The Brisbane Broncos square off against the Warriors at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night, and Throwback Thursday remembers a momentous occasion on this day 21 years ago – the Auckland Warriors’ first-ever match, when they hosted the might Broncos at Mt Smart Stadium on March 10, 1995.
The Auckland Warriors’ feverishly anticipated premiership debut met all expectations, but the match-winning class of Allan Langer was the key factor in Brisbane’s pulsating 25-22 win in front of 29,220 rabid fans at Ericsson Stadium.
International three-quarters Willie Carne and Chris Johns propelled the visitors to a 10-0 lead after 15 minutes, before veteran fullback Phil Blake netted the Dean Bell-led Warriors’ first-ever try five minutes later – a cracking touchdown featuring brilliant work from Manoa Thompson and Whetu Taewa.
Subsequent tries to Sean Hoppe, Tony Tatupu and Tea Ropati had the Auckland crowd in raptures, their team leading the heavyweight Broncos 22-10, 10 minutes in the second half.
Two quick-fire individual tries by Langer, who lined up opposite the Warriors’ marquee signing a long-time Penrith adversary Greg Alexander, evened the scoreboard, however. ‘Alfie’ had a point to prove after being deposed from the Test team by Ricky Stuart on the ’94 Kangaroo Tour, and did so emphatically by pulling the game out of the fire for his under-pressure Broncos.
Julian O’Neill edged the Broncos to victory with a penalty and a field goal – but not before withstanding a furious Warriors attacking foray in the dying seconds.
The sensational contest rates as one of the greatest season openers in the competition’s history, while it marked the beginning of one of the most eventful club rivalries of the modern era.