Winning the NRL Premiership: United teams come away with the glory

United team - they were almost split down the middle by super league - Anderson and Lamb did a good job patching it up. Ditto no distractions. Grand final experience - tick Determined pack - tick Adventurous and skilled backs? 3/4 line of Williams / Ryan / Timu / Halligan. They did their job - Matt Ryan in particular was outstanding that year - but I don't think too many describe them as adventurous and skillful. Strong spine? The spine didn't make your top 11. It'd be interesting to see where you ranked them among GF winning spines over the past 20-30 years. I love all those blokes but I don't think too many non Bulldogs would agree that was a top spine. Terry Lamb is arguably the greatest player of all time but Silva and Polla-Mounter never played any rep footy and Hetherington a few Qld games. No X-factor at all in that team. Unless you count brutal defence X-factor. They bashed their way to the grand final. Dean Pay and Gillies were as tough as any players I've seen. Luck - don't remember too much in the semis - they flogged Brisbane and Canberra. I'm sure manly fans will say they had plenty of luck though. Definitely a good coach but the game plan revolved around bashing teams into submission. Real dogs of war stuff. Anyway - maybe we agree to disagree. That was up there with the best months of my life. They finished 6th and not much expected. They beat the other four top sides of that era in Dragons, Raiders, Broncos and Manly. Those were star studded sides. Everyone though the dogs would get smashed by the all-star Broncos. Dean Pay took Lazarus out in the first couple of minutes of the game with one of the most brutal hits I've seen. Brisbane were on the back foot from that moment. As a stats man you may appreciate this: At least one of the Dragons, Manly, Bulldogs, Raiders, Broncos appeared in every grand final in the 16 years and 17 GFs between 1985 and 2000 (incl SL). Dogs, Broncs, Manly and Raiders won 14 of the 17 GFs between them. Of the 34 GF spots in that time 25 of them were taken up by those teams: Dogs 6, Raiders 5, Broncos 5, Dragons 5, Manly 4. As for premierships the Broncos got 5, Dogs 4, Raiders 3, Manly 2, Dragons 0. I don't know what relevance any of that has other than to highlight why that 95 semi final series was so special. It really was beating the best to be the best.

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