#Top10Tuesday: Round 1 classics
With the 2015 NRL season almost upon us, NRL.com writers put their heads together to look at some of the most significant and memorable Round 1 fixtures of all time.
10. Titanic struggle in Brisbane (March 18, 2007)
Seven years after the merger of Western Suburbs and Balmain Tigers, a 16th team was added to the NRL on the Gold Coast, led by co-captains Scott Prince and Luke Bailey. But the Dragons crashed the welcome party, as a crowd of 42,030 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane witnessed St George Illawarra pull away from the new kids on the block and consign them to a heartbreaking 20-18 first-up defeat. By the end of their inaugural season the Titans had finished in 12th spot, just two points shy of the top eight.
9. Manfred Moore's stunning Jets debut (March 20, 1977)
Many have tried and failed in bringing their rugby league talents across the seas and into the United States' NFL, with Parramatta sensation Jarryd Hayne the latest to test his skills. There was one player, however, in former Oakland Raiders running back Manfred Moore, who arrived as the ultimate rugby league coup in the summer of 1977. The Californian got his league career off to a cracking start, crossing with his first touch of the ball in Newtown's season-opening 17-10 win over Western Suburbs. However Moore would last just four more games before returning home, while Newtown went on to lose 20 games straight to finish the year with the wooden spoon.
8. A super coaching career is launched (April 2, 1967)
Cronulla Sharks joined the competition in 1967 and won their first game with an 11-5 victory over Eastern Suburbs. But it was a figure who made his debut off the field that made the fixture much more significant as it marked the first grade coaching debut of Jack Gibson. Gibson became the first 'super coach', winning two premierships with Easts before moving to Parramatta and guiding them to three consecutive titles from 1981-83. The Round 1 loss on April 2, 1967 was the start of an amazing journey for one of rugby league's most revered characters.
7. 'Mini' miracle a Round 1 heart-stopper (March 5, 2012)
It was the dawn of a new era at Redfern, with relatively unknown coach Michael Maguire holding the clipboard for the first time for South Sydney. And for the first 77 minutes, all was going rather swimmingly for the former Raiders fullback as his Rabbitohs led 20-12 against fierce rivals the Sydney Roosters. But when Roosters' firebrand prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves barged over with minutes remaining, and then boom second-rower Boyd Cordner broke into the backfield on play one of the ensuing set, this season-opener was destined for a dramatic climax. Cordner's desperate toe-poke set up a two-man race between Rabbitohs halfback Adam Reynolds and Roosters fullback Anthony Minichiello, and the veteran No.1 got there in what was a thrilling start to the 2012 season.
6. Game breaks new ground (March 10-12, 1995)
Four teams were added to the competition in 1995 with the Auckland Warriors, South Queensland Crushers, North Queensland Cowboys and Western Reds all making their debuts. The opening game of the season saw the Warriors almost beat the might of the Brisbane Broncos in front of more than 30,000 fans in New Zealand, announcing themselves with a heart-stopping 25-22 loss. The Western Reds followed up a strong opening weekend for the newcomers when they shocked the St George Dragons 28-16 in front of 25,000 fans at the WACA Ground in Perth.
5. South Sydney make emotional return (March 15, 2002)
South Sydney made an emotional return to the competition at the Sydney Football Stadium in 2002. The foundation club had been excluded from the competition at the end of 1999 and for the next two years famously rallied in the courts and marched en masse through Sydney to be reinstated. The fixture in the opening round against bitter rivals the Sydney Roosters was more than just a game. The fact they lost 40-6 was secondary to the main story – the ‘Pride of the League’ was back where they belonged.
4. The war is over as NRL is born (March 13, 1998)
How does the saying go? The best thing about breaking up is the make-up season-opener afterwards? After a hellish calendar year that saw the rise and fall of the Super League – a breakaway competition from the Australian Rugby League – the unified National Rugby League was officially born on Friday, March 13. But the inaugural NRL competition wasn't the only rugby league newborn that weekend. The game's first Victorian team, the Melbourne Storm, played their first ever match and, led by skipper Glenn Lazarus, came back from an early 10-0 deficit to defeat the Illawarra Steelers 14-12 in Wollongong.
3. A start of Olympic-sized proportions (March 6, 1999)
Before Sydney's Olympic Stadium was affectionately known as 'The Home That Cathy Built', rugby league had left a lifelong imprint in the enormous arena. Completed seven years after its first design, the stadium's first full-scale event was a season-opening double-header between Newcastle and Manly and then Parramatta and St George Illawarra that attracted a rugby league 44-year record crowd of 104,583 people. Sea Eagles centre Terry Hill was the first player to score a try at the Olympic venue, but it was the Knights who went on to record a comprehensive 41-18 win. The Eels defeated the Dragons in the second game 20-10.
2. Brisbane announce their presence (March 6, 1988)
The advent of the Brisbane Broncos in 1988 was a major milestone in what was previously known as the Winfield Cup. The glamour club from the Sunshine State attracted no less than seven players who had previously represented either Queensland or Australia, including inaugural skipper Wally Lewis. 'The King' – along with 24 points from Terry Matterson – led them to a 44-12 win over reigning premiers Manly at the old Lang Park in their first premiership game to signify that the game's premier competition had a new superpower. The team's first line-up also boasted Colin Scott, Gene Miles, Greg Dowling, Greg Conescu, Bryan Niebling, a constellation of stars that would continue to be attracted to the club throughout coach Wayne Bennett's first tenure of 21 seasons.
1. Rugby league begins with two double-headers (April 20, 1908)
We can't overlook the mother of all openers when, in front of approximately 3000 people at Wentworth Park and Birchgrove Oval on a Monday afternoon, rugby league was born. The two double-headers ushered in a bold new era. Nine foundation teams from the NSWRL – including today's South Sydney Rabbitohs and Eastern Suburbs Roosters, who defeated Newtown and North Sydney respectively – kicked off a game that was to provide entertainment and fun for generations to come. Fittingly, the Rabbitohs and Roosters met in the first premiership decider four months later, with the cardinal and myrtle becoming the game's first premiers in Australia.