These are the games that had you on the edge of your seat, with your heart racing, and live long in the memory. The classic "I was there" moments when a football game hangs in the balance, the clock is ticking down and a collective hush permeates the air with one dramatic last play set to decide the outcome. Here are 10 of the greatest buzzer-beater moments of recent memory.
10. Lockyer to the rescue
Broncos 30 def. Eels 26; Round 12, 2008
Darren Lockyer was known for his ability to come up with the big plays in crucial moments – so much so that he probably could have his own list of clutch plays. He has kicked many famous field goals, including one with a broken jaw that will go down in folklore – his last act on an NRL field – but we've picked a game from Round 12 in 2008. With the siren sounding and the scores level, Lockyer had time for one last masterstroke. Following a chaotic play-the-ball seconds before the siren, the Broncos ungainly scrambled the ball to their mercurial five-eighth who gathered himself and chip-kicked for his winger, with the ball landing perfectly for Denan Kemp who raced down the touchline to claim a dramatic post-siren match-winner.
9. Wesser magic wins it at last
Rabbitohs 34 def. Wests Tigers 30; Round 22, 2010
This takes the term "buzzer beater" to new levels; you simply couldn't leave it any later. Nothing could separate the two teams after 80 minutes of football and indeed a further nine minutes and fifty seconds of golden point. The game was about to end in an anti-climatic stalemate, but there was still time for one final play and that's all the invitation Rhys Wesser needed. He burst through four attempted tackles on the 40-metre line before throwing a cut-out pass that ended with Dylan Farrell scoring in the corner – his third on debut – to claim an epic victory.
8. Parramatta stunned by Panthers miracle
Panthers 23 def. Eels 22; Round 19, 2011
This could be the craziest play in this list. The Panthers were controversially awarded a play-the-ball on the Eels 10-metre line with one second on the clock after a Parramatta clearing kick was ruled not to have been charged down. Trailing by six points, Penrith spread the ball from sideline to sideline in a desperate attempt to keep the ball alive. By the time Michael Jennings got the ball, they had lost 30 metres on the play. But the electrifying centre put on the afterburners and found space before kicking the ball into the in-goal where Lachlan Coote pounced to send the game into extra-time, long after the final siren had sounded. The Panthers went on to win the game through a golden-point field goal.
7. Merritt's unlikely long shot pays off
Rabbitohs 23 def. Wests Tigers 22; Round 10, 2009
The hallowed turf of the Sydney Cricket Ground bore witness to a modern day classic between the Rabbitohs and the Tigers as the NRL celebrated 'Heritage Round' in 2009. The Rabbitohs set up for a field-goal with 10 seconds left on the clock, but the Tigers were quick to shut down halfback Craig Wing, forcing him to shift the ball to the right to winger Nathan Merritt. South Sydney's try-scoring machine didn't hesitate and hit the most unlikely of dropkicks to claim the game.
6. Shaun Johnson breaks English hearts
New Zealand 20 def. England 18; World Cup Semi-Final, 2013
England were desperately holding on to a four-point lead in front of a raucous Wembley crowd with a place in the World Cup Final up for grabs. The stakes could not have been higher. Step up Shaun Johnson to break English hearts. With New Zealand facing elimination from the tournament, Johnson got the ball and was rushed by England halfback Kevin Sinfield, stepped his man cold, before stepping again to score the match-equalling try. England players collapsed to the famous turf, and pandemonium set in, but Johnson still needed to hold his nerve and kick the conversion after the siren to steal victory and send New Zealand into the World Cup decider.
5. Tigers lose at the death... again
Roosters 19 def. Wests Tigers 15; Qualifying Final, 2010
The Wests Tigers had an unfortunate habit of losing the close ones in 2009 and 2010. The Tigers had this final against the Roosters seemingly signed, sealed and delivered. That was until they lost a scrum against the feed in the last minute, setting up a frantic finish and an epic moment for Braith Anasta. While the game was eventually won in golden point by a Shaun Kenny-Dowall intercept, the game is on our list thanks to Anasta's epic field goal that kept the Roosters' season alive. With time winding down, Anasta called for the ball and – in an all or nothing play – struck a field goal sweetly from a tough position to the game into extra-time. They would go on to reach the grand final just a year after collecting the wooden spoon.
4. Hazem El Magic
Bulldogs 22 def. Knights 21; Round 20, 2002
The Bulldogs travelled to the home of the 2001 reining premiers off the back of 15 consecutive victories – it had all the makings of a blockbuster encounter, and somehow it exceeded all expectations. With their incredible winning streak about to end, the Bulldogs rallied and scored in the corner in the 79th minute to trail the Knights by one point. The siren sounded as Hazem El Masri lined up his conversion, with the outcome resting on the beloved winger's magic right boot. The ball hooked perfectly and slide just inside the right upright, with the 'Dogs claiming the most dramatic of victories by a single point. (Their winning streak would be for naught, with the Bulldogs later stripped of their competition points due to salary cap breaches.)
3. Rabbits win it from nowhere
Rabbitohs 24 def. Roosters 22; Round 19, 2012
There were just two minutes left on the clock with the Rabbitohs trailing by 10 points against their bitter rivals the Roosters, having been beaten at the death by the Tricolours earlier in the season. What happened next needs to be seen to be believed – even to this day. The Rabbitohs scored through Merritt to give themselves an unlikely chance of victory. From the ensuing kick-off the Roosters looked to belt big Dave Taylor, but he deftly passed before the line to set up a dramatic length-of-the-field break, ending in Adam Reynolds scooping up an Issac Luke pass off the ground to level the scores. The halfback then stepped up to kick the conversion after the siren and claim the miraculous win.
2. Coyne completes one of the great Origin comeback
Queensland 16 def. New South Wales 12; Game I, 1994
"That's not a try, it's a miracle." Ray Warren summed up the moment perfectly. Mark Coyne's try in the opening game of the 1994 State of Origin series is one of the most revered rugby league moments of all time. With a minute left on the clock and deep in their own half, the ball went through the hands of some of the greats of Queensland rugby league – Allan Langer to Kevin Walters, to Willie Carne, to Steve Renouf, with the centre bursting clear upfield. The passes kept coming – Michael Hancock, Darren Smith, Langer again, Mal Meninga – before Coyne took possession metres from the line and powered his way over. It was the greatest of Queensland's trademark late fightbacks and broke Blue hearts around the Sydney Football Stadium and across New South Wales. But, as good as this play is, it was not good enough to knock off the top spot on this list.
1. The greatest finish of all
Knights 22 def. Sea Eagles 16; 1997 ARL Grand Final
It couldn't be anything else. The Knights' first grand final win is one of the most iconic moments in the game's history and we couldn't go past it for the number one spot on this list. With the 1997 ARL Grand Final heading for extra-time, Newcastle halfback Andrew Johns ignored the field-goal option and took off down the blindside before linking up with winger Darren Albert, who cruised through a gaping hole to score the most famous of all buzzer beaters. It was the Knights' maiden premiership and ended a most turbulent season for the game with the fairytale finish it needed.
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