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Finals Week Three, 24-25 September 2005 Wests Tigers and the North Queensland Cowboys have stormed into the 2005 Grand Final following a weekend of upsets and boilovers. The Tigers defeated the St George Illawarra Dragons 20-12 on Saturday while rank outsiders the Cowboys thumped minor premiers Parramatta Eels 29-0 on Sunday.
The Wests Tigers were simply too good with Benji Marshall scoring the opening try after just four minutes. After that, they were never headed. Rated 150/1 to win the premiership last June, the Tigers have roared into the premiership decider and are sure to start favourites. The Tim Sheens coached outfit got to the Grand Final courtesy of wins over the Cowboys (50-6) and the Broncos (34-6) before disposing of the Dragons.
Coached by Graham Murray, it was a different looking Cowboys side to the one that was thrashed by the Tigers in week one of the finals. With full back Matt Bowen on fire, the North Queenslanders took 23 minutes to crack the line. By half time, the score was 18-0 and the Eels were sent packing for 2006. The Cowboys were clobbered by the Tigers (50-6) in week one but this now seems like a distance memory. With a victory over the Storm (24-16) in week two, and last Sunday?s thrashing of the Eels, the Cowboys have bounced back tremendously.
While the losers enjoy Mad Monday, the victors can now look forward to competing for rugby league?s greatest prize ? it all comes down to next Sunday night. Telstra Stadium (capacity 83,500) will be packed to the rafters after the Grand Final was officially sold out this morning.
MATCH RESULTS: ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 12 Tries: Naiqama, Barrett Goals: Ennis (2/2) WESTS TIGERS 20 Tries: Halatau 2, Marshall, Heighington Goals: Hodgson (2/4) Aussie Stadium Sat 7:45pm Crowd: 41,260 Referee: Tim Mander Half Time: Tigers 16-6 Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - D Halatau (Tigers) 2 - J Skandalis (Tigers) 1 - R Farah (Tigers)
PARRAMATTA EELS 0 Tries: Goals: NTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS 29 Tries: Bowen, Jensen, Firman, Williams, Hannay Goals: Hannay 4/6 Field Goals: Thurston Telstra Stadium Sun 4:00pm Crowd: 44,327 Referee: Stephen Clark Half time: Cowboys 18-0 Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - J Thurston (Cowboys) 2 - B Firman (Cowboys) 1 - P Rauhihi (Cowboys)
Full draw and results ? CLICK HERE
Next: 2005 Grand Final, 2 October WESTS TIGERS v NTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS - Telstra Stadium - Sunday 7:00pm