This week's edition of Throwback Thursday dials back to when it all started for the Auckland Warriors, stopping off for their outstanding debut performance against the Bulldogs, who would go on to win the 1995 Winfield Cup grand final.
Marketed as the Sydney Bulldogs that year, the beaten 1994 grand finalists had also opted to move away from their famed base at Belmore Sports Ground to use Parramatta Stadium for all but one of their home games.
The Warriors’ 20th-round match-up with them found both sides right in the finals football mix with just three rounds of the regular season to play.
There were 20 teams in the competition in 1995 with a veritable logjam in the mid-table area in the run-in to the play-offs. Going into a critical battle the Warriors were seventh on 22 points, the Dogs just ahead of them in sixth on 24.
A week earlier, coming off a run of six wins, the Warriors had crashed to a demoralising 14-47 home loss to St George.
It mattered not. They were impressive from the opening moments of their Friday night outing at Parramatta Stadium, Stacey Jones laying on a try for Greg Alexander just two minutes in.
In the 10th minute they were in again, a chip and chase resulting in Gene Ngamu proviidng a try for second rower Stephen Kearney.
Three minutes from the break a Phil Blake special – a grubber he chased down – gave the Aucklanders a 16-4 halftime lead.
A Jones field goal had the lead out to 17-4 before the Bulldogs scored what would be their only try via wing Daryl Halligan.
The comeback was short-lived with Jones sending Willie Poching on his way and Poching then playing provider to give Blake a clear run for his second.
The Bulldogs would rebound from the loss to win their last two games en route to their grand final success while the Warriors dipped out to Canberra and Brisbane to miss the finals on points for and against despite a 13-9 win-loss record.
August 11, 1995
Parramatta Stadium, Sydney
Sydney Bulldogs 8 (Daryl Halligan try; Daryl Halligan 2 penalties).
Auckland Warriors 29 (Phil Blake 2, Greg Alexander, Stephen Kearney, Willie Poching tries; Greg Alexander 2 conversions; Gene Ngamu conversion; Gavin Hill conversion).
Halftime: 16-4 Warriors.
Referee: Eddie Ward.
Auckland Warriors | Gene Ngamu; Sean Hoppe, Dean Bell (c), Richie Blackmore, John Kirwan; Greg Alexander, Jones; Gavin Hill, Syd Eru, Andy Platt; Stephen Kearney, Denis Bett; Tony Tuimavave. Interchange: Hitro Okesene, Phil Blake, Whetu Taewa, Willie Poching.
Sydney Bulldogs | Rod Silva; Brett Dallas, John Timu, Glen Hughes, Daryl Halligan; Terry Lamb (c), Craig Polla-Mounter; Darren Britt, Jason Hetherington, Dean Pay; Robert Relf, Simon Gillies; Jim Dymock. Interchange: Steve Price, Mitch Newton, Stan Tulevu, Steve Reardon.