Monday?s Expert League Wrap - Round 25, 2006

With just one round remaining before the NRL finals, the top eight has been officially decided. But a battle royale is looming with a number of teams on 30 competition points and fighting for a top four spot, and the right to stage a home semi-final.

Friday night football saw the Manly Sea Eagles pip the Canterbury Bulldogs by 21-20 at Brookvale. Manly are in outright third spot on 32 competition points on the NRL ladder while the Bulldogs are second on 34 points and well clear on points differential.

Saturday rugby league took us to Canberra where a gallant Raiders outfit went down by 22-18 to minor premiers the Melbourne Storm. The Raiders are on 28 points and inside the eight while the Storm are riding high on 40 points.

On Saturday night the Newcastle Knights sured up their chances with a 40-4 trouncing of the Penrith Panthers in Newcastle. The result spells the end of the Panthers? season. Sitting in 11th position on 24 points, Penrith were still a slim hope of making the cut prior to the round 25 clash. The Knights are amongst a log jam of teams on 30 points, their points differential placing them in fifth position.

Meanwhile, the St George Illawarra Dragons were making their own push for a top four spot in downing the Cronulla Sharks by 18-4 in Wollongong. The Dragons move up to 30 competition points and sixth spot on the NRL ladder. The 12th-placed Sharks are in the midst of one of their worst seasons on record, crashing to their ninth successive loss and equalling the Club?s worst ever losing streak.

Sunday football took us across the Tasman with the New Zealand Warriors hammering the Sydney Roosters 42-16 in Auckland. The Warriors move up to ninth position and are out of contention for this season. But they gave supporters plenty to cheer about and a promise of what lies ahead. The Roosters were flattered by the score line. Sitting in second last place on the ladder, the Sydneysiders continue to just make up the numbers in 2006.

In other Sunday results, the North Queensland Cowboys defeated the South Sydney Rabbitohs 34-12 at Telstra Stadium. The Cowboys moved up to 24 competition points and 10th place. Meanwhile Souths have recorded their 20th loss of the year and languish in last place with just 10 points.

Round 25 wrapped up in Parramatta with home side the Eels crashing back to Earth following their 23-0 loss to the Brisbane Broncos. The resurgent Broncos are now on 30 competition points and in fourth place on the ladder. The Eels remain on 28 points and slip back to seventh place.

Last year?s premiers Wests Tigers had the bye this round, moving up to 22 points and 13th position on the ladder.

All match results and details are listed below. Player Awards
The stage is set for a tight finish in this year?s Player Awards. Melbourne hooker Cameron Smith is still coming first on 27 points and Canberra full back Clinton Schifcofske is in second spot with 26 points.

But still in contention on 25 points are Eels back rower Nathan Hindmarsh and previous winner, Sea Eagles half back Matt Orford. Both Hindmarsh and Orford scored well last weekend to close the gap on the front runners.

With just one round to go, all four players are a chance of taking out this year?s award.

The full leader board is below.

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

Want to be a live score updater? For further enquiries, email us

League Wrap: Round 25, 25 August ? 27 August 2006

Manly Sea Eagles: 21
Tries: Shayne Dunley, Matt Orford, Michael Robertson
Goals: Matt Orford 4/5
Field Goals: Matt Orford
Canterbury Bulldogs: 20
Tries: Nate Myles, Andrew Ryan, Andrew Emelio
Goals: Hazem El Masri 4/4
Half time: Sea Eagles 18-12
Venue: Brookvale Oval
Crowd: 20,163
Referee: Sean Hampstead players of the match:
3 - Matt Orford (Sea Eagles)
2 - Steve Menzies (Sea Eagles)
1 - Andrew Ryan (Bulldogs)

Canberra Raiders: 18
Tries: Alan Tongue(2), Lincoln Withers
Goals: Clinton Schifcofske 3/3
Melbourne Storm: 22
Tries: Ryan Hoffman, Greg Inglis, Dallas Johnson, Matt King
Goals: Cameron Smith 3/4
Half time: Storm 16-6
Venue: Canberra Stadium
Crowd: 21,255
Referee: Shayne Hayne players of the match:
3 - Alan Tongue (Raiders)
2 - Greg Inglis (Storm)
1 - Cooper Cronk (Storm)

Newcastle Knights: 40
Tries: George Carmont, Matthew Gidley(2), Josh Perry, Anthony Quinn, David Seage, Jarrod Mullen, Luke Davico
Goals: Daniel Abraham 2/4, Kurt Gidley 1/3, Reegan Tanner 1/1
Penrith Panthers: 4
Tries: Michael Gordon
Goals: Preston Campbell 0/1
Half time: Knights 22-4
Venue: EnergyAustralia Stadium
Crowd: 23,655
Referee: Steven Clark players of the match:
3 - Jarrod Mullen (Knights)
2 - Matthew Gidley (Knights)
1 - Luke Davico (Knights)

St George Illawarra Dragons: 18
Tries: Matt Cooper, Dean Young, Brett Morris
Goals: Aaron Gorrell 1/1, Wes Naiqama 2/3
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks: 4
Tries: Paul Gallen
Goals: Luke Covell 0/1
Half time: Dragons 6-4
Venue: WIN Stadium
Crowd: 16,897
Referee: Paul Simpkins players of the match:
3 - Luke Bailey (Dragons)
2 - Jason Ryles (Dragons)
1 - Mark Gasnier (Dragons)

New Zealand Warriors: 42
Tries: Epalahame Luauki, Jerome Ropati(4), Ruben Wiki, Patrick Ah Van(2)
Goals: Lance Hohaia 5/8
Sydney Roosters: 16
Tries: Sam Perrett, Amos Roberts, Iosia Soliola
Goals: Craig Fitzgibbon 2/3
Half time: Warriors 20-10
Venue: Mt Smart (Ericsson) Stadium
Crowd: 12,711
Referee: Russell Smith players of the match:
3 - Jerome Ropati (Warriors)
2 - Brent Webb (Warriors)
1 - Lance Hohaia (Warriors)

South Sydney Rabbitohs: 12
Tries: Nathan Merritt, Paul Mellor
Goals: Joe Williams 2/2
North Queensland Cowboys: 34
Tries: Matthew Bowen, David Fauiumu, Luke O'Donnell, Aaron Payne, Justin Smith(2)
Goals: Ashley Graham 5/7
Half time: Cowboys 16-6
Venue: Telstra Stadium
Crowd: 8,914
Referee: Tony De Las Heras players of the match:
3 - Aaron Payne (Cowboys)
2 - Carl Webb (Cowboys)
1 - Justin Smith (Cowboys)

Parramatta Eels: 0
Brisbane Broncos: 23
Tries: Justin Hodges, Stephen Michaels, Corey Parker, Brad Thorn
Goals: Darren Lockyer 2/4, Corey Parker 1/1
Field Goals: Darren Lockyer
Half time: Broncos 13-0
Venue: Parramatta Stadium
Crowd: 20,353
Referee: Tony Archer players of the match:
3 - Darren Lockyer (Broncos)
2 - Nathan Hindmarsh (Eels)
1 - Justin Hodges (Broncos)

Wests Tigers v Bye


Round 26, 1-3 September 2006
Fri 7:30 COWBOYS v EELS - Dairy Farmers Stadium
Sat 5:30 SHARKS v RAIDERS - Toyota Park
Sat 7:30 ROOSTERS v DRAGONS - Sydney Cricket Ground
Sat 7:30 STORM v SEA EAGLES - Olympic Park
Sun 2:30 BRONCOS v WARRIORS - Suncorp Stadium
Sun 3:00 TIGERS v RABBITOHS - Leichhardt Oval
Sun 3:00 PANTHERS v BULLDOGS - CUA Stadium Penrith

The players awards are decided by our live score updaters.
Want to be a live score updater? For further enquiries, email us.

27 points
Cameron Smith (Storm)

26 points
Clinton Schifcofske (Raiders)

25 points
Nathan Hindmarsh (Eels), Matt Orford (Sea Eagles)

23 points
Greg Inglis (Storm), Willie Mason (Bulldogs)

21 points
Preston Campbell (Panthers)

19 points
Ben Kennedy (Sea Eagles), Andrew Johns (Knights)

18 points
Danny Buderus (Knights), Cooper Cronk (Storm)

17 points
Mark Gasnier (Dragons), Darren Lockyer (Broncos), Johnathan Thurston (Cowboys)

14 points
Matthew Bowen (Cowboys), Adam Dykes (Sharks), Steve Price (Warriors), Scott Prince (Tigers)

13 points
Hazem El Masri (Bulldogs), Alan Tongue (Raiders)

12 points
Petero Civoniceva (Broncos), Jason Smith (Raiders), Sonny Bill Williams (Bulldogs)

11 points
Roy Asotasi (Bulldogs), Craig Fitzgibbon (Roosters), Paul Gallen (Sharks), Justin Hodges (Broncos), Karmichael Hunt (Broncos), Grant Rovelli (Warriors), Rhys Wesser (Panthers)

10 points
Robert Farah (Tigers), Aaron Payne (Cowboys)

9 points
Mathew Head (Dragons), Brett Hodgson (Tigers), Brett Stewart (Sea Eagles), Brent Webb (Warriors)

8 points
Brett Kimmorley (Sharks), Jarryd Hayne (Eels), Steve Menzies (Sea Eagles), Corey Parker (Broncos), Andrew Ryan (Bulldogs), Ruben Wiki (Warriors), Dean Young (Dragons)

7 points
Steve Bell (Sea Eagles), Nathan Merritt (Rabbitohs), Mark O?Meley (Bulldogs), David Peachey (Rabbitohs), Amos Roberts (Roosters), Steve Simpson (Knights)

6 points
Luke Bailey (Dragons), Trent Barrett (Dragons), Nathan Cayless (Eels), Craig Gower (Panthers), Nathan Fien (Warriors), Ryan Hoffman (Storm), Luke Lewis (Panthers), Jarrod Mullen (Knights), Jerome Ropati (Warriors), Lance Thompson (Sharks)

5 points
Dean Collis (Tigers), Peter Cusack (Rabbitohs), Brett Finch (Roosters), Matthew Gidley (Knights), Aaron Gorrell (Dragons), Wade McKinnon (Eels), Luke O'Donnell (Cowboys), Luke O?Dwyer (Eels), Simon Mannering (Warriors), Luke Priddis (Panthers), Jason Ryles (Dragons), Brad Thorn (Broncos)

4 points
Darren Albert (Sharks), Greg Bird (Sharks), Brian Carney (Knights), Todd Carney (Raiders), Matt Cooper (Dragons), Sione Faumuina (Warriors), Phillip Graham (Raiders), David Kidwell (Storm), Scott Hill (Storm), Lance Hohaia (Warriors), Ben Hornby (Dragons), Anthony Laffranchi (Tigers), Adam MacDougall (Rabbitohs), Fuifui Moimoi (Eels), John Morris (Eels), Clint Newton (Knights), Josh Perry (Knights), Brent Sherwin (Bulldogs), David Simmons (Sharks), Billy Slater (Storm), Jamie Soward (Roosters), John Sutton (Rabbitohs), Milton Thaiday (Knights), Anthony Tupou (Roosters), Paul Whatuira (Tigers), Lincoln Withers (Raiders)

3 points
Travis Burns (Sea Eagles), Luke Burt (Eels), Joel Clinton (Panthers), Darius Boyd (Broncos), Luke Covell (Sharks), Michael Crocker (Storm), Greg Eastwood (Broncos), Michael Gordon (Panthers), Clint Greenshields (Dragons), Nathan Hinton (Knights), Brett Kearney (Sharks), Luke MacDougall (Rabbitohs), Reni Maitua (Bulldogs), Manase Manuokafoa (Rabbitohs), Adam Mogg (Raiders), Sam Perrett (Roosters), Michael Robertson (Sea Eagles), Matt Sing (Cowboys), Tame Tupou (Broncos), Steve Turner (Storm), Matthew Utai (Bulldogs), Anthony Watmough (Sea Eagles), Carl Webb (Cowboys), Jake Webster (Storm), Joe Williams (Rabbitohs)

2 points
Brenton Bowen (Cowboys), George Carmont (Knights), Daniel Fitzhenry (Tigers), Keith Galloway (Tigers), Awen Guttenbeil (Warriors), Ashley Harrison (Roosters), Wairangi Koopu (Warriors), Tom Learoyd-Lahrs (Raiders), Tony Martin (Warriors), Anthony Minichiello (Roosters), Mark O'Meley (Bulldogs), Peter-John Marsh (Eels), Benji Marshall (Tigers), Steve Matai (Sea Eagles), Luke Patten (Bulldogs), Todd Polglase (Rabbitohs), Luke Rooney (Panthers), John Skandalis (Tigers), Craig Smith (Knights), Tim Smith (Eels), Iosia Soliola (Roosters), Steven Southern (Cowboys), Craig Stapleton (Panthers), Timana Tahu (Eels), Clinton Toopi (Warriors), Evarn Tuimavave (Warriors), Nigel Vagana (Sharks), Trent Waterhouse (Panthers), Shane Webcke (Broncos), Michael Weyman (Raiders), Craig Wing (Roosters)

1 point
Paul Bowman (Cowboys), Ben Creagh (Dragons), Luke Davico (Knights), Shayne Dunley (Sea Eagles), Michael Ennis (Broncos), Shaun Foley (Roosters), Nathan Friend (Storm), Matt Geyer (Storm), Kurt Gidley (Knights), Tony Grimaldi (Bulldogs), Chris Hicks (Sea Eagles), Daniel Holdsworth (Bulldogs), Lee Hookey (Panthers), Matt King (Storm), Josh Lewis (Roosters), Todd Lowrie (Knights), Daryl Millard (Dragons), Ryan O'Hara (Tigers), Shannon McDonnell (Tigers), Sam Rapira (Warriors), Mark Riddell (Eels), Shane Rodney (Panthers), David Shillington (Roosters), Justin Smith (Cowboys), Brent Tate (Broncos), Sam Thaiday (Broncos), Willie Tonga (Bulldogs), Shane Tronc (Cowboys), Taniela Tuiaki (Tigers), Ben Walker (Rabbitohs), Simon Woolford (Raiders), William Zillman (Raiders)