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The weekly column here at Leagueunlimited is to highlight what we here on the site think are the best players in each round of the 2004 NRL competition. Based on the opinion received from the Leagueunlimited.com live updaters, we have put together what we think is the team of the Round 15.
With many players backing up from the second State of Origin match, Round 18 was always going to be interesting. Massive blowouts in the scoreline for the Dragons and the Roosters were definite highlights. But the closeness of some of the other games had spectators on the edge of their seats until the final whistle blew.
Leagueunlimited Team of the Week - Round 15:
1. Karmichael Hunt - Hunt seems to be growing in confidence and unleashing his ability as the weeks go by. The Eels fullback Wade McKinnon was left grasping at thin air as Hunt went zipping past on his way to scoring a try on Saturday night at Parramatta Stadium, his trademark right-foot step leaving everyone in attendance in a daze.
2. Phil Graham - In just his second first grade appearance for the season, Graham flew away for a try after taking an intercept in the first half, running 50 metres and then he helped get the Raiders back into the match late in the second, after finishing off a play with a great try in the corner. Unfortunately it wasn't quite enough to take the win.
3. Mark Gasnier - Dragons centre Mark Gasnier equalled the club try scoring record set by Matt Cooper in Round 6 when he crossed for four tries in the Dragons annihalation of Wests Tigers on Sunday at Oki Jubilee Stadium in front of a massive crowd. The Dragons could do no wrong with Gasnier having a field day in the centres.
4. Ryan Cross - Roosters centre Ryan Cross had a fine game in the Roosters resounding win over the Knights on Friday night at Aussie Stadium. When the score was 24-0 Cross barged over from dummy-half through Tahu and Reegan Tanner to extend the lead to 30-0. Cross then made it a double seven minutes later, intercepting a Robbie O'Davis pass before racing 70m to score under the posts.
5. Sam Perrett - Perrett had a chance to prove himself for the Roosters in the game against the Knights and he seized the opportunities when they came his way like a seasoned pro. Although he left the field in the 54th minute with a leg injury, Sam Perrett had left his mark with his energetic darts around the ruck, his enthusiasm in taking the ball up and his general field work.
6. Darren Lockyer - After an eventful State of Origin match, Lockyer along with many of his team-mates, backed up very well when they played at Parramatta Stadium on Saturday night. Looking as fresh as ever Lockyer set up play well for his team-mates including veteran Darren Smith who scored 2 tries, one as the result of great work by Lockyer.
7. Joe Williams - Once again the Rabbitohs youngster Williams takes the halfback spot in Leagueunlimited's team of the week. Brookvale Oval proved to be a great place for Williams as he and Craigie had plenty of options in attack and used them to the team's advantage. Coach Arthur Kitinas has a perfect NRL coaching record for the South Sydney Rabbitohs helped in part by Joe's goal kicking abilities slotting 5/6 on Saturday night.
8. Paul Rauhihi - Paul Rauhihi is proving his worth as a top captain for the Cowboys. Apart from leading the charge from the front of the pack, his composure as the captain shone through when things began a bit testy in Auckland on Sunday afternoon. Rauhihi is sending signals out all over the place as the International Tri-Series draws closer.
9. Mark Riddell - Riddell at times looked like a man possessed with his dummy half running as the Dragons tormented the Wests Tigers on Sunday afternoon at Oki Jubilee Oval. Pleasing the packed house with his try scoring antics, Riddel's superb solo try right on fulltime brought up 50 unanswered points for the Dragons as he had great pleasure in telling everyone.
10. Mark O'Meley - O'Meley's second try of the season helped send the Raiders to their sixth defeat in eight away games this season. The clincher in the 65th minute was scored by the Bulldogs prop Mark O'Meley, backing up three days after the second State of Origin match. Gaining just over 200 metres in the match, O'Meley proved he is one of the in form props in the competition at the moment.
11. Kevin Campion - The passion for the game that Kevin Campion has shows through on the field. Playing against his old club, the Warriors on Sunday, Campion true worth in defence came into play as the Warriors played desperation football trying to lift themselves off the bottom of the table.
12. Dean Young - With the Dragons playing exhilerating football on Sunday afternoon against Wests Tigers, Dean Young had his fair share of glory as well. Young capped off a magnificent performance with a 55 metre bust down the middle to score an exciting try.
13. Frank Pritchard - With a lot of their top line players still out with injuries, other players in the Panthers side are stepping up in their absence. None more so than interchange forward Frank Pritchard. During the game his attacking skills came to the fore. His try not long into the second half starting a fierce comeback from the Panthers over the Sharks at Toyota Park. He ran onto a perfect pass fron Panther's hooker Priddis to score. Two minutes later he busted through the Sharks defence setting up a try for Roberts. In the end the Panthers winning comfortably.
14. Brett Sherwin - Bulldogs half Brent Sherwin caused plenty of headaches with some neat changes of play around the ruck area and his outside backs threatened the Raiders right-hand side defence at regular intervals during the match on Saturday eveing at Gosford.
15. Brad Fittler - Two days after his comeback into the State Of Origin series, Fittler was back to his dangerous best on Friday night at Aussie Stadium when the Roosters took it to the Knights. With a lot of the Roosters also backing up from SOO, Fittler made their job easier directing play extremely well around the field for his side. Two tries in the first 15 minutes to the veteran five-eighth was a fine effort.
16. Nathan Hindmarsh - Whatever Nathan Hindmarsh has for breakfast certainly works, the man never gives up. As shown week in, week out, Hindmarsh is the hardest worker in the Parramatta side. A massive 44 tackles, 15 hitups and 135 metres gained just showed what an asset his is for the Eels side. Not to mention also backing up from the second SOO game.
17. Andrew Walker - A spirited comeback from the Sea Eagles on Saturday night was not enough to take the win at home over the Rabbitohs, however they came real close. Walker's kicking game was the difference in the second half, but the 4 tries in 14 minutes was not enough to nail the handy lead the Rabbitohs had put up in the first half.