FLASHBACK FRIDAY: JASON WILLIAMS’ 1994 FINALS CAMPAIGN
Following the announcement of a momentous partnership between Canterbury Rugby League and NRL club Canterbury Bankstown-Bulldogs this week, Flashback Friday relives the game-breaking efforts of Canterbury (NZ) product and dynamic Bulldogs winger Jason Williams during the 1994 finals series.
Williams helped the minor premiership-winning Bulldogs qualify for the grand final with a starring role in an epic 19-18 extra-time victory over the red-hot Canberra Raiders in the major semi-final.
The 28-year-old flyer scored his 10th try of the season after brilliant lead-up work from forwards Jason Smith and Jim Dymock.
Jason Smith again showing his skills.
Throwing a beautiful offload,straight after Big Mal rushed up and whacked him…
The speedy Jason Williams finishes it off in the corner.
Bulldogs vs Raiders 1994 SF#canterburybulldogs #canterbury #bulldogs #dogsofwar #brilliant #classic pic.twitter.com/eEzv6ToD9M
— Rugby League Best Tries Hits and Biffs (@NBiffs) January 22, 2019
But arguably his most memorable contribution to one of the great post-season matches came deep into extra-time.
Fielding a Ricky Stuart clearing kick on his own 20-metre line near touch, Williams unleashed a massive right-foot step to bamboozle opposing winger Ken Nagas.
Williams raced 60 metres to set up the match-winning play. Two rucks later, fellow Kiwi winger Daryl Halligan snapped a 99th-minute field goal to clinch the Bulldogs’ passage to the grand final.
Click play below to watch Jason Williams’ unforgettable major semi run.
Williams, simultaneously with Raiders front-rower Quentin Pongia, became just the third ex-Canterbury (NZ) player to appear in a NSWRL grand final after Bill Noonan (Canterbury-Bankstown, 1974) and Brent Todd (Canberra, 1987 and 1989-91), while he became the first to score a try in one.
In one of the great moments produced by a Cantabrian in an Australian premiership grand final, Williams’ long-range intercept try against the Raiders in the decider at the Sydney Football Stadium belatedly put the Bulldogs on the scoreboard.
The shell-shocked Bulldogs fell 14-0 behind in the big one, but Williams provided his side with some desperately-needed respite before halftime. The Kiwi flyer reeled in a Laurie Daley cut-out pass and outpaced Brett Mullins and Jason Croker on an 80-metre sprint to the try-line.
Watch Jason Williams’ 1994 grand final try in the video below from 1:08
Williams’ try against the run of play was not a turning point, however, with the Raiders going on with the job to carve out a 36-12 victory.
Christchurch-born, Williams headed to Sydney at the age of 15 and made his first grade debut for Western Suburbs as a 19-year-old in 1987, before spending the following season with Eastern Suburbs.
He returned home in 1989 and debuted for the Canterbury provincial side against Wellington, but after spending the next year with Sydney Metropolitan Cup side Guildford, he received his big break during a 1991 season with South Sydney that garnered 12 tries in 16 games – and a New Zealand Test debut in the famous 24-8 thrashing of Australia in Melbourne.
The wiry Williams linked with the Bulldogs the following season and became a regular fixture in first grade, despite battling countryman Daryl Halligan and Queensland Origin speedster Brett Dallas for a spot on the flank, while he advanced his Test tally to 12 appearances by the end of 1995.
Although he tasted bitter defeat in the 1994 Grand Final, he clinched a premiership medal in the Bulldogs’ 17-4 boilover against Manly in the ’95 decider. The journeyman finished his colourful career with three seasons at Penrith (1996-98).
His 63 first grade tries in the Australian premiership are a record for Canterbury product.
Williams later coached Western Suburbs Magpies’ NSW Cup team, while his son, Turoa Williams, came through the Bulldogs’ junior grades in recent years.
— Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (@NRL_Bulldogs) February 10, 2020
JASON WILLIAMS – CAREER OVERVIEW
Canterbury (1989): 1 match – 0 points.
New Zealand (1991-95): 12 Tests – 1 try (4 points)
Western Suburbs (1987): 7 games – 2 tries (8 points)
Eastern Suburbs (1988): 8 games – 1 try (4 points)
South Sydney (1991): 16 games – 12 tries (48 points)
Canterbury (1992-95): 73 games – 34 tries (136 points)
Penrith (1996-98): 41 games – 14 tries (56 points)
TOTAL: 145 games – 63 tries (256 points)