Brawl and sin bins kick off the 2002 Queensland Cup grand final

The most unbelievable start to a game of rugby league that I was ever involved in happened at Dolphin Oval on Queensland Cup grand final day in 2002.

Brawl erupts at the first tackle of the 2002 Queensland Cup grand final. Photo credit: Brenden Wood

9,000 footy fans turned up to watch the Redcliffe Dolphins play the Ipswich Jets — the two teams had played in a tight game two weeks beforehand. The Dolphins won that game, a semi final, 17–16 and it put them straight into the grand final.

Nine seconds into the 2002 grand final both teams lost a player each for misconduct offences. It was highly unusual to see players dismissed from the field just seconds into a game.

At the first tackle of the 2002 Queensland Cup grand final, Ipswich Jets prop Danny McAllister was hit in a high tackle by Redcliffe Dolphins captain Luke Scott. A brawl erupted. Referee Tony Maksoud regained control. Touch judge Leigh Cronin and myself were giving our reports to the referee. Both players were about to be told to settle-down. And play was about to continue after a penalty. But, to everyone’s amazement both players resumed their fight.

The second fight made the decision easy for referee Tony Maksoud. He sent both players to the sin bin for 10 minutes.

Danny McAllister & Luke Scott sin binned seconds into the 2002 Queensland Cup grand final

“You’re gone. 10 minutes. Go!” — Referee Tony Maksoud. “You’re gone. 10 minutes.”

Just seconds after both players returned from the sin bin, Dolphin superstar Aaron Barba scored the first points of the game in the north-eastern corner — He was almost stopped by Jets player Danny McAllister who was returning from his 10 minute sin bin.

2002 Queensland Cup grand final — pre-game photo — (left to right) Interchange referee Greg Thompson, touch judge Leigh Cronin, referee Tony Maksoud, touch judge Brenden Wood, standby referee Adam Neale. Photo Credit: Bob Morton

Aaron Barba, who is the brother of Ben, went on to score a second try for the Redcliffe Dolphins in the first half. Redcliffe was ahead 22–0 at half time — they went on to win the game, and Queensland Cup premiership, 34–10.

Crowd disturbance before half time of the 2002 Queensland Cup grand final at Redcliffe. Photo Credit: ABC Sport

The game also presented me with another ‘first’ — it was the first time I had ever been involved in a match where the play had to be paused because a crowd disturbance spilled onto the field.

#RugbyLeague #QueenslandCup #RedcliffeDolphins #IpswichJets

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