Monday?s Expert League Wrap ? Finals

Finals Week One, 9-11 September 2005 Week one of the 2005 NRL Finals series kicked off in spectacular style with the Wests Tigers blowing away the Cowboys to the tune of 50-6 at Telstra Stadium. The result had statisticians looking back over 60 years through the record books for a bigger semi-final thrashing. Brett Hodgson was the talk of the town with a record-breaking personal tally of 30 points, the most scored by a player in NRL finals history. Hodgson bagged a hat trick of tries and kicked nine goals from nine attempts, breaking his own club record for points scored in a match.

With a number reputations coming to grief, the result was a massive body blow to the Cowboys. Not surprisingly, punters have turned their backs on the North Queenslanders but the good news for supporters is that their team is still alive and will fight it out next Saturday against the Storm.

The Broncos v Storm encounter was a much closer affair with the Storm travelling to Suncorp Stadium and winning 24-18. The result sees yet another loss for the Broncos, their sixth in a row. They were simply out-gunned in the first half and have plenty of work to do. But they do get one final chance to redeem themselves when they take on the red-hot Tigers next Sunday.

The Melbourne side had to overcome injuries to Robbie Kearns and Billy Slater. Kearns dislocated his shoulder and Slater turned his ankle leaving both players in doubt for the coming weekend. The full extent of both injuries will not be known until later today.

Meanwhile the St George Illawarra Dragons scored three tries in eight minutes to put an end to the Cronulla Sharks' season at WIN Stadium, the Dragons eventually winning 28-22 in a hard fought encounter. Coming into the match as dead-set underdogs, the Sharks were gallant in defeat and continued to make a game of it right up until the final whistle. With the Sharks leading 6-4 at half time and then 12-4 shortly after half time, a boilover seemed to be on the cards. But the Dragons responded with some sharp play up the middle of the ruck and a 40/20 from skipper Trent Barrett was probably the turning point of the match, the resulting try giving the Dragons the lead.

Mad Monday now begins for the Sharks. The Dragons get a week off and await the result of next Sunday?s Tigers v Broncos match to see who they?ll be playing in week three of the Finals.

Minor Premiers Parramatta made short work of eighth-placed Manly at Parramatta Stadium, posting a comprehensive 46-22 victory. The Eels ran away to an unbeatable half time lead of 28-0 before the Sea Eagles showed some enterprise in winning the second half 22-18, the Eels at times being guilty of putting the cue in the rack.

The result spelled out the end of the Sea Eagles' season while the Eels join the Dragons in having a rest this weekend. Parramatta will play the winner of next Saturday?s Storm v Cowboys encounter.

MATCH RESULTS: WESTS TIGERS 50 Tries: Hodgson 3, Elford, Fitzhenry, Whatuira, Fulton, Richards Goals: Hodgson 9/9 NTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS 6 Tries: Sing Goals: Hannay 1/1 Telstra Stadium Fri 8:00pm Crowd: 26,463 Referee: Paul Simpkins Half time: Tigers 14-6 players of the match: 3 - B Hodgson (Tigers) 2 - B Marshall (Tigers) 1 - J Skandalis (Tigers) BRISBANE BRONCOS 18 Tries: Minto, D. Smith, Seymour Goals: Seymour (3/4) MELBOURNE STORM 24 Tries: Webster, Slater, King, Inglis Goals: Smith (2/2) Orford (2/2) Suncorp Stadium Sat 6:30pm Crowd: 25,193 Referee: Stephen Clark Half Time: Storm 18-4 players of the match: 3 - M Orford (Storm) 2 - J Webster (Storm) 1 - D Johnson (Storm)

ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 28 Tries: C.Best 2, D.Young, T.Barrett, W.Naiqama Goals: W.Naiqama 0/1 M.Ennis 4/4 CRONULLA SHARKS 22 Tries: B.Scott, D.Simmons, N.Vagana, P.Gallen Goals: L.Covell 3/4 WIN Stadium Sat 8:30pm Crowd: 19,608 Referee: Tony Archer Half time: Sharks 6-4 players of the match: 3 - D Young (Dragons) 2 - N Vagana (Sharks) 1 - M Ennis (Dragons)

PARRAMATTA EELS 46 Tries: Tahu 2, Robinson, Riddell, Grothe, Burt, Wagon, Peek Goals: Burt 7/8 MANLY SEA EAGLES 22 Tries: Kennedy 2, Watmough, Witt Goals: Witt 0/2, Monaghan 1/1, Williamson 2/2 Parramatta Stadium Sun 4:00pm Crowd: 19,710 Referee: Tim Mander Half time: Eels 28-0 players of the match: 3 - T Smith (Eels) 2 - T Tahu (Eels) 1 - P Stringer (Eels)

Full draw and results ? CLICK HERE

Next weekend?s matches: Finals Week Two, 17-18 September 2005 STORM v COWBOYS - Aussie Stadium - Sat 7:45pm (Winner plays Eels in week 3, loser eliminated)

TIGERS v BRONCOS - Aussie Stadium - Sun 4:00pm (Winner plays Dragons in week 3, loser eliminated) Dragons and the Eels will have the week off.