Classic match: Balmain Tigers v Canberra Raiders (1989 Grand Final)
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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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Balmain then headed into the additional 20 minutes without key forwards Steve Roach and Paul Sironen after the pair had been replaced by Warren Ryan despite showing no sign of injury.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.
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.