Ellis unable to lift Crushers

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The Independent Online
St John Ellis, the former Castleford winger who has joined the new Winfield Cup club South Queensland Crushers, failed narrowly to take his side to success on the opening day of the World Rugby League Sevens here yesterday.

Ellis, who was a member of the Great Britain squad in this tournament last year, scored three tries in his two matches, but his contribution was not quite enough to swing the points difference in comparison with the other competing teams, and the Crushers have had to leave the competition at the first-round stage.

But they did help their Queensland commercial rivals, Brisbane Broncos, to qualify for Sunday's cup play-offs in Sydney by beating the Perth-based Western Reds, who could have taken first place in their mutual group with even the closest of wins.

Of the overseas sides on show, New Zealand were by far the most impressive. Fielding a side largely untried on the international scene, they registered convincing wins over North Queensland and Auckland, two sides joining the now misnamed Sydney competition, to go into the cup matches tomorrow. Papua New Guinea qualified for the middle-ranked trophy, and Canada go into the Plate.

Great Britain, whose campaign starts today at the Sydney Football Stadium, must finish at least second in their group to progress. Under a rule that only applies to them and New Zealand, who got through here in Brisbane, they will be eliminated from all elements of the tournament if they finish third or below in their four-team group.

The rules are so framed to reward high scoring, so continuous effort in temperatures forecast to reach the mid-80s will be essential. They meet Penrith in their first game at 3pm, the hottest part of the day, and then St George, one of the favourites, ata slighter cooler 6.40pm.

Meanwhile, reports in Sydney that Sheffield's international hooker, Lee Jackson, has signed for South Sydney have been denied by the player and his club manager, Gary Hetherington.

WORLD SEVENS (Brisbane) First round: Papua New Guinea 26 Canada 6; Gold Coast 40 Japan 0; Western Reds 20 Wests 14; Brisbane 12 South Queensland 4; New Zealand 22 North Queensland 14; Auckland 22 Canberra 4; Japan 14 Canada 8 (Japan forfeit match for fielding unregistered player); Gold Coast 20 Papua New Guinea 16; Wests 14 Brisbane 12; South Queensland 26 Western Reds 22; North Queensland 24 Canberra 16; New Zealand 26 Auckland 10.