Category Archive: Rugby League

Rugby League News

Sep 24

Cowboys stick to what they know best on impossible run to NRL grand final | Matt Cleary

North Queensland know that if they just carry on doing what they do, at worst they will give a good account of themselves; at best they’ll go all the way

Kane Linnett is the Graeme Bradley of his generation. Like the Dragons centre of the early 1990s, Linnett is the tall, unfashionable type with the odd, angular movements, the direct running lines and, to the layman’s naked eye, the lack of discernible skill. Unlike “The Penguin”, however, Linnett isn’t even a cult figure. He’s just Kane Linnett – straight man. And he’s in another grand final.

Related: Cowboys’ fairytale continues into grand final with upset win over Roosters

The story of the 2017 grand final is the imperial Death Star versus a rag-tag bunch of feisty rebels

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Sep 23

Wakefield finish on a high as rout of Wigan deepens Shaun Wane’s woes

• Wakefield 32-0 Wigan
• Trinity sign off in style to end Wigan’s faint play-off hopes

Wakefield Trinity ensured their joint-highest finish in almost 40 years with a convincing victory over the reigning champions, Wigan, whose season finished with an embarrassing whimper here.

The Warriors knew only a win by 90 points or more would secure the final play-off place; it was apparent from almost the word go that they had no chance of achieving that. It means that they will not compete in the Super League play-offs for the first time since 2006 – a damning indictment on a campaign that has been way below the standards expected of one of the game’s most famous clubs, even if they did win the World Club Challenge way back in February.

Related: St Helens in prime spot for semi-finals after win over Salford

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Sep 23

Cowboys’ fairytale continues into grand final with upset win over Roosters

  • North Queensland Cowboys beat Sydney Roosters 29-16 at Allianz stadium
  • Cowboys become first team to make decider from eighth since Eels in 2009

North Queensland are 80 minutes away from an historic NRL premiership after advancing to the grand final with a 29-16 preliminary final upset of the Sydney Roosters.

The Cowboys will meet Melbourne at ANZ Stadium next Sunday in a David-versus-Goliath showdown. Paul Green’s men are the first team to make the decider from eighth since Parramatta in 2009, while no team has lifted the trophy from outside the top four in the NRL era. Melbourne, finishing minor premiers in a canter, haven’t lost a game in nine weeks.

Related: Spirit of Johnathan Thurston keeps North Queensland humming in NRL finals | Matt Cleary

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Sep 23

Cowboys beat Roosters in NRL preliminary final – as it happened

  • Roosters 16-29 Cowboys
  • Cowboys through to the Grand Final after Morgan masterclass

12.48pm BST

Nothing short of a boilover, you’d have to say. The story is about the Cowboys, who are playing with both verve and steel at the most important part of the season. They’re genuinely getting better. Every plaudit you read about Michael Morgan this week will be deserved. It’s well worth forgetting about Johnathon Thurston for a brief second here – Morgan was every inch the superstar of tonight, and you can’t begrudge him his overwhelmingly deserved moment in the spotlight. He drove his team tonight – created nearly everything, kicked brilliantly, made huge tackles, and as they say, he iced the game with a composed field goal to finish off the Roosters.

Let’s deal with the Roosters. They seemed to play without any zip, drive, or enterprise – instead favouring a clinical approach that came up short. Could they have ad libbed a little more?

12.33pm BST

He converts! That’s full time – The Cowboys beat the Roosters 29 – 16. Wow. The Roosters exit with a whimper, the Cowboys just get better. What a story. Some thoughts to follow.

Here was Morgan’s field goal:

Clinical from the @nthqldcowboys.#NRLFinals#NRL

12.30pm BST

It’s a party now! Scott Bolton charges past Guerra, who attempted a one-on-one strip, and he crashes over! Incredible stuff. Lowe will attempt the shot at goal. 80 minutes gone…

12.28pm BST

78 mins: Still the Cowboys’ ball. They’re in total control here. The Roosters offering barely a whimper. 10 metres out, last tackle, and Glanville knocks it in-goal and they’ll get the repeat set! Shallow drop out, and it’s the Cowboys ball. They’re going to the Grand Final!

12.27pm BST

Well orchestrated, Glanville fires it to Morgan on the last, and he slots it under a bit of pressure! That should do it, you’d think. Only three minutes to go now. Morgan is a hero.

12.25pm BST

75 mins: Gordon drops it! They were 40 metres out, there was no pressure on him, and he drops it cold! They’ve been cautious all night, the Roosters, and North Queensland should be able to work it into a good field goal position.

12.24pm BST

74 mins: They set for a drop goal, North Queensland. Morgan is closed down, so he fires to Coote, who chips into the in-goal. It holds up, holds up, but Ferguson just shepherds it over. The Roosters will get the ball. Inches in it.

12.23pm BST

73 mins: Another good run from Taumololo gets North Queensland on the front foot. It goes through the hands before a grubber toward the posts. Tupou takes it, tries to stand up and he’s driven back in goal! Drop out Roosters!

12.21pm BST

71 mins: Taumololo gets up clutching his shoulder. He carries on. Morgan tries to kick it dead on the last but it bounces on its end and Ferguson has to bring it out. Nearly slips away too. They need to chance their arm here, the Roosters.

12.19pm BST

A look at the Feldt try

The finisher does it again!

Try @feldt092.#NRLFinals#NRL

12.19pm BST

The Cowboys lead by a converted try now, a huge turnaround. Ten minutes to go.

12.18pm BST

69 mins: And now a penalty to the Cowboys! It’s a strip. Cordner and Waerea-Hargreaves the culprits. Lowe will have a shot at goal. An easy one, just to the right of the uprights. Adjacent to the posts, as they’d say.

12.17pm BST

68 mins: Mitchell kicks it out on the full! Again! Straight from the kickoff. Dead in-goal. Unbelievable stuff here. Penalty Cowboys, they’ll get another shot at the Roosters’ line.

12.16pm BST

He converts! Roosters 16 – 20 Cowboys

The toughest kick in the game. Right foot, right touchline, he swings it in!

12.15pm BST

They just don’t stop, these Cowboys! Again, Morgan directs them towards the Roosters left edge. The Roosters looked set as the ball went through the hands, but Feldt had a little space and you’d have to say he overpowered Mitchell to slam the ball down with one hand. Did Mitchell give Feldt too much room? Probably. Lowe from the sideline now…

12.13pm BST

Is that a try? They sweep across field, it comes to Feldt – it’s a one-on-one between Feldt and Mitchell, and it’s a ridiculously close one between Feldt, the ball, the corner post and the sideline. It looks good – but it’s so, so, close. Does the point hit the ground first? Or the ‘fat’ part hit the sideline? I think it’s a try.

12.11pm BST

64 mins: Does O’Neill atone? He hits Ferguson low and hard and the Rooster coughs it up! The Cows are 20 metres out now, and Morgan picks it up on the half-volley. Of course he does. Centre field, four tackles left…

12.10pm BST

62 mins: Was that the boost, or the luck, the Roosters needed? Plenty of time left for the Cowboys to come back into it – it’s only two points after all. The Roosters march all the way down field and a mini-bomb from Keary leaves the Cowboys 98 metres from home after Coote takes the ball.

12.08pm BST

Totally against the run of play here. Crucial error from O’Neill, that one will hurt. The ball slipped from his grasp pre-contact in the tackle, and Taukeiaho shovelled it to Aubusson, who in-turn gave it to Ferguson. Too much power, and he went over. A try from an error. Can the Cowboys come back again?

12.06pm BST

Is this a try? O’Neill spills it, the Roosters spread it straight away and Ferguson goes over. They’re going to the video to check the put down. There’s no problem.

12.05pm BST

58 mins: Couldn’t be more even, this. Just as the Roosters started to exert some dominance, the Cowboys – as ever – respond. It really is anyone’s match, and I’d venture it will come down to playmaker decisions. So far, Morgan is man of the match by streets. He’s everywhere, and here puts up an ‘inside out’ torpedo that’s well taken by Michael Gordon.

12.02pm BST

Goal! Roosters 12 – 14 Cowboys

Lowe swings it in from the right side, about 15 metres in from touch. Cowboys back in from. This match rising to a crescendo here.

12.01pm BST

And they’re over. Straight after Taumololo’s run, Morgan gets the ball close to the line, has multiple runners outside him, throws the cutout pass and finds Linnett, who just slid to the outside of his defender and crashed over. Outstanding timing on the pass from Morgan there, who is having a brilliant game so far.

11.59am BST

54 mins: Taumololo, who’s enjoyed a spell on the sidelines, is back on now. He surges forward straight away and almost breaks the line…

11.59am BST

52 mins: A low, driving kick from Morgan nearly grabs a forty-twenty for his side but Gordon’s there to retrieve it. Meanwhile, Michael Morgan has been opened up and blood is positively pouring from his eye, courtesy of a Michael Gordon forearm. Actually a good opportunity for him to put a head bandage on. Every team needs one come finals time.

11.55am BST

48 mins: But an error from Ferguson working the ball out, who looked to be taken high. He spills it, and hands the Cowboys six tackles in good position. Quick hands from the Cowboys almost gives Winterstein a bit of space but he’s reeled in. A grubber toward the posts (the Cowboys like that play) then ricochets dangerously before the Roosters dive on it, and work it out of their end as normal.

11.53am BST

Goal! Roosters 12 – 8 Cowboys

Low and hard from Gordon, and straight through. The Roosters take the lead for the first time in the match.

11.52am BST

TRY! Roosters 10-8 Cowboys (Watson 46)

All Pearce here. 40 metres out, he takes it to the line, shows it inside, makes the defence hesitate, and sends Cordner through on the outside. Cordner draws Coote easily and gives it to the utility Connor Watson, who crosses the line. Brilliant from Mitchell Pearce there. Well backed up from Watson.

11.50am BST

45 mins: Quieter moment in the game as the Roosters work it forward, just settling into the next phase of the match now.

11.48am BST

43 mins: Great take from Keary, who dived low to intercept a Michael Morgan grubber that was in-goal bound. Replays show a slight bobble, but it was so infinitesimal as to deceive as all. The Roosters put together another solid set and the Cowboys work it out in-turn.

11.47am BST

No try. Joey was right. Latrell Mitchell ran the wrong angle, blocked his Cowboys counterpart, and it’ll be a penalty to the North Queensland side.

11.46am BST

41 mins: The Roosters are over, or are they? Ryan Matterson is over in the corner – he kicks the ball skyward in aggressive celebration – but Andrew Johns is sure there’s an obstruction. Let’s see.

11.45am BST

40 mins: Cowboys error straight away! Coen Hess drops the ball from the first hit-up of the half, handing the Roosters a great chance straight away.

11.36am BST

A look at Latrell Mitchell’s try too

Mitchell snatches the ball as the defence lets it go!#NRLFinals#NRL

11.35am BST

Well, the Cowboys roll on! They held the upper hand for the majority of the half; one largely played fairly conservatively from both sides.

Both dared the other to blink first in the cautious opening exchanges, with seven completed sets each before the first error. It was Morgan, who has been excellent so far, who fed Te Maire Martin who was able to skip outside Napa and deceive Pearce enough to evade his clutches, break the line and speed his way under the posts. It was reward enough for the visitors, who seemed fractionally more creative in attacking situations, with the Glanville-Morgan duo leading proceedings.

Hear from @michaelmorgan00 at HT of #NRLRoostersCowboys.#NRLFinals#NRL

11.27am BST

39 mins: A late Cowboys raid on the line comes to nothing after Glanville slipped a neat little ball inside. The tackle’s made, and that’s half-time. Some thoughts to follow.

11.26am BST

GOAL! Roosters 6-8 Cowboys

A very good kicker, Michael Gordon. He slots this about 10m in from touch. Was straight all the way.

11.25am BST

TRY! Roosters 4-8 Cowboys (Mitchell 37)

And the Roosters are over! Keary with the bomb toward the left side; Linnett tried to block Mitchell but then left his assignment. Mitchell evaded him then deftly took it in the corner to scoot over.

11.23am BST

33 mins: Morgan pushes the short pass about 20m out but it’s forward, and it’s dropped, and it’s more relief for the Roosters. They then get the relieving piggy-back

penalty, to the background of ironic cheers from the Roosters faithful. They’ll get a look the Cowboys line here.

11.19am BST

30 mins: But the Roosters drop it! The Cowboys back on the march again. They’ve disorganised the Roosters defence again here, and some broken play leads to Morgan chipping the ball toward the posts. It misses, but has Pearce made a play at it? Referee Sutton says drop-out, and it’s not overruled by the video. Another set for the men from Townsville.

11.17am BST

27 mins: The Cowboys roll downfield again and get a repeat set. Wouldn’t say the Roosters are on the ropes yet, but the Cowboys are dominating.

The Cowboys spread left and threaten the line again, but the ball hits the deck. A rest for the Roosters, who’ll work it out from their own line.

11.14am BST

GOAL! Roosters 0-8 Cowboys

Ethan Lowe adds the extras. The Roosters jittery here, the Cowboys playing with freedom.

11.12am BST

TRY! Roosters 0-6 Cowboys (Martin 22)

It was Morgan to Te Maire Martin, who stuttered, offered the show-and-go, and a terrible grab at air from Pearce allowed him through. Napa was the inside man and Martin got outside him with ease. He’s quick, the five-eighth, and he arced his way under the posts in a flash. Will soon be 8-0.

11.09am BST

21 mins: And the Roosters’ kick off is over the dead ball line on the full! They advance it up field and a rolled-in grubber grabs them a repeat set. Mitchell’s drop-out is long, but the Cowboys will get a good shot here.

11.08am BST

Goal! Cowboys 2 – 0 Roosters
21 mins: Lowe kicks it. Easy as you like. We have points.

11.06am BST

20 mins: A Waerea-Hargreaves high tackle gives the Cowboys a penalty. It’s 15 metres out from the Cowboys line and next to the posts. The Cowboys will take the two.

11.01am BST

14 mins: Pearce tries a second man play about 40m out with Keary the receiver. It’s beautifully read by that man Morgan and he smashes Keary ball and all. He’s started well, the Cowboys playmaker.

10.59am BST

12 mins: Still relatively risk-free here. Both sides going one-out, two-out from dummy half. No real incision. Everyone making their tackles. The Roosters probably shading it at the ruck – they seem to be achieving that roll-on with a little more ease than their opponents.

Both sides perfect through 10 minutes – feeling each other out.

Follow #NRLRoostersCowboys on the League Live app:

10.57am BST

9 mins: The Roosters recover and engineer some field position to allow another bomb for Pearce. This time it’s intended for Ferguson. He charges onto it and momentarily gathers it mid-air, but he can’t hang on to it under defensive pressure. Another change over The Roosters making fairly comfortable metres, though haven’t properly threatened yet.

No penalties or real mistakes either, which means one must be coming.

10.56am BST

7 mins: The Cowboys attack the left side for a couple of plays, but it comes to nought. O’Neill briefly wrestles with Aubusson but the latter repels him from the line. Glanville then tries to stab one of those grubbers in from dummy half, about a metre out, but the kick’s blocked by Aubusson’s deliberately outstretched foot. It rebounds into O’Neill’s arms but he spills the reflex attempt. Changeover.

Really hate to do this, but having just watched Richmond storm into the AFL Grand Final, it’s hard not to notice the markedly different atmosphere’s in these otherwise equivalent games. The SFS feels quiet.

10.52am BST

6 mins: Forty-twenty for the Cowboys! It’s Morgan. He caught the Roosters napping there, skimming one low and hard into the right touchline. They’re on the attack.

10.51am BST

5 mins: The Roosters with a slight territorial advantage here, allowing Pearce to hoist a few bombs from midfield, thought easily defused by the Cowboys back three. Cagey start, you’d say.

10.50am BST

4 mins: The Cowboys try to spin in wide on the fourth. It comes to nothing. Morgan’s fifth tackle roost is charged down, but it falls safely to Coote. He checks to see whether there’s six more – there’s not – and he gets his kick away. All very safe.

10.48am BST

2 mins: The Cowboys respond with a stead set of their own. They complete it with Morgan kicking to the right corner. Has Feldt picked up a leg injury? More on that as it comes to hand. Andrew Johns seems to think so…

10.47am BST

We’re away – the Roosters running towards the SCG, the Cowboys toward Paddington RSL. Both are likely to be there later on, regardless of the result. Strong, steady first set from the Roosters.

10.45am BST

Crowd Watch

Judging from this tweet, we can probably expect further media conniptions over Sydney’s preparedness to turn out for big matches. That whole upper tier is bare!

Kick-off is approaching!!! #NRLRoostersCowboys

10.39am BST


Sydney Roosters

The Roosters will be aiming for their seventh Grand Final appearance this century.#IMAROOSTER #NRLFinals #NRLRoostersCowboys

10.30am BST

Hello all, and a huge thanks for joining me here as we settle in for the second preliminary final (these used to be called ‘Final’) from Allianz Stadium (from here referred to as the SFS) between the Roosters and the Cowboys.

At the risk of spinning wildly into cliché, there’s a clear favourite-underdog prism here. The tri-colours finished high on the ladder, have had the week off, and will take the field with that double-edged sword of freshness as they attempt to book their place in next week’s decider. They’re a settled side, bolstered by an Origin-heavy, monster pack led by Jared Waerea-Hargreves, Dylan Napa and Boyd Cordner. Their resurrection this year has largely occurred on the back of Mitchell Pearce’s steady influence, and his combination with Luke Keary tonight will go a long way to deciding the contest. In short, the Roosters are as ready and primed as they could have hoped for.

Nth Qld Cowboys were putting in the hard yards at training today in preparation for their minor preliminary semi-final against Easts. #NRL

1.25am BST

Sam will be along shortly. In the meantime, have a read of how the Melbourne Storm booked their place in the 2017 grand final last night:

Related: Storm flex muscles in crushing win over Broncos to book place in NRL grand final

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Sep 22

Storm flex muscles in crushing win over Broncos to book place in NRL grand final

Melbourne Storm beat Brisbane Broncos 30-0 at AAMI ParkBilly Slater scores double as Storm reach their third grand final in six yearsMelbourne are the first team into the NRL grand final after crushing Brisbane 30-0 in their preliminary final at AAMI P…

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Sep 21

St Helens in prime spot for semi-finals after win over Salford

• Super 8s: Salford 4-30 St Helens
• Wigan would need huge win to deny neighbours

Whether it is Castleford on Thursday or Leeds 24 hours later in the semi-finals, it is increasingly clear St Helens are in no mood to let this season peter out with a whimper.

When Justin Holbrook arrived on these shores in May and inherited a side whose fate appeared more likely to be in a battle to avoid the Qualifiers as opposed to the race for Old Trafford, few would have fancied St Helens being in this position.

Related: Leon Pryce: ‘There is no doubt that Sporting Chance saved my life’

Related: Super League is tighter than ever – which shows the salary cap is working

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Sep 21

Storm v Broncos: a one-sided rivalry forged in fire of 2006 NRL grand final | Nick Tedeschi

It is easy to understand why Brisbane cannot stand the sight of Melbourne, who have used their blueprint for success to whip them at nearly every corner

Amazingly, it has been 11 years since the Brisbane Broncos have tasted premiership success. For a powerhouse club that tasted triumph so early and so often, it has been a lifetime.

The famous 15-8 win over the Melbourne Storm in the 2006 grand final won’t top any lists of greatest title deciders but it does mark the point where the great Broncos wave that swept over rugby league in the 1990s and early 2000s began to recede.

Related: Corey Oates fitness in balance as Broncos star recovers from head knock

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Sep 20

Leon Pryce: ‘There is no doubt that Sporting Chance saved my life’

Leon Pryce, the former Bradford back, had a breakdown after retiring but is healthy again and looking to share his experience with others leaving the game

Leon Pryce is smiling. “Hi, mate, how’s it going?” he bellows as he enters the room with an ear-to-ear grin. “Life’s pretty awesome at the minute, isn’t it?”. Once, this greeting would have been little to remark upon from Pryce but, given how the former Great Britain rugby league international is about to describe the mental turmoil he went through this summer after retiring unexpectedly, it makes his mood all the more surprising.

We meet at a service station coffee shop, which, while only a few miles from Bradford Bulls’ Odsal Stadium, where Pryce made his name, is a world away from his glittering career.

Related: Hull FC’s Leon Pryce to give his all in search for Grand Final swan song

Related: Bradford Bulls’ fate was down to years of mismanagement of a trailblazing club | Aaron Bower

Related: Super League is tighter than ever – which shows the salary cap is working

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Sep 19

Not even Des Hasler’s successes with Bulldogs insulated him from his failings | Nick Tedeschi

For all his shortcomings, in the end it was the coach’s inability to recognise Canterbury’s history or value the importance of culture that undid him

He arrived in 2011 hot off a premiership win at Manly and hailed as a white knight but six years later Des Hasler leaves Belmore as one of the most unpopular figures in club history.

After dillying and dallying for a year – even extending his contract for two seasons just five months back – the Bulldogs finally moved on Hasler, axing him on Tuesday night.

Related: Corey Oates fitness in balance as Broncos star recovers from head knock

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Sep 19

Super League is tighter than ever – which shows the salary cap is working

With one round of Super 8s fixtures remaining, four clubs – Hull FC, St Helens, Wigan and Wakefield – are fighting for two spots in the play-offs

By Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required, part of the Guardian Sport Network

Anyone still think the Super 8s are a dumb idea? As we enter the 30th and final week of the irregular season, it could hardly be any tighter. Third-placed Hull FC are just two points clear of Wigan in fifth, with Wakefield another point behind. St Helens should do their bit by winning at Salford on Thursday and their handsome points difference would secure them a play-off place regardless of whether Hull win at Castleford on Friday or Wigan win at Wakefield on Saturday.

If Saints slip up, Wakefield are suddenly back in the picture, making Saturday afternoon’s clash a win-or-bust for both them and Wigan. If Salford, Cas and Wakefield all win, third to seventh would be separated by three points after 30 games. That is astonishing. It would also mean Wakefield snatching the fourth semi-final berth and Saints and Wigan both wondering what on earth just happened.

Related: Castleford hold off Wigan after Jake Trueman hat-trick puts them on course

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Sep 19

Corey Oates fitness in balance as Broncos star recovers from head knock

  • Brisbane not expected to make a call until Thursday’s captain’s run
  • ‘He is getting back to his usual self,’ says team-mate Ben Hunt

Brisbane forward Sam Thaiday says the jury is out on whether winger Corey Oates will return from a head knock in Friday night’s NRL preliminary final against Melbourne.

Oates is on modified training at the Broncos after a sickening first-half collision with team-mate Anthony Milford and being taken off on a medicab in last weekend’s 13-6 semi-final win over Penrith.

Related: Broncos edge Panthers but Corey Oates injured in brutal NRL semi-final

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Sep 17

Castleford hold off Wigan after Jake Trueman hat-trick puts them on course

• Wigan Warriors 20-38 Castleford Tigers
• Teenager produces thrilling all-round display at half-back

Jake Trueman gave Castleford significant reason to be cheerful with a thrilling performance at half-back in place of the injured Luke Gale. The 18-year-old scored a first-half hat-trick of tries to set his side on course for victory, although they had to withstand a strong comeback by Wigan during which a Castleford collapse many had predicted appeared to be happening.

With 20 minutes remaining, Wigan had reduced a 26-0 deficit to 10 points. They looked the stronger side and Castleford’s mettle was being seriously tested, having previously looked supremely comfortable.

Related: Widnes see off London Broncos to set up Catalans Dragons decider

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Sep 17

Spirit of Jonathan Thurston keeps North Queensland humming in NRL finals | Matt Cleary

It’s long been said of the Cowboys they can’t win without their talisman, but as Saturday’s result against Parramatta proved, things have changed

A verily accepted wisdom heading into the finals series of this and every other NRL season is this: you must have your best people on the park to compete. You need your full complement fresh and fit and firing. You can’t head into big matches against big match opposition with guys on the bench from the feeder team, key men carrying injuries, and your halfback a 21-year-old Panthers reject who played junior footy for Turangawaewae RLC. That surely would not do.

Related: Cowboys shock Eels in boilover as unlikely finals run continues

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Sep 16

Widnes see off London Broncos to set up Catalans Dragons decider

• Widnes 38-16 London Broncos
• Charly Runciman and Matt Whitley to the fore in comfortable victory

Widnes set up a winner-takes-all showdown next Saturday against Catalans Dragons for an automatic return to Super League after dispatching the Championship side London Broncos.

The Vikings, who finished bottom of Super League after 23 rounds and were widely considered to be the team in most danger of relegation in the Qualifiers, now know that should they avoid defeat in the south of France, they will secure their place back in the top flight without the need for the Million Pound Game.

Related: Second Canadian team planned for RFL, says man behind Toronto Wolfpack

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Sep 16

Cowboys shock Eels in boilover as unlikely finals run continues

Jason Taumalolo dominated with 236 run metres as well as 33 tacklesNorth Queensland now face Sydney Roosters for a place in the deciderNorth Queensland moved within 80 minutes of the unlikeliest NRL grand final appearance in modern history following a …

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Sep 16

Giants thrash Eagles as Johnson bags six, Cowboys upset Eels and more: sportwatch – live!

1.13pm BST

Well, that was a disappointing semi-final, with the Giants far too good for an Eagles side who looked tired and flat-footed after their thrilling victory over the Power last week. That means it’s the end of the road for Mitchell, Priddis and Petrie (although we’ll be seeing plenty of Mitchell next year in the coaching box). It wasn’t the end they deserved, but the Port Adelaide win was surely a highlight worthy of going out on.

The Giants, meanwhile, delivered on the promise they’ve flirted with all season, and look a scary proposition for the Tigers next week. Coniglio dominated with 35 disposals, including 11 contested possessions, eight clearances, three marks, seven tackles and a goal. Likewise, Lachie Whitfield delivered one of his best performances yet, with 28 disposals, seven contested possessions, 11 marks, two clearances and five tackles. And then there was Steve Johnson, who returned to form in stunning fashion with six goals, to ensure his place in next week’s blockbuster. The story in the lead-up will most likely be Brett Deledio’s unlikely encounter with Richmond in a preliminary final – who would’ve thought?

1.03pm BST

AFL Q4 01:09 GWS Giants 19.11 (125) v West Coast Eagles 9.4 (58)

Sam Mitchell kicks a goal to cap off a fine career, which will finish on 329 games with 28 disposals and two goals. Only Priddis and Redden (29 each) have more disposals for the Eagles.

12.58pm BST

AFL Q4 04:06 GWS Giants 19.11 (125) v West Coast Eagles 8.3 (51)

Johnson has a shot at a seventh – but he can’t quite make the difference. He’s laughing his way to the finish line, Stevie J (literally and figuratively). Chants of “Stevie” ring out throughout Spotless.

12.54pm BST

AFL Q4 06:42 GWS Giants 18.10 (118) v West Coast Eagles 8.3 (51)

Miraculous snap for Johnson to bring up number six from a tough angle in the pocket. Reckon the Tigers will be worried the Eagles have played them back into their best form. Well done by Coniglio to have the sense of theatre to pass it off to Johnson on a worse angle.

12.51pm BST

AFL Q4 07:50 GWS Giants 17.10 (112) v West Coast Eagles 8.3 (51)

Another goal to the Giants – this time through Coniglio, who has 31 disposals and now a goal. What a strange finals series we’ve had – after such a close season to have so many blowouts. Perhaps it makes a strange kind of sense after all.

12.47pm BST

AFL Q4 10:39 GWS Giants 16.10 (106) v West Coast Eagles 8.3 (51)

Couple of consolation goals to the Eagles through retiring Drew Petrie (who can hold his head up high after a fantastic season) and then Jack Darling, with a spectacular snap over his shoulder.

12.45pm BST

The North Queensland Cowboys live to fight another day with their upset victory over the Parramatta Eels finishing at 24-16. It could have been worse, if not for a last-minute try to Jennings in the 80th minute. The Cowboys were down 10-6 at half-time but found the tryline through all of Asiata, Hess and Morgan in the second half to power to victory.

That’s back-to-back losses for the Eels after they finished fourth after the regular season – and ends a disappointing finals series for them. For the Cowboys, however, it continues an incredible story given they are without captains Thurston and Scott. They’ll now face the Roosters in a preliminary final, who – although they’ll start hot favourites – will hold no fear for the brave Cowboys.

12.36pm BST

AFL Q4 16:44 GWS Giants 16.10 (106) v West Coast Eagles 6.3 (39)

Mark to LeCras (get it?), who has a chance to save some face for the Eagles. Just the one goal for him tonight, and ten disposals. He converts from 50m out.

12.31pm BST

AFL Q4 19:44 GWS Giants 16.10 (106) v West Coast Eagles 5.2 (32)

Unreal – it’s five goals to Johnson with just seconds gone in the final quarter. That’s the first time ever he’s kicked five goals in a final.

12.30pm BST

NRL H2 75:14 Parramatta Eels 10-24 North Queensland Cowboys

Now for something more like a contest… and the Cowboys are up 18-10 through that try to Hess in the 52nd minute (and Lowe conversion). Taumalolo has 193 run metres, while Hess has 133. Single line-breaks to Hess, Linnett and O’Neill.

12.24pm BST

AFL three-quarter-time GWS Giants 15.10 (100) v West Coast Eagles 5.2 (32)

Uh oh, Nick Haynes looks to have hurt his knee – looks in big trouble (although now he’s back on the ground?) You’d think the Giants would get him off anyway (and on cue he runs off the ground). On the replay just looks to have got a boot to the knee-cap.

12.21pm BST

AFL Q3 02:27 remaining GWS Giants 15.10 (100) v West Coast Eagles 5.2 (32)

GWS captain Callan Ward up to 21 disposals, including six contested possessions, nine marks, four clearances, five tackles and a goal. Whitfield isn’t far behind, with 21 disposals, nine marks and five tackles. Loved their games, as well as Coniglio (22 disposals – 7 contested possessions, six clearances, seven tackles.

12.15pm BST

AFL Q3 07:28 remaining GWS Giants 14.10 (94) v West Coast Eagles 5.2 (32)

Eagles players look out on their feet – it’s surely that rather than any lack of effort. De Boer has a chance at a second but it’s punched through. Eagles defenders just can’t stay with their players who are finding all kinds of space on the overlap.

12.11pm BST

AFL Q3 09:25 remaining GWS Giants 13.9 (87) v West Coast Eagles 4.2 (26)

Lots of old-fashioned biff happening here, think the Eagles are just trying to tempt some Giants into a nervous week at this point. Hate to think how the Power players are feeling now.

12.07pm BST

AFL Q3 11:56 remaining GWS Giants 13.8 (86) v West Coast Eagles 4.2 (26)

The trade-in Giants are all chiming in – this time via Deledio… now there’s a match-up I’m looking forward to next week (he’s yet to play the Tigers, Deledio). Dangerfield will of course play the Crows next week too.

12.06pm BST

AFL Q3 12:32 remaining GWS Giants 12.8 (80) v West Coast Eagles 4.2 (26)

Guess who? Johnson takes a spectacular contested mark between two Eagles’ defenders including McGovern – and gets two in a row. Looks like he’ll play in a Prelim (as will the Cats, albeit the other Prelim – imagine if they met? Don’t see it happening, personally).

12.04pm BST

AFL Q3 13:26 remaining GWS Giants 11.8 (74) v West Coast Eagles 4.2 (26)

Stevie J – with a heavily bandaged forehead – kicks the Giants eight goals in front (they’ve kicked 10 of the last 12). Sorry to say this one is a boilover… in the NRL, meanwhile, Hess scores for the Cowboys (after a slick Martin inside ball) – and Ma’u looks to throw a punch (but no sin bin?) 18-10 Cowboys!

12.01pm BST

AFL Q3 15:11 remaining GWS Giants 10.8 (68) v West Coast Eagles 4.2 (26)

Patton takes a big contested grab on Hurn – he’s in almost the same position he kicked two behinds from in the first quarter. Just his eighth disposal. This one floats straight through – and it’s all Giants.

11.59am BST

AFL Q3 16:44 remaining GWS Giants 9.8 (62) v West Coast Eagles 4.2 (26)

Yeo shifted forward in an attempt to turn things around for the Eagles – but the Giants hit up Whitfield 40m out, who looks to have recovered from his apparent concussion. He’s had 14 disposals and eight marks – but misses for his second behind for the night.

11.57am BST

NRL H2 46:29 Parramatta Eels 10-12 North Queensland Cowboys

COWBOYS score! It goes to Asiata after a strip. Lowe converts. Game on!

11.52am BST


In case you missed it earlier today – Nick Kyrgios vowed to keep delivering for Australia in the Davis Cup following his dramatic five-set victory over Steve Darcis in Brussels.

11.49am BST

Rugby Championship 37m Australia 10-13 Argentina

Looks like a good match in the Union at least – with the Pumas holding a narrow lead over the Aussies. Follow the live blog here.

11.45am BST

NRL half-time Parramatta Eels 10-6 North Queensland Cowboys

The Eels have added a try since we last checked in – with Will Smith chiming in for one in the 31st minute (without a conversion). Cowboys have had more possession (53%) and 100% completion – but the Eels lead the way in run metres (714-626).

11.37am BST

AFL half-time GWS Giants 9.7 (61) v West Coast Eagles 4.2 (26)

Mark LeCras has a kick on the half-time siren to a multitude of boos – and it’s a behind only. Heath Shaw lets him know all about it. Meanwhile, Lachie Whitfield leaves the ground looking wobbly indeed – perhaps concussed. Whatever put Whitfield in that state spurs a melee – with (guess who) Steve Johnson in the middle of it.

11.32am BST

AFL Q2 01:32 remaining GWS Giants 9.7 (61) v West Coast Eagles 4.1 (25)

Can the Eagles get another one back before the half-time siren? Cripps looks to have taken a certain mark but it’s not paid. Unlucky, and a big call.

11.28am BST

AFL Q2 04:06 remaining GWS Giants 8.7 (55) v West Coast Eagles 4.1 (25)

Sheed straight out of the middle to hit up Josh Kennedy 50m out on an angle. Helps to get a clearance. His long-range bomb misses to the left. Not ideal.

11.27am BST

AFL Q2 04:49 remaining GWS Giants 8.7 (55) v West Coast Eagles 4.0 (24)

Titus O’Reily has aptly reminded me that we have a simultaneous Wallabies live-blog. It’s 3-3 Australia v Argentina as it stands.

These AFL finals are so bad I thought about watching the Wallabies for a moment. #AFLGiantsEagles

11.24am BST

AFL Q2 06:25 remaining GWS Giants 8.7 (55) v West Coast Eagles 3.0 (18)

Have to say, this final is a fizzer as it stands. Eagles look slow and flat-footed. Johnson has had just the three disposals so far, but a couple of inside 50s, a couple of tackles and a centre clearance. Has had presence.

11.19am BST

AFL Q2 09:53 remaining GWS Giants 8.7 (55) v West Coast Eagles 3.0 (18)

Shiel (12), Whitfield (11), Coniglio (11), Kelly (11) and Ward (10) leading the way for the Giants, while McGovern hits Toby Greene head-high for his chance at a second goal. It starts well right, but squeezes through. Big warning bells for the Eagles now.

11.13am BST

AFL Q2 14:31 remaining GWS Giants 7.6 (48) v West Coast Eagles 3.0 (18)

Clearances 17-8, inside 50s 21-14, contested possessions 44-35, tackles 28-17, hit-outs 19-11. Giants dominating. Where does the Eagles’ resistance come from? Sam Mitchell coaching from the bench.

11.10am BST

AFL Q2 16:49 remaining GWS Giants 7.6 (48) v West Coast Eagles 3.0 (18)

Wilson hits up Himmelberg (with no opponent in sight – think McGovern was wrong-footed) who has a chance to put the Giants in even more space. It’s a horrible looking effort, but it’s through for another. Simpson looks worried, as am I.

11.08am BST

AFL Q2 17:46 remaining GWS Giants 6.6 (42) v West Coast Eagles 3.0 (18)

Back on here at Spotless – just the two behinds so far to the Giants, with a rushed behind from a Toby Greene snap, and a miss from Dylan Shiel. The Giants’ midfielders are on top – with ten disposals to Shiel (three contested possessions, three clearances and four tackles) who leads the way alongside Kelly (ten disposals, four contested possessions, two clearances, three tackles).

11.03am BST

NRL H1 15:25 Parramatta Eels 6-6 North Queensland Cowboys

Scores are level over at ANZ Stadium – with a try to Kyle Feldt in the 11th minute and conversion to Ethan Lowe squaring things up for the Cowboys (after the Eels found touch through Semi Radradra in the 7th – and Moses converted). Not too surprised that the first try of the night went to Radradra.

10.58am BST

AFL quarter-time GWS Giants 5.4 (34) v West Coast Eagles 3.0 (18)

Against all the momentum, the Eagles find a late goal through LeCras, on the run from 50m out. That bucks the trend of three late GWS goals.

10.54am BST

AFL Q1 02:08 remaining GWS Giants 4.3 (27) v West Coast Eagles 2.0 (12)

Shiel to Kelly to Ward – their big names are dominating through the middle, and Scully finds himself on the end of it again inside forward 50. He might not quite command the same fear as Dangerfield – but I see shadows of Danger last night in his presence in the forward line tonight.

10.50am BST

AFL Q1 04:32 remaining GWS Giants 3.3 (21) v West Coast Eagles 2.0 (12)

Giants finding dangerous amounts of space in the middle, and Scully causing havoc for the Eagles in the middle and forward. After the last assist he chimes in for his own goal. Giants getting on top in clearances 9-5, contested possessions 27-19 and tackles 18-9.

10.48am BST

AFL Q1 05:44 remaining GWS Giants 2.3 (15) v West Coast Eagles 2.0 (12)

Beautiful intercept mark by Jeremy McGovern – he has had three for the game already.

10.44am BST

AFL Q1 07:51 remaining GWS Giants 1.3 (9) v West Coast Eagles 2.0 (12)

Free kick to Josh Kennedy just outside the goal square – on replay Corr tugs the jumper – it was there. He kicks truly. Giants – and coach Cameron – ruing early misses.

10.41am BST

AFL Q1 09:36 remaining GWS Giants 1.3 (9) v West Coast Eagles 1.0 (6)

Late-inclusion Wellingham has had plenty of the ball (four disposals) – and fires the ball in long to Vardy who takes a near-uncontested mark 10m out, directly in front. What a season he’s had since crossing over from the Cats. He opens the Eagles’ tally with a goal.

10.39am BST

AFL Q1 10:56 remaining GWS Giants 1.3 (9) v West Coast Eagles 0.0 (0)

Stats not diabolical yet for the Eagles – but the Giants look harder at it, with 18-12 contested possessions and 15-3 tackles. Down-field free to the Giants gifts Patton another shot at goal from almost the same distance and angle. He misses in almost identical fashion.

10.37am BST

AFL Q1 12:12 remaining GWS Giants 1.2 (8) v West Coast Eagles 0.0 (0)

Great run down from Scully on Priddis who looked set to send the Eagles inside 50 – and the Giants are off and running. Coniglio hits up Patton on his chest. He misses one he should’ve kicked – it’s across the face.

10.35am BST

AFL Q1 13:31 remaining GWS Giants 1.1 (7) v West Coast Eagles 0.0 (0)

Ward wins the clearance just outside 50 to set up Greene on a sharp angle 45m out. Greene angrily removes some Gatorade obstacles in typical villain-mode. He misses to the left.

10.32am BST

AFL Q1 15:27 remaining GWS Giants 0.0 (0) v West Coast Eagles 0.0 (0)

Himmelberg on McGovern as expected – which hasn’t stopped him from already taking a big, contested grab. Barrass, Hurn and McGovern look formidable down back. Intensity is as you’d expect for a final – plenty of fumbles and turnovers.

10.27am BST

AFL Q1 18:55 remaining GWS Giants 0.0 (0) v West Coast Eagles 0.0 (0)

Mitchell out of the midfield – wonder how many times I’ll say that tonight. Still, it’s turned over and goes forward to Patton who turns it over into the man on the mark. Nervous start. Giants get the first inside 50 – and Heath Shaw has already started a fracas.

10.24am BST

AFL GWS Giants v West Coast Eagles

National anthem over – not sure there’s a crankier resting face than Toby Greene’s. Hurn wins the toss. Just about ready to go here.

10.20am BST

AFL GWS Giants v West Coast Eagles

Both teams out on the ground now – and it looks to be a fairly disappointing crowd at Spotless Stadium. I’m sure it’ll be a talking point throughout the week – some fans on Twitter pointing out that the Matildas drew a larger crowd in Penrith today.

10.16am BST

AFL GWS Giants v West Coast Eagles

No late changes for this one. That means the only changes are as named:

10.14am BST


Just while we’re wating for this game to start – Winx today won an incredible 20th consecutive victory when she came fast and late to win the George Main Stakes at Randwick.

10.08am BST

The Matildas

Speaking of the Matildas, I loved Paul Connolly’s article today about the historical trajectory of women’s football in Australia. (And when I say I ‘loved’ it, I should really say it enraged me. Thank god we are at the point where we’re finally righting some of the wrongs that have been done to women’s sport over time!)

10.04am BST

NRL Parramatta Eels v North Queensland Cowboys

Of course I haven’t forgotten that there’s also a do-or-die NRL final on tonight – with the Parramatta Eels taking on the North Queensland Cowboys at ANZ Stadium (starting 7:40pm AEST). Unfortunately since these games are on at the same time, however, I’ll only be able to update you on progress during breaks from the AFL.

10.00am BST


Hello everyone and welcome to this Saturday evening edition of Sportwatch. I’m Kate O’Halloran and I’ll be here to guide you through tonight’s AFL finals action (with some NRL updates). As you may have seen from Mike’s opening post, it has been a big day in sport already, with the Matildas winning their international friendly against Brazil 2-1. Surely the highlight was seeing a women’s international football game sell-out – to 17,000 adoring (and many new) Matildas fans. The game was a cracker too, and had me glued to my seat while I should have been working (what about that De Vanna volley, eh?) It capped off a wonderful week for Australia’s footballers, who – under a new collective bargaining agreement- will see their average W-League salaries doubled (to a still not-so-grand total of $15,500 a year). Love this David Squires take on the deal. Hooray progress!

6.16am BST

Kate will be here shortly. In the meantime, catch up on how the Matildas fared against Brazil in their friendly earlier today.

Related: Matildas v Brazil: international women’s football friendly – live!

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