Hurt Wighton adds salt to Raiders’ loss

NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 31: Adam Cuthbertson of the Knights scores a try during the round four NRL match between the Newcastle Knights and the Canberra Raiders at Hunter Stadium on March 31, 2013 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images) Photo: Tony Feder iuytre
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A bruised and battered Canberra is furious Newcastle’s Akuila Uate escaped punishment for tackling Jack Wighton in the air after the Raiders winger hurt his wrist in Sunday night’s 28-12 loss at Hunter Stadium.

Early in the second half, with Canberra leading 16-12, Wighton leapt for a bomb but appeared to be tackled by opposite number Uate before his feet hit the ground.

Wighton has carried his wrist injury all season but the Raiders fear he may have broken it in his exchange with Uate.

Referees Gerard Sutton and Brett Suttor ruled a knock-on against Wighton, and the Knights scored off the next set when halfback Tyrone Roberts embarrassed Josh Papalii with a dummy.

The Raiders were also unhappy Knights hooker Danny Buderus was not penalised for a clear shoulder charge on Canberra centre Blake Ferguson in the second half.

Canberra coach David Furner is likely to seek clarification from referees boss Daniel Anderson.

Asked if there would be any team changes for next week, Furner replied: ‘‘I’m not thinking about that at the moment.

‘‘I’m thinking a couple of mandatory penalties would have helped us in the second half. There’s a couple I thought were mandatory.’’

Officials have heavily policed the shoulder charge since it was banned before the start of this season.

Ferguson lay on the ground for some time before playing the rest of the match after the Buderus hit, but Furner was bemused it did not result in a penalty.

‘‘I’m very surprised – very, very surprised,’’ Furner said. ‘‘There’s been a lot of ‘hoo-ha’ about it. I had a quick look at it on the replay [after the game] and it summed it up.’’

Raiders hooker Glen Buttriss (shoulder) and winger Sandor Earl (hamstring) will be assessed this week, while Knights skipper Kurt Gidley (concussion) played no part in the second half.

Having led 12-10 at half-time, a litany of errors and poor discipline cost the Raiders badly, the Knights scoring 18 unanswered second–half points.

In an early season hole at 1-3, Canberra need to regroup for crucial home assignments against the Sydney Roosters and New Zealand Warriors the next fortnight.

The Raiders trailed 10-0 early after Knights tries to Uate and fellow winger Anthony Quinn, but took a 12-10 lead through tries to Joel Thompson and Papalii.

However, momentum swung back in the Knights’ favour when Roberts’ ‘‘show and go’’ completely fooled Papalii.

Furner did not blame referees for the loss, saying Canberra was again its own worst enemy at times, especially in the second half.

They handed the Knights chance after chance, and two soft second-half tries to Newcastle prop Adam Cuthbertson sealed their fate.

Furner criticised the last-play options of halves Sam Williams and Josh McCrone, who are coming under increased pressure.

‘‘Our last play options, our kicking game was pretty poor tonight,’’ Furner said.

‘‘We didn’t give ourselves a chance in that first half, we visited their line four times and we didn’t even get a repeat set.

‘‘There were times there where our defensive principles and our discipline let us down.’’

Roberts backed up his starring effort in last week’s thrashing of the Cowboys with another brilliant effort, while Newcastle prop Kade Snowden made 192 metres from 16 runs.

As usual, Raiders lock Shaun Fensom was tireless with 103 metres and 59 tackles, while centre Ferguson (eight tackle breaks) looked threatening whenever he touched the ball.

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS 28 (Adam Cuthbertson 2, Akuila Uate, Anthony Quinn, Tyrone Roberts, tries; Roberts 3, Kurt Gidley goals) bt CANBERRA RAIDERS 12 (Joel Thompson, Josh Papalii tries; Jarrod Croker 2 goals) at Hunter Stadium. Referee: Gerard Sutton, Brett Suttor. Crowd: 18,689.

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Alexander says he’ll benefit from Sio’s starring role

A fresh Ben Alexander believes the emergence of fellow ACT Brumbies prop Scott Sio opens the way for his own game to have more of an impact.
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Alexander played almost every minute of the 2011 Super Rugby season, with Wallabies duties on top, but has spent the past two weeks coming off the bench.

He was meant to start in the 23-20 win over the Pretoria Bulls on Saturday night, but a stomach bug last week forced him to the bench with Sio starting in his place.

Brumbies coach Jake White preferred to give Alexander more time to recover rather than risking him in a starting role.

The 21-year-old Sio took his chance with both hands and played a large part in Robbie Coleman’s first-half try.

Sio broke the Bulls line and the next phase resulted in Coleman crossing the line after the half-time hooter.

Declaring himself fully fit and over the bug, Alexander is hopeful the break will increase his own impact when he does return to the starting line-up.

”That’s it exactly, it is a long season, there’s a lot of games and it does take it out of you,” he said on Sunday.

”You’ve got to look at how long the seasons are, if you’re playing every game you’re going to run out of puff.

”While you’ll still be out there you won’t be contributing your best, that’s why it’s good rotating, sharing the load and keeping guys fresh.

”Especially in the front row where it’s a physical position.”

Alexander said Sio had all the weapons needed in Super Rugby and predicted a ”bright future” for his fellow prop.

He said the top teams had depth in every position and pointed to when the Canterbury Crusaders rotated the Franks brothers, Owen and Ben, and Wyatt Crockett through the front row.

The Brumbies also have Ruaidhri Murphy bolstering their prop stocks.

”Scotty’s been awesome as everyone’s saying,” Alexander said. ”He’s a big lump of a lad and he’s got a good attitude.

”He’s willing to listen … and he’s bearing the fruits of that, a pretty bright future. He’s put in two good performances, so he’s just got to keep to it and keep going well, and expect big things from him.”

Alexander said a Wallabies cap was on the horizon for Sio, while his coach said he was a ”great talent”.

White has been impressed with how Sio has settled into the starting line-up since earning his starting debut against the Durban Sharks at Kings Park two weeks ago.

He then played the full 80 minutes against both the Cape Town Stormers and the Bulls.

”Not just this week, he’s stepped up every week,” White said of Sio.

”He stepped up against the Sharks, he’s now played the Stormers and he’s played three really big South African sides.

”I’m sure he’ll get a lot of confidence out of playing against a Bulls pack.

”Scott’s a talent, he’s a great talent. He’s now learnt what it’s like – three big South African sides in a row and he’s got three starts in a row.”

White said he was delighted with the improvement of the Brumbies’ scrum. ”It’s fantastic … not only because we scrummed well [against the Bulls], but that we’re developing our frontrowers,” he said.

The Brumbies’ next test is against the Southern Kings at Canberra Stadium on Friday night.

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Number of involved players critical to ruling

Referees boss Daniel Anderson will examine footage of Krisnan Inu’s spear tackle on Greg Inglis on Monday morning to deem whether the Bulldogs centre should have been sent off.
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Anderson has not spoken to the match officials about the incident, having seen limited footage of the tackle that led to Inglis being dumped head first into the turf at ANZ Stadium on Friday.

”I didn’t evaluate that game; I was at the game and saw it on the big screen, but that’s all I know about it,” Anderson said.

”I have to have a look at the number of players in it. If there’s two men in it, it’s very difficult for someone to be sent off. I’ll look at it [on Monday].”

Anderson wasn’t willing to say what effect his interpretation would have on the match officials for this weekend’s game – dumping a referee would be new territory for him.

”When I view it, I’ll look at the process and coach and educate. I’ll speak to referees. It’s not easy for the men in the middle to send someone from the field. It’s a very big decision. That’s taken into account but I can’t identify the process because I don’t know what their thinking was.” Inu stood beside Inglis as he received treatment to make sure the Queensland and Australian star wasn’t seriously injured.

They later gestured to each other to clear the air, with Inu showing plenty of remorse for placing the Rabbitohs’ No. 1 in such a dangerous position.

Inu’s teammate Josh Reynolds conceded the tackle wasn’t a good look for the game but insisted it was out of character.

”It wasn’t pretty,” Reynolds said after his side’s loss to South Sydney. ”But anyone who knows Krisnan knows he’s not that sort of player. He was very sorry for it. That’s all I can really say. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens from here.”

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Dugan apologises for outburst

Josh Dugan and one of the messages he posted on a social media site. Photo: InstagramTroubled former NSW Origin star Josh Dugan has apologised for his behaviour on social media and claims he has been abused since posting a photo of himself and Canberra teammate Blake Ferguson drinking on the roof of Ferguson’s house.
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Dugan, who was sacked by the Raiders after the incident, told a Canberra fan to ”end yourself” after becoming embroiled in a slanging match with two Instagram users late on Saturday night after he posted a photo of himself and a friend with their shirts off. The pair – one named @gearbox82 and another named @mark-raider1 – criticised Dugan over the way he was sacked by the Raiders, the fact he split up from his pregnant partner and claimed Reece Robinson was a better option at fullback.

”haha righto Marky Mark: go get another Raiders Tattoo then end yourself,” Dugan wrote. ”Your mrs is hot too … send her my way ill show her the time of her life.”

After jeopardising his career, Dugan posted an apology on Twitter but claimed there were two sides to every story ”and only the bad side of my story has been told over the last few weeks”.

”Yes, I stuffed up and, yes, I’m paying my price, but people go on and on about bullying when I am constantly being harassed for simply putting a photo up,” Dugan wrote.

”I apologise to those who I had bad words with but I am a normal person like anyone else.

”Media can write what they want but have not spoken to me personally or seen the abuse I have copped.

”Life goes on and I’m trying to move forward with my life and career.”

Dugan won support from former Canberra teammate Travis Waddell, who now plays for Newcastle, South Sydney winger Nathan Merritt and Wallabies five-eighth Quade Cooper, who tweeted: ”head up brother. Things happen for a reason. In your corner if you ever need anything bro”.

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Sio’s future bright, says benched Alexander

A fresh Ben Alexander says the emergence of fellow ACT Brumbies prop Scott Sio opens the way for his own game to have more of an impact.
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Accustomed to playing 80 minutes in recent times, Alexander has spent the past two weeks coming off the bench.

He was meant to start in the 23-20 win over the Bulls on Saturday night, but a stomach bug forced him to the bench and Sio started in his place.

Brumbies coach Jake White preferred to give Alexander more time to recover, rather than risking him in a starting role.

The 21-year-old Sio took his chance with both hands, playing a large part in Robbie Coleman’s first-half try.

Declaring himself fully fit and over last week’s bug, Alexander is hoping the break will increase his impact when he returns to the starting line-up.

”That’s it exactly. It is a long season, there’s a lot of games and it does take it out of you,” he told Fairfax Media.

”You’ve got to look at how long the seasons are – if you’re playing every game, you’re going to run out of puff. While you’ll still be out there, you won’t be contributing at your best. That’s why it’s good rotating, sharing the load.

”Especially in the front row where it’s a physical position.”

Alexander said Sio had all the weapons needed in Super Rugby and predicted a ”bright future” for his fellow prop.

He said the top teams had depth in every position and pointed to when the Crusaders rotated the Franks brothers, Owen and Ben, and Wyatt Crockett through the front row. The Brumbies also have Ruaidhri Murphy bolstering their decent prop stocks.

”Scotty’s been awesome as everyone’s saying,” Alexander said.

”He’s a big lump of a lad and he’s got a good attitude. He’s willing to listen … and he’s bearing the fruits of that, a pretty bright future.”

Alexander said a Wallabies’ cap was on the horizon for Sio, while his coach said he was a ”great talent”.

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