In the lead up to the 2019 Intrust Super Cup grand final, Queensland Rugby League will take a trip down memory lane and relive several cracking deciders. The first in our series is the 2004 grand final, won by Burleigh in extra time in what was Easts Tigers centre Steve Renouf’s last game in his illustrious career.
A try, a controversial disallowed try and a broken arm. Brisbane Broncos legend Renouf’s final game in any jersey was in the 2004 grand final for Easts Tigers against Burleigh Bears, a memorable match that did not ultimately deliver the man known as ‘The Pearl’ a fairytale finish to his illustrious career.
What it did deliver was the most extraordinary end to a grand final in history when, 17 minutes into extra time, Burleigh prop Shane O’Flanagan burst over to score and secure a 22-18 victory.
Easts captain Darren Smith, Renouf’s former Broncos teammate, had convinced the four-time premiership winner to have a season with the Tigers mid-way through the year. Renouf had been watching a teenage Greg Inglis carve up for Norths and wanted to find out if he still had it in him for one final fling in the centres.
The 34-year-old proved that he did.
In the decider Renouf, playing in his favoured left centre position, scored in the 50th minute with a classic hit and spin that had the ABC commentators hailing the try as "class, class, class".
The sideline conversion narrowed Burleigh's lead to 16-12 and four minutes later Renouf appeared to be in again. The video ref took an age to make the call and referee Tony Maksoud ruled no try with the ball adjudged to have escaped Renouf’s grasp as he dived over.
"I’d scored one try and then thought I’d scored another in the corner but it was disallowed," Renouf recalled.
"It took forever for the video ref to make the call and I was chatting to referee Tony Maksoud, who I am mates with, and he was saying 'go away Steve, just go away'. I walked back and said 'this is taking forever Tony, just give it'. It was quite funny, but it wasn’t funny when they disallowed it.
"We were gutted because it would have got us level and possibly ahead. It would have changed the dynamic and got us in front for the first time.
"I’d scored a try down that side already and we went there again. When I hit the ground the ball popped out but I thought I had control and had put it on the line. They ruled that it popped out before the line, but a lot of people said it was a try."
Not long afterwards Renouf's career was over.
"It was accidental. Robbie Apanui, a good 'brother' of mine from down the Gold Coast, had the ball and I went in low to tackle him but caught his knee and broke my right arm again," Renouf said.
"You can be in denial about those things on the field and I convinced myself it was just a bad cork, but I went for another run out of dummy-half with the ball under my left wing. I got tackled and I thought 'no, it is broken' and walked off. It was the last thing I did on a footy field.
"I watched extra-time with Darren Smith who also got injured. It was one of the longest games ever and their front-rower virtually fell over the line when all the boys were out on their feet. It was a disappointing ending but I enjoyed every minute of it."
A fortnight previously the two sides had met in the major semi-final where Burleigh prevailed 17-16. A cliffhanger was in store again when the big dance kicked off at Suncorp Stadium.
Burleigh five-eighth Adam Hayden scored early and then set up centre Nick Shaw to give the Bears a 12-nil lead. Hooker Trent Young, who joined South Sydney at the end of the year, narrowed the gap before Hayden sent a flying John Flint in to give the Bears a 16-6 half-time lead.
After Renouf's second half try Burleigh extended the lead to 18-12 through a Reggie Cressbrook penalty and the Bears missed with a 78th minute field goal before Easts conjured up a sensational leveller.
Easts halfback Dane Campbell put a neat chip through for Steve Beattie to collect and score wide out, much to the delight of the Tigers fans. Campbell landed the conversion after the siren to go to sudden death extra time. Smith came off in the 84th minute with a knee injury and then both sides missed with multiple field goal attempts missed before O’Flanagan scored from close range to win it as the clock ticked just past the 97-minute mark.
So far past the scheduled finish time did the game go that there was no time for the ABC to show the post-match presentations. Presenter Warren Boland signed off the telecast straight after the O’Flanagan try by saying “and now we have to go to the lawn bowls”.
It wasn't the ending Renouf was after but he is still glad that Smith twisted his arm for one last hurrah.
"I had gone to speak at one of Easts sports lunches earlier in the year and Smithy got me. I didn’t realise at the time that a comeback was what Smithy was setting me up for," Renouf chuckled.
"It was a thrill just to make the grand final with a young group of boys. Darren Smith and I were the elder statesmen in that team and we had a really good run. I only played the last half of the season so to help get the team to a grand final was amazing."