25 rounds, 192 games, #Origin on a Sunday, and a September Grand Final.
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Its been a great round of footy with a number of coaches coming up trumps... and a few others hitting the fan.
Time is just about up for Eels coach, Brian Smith who must be struggling to remember what a winning team looks like. Memories of the 2001 grand final and the one that got away must be haunting the corridors of Parra Leagues Club.
But it's ten times as bad down at Sharks Leagues. Coach and club are clearly in denial as Chris Anderson announced yesterday that he will continue with his plan to drive Sutherland Rugby League into Bate Bay and possibly towards a wooden spoon.
Meanwhile, all was Oki Doki as Saints clobbered the Sharks in front a hostile and jubilant bunch of locals. The Dragons were triumphant in their return to their spiritual home. Sharks' soldier-of-fortune Brett Kimmorley, once touted as a Dragons halfback, had a shocker and actually set up two tries for the other side as St George ran in some classy intercepts. Good news for Saints is that Kimmorley didn't cost them a cent afterall.
But Saints will meet their match next week when they take on the mighty Panthers who are still on track for premiership glory. Penrith were magnificent as they crushed Manly last weekend... teasing the silvertails into thinking that they stood a chance. I always thought that giving the other side a one point loss was better value than a 50 point thrashing. It leaves the losers more despondent as they wonder, 'what if'. Being a long suffering Panthers supporter, I know this all too well.
In other news, its understood that Darren Lockyer and the Broncos were delayed on their return to Sunshine State after thrashing the Tigers. Apparently terminal 3 at Mascot was a mess with the flight leaving an hour late. Players were forced from a congested and over-heating plane as the landing gear and hydraulics were deemed to be dodgy. Rumours that Shane Webcke and Glenn Lazarus assisted in jacking up the Boeing 737 are unconfirmed. The end result was the Broncos showed up at an empty Brisbane Airport during the late hours of the night.
Still undefeated at the top of the table are the Canberra Raiders. The season is still young but its hard to ignore the four point buffer they enjoy.
But the big win of the round must go to the Melbourne Storm who steam-rolled a woeful Newcastle side. Can the Knights win without Andrew Johns? Quick answer... nope.
What amazes me is that the Newcastle club always reckon there's some other reason for the loss... like coach is off with the flu, players in re-hab, financial woes, Earthquake catastrophe... you name it, the Hunter Street mob always have a reason for losing.
On a final note (and I shouldn't be telling you this), the Gold Coast syndicate are coming to Sydney this month. The NRL have already said they will back any move for any Sydney club to relocate to the Gold Coast. Word is, a number of teams are scheduled for meetings - including the Rabbitohs and the Sharks. In particular, the Gold Coast Sharks are looking like a very promising proposition.
Next week (round 9, 9-11 May): Bulldogs v Roosters at Telstra* Warriors v Eels at Ericsson Storm v Raiders at Olympic Sharks v Sea Eagles at Toyota Panthers v Dragons at Penrith Broncos v Cowboys at ANZ Knights v Rabbitohs at Energy Australia *Mondays Expert match of the round
Round 8 results at a glance
BULLDOGS 18 Tries: Harris, Utai, Mason Goals: El Masri 3/6 WARRIORS 12 Tries: Meli, Toopi Goals: Webb 2/3 Friday 2 May 2003 Westpac Stadium, Wellington Referee: Shayne Hayne Crowd: 21,989
EELS 12 Tries: Hodgson, Lyon Goals: Hodgson 1/1, Witt 1/1 ROOSTERS 44 Tries: Finch 2, Flannery 2, Hegarty, Byrne, Hodges, Cross Goals: Fitzgibbon 3/6, Crocker 3/4 Friday 2 May 2003 Parramatta Stadium Referee: Paul Simpkins Crowd: 13,020
PANTHERS 30 Tries: Wesser 2, Galuvao, Lewis, Priddis Goals: Campbell 5/6 SEA EAGLES 29 Tries: Haumono, Torrens, Ferris, Hopoate, MacDougall Goals: Walker 4/6 Field goals: Ferris 1 Saturday 3 May 2003 Penrith Football Stadium Referee: Sean Hampstead Crowd: 19,676
STORM 46 Tries: Slater 2, Ross, Kearney, Bell, Orford, Kidwell, Smith Goals: Orford 6/8, Smith 1/1 KNIGHTS 6 Tries: Jobson Goals: Abraham 1/1 Saturday 3 May 2003 Olympic Park Melbourne Referee: Matt Cecchin Crowd: 9,541
RABBITOHS 12 Tries: Fletcher, Russo Goals: Smith 1/2 RAIDERS 34 Tries: Mogg, McClinden 2, Wiki, Hodgson, Robertson Goals: Schifcofske 5/7 Saturday 3 May 2003 Aussie Stadium Referee: Tim Mander Crowd:
TIGERS 6 Tries: Covell Goals: Covell 1/1 BRONCOS 38 Tries: Lockyer 2, Carlaw, Berrigan, Tate, Kelly, Carroll Goals: De Vere 5/7 Sunday 4 May 2003 Leichhardt Oval Referee: Steve Lyons Crowd: 7,100
DRAGONS 28 Tries: Cooper 2, Riddell, Hornby, Saleh Goals: Riddell 4/6, Firman 0/1 SHARKS 12 Tries: Bird, Milford Goals: Kimmorley 2/3 Sunday 4 May 2003 Kogarah Jubilee Oval Referee: Bill Harrigan Crowd: 16,713
League Unlimited's Player of the Year Awards Points awarded for round eight: 3 points: B Sherwin (Bulldogs), A Minichiello (Roosters), R Wesser (Penrith), M Orford (Storm), M McClinden (Raiders), D Lockyer (Broncos), B Firman (Dragons) 2 points: S Price (Bulldogs), B Finch (Roosters), J Ferris (Manly), S Kearney (Storm), C Schicofske (Raiders), B Tate (Broncos), M Riddell (Dragons) 1 point: B Webb (Warriors), L Ricketson (Roosters), P Campbell (Penrith), B Slater (Storm), B Fletcher (Raiders), S Kelly (Broncos), L Bailey (Dragons)
Tally update: 16 points: C Schicofske (Raiders) 12 points: L Bailey (Dragons) 11 points: D Lockyer (Broncos), A Minichiello (Roosters) 10 points: C Fitzgibbon (Roosters) 9 points: A Johns (Knights), J Smith (Rabbitohs), R Wesser (Panthers) 8 points: J Ferris (Sea Eagles) 7 points: L Hohaia (Warriors), S Kearney (Storm), PJ Marsh (Warriors), B Slater (Storm) 6 points: T Carroll (Broncos), B Drew (Raiders), S Price (Bulldogs), B Sherwin (Bulldogs) 5 points: B Fittler (Roosters), J Morris (Eels), M Sing (Cowboys), P Stringer (Rabbitohs), S Woolford (Raiders) 4 points: C Gower (Panthers), B Hodgson (Eels), B Kennedy (Knights), T Puletua (Panthers), M Riddell (Dragons), G Tallis (Broncos), A Watmough (Sea Eagles) 3 points: D Abraham (Knights), S Bell (Storm), D Buderus (Knights), T Byrne (Roosters), K Campion (Cowboys), H El Masri (Bulldogs), B Firman (Dragons), A Guttenbeil (Warriors), T Hill (Tigers), J Lowe (Cowboys), J Lyon (Eels), M McClinden (Raiders), F Meli (Warriors), D Myles (Cowboys), M O'Meley (Bulldogs), M Orford (Storm), C Pearson (Wests Tigers), J Perry (Knights), J Seu Seu (Warriors), B Walker (Sea Eagles), C Wing (Roosters), L Withers (Wests Tigers) 2 points: S Berrigan (Broncos), M Bowen (Cowboys), P Campbell (Panthers), D Carlaw (Broncos), J Caine (Wests Tigers), B Finch (Roosters), M Gasnier (Dragons), J Hannay (Cowboys), S Hill (Storm), S Jones (Warriors), J Lolesi (Raiders), W Mason (Bulldogs), N Merritt (Rabbitohs), L McWilliams (Cowboys), G Morrison (Cowboys), D Peachey (Sharks), C Pearson (Wests Tigers), S Rudder (Knights), D Senter (Wests Tigers), J Seu Seu (Warriors), S Tadulala (Storm), B Tate (Broncos), S Timmins (Dragons), N Vagana (Bulldogs), P Whatuira (Panthers), R Wiki (Raiders) 1 point: P Bailey (Sharks), T Barrett (Dragons), S Donald (Sea Eagles), S Dunley (Eels), B Fletcher (Raiders), B Galea (Wests Tigers), R Girdler (Panthers), P Graham (Raiders), S Kelly (Broncos), F Meli (Warriors), S Menzies (Sea Eagles), R O'Davis (Knights), L Priddis (Panthers), L Ricketson (Roosters), R Swain (Broncos), L Thompson (Dragons), J Thurston (Bulldogs), B Webb (Warriors), A Woolnough (Knights)