Top 50 greatest moments in NYC history: 40-36
For the best part of a decade, rugby league fans have been treated to a new brand of footy by the best up-and-coming talent on the game's biggest stage. But with confirmation that the Holden Cup will no longer exist beyond the 2017 season, we've decided to take a trip down memory lane and count down the finest 50 moments from the under-20s competition.
40. Young Tigers earn their stripes
The Wests Tigers headed into the 2012 Toyota Cup grand final as slight underdogs against a Canberra side they had already beaten twice in the regular season. It was a case of déjà vu for the joint-venture club who had also finished in fourth spot in 2009, only to lose to the third-place Storm in the decider. While the rankings were the same this time around, the result was anything but. Having taken down the top two teams (the Bulldogs and Warriors) in week one of the finals, the Tigers and Raiders were always favoured to progress to the 'big dance' and they didn't disappoint their fans. The Green Machine – featuring future NRL stars Anthony Milford and Shannon Boyd – raced out to a 6-0 inside the opening 10 minutes, but that would be their only joy as the Tigers piled on 46 unanswered points to take home the trophy. Doubles to Kurtis Rowe, Marika Koroibete and man-of-the-match Matt Mulcahy propelled the Tigers to the biggest win in NYC grand final history and level with Manly's emphatic 40-0 triumph over the Storm in the 2008 NRL decider.
39. Finding the line no problem for Gideon Gela-Mosby
Rugby league has been blessed with some phenomenally-gifted try scorers over the years. From Dave Brown's 38-try haul in 1935 for Eastern Suburbs in the NSWRL to Nathan Blacklock's 27 four-pointers for the Dragons in 2001, the 13-man code has produced some freakish finishers. While first-graders have excelled for over a century, it's an NYC player who sits top of the tree when it comes to finding the line. Cowboys flyer Gideon Gela-Mosby crossed 39 times from 25 appearances in 2015 – 17 ahead of next-best Joseph Manu and Obeid Kharwin – to set the NYC record for most tries in a season. The winger scored four tries in a game on four occasions in 2015, including in week one of the finals against Brisbane, and added a hat-trick against the Panthers in Round 5. The closest anyone has come to topping his effort was Jake Mullaney's 29-try haul for the Wests Tigers in 2009.
38. Someone forgot to shut the gate
Panthers winger Zac Mackay had an outstanding 2012 Toyota Cup season. So good in fact that he makes this list not once but twice thanks to a pair of legendary performances. Incredibly, they were both against the Titans. On a sunny Sunday afternoon on the Gold Coast, Mackay gathered a grubber in his own in-goal, and instead of taking the ball dead, decided to make an escape. The play started with Mackay running parallel to the deal-ball line before the winger navigated a hole in the defensive line that he could exploit. Putting on the afterburners, Mackay stepped off his right foot, split the initial tacklers and slithered past two more would-be defenders before hitting full speed near his own 20-metre line. Showing the same desperation as the lizard in David Attenborough's now viral Planet Earth video, Mackay out-sprinted a pair of Titans to touch down for the 108-metre solo try. Sensationally, that wasn't his most remarkable moment against the Titans, but more on that later.
37. Ash Taylor steals the show
Few seasons have produced as many record-breaking performances as what we saw in 2015. The likes of Nathan Cleary and Tom Trbojevic seemed to outdo themselves every second week, as did then Broncos halfback Ashley Taylor. In his side's Round 15 trip to Melbourne, Taylor slotted a whopping 11 goals against the Storm in Brisbane's club-record 74-6 win. While there have been other players who have achieved that feat, only Taylor can say that he has had six try assists in the one game. In Round 19, Taylor went toe-to-toe with Wests Tigers five-eighth Te Maire Martin in an end-to-end showdown at Suncorp Stadium. Martin might have finished the year with the most try assists in the NYC, but he was no match for Taylor on this occasion. The Broncos playmaker set up six of his side's eight tries, and just for good measure crossed for one of his own in Brisbane's 40-24 victory. Little wonder he was named Holden Cup Player of the Year at the Dally M awards.
36. Jimmy the Jet cleared for take-off
If rugby league had its own version of the 100m dash, James Roberts would be the raging favourite in lane four. The Broncos centre has terrorised opposition defences in the NRL over the years, and his current form should come as no surprise given what he was able to do in the NYC. Roberts might have only played eight games for the Rabbitohs in 2010, but he still scored 10 tries as the minor premiers qualified for the grand final, only to lose to the Warriors. While that day ended in heartbreak, the Bunnies were celebrating a week earlier as they trounced Canberra 64-18 in the preliminary final. With four minutes to play, and his side already ahead by 40 points, Roberts collected the ball in his own in-goal, flirted with the dead-ball line, ducked under a challenge before he reached the field of play. Instead of surrendering, Roberts backed himself down the sideline, fending away from two would-be tacklers before he decided to pin his ears back. The only person within cooee was teammate Malcolm Webster and the pair celebrated one of the tries of the season when Roberts touched down. With Josh Mansour on the other wing, Nathan Peats at dummy-half and Adam Reynolds at halfback, it's remarkable that the Rabbitohs didn't win the competition. Alas, Shaun Johnson and co had other ideas. Unsurprisingly, Roberts managed a try on grand final day, but it wasn't enough to get his side home.