2004 NRL season

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2004 National Rugby League
Teams 15
Premiers Canterbury colours.svg Bulldogs (8th title)
Minor premiers Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters (16th title)
Matches played 189
Points scored 9086 (total)
48.074 (per match)
Attendance 3,010,639 (total)
15,929 (per match)
Top point scorer(s) Canterbury colours.svg Hazem El Masri (342)
Top try scorer(s) Penrith colours.svg Amos Roberts (23)

The 2004 NRL season (also known as the 2004 Telstra Premiership due to sponsorship from Telstra) was the 97th season of professional rugby league football in Australia, and the seventh run by the National Rugby League. Fifteen clubs competed during the regular season before the top eight finishing teams contested the finals series. The Bulldogs defeated the Sydney Roosters in the 2004 NRL grand final and in doing so claimed their eighth premiership.

Pre-season[edit]

The beginning of the season was largely overshadowed with several Bulldogs players questioned by police in relation to an alleged rape of a 20-year-old Coffs Harbour woman.[1] An independent investigator, former New South Wales chief of detectives, would later fail to find any evidence of misconduct on behalf of the players, and no charges were pressed.

The 2004 World Club Challenge was held on Friday, 13 February 2004, at the Alfred McAlpine Stadium, Huddersfield, England. The game was contested by Bradford Bulls and Penrith Panthers and won by the home team.

The salary cap for the 2004 season was A$3.25 million per club for their 25 highest-paid players.[2]

Regular season[edit]

Due to a perceived emphasis in the game on defence, NRL referees were instructed to call out "surrender tackle" this season when ball carriers submit at the ruck, signalling the defence to slow down the tackle in order for defenders to reset.[3]

The first round of the season began on Friday, 12 March with 2003 champions, the Penrith Panthers losing 14–20 to the Newcastle Knights before a crowd of 19,936 at Penrith Stadium.[4]

During a match between the Broncos and the Tigers, the Broncos fielded 14 men at one stage of the Campbelltown Stadium match. In the 60th minute, Brisbane's Shane Webcke knocked out by Tiger Bryce Gibbs. Corey Parker was brought onto the ground while Webcke was still being assisted off. Parker immediately scored off a Darren Lockyer pass and started a Broncos revival (they trailed 24–8 at halftime) which later saw them win 24–32. But, after the fourteenth man was investigated, the Broncos were stripped of the two competition points,[5] which were reinstated weeks later.

A significant comeback was seen in a round 25 clash between the St George Dragons and Manly. Trailing 34–10 after 53 minutes the Dragons came back to win the match 36–34. This match stood in second-place in the rankings of the biggest comebacks in Australian premiership history.

Several players and coaches also made the headlines for the wrong reasons. Jamie Lyon walked out on the Parramatta club after the first round citing burnout and dissatisfaction with living in Sydney, and would later move to the UK for a successful European Super League career. Coaches Daniel Anderson and Paul Langmack would have their contracts terminated at the New Zealand Warriors and South Sydney Rabbitohs respectively.

Andrew Johns was injured in Newcastle's third game of the season against Parramatta, and subsequently missed the remainder of the season. The Knights missed the finals of the NRL for the first time since 1996.

2004 was also notable for the emergence of teenage players Sonny Bill Williams (Bulldogs) and Karmichael Hunt (Brisbane Broncos), and their performances, mature beyond their years, would be critical to the fortunes of their clubs.

Due to a favourable draw the Sydney Roosters did not play a premiership match in Queensland during the season.

Teams[edit]

The line-up of fifteen teams for the 2004 premiership remained unchanged from the previous season.

Brisbane Broncos
17th season
Ground: Suncorp Stadium
Coach: Wayne Bennett
Captain: Gorden Tallis
Canterbury Bulldogs home jersey 1997.svg
Bulldogs RLFC
70th season
Ground: Sydney Showground & Telstra Stadium
Coach: Steve Folkes
Captain: Steve Price
Canberra Raiders
23rd season
Ground: Canberra Stadium
Coach: Matthew Elliott
Captain: Simon Woolford
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
38th season
Ground: Toyota Stadium
Coach: Stuart Raper
Captain: Brett Kimmorley
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
55th season
Ground: Brookvale Oval
Coach: Des Hasler
Captain: Steve Menzies
Melbourne Storm
7th season
Ground Olympic Park Stadium
Coach: Craig Bellamy
Captain: Stephen Kearney
Newcastle Knights home jersey 2001.svg
Newcastle Knights
17th season
Ground: EnergyAustralia Stadium
Coach: Michael Hagan
Captain: Andrew Johns
New Zealand home jersey 2003.svg
New Zealand Warriors
10th season
Ground: Ericsson Stadium
Coach: Daniel AndersonTony Kemp
Captain: Stacey Jones
North Queensland Cowboys
10th season
Ground: Dairy Farmers Stadium
Coach: Graham Murray
Captain: Travis Norton
Parramatta Eels
58th season
Ground: Parramatta Stadium
Coach: Brian Smith
Captain: Nathan Cayless
Penrith Panthers home jersey 2004.svg
Penrith Panthers
38th season
Ground: Penrith Stadium
Coach: John Lang
Captain: Craig Gower
South Sydney Rabbitohs
95th season
Ground: Aussie Stadium
Coach: Paul LangmackArthur Kitinas
Captain: Bryan Fletcher
Sydney Roosters
97th season
Ground: Aussie Stadium
Coach: Ricky Stuart
Captain: Brad Fittler
St. George Illawarra Dragons home jersey 1999.svg
St. George Illawarra Dragons
6th season
Ground: OKI Jubilee Stadium & WIN Stadium
Coach: Nathan Brown
Captain: Trent Barrett
Wests Tigers
5th season
Ground: Campbelltown Stadium & Leichhardt Oval
Coach: Tim Sheens
Captain: Scott Sattler & Darren Senter

Advertising[edit]

In 2004 the NRL and their advertising agency MJW Hakuhodo continued with their use of the Hoodoo Gurus' 1987 hit "What's My Scene" with reworked lyrics as "That's My Team".

In addition to the big 60-second season launch TV commercial, three shorter executions were produced: one targeting young men, another targeting women and one aimed at families. In a year where sexual assault allegations damaged perceptions and the reputation of the code, retaining female fans was seen as a massive challenge.[6]

Statistics and records[edit]

  • Anthony Minichiello ran 4,590 metres with the ball in 2004, more than any other player in the competition.[7]
  • Hazem El Masri's tally of 342 points from 2004 still stands as the individual record for most points scored in a season in Australian club rugby league history.
  • The St. George Illawarra Dragons's club record for their biggest comeback was set at 24 points when they came from 34–10 down with only 25 minutes remaining to win 36–34 against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles.
  • The Brisbane Broncos' 10–0 loss to the Cowboys was their first ever against the Townsville-based club, and the first time they had been held scoreless in Queensland.
  • The Wests Tigers were held scoreless in consecutive weeks (rounds 15 and 16), those two rounds, the Tigers conceded 50+ points, a 50–0 loss to St. George Illawarra Dragons in round 15 and a 56–0 loss to the Sydney Roosters in round 16. Also the Tigers were held scoreless twice against the Roosters, the other time, a 22–0 scoreline in round 9.
  • The North Queensland Cowboys' round 25 clash against the Wests Tigers was their first match broadcast by the Nine Network since round 1, 1995.

Ladder[edit]

Team Pld W D L B PF PA PD Pts
1 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney 24 19 0 5 2 710 368 +342 42
2 Canterbury colours.svg Bulldogs 24 19 0 5 2 760 491 +269 42
3 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane 24 16 1 7 2 602 533 +69 37
4 Panthers colours.svg Penrith 24 15 0 9 2 672 567 +105 34
5 St. George colours.svg St George Illawarra 24 14 0 10 2 624 415 +209 32
6 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne 24 13 0 11 2 684 517 +167 30
7 North Queensland colours.svg North Queensland 24 12 1 11 2 526 514 +12 29
8 Canberra colours.svg Canberra 24 11 0 13 2 554 613 −59 26
9 Wests Tigers colours.svg Wests Tigers 24 10 0 14 2 509 534 −25 24
10 Newcastle colours.svg Newcastle 24 10 0 14 2 516 617 −101 24
11 Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla-Suntherland 24 10 0 14 2 528 645 −117 24
12 Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta 24 9 0 15 2 517 626 −109 22
13 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah 24 9 0 15 2 615 754 −139 22
14 New Zealand colours.svg New Zealand 24 6 0 18 2 427 693 −266 16
15 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 24 5 2 17 2 455 812 −357 16

Ladder Progression[edit]

  • Numbers highlighted in green indicate that the team finished the round inside the top 8.
  • Numbers highlighted in blue indicates the team finished first on the ladder in that round.
  • Numbers highlighted in red indicates the team finished last place on the ladder in that round.
  • Underlined numbers indicate that the team had a bye during that round.
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26
1 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters 2 4 6 6 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 20 22 24 26 28 28 30 32 34 34 36 38 40 42
2 Canterbury colours.svg Bulldogs 2 4 4 6 8 10 12 14 14 16 16 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38 38 40 42
3 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane 2 2 4 6 8 10 12 12 14 14 16 18 18 20 22 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 34 36 37 37
4 Panthers colours.svg Penrith 0 2 4 6 8 8 8 10 12 14 16 18 18 18 20 22 22 22 24 26 26 28 28 30 32 34
5 St. George colours.svg St. George-Illawarra 0 2 2 4 6 8 8 10 10 10 12 12 12 14 16 18 20 20 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34
6 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne 2 2 4 4 4 6 8 8 8 10 12 14 16 16 18 20 22 22 22 24 24 24 26 28 30 30
7 North Queensland colours.svg North Queensland 0 2 2 2 4 4 4 6 8 9 9 11 13 15 17 17 17 17 19 21 23 23 25 25 27 29
8 Canberra colours.svg Canberra 2 2 4 6 8 8 10 10 10 10 10 12 12 14 14 16 18 20 20 22 22 22 22 22 24 26
9 Wests Tigers colours.svg Wests Tigers 2 2 2 4 4 6 8 8 8 10 12 14 14 16 16 16 16 16 18 18 20 22 24 24 24 24
10 Newcastle colours.svg Newcastle 2 4 4 4 6 6 6 8 10 12 14 14 14 14 14 16 16 18 18 18 20 22 22 22 22 24
11 Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla-Sutherland 0 0 2 2 2 4 6 6 8 8 10 12 14 14 14 16 18 20 20 20 20 22 22 24 24 24
12 Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta 0 2 4 6 6 8 8 8 10 10 10 10 12 14 14 14 14 16 16 16 16 18 20 22 22 22
13 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 4 6 8 8 8 10 10 10 10 10 12 14 14 16 16 18 20 20 22
14 New Zealand colours.svg New Zealand 0 0 0 2 2 2 4 6 6 6 8 8 10 10 10 10 12 12 14 14 16 16 16 16 16 16
15 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 0 2 4 6 6 6 6 6 6 7 7 7 9 11 13 13 13 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 16 16


Finals series[edit]

To decide the grand finalists from the top eight finishing teams, the NRL adopts the McIntyre Final Eight System.

The North Queensland Cowboys qualified for the finals for the first time in their ten-year history, and shocked everybody by finishing just one game short of the grand final. During the finals, they won their first ever game against Queensland rivals Brisbane, thus ending the career of Broncos stalwart Gorden Tallis. Also retiring after the 2004 finals series were Brad Fittler, Ryan Girdler and Kevin Campion.

St. George Illawarra Dragons almost capped a remarkable comeback when they trailed 24–0 only after half an hour of play to come back to only lose 31–30 against the Penrith Panthers in the first Qualifying Final. In doing so the Dragons became the first team to finish fifth to bow out after the first week of the finals, giving Penrith a home preliminary final; despite leading 8–4 at halftime in their preliminary final against the Bulldogs, they lost 30–14, thus ending their premiership defence.

Another notable game was the seventh-placed North Queensland Cowboys reaching the finals for the first time and upsetting the second-placed and competition favourites the Bulldogs 30–22 in the 3rd Qualifying Final. The Cowboys also defeated the Brisbane Broncos for the first time ever during the semi finals but were unable to reach the Grand Final when they lost to the Sydney Roosters in the Preliminary Final.

The Bulldogs claimed their 8th premiership title by beating the Roosters in the Grand Final.

Home Score Away Match Information
Date and Time Venue Referee Crowd
Qualifying Finals
Panthers colours.svg Penrith Panthers 31 – 30 St. George colours.svg St. George Illawarra Dragons 10 September 2004 Penrith Football Stadium Sean Hampstead 21,963
Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos 14 – 31 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm 11 September 2004 Suncorp Stadium Steve Clark 31,100
Canterbury colours.svg Bulldogs 22 – 30 North Queensland colours.svg North Queensland Cowboys 11 September 2004 Telstra Stadium Tim Mander 18,371
Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters 38 – 12 Canberra colours.svg Canberra Raiders 12 September 2004 Aussie Stadium Paul Simpkins 18,375
Semi-finals
North Queensland colours.svg North Queensland Cowboys 10 – 0 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos 18 September 2004 Dairy Farmers Stadium¹ Tim Mander 24,989
Canterbury colours.svg Bulldogs RLFC 43 – 18 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm 19 September 2004 Aussie Stadium Paul Simpkins 23,750
Preliminary Finals
Panthers colours.svg Penrith Panthers 14 – 30 Canterbury colours.svg Bulldogs 25 September 2004 Aussie Stadium Tim Mander 37,868
Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters 19 – 16 North Queensland colours.svg North Queensland Cowboys 26 September 2004 Telstra Stadium Paul Simpkins 43,048

¹ Game relocated to Dairy Farmers Stadium, the Cowboys' home ground, from Aussie Stadium. Cowboys designated home team despite the Broncos finishing higher on the table.

Grand final[edit]

Main article: 2004 NRL grand final
4 October
19:00 AEST
Bulldogs 16–13 Sydney Roosters
Tries:
Matt Utai (2)
Hazem El Masri
Goals:
Hazem El Masri (2/4)
Report Tries:
Anthony Minichiello
Chris Walker
Goals:
Craig Fitzgibbon (2/2)
Field goal
Brett Finch
Telstra Stadium, Sydney
Attendance: 82,127[8]
Referee/s: Tim Mander
Man of the Match: Willie Mason

External links[edit]

Sources and Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ abc.net.au (24 February 2004). "Bulldogs' accuser gives statement to police". ABC News (Australia: ABC). Retrieved 6 March 2011. 
  2. ^ "NRL salary cap guide | | ONE SPORT". tvnz.co.nz. 22 February 2006. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  3. ^ Masters, Roy (20 January 2005). "Attacking ploy beaten into submission". The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia: Fairfax Digital). Retrieved 27 December 2009. 
  4. ^ Masters, Roy (13 March 2004). "Knights clean up as Penrith discovers success is a wet cake of soap". The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia: Fairfax Media). Retrieved 6 March 2011. 
  5. ^ Gould, Phil (4 April 2004). "Winning the war on error". The Sun-Herald (Australia: Fairfax). Retrieved 4 December 2009. 
  6. ^ B&T magazine article 2004
  7. ^ Proszenko, Adrian (6 May 2012). "Gallen set to smash record". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  8. ^ D'Souza, Miguel. "Grand Final History". wwos.ninemsn.com.au. AAP. Retrieved 8 September 2013.