GREATEST FINISHES IN RUGBY LEAGUE GRAND FINAL HISTORY
By Scott Bailey
No.1 – 1989
Canberra bt Balmain 19-14
Balmain looked certain to claim their first premiership in 20 years before disaster struck with 90 seconds left on the clock. Canberra five-eighth Chris O’Sullivan hoisted a bomb and after it was allowed to bounce, Laurie Daley palmed it to John Ferguson, who scored next to the posts. Mal Meninga converted, sending it into extra time and the Raiders never looked back.
No.2 – 2015
North Queensland bt Brisbane 17-16
The scene couldn’t have been better set. After Kyle Feldt scored from a miracle Michael Morgan flick pass on the siren, four-time Dally M Medallist Johnathan Thurston had a chance to win in it from the sideline. Unfortunately no one told the rugby league Gods that. The kick hit the upright, and bounced away. Moments later, Thurston became the rightful hero when he slotted over a golden-point field goal to claim the Cowboys first title.
No.3 – 1997
Newcastle bt Manly 22-16
With the game at war and the competition’s split, everyone expected the dominant, and largely unpopular, Manly side to trample the Knights. Instead, the feel-good story of the decade took place. Andrew Johns engineered the most unlikely title, sending fullback Darren Albert with nine seconds of regular time remaining to break a 16-all deadlock.
No.4 – 1955
South Sydney bt Newtown 12-11
The Rabbitohs, who were last at the halfway mark of the season and won nine straight just to qualify for the finals, trailed by four with moments remaining in the decider. Captain-coach Jack Rayne kicked at the ball in the play-the-ball, sending it towards tryline and allowing halfback Conohue to score the three-point try. Souths converted, but still had to watch as Newtown missed a penalty kick on the siren which would have won it.
No.5 – 1999
Melbourne bt St George Illawarra 20-18
With the costliest high-tackle of all-time, the Dragons squandered a 14-point and handed Melbourne their first premiership. After Anthony Mundine had blown a certain try early in the second half, Dragons centre Jamie Ainscough collected Melbourne winger Craig Smith around the head with four minutes to play out wide. Video referee Chris Ward awarded a penalty try, allowing Matt Geyer to slot over an easy kick from in front of the posts.