3 days to go – LGIAsuper counts down to the NRL Grand Final
LGIAsuper’s countdown to the 2017 NRL Grand Final continues. Today, we look at 3 of the biggest turning points in rugby league Grand Final history.
Number 3 – Hanley rubbed out as Dogs power home
Ellery Hanley took the Winfield Cup by storm in 1988 with a series of scintillating performances that propelled the Balmain Tigers into the decider against the Canterbury Bulldogs.
The turning point in this game occurred in the 30th minute when Bulldogs five-eighth Terry Lamb connected with a late and high shot on the British star.
A concussed Hanley was helped from the field, the indiscretion went unpunished and the Bulldogs powered home in the second half to win 24-12.
With Balmain ahead 6-4 at the time of the incident, Lamb’s tackle was definitely one of rugby league’s biggest Grand Final turning points.
Number 2 – Famous fumble haunts Dragons
There’s no doubt about it - Anthony Mundine was on fire during the 1999 season. His 3 tries in the preliminary final against the Sharks had St George marked as firm favourites heading into the clash with the Melbourne Storm. It was all going to script at half-time with the Dragons up 14-0.
Then came the famous fumble.
When the Storm failed to clean up a Mundine grubber kick in the 50th minute, the mercurial five-eighth was on hand to pick up the loose ball. With an unmarked player on his left, Mundine went himself and inexplicably dropped the ball over the line. If he scored, the Dragons would have taken an almost unassailable 20-2 lead.
It was just the break the Storm needed to get back into the game.
In one of the most controversial finishes in the sport’s history, Melbourne were awarded a penalty try in the dying moments of the match to secure a 20-18 victory.
Number 1 – THAT tackle
The Panthers-Roosters Grand Final in 2003 had everything – huge hits, sublime skill, driving rain and of course, THAT tackle from Scott Sattler on Todd Byrne.
With the scores locked at 6-all in the 54th minute, a Ryan Girdler kick rebounded off the legs of Roosters lock Luke Ricketson into the arms of Brad Fittler who linked up with Byrne.
After evading the tackle of Luke Lewis, the Roosters flyer looked certain to score until a flying Sattler came across in cover and bundled him into touch.
Inspired by Sattler’s heroics, the Panthers scored twice to close out the match 18-6.
What do you think of our list?
We were keen to include the 1989 Grand Final but with so many massive plays taking place during the match, we found it hard to pinpoint an exact turning point. There was Mal Meninga’s ankle tap on Mick Neil, Benny Elias’ missed field goal attempt, the late replacement of Paul Sironen and Steve Roach by Tigers’ coach Warren Ryan – the list goes on. In the end, it didn’t make the cut.
Tomorrow, we continue the countdown with our choice of the 2 best Grand Finals of all time! Will the 2015 Cowboys-Broncos decider make our list? Tune in to find out!
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