Time for another episode of the weekly segment I couldn’t officially name ‘Shit Happens’, and at last, I’ve found a rugbaleeg moment that possibly fits the theme, and it’s NOT Ben Hunt fumbling the opening kickoff of Golden Point of a Grand Final.
Given ANZAC Day is in a couple of days, I may as well have a look at one of the crazier moments to happen on ANZAC Day.
The week leading up to ANZAC Day 2015 had seen Sydney, the Central Coast and the Hunter region smashed by one of the many major east coast lows that seem to hit New South Wales every year, as a combination of cyclonic winds and severe rainfall (200mm in parts) causing flash flooding turned deadly – 4 people were killed (3 in Dungog) by flash flooding in the Hunter, with up to 200,000 homes & businesses left without power, plus the standard millions of dollars in damages.
Fast forward to the 25th, and as the big crowds attended the traditional ANZAC Day services in the morning, Mother Nature returned for Round 2 in the afternoon, turning Sydney and the Blue Mountains into something resembling a winter wonderland.
As the skies went dark, play began for the Roosters-Dragons clash at the SFS at 4pm, and within 10 minutes, the rain had arrived at Moore Park, and the Red V struck first in the 18th minute, with winger Peter Mata’utia walking on water to chase Benji Marshall’s kick, and he grounded the ball with two feet to spare.
Gareth Widdop missed the kick, and as the heavens opened up, Freddie Fittler noted on the sideline there was hail out in Parramatta, which had turned Parramatta Stadium (Where the Wanderers played Perth Glory) into something resembling Lambeau Field in mid-December.
Within 5 minutes of that statement, the heavy rain kicked off, and the first cracks of lightning lit up the sky, and NRL officials began congregating on the sideline to monitor the increasingly dangerous conditions.
Fittingly, it was Mitch Rein who scored the Dragons’ second try in the 27th minute, Widdop’s successful conversion coincided with another lightning strike, and as the hail stones arrived in the Eastern Suburbs, referee Gerard Sutton called the players off the field.
Paul McGregor always wanted Rein to make an impact.
So did the hail.
Hail Richie, Hail The Great Man, Hail!
It was the first time an NRL game had been interrupted since the Knights-Broncos game in Round 8, 2009 was halted for 40 minutes by lightning and thunder in Newcastle, knocking out the stadium’s power at half time – Odd fact, that was Darren Lockyer’s 300th game.
In addition, it wasn’t the first time in 2015 that Gerard Sutton had to shield his head getting off the field, after Bulldogs fans ‘slightly objected’ to the ending of the Good Friday game.
After a 40-minute delay, play resumed, and the break clearly wrecked the Dragons’ momentum, but, thanks to a pair of penalty goals to Widdop, the Red V survived a Chooks fightback, plus a dodgy non-try against Dylan Farrell that should’ve been awarded, to win 14-12 (Benji was named best afield), their first ANZAC Day win since 2012.
At the time, it was the Dragons’ 6th consecutive victory, and conversely the Chooks’ 4th consecutive defeat, although the Tricolours won their last 12 games to win a third consecutive minor premiership (No major premiership though), and the Dragons tailed off to finish 8th.
We came close in 2015, but still, a First Grade game has never been called off after starting.
And that’s all for this week – Take us out, Tony.