‘I just had faith’: Burgess a big believer in The Bunker
Warren Smith doesn’t get too many things wrong, but it turns out the veteran sportscaster hadn’t seen it all when he watched Adam Reynolds finish off an incredible team try to seal a famous South Sydney win in 2012.
Nine years later, the rugby league world watched the Rabbitohs pull off an even greater escape when their little No. 7 nailed a two-point field goal to tie things up against the Wests Tigers, setting the scene for the craziest 60 seconds of 2021.
In the first set of golden point, powerhouse prop Tom Burgess crashed over for what looked to be the winning try, only for the Tigers to start celebrating when halfback Luke Brooks picked up the loose ball and ran 105 metres to score at the other end.
Referee Gerard Sutton was about to blow his whistle but allowed play to continue, sparking wild scenes at Stadium Australia that have spawned countless memes.
Tigers coach Michael Maguire lost the plot in the box, an injured Josh Mansour was simply confused, while journalists madly typed away as they watched their headline change in front of their eyes.
Sutton awarded the try to the Tigers, but The Bunker quickly stepped in, and after looking at a couple of replays, flashed the green light to hand the Rabbitohs a stunning win.
“I’ve had them disallowed before, but I was pretty confident in that one,” an ecstatic Burgess said after the game.
“My heart was definitely beating when they went down the other end and scored, but luckily, they could take it back and look at it.
“I just had to have faith. I knew that I got it down for a split second, and that’s all you need these days. The boys were all celebrating so they sold it well. I was pretty confident. I had faith in the Bunker.”
Cometh the hour, cometh Tom Burgess.Source:Getty Images
Fox Sports commentator Dan Ginnane described it as “the cruellest way to lose a game”, and even Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett thought the Tigers had won given his previous experiences with the big English prop.
“You don’t get a much better try than that in a game like this,” Bennett said.
“I don’t think any of us thought he’d scored the try because he’s done that about four times for us in the last two years, and every time it’s been no try and he’s carried on like they were tries. We didn’t have much faith, but we’re believers now.”
All Brooks could do was play to the whistle, but even he didn’t know what had happened.
“It’s heartbreaking. I think we deserved the win,” he lamented.
“I didn’t have a good view of the put down, but I saw the ball bounce so I thought I may as well pick it up and give it a go. Unfortunately, he got it down so it was a tough one to take.
“I looked at him (Sutton) and he was about to blow the whistle, but in case he dropped it, I thought I’d give it a go.”
Tries don’t get any better for front-rowers, but long-range efforts are nothing new to the Burgess twins. Tom produced a special 45-metre effort against Lebanon at the 2017 World Cup, while his brother George will always be remembered for his special solo try in the 2014 Grand Final.
“In the context, it was one of the most memorable tries I’ve scored,” Burgess said, paying tribute to hooker Damien Cook for playing short instead of going out the back for another field goal.
“George got one-on-one with the fullback, and I did, too. You’ve just got to back yourself and go in that situation, because that’s the last thing they want you to do. I had a try for England once which was pretty similar, but I stepped the fullback that time. This one I just shimmied around him.
“It doesn’t happen as a front-rower because you’re usually running into a brick wall. They were worried about the drop goal so they took their eyes off me for a second. Cooky, my old mate, hit me. I thought he was going to do his old beach sprint run, but he hit me. It was the right play.”
Saturday’s try caps off a brilliant fortnight for Burgess who ran for a career-high 233 metres against Brisbane and then backed it up with another 171 as he embraces his role as the experienced head up front.
“I’m feeling good. I’m just playing my role for the team and I want to keep backing it up,” he said.
“It’s no good doing it here and there where I get 250 metres one week and then 80 the next week. You’ve just got to keep backing it up.
“They really came at us hard tonight so my metres were way down early. That’s five in a row for us now, but we’ve got to keep going and not get carried away.”
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