Monday?s Expert League Wrap - Finals

Week one of the NRL Finals kicked off to a packed house in Newcastle with the local Knights downing the Manly Sea Eagles 25-18. The Sea Eagles dominated the first half before the home side mounted a tremendous comeback. The match ended controversially with Manly lock Ben Kennedy being sin binned for escalating a dust up, and Knights? hooker Danny Buderus being placed on report following a dangerous lifting tackle on Manly's Michael Robertson. Buderus now has a nervous wait as the NRL match review committee considers the case this morning. With other results going their way, the Sea Eagles live to fight another day as both teams move onto week two of the finals.

Saturday evening took us to Brisbane and old Lang Park. An absolute bumper crowd of over 50,000 were on hand to see the St George Illawarra Dragons outclass the Brisbane Broncos by 20-4 at Suncorp Stadium. It was a superb defensive display from the Dragons who led 10-4 before keeping the Broncos scoreless in the second half. Both teams move onto week two of the finals with the main injury worry being to Saints centre Mark Gasnier.

Later the same evening, the Canterbury Bulldogs are back on track after eliminating the Canberra Raiders by 30-12 at Sydney?s Telstra Stadium. The Raiders led 6-0 early on before the high flying Bulldogs powered home. The Bulldogs forwards handled the slippery conditions well in brushing aside the seventh-placed Raiders. Canberra are gone for 2006 while the Bulldogs earned a week off following their win.

The first week of the finals wrapped up on Sunday with the Melbourne Storm grinding out a 12-6 win over a gallant Parramatta Eels at Melbourne?s Olympic Park. The minor premiers will enjoy a well-earned rest this week while the Eels now look ahead to 2007.

All match results and details are listed below.

Finals Week 2, 15-16 September 2006
Friday 7:45pm DRAGONS v SEA EAGLES - Aussie Stadium
Saturday 7:45pm KNIGHTS v BRONCOS - Aussie Stadium

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League Wrap: NRL Finals, 8-10 September 2006

Newcastle Knights: 25
Tries: Kurt Gidley(2), Andrew Johns, Brian Carney
Goals: Andrew Johns 4/4
Field Goals: Jarrod Mullen
Manly Sea Eagles: 18
Tries: Brett Stewart, Steve Matai, Michael Robertson
Goals: Matt Orford 3/4
Half time: Sea Eagles 12-0
Venue: EnergyAustralia Stadium
Crowd: 23,752
Referee: Sean Hampstead players of the match:
3 - Kurt Gidley (Knights)
2 - Steve Matai (Sea Eagles)
1 - Brent Kite (Sea Eagles)

Brisbane Broncos: 4
Tries: Darius Boyd
Goals: Corey Parker 0/1
St George Illawarra Dragons: 20
Tries: Luke Bailey, Matt Cooper, Aaron Gorrell, Clint Greenshields
Goals: Aaron Gorrell 2/3, Mathew Head 0/1
Half time: Dragons 10-0
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Crowd: 50,387
Referee: Paul Simpkins players of the match:
3 - Matt Cooper (Dragons)
2 - Luke Bailey (Dragons)
1 - Jason Ryles (Dragons)

Canterbury Bulldogs: 30
Tries: Hazem El Masri, Luke Patten, Andrew Ryan, Daniel Holdsworth, Andrew Emelio
Goals: Hazem El Masri 5/5
Canberra Raiders: 12
Tries: Phillip Graham, Adrian Purtell
Goals: Clinton Schifcofske 2/2
Half time: Bulldogs 12-6
Venue: Telstra Stadium
Crowd: 14,628
Referee: Shayne Hayne players of the match:
3 - Daniel Holdsworth (Bulldogs)
2 - Willie Mason (Bulldogs)
1 - Hazem El Masri (Bulldogs)

Melbourne Storm: 12
Tries: Antonio Kaufusi, Steve Turner
Goals: Cameron Smith 2/2
Parramatta Eels: 6
Tries: Daniel Wagon
Goals: Luke Burt 1/1
Half time: Storm 12-0
Venue: Olympic Park Melbourne
Crowd: 15,690
Referee: Steve Clark players of the match: players of the match:
3 - Antonio Kaufusi (Storm)
2 - Nathan Hindmarsh (Eels)
1 - Matt Geyer (Storm)

The players of the match are decided by our live score updaters and tallied here each week on Monday?s Expert League wrap.