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NRL week nine stand-out stars

By By John Whiting and Steven Upfold

Published: 12:40PM Tuesday May 15, 2007 Source: ONE Sport

Sea Eagles 22 - 12 Eels, Brookvale Oval

Sea Eagles: Michael Monaghan

The displaced halfback, looking for a way out of Brookvale so he can play in his preferred No.7 jersey, stole the show ahead of his more fancied team mate and fellow NSW Origin hopeful Matt Orford.

Monaghan, who has been key in Manly's outstanding start to the year, sparked his side from a 6-2 halftime deficit, set up the first of four Sea Eagles tries before almost scoring the second himself.

Eels: Nathan Cayless

As seems to be the blurb to his entire career, the former Kiwi captain was again impressive in a losing effort.

Cayless was the only Eels' forward to tally over 100 metres gained and in doing so provided two offloads for his team mates. Oh, and add 30 tackles to his name too.

Sharks 16 - 8 Broncos, Toyota Park

Sharks: Greg Bird

Who else could it be? Bird is playing out of his skin this season and could be named as the stand-out for the Sharks every single week. That in itself shows what a great player Cronulla has in the second-rower.

Against the Broncos he ran-up a massive 213 metres, eclipsed only by Misi Taulapapa's equally impressive total of 237. Bird had 31 tackles, two offloads and just to cap his night, got across for a try.

Broncos: Petero Civoniceva

Another player who is putting in the hard yards week in, week out. Certain to be handed another Queensland Origin jersey on Tuesday, Civoniceva was the bright spot in another lacklustre performance from Brisbane.

He crossed the 200 metre mark (209), and helped out his team-mates with six offloads. And the front-rower was his side's enforcer on defence with a huge 43 tackles.

Cowboys 12 - 22 Panthers, Dairy Farmers' Stadium

Cowboys: Sione Faumuina

Despite three errors, the former Warrior showed that when focused on football, he is as dangerous as anyone going around in the NRL.

His 143 metres-gained, which included two linebreaks, were tops for the home side while his 34 tackles also led his team.

Panthers: Joel Clinton

Anyone who racks up 140 metres gained, an offload and 26 tackles from the bench deserves a mention in post-game pundit talk.

But add to that Clinton's magnificent pick-up and subsequent try (remember he is a big boy) from a Peter Wallace kick that helped his side end a five-match losing streak, without Craig Gower for much of the match, in hostile territory at Dairy Farmers Stadium, and you've earned yourself a spot on this extra-special list.

Knights 24 - 18 Warriors, EnergyAustralia Stadium

Knights: Kurt Gidley

Take away the inevitable cheesy headline - "Warriors run giddy by Gidley" and you're left with a match winning performance from the in-form fullback.

While the Knights didn't play a great game against New Zealand, Gidley definitely did. With 191 metres, four offloads, two tries and four goals it's not hard to see why Newcastle came away with the result.

Warriors: Steve Price

If one thing has been made clear to me after nine rounds of the NRL it's this - Steve Price is clearly the Warriors' MVP for '07. Despite being one of the oldest players on the team, he is putting his hand up every week and leading by example.

Price eclipsed his average metres per game (180) with 184 on Saturday against a side which had the Warriors' number defensively. The no.10 was as solid as always on defence with 27 tackles.

Rabbitohs 10 - 16 Raiders, Telstra Stadium

Rabbitohs: Peter Cusack

The little-known co-captain of the Souths side was again outstanding as his team suffered another heartbreakingly close reverse.

The prop recorded 159 metres with the ball in hand as well as three offloads and led his team with 37 tackles. Those statistics deserve better.

Raiders: Alan Tongue

A week after his side were ripped apart by a second half Manly onslaught, Tongue clocked up 47 tackles as his side dug in defensively for their fourth win of the year.

The diminutive lock helped secure the points as Adrian Purtell scored after Tongue had hoisted a bomb with just three minutes to go.

Roosters 24 - 18 Titans, Aussie Stadium

Roosters: Craig Wing

Remember him?

We'll apparently Wing is still in a Roosters' jersey and the dummy-half put in a great shift on Sunday with several sniping runs - including the effort that set up the match-winning try for Minichiello.

Titans: Scott Prince

The Queensland Origin hopeful, who has Jonathan Thurston in his way, had a hand in his side's first two tries, the first of which was highly suspect, before scoring the third himself.

Prince hauled his side back into contention in a match they should have been shutout of well before Roosters' fullback Anthony Minichiello safely diffused a bomb under his own posts at the death.

Wests Tigers 27 - 8 Dragons, Telstra Stadium

Tigers: Brett Hodgson

The experienced custodian was once again the centre-point of the Tigers' attack in round nine. Hodgson looked dangerous every time he touched the ball and made good use of his supporting players.

He had 149 metres against a sloppy St George side as well as two line breaks, three offloads and three goals. The fact that Hodgson showed the ability to hurt the Dragons in so many ways gave him stand-out status.

Dragons: Chase Stanley

Another one of those team performances where you'd rather say no-one stood out. In all fairness however, Stanley was solid for his hapless side.

He had 86 metres and 19 tackles, showing some flashes of brilliance. He also scored the Dragons' only try.

Storm 38 - 14 Bulldogs, Olympic Park

Storm: Cooper Cronk

Cronk turned on the fireworks against the Bulldogs, orchestrating the blowout victory with ease. The halfback scored two tries of his own and directly set up three others.

His kicking game was terrific, especially around the goal-line. Cronk had 64 metres and three line breaks - providing scintillating viewing. If not for Johnathan Thurston Cronk would be wearing the Queensland no.7 jersey without doubt.

Bulldogs: Hazem El Masri

El Masri poured a touch of class on an otherwise disappointing game for the 'Dogs. He ran for 105 metres and had three line breaks, proving one of the few danger players for Melbourne.

El Masri dotted down for a try and kicked a goal. Enough said. The Bulldogs though, will want to forget round nine and start again next week.