Classic Clashes: 2001 Grand Final

This week we throwback to arguably the highlight of all highlights; the 2001 NRL grand final where the nib Newcastle Knights defeated the Parramatta Eels 30-24.

A sea of red and blue flooded Stadium Australia and the Knights, led by captain Andrew Johns, put up the performance of a lifetime for their diehard fans.




The team were absolutely unstoppable in the first half; as they opened the scoring the ball shifted left in the third minute through Billy Peden who slotted through a gap thanks to decoy runner Ben Kennedy. Johns nailed the conversion from left of the posts, and the Knights led 6-nil.

Just four minutes later the Knights claimed their second try, as Johns fed the ball through Sean Rudder to Steve Simpson, who crossed over when Parramatta's Daniel Wagon rushed off the mark on the right side. Johns failed to convert, and the lead extended to 10 for the Knights.

As the result of a leg pull from the Eels' Brad Drew, a successful penalty attempt from Johns extended the lead to two converted tries for Newcastle.

Peden continued to dominate on the left side, with a pin-point ball from Johns over to Kennedy and then to Peden, who recorded his second try. Johns nailed the conversion and the Knights increased their lead to 18-nil.

The Eels started to show promise late into the first half, however they couldn't capitalise on opportunities from Andrew Ryan and Luke Bert and remained scoreless in the first 40 minutes.

After a 46-metre gain out of their own half, the Knights finished the half strong as Kennedy scooped the ball out of dummy-half on the final tackle to barge over and score left of the posts. Johns successfully converted, and the gap increased to 24 points before half time.

Parramatta started strong in the final 40, determined not to go down without a fight, as Brett Hodgson claimed the first try for the Eels and a Luke Bert conversion to bring the score to 24-6. 

Both teams fought with tenacity for the following 20 minutes, and even after a series of penalties and close calls, neither team could impact the score line. 

It wasn't until the 64th minute the next points were added to the board, with a high kick from Johns mid-field towards Timana Tahu on the right edge. The ball bounced back in field for Tahu, who slipped past Burt to score in the right corner.

A try from Jamie Lyons two minutes later narrowed the margin to 16 for the Eels, however a penalty goal from Johns shortly after ensured the margin stayed at three converted tries. 

Late tries from Lyons and Hodgson narrowed the margin but it simply wasn't enough to knock the Knights off their perch, and the red and blue claimed their second grand final victory after one of the best first half performances in grand final history.