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Week One of the Finals has thrown up just the one ?surprise? with the Dragons traveling to Suncorp to take the chocolates from the Broncos, but the rest of the games saw the favourite emerge victorious. League Player Ratings is the only non-newspaper/magazine affiliated Ratings service covering the NRL and after completing the regular season for subscribers, NSC is covering the Finals for League Unlimited. The LPR is a ranking out of 10, as a guide 3 is the lowest score and for a very early injury, 4 is for an mid-game injury if nothing significant was done or a player has a very poor performance, 5 is a poor performance below standard, 6 is a standard performance, 7 is a very good performance, 8 is an excellent performance, 9 is an outstanding performance and 10 is an unbelievable performance. Here is the LPR for every player in Week One of the Finals, and for those who like the 3-2-1 method (which is sketchy at best in providing the games best and most consistent player) it is included after each Team List incorporating the LPR. 1st Qualifying Final NEWCASTLE 25 def MANLY-WARRINGAH 18 Man of the Match ? Andrew Johns, NEW
When a team has all the possession for the first 30 minutes of the contest and is still down 12-0 even the very good players in our game can?t rescue the situation for their team. But Andrew Johns is not merely very good ? he is a champion and teaming with sterling efforts from Kurt Gidley and Clint Newton, the master Joey Johns laid down the gauntlet in the second half with three primary try assists and scoring his side?s first try. The two tries he set up for Gidley were vintage Joey ? taking it to the line and finding his inside runner despite the defence knowing that he was going to pass it to that runner. Champions pull off plays like that and although he wasn?t dominant like he can be ? Johns was the difference at the end of a game that Manly for all intents and purposes should have won after their awesome first half defence and imposing 12 point lead. POS KNIGHTS LPR FB SEAGE, David 3 WI CARNEY, Brian 7 CE GIDLEY, Matthew 6 CE CARMONT, George 5 WI QUINN, Anthony 6 FE GIDLEY, Kurt 8 HB JOHNS, Andrew ? 8 PR PERRY, Josh 6 HK BUDERUS, Danny 7 PR WOOLNOUGH, Adam 6 SR SIMPSON, Steve 4 SR NEWTON, Clint 8 LK TANNER, Reegan 6 BN DAVICO, Luke 6 BN SMITH, Craig 5 BN MULLEN, Jarrod 7 BN REYNOLDSON, Kirk 6 TEAM TOTALS 104
POS SEA EAGLES LPR FB STEWART, Brett 6 WI ROBERTSON, Michael 7 CE BELL, Steven 6 CE MATAI, Steve 7 WI HICKS, Chris 6 FE BURNS, Travis 6 HB ORFORD, Matt 7 PR KING, Jason 6 HK MONAGHAN, Michael 5 PR LEULUAI, Kylie 6 SR MENZIES, Steven 5 SR WATMOUGH, Anthony 6 LK KENNEDY, Ben ? 5 BN KITE, Brent 6 BN DUNLEY, Shayne 5 BN WILLIAMSON, Luke 4 BN ROSE, George 5 TEAM TOTALS 98 3 ? A Johns (8/NEW) 2 ? C Newton (8/NEW) 1 ? K Gidley (8/NEW) 2nd Qualifying Final ST.GEORGE-ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 20 def BRISBANE BRONCOS 4 Man of the Match ? Luke Bailey, STI
Well the bookies certainly liked what they saw on Saturday night and Centrebet has the Dragons into 3rd in premiership betting at $4.65 (in from 5th and $7.25 after 26 Rounds). And they have their forward leader Luke Bailey to thank for setting up a Semi Final appointment with Manly on Friday night. Bailey was as he normally is Saturday night: excellence. His charges in the opening exchanges were powerful and direct and his defence is far better than he gets credit for as a prop. In fact Bailey would probably be a world-class back rower if Nathan Brown had persisted with the positional switch late in the season. Has the bulk to take the bumps up the middle but his mobility and body shape allow him to flirt with a running role on the edges where his footwork comes into play. Having said that his try off a Trent Barrett short ball was up the middle of the field but the way he managed to stand up and run over his opponents was a joy to watch. Arguably the biggest loss of any team at the end of 2006, Bailey ensured that the Dragons will have another week with him in uniform leading from the front. POS BRONCOS LPR FB HODGES, Justin 7 WI BOYD, Darius 6 CE TATE, Brent 6 CE STAGG, David 5 WI TUPOU, Tame 6 FE LOCKYER, Darren ? 6 HB PERRY, Shane 5 PR WEBCKE, Shane 8 HK BERRIGAN, Shaun 6 PR CIVONICEVA, Petero 7 SR THAIDAY, Sam 6 SR THORN, Brad 6 LK CARROLL, Tonie 6 BN PARKER, Corey 6 BN CARLAW, Dane 6 BN HANNANT, Ben 5 BN McGUIRE, Casey 5 TEAM TOTALS 102 POS DRAGONS LPR FB GREENSHIELDS, Clint 8 WI NAIQAMA, Wes 6 CE GASNIER, Mark 6 CE COOPER, Matt 6 WI MORRIS, Brett 7 FE BARRETT, Trent ? 7 HB HORNBY, Ben 7 PR BAILEY, Luke 8 HK GORRELL, Aaron 7 PR RYLES, Jason 7 SR BICKERSTAFF, Matt 6 SR SIMS, Ashton 6 LK TIMMINS, Shaun 6 BN CREAGH, Ben 6 BN WICKS, Danny 6 BN POORE, Justin 6 BN HEAD, Mathew 6 TEAM TOTALS 111 3 ? L Bailey (8/STI) 2 ? C Greenshields (8/STI) 1 ? S Webcke (8/BRI) 3rd Qualifying Final BULLDOGS 30 def CANBERRA RAIDERS 12 Man of the Match ? Brent Sherwin, BUL
Matthew Johns may have simply forgotten that the Bulldogs won the 2004 Premiership when he claimed that it was Sherwin?s best game in 2 or 3 years (thus dating back to the 2003 season) but he wasn?t too far wrong with the fact it was vintage Sherwin. He probed the Canberra backfield with his long kicking game in the first half as the Bulldogs enjoyed the bulk of possession and field position ? allowing Sherwin time and choice in his kicking game. He set up Luke Patten for the back-breaking try before halftime with a marvelous inside ball and then capped the night off with a grubber kick that Phillip Graham couldn?t handle and Hazem El Masri scored from. But the play to put Patten over was brilliant. The Raiders had been defending the edges of the ruck better than they were getting credit for in the commentary and Sherwin knew the Dogs needed points before halftime to break the will of the Raiders who were desperate for a halftime break and a 6-all score line. He decided to drift wide and make it look ? just for a second ? like he was going to go wide again and give his outside men another one on one chance to break the line, but then he sped up towards the line making any hesitation by a defender on the inside a critical error as he had called his fullback Patten to trail him on the inside should a gap open up. The gap opened and Patten took the great flick pass to score next to the posts and with that play Sherwin had ensured the Raiders who were gallant in defeat could not go to the sheds with any of the self belief they?d built up from the defensive display that preceded the try. POS BULLDOGS LPR FB PATTEN, Luke 7 WI EL MASRI, Hazem 6 CE EMELIO, Andrew 7 CE ROBERTS, Ben 6 WI UTAI, Matthew 5 FE HOLDSWORTH, Daniel 6 HB SHERWIN, Brent 8 PR O'MELEY, Mark 7 HK HUGHES, Corey 7 PR MYLES, Nate 7 SR MASON, Willie 8 SR RYAN, Andrew ? 7 LK WILLIAMS, Sonny Bill 7 BN ARMIT, Chris 7 BN PERRY, Adam 5 BN KOUPARITSAS, Nick 6 BN McILWAIN, Dallas 5 TEAM TOTALS 111 POS RAIDERS LPR FB SCHIFCOFSKE, Clinton?7 WI PURTELL, Adrian 6 CE GRAHAM, Phillip 6 CE MOGG, Adam 5 WI CHALK, Marshall 5 FE SMITH, Jason 4 HB CARNEY, Todd 5 PR HODGSON, Michael 7 HK WITHERS, Lincoln 5 PR THOMPSON, Troy 6 SR KAHLER, Kris 6 SR CROKER, Jason 8 LK TONGUE, Alan 7 BN WOOLFORD, Simon 5 BN JONES, Ben 5 BN TILSE, Dane 5 BN WEYMAN, Michael 5 TEAM TOTALS 97 3 ? B Sherwin (8/BUL) 2 ? W Mason (8/BUL) 1 ? J Croker (8/CAN) 4th Qualifying Final MELBOURNE STORM 12 def PARRAMATTA EELS 6 Man of the Match ? Cameron Smith, MEL
Not only did the future Kangaroo hooker make the half century in tackles but he made a number of key defensive plays where he didn?t actually make a tackle. That is sometimes a better indicator of a player on his game than simply the number of tackles he is credited with in a game. The beauty of Smith?s performance is that it didn?t feature any razzle dazzle, no trick plays, no one moment that just made you go ? wow ? he just gets the job done with so much class and poise that it is just a pleasure to watch. He made a number of key plays during the game: setting up Antonio Kaufusi?s try just before halftime, being the man ?under? (for the record I could not give the try as I don?t believe benefit of the doubt should exist for either side and also don?t believe that there was a case for benefit of the doubt to the attacking team on this occasion) Glenn Morrison to deny what would have been Parramatta?s opening try and he was the player blocking the inside ball that was eventually thrown by a runaway Brett Delaney in the closing minutes. He has a motor that keeps ticking over and the class to get the Storm into a Grand Final if he puts in a game like this in two weeks time. POS STORM LPR FB SLATER, Billy 7 WI GEYER, Matt 5 CE KING, Matthew 7 CE WEBSTER, Jake 6 WI TURNER, Steve 7 FE HILL, Scott 6 HB CRONK, Cooper 8 PR KAUFUSI, Antonio 7 HK SMITH, Cameron 8 PR CROSSMAN, Garret 5 SR KIDWELL, David 6 SR HOFFMAN, Ryan 6 LK JOHNSON, Dallas 7 BN BLAIR, Adam 6 BN FRIEND, Nathan 6 BN CROCKER, Michael 7 BN CROSS, Ben 6 TEAM TOTALS 110 POS EELS LPR FB BURT, Luke 5 WI HAYNE, Jarryd 7 CE DELANEY, Brett 6 CE SMITH, Ben 6 WI GROTHE, Eric 6 FE MORRIS, John 7 HB SMITH, Tim 6 PR CAYLESS, Nathan ? 6 HK RIDDELL, Mark 5 PR ROBINSON, Chad 6 SR HINDMARSH, Nathan 7 SR WAGON, Daniel 6 LK MORRISON, Glenn 6 BN MARSH, Peter John 6 BN WIDDERS, Dean 7 BN CORDOBA, Josh 5 BN VELLA, Michael 4 TEAM TOTALS 101 3 ? C Smith (8/MEL) 2 ? C Cronk (8/MEL) 1 ? B Slater (7/MEL) CENTREBET PREMIERSHIP MARKET ? September 11, 2006 $3.00 Bulldogs (Last Week: $4.75) $3.40 Storm (LW: $3.25) $4.65 Dragons (LW: $7.25) $6.00 Broncos (LW: $4.25) $10.00 Knights (LW: $7.00) $14.00 Sea Eagles (LW: $13.00) The Player of the Finals (must play in 3 games to qualify and sorted on Average LPR) 8 A Johns (NEW) C Smith (MEL) B Sherwin (BUL) L Bailey (STI) C Newton (NEW) K Gidley (NEW) C Cronk (MEL) W Mason (BUL) J Croker (CAN) C Greenshields (STI) S Webcke (BRI) League Player Ratings will return following the completion of next weekend?s Semi Finals.