Friday night saw Test footy cop another battering as the Kangaroos thrashed a rudderless New Zealand side at Aussie Stadium. The Kiwis belted out their traditional Haka but that was as close as they got to impressing the 30,000 strong crowd that came out expecting something special but were sorely disappointed.
The NRL didn't kick off until the Saturday with a jaded Brisbane outfit being out-gunned by the Sea Eagles. The Suncorp hoodoo continues for the Broncos who have won just one game in four showings at the old Lang Park.
Saturday night saw Saints being ambushed by a committed Parramatta outfit who continue to tell anyone who wants to listen that they are not done with yet in 2003.
Meanwhile, The Melbourne Storm made short work of the Rabbitohs prompting Souths' forward Paul Stringer to question the intellectual integrity of his club. In a comment targeted at club, coach and players alike, Stringer called South Sydney the 'dumbest team' he has ever played with. Paul has to be applauded on two counts: Firstly for his eloquence, and secondly for grasping the obvious.
Talking of mud slinging, Sharks coach Chris Anderson has basically told the Cronulla board to support him or sack him. Not backwards in coming forward, Ando gave his bosses both barrels following the Sharks heavy defeat at the hands of the Raiders. With still some time to run on his contract, the Aussie coach has made it clear that he won't go quietly. Last night there were unconfirmed rumours that coach Anderson had retired to a bottle of Drambuie and his Frank Sinatra's 'My Way' video.
While all this was going on, a far more gracious North Queensland team bowed out of the 2003 race after going down to the Bulldogs. With the top eight now seemingly out of reach, the Cowboys can now look to 2004 and dream again of that elusive 'rebuilding' season.
Meanwhile, there was a bloodbath happening at Campbelltown as the Wests Tigers smashed the Newcastle Knights out of the eight. Posting a half century, one could be excused for thinking that it's still contract time in Wests Tigers territory. Worrying signs for Newcastle who have decided to drop their bundle at the wrong end of the season. With the semis looming, the Knights have to pull their finger out sooner rather than later.
The final match of the round saw the mighty Panthers go down 38-24 to a red-hot Roosters side. A magnificent comeback from the Panthers who were at one point, 32-6 down but Easts proved too good and in this Expert's opinion, are the team to beat from here on in.
Next week (round 21, 01-03 August): Roosters v Raiders at Aussie Warriors v Storm at Ericsson Eels v Tigers at Parramatta Sharks v Broncos at Toyota Rabbitohs v Bulldogs at Aussie Knights v Manly in Newcastle St George v Panthers in Wollongong* Cowboys: Bye *Mondays Expert match of the round
Round 20 results at a glance home team listed first
BRONCOS 20 Tries: Parker, Ikin, Carlaw, Webb Goals: De Vere 2/4 defeated by SEA EAGLES 26 Tries: Donald 2, Whatmough, Cannings Goals: Williamson 5/7 Saturday 26 July 2003 5:30 PM Suncorp Stadium Referee: Sean Hampstead Crowd: 18,571 Leagueunlimited Player of the Year awards 3 - S Donald (Eagles) 2 - L Williamson (Eagles) 1 - S Webcke (Broncos)
EELS 36 Tries: Wagon 2, Moodie, Hindmarsh, Petersen Goals: Witt [pictured] 8/8 defeated DRAGONS 10 Tries: Blacklock, Howell Goals: Riddell 1/2 Saturday 26 July 2003 7:30 PM Parramatta Stadium Referee: Shayne Hayne Crowd: 14,056 Leagueunlimited.com player of the year: 3 - M Witt (Eels) 2 - D Wagon (Eels) 1 - N Hindmarsh (Eels)
STORM 24 Tries: Slater 2, Kearns, Geyer Goals: Orford 4/5 defeated SOUTHS 6 Tries: Fitzgerald Goals: Smith 1/1 Saturday 26 July 2003 7:30 PM Olympic Park Melbourne Referee: Tony Archer Crowd: 7,539 Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - B Slater (Storm) 2 - R Kearns (Storm) 1 - M Orford (Storm)
BULLDOGS 42 Tries: Price, Utai, Sherwin, Asotasi, Patten, Perry, Vagana Goals: E Masri 6/6 defeated COWBOYS 22 Tries: Hannay, McDonald, Sing, Myles Goals: Hannay 3/5 Sunday 27 July 2003 2:30 PM Sydney Showground Referee: Steve Lyons Crowd: 7,091 Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - B Sherwin (Bulldogs) 2 - P Rauhihi (Cowboys) 1 - S Price (Bulldogs)
RAIDERS: 40 TRIES: Lolesi, Hindmarsh, Mogg, Bulgarelli, McLinden, Graham, Croker GOALS: Schifcofske 6/8 defeated SHARKS: 12 TRIES: Galloway, Rieck GOALS: Anderson 2/2 Sunday 27 July 2003 3:00 PM Canberra Stadium Referee: Paul Simpkins Crowd: 9,563 Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - R O'Hara (Raiders) 2 - A Mogg (Raiders) 1 - J Bulgarelli (Raiders)
TIGERS 52 Tries: Wilson 3, Fitzhenry 2, Withers 2, Galea, Laffranchi Goals: Covell 8/9 defeated KNIGHTS 12 Tries: Quinn, Gidley Goals: Abraham 2/2 Sunday 27 July 2003 3:00 PM Campbelltown Stadium Referee: Stephen Clark Crowd: 9,563 Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - D Senter (Tigers) 2 - J Skandalis (Tigers) 1 - B Galea (Tigers)
PANTHERS 24 Tries: Campbell 2, Whatuira, Girdler, Goals: Girdler (4/4) defeated by ROOSTERS 38 Tries: Fittler 2, Payten, Flannery, Walker, Crocker Goals: Crocker (6/7) Sunday 27 July 2003 3:00 PM Penrith Football Stadium Referee: Tim Mander Crowd: 22,227 Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - M Crocker (Roosters) 2 - B Fittler (Roosters) 1 - S Sattler (Panthers)
Leagueunlimited.com Player of the Year Awards Round 20 Tally update: 21 points: D Lockyer (Broncos), M Orford (Storm) 19 points: P Campbell (Panthers) 18 points: L Bailey (Dragons) 17 points: B Sherwin (Bulldogs) 16 points: A Johns (Knights), C Schicofske (Raiders), B Slater (Storm) 15 points: B Firman (Dragons), C Gower (Panthers) 14 points: A Minichiello (Roosters) 13 points: C Fitzgibbon (Roosters), S Price (Bulldogs) 12 points: T Hill (Tigers), B Kimmorley (Sharks), C Wing (Roosters) 10 points: B Fittler (Roosters), S Jones (Warriors), PJ Marsh (Warriors), F Meli (Warriors), G Morrison (Cowboys), L Priddis (Panthers), M Sing (Cowboys), J Smith (Rabbitohs), L Withers (Tigers) 9 points: B Drew (Raiders), R Wesser (Panthers), B Walker (Sea Eagles) 8 points: M Bowen (Cowboys), K Campion (Cowboys), J Ferris (Sea Eagles), N Hindmarsh (Eels), D Nutley (Sharks), G Tallis (Broncos), R Wiki (Raiders) 7 points: S Berrigan (Broncos), D Buderus (Knights), M Geyer (Storm), L Hohaia (Warriors), S Kearney (Storm), M McLinden (Raiders), J Morris (Eels), S Timmins (Dragons), N Vagana (Bulldogs), M Witt (Eels) 6 points: T Carroll (Broncos), S Faumuina (Warriors), R Kearns (Storm), B Kennedy (Knights), M O'Meley (Bulldogs), D Peachey (Sharks), C Pearson (Wests Tigers), D Senter (Tigers), J Skandalis (Tigers), A Watmough (Sea Eagles), S Webcke (Broncos) 5 points: O Craigie (Rabbitohs), M Crocker (Roosters), M Gidley (Knights), J Hannay (Cowboys), B Harris (Bulldogs), J Lyon (Eels), W Mason (Bulldogs), J Monaghan (Raiders), C Randall (Sea Eagles), P Rauhihi (Cowboys), M Riddell (Dragons), J Seu Seu (Warriors), P Stringer (Rabbitohs), L Swann (Warriors), L Thompson (Dragons), S Woolford (Raiders) 4 points: D Abraham (Knights), P Bailey (Sharks), T Byrne (Roosters), S Donald (Sea Eagles), B Finch (Roosters), B Fletcher (Rabbitohs), J Galuvao (Panthers), M Gasnier (Dragons), B Hodgson (Eels), L McWilliams (Cowboys), T Puletua (Panthers), S Sattler (Panthers), T Tahu (Knights), B Tate (Broncos), P Whatuira (Panthers) 3 points: B Anasta (Bulldogs), S Bell (Storm), L Covell (Tigers), H El Masri (Bulldogs), P Graham (Raiders), A Guttenbeil (Warriors), L Lewis (Panthers), J Lowe (Cowboys), M McClinden (Raiders), A Morley (Roosters), D Myles (Cowboys), R O'Hara (Raiders), J Perry (Knights), L Rooney (Panthers), B Webb (Warriors) 2 points: N Blacklock (Dragons), D Byrne (Dragons), D Carlaw (Broncos), J Caine (Wests Tigers), L Dorn (Sea Eagles), J Feeney (Bulldogs), B Galea (Tigers), A Graham (Eels), 2 - T Grimaldi (Bulldogs), D Heckenberg (Eels), S Hill (Storm), L Hopkins (Eels), J Lolesi (Raiders), A MacDougall (Knights), N Merritt (Rabbitohs), A Mogg (Raiders), B Reeves (Sea Eagles), L Ricketson (Roosters), S Rudder (Knights), J Ryles (Dragons), M Sargent (Storm), S Tadulala (Storm), C Toopi (Warriors), D Wagon (Eels), L Williamson (Eagles) 1 point: T Barrett (Dragons), C Beattie (Sharks), J Bulgarelli (Raiders), M Creary (Sea Eagles), J Croker (Raiders), J Death (Rabbitohs), M De Vere (Broncos), S Dunley (Eels), H Fa'afili (Warriors), P Gallen (Sharks), R Girdler (Panthers), E Grothe (Roosters), A Hart (Rabbitohs), J Hodges (Roosters), S Kelly (Broncos), D Kidwell (Storm), L MacDougall (Rabbitohs), S Menzies (Sea Eagles), R O'Davis (Knights), M Peterson (Eels), A Quinn (Knights), C Sheppard (Cowboys), T Smith (Raiders), R Swain (Broncos), J Thurston (Bulldogs), C Webb (Broncos), D Widders (Eels), T Williams (Cowboys), A Woolnough (Knights)