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September 14: Classic deciders and a controversial Cowboys exit

On this day in rugby league history, a couple of classic grand finals, two contentious finals exits for North Queensland and a history-making shock win for the Warriors.


Souths won their fifth straight premiership when they account for Newtown 30-10 in the final. The Rabbitohs' win came despite five of their star players departed with the Kangaroos in late July.


After surviving a series of matches that would have ended their season, Balmain claimed the premiership in controversial circumstances when they defeat St George 13-12 in the grand final. The Dragons complain about the refereeing of ex-Kangaroo hooker George Bishop, who awards two tries to Balmain after what St George claim were “blatant forward passes”.


Broncos front-rower Joe Ofahengaue was born in Auckland. The nephew of Wallabies star Viliami "Willie" Ofahengaue, Joe made his NRL debut with Brisbane in 2015 – a year after coming off the bench for the Queensland under-20s side.

He played in the grand final in his debut season and soon earned a call-up for Tonga, and earned his first State of Origin selection for the Maroons in 2019.


Sharks young gun Kyle Flanagan was born. The son of former Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan, Kyle made his NRL debut in round 24 of the 2018 season and made nine NRL appearances in 2019 regular season, and was snapped up by the Sydney Roosters on a two-year deal starting in 2020, for the most part making a good fist of replacing Cooper Cronk at halfback for the Tricolours. 

Kyle Flanagan in action for the Sharks.
Kyle Flanagan in action for the Sharks. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos


The Warriors make history at Melbourne’s Olympic Park when they become the first eighth-placed team to defeat the minor premiers under the McIntyre Finals System, winning a thrilling qualifying final 18-15. The Warriors’ survival spells doom for the sixth-placed Canberra Raiders after their 36-10 loss to Cronulla.


Controversy erupts after the Cronulla-North Queensland elimination final following confirmation that the Sharks’ second try was scored on the seventh tackle. The Cowboys eventually lose 20-18.

It follows the club's elimination from the 2012 finals when video referees awarded a controversial Sea Eagles try despite footage suggesting Kieran Foran had knocked on in the lead-up. Cowboys coach Neil Henry and co-captain Johnathan Thurston claim a conspiracy is at work to bring about an all-Sydney grand final between the Roosters and the Rabbitohs.

A malfunctioning scoreboard clock leads to further drama at the conclusion of the game as the Cowboys make a desperate bid for victory.


Minor premiers Sydney Roosters and Manly fight out one of the lowest-scoring finals matches in history before the Roosters emerge with a 4-0 victory. The clash is hailed as a finals classic.


Cronulla halfback Chad Townsend kicks a 75th minute field goal to lift the Sharks to a 19-18 victory over a fast-finishing Penrith in a thrilling semi-final at Allianz Stadium. The Panthers had rallied from an 18-2 deficit to level at 18-all.


This article contains information from the official records of NRL historian David Middleton.