Super League Round 2 Review


Valium share price soars from edgy NSW Super League cliffhangers
Fingernail mounds, sweat pools and knee-high piles of graying hair, ripped savagely from its roots, were left at every ground after a parade of heart-stopping round two encounters in the NSW Super League. As one official put it, ?Good for spectators, a bit of heart attack material for coaches?.
Saturday night?s games were all decided by a single goal, but the make-up of each match was decidedly different: St George scoring two goals in the final four minutes to steal an incredible 5-4 victory over Central Coast; Granville overcoming an early setback against Sydney Uni to snare a 2-1 win on the road; while Rockdale held onto a 1-0 away win at Fraser Park.
Sunday?s fixtures were more subdued, but not any less exciting as a 10-man Northern Tigers scrambled hard to share the points in a 0-0 grand final rematch with Bonnyrigg; Liverpool needed a last-minute goal to make sure of maximum points in their cross-town 4-1 derby win over Fairfield; and Parramatta joined Bossy on top of the table with two wins following a faltering 1-0 win against Mount Druitt.
Heavens answer Saints call
It was lucky St George Saints fans brought the kitchen sink to Belmore Sportsground on Saturday night because they needed to throw everything at a determined Central Coast Lightning side, eventually climbing to a 5-4 win at the death. The result maintained St George?s three-year, six-game winning streak over the Coasters.
Losing two defenders heading into the game, Lightning coach John McLafferty decided to throw caution to the wind and play an attacking formation. St George?s usually stoic defence was broken down on many occasions, forcing their coach, John Calleja to change his plans on the spot. The open-ended tactical battle that ensued provided nine goals and left spectators gobsmacked.
Central Coast jumped to the perfect start with a goal in the opening blows, and they could have extended their lead had Matt Wilkinson not squandered a penalty kick following a Saints handball in the box. St George eventually gained the ascendancy and scored twice before half-time to take a 2-1 lead into the break. However, the Lightning responded with two goals of their own early in the second term before promoted grade-20 player Ian McAndrew was sent off when the Coasters were in front 4-3.
It wasn?t looking like it was going to be St George?s night, trailing 4-3 as the game journeyed into second-half injury time. But, as if on cue from the heavens, a miracle Saints goal following a critical substitution from Calleja levelled the scores before new St George signing Nick Polimenakos put Central Coast to the sword with a well-taken strike in the dying moments of the game.
?Good for spectators, a bit of heart attack material for coaches,? Calleja said. ?Conceding that many goals was never in our game plan. We pride ourselves on our defence, but we will need to keep working on defending if we are to make getting wins easier for ourselves.?
?I have to give the boys credit for hanging in there, and eventually sneaking a win. Yes, Nicky Polimenakos has been a great signing, scoring three goals in two games for us, he?s been excellent. We know there?s a long way to go, and we have been trying different systems, such as getting the midfielders to support the front men more. We thought we might struggle to score early in the season, but we?re on target at the moment. We just have to plug up the defensive end.?
In the other dressing sheds, a proud McLafferty applauded his players? effort, but knew a lack of experience marred what might have been a memorable victory. Instead, the match cruelly mutated into a gut-wrenching loss in front of shell-shocked, yet appreciative, fans, with just seconds left on the clock.
?It was mentioned in the press [Super League round two preview] that Central Coast couldn?t score goals against St George. I think we?ve shown that remark for what it?s worth,? he said. ?Really, though, what an incredible game. If it were like this all the time you?d turn up and pay your money every week. But it?s not doing my heart any good, and the dog knew we had lost the moment I stomped up the driveway after getting home. She went and hid somewhere in the back garden and wasn?t coming out.
?I have to compliment John Calleja, he?s really taught his players how to play football, and they just hung in there and hung in there and grabbed us at the end. It was disappointing to lose, just a bit of naivety at crunch time in the game, but we have got something special at Central Coast, we just have to be smarter in our defensive duties. The lads are fit enough and strong enough, just that young heads don?t always know the right thing to do under pressure. They?ll all be better from this experience.?
Granville school Uni
Granville Rage overcame a dreadful start against Sydney University before cruising home to a comfortable 2-1 away victory at Hensley Athletic Field on Saturday night. It keeps the Rage unbeaten after two games and, with the club in high spirits, and players fitting in well together, coach Lee Sterrey is a content man.
It was a terrible start for Granville, giving away a penalty and subsequent goal inside the opening minute of the match. But they regrouped and a beautiful 10-15 team passing movement allowed former Saints player Fred Umlil to finish off a great Rage goal and level the scores within the first half-hour. Not long after, Nenos Bobo scored to make it 2-1 to the visitors before half-time.
?We didn?t play nearly as well as we did in the first-half but we certainly deserved the win,? Sterrey said. ?Uni are an even younger side from last year and look to be still settling into [coach] Bruce Tilt?s patterns. We are also going through a settling-in period, and with a change of coach, there?s also a change of philosophy. It?s early days yet, but happy with the start and will look to improve.?
Suns eclipse Fraser Park
It wasn?t always pretty but Rockdale City Suns coach Michael Grbevski will take his 1-0 win on the road at Fraser Park Dragons on Saturday night. A first-half slug-fest opened up into a more free-flowing second-half, with Danny Wilson?s goal five minutes after the re-start proving the difference. It was Rockdale?s first win over Fraser Park since the Suns? 2006 Championship-winning year.
?It wasn?t a bad game, the first-half was a bit slow but we came out firing in the second-half and probably would have scored a few more if the linesman hadn?t flagged us for so many offsides,? Grbevski said. ?But, in the end, it was three good points earned on the road.?
A swift counter-attack from Rockdale just after half-time saw a square ball laid into the path of a steaming Wilson, and he struck the ball clinically into the top corner of the net from just inside the penalty area. Fraser Park threw everything at the Suns, and lifted their intensity further when they had a player red-carded with 15? minutes to go, but Rockdale goalkeeper James Lowrey held firm in the Dragons bombardment.
?With both my keepers out through injury, I had to bring James into the side and he was fantastic in goal. It will certainly cause a selection headache when the other boys are fit again,? Grbevski said. ?Fraser Park are a different team this year, much more organised and difficult to break down. But we are a lot more competitive and have set a goal to get into and stay in the top five. We won?t be giving away any points or goals.?
Stalemate in Grand Final rematch
It was a home game for the Northern Tigers, taking on great rivals and last year?s grand final nemesis Bonnyrigg White Eagles, but they?ll gladly take the 0-0 draw that capped a dramatic afternoon at Mills Park on Sunday.
The Tigers suffered a disastrous build-up to the game, missing two players through suspension, two to injury and one to illness, leaving coach Hugh McCrory with a skeleton crew on deck. Having midfielder Simon Bell sent off after 15? minutes following a physical altercation rounded out a miserable start for Northern.
But the Tigers scrambled hard to hold off a wayward White Eagles forward pack and share the day?s spoils. Bonnyrigg coach Blagoje Kulevski was disappointed his players could not capitalise on a mountain of possession. He also queried the referee?s hasty half-time whistle after a missed penalty had fallen to a Bonnyrigg player in a golden scoring opportunity. But Kulevski?s finger-pointing went elsewhere.
?I?m a little disappointed with the players I have at the front. They can?t play like that at this level, it is not a good enough effort for this competition,? he said. ?Unfortunately, there is not much of a choice at the moment. Having said that, we had one goal disallowed in the first-half and missed a beautiful chance in the second and, leading 1-0 against 10 players, it would have been a different story.?
?It?s not a problem, that is football, good luck to the Tigers. Maybe it would have been better for us for them to have 11 players, so the game would be kept more open instead of being heavy in defence. I can?t complain, we are still coming together as a team.?
Northern coach Hugh McCrory was delighted to gain something positive from, what was, such a horrendous outlook. The odds really stacked up against the Tigers with five players missing in action before a ball was kicked, and a sixth and key defender dismissed before 20? minutes had been played.
?Bonnyrigg should have beaten us,? he said. ?We just hung on, we scrambled, we did whatever we had to, to get something out of the game. I?m immensely satisfied we got a point. We had to change our tactics. We only played one up-front to try and get the draw, which was a great result for us considering all the setbacks. Stewart Page played really well in goals.?
Bossy settles neighbourhood dispute
A solid display from this year?s early dark horse, Bossy Liverpool, saw them clean-up neighbours Fairfield City Lions 3-1 in a classic stoush at Ernie Smith Reserve on Sunday afternoon. Liverpool coach Mile Todorovski was pleased with his team?s comprehensive performance, their first win over Fairfield since 2005, and making them Super League co-leaders with Parramatta.
Bossy scored first, via a great shot from Wyin Gibson inside the opening half-hour, and he also played a hand in the second goal that gifted Liverpool a 2-0 half-time buffer. The Lions were clawing their way back into the match when they had a midfielder sent off by the referee. A 10-man Fairfield still managed to find a way to score and reduce the deficit to 2-1, but Bossy had the Lions measure and sealed victory with a last-minute clincher.
?It was a very hard game, we played better than them in the first-half, but Fairfield play much better in the second-half,? Todorovski said. ?Of course, I am worried with the scores back to 2-1, you never know what can happen next. The derby has always some tension between the two teams. Before and after the game there is a good spirit from both clubs but, on the pitch, we are both going for the win.
?I felt we dominated for most of the game and set up our defence very well. Put six points in the pocket but let us focus on what we need to do to get better order in the team.?
Eagles send Rangers packing
PCYC Parramatta Eagles secured their third consecutive one-goal victory in stubborn circumstances, labouring past Mount Druitt Town Rangers 1-0 at Melita Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The Eagles probably should have won by plenty more but poor finishing and some plucky defending from the visitors made it a tough, grinding win for Parramatta coach Jason Falzon.
An unrewarding 0-0 halftime scoreline, littered by a string of Parramatta mishaps in-front of goal, drew new breath in the second-half. A crisp ground stroke from Patrick Cappuzio, finishing off some excellent movement down the left, lifted the intensity a few more notches, although the shooting virus continued to plague the Eagles strikers until the full-time whistle brought a welcome relief.
?The score didn?t reflect the game,? Falzon said. ?We created a lot of chances and had most of the play, unfortunately we couldn?t wrap the game up early like we should have. I thought we controlled the tempo and played some really good football, but any 1-0 ball game is going to be tense.
?We missed five clear-cut chances to score, and that kept everyone on edge. I hope we can finally reach that game where we finish off all our opportunities.?
Next week?s games
Round three of the NSW Super League tosses a win-less Sydney Uni into the Bonnyrigg Sports Club cauldron in a brutal Saturday night match-up, while Granville host Parramatta at Garside Park and the Northern Tigers travel to Pluim Park to tackle Central Coast on the same night. All games begin at 7.30pm.
Sunday?s fixtures pit St George against Liverpool at Ernie Smith Reserve, Mount Druitt hosts Fraser Park at Popondetta Park, Fairfield meet Rockdale at the Ilinden Sports Centre. Games start at 3pm.
-By Daniel de Nardi
St George FC 5 (G Popovski 20m M Demetriou 41m N Polimenakas 53/93m K Crnic 90m) Central Coast Lightning 4 (B Porter 7m N Woodlock 48m T Cornwall 51m T Owens 80m), Fraser Park FC 0 Rockdale City Suns 1 (D Wilson 49m), Sydney University 1 (D Merrin 1m pen) Granville Rage 2 (F Umlil 34m N Bobo 39m), PCYC Parramatta FC 1 (P Cappuccio 71m) Mt Druitt Town 0, Northern Tigers 0 Bonnyrigg White Eagles 0, FC Bossy Liverpool 3 (R Gibson 10m E Adam 36/88m) Fairfield City Lions 1 (S Erel 68m).