Live Blog: SOUTH SYDNEY v SYDNEY ROOSTERS at ANZ Stadium

Fulltime: SOUTH SYDNEY 28 SYDNEY ROOSTERS 8

SOUTH Sydney overpowered their mortal enemies in a sizzling, incident-packed opening to the 2014 NRL season.

Broadcaster Channel Nine reported the NRL launched an investigation while the match was still in progress into a tackle by Sydney Roosters’ Sonny Bill Williams and Aiden Guerra on Rabbitoh Ben Lowe, requesting camera angles.

The incident involved a possible shoulder charge by Williams; Souths’ Ben Teo was booked for a shoulder charge on SBW, also in the first half.

Before a disappointing 27, 282 crowd at ANZ Stadium, the Rabbits’ Greg Inglis got a hat-trick  as Souths came from 8-6 down shortly after halftime to open up an eight point lead for much of the second half.  Bryson Goodwin crossed and Inglis bagged his third in the final five minutes.

The tricolours’ Frank-Paul Nuuausala became the first player treated under the new concussion rules when he was escorted off and assessed before returning shortly prior to halftime, when the scores were 6-6.

9.43pm: Inglis has a hat-trick! He’s been fantastic tonight and Souths are powering over the top of the Roosters.  One-on-one with James Maloney, and Jennings doesn’t even try to hold him up. Reynolds goals. 28-8.

9.41pm: Bryson Goodwin comes up with a kick to score, and Reynolds goals. Now there’s a penalty on the back of it. 22-8.

9.29pm: South Sydney continue to dominate. The crowd is a disappointing 27,282. Adam Reynolds lands another penalty goal. Souths on the attack. 16-8.

9.20pm: It’s all happening here. The NRL have already kicked off an enquiry into a first half-tackle by Sonny Bill Williams and Aiden Guerra on Ben Lowe. Referee Luke Phillips is off injured. And Adam Reynolds’ penalty goal has extended Souths’ lead. 14-8.

9:15pm: The Rabbitohs have reclaimed the lead. Sam Burgess, Dylan Walker and Ben Te’o did the lead-up with the final off-load sending Inglis over behind the posts. He salutes the crowd, Reynolds goals. 12-8.

9.05pm: Sydney Roosters edge ahead with a James Maloney penalty goal. Thst shows the pressure they’re under. Dylan Napa fumbles on the attack in enemy territory. 6-8.

9pm: They’re back out there. What is the ‘Rooster shit’ the Tweeps are complaining about from the television coverage? 6-6.

Halftime: SOUTH SYDNEY 6 SYDNEY ROOSTERS 6: A lightning-quick opening to the 2014 NRL season, with South Sydney looking slightly more advanced that Sydney Roosters. We’ve had a number of shoulder charges, with Ben Te’o on report for a hit on Sonny Bill Williams, and Souths have gone close three times aside from the Inglis try. Luke Burgess was just kocked senseless. There was no time for him to be assessed, in fairness.

8.39pm: Luke Burgess denied again. Pulled up short and then lost the ball over the line. It won’t end here. Dylan Napa penalised for an ineffectual shoulder charge. FPN is back. 6-6.

8.33pm: Ben Te’o is on report for a shoulder charge on Sonny Bill Williams. Frank-Paul Nuauusala is being assessed for concussion. There’s just been another shoulder charge and Souths players want to know why it’s not on report. 6-6.

8.30pm: Pretty blatant double movement from Luke Burgess. Nice pass from his brother though. 6-6.

8.28pm: It’s 6-6 here after Chris McQueen offloaded to Greg Inglis who forces his way through three defenders to score. Adam Reynolds, with a knee heavily strapped, converted. Did ground announcer Jeremy Monahan do a study tour of Mexican wrestling venues to learn his art? 6-6.

8.22pm: The football is extremely quick tonight.. Is this a result of rule changes, or just of opening-night excitement. Tell me what you think at halftime. 0-6.

8.18pm: What’s up with the NRL app? Small screen, can’t be played through Apple TV? Sounds like the broadcasters paid the NRL to make it crap. Not very progressive. 0-6.

8.15pm: There’s an argument in the press box about whether Adam Reynolds should have been sent to the sin bin for obstructing Daniel Tupou, even though Michael Jennings scored anyway. I say yes, he should. Punish the act, not the outcome. 0-6.

8.11pm: Lote Tuqiri goes down. Is he concussed? We’ll never know because he wasn’t seen to. That is going to happen more and more under the new concussion rules 0-0.

8.08pm: South Sydney look sharper in the early exchanges. A big break just then from Chris McQueen. The bunnies could also have had a try, had John Sutton got to his feed before playing the ball on the Roosters’ line. 0-0.

8.03pm: Good evening everyone. Two things: the crowd is somewhat disappointing, despite Souths announcing before kick-off that their membership had hit 27,600. And there is a camera hovering on cables over the ground. That’s all for now. 0-0
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Final team lists:
SOUTHS: Greg Inglis; Nathan Merritt, Beau Champion, Bryson Goodwin, Lote Tuqiri; Dylan Walker, Adam Reynolds; John Sutton (c), Ben Teo, Chris McQueen, Sam Burgess, Issac Luke, George Burgess. Res: Ben Lowe, Joe Picker, David Tyrell, Luke Burgess.
ROOSTERS: Anthony Minichiello (c); Daniel Tupou, Michael Jennings, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck; James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce; Aiden Guerra, Sonny Bill Williams, Boyd Cordner, Sam Moa, Jake Friend, Jared Waerea-Harhgreaves. Res: Daniel Mortimer, Frank-Paul Nuauusala, Mitch Aubusson, Dylan Napa.
Referee: Shayne Hayne/Chris James

NRL round two: CANTERBURY 20 PARRAMATTA 16 at ANZ Stadium

photoLIVE BLOG:

Fulltime: CANTERBURY 20 PARRAMATTA 16: Well, a game that was loose in the first half became a scoreless dogfight in the second. Michael Ennis almost scored on the bell but Sam Perrett put a foot into touch in the lead-up. “It was disappointing in the second half with some of the errors,” said captain Ennis. A pretty good game for so early in the season. ‘They’re going to be a handful this year, Parramatta,” the hooker added.

68 min: Jarryd Hayne throws a Harbour Bridge forward pass to Cheyse Blair with the line open. Well called by the other Hayne, Shayne. Canterbury’s Tony Williams then throws and even more blatant NFL pass. 16-20.

64 min: I think it’s fair to say Parramatta are going to be pretty handy this year under Ricky Stuart and won;t be alsorans. OK, there are some handy players – Barba, Pritchard, Graham – missing from the Bulldogs line-up tonight but the Eels have more spark than their rivals in this second half. 16-20.

57 min: Not a game of basketball anymore. It’s settled down into a nice, tense battle. Jarryd Hayne has a minor ankle injury but is playing on. Reni Maitua also has an ankle injury. Fatigue is starting to play a role with Canterbury playing somewhat conservatively. 16-20

Halftime: CANTERBURY 20 PARRAMATTA 16. What can you say about this? It’s a game of basketball. Both coaches take pride in their defence but there’s not much to take pride in here. Canterbury seem marginally more creative and unless the defences tighten up, creativity is going to decide this game. Lots of entertainment, not much intensity. For mine, Darcy Lussick is in trouble and Chris Sandow did not use a shoulder charge.

38 min: Josh Morris loses the ball 10 metres from Canterbury’s line, Cheyse Blair ends up scoring. Did Chris Sandow use a shoulder charge on Morris? The video referees said no. Shayne Hayne tells Michael Ennis “he does use his shoulder but he’s making a tackling action. The try is awarded. Sandow converts from the touchline. 16-20.

30 min: Canterbury break service with Sam Perrett flying over Vai Toutai to claim a kick and touch down one-handed. Darcy Lussick has caught Dale Funicane high and is on report. Looked nasty but Annette Funicello was falling. 10-20.

21 min: What’s this? An under 20s game? Josh Reynolds gets into the clear and just keeps going from 40 metres out, evading the cover defence with a king-sized dummy. Inu goals from out near the sideline. 10-16.

17 min: Cheyse Blair is over in the corner but we have to wait for a decision to come out of a KFC bucket on the big screen. “Gee, that KFC bucket is slow,” says one of the referees. 10-10.

15 min: “This is gonna be a shootout” – (c) Andrew Webster. There seems to be a lot of “you score, we score” football being played early in the season. Chris Sandow’s bomb comes off Mitch Brown’s shoulder and Sandow converts. 6-10.

8 min: After Jarryd Hayne’s kick-off goals out on the full, Canterbury are in again with Kris Keating and Jackson combine and Mitch Brown is in inside the corner post. 0-10

5 min: Quick thinking from Michael Ennis to grubber ahead, almost on the half-volley, and Josh Jackson is in for the first try of the game, Inu converts. Parra kick out on the full from the restart. What’s doing with Sportsears? Referees but no commentary. 0-6

Pre-game: Steve Turner is out of the Canterbury side with knee soreness while Vai Toutai comes onto the the wing for Parramatta. Ben Roberts starts. The forecast crowd was 28,000 but it’s a fair way short of that, right now. I’d say 20,000.

Final team lists:

PARRAMATTA; Jarryd Hayne; Vai Toutai, Ryan Morgan, Jocob Loco, Cheyse Blair; Ben Roberts, Chris Sandow; Ben Smith, Matthew Ryan, Reni Maitua (c), Tim Mannah, Matt Keating, Mitchell Allgood. Res: Joseph Paulo, Darcy Lussick, FuiFui MoiMoi, Kelepi Tanginoa.

CANTERBURY: Drury Low; Mitch Brown, Josh Morris, Krisnan Inu, Sam Perrett; Josh Reynolds, Kris Keating; Greg Eastwood, Josh Jackson Tony Williams, Martin Taupau, Mick Ennis (c), Aiden Tolman. Res: Dene Halatau, Dale Funicane, David Klemmer, Tim Browne.

Referees: Shayne Hayne/Alan Shortall

NRL Round One: SOUTH SYDNEY 28 SYDNEY ROOSTERS 10 at Allianz Stadium

LIVE BLOG:

Fulltime: SOUTH SYDNEY 28 SYDNEY ROOSTERS 10 South Sydney completely eclipsed the hype around Sonny Bill Williams’ return from rugby union with a comprehensive derby win to open the 2013 NRL season. The Rabbitohs, among the favourites for this year’s title, conceded the first try at three minutes but then blitzed the tricolours, winger Nathan Merritt finishing with a hat-trick. Williams entered the contest in the 29th minute but struggled to make an impact until he scored a 75th minute try. Souths’ Sam Burgess and the Roosters’ Michael Jennings were each reported for high tackles, while rabbits fullback Greg Inglis was a steamroller, swatting and bumping off defenders with almost every run of the ball. Halfback Adam Reynolds – whose loss through injury was a key factor in last year’s finals elimination – started tentatively but when he found his rhythm, so did his team. Souths will shorten in premiership reckoning and the Roosters will lengthen after a decisive result.

75 min: Sonny Bill Williams strolls through a yawning gap to dot down for a consolation try, which James Maloney converts. 10-28

62 min: This is officially a carve-up. Sydney Roosters blow another slew of opportunities and South Sydney score at the other end, with winger Nathan Merritt completing his hat-trick. 4-28.

58 min: Aiden Guerra held up after some nice Roosters football. Apparently the referees just yelled at each other after Roy Asotasi took an intercept but was ruled offside. Guerra down with a sore jaw. Sam Burgess did not use a shoulder charge – it was a coathanger! 4-22.

51 mins: George Burgess barges over between the posts, and his brother Sam kisses him on the head. Adam Reynolds has been taken out late afer landing the conversion. Aiden Guerra was the culprit. Referee Chris ‘Clive’ James has a look and it’s play-on. Reynolds now appears to be having trouble with his peripheral vision.4-22.

Halftime: SOUTH SYDNEY 16 SYDNEY ROOSTERS 4. Sydney Roosters centre Michael Jennings is on report for a swinging arm as some opportunism and penalties helped the Rabbitohs lead the first game of the season. New signing Jennings was booked for a swinging arm on Beau Champion, who needed attention, in the 36th minute. Soon after, Chris McQueen crossed for the bunnies’ third try, with the video referees clearing them of obstruction. But Sydney captain Anthony Minichiello argued the new German “spider cam” suspended above field had not got close enough! The Roosters had the better of the first 10 minutes with the Rabbitohs lefted stunned. But some powerful running from Greg Inglis, a run of penalties and dazzling finishing from Nathan Merritt hauled Souths back and it would be fair to say the better team was trailing until the final five minutes of the half.

35 min: The second Souths try did come after a couple of piggyback penalties. The Roosters had their chance – but Marty Kennedy lost the ball over the line. 4-12.

28 min: As Sonny Bill Williams waits to come on, Nathan Merritt scores for Souths again. A bomb is tapped back to him with Greg Inglis and Chris McQueen doing particularly well. Nothing wrong with Reynolds’ goalkicking. 4-12.

25 min: Nothing disappointing about the performance of Greg Inglis tonight. He’s a wrecking ball. Adam Reynolds, on the other hand, seems tentative. Huge Roosters contingent here tonight. 4-6.

10 min: Spoke about 10 seconds too soon as Greg Inglis puts Nathan Merritt over in the corner. Adam Reynolds converts from the sideline. Crowd looks like 32,000 or 33,000. RTS just had a try disallowed because SKD knocked if forwards, FYI 4-6.

9 min: Sydney Roosters looking good on the back of quick play-the-balls and powerful running in the middle. Souths look a bit shellshocked. 4-0.

3 min: That didn’t take long. Adam Reynolds kicks out on the full and James Maloney scores next to the posts, off a rebounded pass. Maloney misses with the conversion. Roosters looking pretty fearsome. 4-0.

Pre-game: Hi everyone. Great night here at Allianz Stadium and the only empty seats will be in the press box, with hacks chasing the Cronulla story. Actually, that’s not right – the crowd is a long way beneath a sellout with the top deck of the eastern stand more than half empty. Luke O’Donnell apparently hurt his calf at training yesterday and is out of the Roosters side.. These days you don’t know if a calf is really a horse.

Super League round two: WIGAN 17 WARRINGTON 17 at DW Stadium


By STEVE MASCORD

TWO-try Joel Monaghan said Super League was fine without  golden point after Warrington and Wigan played out an epic draw on Friday night.

The worth of the NRL rule forcing tied games into overtime was called into question when Wigan’s Matty Smith and the Wolves’ Lee Briers exchanged field goals in the final eight minutes at DW Stadium after Warrington eschewed a penalty shot from almost in front with the scores 16-16.

Despite the absence of a winner, the game – played in front of 20,050 – was hailed as a spectacle.

“It probably ended up fitting – both teams had their chances,” said the former Australia winger. “A draw was probably fitting, it was a great crowd, a great spectacle and finished how it should.”

Coach Tony Smith added: “With the number of games we play over here, golden point would be just too big an ask.”

Monaghan’s tries, which saw him cross untouched in the corner after his inside men skilfully created the extra man, bookended scoring in the first half. Competition favourites Wigan seemed set to take control on several occasions, only for Wigan to surge back.

The best individual try of the round two contest came via a stepping, weaving run from Warrington half Richie Myler in the 42nd minute but once again, Shaun Wane’s side hit back when second rower Liam Farrell crossed.

Halfback Smith was bloodied and bandages when he landed the 30-metre field goal in the 72nd minute, with five-eighth Briers opting for the one point on the scoreboard and the competition table with three to go when his wobbly drop kick hit an upright and went through.

Coach Wane was proud of 19-year-old late inclusion Greg Burke and said: “I’m a little frustrated because I thought we could have done better … we were nowhere near our best – we put ourselves under pressure with the penalty count – but overall I’m fairly pleased with that.”

Smith commented: “There’s such long way to go. I’m not going to go home and kick the dog.”

WIGAN 17 (J Charnley I Thornley L Farrell tries P Richards 3 goals M Smith field goal) bt WARRINGTON 17 (J Monaghan 2 R Myler tries B Hodgson 3 goals L Briers field goal) at DW Stadium. Referee: P Bentham. Crowd: 20,050.

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LIVE BLOG:

Fulltime: When David Anley, who was chatting over at whitelinefever.ning.com, said to me with 10 to go that Lee Briers would kick a field goal to tie up this epic at 17-17, I didn’s read much into it. But sure enough, Briers landed the one-pointer which must surely revive the question of  whether we really need golden point in the NRL. This was a magnificent game without it. End-to-end attack, refereeing controversies, costly errors and a great atmosphere. And it was a draw. Is that a bad thing?

72 min: … or, it could be decided by a field goal. Matty Smith, bandaged and bloodied, lands it from in front and Wigan edge ahead. Hope fans are signing something pretty cool but I can’t understand what it is. 17-16.

66 mins: Finally poised now. We just had a Warrington players held without the ball, a couple of dust-ups and some errors. Sam Tomkins even shaped up to Brett Hodgson. Holding onto the pill seems to be a problem for both teams right now. This is gonna be decided by a try and I bet it’s a beauty! 16-16.

53 mins: We’re in for a doozy here. Liam Farrell touches down after Warrington are penalised for going on with a tackle. Did Bentham call ‘held’? Richards misses the conversion Strap yourselves in, it’s 16-16. PS: Wigan just tried to ‘Tallis’ Brett Hodgson!

45 mins: Magnificent individual try for Richie Myler, edging Warrington in front, then San Tomkins fumbles a bomb and somehow Wigan get the penalty. Anyone? 12-16

Halftime: A high tackle penalty gives Pat Richards the chance to edge Wigan in front, from in front, just before the break. Good, tight contest. 12-10.

37 min: Joel is in again after Josh Charnley fumbled a bomb. Quick hands to the right saw Lee Briers and Brett Hodgson handle in a simple extra-man play before Monaghan dotted down. No goal to Hodgson. 10-10.

31 min: Reflections at this point are that Warrington are extremely well drilled by error prone, while Wigan are making the most of their opportunities. They are slightly unlikely leaders, but still deserved leaders … if that makes any sense. Meanwhile, psyching up for halftime video chat. Join at whitelinefever.ning.com. 10-6.

25 min: I wouldn’t have tipped this. Wigan get a piggyback penalty and keep the ball alive (most credit goes to Liam Farrell there) before replacement Ben Flower straightens things up and plunged over. Richards goals and the home boys are in front! 10-6.

19 min: News has just come through that Hull-Bradford has been rescheduled for 3pm Sunday. In other news, Josh Charley scored an unconverted try in the opposite corner of the field to Joel Monaghan. Good game, this. 4-6.

10 min: And Joel Monaghan is in. The dogs are barking. Actually it’s the Warrington fans. Lovely ball to an unmarked Joel  in the right corner. Brett Hodgson goals from the sideline. Across the Pennines, they are talking about rescheduling Hull-Bradford for tomorrow. 0-6

4 mins: Evening everyone. All the action is at the other game – actually that’s where all the lack of action is. Bradford and even out-of-town Hull players caught in traffic on the way to the KC. Here’ play is underway in front of a vocal crowd. High standard game, Warrington – in particular – have class across the paddock. 0-0

Final team lists:

WIGAN: Sam Tomkins; Josh Charnley, Darrell Goulding, Iain Thornley, Pat Richards; Blake Green, Matty Smith; Sean O’Loughlin (c), Liam Farrell, Jack Hughes, Lee Mossop, Michael McIlorum, Gil Dudson. Res: Ben Flower, Scott Taylor, Sam Powell, Greg Burke.

WARRINGTON: Brett Hodgson; Chris Riley, Rhys Evans, Ryan Atkins, Joel Monaghan; Lee Briers, Richie Myler; Simon Grix, Ben Westwood, Trent Waterhouse, Chris Hill, Michael Monaghan, Adrian Morley (c). Res: Garreth Carvell, Mike Cooper, Mickey Higham, Stefan Ratchford.

Referee: Phil Bentham

Super League round one: HUDDERSFIELD 40 ST HELENS 4 at Langtree Park

By STEVE MASCORD

FORMER Australia forward Luke O’Donnell won’t confirm or deny asking his English club for a release and says he’s unsure of the extent of Sydney Roosters’ interest in him.

But his Huddersfield coach is surprised by reports that the Bondi Junction outfit is clearing salary cap space in the hope of signing O’Donnell for this season.

Roosters recruitment manager Peter O’Sullivan confirmed the club’s interest. O’Donnell has a year to run at Huddersfield, with a further season’s option.

“There was a little bit of interest there, they spoke to my manager – I think – at the end of last year,” O’Donnell told the Herald at Langtree Park after helping the Giants stun St Helens 40-4 yesterday.

“I don’t know if it’s anything to do with that.

“If they’ve spoken to my manager …. In the last couple of days, I’m not too sure. My manager wouldn’t want to mention too much to me before my first game.

“That’s all news to me. Like I said, there was a little bit of interest there but it hasn’t developed too much more than that.

“I don’t know if someone has pre-empted something happening but nothing is happening as yet.”

Asked if he had asked the Giants for a release, O’Donnell answered: “I can’t really say anything.

“While I’m here, I’m just focused on playing well for the Giants and that’s it. Whatever happens, happens.”

Told of the report, Huddersfield coach Paul Anderson said: “Who’s come up with that?

“Did he look like he wanted a release there (tonight)?”

Asked if O’Donnell was going anywhere, Anderson replied: “Not as we’re stood here at the minute.”

Rooster Tom Symonds is reportedly heading in the opposite direction, with a Super League stint this year on the cards.

Yesterday’s result was a major shock, coming as it did in coach Nathan Brown’s first match in charge of St Helens after leaving Huddersfield in contentious circumstances last season.

Huddersfield fans sung “what’s the score, Browny, what’s the score” throughout the second half.

Meanwhile, Hull captain Gareth Ellis’ foot injury is not as bad as first feared, the club announced. Ellis was hurt in the warm-up for his Hull debut on Friday night and feared being sidelined for six months.

Former Wests Tiger Ellis will have scans on his injured foot early this week.

HUDDERSFIELD 40 (L Cudjoe 2 J McGillvary B Ferres L Patrick L George S Lunt tries D Brough 5 S Grix goals) bt ST HELENS 4 (S Flanagan try). Referee: R Silverwood. Crowd: 12,003

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

LIVE BLOG:

FULLTIME: Last night we were decrying 72-odd points of deficit on the first night of the season. But tonight’s deficit is a different thing – because the rank underdogs were on the right end of it. And then there was the intrigue with it being the first game in charge of Saints for Nathan Brown, who had moved from Huddersfield in the off-season. Danny Brough sat out most of the second half through injury and watch his team-mates continue the slaughter. A stunning result and a real worry for St Helens fans.

78 mins: You missed Leroy Cudjoe pouncing on a loose ball to score, Steve Ganson clearing Jermain McGilvry of a knock-on in the lead-up, and Mark Flanagan finally crossing for Saints. 4-40.

62  min: This afternoon Shaun Lunt was spruiking  his website on Twitter, promoting a tipping competition. It’s doubtful any of his disciples tipped this. He just scrambled over from the scrumbase. Thank God they weren’t playing under the experiemental rule where the attacking side has an extra man in that circumstance. BTW it’s freezing. 0-36.

56 min: This is a dead-set rout. Jason Chan centre-kicks for Larne Patrick to score after an in-goal mix-up from Saints defenders. Huddersfield fans are chanting “Browny, what’s the score? Browny, Browny”. Grix goals this time. 0-32.

50 min: Players are often slow to start the second half – and so are bloggers. But no such problem for Danny Br0ugh, whose cutout pass put Luke George over in the corner a short time ago. No idea why Scott grix took the (unsuccessful) conversion attempt. 0-26

HALFTIME: Huddersfield 22 St Helens 0. This is one of the classic examples in rugby league of players having a powerful reason to achieve a result – only to (inevitably) deny it played any role at all. Nathan Brown left Hudderfield last year to join St Helens, and was then given the bum’s rush early. Tonight, his former club is giving him the rounds of the kitchen at halftime in a stunning performance, with four tries in Brown’s home coaching debut. Danny Brough, Luke Robinson, Brett Ferres, Scott Grix all outstanding. Brough added a penalty right on halftime. Obviously … big deficit for Saints to claw back.

31 min: They’re in again! Great lead-up work from Robinson and Scott Grix before Leroy Cudjoe steps inside the cover defence to dot down one-handed without a defender’s touch. Brough goals. Big upset looming. 0-20.

29 min: Mystifying call by video referee Steve Ganson. Luke Robinson studiously avoided lettin the ball touch the turf running out of his own in-goal but Ganson rules a dropout against the Giants. They hold Saints out. 0-14.

27 min: Lovely fella Sia Soliola but he definitely got Luke Robinson late there. Richard Silverwood had ruled “play on” but recanted, with Brough missing a penalty shot from 30 m out. Hit the woodwork. As you were. Saints look to have the chops to pierce Huddersfield at any time but can’t hold the ball. The Giants are showing no sign of dropping in intensity.0-14

15 min: This time Brough goes for goal, at 12-0. It’s not an easy shot but it’s good. Someone just Tweeted “Saints fans want Brown out already!” Stuart Fielden looks as commanding as he has been in half a decade. 0-14.

10  min: Wow. Very simple try to Brett Ferres through some threadbare defence and Brough converts. Apparently Huddersfield have not won in the town of St Helens since 1978. To what extent to we think the Giants are motivated by Nathan Brown’s decision to quit the club? 0-12.

8 min:  Should Danny Brough have gone for goal there? Play broke down after he opted for a tap. BTW, this year you’re allowed a quick 22 tap if you are the bloke who caught it. 0-6

5 min: Great to see France-Is-Smelly (conceived in a Paris sewer) in action again. Willie Manu’s fumble allows Jermaine McGilivray to score the first points of the match for the Giants, Danny Brough converting from in front. Despite the mistake, Manu looks dangerous. 0-6.

Pre-kickoff: Good evening everyone. I actually th0ught this game was at 5.45pm – lucky I was two hours early, thinking I was three. Wondered why those team sheets were provided so promptly – most unlike modern coaches! Superb day in Merseyside, clear skies, a little chilly, and unfortunately too many empty seats. Teams are on the field. Interesting song over the PA: “You Fill Up My Senses”. John Denver? There should be a public safety warning about the new refs’ uniforms. I’m sure they have the same effect as strobe lighting.

Final team lists:

SAINTS: Paul Wellens; Tommy Makinson, Jordan Turner, Josh Jones, Francis Meli; Lee Gaskell, Jonny Lomax; Willie Manu, Jon Wilkin, Sia Soliolo, Anthony Laffranchi, James Roby, Josh Perry. Res: Lance Hohaia, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Tony Puletua, Mark Flanagan.

HUDDERSFIELD: Scott Grix; Luke George, Leroy Cudjoe, Joe Wardle, Jermaine McGillivray; Danny Brough (c), Luke Robinson; Luke O’Donnell, Jason Chan, Brett Ferres, Craig Kopczak, Shaun Lunt, Stuart Fielden. Res: Eorl Crabtree, David Faiumu, Larne Patrick, Jamie Cording.

Halftime: Huddersfield 22-0

Second preliminary final: CANTERBURY 32 SOUTH SYDNEY 8 at ANZ Stadium

LIVE BLOG:

Fulltime: CANTERBURY 32 SOUTH SYDNEY 8 TWO clubs heavily sanctioned over the past decade for salary cap breaches will meet in the 2012 NRL grand final. Canterbury, who were leading the competition when stripped of all their points in 2002 for hiding under-the-counter payments to players, qualified for next Sunday’s decider by beating South Sydney 26-8. They meet Melbourne, stripped of the 2007 and 2009 titles, secured their place in the ANZ Stadium showdown by beating Manly on Saturday. The turning point in the second preliminary final was South Sydney halfback Adam Reynolds tearing a hamstring 14 minutes before halftime. Canterbury scored two tries between then in the break, including one possible eight-pointer when Sam Burgess was ruled to have challenge Sam Perrett late. It was Canterbury’s 15th win from their previous 16 starts. Three players – Richie Fa’aoso, Krisnan Inu and Sam Perrett – will play in the decider after switching clubs mid-season. Greg Eastwood scored on the bell. Who kicked that goal? 32-8.

70 min: Can we say the Bulldogs are running the clock down now? Probably not. But they are home and taking no risks. having been at both preliminary finals this weekend, my favourites are the Bulldogs. Even if Adam Reynolds had stayed on the field, I believe Canterbury have showed enough to indicate they would have won anyway. Tenth grand final since 1980 – pretty remarkable effort. 26-8.

60 min: The Bulldogs are putting the bunnies to sleep now. Greg Eastwood roars into the clear, passes to Frank Pritchard who kicks out of the remaining defence and scores to the left of the posts. Inu converts. Josh Reynolds has a shoulder injury which will be the subject of speculation this week. 26-8.

55 min: Sam Perrett tiptoes down the sideline. Does he put a foot on the chalkdust? I say not. It’s a try and it’s going to be a long way back for South Sydney now. Try awarded. It’s obvious that South Sydney are missing the last-tackle options of Adam Reynolds. Inu misses his sideline conversion attempt. 20-8.

53 min: Every indication that Souths are still in this game despite the absence of Adam Reynolds. But Canterbury’s confidence levels have risen enormously. Bunnies on the attack. 16-8.

HALFTIME: Canterbury 16 South Sydney 8. How to sum up that last three minutes? Ben Barba almost scores for Canterbury but runs into the back of team-mate Frank Pritchard. Sam Perrett finally gets the touchdown from a crossfield kick. Sam Burgess comes in late. Try. Canterbury trainer Tony Grimaldi placed reported to ground manager Peter Denny for abusing referee Ben Cummins. “He’s yelling at me as if he’s talking to Michael Ennis but he’s really yelling at me,” Cummins tells Denny. James Graham tells Cummins he can’t hear the onside instructions over the noise. Burgess’ challenge is judged to have been illegal. bad call in my view – there was very little impact. After Krisnan Inu misses the conversion, there’s a shot in front which gives the Bulldogs a 10-8 lead. With 10 seconds left in the half, Ben Barba kicks for Jonathan Wright to score in the south-eastern corner. This time Inu nails it from the sideline. Amid all this, the single biggest moment is Adam Reynolds leaving the field with hamstring injury in the 26th minute. They are unlikely to win without him. Issac Luke, dropped this month for going out when he shouldn’t have, has to be a hero if the odds are to be defeated. 16-8.

34 min: This game has just flown. Best game of the finals series, hands down, and best atmosphere since Origin. Greg Inglis held up over the tryline. Josh Morris now has a knock 4-8

28 min: The loss of one Reynolds leads to a possible try from the other. The little kick by Issac Luke wasn’t good. Adam Reynolds would normally have taken that kick. Canterbury goes the length. Greg Inglis pulls off a try-saver on Josh Reynolds. 4-8.

27 min: It’s fair to say the Bulldogs are not dominating this contest in the manor many expected them to do. Commentator Phil Gould says they are having trouble containing the Rabbitohs’ big men and it’s a sound  observation, South Sydney have just forced a dropout. Adam Reynolds has done his hamstring.  Nathan Peats is on. Issac Luke likely to be half. 4-8.

21 min: Josh Morris penalised for blocking on a kick-chase. It’s a controversial penalty, to say the least. “He ca’t go anywhere!” Canterbury skipper Michael Ennis argues. Reynolds the goal. 4-8.

16 min: How about those concussion rules, eh? Issac Luke cops it in the head from his New Zealand team-mate Greg Eastwood – he WAS falling – and the magic sponge works just as well as it always has. 4-6.

15 min: Good evening everyone. Dubious internet connection led to delayed kick-off from me but both teams out of the blocks much more quickly in front of a stadium that is pretty much full. Maybe only a couple of thousand empty seats. Canterbury spread the ball like the wind from the kick-off and Krisnan Inu scored after a challenge by Michael Crocker on Kris Keating that will bear looking at during the week. Crocker on report, Inu over and missed conversion. Ben Cummins wanted Shayne Hayne to go upstairs and check the try but he couldn’t hear him over the din. The referees are having communication problems. Issac Luke sneaks over from dummy half, Adam Reynolds goals, Souths in front. 4-6.

Final team lists:

CANTERBURY: Ben Barba; Sam Perrett, Josh Morris, Krisnan Inu, Jonathan Wright; Josh Reynolds; Greg Eastwood, Josh Jackson, Frank Pritchard, Sam Kasiano, Michael Ennis (c), Aiden Tolman. Res; James Graham, Dale Funicane, Corey Payne, David Stagg.

SOUTHS: Greg Inglis; Nathan Merritt, Chris McQueen, Dylan Farrell, Andrew Everingham; John Sutton, Adam Reynolds; Michael Crocker, Dave Taylor, Sam Burgess, Issac Luke, Luke Burgess. Res: Nathan Peats, Dave Tyrell, Eddy Pettybourne, Ben Lowe.

Referees: Shayne Hayne/Ben Cummins.

Fourth qualifying final: SOUTH SYDNEY 38 CANBERRA 16 at ANZ Stadium

LIVE BLOG:

FULLTIME: It’s been 25 years since South Sydney won a finals series match but it’s finally happened, a rare penalty try helping set up a preliminary final showdown with Canterbury at ANZ Stadium next Saturday.  Long-suffering Souths fans, many not born the last time the Rabbitohs won a premiership, provided a deafening aural back-drop to a 38-16 win in which centre Andrew Everingham scored two tries. The bunnies still showed a few deficiencies, going to sleep midway through each half to allow gutsy but outclassed Canberra three tries.

69 min: That roar from out of the 1960s is getting louder. Inglis runs more than half the length of the field and Everingham (who looked offside) chases a kick to dot down in the corner. This will be Souths’ first finals series win in a quarter-century. Reynolds misses. 38-16.

64 min: Greg Inglis tackled by Blake Ferguson without the ball and the line open. Penalty try! Don’t see too many of them. I guess that means Luke Burgess gets an assist! Game over now, really. Reynolds goals from in front. 34-16.

60 min: John Sutton crossed, reaching out to “score”. Adam Reynolds said: “You’ve got to give it, after last night” – a reference to Jorg Taufua’s contentions try for Manly against North Queensland. But video referees Russell Smith and Sean Hampstead did not. It was a penalty against the Raiders for Shaun Berrigan being offside at marker. Adam Reynolds penalty goal. 28-16.

56 min: Sam Williams is having a great game. Big tackle to force a Dave Taylor pass, leading directly to Blake Ferguson try. Against most expectations, Josh Dugan converts from near the western touchline. 26-16.

44 min: That was a classy bit of football from Dally M rookie of the year Adam Reynolds. He had no options, threw two and a half dummies, threaded the ball between two defenders and laid on a try for Dylan Farrell. The conversion is good. 26-10.

Halftime: South Sydney have one foot into the preliminary final against Canterbury with an entertaining 20-10 halftime lead over Canberra in the fourth qualifying final. The Bunnies raced to a 14-0 lead after after 24 minutes but then fell asleep, conceding two tries in four minutes to Sandor Earl and Sam Williams. Souths finished with a flourish, though, Sam Burgess crossing three minutes short of the break. Have Canberra done their dash or can they fight back again? 20-10.

37 min: Chris McQueen goes up for Reynolds’ kick, flicks it out, and Sam Burgess scores. First sign of forecast aggro between Sam Burgess and Josh Papalii a short time ago. Tony Archer has a new phrase: “stand down!” Reynolds converts.  14-10.

32 min: How about that? Barely time for the Raiders faithful to regain their seats after Williams’ try and the halfback hoists a bomb and Sandor Earl plucks the ball out of the air to score. Dugan’s conversion hits the upright and bounces back. 14-10.

29 min: Cronulla chairman Damien Irvine having a go at Josh Papalii online for not aiming up. But after a penalty, Sam Williams is over for the Green Machine. Joel Thompson’s decoy under question. The try is awarded, Josh Dugan only just manages to convert from in front. 14-6.

24 min: Filipino international in waiting Andrew Everingham crosses in the south-western corner after a line dropout. Adam Reynolds goals from the western touchline. This Souths side is too good to go out of the finals backwards. 14-0.

23 min: Tom Learoyd-Lahrs penalised for holding down. Reynolds adds a 30 metre penalty goal. Souths seem to be doing as they please. Michael Crocker had a try disallowed because Josh McCrone got to Adam Reynolds’ kick before Michael Crocker did. 8-0.

17 min: Good tackle then by the Seven Nation Army on Dave Taylor. Canberra putting down too much  ball. 6-0.

10 min: When John Sutton steamed into the clear then, before he put Adam Reynolds over for the first try of the game, the roar from this crowd was straight out of the 1960s. That’s the impression I got. Can’t say why. Blake Ferguson got a caution for an off-the-ball incident. 6-0.

7 mins: Rumours sweeping the press box that Canberra centre Jack Wighton’s sister Meg is actually his ex-wife. Souths’ Andrew Everingham almost scores off a one-handed Dylan Farrell pass. 0-0.

Pre-match: Hi everyone, The reason I don’t give you much notice about these live blogs is that I don’t know if I have a seat in the press box at some finals. No point posting a gamepage and then not being able to add to it until after midnight, right? Great crowd of around 35,000 and a cover band doing ‘Streets With No Name”. Not sure of the relevance. I saw a sign that said ‘Edwin Flack Avenue”.