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RUGBY LEAGUE - REMEMBERING THE NOUGHTIES TOP TEN REPRESENTATIVE MATCHES OF THE DECADE
Welcome to the first of ten daily Top Ten lists that will showcase memorable moments from the decade that just passed. We will look through off-field incidents, memorable refereeing moments and the great games we've witnessed in the "noughties".
The tenth list will be on Grand Final day, it'll be a big one too!
But first up we will go through those representative matches that allowed us to wear our colours on the heart, win or loss.
So here it is, the most memorable representative matches of the decade!
Note: Remember you may not agree with the list, it isn't perfect. No "top ten" list ever is, but, feel free to share a match you thought should've been in there. Share your memories of an amazing decade of rugby league.
10th - New South Wales 20 defeated Queensland 16 (State Of Origin 2000) Close as you can get to begin the decade with. It took just the second ever Origin send off and some great work from Wayne Pearce's Blues side to break the mighty deadlock in a controversial, yet memorable encounter. Hopefully the first Origin match of the new decade is just as good!
9th - City Origin 17 defeated Country Origin 16 (2003) A match that showcased test players, something that doesn't happen these days. Some players actually stood out in what was a better show of a NSW Origin trial. Captains Robbie Kearns and Andrew Johns stood up in an exciting encounter.
8th - Great Britain 23 defeated Australia 12 (Tri-Nations 2006) A rare win for the British side in Sydney may not have been a very memorable occasion for Australia, but for Great Britain it ended one hell of a long drought. Keith Senior and Stuart Fielden were instrumental for a great British triumph.
7th - New Zealand 34 defeated Australia 20 (World Cup 2008) Speaking of long droughts, the end of holding the World Cup by Australia met a stunning end last year in a loss to a motivated New Zealand outfit. The Australians started better but through the match the Kiwis lifted, not only that captain Nathan Cayless lifted the trophy in a deserving win.
6th - New South Wales 17 defeated Queensland 16 (State Of Origin 2006) An even match that was decided in the dying stages with a Brett Finch field goal led to the Blues only triumph in 2006. It was also the match Queensland begun their new era (which would lead to four straight Origins) welcoming seven debutabts.
5th - England 32 defeated Papua New Guinea 22 (World Cup 2008) We finally got a chance to witness Papua New Guinea and it stunned us. The Kumuls lead at half time thanks to some great efforts by unknown players and of course...Stanley Gene. The English rallied in the second half to win a memorable encounter.
4th - Queensland 22 defeated New South Wales 18 (State Of Origin 2004) This match would always have two memorable factors. First of all it was the second chance for Blues legend Brad Fittler to end his representative career with an Origin victory. Second, this match included "that try". The Lockyer chip to Slater, who chipped over Minichiello to score is still being shown this day as one of the greatest ever tries.
3rd - Samoa 20 defeated Tonga 12 (World Cup 2008) A match at Penrith between the two strongest Island nations for a brutal contest was always going to rank high here! The game showed two brutal forward packs who went hit for hit all night. In the end Samoa came on top in the crucial, yet memorable encounter.
2nd - Australia 16 defeated New Zealand 12 (Tri-Nations 2006) Could possibly be one of the closest Rugby League matches this decade. It took a stunning Darren Lockyer try in the second period of extra time to hand Australia the lead and the Tri-Nations trophy.
1st - Dreamtime 34 defeated New Zealand Maori 26 (World Cup Curtain Raiser 2008) A match that display emotional qualities, highly memorable for a "curtain raiser". The war cry and haka combined in a rare occasion and the emotion dripped off the players for the full eighty, eventually leading to a Dreamtime victory.