"...and then were two." So its come down to this. The demise of the Bulldogs on Saturday and the Warriors on Sunday has left just two teams, the Roosters and the Panthers to fight it out for premiership glory.
The Roosters are now warm favorites to take out the crown for the second year running but never write off the mighty Panthers who have been this years surprise packet. That is, a surprise to everyone except this Monday's Expert.
Its hard to be humble when one is so right. From round one, I published the news that the Mountain Men would be there on grand final day and only a fool would ignore the odds. The blokes down at the local laughed as I went up the betting window and put a cool $20 on Penrith to take out the premiership. I admit it was a bold bet, especially given that it represented the entirety of my Leagueunlimited paycheck. But I felt confident and now all my mates reckon that I'm a genius.
But back to the footy...
Saturday night saw the Roosters crush the Berries by 28-18 in front of a full house at Aussie Stadium. Leading all the way, the Roosters were never in doubt and looked in control with a 16-6 halftime lead.
To Canterbury's credit, they did make a go of it but the reality is, they never got within 10 points of the 2002 premiers.
Sunday arvo was a closer affair with Penrith overcoming the Warriors 28-20 at Telstra Stadium. The Warriors certainly had their chances and at halftime the scores were locked up at 10-all.
The second half saw Penrith kick away again with tries to Luke Priddis and Ryan Girdler before the Warriors made a spirited comeback. In what must have been the try of the match, Motu Tony made a rampaging mid-field break to find Stacey Jones before the ball was spread wide to Clintion Toopi who scored.
It was great game which now sets up a tremendous showdown between the reigning premiers and the minor premiers in next week's NRL Grand Final.
Monday's Expert Guru tip... who else? The Panthers by 4. It'll be a nail biter.
Next week: 2003 GRAND FINAL Sun 5 Oct 2003 (7:00 PM): Panthers v Roosters at Telstra Stadium (Referee: Bill Harrigan)
NEXT MONDAY: Mondays Expert, Leagueunlimited.com Team of the Year and Players of the Year
PRELIMINARY FINALS - WEEK THREE: results at a glance ROOSTERS 28 Tries: Walker 2, Hegarty, Flannery Goals: Fitzgibbon 5/5, Crocker 1/1 defeated BULLDOGS 18 Tries: O'Meley, Utai 2 Goals: El Masri (3/3) Saturday 27 Sep 2003 7:30 PM Aussie Stadium Crowd: 41,123 Referee: Bill Harrigan Video Referee: Chris Ward Crowd: 41,123 Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - C Wing (Roosters) 2 - A Morley (Roosters) 1 - A Minichiello (Roosters)
PANTHERS 28 Tries: Lewis, Wesser, Priddis, Girdler, Galuvao Goals: Girdler 4/5 defeated WARRIORS 20 Tries: Swann, Villasanti, Toopi, Webb Goals: Webb 2/4 Sunday 28 Sep 2003 3:30 PM Telstra Stadium Referee: Tim Mander Video Referee: Mick Stone Crowd: 43,174 Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - R Girdler (Panthers) 2 - C Gower (Panthers) 1 - B Webb (Warriors)
NEXT MONDAY: Mondays Expert, Leagueunlimited.com Team of the Year and Players of the YearLike