The best NRL team of the past 20 years: Pt 2
As we saw in part one, over the coming week I am going to try and work out just who is the greatest NRL premiership side of the last twenty years.
The first instalment saw the 1998 Brisbane Broncos down the 1997 Newcastle Knights by 28-8, 1993 Broncos defeat the 1995 Sydney Bulldogs by 32-12 and the 1990 Canberra Raiders beat the 1999 Melbourne Storm with a 22-10 victory.
We start part two with a huge showdown between the 1992 Broncos and the 1996 Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles. No matter which way you look at this one, someone isn’t going to be happy.
The Broncos won their maiden minor premiership in ‘92 and would go on to beat the St George Dragons in the Winfield Cup decider and the Wigan Warriors in the World Club Challenge. Allan Langer’s men were the first Australian side to win the Challenge.
Brisbane would follow this up with a second straight premiership in 1993. They were a deadly side that could hurt you from anywhere on the park.
Coming up against the ’92 Broncos are the ’96 Eagles.
Manly really should have had themselves a dynasty in the mid-1990s but went down in upset losses to the Bulldogs in ’95 and the Knights in ’97. Nothing would stop them in ’96 though as they disposed of the Dragons with ease.
The Eagles had this invincibility about them. A Roman-esque mentality and a side riddled with talent, size and skill.
Matthew Ridge at the back, Terry Hill and Craig Innes in the centres, Geoff Toovey and Cliff Lyons calling the shots and a forward pack that could easily match the ‘93 Broncos big men.
If the Broncos have an advantage in the halves with Langer and Kevin Walters, the Eagles have the advantage in the backrow and at hooker.
Nick Kosef, Steve Menzies and Daniel Gartner have Alan Cann, Trevor Gillmeister and Terry Matterson’s number at the back of the scrum.
For all Kerrod Walter’s talent, Jim Serdaris was at the peak of his powers.
In the tightest of struggles, I’m going to take the Eagles in extra time with a 15-14 victory.
In the second match, we have the 1991 Penrith Panthers up against the 1994 Canberra Raiders.
The Panthers were on a crest of a wave in ‘91 and sunk Mal Meninga’s Canberra in a classic decider that saw Royce Simmons score a double in his farewell performance.
If anyone could get the Panthers over the ’94 Raiders, it would be Greg Alexander and Brad Fittler. Around them were a group of very good players that toiled and toiled.
Men like Steve Carter, Mark Geyer and of course Simmons.
But the ’94 Raiders were something else. They oozed class, ability and experience.
How do you stop a side that includes Meninga, Ricky Stuart, Laurie Daley, Steve Walters, Brad Clyde, Brett Mullins, Ken Nagas, Ruben Wiki, Noa Nadruku and David Furner?
Sorry Panthers fans, but I’ve got the Raiders winning 36-18.
1990 Raiders v 1999 Storm (22-10)
1993 Broncos v 1995 Bulldogs (32-12)
1998 Broncos v 1997 Knights (28-8)
1996 Eagles v 1992 Broncos (15-14)
1994 Raiders v 1991 Panthers 1991 (36-18)
1. Broncos 1993
2. Raiders 1994
3. Eagles 1996
4. Broncos 1998
5. Raiders 1990
6. Broncos 1992
7. Panthers 1991
8. Bulldogs 1995
9. Knights 1997
10. Storm 1999
Part Three will have the 2005 Wests Tigers up against the 2010 St George Illawarra Dragons and the 2000 Brisbane Broncos facing the 2004 Canterbury Bulldogs.
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