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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 18.
Some major upsets this round following the State of Origin decider. The Rabbitohs and Eels had impressive wins over the Panthers and Roosters, the tipping for this round definitely not one to follow the books.
Leagueunlimited Team of the Week - Round 18:
1. Brett Stewart - In an impressive win for the Sea Eagles over Wests Tigers on Sunday at Brookvale Oval on Sunday afternoon, Stewart played very calm and collected football at the back of his pack. Despite a shoulder injury early in the second half, he bounced back into his position to play out the match.
2. Nathan Smith - Smith scored two tries in his first grade debut Smith. He scored the first and last tries of the first half, crashing over in the corner off an Adam Mogg pass in the fifth minute and then sprinting across the line in the 39th minute to put the Raiders in control.
3. Luke Burt - Luke Burt's hat-trick of first half tries was the foundation in Parramatta's 26-12 upset victory over the Sydney Roosters in Saturday'sclash at Parramatta Stadium. All Burt's three tries all came from halfback Michael Witt's bombs. In a game the Roosters were expected by most to win, the experienced Luke Burt had a field day.
4. Shaun Berrigan - The Friday night game at WIN Stadium between the Dragons and the Broncos seemed to be a roll on from the SOO game two nights earlier with an electric atmosphere. Unfortunately the Dragons weren't at their best. Berrigan seemed to make easy yards with the ball as the Broncos went on their winning way.
5. Matthew Peterson - Matt Petersen scored two tries in the game against the Roosters at Parramatta Stadium. Once again as with Burt's tries, the Roosters' right hand side was exposed. Petersen sealed the historic game for the Eels with his second try in the 79th minute of the match.
6. Braith Anasta - The Bulldogs moved into a share of top spot after their fine second half performance against the Storm on Sunday afternoon. Braith Anasta sealed the win with an angled field goal with six minutes remaining after the Bulldogs were down by 18-8 at the break only to keep the Storm scoreless in the second half of the match to win by 25-18.
7. Mark McLinden - Mark McLinden?s kicking game was again on song in the game against the Cowboys on Saturday night, giving his chasers plenty of time to get up on the ball carrier. For his try in the game McLinden accelerated through a yawning gap after an offload by Davico. Soon after McLinden slammed the ball down for a great try for the halfback.
8. Jason Stevens - In a tough, forwards dominated contest, it was big men who stood out as the best players on the night, with Jason Stevens up front inspirational. At times the Warriors defence had no answers as Stevens charged continuosly at them in the error riddled match.
9. John Morris - A fine all round performance by the Eels helped them grab their first victory over the competition leaders, the Roosters, since round 26, 2001 and their seventh of the season. 41 tackles by the Parramatta hooker was a fine effort in front of the home crowd at Parramatta.
10. Steve Price - After backing up from SOO, and being in the media spotlight regarding his 2005 plans, Steven Price managed to shut everything out as he set about leading his team from the front as alway, and it paid off.
11. Anthony Watmough - A try midway through the second period to Anthony Watmough topped off a great game as he played very well in the wet conditions. An all round effort by the big man attributed to the Sea Eagles victory over the Wests Tigers.
12. Neville Costigan - Costigan was very solid in his defence asgainst a lack lustre performance by the Dragons after the delight of the last two weeks. The Dragons defence came true however when Costigan had his only real chance at a try, culminating in being held up over the line.
13. Phil Bailey - Bailey's try early in the game against the Warriors on Saturday night was impressive as he started the move with a grubber kick and finished it off in style as he pounced on the ball to score the try. The game was riddled with errors throughout with the Sharks eventually coming away with the win.
14. Michael Vella - Michael Vella's stats speak for themselves - 43 tackles, 159 metres gained and 21 hitups. Impressive in a game which his side well and truly deserved to win. Vella along with Nathan Hindmarsh put in the hard yards in a great victory for their side.
15. Joe Williams - Young Rabbitohs halfback Joe Williams who last week signed a new contract with the Rabbitohs, was outstanding, setting up four of South's tries. In the 18th minute, Williams kicked a decisive 40/20 which led to a Wes Tillott video ref decision, his general kicking game causing the opposition a lot of bother, as does his goal kicking netting 5/6 this week.
16. David Thompson - The Rabbitohs played mistake free wet-weather football all afternoon, in stark contrast to the Panthers. David Thompson was inspirational as always with Mark Minichiello killing the defence down the left hand side all day as the Rabbitohs managed one of their most decisive victories in a long time.