Top six field goals of 2016
There were 36 field goals kicked in 2016, with every team bar the Parramatta Eels slotting a one-pointer last season. Here's a look back at the top six from the Telstra Premiership.
6. Round 16, Sharks v Warriors
This was one of those games to put in the time vault to showcase the great game of rugby league. This match had everything. Michael Ennis celebrated a try with a 'selfie', Jayson Bukuya was awarded a penalty try, Simon Mannering made 67 tackles, four players ran for over 180 metres, and a James Maloney field goal sealed Cronulla's 11th win on the trot. Locked at 18-all at the end of regulation time, golden point was as entertaining as can be, with both sides throwing the ball around with reckless abandon in the hope of securing the match winner. It took an 87th-minute Maloney field goal to break the deadlock, with the Sharks five-eighth evading the first wave of defenders before slicing an ugly-looking one-pointer past the desperate dive of Solomone Kata.
5. Round 19, Sea Eagles v Warriors
The writing was on the wall for the Warriors from the get-go. They headed to Perth – a place where they had never won – to take on a Manly side that had won 10 of the previous 11 meetings between the teams, and found themselves down 12-0 inside 15 minutes. But a double to Bunty Afoa of all people levelled things up, before the teams traded penalty goals to send the game into extra-time. Sam Lisone showed how not to kick a field goal with a woeful attempt in the 78th minute, while Jake Trbojevic put his body on the line to deny Shaun Johnson's attempt with a courageous charge down and regather. That play would prove the turning point as the Sea Eagles marched down field and put Daly Cherry-Evans in position, and the halfback showed his opponents how it's done, knocking over the coveted point with his non-preferred foot. It was the Warriors' second golden point loss in three matches, and kick-started a three-week stretch of games that went to extra-time.
4. Round 22, Storm v Rabbitohs
The Storm headed into this one on the back of five straight wins, while the Bunnies were staring down the barrel of a ninth loss on the trot after falling 54-4 the previous week. Past form counted for little as the Rabbitohs dominated the match for 79 minutes to hold a two-point lead, only for Damien Cook to be penalised for a lifting tackle on Cameron Munster with 40 seconds to go to give Cameron Smith a chance to tie things up. From 39 metres out – and just left of centre – Smith stepped up to pilot the penalty goal between the posts to send the home crowd into hysterics and the game into extra-time. From there, everyone expected Cooper Cronk to slot his 21st field goal for the Storm. Instead, his skipper calmly stepped out of dummy half to knock over the third one-pointer of his career to seal the 15-14 win.
3. Round 13, Rabbitohs v Titans
There are plenty of reasons why this match ranked in our top 10 clashes of the season. And Titans rookie Ash Taylor featured in plenty of them. His try and 40/20 kick helped Gold Coast race out to an 18-0 lead, before the Bunnies fought back twice to make it 28-all at the end of 80 minutes. With momentum on their side, South Sydney halfback Adam Reynolds looked to have given his team a gutsy one-point win when his wobbly field goal went over, but his 85th-minute effort was disallowed after the Bunker ruled Nathan Brown had impeded two-try hero Ryan James in the build-up. Instead, it would be Taylor who got his team home with a sweetly-struck drop goal under pressure from 29 metres out – his first at NRL level – to seal Gold Coast's first ever win in Perth.
2. Round 23, Wests Tigers v Titans
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. This was the day the Hayne Plane well and truly landed in his second stint in the NRL. On what turned out to be a drama filled day in Sydney's west, two-time Dally M winner Jarryd Hayne celebrated his first game in Campbelltown with a clutch play that ultimately earned his team a spot in the finals at the Tigers' expense. To add to the home side's woes, star fullback James Tedesco suffered a season-ending broken jaw midway through the second half. The game itself was strange as the teams traded tries from kicks, a couple of long-range efforts and some scores from errors. A missed penalty goal and a pair of wayward field goal attempts proved costly for the Tigers as Hayne landed a 30-metre field goal with 13 seconds left on the clock to get his side home. It was the second time the 28-year-old had broken hearts, having guided the Eels to a playoffs-clinching win back in 2009 that ended the Tigers' hopes of making the finals.
1. Round 4, Broncos v Cowboys
They say practise makes perfect, and kids, they are right. Anthony Milford started the 2016 season with a field goal in each of his first two matches, and while they might have seemed strange options at the time, they served as perfect preparation for when it really mattered. Locked at 20-all in the first of the epic Broncos-Cowboys trilogy, Brisbane earned bragging rights with a heart-stopping win in golden point thanks to the right boot of their dynamic five-eighth. Milford never got the chance to shoot in the 2015 grand final, and while his effort this time around will never numb the pain of that fateful night in Sydney, it helped the Broncos gain some revenge for the 17-16 loss in golden point. The match itself was one for the ages as the all-Queensland derby delivered on every level. The Cowboys scored three tries to two, but six goals to Corey Parker ensured his side kept the scoreboard ticking over. A match like this deserved a quality finish, and Milford didn't let the fans down, slotting a 40-metre field goal in the 85th minute to make a Good Friday even better for the Broncos.