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RUGBY LEAGUE - REMEMBERING THE NOUGHTIES TOP TEN CLUB SIDES OF THE DECADE
The Top Ten lists continue today with the third edition showcasing the best club sides of the noughties. These are the sides that in the season nominated had the Midas touch. For a lot of their season. They might not have won a premiership, but the side is still extremely memorable.
Note: Remember you may not agree with the list, it isn't perfect. No "top ten" list ever is, but, feel free to share a match you thought should've been in there. Share your memories of an amazing decade of rugby league.
10th - Parramatta Eels 2009 (Grand Finalists) The Seventeen (Coach: Daniel Anderson) 1 Jarryd Hayne, 2 Luke Burt, 3 Krisnan Inu, 4 Joel Reddy, 5 Eric Grothe, 6 Daniel Mortimer, 7 Jeff Robson, 8 Nathan Cayless (c), 9 Matt Keating, 10 Fuifui Moimoi, 11 Nathan Hindmarsh, 12 Ben Smith, 13 Todd Lowrie. Bench: 14 Kevin Kingston, 15 Feleti Mateo, 16 Tim Mannah, 17 Joe Galuvao. The Side The most recent side in this list, the side practically emulated South Sydney's 1950's effort having to win at least seven from eight to make the finals. They continued the run, making the Grand Final from eighth position. In the second half of the season they've been seen as the team to beat, especially with their major X-Factor, Dally M winner Jarryd Hayne.
9th - Wests Tigers 2005 (Premiers) The Seventeen (Coach: Tim Sheens) 1 Brett Hodgson, 2 Daniel Fitzhenry, 3 Shane Elford, 4 Paul Whatuira, 5 Pat Richards, 6 Benji Marshall, 7 Scott Prince (c), 8 Anthony Laffranchi, 9 Robbie Farah, 10 John Skandalis, 11 Ben Galea, 12 Mark O'Neill, 13 Dene Halatau. Bench: 14 Liam Fulton, 15 Chris Heighington, 16 Bryce Gibbs, 17 Todd Payten. The Side This side shows what the Wests Tigers were capable of when consistency was on their side. Attacking brilliance combined with desperate defence for the first ever premiership won by a joint venture.
8th - Penrith Panthers 2003 (Premiers) The Seventeen (Coach: John Lang) 1 Rhys Wesser, 2 Luke Lewis, 3 Ryan Girdler, 4 Paul Whatuira, 5 Luke Rooney, 6 Preston Campbell, 7 Craig Gower (c), 8 Joel Clinton, 9 Luke Priddis, 10 Martin Lang, 11 Joe Galuvao, 12 Tony Puletua, 13 Scott Sattler. Bench: 14 Ben Ross, 15 Trent Waterhouse, 16 Shane Rodney, 17 Luke Swain. The Side A fairytale of sorts, two years earlier the Panthers were wooden spooners and looking dreadful. The season started in the same fashion, until half-time in Round 3 against the premiers Sydney they revived. Since then, they never looked back and went on to win a memorable Grand Final.
7th - Parramatta Eels 2001 (Runner-Up) The Seventeen (Coach: Brian Smith) 1 Brett Hodgson, 2 Luke Burt, 3 Jamie Lyon, 4 David Vaealiki, 5 Jason Moodie, 6 Michael Buettner, 7 Jason Taylor, 8 Nathan Cayless (c), 9 Brad Drew, 10 Michael Vella, 11 Nathan Hindmarsh, 12 Ian Hindmarsh, 13 Daniel Wagon. Bench: 14 PJ Marsh, 15 Andrew Ryan, 16 Alex Chan, 17 David Solomona. The Side Broke amounts of pointscoring records throughout the season, completely dominant...well...until the Grand Final at least. Over 900 points scored during the season, the side however cannot go down in history as one of the best without that elusive Grand Final win.
6th - Manly Sea Eagles 2008 (Premiers) The Seventeen (Coach: Des Hasler) 1 Brett Stewart, 2 Michael Robertson, 3 Steven Bell, 4 Steve Matai, 5 David Williams, 6 Jamie Lyon, 7 Matt Orford (c), 8 Brent Kite, 9 Matt Ballin, 10 Josh Perry, 11 Anthony Watmough, 12 Glenn Hall, 13 Glenn Stewart. Bench: 14 Heath L'Estrange, 15 Mark Bryant, 16 Jason King, 17 Steve Menzies. The Side Forty stunning minutes of football enabled them to score the biggest thumping in a Grand Final in the history of the league. Throughout the season they stayed deep in touch with the Storm as the best team. Scoring 110 points and conceeding just 12 in the finals series is something that might not be achieved again.
5th - Sydney Roosters 2002 (Premiers) The Seventeen (Coach: Ricky Stuart) 1 Luke Phillips, 2 Brett Mullins, 3 Shannon Hegarty, 4 Justin Hodges, 5 Anthony Minichiello, 6 Brad Fittler (c), 7 Craig Wing, 8 Jason Cayless, 9 Simon Bonetti, 10 Peter Cusack, 11 Bryan Fletcher, 12 Craig Fitzgibbon, 13 Luke Ricketson. Bench: 14 Adrian Morley, 15 Andrew Lomu, 16 Chris Flannery, 17 Michael Crocker. The Side Remembered as the team who stole the 2002 premiership from the Bulldogs. Late in the season though, following one of the worst injury runs ever seen, the side re-modelled defence. The side won the fairytale in the end, revenge might have been yet to come.
4th - Newcastle Knights 2001 (Premiers) The Seventeen (Coach: Michael Hagan) 1 Robbie O'Davis, 2 Timana Tahu, 3 Matthew Gidley, 4 Mark Hughes, 5 Adam MacDougall, 6 Sean Rudder, 7 Andrew Johns (c), 8 Josh Perry, 9 Danny Buderus, 10 Matt Parsons, 11 Steve Simpson, 12 Ben Kennedy, 13 Bill Peden. Bench: 14 Paul Marquet, 15 Clinton O'Brien, 16 Glenn Grief, 17 Daniel Abraham. The Side Take Jarryd Hayne from 2009, put him as a halfback with a stunning kicking (and goalkicking) game and that might have hit the form Andrew Johns reached during the 2001 season. When he wasn't in the side, it was surely noticeable. You could bet your house against them at times...
3rd - Brisbane Broncos 2000 (Premiers) The Seventeen (Coach: Wayne Bennett) 1 Darren Lockyer, 2 Lote Tuqiri, 3 Tonie Carroll, 4 Michael De Vere, 5 Wendell Sailor, 6 Ben Ikin, 7 Kevin Walters (c), 8 Shane Webcke, 9 Luke Priddis, 10 Dane Carlaw, 11 Gorden Tallis, 12 Brad Thorn, 13 Kevin Campion. Bench: 14 Harvey Howard, 15 Ashley Harrison, 16 Michael Hancock, 17 Shaun Berrigan. The Side Representative players all round in the starting side in the Broncos most dominant season. Never lost at home, fending off challenge after challenge in the finals with flying colours. Future union wingers Tuqiri and Sailor gave the side an attacking and defensive position on each side of the field.
2nd - Melbourne Storm 2007 (Premiers) The Seventeen (Coach: Craig Bellamy) 1 Billy Slater, 2 Steve Turner, 3 Matt King, 4 Israel Folau, 5 Anthony Quinn, 6 Greg Inglis, 7 Cooper Cronk, 8 Ben Cross, 9 Cameron Smith (c), 10 Brett White, 11 Clint Newton, 12 Ryan Hoffman, 13 Dallas Johnson. Bench: 14 Jeremy Smith, 15 Matt Geyer, 16 Michael Crocker, 17 Jeff Lima The Side Stunning all season, ending up in a premiership. Despite being challenged by Manly throughout the season they were never going to lose the Grand Final. The mid-season signing of Clint Newton brought something new to the club, and the record that Michael Crocker never lost a Storm game throughout the season are just a few more things to take out of it.
1st - Canterbury Bulldogs 2002 (Wooden Spooners) The Seventeen (Coach: Steve Folkes) 1 Luke Patten, 2 Hazem El Masri, 3 Nigel Vagana, 4 Willie Talau, 5 Matthew Utai, 6 Braith Anasta, 7 Brent Sherwin, 8 Willie Mason, 9 Corey Hughes, 10 Steve Price (c), 11 Jamie Feeney, 12 Stuart Reardon, 13 Darren Smith. Bench: 14 Tony Grimaldi, 15 Dennis Scott, 16 Paul Rauhihi, 17 Johnathan Thurston. The Side Despite being caught over the salary cap, it's hard to argue the side that nearly broke Easts legendary record of consecutive wins gave us some amazing memories. Hell, they could be recognised as the greatest ever side to win a wooden spoon! The side went through so many challenges with ease, how could we ever know if they would've won the premiership if they had stayed?