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Canteen Worker

First Grader
Mark O'Neill hurt in Leeds rugby debut

December 28, 2005 - 12:44PM

A shoulder injury limited ex-Wests Tigers skipper Mark O'Neill's English rugby league debut to just five minutes - but Leeds caretaker coach Brian McDermott liked what he saw.

O'Neill's long-awaited first game for the Rhinos was short but sweet after being taken off with a shoulder complaint in Leeds' 42-18 Boxing Day friendly win over Yorkshire rivals Wakefield at Headingley.

McDermott - holding the reins for head coach Tony Smith who is on holidays at his native Australia - was raving over the cameo off the bench by O'Neill who has since been cleared of serious injury.

O'Neill received a rousing cheer from the 11,119-strong Headingley crowd when he appeared off the bench midway through the first half and quickly stamped his authority.

The 30-year-old backrower pulled off two massive hits and created space for fellow Leeds debutant and Australian Scott Donald who offloaded for centre Ashley Gibson to score a try.

Former Manly flyer Donald also crossed in the first half along with fellow Leeds debutant Nathan McAvoy.

"Mark O'Neill took a bang on his shoulder...but there was nothing serious there," McDermott told the Leeds website.

"I thought our new signings showed up really well.

"Even though he was only on for a short period of time, Mark O'Neill showed glimpses of why we have bought him.

"And I thought Scott Donald did incredibly well to score his try from an impossible situation.

"I can hand back the team to Tony when he gets back in full fitness and looking good."

Leeds took to the field for the first time since October's Super League grand final loss to Bradford.

Another positive for Leeds was the successful return from groin surgery of Great Britain half Danny McGuire who missed the Tri Nations series due to injury.

Meanwhile, several other Australians made successful English debuts.

Former Cronulla fullback David Peachey chimed into relegated Widnes' shock 24-18 win over Super League side Warrington.

Peachey was one of 11 debutants in the Widnes National League team that beat a Warrington outfit boasting former Sharks teammate Michael Sullivan.

And Australian Terry Matterson enjoyed a dream start to his tenure as Castleford coach after his newly-promoted Super League side downed National League Two side Featherstone 28-4.

The Tigers fielded only seven regular first graders.

"It's the wrong time for us to be playing but I'm told it's a bit of a tradition," said Matterson.

"There's a bit of a duty to the fans but I'm really focusing on our first Super League game."


I think he'll kill it over there... they have worse defence and i think you'll find that he will find the tryline more often than he did here!!

Good luck to him, i know he wasn't the best player in the world but take away the tries he scored for us in his seasons with us and you would have an alot grimmer looking for an against!


Reserve Grader
He may not be as quick over there as he was in Sydney because they like to keep the grass quite long,but with the English League known for its poor defence,he will still do well.
Team P W L PD Pts
24 18 6 333 42
24 18 6 214 42
24 16 8 168 38
24 16 8 124 38
24 14 9 175 35
24 14 10 122 34
24 13 11 -24 32
24 13 11 -137 32
24 12 12 59 30
24 12 12 13 30
24 12 12 4 30
24 11 12 6 29
24 9 15 -111 24
24 9 15 -126 24
24 7 17 -331 20
24 5 19 -199 16
24 4 20 -290 14
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