2005 NRL Grand Final
The 2005 NRL Grand Final was the conclusive and premiership-deciding game of the National Rugby League's 2005 Telstra Premiership season. It was played on the night of Sunday, 2 October at Sydney's Telstra Stadium between the Wests Tigers and North Queensland Cowboys, the only two clubs in the competition that hadn't yet been to the NRL grand final. The game set a new record for the highest television audience in Australia for a rugby league match since the introduction of the OzTam ratings system in 2001.
|2005NRL Grand Final|
|Date||2 October 2005|
|Clive Churchill Medal||Scott Prince, (WST)|
|National anthem||Natalie Bassingthwaighte|
In a match-up suggested by bookmakers at the start of the season as a 500/1 chance for the 2005 grand final's opponents, the fourth-placed Wests Tigers and fifth-placed North Queensland Cowboys had both reached their first decider. The two teams had met three times during the season, with the Tigers having won twice. The most recent of these meetings was the Tigers' 50 – 6 victory in the first week of the finals series.
The 2005 NRL season was the 98th season of professional rugby league football in Australia and the eighth run by the National Rugby League. The lineup of clubs remained unchanged from the previous year, with fifteen teams contesting the 2005 Telstra Premiership.
For the Wests Tigers, their first grand final appearance had come at the end of their sixth season (since the merger of the Balmain Tigers and the Western Suburbs Magpies). Only centre Paul Whatuira and full-back Brett Hodgson had previously played in a grand final. Whatuira won with Penrith in 2003 and Hodgson lost with Parramatta in 2001. Their fullback, Brett Hodgson was the 2005 regular season's top point-scorer.
North Queensland CowboysEdit
For the North Queensland Cowboys, their grand final debut had come at the end of their eleventh season. Cowboys' five-eighth Johnathan Thurston, the 2005 season's Dally M Medallist, had won the previous year's grand final with the Bulldogs. Also, winger Matt Sing lost in 2000 with the Sydney Roosters. Their fullback Matt Bowen was the 2005 regular season's top try scorer. However their Queensland State of Origin forward Carl Webb was suspended for punching Melbourne's Ryan Hoffman in the final round of the regular season so he was forced to watch the entire Cowboys' finals run from the sidelines. Airline Qantas added an extra two flights and the Townsville Bulletin newspaper chartered a Boeing 747 to take North Queensland fans to their team's first grand final.
The grand final was played at Sydney's Telstra Stadium before a crowd of 82,453. Television coverage of the match was provided by Nine's Wide World of Sports with commentary from Ray Warren, Peter Sterling, Paul Vautin, Phil Gould, Matthew Johns, Andrew Voss and Ben Ikin. The Veronicas and Pete Murray provided pre-match performances. A minute's silence was then held for the previous day's 2005 Bali bombings before Natalie Bassingthwaighte sung the Australian national anthem.
|Wests Tigers||Posit.||North Queensland Cowboys|
|1 Brett Hodgson||FB||1 Matt Bowen|
|2 Daniel Fitzhenry||WG||2 Ty Williams|
|3 Shane Elford||CE||3 Josh Hannay|
|4 Paul Whatuira||CE||4 Paul Bowman|
|5 Pat Richards||WG||5 Matt Sing|
|6 Benji Marshall||5/8th||16 Justin Smith|
|7 Scott Prince (c)||HB||6 Johnathan Thurston|
|8 Anthony Laffranchi||PR||8 Paul Rauhihi|
|9 Robbie Farah||HK||9 Aaron Payne|
|10 John Skandalis||PR||10 Shane Tronc|
|11 Ben Galea||SR||11 Steve Southern|
|12 Mark O'Neill||SR||12 Luke O'Donnell|
|13 Dene Halatau||LF||13 Travis Norton (c)|
|14 Liam Fulton||Int.||7 Brett Firman|
|15 Chris Heighington||Int.||14 David Faiumu|
|16 Bryce Gibbs||Int.||15 Mitchell Sargent|
|17 Todd Payten||Int.||17 Rod Jensen|
|Tim Sheens||Coach||Graham Murray|
At 19:00 AEST, Tim Mander, officiating his 2nd grand final, blew time on and the Tigers kicked off. In the eighth minute the Cowboys had almost reached the Tigers' twenty-metre line on the third tackle of the set when Payne ran from dummy half and passed inside for Rauhihi to hit the ball up and stand in the takle, offloading to Thurston who passed to Matt Bowen. Bowen then threw a deft pass back on the inside to Justin Smith who charged toward the line and threw the ball blindly back over his head before being tackled. The loose ball was picked up by Thurtson and handed to Bowen to dash the remaining few metres to the line and touch down behind the uprights. For the third week in a row, Bowen was the first try scorer of the game. Josh Hannay converted the try so the Cowboys were leading 0-6. Ten minutes later the Tigers were down at the opposition's end of the field where halfback Scott Prince on the last tackle put up a kick that came down over the try line and was taken by Paul Bowman who was about to be tackled in goal and threw a speculative pass which was not caught by his teammate and Tigers forward Bryce Gibbs was there to fall onto the loose ball near the goal posts. Brett Hodgson kicked the extra two points so the scores were even at 6-6. Cowboys winger Ty Williams crossed the Tigers' try-line in the twenty-third minute but the video referee ruled no try due to an obstruction in back play. A few minutes later, Tigers' left winger Pat Richards (whose fractured ankle required six pain-killing injections for him to defy medical opinion and play in the match) crossed in the corner but the video referee disallowed the try as the ball was not properly grounded. In the thirty-fifth minute the Tigers received a Johnathan Thurston kick on their own try line, the ball going to Benji Marshall who ran with it, splitting the defence and charging down the left side and over the half-way line. Drawing a defender, Marshall then threw a flick pass behind his back to his winger Pat Richards coming through in support. Richards palmed off a Cowboys defender as he ran the remaining twenty metres to dive over and score, finishing one of the most famous grand final plays in history. Hodgson kicked the extra two points so now the Tigers were leading 12-6. Shortly before half time the Cowboys were penalised on their twenty-metre line and Hodgson took the kick at goal but missed.
Rogue Traders performed during the break.
In the fifth minute the Tigers were mounting an attack ten metres from the Cowboys line when on the third tackle, hooker Robbie Farah put his prop forward Anthony Laffranchi through a gap to crash over the line and score near the uprights.
Brett Hodgson kicked the extra two points so the Tigers were leading 18-6 . Ten minutes later the Cowboys were attacking the Tigers' try line when Thurston, ten metres out flicked the ball back to Travis Norton who charged over to score.
Josh Hannay converted the try so the Cowboys were behind 18-12. In the sixty-third minute the Tigers had the ball down near the Cowboys' try-line and moved it out to Daniel Fitzhenry on the right wing to dive over in the corner. Hodgson kicked the goal from near the sideline to convert the try, taking the Tigers' lead out to 24-12.
With six and a half minutes remaining, Tigers half-back Scott Prince attempted a field goal but missed. Shortly after that Cowboys winger Matt Sing almost scored a try but the video referee found that he'd knocked on. A few minutes later though, the Cowboys were down close to the Tigers' try line where their half-back Johnathan Thurston threw a cut out pass to Matt Sing to score on the right wing.
Josh Hannay missed the conversion so the score was 24-16 in favour of the Tigers with under two minutes left to play. Seconds before the final siren the Tigers got one more try when Hodgson, from ten metres out, put a grubber kick into the Cowboys' in-goal area for Todd Payten to dive onto. Hodgson then converted the try so the final score was 30-16, and the Wests Tigers had their first premiership as a merged team.
For fans of Balmain and Western Suburbs, the premiership victory also ended long droughts for both sets of fans who came together to support the merged club. Balmain had not won the premiership since 1969 and Western Suburbs had not won since 1952.
Tigers captain Scott Prince, himself from North Queensland, was awarded the Clive Churchill Medal as man-of-the-match before being presented with the premiership trophy by Australian Prime Minister John Howard. It was the final match with the Tigers for their winger Pat Richards who joined English Super League club Wigan Warriors for the 2006 season.
- 8th Minute: North Queensland 6-0 (M.Bowen try; Hannay goal)
- 18th Minute: Tied 6-6 (Gibbs try; Hodgson goal)
- 35th Minute: Wests Tigers 12-6 (Richards try; Hodgson goal)
- 45th Minute: Wests Tigers 18-6 (Laffranchi try; Hodgson goal)
- 55th Minute: Wests Tigers 18-12 (Norton try; Hannay goal)
- 63rd Minute: Wests Tigers 24-12 (Fitzhenry try; Hodgson goal)
- 76th Minute: Wests Tigers 24-16 (Sing try)
- 80th Minute: Wests Tigers 30-16 (Payten try; Hodgson goal)
2006 World Club ChallengeEdit
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