Ahead of Friday’s titanic showdown between Brisbane Broncos and Sydney Roosters at Suncorp Stadium, Throwback Thursday relives the last preliminary final these sides contested – a gripping clash at the SFS in 2002.
The third-placed Broncos had skipped straight through to week three of the finals after a qualifying final victory over Parramatta, while the Brad Fittler-led Roosters had landed in fourth after a late-season winning streak before disposing of Cronulla and Newcastle in the first two weeks of the finals.
The Tricolours’ irresistible charge extended to an eighth straight victory, despite losing key forwards Simon Bonetti and Luke Ricketson in the early stages of a dramatic preliminary final.
The Roosters shot out to an 8-0 lead after Anthony Minichiello scored, but tries in quick succession to Brent Tate (a brilliant long-range effort set up by Shaun Berrigan) and Darren Lockyer saw the Broncos head to the sheds 12-8 in front.
The pivotal moment arrived in the 51st minute, when retiring Brisbane legend Allan Langer’s loose pass was swept upon by veteran Roosters winger Brett Mullins, who raced away for what would be the match-winning try.
A dramatic last 20 minutes produced no further points as the heavyweights grasped desperately for a grand final berth, the match finishing 16-12 in the Roosters juggernaut’s favour.
Commentary Box Sports’ Will Evans ranked the ferocious Broncos-Roosters rivalry at No.42 in his new book, Rugby League Rivalries, which ranks the top 100 all-time premiership club rivalries.Rugby League Rivalriesis available at all good bookstores and department stores or online.