Our thanks to Andrew Ferguson for his 2014 piece recounting the story of Edward Larkin, who among ot...
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RUGBY LEAGUE - REMEMBERING THE NOUGHTIES TOP TEN RIVALRIES OF THE DECADE
Well we're here at the second list, today we'll be looking at the best rivalries we've seen this decade. Now, this is for club-to-club rivalries, we all know New South Wales-Queensland would usually end up first.
Where some traditional rivalries, such as Roosters-Rabbitohs have showed much less intensity than in the past, these ten have shown that the two teams will put up a great contest.
So here they are, the best rivalries 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 rivalry you thought should've been in there. Share your memories of an amazing decade of rugby league.
=10th - Brisbane Broncos vs Newcastle Knights Memorable Matches Newcastle 17-16 (Round 10, 2004), Brisbane 20-14 (Round 5, 2000) On The Field Two teams who go to war a fair bit. The main greatness of this rivalry is that both teams spoilt a memorable party for the other side. The Knights spoiled the return to Suncorp whilst the Broncos spoiled the Andrew Johns farewell. There have been some tragic thumpings but the two generally will make a great battle. Off The Field There has actually never been a major signing from one of these teams to the other amazingly.
=10th - Brisbane Broncos vs Melbourne Storm Memorable matches Melbourne 16-14 (Semi-Final, 2008), Brisbane 15-8 (Grand Final, 2006) On the field Other than meeting in six consecutive finals series, these two have been at each others throats the whole decade. The intensity lifted at its peak when the two contested the first ever interstate Grand Final. Off The Field The two nearly got into logged heads in the last few years when Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy, captain Cameron Smith and halfback Cooper Cronk were all rumoured to be heading north. These teams don't trade much, however Brisbane throughout the decade captured Melbourne representative players Israel Folau and Richard Swain.
9th - Melbourne Storm vs New Zealand Warriors Memorable Matches New Zealand 18-15 (Qualifying Final, 2008), Melbourne 4-2 (Round 13, 2007), 24-all (Round 25 2001) On The Field These two teams can always play a mighty match and in recent years the Warriors have probably been the best team to attack the heart and soul of Melbourne; the graveyard. The Warriors also became the first ever side to win a finals match from eighth there with a memorable win. The two are also getting known to playing low scoring matches. Off The Field There isn't really much happening off the field. These teams also don't trade much, but in 2001 the Storm snared Warriors representative pair Henry Perenara and Paul Whatuira.
8th - Brisbane Broncos vs St George Illawarra Dragons Memorable Matches Brisbane 12-2 (Round 24, 2009), St George Illawarra 25-12 (Round 4, 2009), St George Illawarra 26-25 (Round 26, 2003) On The Field A major rivalry, especially around the Origin period you'll find these two sides going at it. The Dragons held a long streak against the Broncos, but usually throughout the decade the games have been extremely unpredictable. Off The Field The Dragons in recent years have stocked up on former Broncos, snaring Wendell Sailor, Darius Boyd and premiership winning coach Wayne Bennett. Rumours about signing Darren Lockyer were also heard, but quickly dismissed. But it doesn't only go one way, the Broncos signed in-form Dragons Lagi Setu, Michael Ennis and Ashton Sims.
7th - Cronulla Sharks vs St George Illawarra Dragons Memorable Matches St George Illawarra 28-22 (Qualifying Final, 2005), Cronulla 13-12 (Round 21, 2008) On The Field A long rivalry, which still standed strong during the decade. So many close matches and powerful, emotional battles. The hate is strong still, which is always good to find! Off The Field The Sharks caused a stir when they signed former Dragon Trent Barrett, however it was great to see Dragons fans stand up for good wishes when he was carried off injured in their game early 2009. The fans however normally keep the hate against their enemy, the match stirring up plenty of emotions!
6th - Brisbane Broncos vs North Queensland Cowboys Memorable Matches: Brisbane 19-18 (Round 1, 2009), North Queensland 10-0 (Semi-Final, 2004) On The Field Despite the Cowboys only having four wins ever against the older brother, the first round clashes the two sides fought in recent years have always been close. The first time the Cowboys won was during the 2004 Finals Series started a new sense of rivalry for the sides. Off The Field A major signing was made a few years back when Carl Webb signed with the "younger brother". There is always a great build-up, the fans get into it well. Next year, it'll be anyone's game.
5th - Canterbury Bulldogs vs Sydney Roosters Memorable Matches Canterbury 16-13 (Grand Final, 2004), Sydney 28-18 (Preliminary Final, 2003) On The Field Two old rivals who have played through some amazing matches. The Roosters "stole" the 2002 premiership from the Bulldogs, but revenge was received two years later. Every match between the two sides has been tough, even when the margin is large. Off The Field Early in the decade the two sets of fans were constantly at each other. The slogan "bought not bred" was also commonly used when the Roosters signed Bulldogs Mark O'Meley, Willie Mason, Braith Anasta and Nate Myles. The Roosters were also targeted by the Bulldogs (especially Sonny-Bill Williams) in the media after they signed Mason.
4th - Parramatta Eels vs Penrith Panthers Memorable Matches Penrith 38-34 (Round 17, 2009), Parramatta 14-12 (Round 10, 2000) On The Field The battle of the west always produces excitement, and plenty of points. Especially on a Sunday afternoon. The excitement machine really sets alight, their matches constantly swapped leaders various times. Off The Field The rivalry between fans always stayed strong. The only signing differences they made was early in the decade when the Eels made good use of former Panthers Brad Drew and Lee Hopkins.
3rd - New Zealand Warriors vs Sydney Roosters Memorable Matches 31-all (Round 21, 2007), New Zealand 26-24 (Round 25, 2003), Sydney 30-8 (Grand Final, 2002) On The Field Big hits and close games have seperated the two teams this decade. They fought an amazing Grand Final before the Roosters bowed away in the last twenty minutes. Otherwise, as said, the forward pack usually decides this game. They lift, and most of the time there will be plenty of words shared. Off The Field Former Rooster Ivan Cleary played against the side in the 2002 Grand Final and is now the Warriors coach. He still says good about his former club however.
2nd - St George Illawarra Dragons vs Sydney Roosters Memorable Matches St George Illawarra 26-24 (Round 7, 2005), Sydney 11-8 (Round 7, 2004) On The Field The idea to begin the ANZAC day clash gave these two sides a new rivalry. The first few clashes brought out something new in each side with stunning wins, the next few were some of the most even matches of the decade. Off The Field The fans are always up for a good debate, the ANZAC game is extremely important to both of the clubs. In the signing, both clubs made huge signings from each other. Early in the decade the Roosters signed Dragon champion Craig Fitzgibbon. Later, on, Jamie Soward joined the Dragons. These signings would be important throughout the decade.
The first placed one should be no surprise...
1st - Manly Sea Eagles vs Melbourne Storm Memorable Matches Manly 40-0 (Grand Final, 2008), Melbourne 34-8 (Grand Final, 2007) On The Field For two seasons, these two teams were the benchmark. Nobody could go near them. The Grand Finals didn't hit the expectations that they should've, but the chance to be the best continually struck through them. In fact, the match before the eventual Grand Final between the two was always memorable, and extremely close. Off The Field The fans enjoyed the two year long rivalry, each team had their chance at being the best. It was truly a dynasty to behold.