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globalrugbyleague - Fri, 16 Mar 2007 10:48:00 GMT
BRISBANE VS NORTH QLD
Friday March 16
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
KO: 7:30pm

Not since Penrith were defeated by Newcastle in 2004 have the defending premiers lost at home in the opening round. The pressure will be on Brisbane not to buck that trend.

However their opponents may very well be capable of causing an upset. The Cowboys defeated Brisbane twice last year with their biggest win a 36-4 rollover in round 1.

The Broncos have lost their last two trial games which explains why Karmichael Hunt was named as their halfback.

Bank on Brisbane to score the first try courtesy of either Darius Boyd, Karmichael Hunt or Darren Lockyer. For the Cowboys, keep an eye on Matt Bowen, Johnathan Thurston and Rod Jensen.

Brisbane Broncos: 1.Justin Hodges, 2.Steve Micheals 2.Brent Tate, 4.Joel Moon, 5.Darius Boyd, 6.Darren Lockyer, 7.Karmichael Hunt, 8.Dane Carlaw 9.Shaun Berrigan 10.Petero Civoniceva, 11.Corey Parker, 12.Brad Thorn 13. Tonie Carroll Interchange: 14. Sam Thaiday, 15.Ben Hannant, 16.Greg Eastwood, 17.Shane Perry. Coach: Wayne Bennett.

cowboys: 1.Matt Bowen, 2.Brenton Bowen, 3.Mark Henry, 4. Ashley Graham, 5.Neil Sweeney, 6.Jason Smith, 7.Johnathan Thurston ©, 8.Matthew Scott, 9.Aaron Payne (vc), 10.Carl Webb, 11.Steve Southern, 12.Luke O’Donnell, 13. Justin Smith Interchange:14. Rod Jensen, 15.Jacob Lillyman, 16.Sione Faumuina, 17. Shane Tronc, 18.Scott Bolton Coach: Graham Murray.

GRL Tips:

Josh King – Cowboys
GRL Phantom – Broncos
Sunil Awasthi – Broncos


MELBOURNE V Wests Tigers
Friday March 16
Olympic Park, Melbourne
KO: 7:30pm

The Wests Tigers have been able to win a premiership within the first five-years of existence yet they’ve never scored a victory over Melbourne at Olympic Park.

The Storm – who lost only once at home in 2006 – will be keen to keep that record going.

At home last season, Melbourne scored an average 24.23 points per game so the Tigers defense will get a workout.

Wests Tigers on the other hand will have Benji Marshall back and when he’s playing the Tigers win 62% of their games, so watch out monsieur Bellamy.

For the Storm, Billy Slater, Greg Inglis and Matt King look certain to score first while for the Tigers the tips are on Brett Hodgson, Benji Marshall and Dean Collis.

Melbourne Storm: 1.Billy Slater, 2.Matt Geyer, 3.Matt King, 4.Anthony Quinn, 5.Israel Folau, 6.Greg Inglis, 7.Cooper Cronk, 8.Antonio Kaufusi, 9.Cameron Smith, 10.Brett White, 11.Jeremy Smith, 12.Ryan Hoffman & 13.Dallas Johnson Interchange: 14.Michael Crocker, 15.Garret Crossman, 16.Jeff Lima, 17.James Aubusson, 18.Sam Tagataese, 19.Ryan Shortland, 20.Ben Cross.

Wests Tigers: 1 Brett Hodgson (c), 2 Taniela Tuiaki, 3 Dean Collis, 4 Paul Whatuira, 5 Jason Moodie, 6 Benji Marshall, 7 John Morris, 8 Todd Payten, 9 Robbie Farah, 10 Bryce Gibbs, 11 Ben Galea, 12 Chris Heighington, 13 Dene Halatau Interchange: 14 Liam Fulton, 15 Daniel Fitzhenry, 16 Bronson Harrison, 17 Keith Galloway, 18 Danny Galea Coach: Tim Sheens.

GRL Tips:

Josh King – Melbourne
GRL Phantom – Melbourne
Sunil Awasthi – Melbourne


NEW ZEALAND V PARRAMATTA
Saturday March 17
Ericsson Stadium, Auckland
KO: 7:30pm (5:30 – Australia)

Parramatta play under their new coach for the first time on Saturday night and it will be interesting to see whether Michael Hagan gets a smooth start to 2007.

The Eels are trying out a new halves combination which did not win them any trial games and the coach has spoken about his new team taking time to gel.

That could be a good sign for the Warriors who have not beaten the Eels at home since 2004. Watch for the Warriors to dominate up front care of Ruben Wiki and Steve Price.

New Zealand scored the first try of the game eight times in 12 home games last season, so look to Wade McKinnon, Michael Witt and Manu Vatuvei to help out.

For the Eels, you can’t overlook tryscoring whiz, Jarryd Hayne, Ben Smith or Joel Reddy.


New Zealand Warriors: 1. Wade McKinnon, 2. Michael Crockett, 3. Tony Martin, 4. Lance Hohaia, 5. Manu Vatuvei, 6. Michael Witt, 7. Grant Rovelli, 8. Ruben Wiki, 9. George Gatis, 10. Steve Price, 11. Simon Mannering, 12. Logan Swann, 13. Michael Luck Interchange: 14. Nathan Fien, 15. Evarn Tuimavave, 16. Epalahame Lauaki 17. Louis Anderson 18.Sam Rapira Coach: Ivan Cleary.

eels: 1. Luke Burt, 2.Jarryd Hayne, 3.Ben Smith, 4.Timana Tahu 5. Joel Reddy, 6.Brett Finch, 7.Tim Smith, 8.Nathan Cayless ©, 9. Mark Riddell, 10. Fuifui Moimoi, 11.Ian Hindmarsh, 12. Chad Robinson, 13.Daniel Wagon Interchange: 14.PJ Marsh, 15.Josh Cordoba, 16.Todd Lowrie, 17.Aaron Cannings Coach: Michael Hagan.

GRL Tips:

Josh King – Warriors
GRL Phantom – Warriors
Sunil Awasthi – Warriors

CRONULLA V PENRITH
Saturday March 17
Toyota Park, Sydney
KO: 7:30pm

Sharks fans have been having night sweats and intrusive nightmares about playing Penrith at home since the two clubs last clashed.

Who could forget round 24, 2006 when Cronulla lead 28-8 with 17 minutes remaining only to lose the game 32-28. Most of this team was there when it happened and will be looking to make amends.

The Sharks are looking for their first win since June 24,2006, so the team has to be hungry.

Penrith lost 7 of their last 8 away games last season, so the Sharks head in favourites.

Put your money on Luke Covell, Brett Kearney or Lance Thompson to score the first points while for Penrith I’d watch out for Rhys Wesser, Luke Lewis and Nick Youngquest.


CRONULLA 1.David Simmons, 2. Fraser Anderson, 3. Ben Pomeroy, 4. Josh Hannay, 5. Luke Covell, 6.Adam Dykes, 7. Brett Kimmorley, 8. Ben Ross, 9. Kevin Kingston, 10. Luke Douglas, 11. Reece Williams, 12. Lance Thompson, 13. Greg Bird. Interchange: 14. Craig Stapleton, 15. Phil Leuluai, 16. Cameron Ciraldo, 17. Brett Kearney, 18. Dustin Cooper 19. Issac De Gois Coach: Ricky Stuart.

PENRITH: 1. Rhys Wesser, 2. Nick Youngquest, 3. Michael Gordon, 4. Luke Lewis, 5. Luke Rooney, 6. Peter Wallace, 7. Craig Gower, 8. Joel Clinton, 9. Luke Priddis, 10. Frank Puletua, 11. Matthew Cross, 12. Tony Puletua, 13. Trent Waterhouse. Interchange: 14. Junior Moors, 15. Brendan Worth, 16. Nathan Smith, 17. Paul Aiton, 18. Matthew Bell Coach: Mathew Elliot.

GRL Tips:

Josh King – Sharks
GRL Phantom – Penrith
Sunil Awasthi – Sharks


MANLY-WARRINGAH V CANBERRA
Saturday March 17
Brookvale Oval, Sydney
KO: 7:30pm

Once again Canberra have been struck down with the tag of odds-on favourites to win the wooden spoon in 2007. It was the same sort of talk they heard before they defeated Manly 27-14 in round 1 last season. Could they do it again this year?

They wouldn’t be favourites amongst punters to pull off an upset again you would think given they’ve lost 3 of their last four clashes both away and at home.

But the Raiders in a recent trial game beat the Wests Tigers 26-4 after embarrassing themselves in a loss against a QLD cup reserve grade side. Expect the Raiders to play with some pride.

The Sea Eagles did show a tendency to lose tight games by a margin of between 1-6 points at home last year, so if the Raiders start well, things could get interesting.

If I were a member of the Eagle Rockers, I’d have faith in Brett Stewart, Jamie Lyon and Steve Bell to grab the first four-pointer. For the Raiders, look to Colin Best, Phil Graham and William Zillman.

MANLY: 1.Brett Stewart, 2.Michael Robertson, 3.Steve Bell, 4.Steve Matai, 5.Chris Hicks, 6.Jamie Lyon, 7.Matt Orford ©, 8.Jason King, 9.Michael Monaghan, 10.Brent Kite, 11.Steve Menzies, 12.Glenn Stewart, 13.Luke Williamson Interchange: 14.Travis Burns, 15.Anthony Watmough, 16.George Rose, 17.Mark Bryant, 18.Glenn Hall Coach: Des Hasler.


CANBERRA: 1. William Zillman, 2.Colin Best, 3.Phil Graham, 4.Marshal Chalk, 5.Adrian Purtell, 6.Todd Carney, 7.Michael Dobson, 8.Troy Thompson, 9.Lincoln Withers, 10.Dane Tilse, 11.Glen Turner, 12.Matt Bickerstaff, 13. Alan Tongue © Interchange: 14. Andrew Dunemann, 15.Neville Costigan, 16.Josh Miller, 17.Scott Logan, 18.Ben Jones. Coach: Neil Henry

GRL Tips:

Josh King – Manly
GRL Phantom – Manly
Sunil Awasthi – Manly


NEWCASTLE V CANTERBURY
Sunday March 18
Energy Australia Stadium, Sydney
KO: 2:00pm

Brian Smith’s record against the Bulldogs is not particularly that good, especially in the opening round.

The last time Smith had to send a team out to play the Dogs in an opening round was in 2004. On that occasion, the Eels got smashed 48-14.

Smith’s former side was unable to snatch a win over the Bulldogs in three seasons (2002-2004) which suggests Steve Folkes may have his number.

But Newcastle on the other hand have Andrew Johns in their side and against the inexperienced Ben Roberts, the Knights could slay the Dogs easily in this area.

At home, the Knights perform well and last year they beat the Bulldogs 46-22. They’ll have their work cut out for them against Mason, O’Meley and Williams.

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