BY CURTIS WOODWARD
Reluctantly crouched at the starting line, engines pumping and thumping in time. The green light flashes, the flags go up.
Can you smell what the NRL is cookin’?
It is preliminary final weekend – four teams remain. Any closer to the trophy and you could touch it. May the best teams win this weekend.
Good luck to all.
CANBERRA RAIDERS VERSUS SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
ROUND 15, 1982
The Raiders didn’t have much to cheer about in their inaugural season of 1982. In fact, coming into their round 15 home clash against South Sydney, the new kids on the block had tasted victory just once while the Bunnies were a top five contender with an eye on the finals. Playing in the centres, a young man by the name of Craig Bellamy would score a try for the Raiders as Canberra nabbed just their second ever win – outlasting Bill Anderson’s Bunnies 23-18.
ROUND 12, 1987
Things were a little different five years later with the Green Machine on their way to their maiden grand final appearance under the coaching of Don Furner and Wayne Bennett. In their way this day was another side that would eventually qualify for the playoffs – South Sydney. What came next was a grueling encounter which produced no tries. The difference was Peter Jackson’s boot, Canberra winning 6-2.
ROUND 7, 2010
The resurgent Rabbitohs had lost four on the trot as they travelled to Canberra for this round seven clash. And it was all the Raiders early leading 24-6 at half-time. The Raiders however wouldn’t score a point in the second stanza and had no answer to Souths as they romped home to shock the locals with a 26-24 victory. The Raiders wouldn’t beat Souths for another four seasons.
ROUND 10, 2019
South Sydney went top of the table after this cracking encounter on a cold old night in the nation’s capital. The first try of the night didn’t come until the 50th minute when South Sydney’s Cody Walker crossed the chalk. But the Raiders would hit back ten minutes later with a try to Sam Williams, instigated by talented winger Nick Cotric. Raiders skipper Jarrod Croker was denied a try later which handed the Rabbitohs the win.
SYDNEY ROOSTERS VERSUS MELBOURNE STORM
ROUND 10, 2001
The Roosters headed to Docklands under the leadership of Luke Ricketson to face Melbourne. Both sides scored four tries with Roosters legend Ricketson scoring a try for himself. Melbourne’s Matt Orford and counterpart Craig Fitzgibbon kicked three goals respectively but it was a field goal from Chooks halfback Paul Green that proved the difference – Roosters winning 23-22.
ROUND 12, 2003
Defending premiers Sydney jumped on a flight to Melbourne and a date with the Storm at ‘The Graveyard’. Rising Storm centre Steve Bell crossed twice for the hosts but he’d be matched by the great Craig Fitzgibbon who’d grab two of his own to go with five goals. Skipper Brad Fittler would ensure the Tricolours would hit the casino with the two competition points, putting over a field-goal to win it 27-20.
ROUND 16, 2018
This was built as Cooper Cronk against his former side and a bloke by the name of Cameron Smith. They didn’t disappoint. This was a must-watch encounter with the scores locked at 2 at half-time. With Victor Radley in the sin-bin, Melbourne capitalised, scoring through man mountain Nelson Asofa-Solomona. The Roosters would hit back immediately to level the scores at 8-all. Enter Smith, Melbourne winning 9-8.
ROUND 6, 2019
The Roosters shot out to a 20-point lead to stun the fans at AAMI Park in a 2018 grand final re-match on Good Friday. Melbourne fought their way back to send the match into golden point until the great Latrell Mitchell stepped up to hit a field goal from 40 metres out to silence the parochial home crowd. Roosters winning 21-20.
Join me and the Steele Sports Commentary Team this Sunday for grand final coverage of the Canterbury Cup and Jersey Flegg – live from noon on steelesports.com.au