After another eventful and action-packed year in the world of sports, The Newsroom team farewells the year with an annual review of the biggest sports stories of 2015.
NRL – Thurston takes home Dally M and Premiership medal, Souths pair in strife
Jonathan Thurston proved why he is the world’s best NRL player after he made history by becoming the first ever footballer to score the Golden Boot award three times. The 32-year-old capped off a stellar career with the prestigious award after captaining his side to a victorious premiership win against the Brisbane Broncos in this year’s grand final. Thurston also played a massive role in Queensland’s State of Origin win earlier in the season. He also achieved his fourth Dally M medal, just a glimpse of his glittering career this year.
This year’s grand final was an all Queensland show down. It was the first time in 22 years that the Cowboys took home the premiership trophy. Described as the best NRL grand final to have ever been played, the hype for next years competition has already started.
There was more trouble circulating the NRL when South Sydney Rabbitohs players Dylan Walker and Aaron Grey were left fighting for life after overdosing on prescribed pain killers. The duo have been best friends since kindergarten and were together at the time of the incident. The incident occurred just after undergoing an operation. The pair were fined 5 per cent of their contract and Dylan Walker was soon released from the club.
Tennis – Djokovic and Williams dominate, Kyrgios in hot water again
2015 saw world number ones Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams stamp their authority as the most dominant players on tour, both claiming three Grand Slam titles. Djokovic claimed the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open titles in what was an amazing year for the Serb. He finished the year with 11 tournament victories and an incredible record of 82 wins and six losses. Williams claimed the first three Grand Slam titles of the season and was aiming to become the first woman since 1988 to achieve a calendar year grand slam. Her hopes of lifting the title were dashed with a shock semi-final loss to Italian Roberta Vinci.
Australian bad boys Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic humiliated the tennis world both on and off the court. Kyrgios found himself in hot water after he made an explicit comment towards an opponent in a Montreal Masters match in August. After losing the first set, a sour Kyrgios muttered: “Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend. Sorry to tell you that mate”. As a result Kyrgios received a suspended fine from the ATP Tour and was widely criticised on Twitter.
AFL – Hawthorn complete three-peat
Hawthorn cemented their place in the history books after thrashing West Coast by 46 points in this year’s AFL grand final at the MCG to win their third consecutive premiership. The premiership was Alastair Clarkson’s for the third time in a row, and fourth overall as coach. Jack Gunston kicked four goals, while Isaac Smith had three, and Cyril Rioli also bagged a couple to make Hawthorn only the fifth team in AFL history to complete a ‘three-peat’. Cyril Rioli’s two goals, incredible forward pressure and skill was enough to see him awarded the 2015 Norm Smith Medal for best on ground in the grand final. After five grand finals, three premierships, and a team of star-studded premiership players, Hawthorn’s dynasty has undoubtedly marked Clarkson’s era as one of the greatest sides of all time.
HAWTHORN 5.0 9.3 14.5 16.11 (107) WEST COAST 1.5 3.8 5.9 8.13 (61)
Hawthorn: Gunston 4, Smith 3, Rioli 2, Hodge, Roughead, Birchall, Schoenmakers, Hill, McEvoy, Suckling West Coast: McGovern 2, Darling, Hill, Hutchings, LeCras, Shuey, Yeo
Official crowd: 98,633 at MCG
NFL – Hayne Plane faces turbulence
It wouldn’t be an NFL story without the Hayne Plane. Rugby League convert Jarryd Hayne burst onto the NFL scene this year with a number of stand-out performances in pre-season. His performances led him to make the 53-man roster for the San Francisco 49ers. Despite having minimal opportunities on the field, Hayne played six matches for the 49ers, appearing in two wins. His role as a punt-returner didn’t live up to expectation as he made three fumbles throughout his short tenure. This led Hayne to being axed and was placed waivers system on October 22. On November 3, Hayne announced on Twitter that he had signed with the 49ers practice squad. He has been waiting for weeks to get his call up, now there has been a glimmer of hope that he could play with Bruce Ellington facing the chopping block after his dismal performances with punt returns.
Rugby Union – Rugby world remembers Jonah Lomu, All Blacks rule
All Black great Jonah Lomu passed away unexpectedly in November at the age of 40. The New Zealand winger battled health problems since 2002, when he retired from Union due to a rare kidney disease. Lomu was known for his kind-heartedness, being an ambassador for Unicef NZ since 2011, and a patron for the charity Kidney Kids NZ. He was buried in his hometown of Mangere two days ago. Thousands of fans were present at a memorial the day before at Eden Park, the spiritual home of New Zealand Rugby. All Blacks were too good for the Wallabies; New Zealand made history this year in the Rugby World Cup after their third win in the tournament, defeating Australia 17-34 in the final. Dan Carter’s master boot led the Kiwis to victory after he kicked 19 goals. Australia looked to be out of the game with 30 minutes left, but staged a comeback and scored two tries. Carter’s golden boot put New Zealand in a clear lead when he drop kicked a 48 metre penalty goal. A runaway try to the All Black’s Beauden Barrett secured a 34-17 win.
Surfing – Fanning escapes shark attack
World number one Mick Fanning was attacked by a shark during the final of the World Surf League J-Bay Open. Just four minutes into the 40 minute final against fellow Aussie Julian Wilson, Fanning was knocked off his board in a violent splash while waiting for a wave. In a shocking display, Fanning was left swimming towards shore, away from the shark, with Wilson frantically paddling towards him in support before the South African Surf Safety Response Team pulled both surfers onto their boat. The horrific scene was broadcast live on Fox and the World Surf League’s Youtube streaming service and caused a social media frenzy with images and video of the attack being streamed worldwide. Thankfully, neither surfer was hurt in the encounter. Fanning had a minor pressure ding on his board and his leg rope had been chewed through by the shark. It was the first time in history that a surfer has been attacked by a shark during competition. Both surfers were visibly shaken by the incident. The WSL reacted by cancelling the event, with both the ratings points and prize money being split between Fanning and Wilson. The WSL released an official statement after the incident: “We are incredibly grateful that no one was seriously injured today. Mick’s composure and quick-acting in the face of a terrifying situation was nothing short of heroic and the rapid response of our Water Safety personnel was commendable – they are truly world class at what they do.”
UFC – Holy Holm gives Ronda Rousey a wake-up call
Holly Holm, undefeated (10-0), has dethroned bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey with a vicious head-kick knockout in the headlining event at UFC 193 in Melbourne. Holly ‘The Preacher’s Daughter’ Holm was aggressive from the get-go, surprising Rousey with multiple left hooks. Rousey did manage to hurt Holm with a hook, but Holm took the chance to take Rousey down in the second round with a head kick. It was the first loss of Rousey’s UFC career: the 28-year-old from the USA owned her last four opponents, with quick wins over competitors like Sara McMann in 66 seconds and Cat Zingano in 14 seconds. – Ellen Conroy, Luke Cullen, Anthony Johnston, Jesse Mullens, Sam Pasfield, Jackson Barron and Bonnie Baker.
Top photo of Jonathan Thurston and his teammates with the NRL trophy from North Queensland Cowboy’s Facebook page.