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 20.
Some very close games dominated Round 20 of the NRL competition. With the wind down to the all important play-offs, the games in Round 20 were not the one way traffic we have had in the last few rounds. The Cowboys won in Newcastle in extra time, and the Raiders utilised the Golden Point rule in their narrow victory over the Warriors. The Dragons came away with the points in the local derby at Oki Jubilee Stadium on Sunday afternoon in front of a great crowd.
Leagueunlimited Team of the Week - Round 20:
1. Brett Hodgson - A brilliant dummy by Wests Tigers halfback Scott Prince set up Brett Hodgson perfectly to run onto the ball and score a try early in the first half when it looked as though the Bulldogs were settling into the game nicely when the two sides met on Friday night. Hodgson's defence at the back of his team was outstanding as the Bulldogs attack pounded the line. A great atmosphere at Campbelltown Stadium for the match.
2. Hazem El Masri - Hazem El Masri was again a major factor in the game against Wests Tigers scoring a try and kicking four goals in a game where both teams finished with four tries each. El Masri also became only the second player in premiership history to score 200 points for four consecutive seasons. South Sydney great Eric Simms first achieved the feat with double centuries from 1967 to 1970.
3. Ryan Cross - Two tries to the impressive Roosters centre helped his side with their victory over their inner city neighbours, the Rabbitohs on Saturday night at Aussie Stadium. In a game that will be remembered for Luke Ricketson screaming at Souths hooker Shane Walker to get up after a tackle, Cross caused a few headaches amongst the defenders with his two second half tries, and safe offloads.
4. Adam Mogg - The Raiders came away with the points against the Warriors on Sunday but in a sometimes sloppy game, saved their best for the 70th minute onwards. Adam Mogg was outstanding for the Raiders, setting up two tries and defending strongly out wide.
5. Reece Simmonds - Simmonds performed extremely well on Sunday afternoon in the game against the Sharks scoring two tries. His second try came from a super Ashton Sims offload which put Matt Cooper into space and the NSW centre made no mistake in passing inside for Simmonds, sealing the match for the Dragons..
6. Trent Barrett - Barrett led his troops by example in the game against the Sharks. Many times he out manoeuvred the defenders to put a man through the gap. His try in the first half of the match on the back of some terrific forward play was a great team effort finished off well by the captain, ducking under 2 defenders to score.
7. Matt Orford - A last minute try to Melbourne Storm halfback Matt Orford sealed a dramatic 22-16 win over the Parramatta Eels at Olympic Park on Saturday night. Orford?s inspirational try, his third for the night, saved the Storm from going to extra time after scores were tied with just 17 seconds left in the match. The 26 year old Storm halfback passed 700 first-grade points (from just 98 matches).
8. Iafeta Paleaasina - Although his side went down to the Raiders in Golden Point time, Paleaasina was by far the best forward on the field on Sunday afternoon in Canberra. Just under 200 metres gained by the big man was outstanding as he took the ball up tirelessly for an impressive 22 hit-ups, something his fellow team-mates could learn from.
9. Danny Buderus - The heartbreak of the Golden Point was surely felt by the Knights side at home when the Cowboys came away with the 2 competition points on Sunday afternoon. Once again Buderus led the way on defence for the Knights but in the end the disappointment was obvious on the faces of the Knights players.
10. Steve Price - Making a massive 200 metres in the match against Wests Tigers, as well as topping the tackle count for his side, Price proved his worth yet again. Both teams played some excellent football in a high standard game and when crucial tackles were needed, Price was there.
11. Shane Tronc - Tronc has gone from the young kid on the block for the Cowboys, to a force to be reckoned with as he at times demolished the Knights defence. A sound game by the youngster to help his side into the Top 8 after winning the game in extra time in Newcastle..
12. Ashton Sims - In a sometimes messy game against the Sharks on Sunday, Sims caused more than his fair share of hassles for the defence. His smart play combining well with Cooper, helped set up Riddell's try late in the match, leading to the Dragons victory.
13. Carl Webb - Brisbane Broncos player Carl Webb scored a try within 2 minutes of the match against the Sea Eagles and played a hand in a second just six minutes later to put Lockyer under the posts in another impressive display since his recall to the Broncos line-up.
14. Michael Weyman - The future of the Raiders looks to be in good hands, after the superb displays shown by relative inexperienced top-graders such as Weyman. Playing his first top grade match since the Raiders 17-16 semi-final loss to the Warriors last season, he proved close to unstoppable with the ball in his hands causing the Warriors defenders a lot of bother.
15. Casey McGuire - McGuire had a sound game for the Broncos when they took on the Sea Eagles on Saturday evening at Suncorp Stadium. Backing up Lockyer well in the halves, his defence was also on song.
16. Scott Hill - In a game the Melbourne side were fortunate to win over the Parramatta Eels in front of their home crowd, Hill's experience and defence coupled with some dynamic plays between the two Storm halves, certainly brought many sighs of relief around Olympic Park at times.
17. Joe Williams - Once again Williams shows the talent that he is when the Rabbitohs took on the Roosters at Aussie Stadium on Saturday night. Some fine little darts had the Roosters wrong-footed at times. Although his team lost, they caused the Roosters players a few headaches at times.