The best NRL team of the past 20 years: Pt 3
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Welcome to the third instalment of the series, as we are trying to work out just who is the greatest premiership side of the last twenty years.
In part two, the 1993 Brisbane Broncos took the mantle as the greatest side of the 1990s. Now it’s time to find a side from the new millennium.
We will have a fantasy match to find out who is the greatest of the ‘93 Broncos and the best of the new millennium.
First up is a clash between the flamboyant 2005 Wests Tigers and Wayne Bennett’s 2010 St George Illawarra Dragons. It is offence versus defence in this first match-up.
Let’s get one thing out of the way firstly. Wests didn’t win the 2005 premiership by fluke or accident. They were the rightful winners of the competition and defeated everyone put in their path.
They won 12 of their last 14 games and disposed of the Brisbane Broncos, the Dragons and the North Queensland Cowboys (twice). There was no fluke about it.
With Scott Prince and Brett Hodgson leading the way and youngsters Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah in the side, the Tigers were fearless and brilliant.
Who could stop the Tigers and their enthralling brand of footy?
Look no further than the 2010 Dragons.
The 2010 premiers were the epitome of grinding football. They could take a two point lead and hold it from you until the final siren. St George Illawarra could break down a side and keep them in the dirt.
Could the Tigers score points against these Dragons?
Probably not enough. Have to go with the Dragons in a tight 16-14 contest.
Next up is a huge showdown between the 2000 Brisbane Broncos and the 2004 Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. Where do you start in this one?
I guess you start where any big match starts and that’s in the middle.
It’s rare to see a side be so dominant in the National Rugby League and win the grand final with the confidence and even arrogance that the Broncos did.
This Brisbane forward pack boasted Shane Webcke, Gorden Tallis, Brad Thorn, Kevin Campion, Luke Priddis and Ashley Harrison.
But the scary thing about these guys wasn’t just the size in the engine room.
Imagine doing the tough stuff in the middle and then seeing Lote Tuquri, Tonie Carroll, Michael De Vere or Wendell Sailor running at you?
Sprinkle Darren Lockyer, Ben Ikin and Kevin Walters on top and you have one awesome side.
Across from them ready for battle are the 2004 Bulldogs. If you want to talk about intimidation, this side had plenty too.
Mark O’Meley, Roy Asotasi, Willie Mason, Andrew Ryan are some pretty damn good forwards to have in your pack. Oh and you can add Sonny Bill Williams and Reni Maitua from the bench.
Yes I have left Steve Price out of this side as he didn’t play in the decider due to injury.
If anything, the Broncos have an edge in the backline where the Bulldogs definitely had strike but nothing like their opposition.
For this reason alone I am going to go with the Broncos by 23-16.
In part four, we will look at the 2008 Eagles against 2003 Panthers, the 2006 Broncos versus the 2001 Knights and the 2011 Eagles will take on the 2002 Roosters and we will determine the greatest team of the new millennium.