2001 NRL Grand Final
|2001NRL Grand Final|
|Date||30 September 2001|
|Clive Churchill Medal||Andrew Johns (NEW)|
The 2001 NRL grand final was the conclusive and premiership-deciding game of the 2001 NRL season. It was contested by the Newcastle Knights (who had finished the regular season in 3rd place), and the Parramatta Eels (who had finished the regular season in 1st place), after both sides eliminated the rest of the top eight during the finals. The attendance of 90,414 was the third highest ever seen at a rugby league match in Australia. Domestically, live free-to-air television coverage was provided by Nine's Wide World of Sports. The match was also broadcast live in the United States by Fox Sports World. Newcastle Knights won, with their captain Andrew Johns receiving the Clive Churchill Medal for man-of-the-match.
The 2001 NRL season was the 94th season of professional rugby league football in Australia and the fourth run by the National Rugby League. Also called the 2001 Telstra Premiership (due to sponsorship from Telstra Corporation) it was contested by thirteen Australian-based clubs plus one New Zealand-based club. Parramatta came into the game as raging hot favorites after finishing as minor premiers and broke several records which as of 2018 still stand including most points scored in a regular season, most points scored in a full Season and most tries scored in a season. Newcastle had finished in 3rd place at the end of the regular season and defeated Cronulla to make the grand final.
|Parramatta Eels||Posit.||Newcastle Knights|
|Brett Hodgson||FB||Robbie O'Davis|
|Luke Burt||WG||Timana Tahu|
|Jamie Lyon||CE||Matthew Gidley|
|David Vaealiki||CE||Mark Hughes|
|Jason Moodie||WG||Adam MacDougall|
|Michael Buettner||FE||Sean Rudder|
|Jason Taylor||HB||Andrew Johns (c)|
|Nathan Cayless (c)||PR||Josh Perry|
|Brad Drew||HK||Danny Buderus|
|Michael Vella||PR||Matt Parsons|
|Nathan Hindmarsh||SR||Steve Simpson|
|Ian Hindmarsh||SR||Ben Kennedy|
|Daniel Wagon||LK||Bill Peden|
|PJ Marsh||INT||Daniel Abraham|
|Andrew Ryan||INT||Paul Marquet|
|Alex Chan||INT||Glenn Grief|
|David Solomona||INT||Clinton O'Brien|
|Brian Smith||Coach||Michael Hagan|
The Knights were first to score with a try to Bill Peden in the 3rd minute with Andrew Johns converting to take the Knights out to a 6-0 lead. Four minutes later, the Knights scored again through Steve Simpson with Andrew Johns failing to convert, taking the score to 10-0. Johns not long after took a shot at penalty goal due to a leg pull from Brad Drew which was penalised by referee Bill Harrigan to make the score 12-0. By the 24th minute it was already an 18-0 lead to the Knights with another try to Bill Peden and another conversion to Andrew Johns. Not long after, the Eels had their best chance of the first half with Andrew Ryan getting over the line but he was held up by Steve Simpson and failed to score with Simpson being injured in the tackle. In the following set the Eels got the ball wide left, but the pass which would have put Luke Burt in for a try in the corner was passed well behind him and he failed to catch it. In the 32nd minute, Ben Kennedy scored for the Knights with Andrew Johns converting to make it 24-0 to the Knights. The Eels had a couple of chances in the Knights half after that but failed to convert their opportunities so the score remained the same until halftime.
The Eels were the first to score in the second half to make the score 24-6. In the 64th minute the knights wrapped up the 2001 Premiership when a wide pass from Bill Peden to Andrew Johns who put up a towering bomb to Timana Tahu's wing who got tangled up with Luke Burt before getting the ball down about 50 cm inside the touch in goal line. Two minutes later, Jamie Lyon scored to make it 28-12 to keep the Eels in the game. Three Minutes later, the Knights made the margin three converted tries at 30-12 from a penalty goal to Johns after an attempted short drop out by Brad Drew went out on the full. One more try to both Lyon and Hogdson in the final ten minutes got it back to a converted try (30-24) but just wasn't enough for the Eels set a remarkable Grand Final comeback as the Knights went on to clinch the 2001 Premiership from the performance in one of the best 1st halves of a Rugby League Grand Final ever.
In 2011, 10 years after Newcastle's grand final victory, Kennedy spoke to the media at The Once a Knight reunion lunch recalling his memories of the 2001 final. Kennedy said ‘‘They came into the game under a shitload of pressure but for us, it was just a good time and a heap of fun. Parra were shitting themselves and we were having a good time". Newcastle centre Mark Hughes recalled the game saying "I remember how nervous and stiff Parramatta were". "The Parramatta players came dressed to the grand final breakfast wearing Miami Vice black suits.
Newcastle prop Josh Perry said of the week building up to the game that he knew Newcastle were going to win saying "It started at the midweek grand final breakfast. We lined up next to Parramatta to walk out onto the stage, and they were so tense. They weren't talking to us, while we were being ourselves and having a joke and enjoying the moment – they were anything but that. From that moment on we knew we were going to win". Parramatta captain Nathan Cayless in 2017 spoke of the game saying "It was disappointing for us, and it took a long time to get into another grand final . We'd had a good season, and just wanted to stick to what we had done, and what worked for us so well. We didn’t change too much and just looked at it as if it were another game of football. Newcastle just played out of their skins".
Half Time: 24 – 0
Referee: Bill Harrigan
Venue: Stadium Australia, Sydney
3rd: Newcastle 6-0 (Peden try; Johns goal)
7th: Newcastle 10-0 (Simpson try)
13th: Newcastle 12-0 (Johns goal)
24th: Newcastle 18-0 (Peden try; Johns goal)
31st: Newcastle 24-0 (Kennedy try; Johns goal)
57th: Newcastle 24-6 (Hodgson try; Hodgson goal)
63rd: Newcastle 28-6 (Tahu try)
65th: Newcastle 28-12 (Lyon try; Hodgson goal)
68th: Newcastle 30-12 (Johns goal)
73rd: Newcastle 30-18 (Lyon try; Hogdson goal)
79th: Newcastle 30-24 (Hodgson try; Hodgson goal)
- "National Rugby League Grand Final, Live on Fox Sports World This Sunday". Business Wire. Los Angeles: Gale Group. 3 October 2003. Retrieved 5 October 2009.[dead link]
- Keeble, Brett (1 October 2011). "Newcastle Knights recall 2001 grand final glory". Newcastle Herald. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
- 2001 NRL grand final at rugbyleagueproject.org