Top 10 Plays of 2016
With the 2016 NRL Telstra Premiership season now behind us, let's re-live ten of the best plays of the year.
10. Tigers set the bar early (Round 1, Wests Tigers v Warriors, 28th min)
James Tedesco played his way into a NSW State of Origin jersey this year but he was already impressing way back in Round 1, finishing off a play that typified the ad hoc razzle dazzle that his Wests Tigers outfit loves to employ. The fullback brought down a sneaky Mitch Moses chip and got an offload away, and was on the spot again five passes later when Kevin Naiqama sent a grubber kick infield from the right touchline. "That is the try of the year!" cried commentator Andrew Voss, a little prematurely, but the Tigers would go on to be one of the season's most thrilling sides to watch.
9. Accidental hero (Round 14, Roosters v Storm, 20th min)
Kangaroos and Storm captain Cameron Smith may be the best player in the league according to some, but he's not usually one to dominate the highlights reels. Fittingly then, his most eye-catching contribution of the season came by accident – slipping over while attempting a tough sideline conversion against the Roosters at Allianz Stadium in Round 14. Not only did Smith avoid shanking the kick, he actually managed to send it straight over the black dot – before rising from the turf with an unmistakable "how did that just happen?" look on his face.
8. A French finale (Round 25, Eels v Dragons, 62nd min)
The Eels had a season to forget in a lot of ways but they still managed to produce some magic on the field, not least from their talented young fullback Bevan French. The speedster captured the imagination during the Auckland Nines and finished off one of Parramatta's best tries of the NRL season, swooping on a Brad Takairangi kick that was delivered perfectly from the right flank.
7. Broncos do it by halves (Round 16, Bulldogs v Broncos, 74th min)
The Broncos couldn't match last season's grand final finish but their halves Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford did have a few moments to remember, none more so than this brilliant try conjured from nothing in the middle of the park. Hunt's flawlessly-weighted chip kick on his own 40-metre line found the rushing Milford, who breezed past Bulldogs fullback Will Hopoate to score a special try.
6. No taming the Tigers (Round 14, Tigers v Rabbitohs 20th min)
The Wests Tigers were at it again in Round 14, with usual suspects Tedesco, Naiqama and Moses spreading the ball wide off the kick-off against South Sydney before Tim Simona ran clear for a stunning try that left the Rabbitohs shell-shocked.
5. Sheck mate (Round 5, Roosters v Warriors, 81st min)
It didn't take long for the Roosters to discover just how much they'd miss Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. The star Warriors signing had his season shortened by injury early on in the campaign, but not before he produced a stunning match-winning try against his old club. Warriors young gun Tui Lolohea created the space with a weaving run after collecting a kick, before laying on a pass for the brilliant Tuivasa-Sheck to do the rest from 45 metres out.
4. Flying above Dragons (Round 16, Knights v Dragons, 30th min)
The Newcastle Knights had very little to smile about in 2016 but one bright spot was the try-scoring heroics of cult favourite Nathan Ross, who produced the occasional bursts of magic on the wing. This was his best moment – a gravity-defying leap for the corner in which his entire body appeared to be over the sideline, only for his right hand to plant down the ball for a spectacular try against the Dragons.
3. Gold! Gold! Gold! (Finals Week 1, Panthers v Bulldogs, 54th min)
The Penrith Panthers were one of 2016's big success stories, a young side that brought down some of the NRL's biggest teams and looked good doing it. This was just one of several superb team tries from the men in black, with Matt Moylan drifting left and performing a rapid run-around with Josh Mansour before unleashing Isaah Yeo on the left wing. Yeo offloaded for Tyrone Peachey, who beat a couple of tackles and flung a flat pass infield for the supporting Peter Wallace to score behind the posts. What's more, it was in an elimination final against the Bulldogs.
2. Radradrun (Round 15, Rabbitohs v Eels, 78th min)
Not many players can intercept a pass flat-footed on their own 10-metre line and then do what Semi Radradra did against the Rabbitohs in Round 15. The hulking Eels winger shrugged off one defender, swerved past three more, broke into the clear, sliced between another three defenders, fooled the opposing winger with a dummy and crossed for one of the more amazing solo 90-metre tries you'll see.
1. The greatest pass (Round 26, Tigers v Raiders, 18th min)
A blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment takes out top spot in our plays of the year, coming from who else but 'Leipana'. The Raiders right-side duo of Joey Leilua and Jordan Rapana tormented opposition defenders all season, but it was the audaciousness of the pass from offload king Leilua that stunned spectators in the final round of the regular season. After pouncing on a loose ball after a wayward pass from the Tigers, Leilua looked set to be wrapped up by Tigers winger Josh Addo-Carr before pulling off the impossible – spinning to his right and delivering a no-look around-the-back pass into the hands of an unmarked Rapana.
This article first appeared on NRL.com.