Rugby League: Bergman poses threat to Saints

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The Independent Online
St Helens and Paris try to squeeze through the back door tonight into the quarter-finals of the World Club Championship and a likely hammering in Brisbane.

Saints, who scraped into fourth place in their pool after some unimpressive performances, and Paris - top of their group on points' difference - play off at Knowsley Road in an extra match nobody really wanted.

The opinion of the Paris coach, Andy Goodway, is that they, like their Australian counterparts, the Hunter Mariners, should have gone straight through to the last eight.

Saints' view is summed up by their coach, Shaun McRae. "Whichever side wins will be very lucky to go any further," he said, "because Brisbane are the best side in the world. I'm not waving the white flag, just being realistic."

McRae hopes to have his strike force of Paul Newlove and Alan Hunte fit after taking knocks on Sunday. There is a chance of Vila Matautia and Apollo Perelini coming into the reckoning after injuries.

Paris have got this far because of their competent defence, but gave warning of their own attacking ability on Saturday, when they beat Halifax 32-0.

The New Zealander Phil Bergman, who began the season as a reserve scrum- half but has been successfully converted into a winger, scored three tries, bringing his tally for the season to 14 in Super League matches alone. Only three players - Hunte being one - have scored more, so Saints have been given fair warning of who to watch.

The former Wigan and New Zealand coach, Graham Lowe, has launched a fierce attack on standards in Britain, as revealed by the WCC. "I think that the current crop of English players have become a greedy lot of impostors. If some of the guys were paid on performance they'd starve," he said.

"It really disappointed me when I saw some of the British clubs after they had been hammered by cricket scores going out and celebrating as though nothing had happened."

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