- Australian Rugby League season 1997
:"This article details the Australian Rugby League half of 1997's split competition. For the Super League half, see
Super League (Australia) season 1997"Infobox rugby league season
year = 1997
competition = Australian Rugby League
imagesize = 100%
teams = 12
count = 1st
minor premiers =
mpcount = 9th
matches = 141
points = 5370
attendance = 1496040
top points scorer = (242)
top try scorer = (22)
1997's Australian Rugby Leaguepremiership was the 90th season of professional rugby league footballin Australia and the third season run by the Australian Rugby League. Twelve Australian Rugby League-loyal teams - eight from across Sydney, two from greater New South Walesand two from Queensland- competed for the OptusCup.
The season is most notable for being run parallel to the rival Super League competition. This was the only season when the two competitions actually ran, notwithstanding that 1995 and 1996 had been disrupted by the
Super League war.
Ken Arthursonresigned in February 1997 in an effort to enable re-unification negotiations to succeed. It wouldn't be till after the season's end in December that the boards of every ARL club would gather at the SCG in an unprecedented meeting to consider the proposed peace deal following five months of secret negotiations between Ian Frykberg and Neil Whittaker.
In 1997 the official player of the year award, the
Rothmans Medalwas won by Brad Fittler. This was the last year that the award would be known as the Rothmans Medal, with the Dally M Medal becoming the only player of the year award from the following year.
The fairytale came true for thousands of Novocastrians when the Knights won their first ever premiership, staging a comeback from 8-16 to shatter Manly's hopes.
The long-running duel between opposing front rowers Mark Carroll and Paul Harragon erupted again in the 2nd minute when Carroll reacted to a Harragon shot on Geoff Toovey. Newcastle applied pressure early when they regained possession inside Manly's 20m and shortly after that Andrew Johns took a penalty attempt, but Manly's defence and luck stood firm and the score stayed nil-all.
Manly scored first after rookie hooker Anthony Colella won a scrum against the feed. John Hopoate exploited a weakness in Newcastle's right side defence and got between Darren Albert and Mark Hughes to score. Nevin's sideline conversion gave the Sea Eagles a 6-0 lead.
In 13th minute Manly suffered a blow when Toovey was steamrolled. He left the field concussed for Cliff Lyons to come on.
Johns went within inches of scoring for Newcastle in the 24th minute when his blindside break on the last tackle was stopped by a desperate Hopoate. Manly responded with a thrilling try in the 25th minute. The movement started 55 metres out - Hopoate making the initial break down the left-hand side with Lyons backing up to enable Craig Innes to crash over for a Manly 10-0 lead.
Newcastle's first points came through a Johns' penalty goal. Then in the 34th minute they scored their first ever
Grand Finaltry after a clever kick from Matthew Johns was taken by Hopoate who was bundled into touch. From the scrum win, Robbie O'Davis got outside Terry Hill to score. Andrew Johns' conversion brought Newcastle within two points.
Manly hit back in the 38th minute after some magical work from Lyons. He swept onto a ball dropped by Harragon and spun around to find Shannon Nevin on the inside. The Newcastle forwards couldn't get across to cover the overlap and Nevin then converted his own try for a 16-8 half-time scoreline.
Early in the second half there was more concern for Toovey after he was stomped on by Adam MacDougall. Manly then almost put Newcastle away in the 51st minute when Steven Menzies powered through close to the line only to be stopped by Troy Fletcher scrambling well to effect a try- and match-saving tackle for the Knights. Andrew Johns booted a penalty goal in the 57th minute to claw Newcastle back to within a converted try.
In the 61st minute Adam Muir dropped a pass from Andrew Johns a metre from Manly's line but it was a sign that the Knights were back in the game. Manly on the other hand, began to play conservatively to their own ultimate cost. They received a penalty after another Harragon high tackle and elected to kick at goal 32 metres out with a swirling breeze. Nevin missed and Darren Albert returned the kick with a 40 metre run.
Manly applied pressure for the next ten minutes but came away empty handed. Colella and then Nik Kosef both dropped balls inside Newcastle's 30m line while trying to off-load. A 69th minute last tackle raid ten metres out by Manly also fell short when a field-goal might have sealed the game.
Having withstood the pressure, Newcastle then lifted. Following a long break by Fletcher, Andrew Johns received the ball from his brother. He stood in a tackle, handed to O'Davis, who spun and planted the ball on the line. Johns' conversion levelled the scores 16-16 with five minutes remaining.
The match is ulimately best remembered for its classic grandstand finish, when
Darren Albertbroke the 16-16 deadlock seven seconds from fulltime. The effervescent Andrew Johns unexpectedly went down a narrow blind-side before slipping a pass to Albert who raced over to score promtping scenes of euphoria from the Knights fans and players who had won thier inaugural title.
The win was a huge morale boost to the blue-collar Newcastle district in the same year that the area's biggest employer, the BHP steelworks had announced its closure. Seventy per cent of the winning squad were Newcastle juniors.
Newcastle Knights: 22 (O'Davis 2, Albert tries; A Johns 5 goals.)
Manly Sea Eagles: 16 (Hopoate, Innes, Nevin tries; Nevin 2 goals.)
Clive Churchill Medallist: Robbie O'Davis
Formation of the National Rugby League
With twenty-two teams playing in two competitions in 1997 crowd attendances and corporate sponsorships were spread very thinly, and many teams found themselves in financial difficulty by the end of the season. Despite having the financial backing of
Optus, the Australian Rugby Leaguedecided that it was not in the best interests of the game to run two competitions and undertook moves to approach News Limitedand invite the traditional clubs back into the main competition. As a consequence of the negotiations that followed, on September 23, 1997the ARL announced that it was forming a new competition in partnership with News Limited. The National Rugby Leaguewas formed from the ARL and Super League competitions.
It was announced that the 1998 season would have 20 teams competing, 19 ARL/Super League teams and the
Melbourne Storm, who were owned by News Limited. Clubs on both sides of the war were shut down. News decided to close the Hunter Marinersand the financially ruined Western Reds, who were $10million in debt at the end of 1997, while the ARL decided to close down the South Queensland Crushers, who were also in financial trouble. Additionally, at the end of the following season News Limitedwould decide to close down the Adelaide Ramsand the ARL would close down the Gold Coast Chargers, even though they were one of the few clubs to make a profit during the Super League war.
Australian Rugby League
Super League war
Super League (Australia)
Super League (Australia) season 1997
History of the National Rugby League
* [http://www.stats.rleague.com/rl/snotes.html Rugby League Tables - Notes] "The World of Rugby League"
* [http://www.stats.rleague.com/rl/seas/1997.html Rugby League Tables - Season 1997] "The World of Rugby League"
* [http://www.rl1908.com/premiership.htm Premiership History and Statistics] "RL1908"
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Australian rugby league premiers — The Australian rugby league premiers are the winners of the First Grade competition in Australian rugby league, which is currently the National Rugby League.HistoryThe first season of rugby league in New South Wales was held in 1908 and run by… … Wikipedia
Australian rugby league wooden spooners — The Australian rugby league wooden spooners are the teams which finished last in the First Grade competition in Australian rugby league, which is currently the National Rugby League, and was previously the New South Wales Rugby Football League… … Wikipedia
Australian Rugby League — National rugby league leaguename = Blue haven raiders nativename = logosize = 150px founded = 1924 RLIF = 1948 region = regionyear = CEO = Geoff Carr chairman = Colin Love (1999 ) coach = country url = www.rugbyleague.com.auThe Australian Rugby… … Wikipedia
National Rugby League season 1998 — Infobox rugby league season year = 1998 competition = National Rugby League imagesize = 125px caption = teams = 20 premiers = leagueicon|Brisbane Broncos|16 Brisbane count = 4th minor premiers = leagueicon|Brisbane Broncos|16 Brisbane mpcount =… … Wikipedia
National Rugby League season 2008 — Infobox rugby league season year = 2008 competition = National Rugby League imagesize = 125px caption = teams = 16 premiers = leagueicon|Manly|16 Manly Warringah count = 7th minor premiers = leagueicon|Melbourne|16 Melbourne mpcount = 3rd matches … Wikipedia
New South Wales Rugby League season 1994 — Infobox rugby league season year = 1994 competition = New South Wales Rugby League imagesize = 125px caption = teams = 16 premiers = count = 3rd minor premiers = mpcount = 6th matches = 182 points = 7416 attendance = 2732389 top points scorer =… … Wikipedia
National Rugby League season 2006 — Infobox rugby league season year = 2006 competition = National Rugby League imagesize = 100px caption = teams = 15 premiers = leagueicon|Brisbane Broncos|16 Brisbane count = 6th minor premiers = leagueicon|Melbourne Storm|16 Melbourne mpcount =… … Wikipedia
New South Wales Rugby League season 1989 — Infobox rugby league season year = 1989 competition = New South Wales Rugby League premiership imagesize = 125px caption = teams = 16 premiers = leagueicon|Canberra Raiders|16 Canberra count = 1st minor premiers = leagueicon|South Sydney… … Wikipedia
New South Wales Rugby League season 1986 — Infobox rugby league season year = 1986 competition = New South Wales Rugby League imagesize = 125px caption = teams = 13 premiers = count = 4th minor premiers = mpcount = 3rd matches = 163 points = 5212 attendance = 1705156 top points scorer =… … Wikipedia
Rugby league in Victoria — Rugby league in Victoria, Australia, dates back to 1889 but disappeared until the 1930s. It took until 1998 for the first local team in national competition to be founded, the Melbourne Storm.HistoryMelbourne sent its first rugby football team to … Wikipedia