25 rounds, 192 games, #Origin on a Sunday, and a September Grand Final.
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Friday night footy saw an under strengthed Broncos outfit getting thrashed 40-4 by Canterbury at Suncorp. While Brisbane were without a bag full of Origin stars, there's nothing that can be taken away from the the Bulldogs who seem to going from strength to strength.
Saturday's opening match saw Ali Lauiti'iti bursting through for the Warriors against the Sea Eagles at Ericsson. The win sees the Warriors firm as top eight contenders. The Manly side who are suppsosedy playing for outgoing coach Peter Sharp are virtually without hope. But the Warriors' victory celebrations were dampened with news over the weekend that hooker PJ Marsh's season and possibly his career is over following a neck injury in round 14. Meanwhile at Penrith, the mighty Panthers continue to wipe the smiles off the face of bookies everywhere following Monday Expert's early season tip. Sitting at the top of the ladder, the Men From the Mountain are now being taken very seriously indeed. But to do it, they had to put away a spirited effort from wooden spooners, South Sydney.
The Storm continue to be the quiet achievers of the competition after downing the inconsistent Cowboys in Melbourne. Matt Orford's form sees him at the top of the Leagueunlimited.com Player of the Year Awards and his team are now sitting pretty in sixth position.
Sunday football saw us at sunny Leichhardt Oval where the Wests Tigers outfit carved up a hapless Sharks team. If anyone tries to tell you that the Sharks are still a mathematical chance of making the cut, don't let them get away without at least trying to flog them acreage north of the Woolaware swamplands. Sharks' coach Chris Anderson must be the most frustrated bloke in the NRL... for some reason, demanding respect and bellowing orders just doesn't seem to be doing the trick out Cronulla way.
The final match of the round saw a nail-biter at Kogarah with the Dragons going down by just a point to the Raiders. St George supporters were collectively pulling their hair out as they watched their team play dumb footy and kill off a number of scoring opportunities. The Raiders on the other hand, kept their cool with Brad Drew taking the opportunity to slot the match winner. The result sees Canberra move into second position while Saints are locked out in ninth position.
Next week (round 19, 16-20 July): Maroons v Blues at Suncorp* Knights v Panthers in Newcastle Raiders v West Tigers in Canberra Sharks v Warriors at Toyota Cowboys v Dragons in Townsville Storm v Broncos at Olympic Rabbitohs v Eels at Aussie Sea Eagles v Roosters at Brookvale Bulldogs: Bye *Mondays Expert match of the round
Round 18 results at a glance home team listed first
BRONCOS 4 Tries: McQuire Goals: Prince (0/1) defeated by BULLDOGS 40 Tries: Patten 2, Sherwin 2, Harris, Vagana, Hall Goals: El Masri (6/7) Friday 11 July 2003 7:30 PM Suncorp Stadium Crowd: 25,107 Referee: Shayne Hayne Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - B Sherwin (Bulldogs) 2 - T Grimaldi (Bulldogs) 1 - C Webb (Broncos)
WARRIORS 20 Tries: Webb, Latu, Anderson Goals: Jones 4/4 defeated SEA EAGLES 12 Tries: Lima, Creary Goals: Williamson 2/2 Saturday 12 July 2003 7:30PM Local 5:30PM AEST Ericsson Stadium Referee: Paul Simpkins. Crowd: 15,528 Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - F Meli (Warriors) 2 - S Jones (Warriors) 1 - M Creary (Sea Eagles)
PANTHERS 30 Tries: Galuvao 3, Rooney 2, Gower Goals: Girdler 3/7 defeated RABBITOHS 24 Tries: MacDougall 2, Hart, Fa'alago, Kativerata Goals: Smith 2/5 Saturday 12 July 2003 7:30 PM Penrith Football Stadium Referee: Steve Lyons Crowd: 15,299 Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - J Galuvao (Panthers) 2 - L Rooney (Panthers) 1 - L MacDougall (Rabbitohs)
STORM 22 Tries: Geyer, Moala, Hoffman, Orford Goals: Orford 3/6 defeated COWBOYS 16 Tries: Myles, Dezolt, Morgan Goals: Morrison 2/4 Saturday 12 July 2003 7:30 PM Olympic Park Melbourne Referee: Sean Hampstead Crowd: 7,643 Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - M Geyer (Storm) 2 - M Sargent (Storm) 1 - M Orford (Storm)
TIGERS 44 Tries: Halatau 2, Withers, Laffranchi, Beckett, Mears, Clayton Goals: Covell 8/11 defeated SHARKS 12 Tries: Anderson, Hilder Goals: Anderson 2/2 Sunday 13 July 2003 2:30 PM Leichhardt Oval Referee: Stephen Clark Crowd: 8,873 Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - T Hill (Tigers) 2 - L Withers (Tigers) 1 - L Covell (Tigers)
DRAGONS 18 Tries: Wilshere, Riddell, Simmonds Goals: Firman 1/1, Riddell 2/3 defeated by RAIDERS 19 Tries: O'Hara, Mogg, Schifcofske Goals: Schifcofske 3/3, F/G Drew Sunday 13 July 2003 3:00 PM Kogarah Jubilee Oval Referee: Tim Mander Crowd: 14,204 Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - B Firman (Dragons) 2 - M McLinden (Raiders) 1 - M Riddell (Dragons)
Leagueunlimited.com Player of the Year Awards Round 18 Tally update: 20 points: M Orford (Storm) 19 points: P Campbell (Panthers), D Lockyer (Broncos) 17 points: L Bailey (Dragons) 16 points: A Johns (Knights), C Schicofske (Raiders) 14 points: A Minichiello (Roosters), B Sherwin (Bulldogs) 13 points: C Fitzgibbon (Roosters) 12 points: C Gower (Panthers), B Firman (Dragons), T Hill (Tigers), B Kimmorley (Sharks), S Price (Bulldogs), C Wing (Roosters) 10 points: PJ Marsh (Warriors), F Meli (Warriors), G Morrison (Cowboys), L Priddis (Panthers), M Sing (Cowboys), B Slater (Storm), J Smith (Rabbitohs) 9 points: B Drew (Raiders), R Wesser (Panthers), B Walker (Sea Eagles) 8 points: M Bowen (Cowboys), K Campion (Cowboys), J Ferris (Sea Eagles), D Nutley (Sharks), G Tallis (Broncos), R Wiki (Raiders), L Withers (Wests Tigers) 7 points: S Berrigan (Broncos), D Buderus (Knights), L Hohaia (Warriors), S Jones (Warriors), S Kearney (Storm), J Morris (Eels), S Timmins (Dragons), N Vagana (Bulldogs) 6 points: T Carroll (Broncos), S Faumuina (Warriors), M Geyer (Storm), B Kennedy (Knights), N Hindmarsh (Eels), M O'Meley (Bulldogs), C Pearson (Wests Tigers), A Watmough (Sea Eagles) 5 points: B Fittler (Roosters), M Gidley (Knights), J Hannay (Cowboys), B Harris (Bulldogs), J Lyon (Eels), W Mason (Bulldogs), D Peachey (Sharks), M Riddell (Dragons), J Seu Seu (Warriors), P Stringer (Rabbitohs), L Swann (Warriors), L Thompson (Dragons), S Webcke (Broncos), S Woolford (Raiders) 4 points: D Abraham (Knights), P Bailey (Sharks), T Byrne (Roosters), B Finch (Roosters), B Fletcher (Rabbitohs), J Galuvao (Panthers), B Hodgson (Eels), R Kearns (Storm), M McLinden (Raiders), L McWilliams (Cowboys), J Monaghan (Raiders), T Puletua (Panthers), C Randall (Sea Eagles), J Skandalis (Tigers), B Tate (Broncos), P Whatuira (Panthers) 3 points: B Anasta (Bulldogs), S Bell (Storm), L Covell (Tigers), O Craigie (Rabbitohs), H El Masri (Bulldogs), P Graham (Raiders), A Guttenbeil (Warriors), L Lewis (Panthers), J Lowe (Cowboys), M McClinden (Raiders), A Morley (Roosters), D Myles (Cowboys), J Perry (Knights), P Rauhihi (Cowboys), L Rooney (Panthers), D Senter (Wests Tigers), B Webb (Warriors) 2 points: N Blacklock (Dragons), D Byrne (Dragons), D Carlaw (Broncos), J Caine (Wests Tigers), L Dorn (Sea Eagles), J Feeney (Bulldogs), M Gasnier (Dragons), A Graham (Eels), 2 - T Grimaldi (Bulldogs), D Heckenberg (Eels), S Hill (Storm), L Hopkins (Eels), J Lolesi (Raiders), A MacDougall (Knights), N Merritt (Rabbitohs), B Reeves (Sea Eagles), L Ricketson (Roosters), S Rudder (Knights), J Ryles (Dragons), M Sargent (Storm), S Sattler (Panthers), S Tadulala (Storm), T Tahu (Knights) 1 point: T Barrett (Dragons), C Beattie (Sharks), M Creary (Sea Eagles), J Croker (Raiders), J Death (Rabbitohs), M De Vere (Broncos), S Donald (Sea Eagles), S Dunley (Eels), H Fa'afili (Warriors), B Galea (Wests Tigers), P Gallen (Sharks), R Girdler (Panthers), E Grothe (Roosters), A Hart (Rabbitohs), J Hodges (Roosters), S Kelly (Broncos), D Kidwell (Storm), L MacDougall (Rabbitohs), S Menzies (Sea Eagles), R O'Davis (Knights), M Peterson (Eels), A Quinn (Knights), C Sheppard (Cowboys), T Smith (Raiders), R Swain (Broncos), J Thurston (Bulldogs), C Webb (Broncos), D Widders (Eels), T Williams (Cowboys), M Witt (Eels), A Woolnough (Knights)