Written by Joshua Dean
For my entire life, I have looked forward to ANZAC Day. Being a patriotic Kiwi, I love any chance to be able to appreciate my country. Every year I am inspired by the selfless acts the ANZAC soldiers did so we could live a better life. The cherry on top on ANZAC Day for me is that I get to watch one of my most favourite rivalries in sports, Melbourne Storm vs New Zealand Warriors.
This ANZAC Day will be the first since 2001 where there will be no Rugby League. Since we are going to miss out on this great rivalry this year, I have decided to look back on some great moments, feats and statistics of one of the weirdest but also one of the great rivalries in sports.
How is it possible that one of most successful and consistent NRL teams have a bogey team in one of the most least successful and inconsistent NRL teams? For some reason, the dominant Melbourne Storm have always played uncharacteristically against the mediocre New Zealand Warriors.
There have been countless dramatic games, including two finals matches, where the Warriors have somehow defied the odds and beaten the Storm. The Storm have the best winning record in the NRL (65.74%), however against the Warriors it is a slight amount lower (58.1%). This doesn’t seem that significant, however it comes down to circumstance. Majority of the time, the Warriors have been battling hard to just make the top eight, whereas the Storm are premiership contenders most seasons.
Another factor about this rivalry is that the Storm are always good playing at home, however the Warriors have beaten them many times in Melbourne, something many teams struggle to do.
Here’s a look back at three classic Warriors vs Storm games:
ROUND 16, 1998
This is one of the wildest games I have seen. Competition front-runners Melbourne seemed to have the game won, when Brett Kimmorley slotted a field goal with just two minutes left from fulltime. However, on the last play of the game, the Warriors threw the ball around from one end to another, until Stacey Jones launched a bomb after the siren. In classic Warriors fashion, somehow the ball got patted back to them, and centre Nigel Vagana passed it to the unmarked Tony Tatupu to score the winner, long after the full time siren sounded. This victory was extremely rare for the 98 Warriors who struggled in that season, however they somehow beat the top team in the Competition with an incredible after-the-siren victory.
This win is historic for the NRL competition as a whole. In this game, the Warriors became the first ever eighth placed team to defeat the minor premiers in the McIntyre finals system. The Storm seemed comfortable throughout, however the Warriors stayed in it, all the way till the end. With a couple of minutes left, the Warriors were deep into their own territory and down 15-14. Jerome Ropati and Manu Vatuvei combined beautifully to send Michael Witt into the clear to score in the corner, snatching a famous victory. This defeat was just Melbourne’s second at Olympic Park since losing to the Warriors in 2006.
This 20-12 victory by the Warriors will go down as one of the greatest victories in the club’s history. Their rollercoaster ride to the Preliminary Final was very strange. They lost by 40 to the Broncos in Week One, narrowly beating the Tigers in the last minute of the match to take on the Storm in the Preliminary Finals. It was 14-12 at halftime to the Warriors, then their defence in the second half was nothing short of remarkable, keeping the Storm scoreless. Rookie sensation Shaun Johnson’s mesmerising display set up Lewis Brown’s winner in the 77th minute. Another display of the Warriors beating a Minor Premiership winning Storm side at home.