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 25.
The intensity has stepped up in these last rounds of the competition. The Rabbitohs and Broncos fought out only the second draw since the NRL introduced the golden point at the start of last season. The Warriors and the Sea Eagles, although both losing, showed they are capable of pushing the top sides. And the Cowboys now have a secured a spot in the play-offs for the first time since they first entered the top grade competition back in 1995. Wests Tigers still have a shot at the top 8 in Round 26 as do the Sharks and the Raiders.
Leagueunlimited Team of the Week - Round 25:
1. Matthew Bowen - Cowboys - With the 2004 Cowboys side making history for the Club by securing a place in the finals, the workload of their fullback went a long way to helping their cause. Bowen was outstanding in a very important game for the Cowboys when they travelled to Campbelltown to play Wests Tigers. His quick work around the ruck very impressive as he showed with his try in the second half.
2. Shannon Hegarty - Roosters - Hegarty returning from injury put on a fine display for the Roosters in their close win over the Warriors early on Sunday afternoon. Not afraid to take the ball up, Hegarty made a lot of metres at times spreading the defence wide open. His offloading causes the defence problems numerous times.
3. Steven Bell - Storm - Steven Bell seemed to cause a lot of headaches for the Sharks defence on Saturday night and was rewarded with a try in the second half for his efforts. In a game that was important to both sides, the win for the Storm was deserved.
4. Brent Tate - Broncos - In a game that went the full distance, extra time and still ended in a draw, Tate along with the more experienced players in the side, pulled out everything to help their side to a draw against the Rabbitohs on Saturday evening at Aussie Stadium. With many injuries in the Broncos side, the match was destined to be tough for the visitors and thanks to the commitment shown by the likes of Tate, a upset never came to fruition. The sight of him down with an ankle injury early in the second half not one the coaching staff would need at this stage of the competition.
5. Nathan Blacklock - Dragons - Blacklock came into his own when the Dragons looked down and out against the Sea Eagles on Sunday afternoon trailing by 24-4 at the break. His two tries close together midway through the second half gave us just a hint of what was about to unfold as the Dragons stormed their way back into the match and ultimately to victory.
6. Preston Campbell - Panthers - A fine performance by the Panthers over the Eels on Saturday night showed everyone they are for than ready for finals football. After a close tussle in the first half Campbell's try was the beginning of the end for Parramatta as the Panthers went on to win quite comfortably. Netting 5/6 goals was a big help with the Eels kicker on song.
7. Matt Orford - Storm - Although Orford's goal kicking wasn't as good as usual keeping the Sharks in the hunt, his general field play certainly made up for it as his side went on to win well. Kearney must've thought he could do better, but kicked a shocker from right out in front, maybe realising Orford is the better man for the job.
8. Mark O'Meley - Bulldogs - O'Meley was like a man possessed in Friday's night game against the Knights. Robbie O'Davis literally bounced off his big frame in the second of his tries early in the match. He proved unstoppable close to the line and the defence of the Newcastle side suffered many times when O'Meley had the ball in his hand.
9. Craig Wing - Roosters - Wing scored two great tries on Sunday afternoon in the match across the Tasman against the Vodafone Warriors. His ball skills were on display especially with his second try when he sucked the defence in superbly to score in the corner for his side.
10. Steven Price - Bulldogs - The Knights had a glimmer of hope at play-off contention but they were well and truely squashed when the Bulldogs played them on Friday night at Telstra Stadium. Price was unbelievable in his work rate tirelessly taking the ball to the line and regularly breaking through the defence or offloading. He will be sorely missed as he heads across the Tasman for next year.
11. Nathan Hindmarsh - Eels - With the news that Hindmarsh was staying put for another four years, he and the team obviously lifted for their home game against the 2003 Premiers on Saturday night. Once more he led from the front causing havoc amongst the Penrith defence.
12. Travis Norton - Cowboys - The experience of Norton in important matches was noticeable when the Cowboys took on the Wests Tigers in Sydney on Sunday afternoon. Leading from the front as expected Norton wasn't shying away from the job at any stage of the match.
13. Ashley Harrison - Rabbitohs - Harrison led from the front in the match against the Broncos and almost helped pull off a great victory. The Rabbitohs showed quite a few critics what they were made of even though they are at the bottom of the table. Harrison was impressive for his side. His try early in the second half set the stage for a great comeback by the Rabbitohs against a tiring Broncos outfit.
14. Mathew Head - Dragons - After looking as though the Dragons were on their way to a hiding by the Sea Eagles on Sunday afternoon, the fans who remained at Oki Jubilee Stadium Kogarah witnessed one of the most impressive comebacks by any side for quite a while as the Dragons defiantly fought their way back into the match. Head was relieved of kicking duties as Riddell took over the reins, leaving Head to concentrate on his field play which he did well.
15. Michael Monaghan - Sea Eagles - Monaghan was on fire in the first half of the match against the Dragons which saw Steve Menzies touch down to overtake Frank Burge as the leading try-scoring forward of all time. Unfortunately for the Sea Eagles the Dragons absorbed the pressure put on them to surge back into the game and take the win which just may see them take a Top 4 spot.
16. Carl Webb - Broncos - Carl Webb had the Rabbitohs defence stretched to say the least one more than one occasion. A busy man in a game that zapped almost every player's energy after the extra time could only leave both side equal on points at 34 all.
17. Roy Bell - Rabbitohs - The field goal attempt by Bell midway through the Golen Point time in the match against the Broncos could've won the game for his side and came very close to doing so. The small Rabbitohs fullback had a fine match at the back of the pack, and showed he wasn't overawed by the occasion scoring 2 tries in the match.