1998 NRL Grand Final
The 1998 NRL grand final was the conclusive and premiership-deciding game of the 1998 NRL season. It was the first grand final of the re-unified National Rugby League and featured minor premiers and the previous year's Super League premiers, the Brisbane Broncos against the Canterbury Bulldogs, who had finished the regular season 9th (out of 20) to make a top-ten play-off grouping. It was to be the first grand final under the National Rugby League partnership's administration and the last to be played at the Sydney Football Stadium. It was also the first time these two sides had met in a grand final. Brisbane scored first but by half time trailed the Bulldogs 10–12. However, the Broncos scored 28 unanswered points in the second half, winning 12–38 and equaling the second highest score for a team in grand final history.
|1998NRL Grand Final|
|Date||27 September 1998|
|Stadium||Sydney Football Stadium|
|Location||Moore Park, New South Wales|
|Clive Churchill Medal||Gorden Tallis (BRI)|
|Legend: Win Loss|
The 1998 NRL season was the 91st season of professional rugby league football in Australia, and the inaugural season of the newly formed National Rugby League (NRL). The 1998 Grand final's teams had played each other twice during the regular season, the Broncos winning both times. Also having won three of the past six grand finals compared with Canterbury's one meant Brisbane went into the match as unbackable favourites.
The 1998 Brisbane Broncos season was the eleventh in the club's history. Coached by Wayne Bennett and captained by Allan Langer, they started the season as defending Super League (Australia) premiers and posted their three biggest-ever wins in Rounds 5, 7 and 15 before finishing the regular season as minor premiers. After losing their first finals match, the Broncos won the next two to qualify for the grand final.
The 1998 Canterbury Bulldogs season was the 64th in the club's history. Coached by Steve Folkes and captained by Darren Britt, they finished the regular season 9th (out of 20) before winning all four of their finals matches to reach the grand final.
With the Bulldogs having last won a premiership in 1995 and the Broncos in 1997, most players in both sides had grand final experience. Despite good weather, the attendance of 40,857 was the lowest seen at the Sydney Football Stadium for a grand final since 1989.
|Brisbane Broncos||Posit.||Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs|
|Darren Lockyer||FB||Rod Silva|
|Michael De Vere||WG||Gavin Lester|
|Steve Renouf||CE||Shane Marteene|
|Darren Smith||CE||Willie Talau|
|Wendell Sailor||WG||Daryl Halligan|
|Kevin Walters||FE||Corey Hughes|
|Allan Langer (c)||HB||Craig Polla-Mounter|
|Shane Webcke||PR||Darren Britt (c)|
|Phillip Lee||HK||Jason Hetherington|
|Andrew Gee||PR||Steve Price|
|Gorden Tallis||SR||Tony Grimaldi|
|Brad Thorn||SR||Robert Relf|
|Tonie Carroll||LK||Travis Norton|
|Michael Hancock||INT||Steve Reardon|
|John Plath||INT||Glen Hughes|
|Kevin Campion||INT||Troy Stone|
|Petero Civoniceva||INT||David Thompson|
|Wayne Bennett||Coach||Steve Folkes|
The Broncos kicked off and in only the third minute of the match, a tackle on Willie Talau twenty metres out from Canterbury's line saw the ball come loose. It was kicked ahead by Brisbane winger and last-minute inclusion (due to Michael Hancock's finger injury) Michael De Vere, who won the chase into the left side of the in-goal where he dived on it for the game's first points. Darren Lockyer converted to give Brisbane a 6–0 lead. A few minutes later the Broncos were denied a try in the same corner when Renouf caught a stray Kevin Walters pass to dive over, with video re-plays showing that the ball only appeared to travel forward because it was struck by a Canterbury defender. By the eleventh minute, the Bulldogs had made it down to Brisbane's line and got a penalty in front of the goal posts. They opted to go for the kick and Daryl Halligan brought the score back to 6–2. The Broncos withstood further pressure on their line until Tony Grimaldi forced his way over under the posts in the twenty-second minute. Daryl Halligan converted Grimaldi's try to give Canterbury an 8–6 lead. Bulldogs prop Troy Stone had to leave the field at this point with a broken arm, but would return ten minutes later with a guard on it to play the rest of the match. Five minutes later, the Broncos had the ball down at the other end of the field and after moving it quickly through the hands from the left hand side of the field out to the right, Kevin Campion forced his way over in the corner. Lockyer's attempted conversion from the sideline missed but the Broncos were back in front 10–8. Canterbury struck back a few minutes later when Steve Price stepped through an opening twenty-five metres out and gave the ball to Willie Talau to dive over on the right side, regaining the lead. Halligan missed his kick so the score was 10–12 in favour of the Bulldogs. No more points were scored before the break.
Less than two minutes into the second half, Brisbane's Tonie Carroll crossed under the posts for Brisbane's third try, with Darren Lockyer converting to give Brisbane back the lead at 16–12. Eight minutes later Brisbane were in the centre of the field when Allan Langer threw a short pass inside to Steve Renouf who raced through into open space. He was tackled on the twenty-metre line but as the Bulldogs defence scrambled to get back, the Broncos kept it moving, the ball going out to Wendell Sailor who dived over in the right corner. Lockyer's kick from the sideline missed so Brisbane led 20–12. In the fifty-seventh minute, Allan Langer put a kick down field and Daryl Halligan picked the ball up in his own in-goal and he made it five metres into the field of play only to be forced back into goal by the Broncos chasers. Shortly after that, Brisbane seemed to have the game wrapped up when Gorden Tallis at dummy-half feigned passing and from close range forced his way over the try line under the posts. With Darren Lockyer converting, this gave Brisbane a 26–12 lead with twenty minutes of the match remaining. The Broncos' next try came in the sixty-ninthth minute after getting a penalty down close to the Bulldogs' line near the left corner, taking the tap and passing it quickly through the hands out to the right side where Phillip Lee, the only Bronco to be playing in his first Grand Final, ran through a gap to crash over. Lockyer kicked the extras so Brisbane led 32–12. In the seventy-fifth minute Brisbane, after playing the ball on their own twenty-metre line, got the ball to Langer who put a charging Tonie Carroll through a gap and into open space. Carroll ran forty metres before passing back in for Darren Smith, bound for Canterbury the following season, to run the remaining thirty-five to the try-line. Lockyer converted so the final score was 38–12.
|Brisbane 38||Canterbury 12|
Michael De Vere
Darren Lockyer (5/7)
Daryl Halligan (2/3)
The Clive Churchill Medal for man-of-the-match was awarded to Gorden Tallis. The victory also kept intact Brisbane's winning record in Grand Finals with four from four. It was the second time that the Broncos had won back-to-back premierships, having done so in 1992–93 as well. No World Club Challenge was played between the 1998 NRL and Super League champions.
- Tobin, Glenn (26 September 1998). "Underdogs!". Illawarra Mercury. Australia: Fairfax. p. 80. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- NRL Grand Final History Archived 9 February 2010 at Archive.today at rl1908.com
- "GRAND FINAL – 1998" at thebulldogs.com.au
- "Hancock's sacrifice a winner". Illawarra Mercury. Australia: Fairfax. 28 September 1998. p. 26. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- Tobin, Glenn (28 September 1998). "No fairytale ... just Broncos on a title rampage". Illawarra Mercury. Australia: Fairfax. p. 24. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- Kent, Paul (28 September 1998). "Dogged first-half heroes find that class wins out at the end". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia: Fairfax. p. 23. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- "By the Clock". Illawarra Mercury. Australia: Fairfax. 28 September 1998. p. 25. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- Fitzsimmons, Peter (28 September 1998). "The champs deliver the final blow in rugby league's title bout". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia: Fairfax. p. 23. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- Hadfield, Dave (28 September 1998). "Canterbury fairy-tale ends in defeat". The Independent. independent.co.uk. Retrieved 6 October 2009.
- Masters, Roy (28 September 1998). "Comeback Kings". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia: Fairfax. p. 21. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- Keeble, Brett (28 September 1998). "Wendell sails in". Newcastle Herald. Australia: Fairfax. p. 59. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- "Minute by minute". Newcastle Herald. Australia: Fairfax. 28 September 1998. p. 58. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- Tobin, Glenn (28 September 1998). "Riding high". Illawarra Mercury. Australia: Fairfax. p. 48. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- Mascord, Steve (28 September 1998). "Embarrassed, dizzy Tallis says every player should be given a medal". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia: Fairfax. p. 22. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- Keeble, Brett (28 September 1998). "League of their own". Newcastle Herald. Australia: Fairfax. p. 61. Retrieved 13 February 2011.