With Australia on the cusp of regaining the urn in what shapes as the last-ever Ashes Test at the WACA, Monday Memories is reliving the maiden rugby league premiership game staged at the iconic Perth ground – the classic late-season match-up between defending premiers Canterbury and eventual champs Canberra in 1989.
Both teams desperately needed a win in the ground-breaking Round 20 encounter to keep their tenuous finals hopes alive, and rookie Bulldogs halfback Kevin Moore had the honour of scoring the first try in a first-grade match outside New South Wales or Queensland.
The Bulldogs led 14-6 at halftime thanks to a further try to winger Glen Nissen, while Bradley Clyde posted the Raiders’ sole try of the opening 40 in front of a 21,922-strong crowd.
Laurie Daley crashed over for back-to-back unconverted tries to level the scores, however, before Ivan Henjak and Mal Meninga combined for Matthew Wood to finish off a brilliant 80-metre movement in the latter stages.
The 18-14 win was the Raiders’ third straight in a sequence a nine victories that carried the club to an extraordinary title triumph from fourth spot, while the Bulldogs failed to win another game and finished six points outside the finals picture in ninth.
The WACA hosted premiership clashes each season in the first half of the 1990s, before Western Reds used it as their home for their three-season existence – attracting a record crowd of 24,932 for the club’s historic season opener against St George in 1995.