1996 ARL season

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1996 Australian Rugby League
Optus Cup Logo.jpg
Teams 20
Premiers Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah (6th title)
Minor premiers Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah (8th title)
Matches played 223
Points scored 8547 (total)
38.327 (per match)
Attendance 2,743,516 (total)
12,303 (per match)
Top point scorer(s) North Sydney colours.svg Jason Taylor (238)
Top try scorer(s) Canberra colours.svg Noa Nadruku (21)

The 1996 ARL premiership (also known as the 1996 Optus Cup due to sponsorship from Optus) was the 89th season of professional rugby league football in Australia, and the second to be administered by the Australian Rugby League (ARL). Twenty teams contested the premiership, including five Sydney-based foundation teams, another six from Sydney, two from greater New South Wales, four from Queensland, and one each from New Zealand, the Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia. Ultimately two Sydney clubs, the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles and St. George Dragons contested the grand final.

Regular season[edit]

With the Super League war in full effect off the field, those clubs affiliated with the breakaway competition refused to participate in five games of Round 1, all forfeited to ARL-aligned clubs and only four of the ten scheduled games took place. Of the two games between two Super League clubs, Canterbury versus North Queensland was cancelled, whilst Auckland flew a team consisting of players from the Otahuhu Leopards and Ellerslie Eagles clubs to Brisbane and were thus declared winners over the Broncos by forfeit.[1]

Following up on their performance in the 1995 season up to the grand final, Manly-Warringah dominated the season with their defence, which conceded only 34 tries in 25 matches, the best record of any team since the six-tackle rule was introduced in 1971. Indeed the Sea Eagles only conceded 191 points during the minor round, an average of only 8.7 points per game, while scoring 549 points at 24.9 points per game. Their 1995 rivals Canberra were hit by injuries which wiped out the seasons of key players including captain Ricky Stuart, Bradley Clyde and Jason Croker, and suspensions to Kiwi props John Lomax and Quentin Pongia.

Super League-aligned Canterbury were also hit by the loss of key players Jim Dymock, Dean Pay, Jason Smith and Jarrod McCracken to ARL-loyal Parramatta. Sydney City started the season in good form, but fell off after winning their first ten games, whilst Brisbane (with Allan Langer putting in some strong performances) dominated early but as had become their custom, lost ground mid-season during the Origin period. North Sydney, with a powerful forward pack and skillful goal-kicking half Jason Taylor feeding a superb set of outside backs, were expected to make the Grand Final, but as had become their habit in the 1990s they lost the preliminary final, this time to St. George.

The 20-team competition in 1995 and 1996 caused frequent jackpots in FootyTAB's "Pick The Margins" and after three successive rounds without a single winner, on 8 July 1996 after a last-minute Sydney City penalty goal, one punter received an all-time record for any form of sports betting in Australia: $2,006,217.

This year Canterbury-Bankstown back Terry Lamb set new record for most first-grade permiership games at 349 before retiring at the end of the season.

North Sydney's Jason Taylor won the official player of the year award, the Rothmans Medal, while the Dally M Medal was awarded to Brisbane's Allan Langer.

At the end of the season, ARL chief executive John Quayle resigned and was replaced by Balmain president (and former hooker) Neil Whittaker.[2]

Teams[edit]

The lineup of teams remained unchanged from the previous season except for the re-branding of the Gold Coast team from the "Seagulls" to the "Chargers" as the ARL took control of the club.[3]

Auckland Warriors
New Zealand home jersey 1995.svg
2nd season
Ground: Ericsson Stadium
Coach: John Monie
Captain: Greg Alexander
Brisbane Broncos
9th season
Ground: ANZ Stadium
Coach: Wayne Bennett
Captain: Allan Langer
Canberra Raiders
15th season
Ground: Bruce Stadium
Coach: Tim Sheens
Captain: Ricky StuartLaurie Daley
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
30th season
Ground: Endeavour Park
Coach: John Lang
Captain: Andrew Ettinghausen
Gold Coast Chargers
9th season
Ground: Seagulls Stadium
Coach: Phil Economidis
Captain: Dave Watson
Illawarra Steelers
15th season
Ground: Wollongong Stadium
Coach: Allan McMahon
Captain: John CrossPaul McGregor
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
50th season
Ground: Brookvale Oval
Coach: Bob Fulton
Captain: Geoff Toovey
Newcastle Knights
Newcastle Knights home jersey 1988.svg
9th season
Ground: Marathon Stadium
Coach: Malcolm Reilly
Captain: Paul Harragon
North Queensland Cowboys
2nd season
Ground: Stockland Stadium
Coach: Graham Lowe
Captain: Dean Schifilliti
North Sydney Bears
89th season
Ground: North Sydney Oval
Coach: Peter Louis
Captain: Jason Taylor
Parramatta Eels
50th season
Ground: Parramatta Stadium
Coach: Ron Hilditch
Captain: Gary FreemanJarrod McCracken
Penrith Panthers
30th season
Ground: Penrith Stadium
Coach: Royce Simmons
Captain: Steve Carter
Sydney Bulldogs
Canterbury home jersey 1966.svg
62nd season
Ground: Parramatta Stadium
Coach: Chris Anderson
Captain: Simon Gillies
Sydney City Roosters
89th season
Ground: Sydney Football Stadium
Coach: Phil Gould
Captain: Sean Garlick
Sydney Tigers
89th season
Ground: Parramatta Stadium
Coach: Wayne Pearce
Captain: Paul Sironen
South Queensland Crushers
South Queensland Crushers home jersey 1995.svg
2nd season
Ground: Suncorp Stadium
Coach: Bob Lindner
Captain: Trevor Gillmeister
South Sydney Rabbitohs
89th season
Ground: Sydney Football Stadium
Coach: Ken Shine
Captain: Craig FieldCraig Salvatori
St. George Dragons
76th season
Ground: Kogarah Oval
Coach: David Waite
Captain: Mark Coyne
Western Reds
2nd season
Ground: WACA Ground
Coach: Peter Mulholland
Captain: Mark Geyer
Western Suburbs Magpies
89th seasonGround: Campbelltown Stadium
Coach: Tommy Raudonikis
Captain: Paul Langmack

Ladder[edit]

Team Pld W D L PF PA PD Pts
1 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly 22 18 0 4 549 191 +358 36
2 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane 21 17 0 4 607 263 +344 34
3 North Sydney colours.svg North Sydney 22 15 2 5 598 325 +273 32
4 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney City 22 15 1 6 521 321 +200 31
5 Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla 21 14 2 5 399 268 +131 30
6 Canberra colours.svg Canberra 21 13 1 7 538 384 +154 27
7 St. George colours.svg St. George 21 12 1 8 443 360 +83 27
8 Western Suburbs colours.svg Western Suburbs 22 12 1 9 394 434 −40 25
9 Newcastle colours.svg Newcastle 21 10 1 10 416 388 +28 23
10 Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury 21 11 0 10 375 378 −3 22
11 Auckland colours.svg Auckland 21 10 0 11 412 427 −15 22
12 Balmain colours.svg Balmain 22 11 0 11 319 459 −140 22
13 Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta 21 9 1 11 404 415 −11 21
14 Illawarra colours.svg Illawarra 22 8 0 14 403 444 −41 16
15 Penrith colours.svg Penrith 21 7 1 13 363 464 −101 15
16 Western Reds colours.svg Western Reds 21 6 1 14 313 420 −107 13
17 North Queensland colours.svg North Queensland 21 6 0 15 288 643 −355 12
18 Gold Coast Chargers colours.svg Gold Coast 22 5 1 16 359 521 −162 11
19 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 22 5 1 16 314 634 −320 11
20 South Queensland colours.svg South Queensland 21 3 0 18 220 496 −276 8

Ladder progression[edit]

  • Numbers highlighted in green indicate that the team finished the round inside the top 8.
  • Numbers highlighted in blue indicates the team finished first on the ladder in that round.
  • Numbers highlighted in red indicates the team finished in last place on the ladder in that round
Team 11 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
1 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah 2 4 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 22 24 26 28 30 30 32 32 34 36
2 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 16 16 16 18 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34
3 North Sydney colours.svg North Sydney 2 4 6 6 8 10 12 14 14 16 18 18 20 22 22 23 24 26 28 28 30 32
4 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney City 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 20 20 20 22 24 24 26 27 29 29 29 31
5 Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla-Sutherland 0 2 2 4 6 8 8 10 12 14 16 16 17 19 21 21 22 24 24 26 28 30
6 Canberra colours.svg Canberra 0 1 1 3 3 5 7 7 9 9 11 11 13 15 15 17 19 19 21 23 25 27
7 St. George colours.svg St. George 2 2 4 6 8 8 8 8 8 8 10 10 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 25 27
8 Western Suburbs colours.svg Western Suburbs 2 2 4 6 6 6 8 8 10 12 13 15 15 15 17 17 19 21 21 23 23 25
9 Newcastle colours.svg Newcastle 2 4 4 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 16 18 18 18 18 19 19 19 19 21 23 23
10 Canterbury colours.svg Sydney Bulldogs 0 0 0 0 2 2 2 2 2 4 6 8 10 10 10 12 12 14 16 18 20 22
11 Auckland colours.svg Auckland 2 4 4 6 6 8 10 10 10 10 10 12 14 16 18 18 20 22 22 22 22 22
12 Balmain colours.svg Sydney Tigers 0 2 2 4 4 6 8 10 10 10 12 14 16 16 18 18 18 18 18 20 22 22
13 Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta 2 2 4 4 6 6 6 8 10 12 12 14 14 14 14 16 18 19 21 21 21 21
14 Illawarra colours.svg Illawarra 0 0 0 2 2 2 4 6 8 8 8 10 10 10 10 10 10 12 14 14 16 16
15 Panthers colours.svg Penrith 0 1 3 3 3 3 3 5 5 7 9 9 9 11 11 11 11 11 11 13 13 15
16 Western Reds colours.svg Western Reds 0 0 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 4 5 7 9 9 11 11 13 13 13
17 North Queensland colours.svg North Queensland 0 0 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 4 6 6 6 6 6 8 8 10 10 12 12
18 Gold Coast 0 0 2 2 4 6 6 6 6 8 8 8 8 9 9 11 11 11 11 11 11 11
19 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 3 5 7 7 9 11 11 11 11 11 11 11
20 South Queensland colours.svg South Queensland 2 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 6 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8

1 - Due to the Super League war, clubs aligned with the Super League refused to take place in round 1. As such, only 4 games were played, all between two ARL-aligned teams. Of the remaining 6 games, Super League teams Canberra, Penrith, Cronulla and the Western Reds forfeited their games to the ARL-aligned clubs South Queensland, Parramatta, Newcastle and St George respectively. The match between Canterbury and North Queensland was cancelled, and Brisbane forfeited to Auckland due to Auckland fying a team consisting of players from the Otahuhu Leopards and Ellerslie Eagles clubs to Brisbane. As a result of the forfeitures, 9 teams were in the top 8 after the first round due to ties on points differential.


Finals[edit]

Home Score Away Match Information
Date and Time Venue Referee Crowd
Qualifying Finals
Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla Sharks 20–12 Western Suburbs colours.svg Western Suburbs Magpies 6 September 1996 Parramatta Stadium David Manson 22,433
Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos 16–21 North Sydney colours.svg North Sydney Bears 7 September 1996 Suncorp Stadium Eddie Ward 25,983
Canberra colours.svg Canberra Raiders 14–16 St. George colours.svg St. George Dragons 7 September 1996 Sydney Football Stadium Kevin Jeffes 28,185
Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly Sea Eagles 16–14 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney City Roosters 8 September 1996 Sydney Football Stadium Paul McBlane 31,327
Semi Finals
Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos 16–22 Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla Sharks 14 September 1996 Sydney Football Stadium Kelvin Jeffes 27,665
Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney City Roosters 16–36 St. George colours.svg St. George Dragons 15 September 1996 Sydney Football Stadium David Manson 37,858
Preliminary Finals
North Sydney colours.svg North Sydney Bears 12–29 St. George colours.svg St. George Dragons 21 September 1996 Sydney Football Stadium Kelvin Jeffes 37,779
Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly Sea Eagles 24–0 Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla Sharks 22 September 1996 Sydney Football Stadium David Manson 40,525

Grand Final[edit]

Manly-Warringah
Posit. St. George
Matthew Ridge Fullback Dean Raper
Danny Moore Wing Nick Zisti
Craig Innes Centre Mark Coyne (c)
Terry Hill Centre Mark Bell
John Hopoate Wing Adrian Brunker
Nik Kosef Five-eighth Anthony Mundine
Geoff Toovey (c) Halfback Noel Goldthorpe
David Gillespie Prop Troy Stone
Jim Serdaris Hooker Jeff Hardy
Mark Carroll Prop Luke Felsch
Steve Menzies Second-row Scott Gourley
Daniel Gartner Second-row Kevin Campion
Owen Cunningham Lock Wayne Bartrim
Cliff Lyons Res. Nathan Brown
Neil Tierney Res. Lance Thompson
Des Hasler Res. David Barnhill
Craig Hancock Res. Colin Ward
Bob Fulton Coach David Waite

This was the last grand final to feature two Sydney-based teams until 2003. 40,985 people were at the Sydney Football Stadium for the game, the lowest attendance since 1989. The match was refereed by Queenslander David Manson. For St. George it was their third Grand Final appearance in the 1990s and would prove to be their last as a stand alone club. Manly, looking for their 6th premiership, had been beaten Grand Finalists in 1995.

The pre-game entertainment focused on the 40th anniversary of television in Australia as match broadcaster Channel 9 had been the first TV station in 1956. Music artists who performed in the pre-game included Glen Shorrock, The Delltones, Ross Wilson, Christine Anu, and Kate Ceberano who sang a video replay duet of I Still Call Australia Home with late Australian entertainer Peter Allen (as Allen had died in 1992 he only appeared on the stadiums video replay screen).

Kate Ceberano also performed the Australian national anthem.

1st half
In the 5th minute, Manly centre Craig Innes won the chase and scored after a grubber kick by his skipper Geoff Toovey.[4] Matthew Ridge converted from the sideline for 6–0. The Dragons played on after being awarded a penalty in front of the posts in the 8th minute but failed to score. At the 15-minute mark Saints' halfback Noel Goldthorpe conceded a penalty right in front of their goalpost after committing a head high tackle on Manly's Daniel Gartner. Ridge took the kick, extending the lead to 8–0. St. George sent in forward replacements Lance Thompson and David Barnhill for Scott Gourley and Kevin Campion (head cut). For Manly, Tierney came off the interchange bench to replace Gillespie. Up until the 19th minute mark when Manly veteran five-eighth Cliff Lyons took the field, their coach Bob Fulton was using six running forwards with Toovey as dummy half.

The Dragons' first points came in the 37th minute when Wayne Bartrim kicked a penalty awarded when Manly forward Cunningham stripped the ball. From the ensuing kick-off just before half-time came the game's controversial moment and a hotly disputed try. Ridge made a spectacular short kick-off and regathered, catching the Dragons unaware. St George hooker Nathan Brown appeared to tackle Ridge albeit one-handedly and by the collar. Ridge got up and ran when Brown was expecting him to stop and play the ball. Referee David Manson ruled that Brown did not complete the tackle. Ridge was eventually tackled just a few metres from the line. From dummy-half Nik Kosef then passed the ball to Steve Menzies who stormed his way through Saints' defense of Thompson, Raper, Goldthorpe and Bartrim to score next to the posts, giving Ridge an easy conversion kick. The controversial ruling by referee Manson gave Manly a 14–2 half time lead and broke Saints' resolve. In the process of scoring Menzies injured his groin/hamstring and although he returned for the second half, he was unable to run and was eventually replaced by coach Fulton.

2nd half
In the 53rd minute Manly's Danny Moore scored a try from a Terry Hill pass after Hill drew Saints defenders, Adrian Brunker and Nick Zisti. With Ridge off the field after being concussed in a tackle, Innes converted from 5m off the sideline for the Sea-Eagles to take a 20–2 lead. Five minutes later Dragons' winger Zisti scored a try from a Bartrim cut-out pass. Bartrim then converted from the sideline for a final scoreline of 20–8.[5] The final twenty minutes were scoreless with two field goal attempts from Ridge charged down by Dragons' defenders.

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 20
Tries: Innes, Menzies, Moore
Goals: Ridge 3/3, Innes 1/1

St. George Dragons 8
Tries: Zisti
Goals: Bartrim 2/2

Clive Churchill Medal: Geoff Toovey[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Frank Endacott with John Coffey Being Frank:The Frank Endacott Story. Auckland, Hodder Moa Beckett, 2002. ISBN 1-86958-922-X. p.78
  2. ^ Hadfield, Dave (12 December 1996). "Hetherington signs three players from Eagles". The Independent (UK: independent.co.uk). Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  3. ^ "History of the Premiership". centenaryofrugbyleague.com.au. Australian Rugby League. Retrieved 21 October 2013. 
  4. ^ Jessup, Peter (30 June 2001). "Final line-break for Innes". nzherald.co.nz (APN Holdings NZ Limited). Retrieved 8 December 2009. 
  5. ^ "NRL Finals in the 1990s". sportal.com.au. Retrieved 30 June 2012. 
  6. ^ D'Souza, Miguel. "Grand Final History". wwos.ninemsn.com.au. AAP. Retrieved 8 September 2013.