6 Memorable Anzac Cup Moments
We look back at some of the greatest Anzac Day games
6– Not even Mother Nature can stop the Dragons
The Dragons started 2015 on fire – and although the Roosters pushed them all the way, perhaps the opponent who caused the most problems for St George-Illawarra came from above.
When Mitch Rein slid over like he was on a water slide at Wet n Wild, the Dragons had a 10-0 lead and momentum on their side. That was until the monsoonal rain which swept Moore Park turned into a hailstorm, forcing officials to postpone the match indefinitely for safety reasons.
There was a significant delay, which only added to the match’s unique feeling. The Dragons held on for a 14-12 win – not even Mother Nature could fully put out their fire.
5 – Jennings turns on the jets
Michael Jennings was a late signing for the Roosters for their 2013 campaign – the centre’s speed and talent were undoubted but a series of ill-disciplined acts saw Penrith become fed up and allow a transfer to Bondi. Seen as the final piece in a Premiership puzzle, Jennings started slowly though for the Roosters, only scoring two tries in his first six matches as he adjusted to new settings. All that changed though on ANZAC Day as the Kangaroo had the game of his Roosters life. His 50 metre blitz from a Mitch Aubusson offload was exactly why the Roosters signed him and was rugby league at its thrilling best. Jennings scored twice that day and his season took off – ending in 20 tries and a Premiership.
4 – The Dragons steal the most unlikely comeback
For 75 minutes of this 2012 clash, the Roosters looked like they were going to end their four-year ANZAC Day Cup drought. They had luck on their side – Mitchell Pearce’s try from a grubber case in point – and had a 24-16 lead inside the final five minutes. Ben Hornby’s short kickoff however proved the turning point. A quick Dragons converted try takes the margin to two points before prop Michael Weyman provides the most unlikely gamewinner for Ben Creagh with seconds left.
3 – Mitchell Pearce breaks his field goal curse and Dragons hearts
So far the only ANZAC Day Cup game to go to golden point and it was a classic. The Roosters trailed early to a Joel Thompson try before tries to Blake Ferguson and Mitchell Pearce looked like it’d be enough for the Roosters to ride the clock out. The Dragons – who lost star Gareth Widdop to injury before half-time – though never gave up and ex-Rooster Nene Macdonald somehow scored with two minutes left to narrow the gap to 2 points. Widdop though was the Dragons’ first -choice goalkicker, leaving the Dragons scrambling to find someone to attempt a near-sideline conversion in front of a record crowd. How hard can it be? Enter Josh Dugan with a career conversion rate of 59%.
But the unlikely kickers weren’t stopping there.
Pearce had become infamous for his inability to land field goals- his last one-pointer was in 2011. But in the 84th minute, the halfback found his redemption.
2 – Freddy’s still got it
2004 would be legendary Brad Fittler’s final season – he’d announce this a week after ANZAC Day. But the now NSW coach showed he hadn’t lost a step when needed. His side were down 8-2 with 20 to go and couldn’t find a way to break the desperate Dragons defence. So the 32 year old decided he’d do it himself. The Roosters then went ahead with a Brett Finch field goal before eventually squeezing out the 11-8 win. Ray Warren’s call of the try has got to be one of his own top five calls doesn’t it?
1 – Head lives out the childhood dream
Mat Head’s career was severely limited with chronic knee injuries – he never had a chance to properly establish himself at the top level. In 2005 though, the halfback played out the dream scenario. This ANZAC Day Cup clash was open-ended – unlike Freddy’s effort above, tries were traded frequently. The Dragons were expected to be a Premiership contender that season but with four minutes to go, they were staring a 1-6 season start in the eye. Head though rolled the dice, a chip and chase paid off with Matt Cooper receiving a desperation ball 30 metres out and gliding his way to the tryline. The work wasn’t done though – golden point was awaiting if Head missed the sideline conversion. But this was his day and his left boot delivered the most memorable ANZAC Day Cup moment to date.