Tuesday 20 March 2018 / 11:03 AM


Defending premiers Cronulla travel to Auckland to take on a desperate Warriors side fighting for their season tonight.

Flashback Friday is taking a look back at the clubs’ most momentous clash, the classic 2002 preliminary final.

The Warriors, minor premiers in ’02, gave away 10,000 tickets to anyone holding a New Zealand passport, ensuring the hometown advantage was blunted for the Sharks, despite a 45,702-strong turnout at Stadium Australia.

The underdog Warriors scored first after an ill-conceived pass from Paul Mellor was spectacularly snaffled by utility Motu Tony, who scampered 20 metres for a try in the 20th minute.

The Sharks belatedly opened their account three minutes after halftime, hitting back when winger Matthew Rieck scored from a Brett Kimmorley bomb.

The Warriors pushed to a 10-4 lead thanks to a stunning 50-metre solo try from boom centre Clinton Toopi in the 55th minute, but Kimmorley set up a tense final quarter when he darted over next to the post to level the scores.

With a maiden grand final spot on the line, it was left to Warriors talisman Stacey Jones to come up with the big play. The little halfback threaded an inch-perfect grubber through, sitting up beautifully for journeyman centre John Carlaw to latch onto with five and a half minutes left, securing a 16-10 triumph.

[YouTube – hugheywarriors]

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About the author

Will Evans

CBS’s Editor-in-Chief and lead rugby league, union and cricket writer, Will is a Christchurch-based freelancer, also writing for Big League and Rugby League Review magazines, and The New Daily website. Will has written four rugby league books.

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