Sunday 31 January 2021

Rugby League History: North Sydney trio on Big League cover - 1990 Winfield Cup

Rugby League History - Published January 31, 2021
🐻 North Sydney trio David Fairleigh, Jason Martin and Mark Soden featured on the front of Big League magazine ahead of Round 13, 1990.
Fairleigh 19, Martin 19 and Soden 21 had all made their First Grade debuts in 1989 and were now regulars in the 1990 starting lineup through 12 rounds. Norths finished 15th in 1989, so to be within a point of a playoff spot halfway through 1990 was a huge turnaround for the club under rookie coach Steve Martin.
In the lead-up to Sunday's Match of the Day against the league-leading Canberra Raiders at North Sydney Oval on June 2, the Bears were winners of 5 of their past 6 games to sit in 8th spot and the Round 13 clash would give them a chance to jump back into the thick of the semi-final race.
Norths were languishing in 13th spot after 6 rounds with just 2 wins but peeling off 5 straight wins between Round 7 and 11 put them on the cusp of the Top 5 after 12 rounds with 14 points - just a point behind the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs on 15 points.
The Bears had beaten Brisbane 14-12, Gold Coast 27-4, Eastern Suburbs 38-8, South Sydney 27-10 and Illawarra 16-8 during their 5 match winning streak before falling 18-12 to St George at Kogarah in Round 12. 
Here is how the 1990 NSWRL Premiership Ladder looked after 12 Rounds via Rugby League Project.
Round 13 brought the defending Premiers Canberra to North Sydney Oval, as the competition moved just past the halfway mark of the 1990 Winfield Cup.
Canberra were leading the Winfield Cup with 9 wins and just 3 losses, yet their Minor Premiership lead was just one point with Brisbane and Penrith nipping at their heals.
The 7-5 Bears however would be missing captain Tony Rea, as well as veterans Kerry Boustead, Scott Gale (pictured), Les Kiss, Gary Smith and Gavin Jones for this clash, and the Raiders were stacked with quality performers. 
Here is how the two teams lined up.
Norths v Canberra
Sunday 24 June 1990 - 3pm kickoff at North Sydney Oval.
Referee: B Harrigan.

North Sydney Bears: 
P Conlon, K Egan, I French, G Florimo, D Hall, J Martin, M Soden, P Jarvis (c), P McPhail, B Sinclair, A Toole, D Fairleigh, B Moore. 
Bench: S McGowan, G Larson, J McArthur.
Coach: S Martin.
Canberra Raiders: 
G Belcher, P Martin, M Meninga (c), M Wood, J Ferguson, L Daley, R Stuart, D Woods, S Walters, G Lazarus, D Lance, G Coyne, B Clyde.
Bench: S Mills, S Stanton, P Carey, M Twigg.
Coach: T Sheens.
So how did it end up playing out?
📺 A full recap of this game will be coming on the new Late Night League program which is launching on YouTube in early 2021.
All Round 13 Winfield Cup Fixtures - June 22-24, 1990:
Cronulla v Parramatta at Parramatta Stadium.
Gold Coast v Balmain at Seagulls Stadium.
St George v Brisbane at Kogarah Oval.
Illawarra v Penrith at Wollongong Showground.
Newcastle v Easts at Newcastle International Sports Centre.
Norths v Canberra at North Sydney Oval.
Souths v Manly at Sydney Football Stadium.
Wests v Canterbury at Campbelltown Sports Ground.
Enjoy great moments from the Winfield Cup Era (1982-95) on Facebook and Twitter.
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