Grand finals always produced memorable moments, but some are so special they stay with us forever.
This is a list of the ten best grand final highlights from the last 30 years.
10. Ricky Stuart’s 40-metre pass to Chicka Ferguson
Canberra Raiders versus Penrith Panthers, 1990
To start the list we have one of the longest and best passes in grand final history. Stuart was 15 out from the line and made his away across the field just in front of the east goal pass.
Taking two steps Stuart lofted the ball 40 metres, hitting the ground after clearing all men but Chicka Ferguson. Ferguson picked it up and with some individual brilliance beat a couple of men to score a try – but it was the pass that was remembered most.
9. Sam Burgess and Russell Crowe’s hug and talk
South Sydney Rabbitohs versus Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, 2014
After playung the entire game with a busted face, Burgess cried after finally winning the game in perhaps the performance of his life. But once he and Russell Crowe got together, an almost father-and-son emotion occurred. The pair embraced in an emotional spectacle that was truly wonderful it was to watch.
8. Sharks finally turn off the porch light
Melbourne Storm versus Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, 2016
It took 50 long years but finally the porch light was turned off. Cronulla had finally done what many had thought to be impossible and won the grand final. When captain Paul Gallen finally held up the trophy, the shire became dark as lights everywhere were switched off.
7. Craig Smith’s Penalty try
Melbourne Storm versus St George Illawarra Dragons, 1999
In the 77th minute the Storm forced the Dragons into a goal-line drop-out. Melbourne halfback Brett Kimmorley bombed to Craig Smith’s wing. Dragons centre Jamie Ainscough, anticipating a Melbourne try, caught Smith in a head-high tackle over the try-line, resulting in Smith being knocked unconscious and, in the process of falling to the ground, Smith knocking on. Referee Bill Harrigan requested video referee Chris Ward adjudicate on the decision.
In one of the most controversial grand final incidents, Melbourne Storm were granted a penalty try, drawing them level with the Dragons. Being a penalty try, the subsequent conversion was taken from directly in front of the posts. Matt Geyer succesfully converted and the Storm, for the first time in the match, pulled ahead of the Dragons and took out their first grand final 20-18 in certainly the most controversial moment in grand final history.
6. Nathan Blacklock’s try and celebration
Melbourne Storm versus St George Illawarra Dragons, 1999
I love the 1999 grand final – I could write a top-ten moments list in this grand final alone – but the two I’ve picked out stand out the most. Brett Kimmorley kicks the back in a chip-and-chase attempt, but Blacklock swoops on the ball, beating two men, and then make a 60-metre untouched sprint to the try line. After this he gave a hip-swaying post-try celebration for the ages.
5. Benji Marshall’s flick pass
Wests Tigers versus North Queensland Cowboys, 2005
Just Brilliant – Marshall gets into some space and makes a run for it, and with opposition chasing him down he opts for a move that would put a smile on Michael Jordan’s face. Without looking Marshall flicks the ball behind him to the waiting Pat Richards, who catches the ball and runs away to score the try. Many of you were upset that it did not make my all-time grand final tries list, but it wasn’t missing this time.
4.Warriors crowd haka
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles versus New Zealand Warriors, 2011
No matter how many times I watch this I still love it. The Warriors crowd lead by Brendon Martin gives one of the best hakas I have ever seen, with posible exception to the flash mob haka on the Gold Coast a couple of weeks prior to the game.
Screaming Warriors fans, 30,000 strong, break into the famous war cry, their tongues out and their eyes ready to pop. It was truly tremendous watching the traditional war cry done by so many people all at once. At the end of the day sport is all about the fans, and this proves it.
3. Scott Sattler’s try-saving tackle
Penrith Panthers versus Sydney Roosters, 2003
This is how you make a tackle. With the exception of George Greagen’s famous try-saving effort against the All Blacks in the 1990s, this is the best tackle I have ever seen. Roosters winger Todd Byrne gets some space and after a heel tap is away down the wing. Sattler gives chase and delivers a textbook hip-to-heel tackle to bring Byrne over the touch line a save the try. At six-all it changed the course of the game and won it for the Panthers.
2. Darren Albert steals it from Manly
Manly Sea Eagles versus Newcastle Knights, 1997
A lot can happen in seven seconds. Darren Albert is tackled and Andrew Johns, who is the dummy half, cuts back to the blindside and throws a pass to the awaiting Albert, who runs through a couple of defenders and places the ball under the posts to give the Knights their first premiership. Truly one of the best stick-it-up-the-opposition moments of all time.
But as good as all those moments were, number one is better and is the best way to win a grand final.
1. Thurston’s field goal
Brisbane Broncos versus North Queensland Cowboys, 2015
This was the perfect end to the best grand final this century. With the scores locked after the Kyle Feldt try and Thurston missing the conversion, game went into overtime for only the second time ever.
Hunt’s drop ball meant the Cowboys had the perfect position to kick the goal. Thurston positioned himself and kicked the goal to end the game and ignite the greatest rivalry in the game today. Truly this is the best grand final moment.
Do you agree with my list? What is your favourite grand final moment of the last 30 years?