Today Sam Bourke takes a look at the optimism in the water out Bondi way, as the Sydney Roosters loo...
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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 17.
With the Origin reprensentative players out of the picture for Round 17, the chances of upsets in the round were on the cards. The results in the end went pretty much to plan with many tipsters grabbing 7/7. The Melbourne Storm side showed why they are definite Top 4 contenders, the Roosters proved to many critics they have depth in their side and the Bulldogs showed their younger players can also step up as the Sea Eagles pushed them hard for most of the match on Sunday.
Leagueunlimited Team of the Week - Round 17:
1. Steve Turner - With the in form Billy Slater out of the fullback position for the Storm, playing for Queensland on Wednesay, replacement Steve Turner had big boots to fill. A dropped high ball for his first touch on Friday night against the Panthers was not the start he wanted, but he sure made up for it time and time again as he scored a hat-trick of tries in a very fine display.
2. Todd Byrne - The Roosters were missing six Origin stars including skipper Brad Fittler .Winger Todd Byrne had a fine game on the wing with two tries for the Roosters, who maintained their average of scoring 30 points per game.
3. Adam Mogg - Mogg has proved he's worth his weight in gold for the Raiders in 2004. Once again a strong performance by the big centre including a 60 metre burst to score a try in the second half to the match to send the Raiders on their win way against the Tigers.
4. Clinton Toopi - Toopi along with many of the other Warriors players had their heads shaven for a fundraising venture. Whether that was difference on a cold, wet and windy Auckland night or not I'm not too sure but Toopi certainly was on fire as his side had a scrappy win over the Eels in horrid conditions. Toopi's defence and attack was a solid performance for the Warriors
5. Matt King - King continues to show good form after returning back from injury for the Storm. On Friday night against the Penrith side he was in try scoring mode as he notched up two more beside his name including a great move with centre partner MacDougall.
6. Matt Gafa - Matt Gafa put in another impressive showing, moving from pivot to the centres and later to the wing, where he picked up a try in the corner to seal the match against the Tigers on Saturday night in Canberra. A good night with the boot also helped the Raiders towards their victory.
7. Brett Finch - With 6 players out for Origin duties, it was up to the likes of Brett Finch to prove to all and sundry that the Roosters are still a mighty tough unit even without their stars. And this they did up against the Cowboys fighting to stay in the Top 8. Finch scoring two tries and leading the Roosters forwards well around the field certainly contributed to their win.
8. Danny Nutley - Nutley is a man that will continue to put in the work week after week. A try showing his strength early in the match laid the foundation for a great match by the Sharks front rower as his side managed a fine win over the Knights in Newcastle.
9. Matt Hilder - With Daniel Dumas leaving the match early in the Sharks game against the Knights, Michael Sullivan came into the game earlier than anticipated allowing Matt Hilder the freedom to move around more on the field. A massive 35 tackles was a fine defensive effort by the Cronulla youngster.
10. Richard Villasanti - The two front rowers for the Warriors put in massive yards on a horrible wintry Saturday night in Auckland when their side defeated the Eels. Great to see the team finally come back into form we have come to expect of them. Villasanti as well as putting in the metres on attack, saved at least two tries on the night.
11. Gorden Tallis - To see Tallis back in action and scoring a try was a great sight on Sunday afternoon when the Broncos without a lot of their frontline players due to Origin duty, fought hard and well for their win over the Rabbitohs. Tallis was right in the game very quickly and his time on the field was very useful and added the extra something the Broncos needed on the day.
12. Andrew Ryan - Former NSW backrower Andrew Ryan gave Blues selectors a not so gentle reminder of his talents, showing what they were missing, when he bagged a hat-trick to aid the Bulldogs to a 50-32 NRL win over the Manly Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval on Sunday.
13. Jason Crocker - Veteran Jason Croker was at the top of his game, leaving the Tigers left-hand side defence totally stretched throughout the match as he led his side to their second back-to-back win of the season in Canberra on Saturday against a Tigers side still searching for answers.
14. Karmichael Hunt - Hunt's 4 tries on Sunday against the Rabbitohs equalled the club record efforts of champion centre Steve Renouf and former Brisbane winger Wendell Sailor, the only other Broncos players to score four tries in a match. The second half of the match in particular was almost one way traffic for Hunt, a standout performance.
15. Paul Rauhihi - It is becoming more obvious week by week just how important Paul Rauhihi is to the Cowboys. Although his side lost on the night to the Bulldogs, a sterling effort by the big front rower running up over 174 metres is one to be admired.
16. Matt Orford - To top of a great performance for the Melbourne Storm on Friday night against the Panthers was Orford's 11 goals from 12 attempts as he became the first Storm player to pass the 600-point milestone. In an exciting game by the Melbourne Storm Orford and Hill paired up well to direct play almost continuously up to the tryline.
17. Roy Asotasi - In a high scoring game the Bulldogs were well led by their forward pack with not many NRL games under their belts. The front row were superb with Roy Asotasi, Hutch Maiava and debutant Trevor Thurling all made an impact. Asotasi and Maiava were powerful, breaking many tackles and off-loading to their supports.