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Great moments in Rugby League: 1993
The season of 1993, kicked off with the Coca Cola World Sevens at the Sydney Football Stadium. 24 teams competed in the tournament, unfortunately the defending champions Wigan couldn?t make the trip down under, but there other classy and skillful teams including the internationals. Such as France, Western Samoa, Fiji, Port Moresby (PNG), South Africa, Russia, USA and a team from New Zealand (Wainuimata) were not only to learn but to entertain. The highlights included a swan dive from South Africa's Jacob Steemag against Easts, the Americans gridiron skills, Fiji's getaway speedsters like Noa Nadruku who was an unlikely top tryscorer in the Winfield Cup of 1993. Canberra coach Tim Sheens later signed him.
Finally after 30 games, which yielded over 150 tries, it was Easts and Manly who played in the Cup Tournament Final. Easts defeated Manly 18-12 in the final and later crowned World Sevens champions. Wests Terry Hill was named man of the tournament, despite Wests being beaten in the PLate final by Fiji.
A month later the Toohey's Challenge Cup was up and running, with Parramatta and Wests kicking off the tournament at Parra Stadium in which Wests beat Parramatta 22-10. Two days later Souths upset Winfield Cup premiers Brisbane at Lang Park. But the teams of the tournament were Canberra and Wests who later played in the final at Dubbo. Canberra lead most of the way, leading 18-2 at halftime, which included a Ricky Stuart try who recieved a pass from Wests' Steve Georgallis. Wests however recovered but it wasnt enough in the end Canberra won the match 21-18 and were champions of the Tooheys Challenge Cup.
The Winfield Cup was kicked off at Bruce Stadium, where Canberra met St.George. The Dragons outclassed the Raiders 22-8, the next day Canterbury beat Balmain 19-14 thanks to a long range field goal to Terry Lamb. Parramatta opened its encounter with a one point victory over Penrith. The second round saw the Winfield Cup played in Auckland once again, and it was Canterbury who downed defending premiers Brisbane 20-10. A week later the Broncos opened their new home ANZ Stadium, and in front of 55,000 and prepared for a big one. But what they werent prepared for was a king size upset and were beaten by Parramatta 12-8.
Manly's season got off a to rough start they not only lost their opening game but lost their first grade coach, Graham Lowe who resigned because of illness, However Bob Fulton later took and Manly recovered to win their next 4 games.
Norths had the best start to any season, unbeaten in their first 6 games, before losing their first in round 7 to Souths. St.George and Brisbane replayed the 1992 GF in that round, once again the Broncos got the better of the Dragons.
The representive season kicked off when City met Country at Parramatta Stadium, City won the match 7-0, with Brad Mackay scoring the only try for City. Injuries saw Bradley Clyde ruled out of Origin, who was later replaced by Mackay.
In one of the most bizarre scenes of 1993, Mark Carroll, a prop forward, kicked the winning field goal for Souths when they beat Parramatta 15-2. It was to be his only point of the season but it didnt stop Carroll from smiling.
The Origin Series kicked off at Lang Park, Queensland were to go in the match well prepared, new players, and new coach. Unfortunately for them they were outclassed by a Blues outfit, players like Stuart, Daley, Harragon and Elias blew them away in the first half leading 12-2, with tries to Brasher and Stuart. But Queensland later fought back in their best display of football in Origin history, the Maroons could do no wrong, but it was NSW's defence that was too good for them. NSW won the match 14-10, their first win at Lang Park in 6 years.
Second match would go down as the most entertaining Origin match. Queensland have started the match well, despite having 3 disallowed tries, they eventually got one from Mal Meninga, and QLD led 6-0 at half time. But the second half was a complete turn around for NSW, who were shut up shop in the first half, they simply threw everything at them. Daley finally got off the mark with a try but after that the Blues were too classy, two more tries to Mackay and Wishart and the game looked all but over. But the Maroons never gave up, a try to Kevin Walters to made the score 16-12 with 5 minutes remaining, and we had a game on our hands. In the final 50 seconds the Maroons would almost score, but it was the Blues defense that troubled them and NSW won the match 16-12 and wrapped up the series 2-0 with one game to go. Tim Brasher was outstanding and was everywhere around the park, he was later named man of the match.
The third game may have been a dead rubber, but it was certainly Queensland's night. Bob Lindner, who was playing his last Origin game, played the game of his career, scoring a try and named man of the match. The QLDers trailed 12-6 at half time, but turned it around scoring 3 second half to win the 3rd match 24-12. But despite losing the 3rd game, the NSW Blues won the SOO series 2-1.
Back to the Winfield Cup, and Terry Lamb scored his 100th try after a hat trick against Manly at Belmore. North Sydney thrashed Brisbane 40-20, the highest score the Broncos conceded. Martin Offiah returned to Australia to play for Easts, but unfortunately he got injured in a game against Penrith, he was later sidelined for the rest of the year.
On the eve of Australian test selections to play New Zealand, test captain Mal Meninga was suspended for elbowing Manly centre John Devereux. Laurie Daley was announced as test captain for the first test. The Trans-Tasman series was kicked off in Auckland, and after a shocking start New Zealand bounced back thanks to two tries to Sean Hoppe, Australia got back in the game with tries to Dale Shearer and Steve Walters, to trial 14-13 at half time. Laurie Daley's field goal, was the only point in the second half, 4 minutes from fulltime. The game was drawn at 14 all.
The Aussies won the next two tests comfortably. Mal Meninga returned to captain the Aussies. They downed New Zealand 12-8 in Palmeston North and then won 14-2 in Brisbane, to take the series 2-0.
The Winfield Cup came to Melbourne for the first time where St.George met Wests at Olympic Park. The Dragons won 20-8.
Rugby League returned to the SCG for the first time since 1987, where Balmain and Souths replayed the 1969 GF. In an exciting finish Balmain won 19-18. In one of the most bizarre matches in 1993, Norths beat Canterbury 18-17 after trailing 17-0. The finish saw an 8 point penalty try, after David Hall was illegally tackled after he scored a try, although the try wasn?t converted, Craig Makepeace kicked the match winning penalty goal.
Brisbane scored 50 points for the first time in their club career when they smashed Souths 54-6 at ANZ stadium. The next day and the St.George and Manly game finished in controversy, the Dragons won 21-20 at Kogarah, but Manly officials had appealed for a penalty after Geoff Toovey was taken out while St George?s Noel Goldthorpe kicked the winning field goal.
The Gold Coast season was a disaster, winning just one game all season and there were troubles between the players and the coach Wally Lewis. It all got worse after Gold Coast were beaten by Parramatta 32-10, headlines in the papers saying Lewis must be sacked. At the end of the season, Lewis quit coaching and was replaced by former Manly great John Harvey.
An amazing turn around from Cronulla saw them end up 38-34 loser?s against Brisbane after trailing 38-12 with 12 men. But the comeback of the year came in Round 18, where Balmain came back to draw with Canberra 32-all at Bruce Stadium. The Raiders were leading 32-6 at one stage and the Tigers were well and truly out of reach. But the Tigers scored 4 tries in succession, 3 of them came in 8 minutes, and Graham Lyons scored the final try in the corner to make the score 32-30, Tim Brasher kicked the winning goal from the sideline.
The run to the finals was a tight one, North Sydney who had a good start to the season had some how crumbled in the last 10 rounds. In the Newcastle/Manly, the Knights fought back to score a try in the last 5 minutes and needed an Adrian Brunker goal to level the scores; unfortunately for Brunker he missed it from right in front. And Manly later learned of North?s defeat of Wests at Campbelltown, the Eagles jumped to fifth place ahead of Norths.
Down to the final 2 rounds, and Canterbury and St George were dominating the 1993 season, the met in Round 21 at the SCG in which the Dragons won an entertaining game 23-8. But for the Raiders their season was thrown into turmoil, after Ricky Stuart injured his leg against Parramatta, Stuart was later sidelined for the season, despite recording the Raiders recording their biggest win, 68-0. The top 5 was later confirmed after Manly defeated Easts, and Illawarra, at North Sydney Oval, defeated the 6th placed Norths. The Bears? season was well and truly over.
In Round 22, a record crowd in a premiership match of 58,593 saw Brisbane play St.George at ANZ Stadium. The Dragons outclassed the Broncos 16-10, to ensure that they are a premiership force. Canterbury later claimed the minor premiership after an easy win over Canberra at Belmore. And at Parramatta Stadium, Brett Kenny played his final game for Parramatta when they defeated Balmain 22-16. It was a farewell finish to one of the greats of Parramatta.
The top 5 of the Winfield Cup saw Canterbury, St George, Canberra, Manly and Brisbane. Punters tipped a Canterbury and St George GF.
The opening game of the final series was between St George and Canberra. The Dragons were too good in the end scoring 5 tries, the final score 31-10. The next day, the powerful Brisbane Broncos turned on the heat when they outclassed a brave Manly side 36-10, ending the Sea Eagles season. The Broncos victory would gain them extra confidence in their next match, despite losing tryscorer Terry Matterson to a shoulder injury.
Brisbane then played Canberra the next week, and they outclassed the Raiders defeating them 30-12 and ended Canberra?s season. It was a solid performance by the Broncos despite missing a few players to injury, and would later go one step further to yet another Grand Final.
The St George side was the first team into the Grand Final, after they beat minor premiers Canterbury 27-12. Led by Mick Potter, the skillful Dragons looked hot favorites to win the premiership, but needed one hurdle to jump.
The preliminary final saw Canterbury play Brisbane. The minor premiers started the game off well after leading at half time, thanks to some great football by Terry Lamb. But the Broncos never gave up and fought back, Steve Renouf, who made a surprise return, scored yet another try against Canterbury, which took his tally to 7 tries against Canterbury in 1993. Brisbane were really classy on the day, and overcame their toughest encounter, a field goal had put Canterbury to bed and ended their season with a 23-16 loss.
The Grand Final was played between St George and Brisbane for the second consecutive season. But it was story for the Dragons who were tipped to be favorites. Skipper Mick Potter was playing his final game and wanted to finish on a high. Unfortunately the Dragons got off to a bad start, 20-year old prop forward Jason Stevens injured his hand in only the second tackle of the match, and was later ruled out of the match. Even more problems were to occur later in the match. The first try was scored by Chris Johns, which was set up by Kevin Walters who broke through the defence, a hiccup for St George. Ian Herron later kicked a penalty goal to get the Dragons off the mark. But not long after Terry Matterson crossed over to score Brisbane?s second try set up by Kevin Walters yet again. Brisbane led 10-2 at half time. St George had an off day, losing momentum and made a few crucial errors in the second half though they their best to get through the Brisbane?s goal line, but the defence from Brisbane was too good. Herron kicked another 2 penalty goals to narrow the gap to 10-6. Five minutes from the end Willie Carne crossed over to score the final try of the match, after a long pass out wide from Kevin Walters. Brisbane had won the match 14-6 to take the 1993 Winfield Cup premiership, their second. It was a great day for the Broncos, who were written off a few weeks ago, and they never gave up. Players like Kevin Walters, who was involved in every try, Glen Lazarus and Terry Matterson were Brisbane?s best, and Alan Langer?s kicking game was also the difference. St George were disappointing, but credit would go to Brad Mackay who was St George?s best on the day, he later received the Clive Churchill medal for the man of the match.
It was a yet another successful season for Rugby League, crowds were the biggest in years, and the games were so exciting all season. I hope there are more successful seasons just like 1993; I might do another review on 1994 soon.