Visitors make themselves at home in round one Super League action
They missed relegation by a solitary point last season and this year Fraser Park sit on top of the NSW Super League table after thumping a shell-shocked Fairfield 5-0 in round one action.
The Northern Tigers and a 10-man Liverpool joined the Dragons in equal first place with a 3-1 and 2-1 win over Granville and Central Coast respectively, while Parramatta pipped Rockdale 1-0 to round out the round one winners.
Bonnyrigg and a St George battled out a 1-1 draw in their Saturday night blockbuster, the Saints holding on with a man off the park, and Mount Druitt and Sydney Uni drew 0-0. Interestingly, no-one won at home to start the season.
Dragons slay Lions
Fraser Park Dragons know how cold it can get in the cellar after failing to budge from the bottom three places for most of last year, so they turned up the heat with a 5-0 romp over Fairfield Lions at Norford Park on Saturday night.
New Dragons signing Greg Collins, recruited from Sydney Uni last year, put Fraser Park ahead after 24 minutes and they never looked back from there. Four second-half goals ? to Robert Di Meglio, Andreas Gomez, and substitutes Shivan Swamy and Robert Bustas ? underlined their domination of Fairfield, but Fraser Park coach Alex Augusto was not getting carried away with the club?s turn of fortune.
?I?m happy with the three points, but the result was not a big surprise for me,? Augusto said. Fraser Park led Premier League outfit Apia Leichhardt during the week before a late goal salvaged some pride for the Tigers. Augusto knew he had a competitive outfit.
?We missed Tony Faria [away on business] but we have been very organised and they showed that from the start of play,? he said. ?The boys did a good job, better than I expected. We made plenty of chances and were very solid from the back. The whole squad is very happy, and they look like they play well together. So far, so good.?
Tigers gouge Rage
Last year?s runners-up, the Northern Tigers kick-started 2008 with renewed vigour, steamrolling Granville Rage at Garside Park on Saturday night.
Stephen Chipps helped the Tigers to a healthy start when he netted inside 20 minutes, and the Rage responded through a Fred Umlil penalty five minutes after the restart.
But it was all the Tigers form there with Thomas Spencer opening his account for 2008 ? he had 11 goals for the premiers last year ? with a nicely taken goal in the 58th minute and Paul Davies bagged another one for Northern in the 73rd minute to make it 3-1.
The win away from home will hold the Tigers in good steed as they prepare for a showdown with rivals Bonnyrigg at Mills Park on Sunday.
Bossy bake the Coast
Bossy Liverpool are making their return trips home from Central Coast a fun bus-ride, grabbing their second successive win at Pluim Park with a 2-1 win over the Lightning on Saturday night.
It was a tight tussle but a brace of goals midway through the second half from Liverpool hotshot Alex Canak blew the game open, his 74th and 79th minute strikes setting the platform for Bossy?s win. Neil Woodcock netted an injury-time consolation goal for the Lightning.
Liverpool coach Mile Todorovski knew there was still a long road ahead, ?Three points is three points, it was a very physical game, but a good win to take.?
Bossy?s challenge faced an early setback when Askin Oygur was straight red-carded in the 23rd minute for a clumsy challenge an d Todorovski was forced to substitute a striker for a defender.
The 10-man Liverpool were doing a fantastic job at keeping a young Central Coast at bay until Canak ? who scored 10 goals last season ? netted from a free kick before a beautiful chip from 10-metres outside the box gave the visitors a 2-0 buffer with 10 minutes left to play. Woodcock scored a late goal for the Lightning.
?The players had a very hard job to do with only 10 men on the park, and I am very proud for them. They played like a hero, and everyone gave more than 100 per cent.?
?I am very happy, but it is too early to say something now. It just started the competition. One thing I told the players is that there is always a red light on our changeroom, always danger, I don?t know what?s going to happen next, so we must work hard to switch that red light off.?
Saints pinch a point at Bonnyrigg
It was a see-saw affair at Bonnyrigg Sports Club on Saturday night with St George coming out with all guns blazing in the first half before the White Eagles regrouped and returned fire in the second half to wrangle a 1-1 draw.
Nick Polimenakos stunned the Bonnyrigg faithful when he finished off a St George foray upfield in the 15th minute of the game, and the Saints could have extended their one-goal advantage if they had built on their momentum.
Bonnyrigg?s task was given a helping hand when Saints defender Simon Verrender was sent from the field after receiving his second yellow card, and Steven Bozonovski struck within minutes for the White Eagles with a well-taken chance in the 75th minute leveling the scores at 1-1.
St George coach John Calleja wasn?t jumping up and down about taking a point away from home, but he did see the signs that he had a good team under him.
?Overall, I?m relatively pleased,? he said. ?To go to Bonnyrigg first-up and get a point first was a good result. If someone had told me before the game that would happen, I would?ve taken it. The players felt pretty good about themselves and, in the first half at least, they defended well, broke well and were rewarded with a goal.?
?We lost our discipline in the second half when Simon Verrender was red carded with 35 minutes still to go and, when they scored not long after that, we had our backs to the wall. But that?s what happens when you lose your focus. Bonnyrigg were getting frustrated, we got drawn into a melee with them that we didn?t need to be in, and stupid things happen. I?m happy with a point. It?s a decent start.?
Bonnyrigg play last year?s grand final opponents Northern Tigers at Mills Park next Sunday, followed by tests against Sydney Uni and Parramatta.
Eagles roast Suns
PCYC Parramatta Eagles came away from the Ilinden Sports Centre with smiles on their faces after defeating a rejuvenated Rockdale City Suns 1-0.
Patrick Gatt?s successful strike midway through the first half proved to be the difference in the end and, as well as taking three points away from home, Parramatta coach Jason Falzon was probably more pleased to see that his team had some improvement left in them.
?It was a good game,? he said. ?I thought we dominated the first half and had good shots on goals. Unfortunately, we were only 1-0 up at half-time and I was a little disappointed that we didn?t take our chances.?
?Rockdale made a few changes in the second half and came back into the game, and I felt we sat too far deep, and gave the ball away too much. We didn?t play as well as we should have, but it?s not an easy game and the players did well to collect three points at Rockdale.?
Falzon was impressed with the first grade debut of young goalkeeper Carlos but would have regular custodian Stacey Alogdellis available, back from suspension, next week. It was Parramatta?s third straight win over Rockdale.
Rangers, Uni stalemate
Mount Druitt Town Rangers endured a 0-0 draw with Sydney University at Popondetta Park on Sunday ? but at least the weather was good.
The draw might have been seen as a positive for Mount Druitt after they lost both fixtures against Uni last year, but the missed chances from both sides will mean plenty of fine-tuning at training during the week.
20?s get underway & round two fixtures
In the under-20 competition, Bonnyrigg and Mount Druitt had the most comprehensives of starts beating St George and Sydney Uni respectively via a 3-0 scoreline, while Central Coast defeated Liverpool 3-1. Northern Tigers joined them in the winner?s circle with a solid 2-0 victory over Granville, while Rockdale won a ripper of a game against Parramatta, holding out for a 5-4 victory. Fairfield and Fraser Park drew 1-1.
Round two sees St George host Central Coast at Belmore Sportsground, Fraser Park welcome Rockdale, and Sydney Uni tackle Granville at Hensley Athletic Field, all from 7.30pm on Saturday night.
Kicking off at 3pm on Sunday, Liverpool face Fairfield in a cross-town derby at Ernie Smith Reserve, Mount Druitt travel to Melita Stadium to take on Parramatta, and Northern Tigers meet Bonnyrigg in a grand final rematch at Mills Park.
-By Daniel de Nardi