You don't care if you're running first. This is about next year. What ...
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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 19.
In somewhat testing wintry conditions for most of the games in Round 19, some great plays had the diehard fans battling cold and wind, on the edge of their seats. The Tigers win over the Melbourne Storm side showed they are back on track as are the Penrith Panthers. The round started off superbly with a tough tussle between the Dragons and Roosters.
Leagueunlimited Team of the Week - Round 19:
1. Clint Greenshields - In what was a tough round for fullbacks, Greenshields played exceedingly well covering for Hornby who moved into the stand-off position for the Dragons in Friday night's game against the Roosters. Greenshields covered well at the back of the pack although he spent 10 minutes on the sideline sinbinned early in the second half of the match.
2. Hazem El Masri - El Masri showed his worth in the game against the Sharks on Sunday. He scored 20 points in the match, including 3 tries, one being a vital try in the second half to help consolidate the win for the Bulldogs.
3. John Wilson - Wests Tigers kept their unbeaten record in 2004 at Leichhardt Oval alive on Saturday night with a dominant 32-18 victory over the 4th placed Melbourne Storm, with the Storm still winless at Leichhardt. Wilson's superb intercept kept the fans on the edge of their seats as he looked to be mowed down, only to duck and weave to score.
4. Lee Hookey - In a battle at the bottom of the ladder the Rabbitohs were beaten in the last few minutes of the match against the Warriors in Auckland on Sunday afternoon. Although his side was beaten, Hookey showed his speed at times when it counted scoring a try in what looked like a comeback by the losing side.
5. Amos Roberts - Once again Roberts was on fire for the Panthers, this time back in his normal position on the wing. And once again he caused the opposition strife, this time the Raiders, as he crossed the line twice for his side. Having played in the halves with the injuries to Gower and Campbell, Roberts moved freely around the field and looked dangerous.
6. Darren Lockyer - Brisbane recorded its first win in Newcastle since 1998, defeating the Knights 16-12 in an entertaining match in cold and grotty conditions. The brilliance of Darren Lockyer which again got Brisbane home, was on display with the star five-eighth once again displaying the attacking potency setting up tries and generally causing havoc amongst the Knights defenders.
7. Craig Gower - Returning from injury, the true worth of Gower shone through for his side that obviously had missed his direction on the field. His kicking game in partuicular playing a big part in the Panthers attack as it offered more options for his outside backs.
8. John Skandalis - Coupled with his front row partner Payten, Skandalis caused a lot of grief amongst the Melbourne Storm side on Saturday night at Leichhardt Oval. Making almost 150 metres, Skandalis led the Tigers from the front as he does week after week.
9. Louis Anderson - With the injury to Monty Beetham, Louis Anderson was asked to step into the hooking roll for the Warriors match against the Rabbitohs on Sunday in Auckland, and Anderson responded with a fine match for his side. Although missing a couple of vital tackles, for most of the game his dummy half running was sound and coupling with his brother Vinnie, their combined effort on defence was outstanding. A try for Anderson topping off a good effort.
10. Matt Parsons - In another game from Round 19 played in horrid conditions, it was up to the big Newcastle men to try and stem the attack from the Broncos. They nearly pulled it off as the Broncos won by a mere 4 points. A solid performance by Parsons certainly gave the Knights a good shot at victory, unfortunately it was not quite enough.
11. Luke O'Donnell - O'Donnell did the hard yards on Saturday night in Townsville to help his side with their win over the visiting Eels. All the Cowboys forwards put in a tower of work in a combined effort for a tough and necessary win to keep the Cowboys in with a shot at the play-offs.
12. Craig Fitzgibbon - A mammoth 52 tackles by the big Roosters second rower plus a top goal kcker match, not to mention his metres gained on attack, shows this man has it all. A definite asset to any side and in the come from behind win for the Roosters over the Dragons on Friday night, a necessity.
13. Scott Sattler - After the O'Neill incident on Saturday night, the Tigers certainly fired up against the Storm and finished the game with vegeance. Sattler's try from the back of a scrum showed the grim determination the team had to nail home the win.
14. Nathan Fien - Finally ending their 3 game losing streak, the Cowboys managed a sometimes sloppy but convincing win over the Eels on Saturday night in Townsville. Fien showed he's not afraid to do the work when necessary as he worked tirelessly all game for his side.
15. Brett Sherwin - In extremely windy conditions for the Bulldogs match against the Sharks on Sunday afternoon, Sherwin eventually adapted to the conditions well, assisting El Masri in the try that sealed the match. He also kicked a field goal in the last 10 minutes giving the Bulldogs the all important 7 point buffer before their last try was scored.
16. Mark O'Neill - The now famous incident that shocked the Wests Tigers fans was when Mark O'Neill was king hit by Danny Williams off the ball as he was returning to the defensive line with his back turned. Williams had broken O'Neill's nose 6 weeks earlier. Aside from the incident, O'Neill had a very solid game especially in defence, and scored a great try in a game he won't forget in a hurry.
17. Stacey Jones - Jones at times found himself the last line of defence as the Rabbitohs launched a come back attack against the Warriors after being 22-0 down. The strong wind at the ground obviously of benefit. Although allowing a try in, he also defending continuously. A burst of speed by the halfback alongside the speedster Meli, helped set up Louis Anderson for a fine try. And the perfect high bomb by Jones also help Fa'afili with his trademark high jump and score routine.