Drop goals often get overlooked but in truth there are few skills in rugby league as difficult as the one-pointer. When executed perfectly it can be brilliant to watch but more than that it can often prove decisive in the biggest and best games. With that in mind, we’re giving the drop goal some much deserved love today and ranking the five best and most important drop goals in Super League history.
5. Chris Sandow 2016
2016 should’ve and could’ve been a special year for Warrington. The Wolves were two final wins away from becoming the fourth team to win the treble but defeats at Wembley and Old Trafford undid all their hard work. It would’ve been some story had they come away with all three trophies especially when you consider the many dramatic moments they endured including their one-point win at Salford. Against their rivals in the dying seconds of the game, all the focus turned to star signing Chris Sandow. He was tasked with winning the game with the boot from over 40 metres out. He jinked away from the defence and slotted over the decisive point.
4. Lee Briers 2006
A decade earlier and it was again Warrington coming up with the late heroics to win the game this time through the drop goal king Lee Briers. In the first week of the play-offs against fancied Leeds, Briers kicked the 50th drop goal of his career from 40 metres out to break Leeds hearts and keep Warrington’s dreams of Old Trafford alive.
3. Matty Smith 2017
This is one of the strangest drop goals I’ve ever seen. 2017 was an up and down year for the Saints and, after a difficult start to the campaign, they needed to keep winning to ensure their top four hopes stayed intact. However, when they trailed 24-8 to Salford it looked as though they were slumping to defeat. They clawed their way back to 24-all but the win looked to have alluded when Jonny Lomax’s field goal attempt fell short giving the ball to Salford. Not content with a draw, the Red Devils chipped over the top in the final play. The ball was plucked out of the sky by Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook who moved it into the hands of Matty Smith. He turned on the spot and nailed a 40-metre drop goal to defeat his former side.
2. Pat Richards 2013
Four years prior and it was Saints conceding the bizarre drop goal in the league’s biggest derby. The Warriors were going sideways around halfway and looked to be headed nowhere. So, when the ball found its way to Pat Richards on the wing, he stepped off the flank and hit a drop kick towards the sticks more in hope than anything. It then sailed between the uprights for one of the strangest looking and most difficult drop goals I’ve ever seen.
1. Gareth O’Brien 2016
But no drop goal could top this one from Gareth O’Brien. With Super League survival on the line, away from home and in golden point O’Brien nailed a thunderous 45-metre drop goal to break Hull KR hearts and keep Salford in Super League. Easily one of the biggest and most famous moments in Super League history, it also represents an amazing execution of a difficult skill to nail a drop goal from 45 metres out and on an angle as well. Wow.