Nothing compares to a comeback win from the clouds and today’s edition of Throwback Thursday (presented by Mazda) relives one of the most remarkable recoveries of all, not just for the Vodafone Warriors but across the whole competition.
This one dates back to a glorious Sunday afternoon at EnergyAustralia Stadium. The date was April 17, 2005.
The date and venue will have many minds tuning in instantly, memories flashing back to relive a battle that never loses its appeal.
The halftime siren wasn’t far away, the Vodafone Warriors looking down the barrel at 0-20 with Andrew Johns pulling the strings. It was one of those days. Or so it seemed.
But inside the last minute came some hope, loose forward Sione Faumuina belting his way through tackles to score a try which Stacey Jones converted.
And inside nine minutes in the second half wing Manu Vatuvei powered his way over through multiple defenders to cut the margin to 10 points at 10-20, only for the Knights to shoot out to a 16-point lead minutes later through George Carmont’s second try.
This was settling into a classic tit-for-tat contest and midway through the spell it was the Vodafone Warriors' turn again as they struck from long range; from a scrum they created space on their left for the big man Vatuvei to scorch away for his second.
With 14 minutes left the Knights’ mood darkened when Johns left the field with a broken jaw and it opened the way for the visitors to stake a claim.
Jones chipped and regathered to ignite a try for Clinton Toopi but the conversion was wide leaving the Vodafone Warriors six points behind as they headed into the last 10 minutes.
Inside the last eight minutes Wairangi Koopu went close. The Vodafone Warriors won a penalty and moments later Jones shifted right to Nathan Fien, he switched inside and centre Todd Byrne scored with Jones converting to lock it up 26-26 with less than six minutes left.
With just over two minutes left Jones went for a field goal. It drifted wide but a knock-on in-goal gave the ball back to the Vodafone Warriors.
They worked into a position to look at another field goal attempt. Instead off loads took over, the ball heading right where Francis Meli snatched the winner in what was the second biggest comeback victory in the competition’s history at the time.
April 17, 2005
EnergyAustralia Stadium, Newcastle
Newcastle Knights 26 (George Carmont 2, Todd Lowrie, Daniel Abraham, Brad Tighe tries; Andrew Johns 3 conversions).
Vodafone Warriors 30 (Manu Vatuvei 2, Sione Faumuina, Clinton Toopi, Todd Byrne, Francis Meli tries; Stacey Jones 3 conversions).
Halftime: 20-6 Knights.
Referee: Russell Smith.
Vodafone Warriors | Jerome Ropati; Francis Meli, Todd Byrne, Clinton Toopi, Manu Vatuvei; Lance Hohaia, Stacey Jones; Karl Temata, Nathan Fien, Steve Price; Awen Guttenbeil, Wairangi Koopu; Sione Faumuina. Interchange: Iafeta Paleaaesina, Louis Anderson, Richard Villasanti, Epalahame Lauaki.
Newcastle Knights | Dustin Cooper; Brad Tighe, Matt Gidley, George Carmont, Trent Salkeld; Kurt Gidley, Andrew Johns (c); Craig Smith, Danny Buderus, Kirk Reynoldson; Steve Simpson, Reegan Tanner; Daniel Abraham. Interchange: Luke Quigley, Matthew Kennedy, Todd Lowrie, Daniel Tolar.