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Raiders winger John Ferguson savours the spoils of victory with his son and five-eighth Chris O'Sullivan.

Steve Jackson scored a try that will live on forever as the Raiders won their first title and Balmain's pain continued in a truly memorable 1989 grand final. has gone into the vault to find footage of the grand finals from the pre-NRL era dating back to 1966 and will be showcasing these games, including a full replay, match highlights and great moments from these encounters.

After Englishman Andy Currier gave the Tigers the lead with a penalty goal, James Grant scored the first try of the day after intercepting a pass from Canberra prop Brent Todd.

Todd, who had carried the ball strongly, was looking to ignite an attacking raid from inside his own half but ended up gifting Grant a four-pointer.

After Canberra fullback Gary Belcher pulled off a try-saving tackle on young Tigers centre Tim Brasher, the Raiders found their feet.

Balmain did extremely well to hold out a series of attacking plays that featured great work from Belcher, Bradley Clyde and Laurie Daley before a penalty for an inadvertent offside resulted in Mal Meninga booting a penalty goal from close to the posts.

Just as his opposite number Belcher had done earlier in the contest, Tigers fullback Garry Jack then saved a try with a brilliant low tackle on Canberra winger Matthew Wood.

Match Highlights: Tigers v Raiders

Paul Sironen then scored a great grand final try to give his side a 12-2 lead at the break. The champagne was on ice in Tiger Town but few could have predicted the drama that lay ahead.

The second half started with Wood denied a try for the second time in the match - this time it was Wayne Pearce who bundled him into touch with the line within reach.

After absorbing all sorts of pressure, the Tigers defence finally cracked.

Belcher continued his superb afternoon to bring his side within four. He handled twice in a sweeping movement that also included a trademark long pass from Ricky Stuart and a tackle-busting run from John Ferguson.

After Currier made the lead six points with a penalty goal and Elias hit the crossbar with a field goal attempt, Ferguson sent the match into extra-time.

Ferguson did extremely well to score from a broken play after a last-tackle bomb wasn't diffused.

Balmain then headed into the additional 20 minutes without key forwards Steve Roach and Paul Sironen after the pair had been replaced by Warren Ryan despite showing no sign of injury.

After Jack dropped a clearing kick in the first of the two added 10-minute periods, Chris O'Sullivan gave Canberra a one-point lead as two tired teams continued a monumental battle.

Ferguson scores on the last tackle

With the clock winding down and Balmain increasingly desperate, enter Jackson and the try all league fans have seen dozens of times as he took a pass from Meninga and beat five defenders on the way to the line, sealing Canberra's 19-14 win.

The luckless Tigers finished with a second-straight grand final defeat while the Raiders started a golden period of three premierships and another grand final appearance within six years.

Play of the day

Steve Jackson's four-pointer may have sealed victory, but it wasn't the best try scored on the day. That honour went to a play finished by Paul Sironen late in the first half.

After Benny Elias and Steve Roach combined to set Andy Currier free down the right, the big English centre launched a kick which bounced high and allowed Grant to beat Belcher and regain possession.

Grant then off-loaded to Currier who found a rampaging Sironen.

The NSW and Australia representative was able to keep Clyde at bay and dive over to give his side a 12-2 lead.

Tigers v Raiders - Grand Final, 1989

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Best player

You can't begrudge Bradley Clyde winning the Clive Churchill Medal but there would have been no complaints if Green Machine No.1 Gary Belcher had received the award.

Another of the great Queensland fullbacks of the last 40 years, Belcher was superb.

His battle with fellow Test representative Garry Jack was one of many features of this epic encounter.

Beny Elias and his Balmain team-mates are gutted after the '89 decider.
Beny Elias and his Balmain team-mates are gutted after the '89 decider. ©NRL Photos

The quote

"It’s funny to have your best moment and your worst moment over a 14-year career in the one game but to score a try before half-time was probably one of the greatest moments of my career and then 50 minutes later in extra time I just sat there and could feel the game slipping away.

"I know Block [Steve Roach] has always been a bit filthy about being replaced but to play in one of the great grand finals and to be so close … just for the bounce of the ball, or if Benny is three inches taller and kicks the field goal, we win the game." - Paul Sironen recalls the 1989 decider in a Legend Q&A with

The what-if moment

Yes, there was that field goal attempt from Benny Elias that bounced back off the crossbar, but if not for an ankle-tap try-saver from Meninga on Tigers five-eighth Michael Neill the Raiders would have been finished for the day.

Neill looked set for a run to the line before a diving Meninga was just able to upset his balance and force him to the ground. If Neill had scored, Currier could have put his side 10 points clear.

Extended Highlights: Tigers v Raiders

The unsung hero

John Ferguson was one of the game's fastest, and most elusive, wingers during a career which started with Newtown in 1980 and ended with Canberra in 1990. 

With the Raiders trailing by 10 points during the second half of the 1989 decider, Ferguson was roused into action. He played a crucial role in setting up Belcher's try before finishing superbly to set the stage for Meninga to level the scores with a conversion.

Sironen in full flight is a sight to behold

The following year

The Raiders won it all again in 1990. After entering the finals as minor premiers, they didn't let a 30-12 loss to Penrith in the major semi-final knock them off course.

They thrashed Brisbane 32-4 in the preliminary final before scoring an 18-14 win over Penrith in the grand final.

Balmain needed to beat Newcastle in a play-off to reach the finals but once there, they suffered a 16-0 loss to Manly and their season was over.

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