World Cup first quarter-final: NEW ZEALAND 40 SCOTLAND 4 at Headingley


By STEVE MASCORD
SCOTLAND deliberately maximised the embarassment of rugby league officials by announcing as the most important game in their history kicked off that their funding had been completely withdrawn.
New Zealand cruised through the World Cup quarter-final at Headingley as expected, winning 40-4 to set up a semi-final appearance with England with centre Bryson Goodwin and winger Roger Tuivasa-Sheck each posting try braces.
Their only real complication was an ugly, if accidental, incident which left superstar Sonny Bill Williams with a jarred neck.
But officials of the Rugby Football League, who until now had been basking in the glory of successful and profitably tournament, copped a PR barrage as the teams ran out when Scotland Rugby League posted on Facebook: “The RFL have withdrawn their funding from across the Celtic nations …
“There are no staff working on or on behalf of Scotland Rugby League until the Rugby League International Federation make a decision on any future funding for Scotland.”
Bravehearts coach Steve McCormack refused to be drawn on the issue after the quarter-final and SRL chairman Keith Hogg did not immediately return Fairfax Media‘s phone calls.
But it is understood the SRL had received inquiries about the issue throughout the week leading up to the match and had decided to maximise the impact of the news by announcing it when the eyes of the rugby league world were on its team.
The Rugby Football League, which overseas the game in Britain, is funded by Sport England – an anomaly when it comes to passing on that funding to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The RFL’s funding has been cut by Stg10 million over the next four years.
“I know they haven’t got a lot of money – I didn’t know they’ve now got none,” said former NSW five-eighth Peter Wallace, who has represented Scotland for the first time in this tournament.
“Hopefully how we’ve gone in this tournament … maybe the Scotland government can get behind rugby league in Scotland.”
For New Zealand, who led 26-0 at halftime, minor injuries and some lack of concentration were the only negatives coach Stephen Kearney could point to.
Williams packed into the next scrum following his mishap at prop before getting a very early shower, while winger Manu Vatuvei came off with a groin injury and captain Simon Mannering was also given a long rest.
Tuivasa-Sheck was a popular man of the match after tries in the 19th and 29th minutes. “He’s a young man of 20 years old yet some of the stuff he does makes it look like he’s been around for 10 years,” said Kearney.
“Yet it’s instinctive.”
The return of Kevin Locke as first-choice fullback was deemed a success and Kearney said the decision between the Warriors custodian and Josh Hoffman for the Wembley semi-final would be difficult.
“After halftime, we could have been a bit more ruthless,” said Kearney, who added “eighty per cent of the side is pretty much fixed or set”.
NEW ZEALAND 40 (Bryson Goodwin 2, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2, Jesse Bromwich, Frank Pritchard, Shaun Johnson, Manu Vatuvei tries; Johnson 4 goals) beat SCOTLAND 4 (Alex Hirst try) at Headingley. Referee: Ben Cummins (Australia). Crowd: 16,207.

Filed for: SUN-HERALD

World Cup: SCOTLAND 22 UNITED STATES 8 at Salford City Stadium


By STEVE MASCORD
CAPTAIN Joseph Paulo says the United States just scoring against Australia in the World Cup quarter-finals next Saturday might be as good as victory in another game.
The Tomahawks completed the pool stage of the tournament with their first defeat, 22-8 to a Scotland side inspired by a man injured in the warm-up and aided by a 12-0 second half penalty count in their favour.
That led Paulo to say French referee Theirry Alibert – controlling his final match in the UK after several years in Super League – may have been trying to “get back” at the Americans for beating France.
But it is the November 16 quarter-final against Tim Sheens’ Australians that is now the focus of the plucky Tomahawks, who were no expected to win a game here.
“We’re going in there expecting to win,” said Parramatta’s Paulo of Saturday’s appointment with the green and golds.
“If that means scoring a try or getting points on the board, then that feels like we’ve won against them.”
Coach Terry Matterson added: “I don’t think we’re going to sit down and go through their (Australia’s) last three games. I don’t think we’re going to bother with that.
“I’ve got a fair idea of what Cameron Smith can do. Greg Inglis? I think I’d rather him play centre than fullback.
“But our guys, they’re not going to be star struck. They’re going to go out there and give a good account of themselves.”
Thursday’s result ended Tonga’s tournament and left Scotland needing Tonga to beat Italy at the New Shay in Halifax on Sunday to stay alive.
The 15-5 penalty count, including 12-0 after halftime, infuriated the Americans with Paulo saying: “The ref was going to get his way. I don’t know if it’s because he reffed us in France, he tried to get back at us.
“When I approached the ref, we couldn’t take to him and we tried to take it out on Scotland and that just made it worse for us.”
Scotland had to overcome setbacks of there own. There were serious doubts over the first American try but more significantly hooker Ben Fisher suffered a torn calf in the warm-up for what was shaping as the last game of his career.
He was carried from the field and the team reshuffled to replace him. Australian Fisher, 32, told BBC: “It’s absolutely devastating to finish on that note.
“Words can’t describe how hard it is. It’s a pretty tough realisation. That’s life.”
Prop Luke Douglas, a tryscorer on Thursday, said: “Ben was standing opposite us during the anthem and he was sheding a tear. It was pretty emotional.”
Fisher raised both crutches in the air on the sideline when man of the match Matty Russell scored in the 52nd minute to put the Bravehearts ahead for the first time.
The US defence on the way to an 8-0 halftime lead was nothing short of heroic as Scotland got over the line five times without scoring.
But the penalty count – and having played three games in nine days – took its toll on Terry Matterson’s side in the second half. Former Gold Coast import Russell, current Titan Douglas and winger Alex Hurst and second rower Brett Phillips were the tryscorers
It wasn’t a good night for hookers; America’s Joel Luani was booked for a spear tackle late in the contest.
SCOTLAND 22 (Brett Phillips, Matthew Russell, Luke Douglas, Alex Hurst tries; Danny Brough 3 goals) beat UNITED STATES 8 ( Kristian Freed, Taylor Welch tries) at Salford City Stadium. Referee: Thierry Alibert (France). Crowd: 6041.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

World Cup: SCOTLAND 26 TONGA 24 at Derwent Park, Workington

By STEVE MASCORD
LUKE Douglas’ fellow Scotland Bravehearts told him his mother was smiling down on them.
Scotland, 500-1 outsiders at the Rugby League World Cup, scored their greatest ever win on Tuesday night when they surrendered a 20-4 halftime lead to a star-studded Tonga and then surged back to snatch victory in at Workington’s Derwent Park.
For Gold Coast prop Douglas, it had already been an emotional journey. His first trip to the ancestral home of the Douglas clan 12 months ago was prompted by his mother Trish having suffered a heart attack en route from Australia.
When in hospital in the UK, she was diagnosed with a melanoma and died earlier this year. Father Chris had been reluctant to return to the scene of so many painful memories – but when Luke walked off at fulltime in Tuesday’s boilover, his dad was there in the grandstand beaming.
“I talked him into coming – he’s brought a mate over and hopefully he’ll get a few better memories this time,” Douglas tells Fairfax Media.
“One of the coaching staff said ‘someone was definitely looking down on us there’. Mum’s up there. Got us through a tough end period and we snuck home.’
The Tongan side boasting NRL stars like Brent Kite, Konrad Hurrell, Jorge Taufua, Jason Taumalolo and FuiFui MoiMoi was left shellshocked by the unexpected defeat, which featured four of their would-be tries being disallowed by video referee Ashley Klein.
The most telling of these was right on fulltime, when halfback Daniel Foster forced his way over but appeared to be illegally stripped in a two man tackle.
“He tried to pass it, that’s how it came out,” said Klein. “That was the ruling.”
It was Douglas who fell on the loose ball. “I know you’re allowed, in the act of scoring, to rake it,” he said. “It was touch and go.”
Tonga coach Charlie Tonga was angry at the call. “I was actually at the coaches meeting the other day and that’s something (referees boss) Stuart Cummings mentioned – that if there’s a two-man strip in goal it’s going to be a penalty right in front,” he said.
But rival Steve McCormack insisted; ‘I certainly don’t think people can look at that game and say we were lucky to get any decisions.’
The first and last Bravehearts tries in a famous victory were scored by fullback Matt Russell, the former understudy to Sam Tomkins at Wigan who will return from a stint at Gold Coast to play for Warrington next season.
His 14th minute effort saw him leave Kite, MoiMoi and Siliva Havili clutching at air. His match winner, with eight minutes left, involved him stepping inside Kite and past two other Tongan defenders.
“My time in Australia did make me a more professional player but in saying that, I was at Wigan before and they are pretty professional,” Russell said.
“It was a great win to be part of.”
Scotland’s North Queensland centre Kane Linnett finished the game in the sin bin for a professional foul while Tonga’s Wests Tigers forward Ben Murdoch-Masila appears to have played his last football for the year after suffering a suspected broken leg in his first hit-up of the night.
SCOTLAND 26 (Matthew Russell 2, Brett Carter, Ben Fisher tries; Danny Brough 5 goals) beat TONGA 24 (Sika Manu 2, Willie Manu, Glen Fisiiahi, Nafe Seluini tries; Samsoni Langi 3 goals) at Derwent Park, Workington. Referee: Shayne Hayne (Australia) . Crowd: 7630.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

Douglas Is A True Braveheart

Gold Coast - Luke DouglasBy STEVE MASCORD
THE United Kingdom is a place of pride for Gold Coast prop Luke Douglas. And a place of sorrow.
Six decades ago, his grandfather Archibald Douglas – a name carried by noblemen in Scotland going back a thousand years – took flight to Australia in the face of difficult economic times. “He’s got a big book about it,” says 27-year-old Luke.
The former Cronulla front rower always intended to represent the Bravehearts rugby league team. It was just a matter of timing.
This spring, he’s in. But travelling to the World Cup won’t just be a case of honouring his grandfather.
“I’m trying to get my dad over,” he tells League Week in the Titans sheds after a recent victory.
“I was over there for a month last year, it was my first ever time. My mum and dad went over last time, that’s when she had the turn.
“It was just hospital every day.
“He’s a bit uncertain yet, because of what happened last time but I’m trying to get him to go over and see the Douglas castle and all that sort of stuff over in Scotland.”
Luke’s mother Trish died in May as a result of the illness that had led to her being hospitalised in Britain late last year. She had a heart attack on the flight over, prompting a dash across the world by Luke, before a melanoma was discovered.
One son, Jake, now plays domestic rugby union in England while Kane is a Wallaby and will be on tour at the time of the World Cup – the event Trish and Chris Douglas followed him on 11 months ago.
For many reasons, Luke Douglas is far from the image of an international rugby league ring-in with no knowledge of the language or culture of the team he’s representing.
“The manager put it (out there) and they asked me,” he said of the link with Steve McCormack’s team. “My pop moved over when he was about 25, 26. There’s pretty strong Scottish heritage there and it should be a good experience and I’m really looking forward to it.
“I’ve learned fair bit off pop. He’s right up to date on all the heritage and it’s pretty strong. There’s a lot of history in the Douglas clans. I’m keen to suss it all out once I get over there.
“He’d be early eighties. (In Scotland), it’s mainly soccer, footy as they call it, and rugby’s second. He’s a soccer guy, all that Catholic v Protestant stuff. He’s brought up on that, came out just a year ago. He had to flee, it was a tough time (when he was young). The rich guys moved onto America and he came through to Australia. There was a bit of a war or something.
“I might spend a week after we get knocked out – hopefully we can go good – and do a bit of background and heritage.”
And despite being in a tough pool, Douglas is confident that with the likes of Keith Galloway, Danny Brough, Michael Robertson, James McManus and Kane Linnett, the Bravehearts can “go good”
“We’ve got a pretty strong draw over there, against Italy who’ve got a pretty good side and also Tonga, who’ve got a good side too,” the Yamba-raised Australian Prime Minister’s XIII rep says.
“We play them and also America. I’m not sure of our squad too much yet. I know Kane Linnett put his hand up. I spoke to (Keith Galloway) and he said if everything goes sweet … he’s just back from injury … he’s going to go … Michael Robertson … James McManus
“This could be my last chance so I thought I’d go and have a go.
“We should be able to give a good show. I think Tonga and Italy are pretty beatable, even though they’ve got good squads. Anything can happen if we can get through that initial pool stage.”
One way or another, Luke Douglas is not going to let a place get him down. His grandfather’s pride will ensure that. And he’s keen that father Chris overcomes his own traumatic fears to make the same trip that ended in tragedy just a year ago.
“I might get over there and get some good memories,” Luke says, “instead of the hospital.”

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

The A-List: KEITH GALLOWAY (City, NSW, Australia & Scotland)

Wests Tigers - Keith GallowayBy STEVE MASCORD

THIS is kind of like interviewing a Wests Tigers fan. Keith Galloway wasn’t sighted from round two to round 20 this year due to a pectoral muscle tear.

He’s been sitting in the stands with us.

If a week is a long time in rugby league, 18 weeks is an eternity. In that period, Wests Tigers have floundered and dropped from finals contention and star player Benji Marshall has decided to depart for rugby union.

“It was out of my hands. I was in the rehab squad,” the 27-year-old Galloway says more than once during our chat at Concord Oval, about what he has seen unfold in 2013.

The club’s fans know how Keith feels. The arrival of new coach Michael Potter was supposed to tighten up Wests Tigers’ defence, give their attack more structure, end the days of playing off the cuff.

But the transition has proven harder, and more complicated, than perhaps even Potter expected.

“Obviously we had those two really good years in 2010, 2011 when we had the team to win the grand final – or very close – on both occasions,’’ says Galloway, all 107kg of him.

“There’ve been other years when we’ve been up there and down. This year’s been tough – I think everyone knows that. Our injury toll’s been massive. There are probably some guys who’ve played … not before they’re ready but they’ve got their chances through injury. They’re going to benefit from that.

“They’ve really stepped up and proven themselves. It’s a young squad but I think it’s going to be a strong squad.  There’ll be a lot of first grade experience at such a young age and hopefully that holds us in good stead for next year and beyond.

“I came into first grade when I was 17 and I felt like the young guy for years but now I really feel like an old guy with all these youngsters around.”

Despite the disappointments, the former Cronulla prop had no hesitation in re-signing for three more years during his convalescence. The reason for this, he says, was simple. Given that he has in that rehab  group, he was flattered just  to be asked.

“I wasn’t able to play footy and put my best foot forward to sign a contract,” he explains. “That was what I’ve done in previous years to get a contract.  The Tigers were really keen to sign me.

“When they showed that much interest and desire to keep me, it was a pretty easy decision to stay loyal to the club. I’ve been here seven years now. It feels like home.”

Big Keith is a nice fellow, although you get the impression he doesn’t feel like he’s earned the right to say much yet this year. His unannounced comeback came a couple of weeks ago in Monday Night Football against Manly and with no finals on the horizon, his aims are necessarily short term.

A NSW and Australia rep in 2011, he at least has a Scotland Bravehearts World Cup jersey to aspire to over the next couple of months.

“They’ve enquired and I’ve told them it’s definitely an option,” Galloway reveals. “I just wanted to get back on the field with the Tigers and play a few games before I made any sort of decision.

“I’m definitely proud of my Scottish heritage. If I went down that path, it would be great to represent them.  Dad was born over there. His side of the family is all from there.

“The last World Cup, I was in their 40-man squad and I had to have surgery as soon as the World Cup was over. I was excited to play for them but obviously if you’ve got to have surgery, you’ve got to have it. “

The Wests Tigers he returns to in 2014 after his industrial award- stipulated post-World Cup break will be very different. For a start, there’ll be no Marshall.

“It was a pretty big shock, eh?” he says of Marshall’s decision to accept the terms of a contract extension.

“To be honest, anyone who knows the Tigers, they know Benji …. but as a good mate I respect his decision and wish him all the best in rugby union. At the end of the day, he’ll still be a good mate and I’m proud to call him a mate. “

Losing mates used to tear at the heart of Wests Tigers.  Most of them went in the opposite direction to Keith – from Concord to Cronulla. But now it’s just a fact of life.

“I probably spoke the Heighno (Chris Heighington), Gibbsy (Bryce Gibbs) , Beau Ryan in the past week,” Galloway says when asked about the unusual links between the clubs.

“When you play footy with guys for a certain number of years, you become good mates. Regardless of the team they play for or the jersey they wear, you’re not going to get rid of the friendship just because they play for another club. There’re a lot of good guys over there.

“It was a bit of a shock, some of them going. You play with good mates, you wish you could play with the same guys forever but it’s a business. We all know that. We’re trying to make a living out of it and clubs are trying to do the best. Unfortunately, that’s the way it is. That’s the way the business world works. I get paid to play footy for this club and I love this club so I’ll do the best I can for it.”

On one hand “it’s a business” but on the other, Galloway “loves” Wests Tigers. That’s a glass-half-full approach if ever there was one….

In any case, it’s likely the devil-may-care attack Wests Tigers are famous for will leave with their most famous player.

“These days,” says Galloway, “if you make a mistake, teams are going to capitalise on it. If you play off the cuff and it doesn’t work, then you’re under the pump the whole game.

“Unfortunately, we haven’t played for 80 minutes in a lot of the games. For patches in games, we’ve looked good but these top four sides, they’re another league above. They play for the whole 80 minutes. Until we get to that standard, we’re not going to be able to compete with these sides.”

As a junior, Galloway made all the representative sides. I’ve always wondered if players like him feel undue pressure to keep making those teams as an adult, and whether they judge themselves more harshly than others.

“I think when you’re making those sides as a kid, there’s a bit of an expectation that you’ll probably make the grade, that you’ll play first grade,” he answers.

“Just to play first grade, you’ve done really well. There’re a lot of good footy players I played with growing up who didn’t progress to first grade for one reason or another.

“You’ve got to be a really special talent to make these senior representative sides.

“Unfortunately I’ve had some bad injuries at bad times of the season and what-not but I’ve been lucky enough, in 2011, to get a game for the Blues and play for Australia overseas. Hopefully I can try and replicate that in the next few years but I think it helps when your team’s going well.”

Ah yes, when the team’s going well. He says it like it’s going to happen, like it’s just a matter of time. And unlike you and me. Keith Galloway is now in a position to make it happen…..

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

McManus Will Finally Play For Scotland

Newcastle - James McManusBy STEVE MASCORD

IT’s taken a while, but the NRL’s favourite Scotsman is about to play for his homeland.

Newcastle and Country Origin winger James McManus says he plans to change his country of election after the State of Origin series so he can turn out for the Bravehearts in the World Cup.

“I’d love to play for Scotland in the World Cup, I’ve been in touch with them,” said McManus, who moved from Banff to Katherine in the Northern Territory while in primary school.

“It would be a great experience going over. I’ve got loads of family over there I’d love to catch up with.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been over there but it’s still home, it’s still where I’m from. The last World Cup, I needed groin surgery. I was locked into the surgery, my season was over.”

McManus scored the winning try in Sunday’s 18-12 win over City but is unsure of his chances of adding to one NSW cap in 2009.

“I guess it’s competition, how well you play and really what the coach is looking for,” he said.

“What Trent Barrett wants in this team might be different to what Laurie Daley wants in the State of Origin team.

“Baz gave me a job to do … and if Laurie sees that that’s what he wants, I’ll be grateful to be picked. If not, I’ll be a better player at club level for the experience.”

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK