Kieran Foran has become the second Manly Sea Eagles player to be ruled out of New Zealand's Four Nations squad. The stand-off is set to undergo surgery this week after suffering a grade-three tear to the AC joint in his left shoulder in last week's defeat by Canterbury Bulldogs, although he played with the aid of pain-killers in the Eagles' 28-0 NRL play-off defeat by St George Illawarra Dragons yesterday.
The Kiwis are already without Foran's club-mate, centre Steve Matai, after he was handed a seven-match ban for a reckless high tackle, and have injury doubts over captain Benji Marshall (knee) and forward Frank Pritchard (hamstring). The Dragons make no apologies for playing it safe in a comfortable qualifying final win over Manly, which earned a week off and knocked out the Sea Eagles. Despite dominating throughout, the Dragons scored just one try in the opening 65 minutes of the match and ground out a 14-0 lead by choosing to take four consecutive penalty goals instead of going for the bigger prize.
Two quick-fire tries to Matt Cooper and an 80-metre effort from Mark Gasnier towards the end put some excitement into an otherwise unglamorous and tradesman-like performance from the Dragons, who will now play the winner of Canberra and Wests Tigers for a place in the grand final. "We'll make no apologies for taking the penalties," said Wayne Bennett, the coach. "It's [taking penalty kicks] part of the instruction but they've got to make the decision out there on the ground. But we picked up eight points and if they're going to gift them to you, and there's no guarantee we could have scored tries from them."
In rugby union, Saracens sank the Sale Sharks 28-12 with three home debutants scoring in an emphatic victory. Richard Wigglesworth, the England scrum-half, kicked 13 points against his former club while Deon Carstens and David Strettle scored tries. * Agency