Ahead of the first week of NRL finals, The Obstruction Rule takes a trip down memory lane and remembers the last time your team tasted finals glory.
North Queensland Cowboys
defeated Brisbane 17-16 – 4/10/2015
Few will ever forget the 2015 NRL Grand Final (although Ben Hunt would sure wish he could). The Broncos were the better team for 79 and a half minutes, only for the Cowboys to level it with a Kyle Feldt try in the corner as time expired. Johnathan Thurston’s missed conversion only added to the drama, and following Hunt’s Paul Carige-moment, the North Queensland captain completed 2015’s Cinderella story.
defeated Sydney 31-12 – 25/9/2015
Though the Grand Final didn’t go the way they’d hoped, the Broncos’ NRL preliminary final a week prior went exactly according to script. In his first year back in charge, Wayne Bennett guided the Broncos to another Grand Final with an emphatic victory over minor premiers, the Sydney Roosters. From the moment Shaun Kenny-Dowall gifted Darius Boyd a try with a pass right into his breadbasket, the Broncos took control and never looked threatened.
defeated Canterbury 38-12 – 18/9/2015
The Roosters’ defeat of the Bulldogs will be unfortunately remembered for a controversial video referee decision. With the match caught in an arm wrestle at 8-4, the video ref confirmed a Kane Evans try despite the ball appearing to be grounded short of the try line (here at The Obstruction Rule however, we prefer to remember the game for Moses Mbye’s cracking Martin Bella impression). The Bulldogs didn’t lose due to that decision though – they lost due to the further 24 points the Roosters piled on in the last half hour.
defeated South Sydney 28-12 – 13/9/2015
Sharks fans mightn’t have had a great deal to cheer about over the course of their lifetimes, but they would have been thrilled last September as their team knocked out the defending premiers in the first week of the finals. The match was wholly unspectacular, with the Rabbitohs barely able to muster any sort of resistance against the men from the Shire, and the generally weak effort from South Sydney probably did little to help prepare Cronulla for the onslaught they’d face a week later against North Queensland.
defeated St George Illawarra 11-10 – 12/9/2015
Unlike the Sharks elimination semi the following day, the Bulldogs defeat of the Dragons was a tense struggle from start to finish. The match featured everything – an injury to Dragons’ halfback Benji Marshall, a biting accusation from James Graham (and if anyone knows about biting, it’s him) and a last minute Gareth Widdop penalty goal to force the game into golden point. Unfortunately for Widdop, like several other matches on this list, the game turned on a howler of an error – in this case Widdop kicking out on the full in extra time to gift Canterbury the field position for a Josh Reynolds match-winner.
defeated Sydney 20-18 – 11/9/2015
The Sydney Roosters were the best team in the competition all season long, but for the second year running they were upset in the finals by the team who finished fourth. For their part, the Storm turned in a typically clinical effort, overcoming the losses of Marika Koroibete and Jordan McLean on their way to an upset 20-18 victory. Forward Tim Glasby was the unlikely hero with his try 8 minutes from time, and the Storm defense hung on to earn themselves a home preliminary final.
defeated Canterbury 30-6 – 5/10/2014
The Rabbitohs’ 2014 victory was more a coronation than it was a decider, with all the media focused on the Rabbitohs breaking their 43-year Premiership drought. The Bulldogs for their part obliged, rolling over in the last half hour as the Rabbitohs ran all over them. Sam Burgess won the Clive Churchill medal for playing on through a fractured cheekbone, but it was his brother George who broke the game open in the 50th minute with a barnstorming try.
defeated Sydney 19-18 – 13/9/2014
The Panthers’ last finals victory was one of the all-time great finals matches. A tense, see-sawing affair, the Roosters looked to have it won when Mitch Pearce sliced through the Panthers’ line to break the deadlock with 7 minutes left on the clock. There were more twists in the tale however, with Dallin Watene-Zelezniak’s miracle pass from over the sideline giving Dean Whare a try in the corner, which Jamie Soward converted to seemingly send the match to golden point. But with 15 seconds remaining, Soward slotted the ugliest 35-metre match-winner you’ll ever see, and gave Penrith their first finals victory in almost 10 years.
Manly Sea Eagles
defeated South Sydney 30-20 – 27/9/2013
It’s almost hard to believe that it’s been 3 years since the dominant Manly Sea Eagles last enjoyed finals success. If not for the Rabbitohs winning the premiership a year later, this match could have been known for the Rabbitohs blowing their best chance to win the title in 42 years. The Rabbitohs got out to a 14-point lead, before the Sea Eagles blew past them scoring 30 unanswered points (24 of which were in a stunning second half onslaught) to crush the Rabbitohs’ Grand Final dreams.
defeated Melbourne 18-16 – 21/9/2013
It must seem like a lifetime ago now since Wayne Bennett’s ‘Oldcastle’ team knocked out the defending premiers in a 2013 semi final upset. The team, packed with senior citizens like Danny Buderus, Willie Mason and Jeremy Smith, stunned the Storm, getting out to a 14-point lead before grimly defending their way to victory. Though they’d be unable to back up that effort the following week, the Knights’ upset in Melbourne was one of the prouder moments of their recent history.
defeated Cronulla 34-16 – 9/9/2012
In an interesting twist of fate, the Raiders’ last semi final victims were the same team they’ll be seeking to vanquish this weekend. Like this year’s side, the 2012 Raiders were prone to switching on and switching off, and this match was no different. The Raiders trailed 6-0 before scoring 16 unanswered points, and then let Cronulla return serve and bring the game back to within 2 with 20 minutes to play. Then, like their 2016 counterparts, they kicked back into gear, piling on three tries to bury the Sharks. Will history repeat itself this weekend?
New Zealand Warriors
defeated Melbourne 20-12 – 24/9/2011
The match that killed the McIntyre System. The Warriors, despite finishing 6th and being toweled up by the Broncos in Week 1 of the NRL finals, were granted a second chance due to other results, and put that second chance to good use. First, they knocked out Week 1 winners Wests, before getting a crack at the Minor Premiers, and upsetting them in Melbourne. The match itself was a good one, with both sides trading blows until a Lewis Brown try with 4 minutes remaining secured a Grand Final berth for the Warriors.
defeated St George Illawarra 21-12 – 9/9/2011
It’s now been 5 years since the Tigers’ last finals victory, an upset win over the defending premiers, St George Illawarra. Though plenty of time has passed, the Tigers looked every bit like the 2016 version of themselves – scrappy, but finding a way to win through exciting (albeit unconventional) attack. This was best typified by Benji Marshall’s first half try – a virtual air-swing of a kick that he regathered before breaking a tackle, stepping past Darius Boyd and scoring next to the posts. Champagne Tigers.
St George Illawarra
defeated Sydney 32-8 – 3/10/2010
The third team on this list whose last finals victory was in a Grand Final, the Dragons’ 2010 Premiership success was a piece of history. It was the Dragons first title as a joint venture club, and was Wayne Bennett’s 7th Premiership. Though the game itself was a bit of an anti-climax – a bludger of a game that the Dragons finally blew open in the last 20 minutes – it would be nonetheless magical for Red V fans, and has hopefully kept their supporters warm throughout the long, cold six years since.
Gold Coast Titans
defeated New Zealand 28-16 – 10/9/2010
The Titans’ last finals win was a one-sided affair, as the Gold Coast side blew the Warriors off the park in the first half, going to the break with a 22-6 lead. The result was never in doubt, as a masterclass from the Titans’ halves Scott Prince and Mat Rogers (who are now aged 36 and 40 respectively) combined to give the Titans an unassailable lead. In a quirky twist of fate, this win would gift the Titans a preliminary finals berth, while the Warriors would be knocked out entirely. Yet more evidence that the McIntyre finals system was absolutely dreadful.
defeated Canterbury 22-12 – 25/9/2009
This match was the last win in one of the most remarkable runs in NRL history, as the Eels fought back from being 2nd last in Round 7 to qualify for the finals in 8th spot, before running through the Dragons, Titans and Bulldogs on their way to the Grand Final (which they would ultimately lose to the cheating Storm). This season would prove to be Nathan Hindmarsh’s last real shot at a premiership, as well as the birth of Jarryd Hayne – Superstar.