storm saw Matt Rua and Dallas Johnson get knocked out while winger Steve Turner picked up an ankle injury (a common injury in this year's pre-season action).

Wests Tigers also received a fright when back rower Liam Fulton – who this week re-signed until the end of 2010 – was stretchered off in the second half after being concussed in a tackle.

ST GEORGE-ILLAWARRA 16 (W Naiqama J Morris B Hornby tries W Naiqama 2 goals) SOUTH SYDNEY 14 (L Stuart S Hegarty N Vagana tries J Williams goal) Referee: S Hayne. Crowd: 23,053 at Telstra Stadium, Sydney. Penalties: Souths 6-5 Possession: Dragons 54% Souths 64% Errors: Dragons 16-14 Line Breaks: South Sydney 3-2 Missed Tackles: Dragons 13-11
Kicks In Play: Souths 18-17.

In other trial games, the Storm extracted some Grand Final revenge on Brisbane 46-0, New Zealand outmuscled the Bulldogs 26, the Roosters told the Eels to get plucked 30-22, the Knights slayed the Sharks 12-10, Manly milked the Cowboys 14-12 while the Raiders showed some attitude and toppled the Wests Tigers 26-4 - Read More, Here