In 1997 Rugby League in Australia had been split in two. Years of turmoil within the game had seen Rugby League team itself apart.
While all of this was going on, something special was brewing. For a number of years the Newcastle Knights and Manly Sea Eagles had developed a rivalry we rarely see in Rugby League. These two teams HATED one another.
After an amazing ARL Finals series we got an incredible matchup. The highly fancies Manly Sea Eagles, one of the greatest defensive teams of all time, coached by the GREAT Bob Fulton, a team with so much experience, they were the defending Premiers and they looked set to go back-to-back.
The Newcastle Knights had other ideas…
In one of the Great Grand Finals ever played, the Newcastle Knights scored a try right on the bell after a blindside play by Andrew Johns put Darren Albert over to break the hearts of the Sea Eagles and re-ignite a passion in the game that helped bring Rugby League in Australia back together.
The Newcastle Knights – 1997 Grand Final Team
1 Robbie O’Davis
2 Darren Albert
3 Adam MacDougall
4 Owen Cragie
5 Mark Hughes
6 Matthew Johns
7 Andrew Johns
8 Tony Butterfield
9 Billy Peden
10 Paul Harragon (c)
11 Wayne Richards
12 Adam Muir
13 Mark Glanville
14 Troy Fletcher
15 Scott Conley
16 Lee Jackson
17 Steve Crowe
Coach: Malcolm Reilly
Newcastle Knights 22
Tries: Robbie O’Davis 2, Darren Albert
Goals: Johns 5/6
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 16
Tries: John Hopoate, Craig Innes, Shannon Nevin
Goals: Shannon Nevin 2/4
This game had so many memorable moments. Robbie O’Davis scoring two memorable tries, Adam MacDougall treading on Geoff Toovey’s face, Paul Harragon playing like a man possessed, and of course that last try, one of the most memorable in the games history.
Robbie O’Davis would take away the Clive Churchill Medal as man of the match for his amazing two try performance.
Want to watch the 1997 ARL Grand Final? Lets do it!