Sunday Territorian 1 Mar 2015
Sunday Territorian; NewspaperNT
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Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.
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Nationwide News Pty. Limited
SUNDAY MARCH 1 2015 SPORT 63 V1 - NTNE01Z01MA Riveting season of NRL on cards TWO of the longest-running droughts in the NRL premiership and State of Origin were broken in 2014, but the task of emulating those feats for South Sydney and NSW will be even tougher this season. NSWs State of Origin series win last season finally ended eight years of Queensland dominance, a victory only bettered by the Rabbitohs as they ended 43 years of premiership pain. But for a Souths side minus Sam Burgess, and a Blues outfit without Jarryd Hayne, success again in 2015 could be an even greater achievement. Burgess was the NRLs most influential player last year and claimed the Clive Churchill medal in Souths grand final victory over Canterbury. Hayne was arguably NSWs best player in their narrow 2-1 series win. But the Blues loss is also Parramattas. The Eels failed to make the eight last season with Hayne, how will they do without him? With Sonny Bill Williams also exiting the NRL at the end of 2014 and the overriding theme ahead of 2015 is one of change. Blake Ferguson returns with the Sydney Roosters after almost two years of a selfinflicted exile. Convicted drug dealer Danny Wicks will play for the Eels after completing an 18month prison sentence having not played in the NRL since 2009. Theres also Wayne Bennetts return to Brisbane six years after the seven-time premiership-winning coach left the Broncos for St George Illawarra. The NRL off-season has again been an eventful one with John Suttons and Luke Burgesss arrests in Arizona leading to the former being dumped as Souths captain and the latter being shipped off to Manly. That incident paled into comparison with the cocaine scandal thats engulfed the Gold Coast with bookmakers suspending betting on the market for the NRL wooden spoon as a result of the allegations against five players. The Roosters and Souths are again installed as premiership favourites. Could this be the year we finally witness a decider fuelled by the most bitter rivalry in rugby league? North Queensland fell short again in 2014, and their premiership window is closing with superstar Johnathan Thurston turning 32 in April. Manly, who have qualified for the last 10 successive finals series, are expected to slide down the premiership totem poll with the off-season exits of Anthony Watmough, Glenn Stewart and Jason King decimating their pack. But coach Geoff Toovey is unfazed by his side being written off once again with the doomsayers being proved wrong last year when his side finished second on the ladder. The unknown for Manly is what impact the saga surrounding off contract duo Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans will have on the famous Sea Eagles mateship. By JAMES MacSMITH Rampaging Chiefs put Crusaders to the sword AS declarations of Super Rugby title intent go, they dont get much bolder than the Chiefs 40-16 thumping of the Crusaders yesterday. Playing with power and a high skill level that the seventime champions couldnt match, the Chiefs scored five tries to one in a performance which became more lopsided as the game wore on. Fly-half Aaron Cruden kicked 15 points, while the man outside him Sonny Bill Williams scored their opening try and threw the last pass for two others. The bonus-point win lifts the Chiefs to 13 points, level atop the standings with the Hurricanes, who share the same three-from-three record. The Crusaders will head into a bye week with a second loss from three games and with time to reflect on one of the heaviest losses in their proud history. It was the first time in 26 meetings the Chiefs have scored more than 30 points against the Crusaders, and it could have been more if they had been more accurate with some of their late attacks. The manner of their win suggests the Chiefs are getting back to the form that carried them to titles in 2012 and 2013 before being knocked over early in the play-offs last season. Their only negative was the sight of All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick leaving the ground in the 10th minute favouring his shoulder. The world player of the year in 2014, Retallick was hardly missed as the Chiefs forwards took command in most areas. The game started in feisty fashion, featuring several scuffles and a yellow card each to Chiefs wing James Lowe and Crusaders captain Matt Todd, both for rash tackles. Melbourne Rebels forward Scott Higginbotham sandwiched between ACT Brumbies defenders during last nights Super Rugby clash at AAMI Park Picture: QUINN ROONEY Brumbies stay strong to the last THE rugby gods have smiled on the Brumbies, as the visitors at AAMI Park held on for a gutsy 20-15 win over the Melbourne Rebels in their Super Rugby clash last night. Last round, the Brumbies looked as if they had a win in the bag over the Chiefs until a penalty kick after the siren saw them defeated 19-17. This time, the Brumbies managed to hold off the rampant Rebels after regular time to book their second win. The Canberra team were on the wrong side of possession and territory percentages but ahead all night where it counted on the scoreboard. While it wasnt a game for the show reel, the Brumbies were happy to bide their time and wait for one of the Rebels many errors and strike when the opportunity arose. They had just 14 seconds in Melbournes attacking 22 in the first half and yet still managed to lead 13-6 thanks to a 20th-minute try by centre Tevita Kuridrani with a move off a lineout. The Rebels put the Brumbies defence under serious pressure early on, but werent able to capitalise. As the rain started to fall over Melbourne, the Rebels closed the gap early in the second half to 13-9 through a penalty strike by Mike Harris. But they took a step backwards when they lost Scott Higginbotham to a yellow card for collapsing a maul. Straight after the No.8 left the field, Brumbies flanker Jarrad Butler scored at the back of a rolling maul. He almost got another six minutes later in an identical move, but the television match official ruled he had dropped the ball across the line. By MELISSA WOODS Wealthy backers plan multimillion-dollar shot in the arm for Titans A SECRET syndicate of multimillionaires will meet with the NRL to discuss buying Gold Coasts licence after devising a blueprint to make the Titans a rugby league powerhouse. In a huge boost for the embattled Titans, a group of Queensland-based corporate white knights is ready to launch a fresh bid after the NRLs takeover on Tuesday provided greater certainty. The team of bankers and finance experts are described as seriously wealthy. The consortium first approached the NRL in 2012 during the Titans debt crisis and made it clear providing startup capital of $15 million would not be problematic. At the time, the NRL opted for a restructure, but the ostensible collapse of the Titans during the week has convinced the governing body to seek external investment. Now, the consortium are back on the radar. While coowner Darryl Kelly will reinvest in the Titans, the 64year-old does not want to own the club outright after losing at least $5.3 million trying to salvage the wreckage. That opens the door for the new team of investors, whose interest was legitimate enough for a representative to contact Titans boss Graham Annesley three weeks ago. The consortium was set to walk away after the cocaine crisis that hit the club, but the NRLs decision to step in has given the business tycoons confidence in the Titans brand. The potential investors have spent recent months performing due diligence, even drawing up an ownership model which includes the Titans having a leagues-club style facility to provide additional revenue streams. A consortium spokesman confirmed that the group is ready to ramp-up negotiations with the NRL. These people are seriously wealthy; start-up capital is not an issue, the spokesman said. When we initially met (in 2012), we looked at around $12$15 million (to rebuild the club) and that wasnt a problem. Its hard to say what they would pay for an NRL licence now that the Titans have been taken over, but $3-$5 million would be small fry for these wealthy investors. Committing funds would not be a problem, but its whether or not the Titans are a viable investment and where and how the new funds would be allocated. A key plank of the investors plan is for the Titans to have diverse income streams. The NRL-controlled club is set to move to Parkwood International golf course in coming weeks as part a $100 million redevelopment plan that would cater for a community club. For all the latest news, scores and highlights, visit By PETER BADEL FULLTIME Super Rugby - Round 3 HURRICANES 42 (M Abbott, C Jane, J Marshall, J Savea, V Vito tries; B Barrett 2, J Marshall 2 con B Barrett 3 pen) d FORCE 13 (M Scott try; L Burton con L Burton, Z Holmes pen) at nib Stadium. CHEETAHS 25 (C Hendricks 2, S Pretorius tries; J Pietersen 2 con 2 pen) d BLUES 24 (L Braid, C Faumuina, J Kaino tries; I West 3 con pen) at Vodacom Park. CHIEFS 40 (J Lowe, T Marshall, C Ngatai, A Pulu, S Williams tries; A Cruden 3 con 3 pen) d CRUSADERS 16 (A Ellis try; C Slade con 3 pen) at Waikato Stadium. BRUMBIES 20 (J Butler, T Kuridrani tries; C Lealiifano 2 con 2 pen) d REBELS 15 (M Harris 5 pen) at AAMI Park.