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the top 3 nrl grand final rugby moments
Each year, the Australian sporting world stops for two hours to watch the NRL Grand Final, one of the biggest rugby events in the country and indeed the world. With the two best teams in the league fighting it out for Australian rugby’s biggest prize these games regularly come down to the wire, meaning individual moments can be the difference between Premiership glory and going home empty-handed. These are the top three NRL Grand Final moments.
1. Johnathan Thurston Wins it for the Cowboys, 2015
It would be difficult to script an NRL Grand Final with as much drama as the 2015 clash between the Cowboys and the Broncos. Down by four with just minutes remaining, the Cowboys scored an unlikely try on the final tackle of the set to tie the scores at 16-16. Superstar Johnathan Thurston had a chance to win the Cowboys their first ever Premiership, but his conversion attempt cannoned into the post.
That was moment #1, but there were another couple to come. The first came just seconds after the Golden Point kick off, when Ben Hunt put his name in a history book he never wanted to be a part of by dropping the kick off. Some strong Broncos defense prevented the Cowboys getting off a field goal attempt for numerous tackles, but Thurston finally got one away and converted, giving his club its first ever NRL Premiership and establishing himself as one of the game’s legends.
2. Storm Win Their First Ever Premiership on a Penalty Try, 1999
The first ever Grand Final at Stadium Australia. 107,558 screaming fans at the ground, a record which still stands to this day. With four minutes to go, St. George Illawarra are up by four points, but the Storm are mounting an attack. On the final tackle, Brett Kimmorley pops up a kick which Craig Smith catches beyond the try line, but before he can ground it he’s knocked out by an errant tackle from Jamie Ainscough.
As the 100,000+ fans wait in silence to hear whether a penalty try will be awarded, the video referee mulls over the video, and when the words ‘TRY’ pop up on the big screen, they erupt. With the scores tied, Matt Geyer goes back and slots the straightforward conversion from straight in front, and the Storm win their first ever Premiership by two points.
3. Defense Wins it for the Sharks, 2016
It took 51 seasons, but in 2016 the Cronulla Sharks finally broke their Premiership drought, defeating a Melbourne Storm side filled to the brim with talent in a thrilling NRL Grand Final. After the Sharks led 8-0 at half time, consecutive converted tries within 15 minutes to begin the second half saw the Storm jump out to a four-point lead with all the momentum, but in the 69th minute Andrew Fifita wrestled back the lead with an incredible try.
The next ten minutes saw the Sharks defend like their life depended on it, and with 15 seconds to go the Storm had one last chance to claim a victory. The play lasted 28 seconds in total and on numerous occasions, despairing Sharks fans must have been certain they were about to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. At long last, however, a tackle stuck, and the Sharks won 14-12.
Plenty of other moments could put their hands up to be on this list. Canberra’s 1989 win after staging one of the biggest comebacks in NRL history, Benji Marshall’s incredible try in the 2005 Grand Final, and Scott Saddler’s tackle on Todd Byrne in 2003 are all etched in rugby league folklore, as are many more. Virtually every NRL Grand Final throws up something that will go into the annals as one of the league’s biggest moments, but Thurston’s extraordinary Golden Point heroics takes the cake as the biggest ever, and it will be hard to top.