It was on this day (August 11) in 2001 that Wests Tigers produced the greatest comeback in Club history against the Newcastle Knights at Campbelltown Stadium.
Newcastle came to Campbelltown Stadium late in the 2001 season sitting in third position, with many already penciling the visitors in for a win against the struggling Wests Tigers.
Despite missing Australian international halfback Andrew Johns, Newcastle's attack still packed plenty of punches with outside backs like Kurt and Matt Gidley as well as starRobbie O'Davis and Timana Tahu, and that attack soon clicked into gear on the day.
Against a sluggish Wests Tigers' defensive unit, Newcastle's attack was on fire early, and soon crossed for the first points of the match through representative forward Ben Kennedy.
The visitors soon quickly extended their lead through some swift attacking play, and after tries to Steve Simpson, Darren Albert, and a second try for Kennedy, had amassed a staggering 24-0 lead with still over 15 minutes remaining in the first half.
By all accounts, Newcastle looked destined to run away with a big win.
Wests Tigers managed to hit back before the main break courtesy of tries to Corey Pearson and Makasini Richter, reducing the gap to 24-12, but that scoreline would be short-lived.
Julian Bailey's individual try just before half-time restored the Knights' 16-point lead, and when Kennedy crossed for his third of the night in the 42nd minute, it was out to 20. With the scoreline reading 32-12 and the Knights aiming to secure a home final, it appeared that the match was finished — with the two competition points heading back to Newcastle.
Clearly nobody told the 17 Wests Tigers players on the night, though.
The most unlikely of comebacks was about to begin.
The comeback began with Owen Craigie crossing in the 55th minute, before tries to Ben Galea and Joel Caine soon after had the home side dreaming of a possible victory.
Caine’s perfect accuracy had reduced the margin to just two points at 32-20, and had given the home side all the momentum heading into the final 10 minutes.
Wests Tigers took the lead in the 71st minute through a man making his own comeback, Kevin McGuiness, who snaffled up a grubber from Craigie to score under the posts.
Caine duly slotted the extras to give the home team their first lead of the match — a lead which Wests Tigers would see to the end to confirm the most unlikely of comebacks.
When the final whistle went with the Wests Tigers clinging to a 36-32 lead, few in the ground and even many on the field, could believe what they had just witnessed. Their team had pulled off the most remarkable of comebacks — trailing 24 points early and 20 points with 35 minutes to play — against one of the best teams in the competition.
Newcastle would go on to win the premiership that year, while Wests Tigers wouldn't win another game. Yet what they did have was the most spectacular of comeback wins to recall, and two competitions points in the record books that could never be taken away.
WESTS TIGERS 36 def. NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS 32
Saturday, August 11, 2001 at Campbelltown Sports Stadium
Tries: J.Caine, O.Craigie, B.Galea, Kevin McGuinness, C.Pearson, M.Richter tries
Goals: J.Caine 6/6 goals
Referee: Mark Oaten