2004 NRL Grand Final
The 2004 NRL Grand Final was the conclusive and premiership-deciding game of the 2004 NRL season. It was contested by the Sydney Roosters, who had finished the regular season in 1st place, and the Bulldogs, who had finished the regular season in 2nd place. After both sides eliminated the rest of 2004's top eight teams over the finals series, they faced each other in a grand final for the first time since the 1980 NSWRFL season's decider.
|2004NRL Grand Final|
|Date||3 October 2004|
|Clive Churchill Medal||Willie Mason (BUL)|
For the second consecutive year, the NRL grand final featured two Sydney-based teams.
The Sydney Roosters finished the 2004 regular season in 1st place, taking out the minor premiership. They subsequently won their two finals matches against the Canberra Raiders 38–12 and then the North Queensland Cowboys 19–16 to make their third consecutive grand final and their fourth in five seasons.
The Bulldogs finished the 2004 regular season 2nd (out of 15). They lost their first match of the finals series against the North Queensland Cowboys 22–30 but won their next two against the Melbourne Storm 43–18 and the Penrith Panthers 30–14 to reach their first grand final since 1998.
|1. Anthony Minichiello||FB||1. Luke Patten|
|2. Shannon Hegarty||WG||2. Hazem El Masri|
|3. Ryan Cross||CE||3. Ben Harris|
|4. Justin Hodges||CE||4. Willie Tonga|
|5. Chris Walker||WG||5. Matt Utai|
|6. Brad Fittler (c)||FE||6. Braith Anasta|
|7. Brett Finch||HB||7. Brent Sherwin|
|8. Jason Cayless||PR||8. Mark O'Meley|
|9. Craig Wing||HK||9. Adam Perry|
|20. Peter Cusack||PR||11. Willie Mason|
|11. Michael Crocker||SR||14. Reni Maitua|
|10. Adrian Morley||SR||12. Andrew Ryan (c)|
|12. Craig Fitzgibbon||LK||13. Tony Grimaldi|
|14. Chad Robinson||Bench||15. Corey Hughes|
|15. Chris Flannery||Bench||16. Roy Asotasi|
|16. Ned Catic||Bench||17. Sonny Bill Williams|
|17. Anthony Tupou||Bench||18. Johnathan Thurston|
|Ricky Stuart||Coach||Steve Folkes|
After thirteen minutes, Sydney took the first try of the game with Chris Walker scoring the try and Craig Fitzgibbon converting giving Sydney a 6–0 lead. Ten minutes later Canterbury winger Matt Utai scored the first try with Hazem El Masri failing to convert bringing the score back to 6–4. A few minutes later El Masri levelled the scores at 6–6 with a penalty goal. Just after the 30 minute mark, Brett Finch kicked a field goal to give Sydney a narrow 7–6 lead. Two minutes later Anthony Tupou made a 30-metre break for Sydney before passing to teammate Anthony Minichiello to cross under the posts with Fitzgibbon converting to give Sydney a 13–6 lead. At the 37th minute, Minichiello looked to have his second try, but was penalised for an obstruction.
Two minutes into the second half, Utai got his second try for Canterbury with El Masri converting bringing the score back to 13–12. In the 53rd minute, El Masri crossed over for a controversial four-pointer (opinions were divided on whether the winger had been sufficiently held up or not before eventually grounding the ball), but narrowly missed the conversion giving the Bulldogs the lead 16–13. With one minute left and the score at 16–13, Sydney's Michael Crocker made a half break on the Bulldogs 40 meter line but was tackled by stand in Canterbury Captain Andrew Ryan and losing the ball that gave Canterbury their 8th Premiership. It was also former Australian captain Brad Fittler's last game of football.
1 El Masri
|Goals||2/4 El Masri|
|Field Goals||1 Finch|
Half Time: 6 – 13
Referee: Tim Mander (1st grand final appointment)
Venue: Telstra Stadium, Sydney
When They Scored
13th – Sydney 6–0 (Walker try, Fitzgibbon goal)
23rd – Sydney 6–4 (Utai try)
27th – 6–6 (El Masri penalty goal)
31st – Sydney 7–6 (Finch field goal)
33rd – Sydney 13–6 (Minichiello try, Fitzgibbon goal)
42nd – Sydney 13–12 (Utai try; El Masri goal)
53rd – Bulldogs 16–13 (El Masri try)