Flashback: Alf's Favourite GF Win

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Updated: July 18, 2017

Allan Langer captained the Broncos to their first four premiership victories but, like a doting father asked to name his favourite child, is reluctant to select one ahead of the others.

“They were all special,” said Alf.

But the champion Broncos halfback agreed that while each of the four had a particular significance, winning the 1988 NRL premiership against this week’s opponents, the Bulldogs, had an ‘extra special’ feel about it.

The Broncos beat the Bulldogs 38-12 in the finale, coming from 12-10 behind at halftime with an explosive second-half in which they scored five unanswered tries.

“It was the first grand final of the NRL era, with the two competitions coming together after the Super League war,” he said.

“While we had won the Super League premiership in 1997, very few people were prepared to accept it as a fair dinkum competition. Some of the games we played that year are not even recognised in NRL stats.

“So to win the grand final the very next season, with the 20 teams from the ARL and Super League in 1997 competing in the combined competition, was pretty satisfying for us. I think it proved to many people that Super League wasn’t a Mickey Mouse competition after all.”

Unlike Alfie, NRL historian and stats guru, David Middleton, was able to produce statistics that elevated the 1998 premiership victory above the previous three – in ’92, ’93 and ’97.

“The manner in which the Broncos rewrote club and premiership record books in 1998 was testament to the success of their season,” he wrote in his official Rugby League Annual of that year.

“Collectively, they broke premiership records for most tries (149) and most points in a premiership season (812), broke the club’s biggest winning margin with a 58-4 win over North Queensland and then equalled it with a 60-6 thrashing of North Sydney. They scored their most tries in a final – nine against Sydney City; most tries in a grand final – seven; most points in a final – 46 against Sydney City; most points in a grand final – 38; and recorded their biggest winning margin in a grand final – 36.”

The Broncos and Bulldogs – both Super League teams – met three times that year with the Broncos successful on each occasion and, bizarrely, keeping the ‘Dogs to 12 points each time. They won 20-12 at Belmore in round two, 40-12 at ANZ Stadium (Brisbane) in round 11 and then 38-12 in the grand final.

Of the grand final victory, Middleton wrote: ‘Brisbane’s win was built on the same foundations on which they had based their season – strength and aggression up front, and pace and class in the backline. They will go down in history as one of the great club sides of all time’.

The first half of the 1988 grand final was a torrid affair with the Bulldogs, continuing their fairytale ride to the decider after scraping into the 10-team final series, swapping tries with the Broncos and looking the goods at the break. But a runaway Tonie Carroll try two minutes into the second half gave the Broncos a lead they never surrendered.

A host of Broncos starred in the match, but the Clive Churchill Medal was awarded to Gorden Tallis.

Bulldogs coach Steve Folkes labelled the Broncos ‘a sensational side’.

“They would hold their heads up in any era, and against any team,” he said.

But like Langer, Broncos coach Wayne Bennett refused to be drawn on making comparisons between the premiers of 1988 and the previous three grand final winning teams.

“I would only lose friends if I did that,” he said.

Grand final, 1998: Broncos 38 (Michael De Vere, Kevin Campion, Tonie Carroll, Wendell Sailor, Gorden Tallis, Phil Lee, Darren Smith tries; Darren Lockyer 5 goals) beat Bulldogs 12. Penalties: Bulldogs 5-3; Referee: Bill Harrigan; Crowd: 40,857.

Broncos: Darren Lockyer, Michael De Vere, Steve Renouf, Darren Smith, Wendell Sailor, Kevin Walters, Allan Langer (c), Shane Webcke, Phil Lee, Andrew Gee, Gorden Tallis, Brad Thorn, Tonie Carroll. Interchange: Michael Hancock, John Plath, Kevin Campion, Petero Civoniceva.

Source: http://www.broncos.com.au/news/2017/07/18/flashback_alf_s_favo.html





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