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A 35-metre penalty goal two minutes from fulltime from Kane Zalewski was the telling factor in the Cowboys 26-24 win over Brothers Juniors in the Rugby League Brisbane Men's Open 1 grand final on Saturday.

With Les Hughes Sporting Fields jam packed with supporters from all three divisions, the Cowboys not only took away the spoils of being crowned champions and minor premiers, but they also went the entire season undefeated.

With the Cowboys going in as favourites, Brothers wasted no time stamping their authority in the match, being the first to score in the 14th minute.

A superb 40/20 from Brothers star fullback Andrew Searle put the Brethren in good field position 10 meters out from the Cowboys line.

With the next passage of play, second row forward Troy Swift crashed his way over the line to post first points of the afternoon.

Outstanding Brothers centre Tristian Neave scored the first of his hat-trick of tries two minutes later, when he caught the Cowboys defence napping on the blindside racing in for another Leprechauns four pointer.

Dayboro eventually got on the board in the 25th minute, lunging over from dummy half after the Leprechauns had endured three sets of six on their own line.

Both forward packs were boasting some heavy artillery, with the Cowboys best served by Jonty Sullivan and Troydon Watene, whilst Brothers' Ben Bath and Sam Fall were outstanding in a losing side.

Leprechauns' Neave again showed why he is one of the form centres in Division 1, fending off two would-be Cowboys defenders to cross for his second of the afternoon after a great pass from five-eighth Pat Fall.

The Cowboys levelled up the scores in the 32nd minute through winger Kayne Schoots, who latched onto a superb cross-field kick from captain-coach Zalewski to score in the corner.

Two minutes later the speedster would go in again, scoring a near identical try to send the Cowboys into the sheds leading 18-12.

Brothers couldn’t have got off to a better start in the second half and levelled up the scores at 18-18 after a neat Searle flick pass found big Ben Bath in support, who crashed his way over the line.

With a howling wind sweeping across the ground, Zalewski used that to his team’s advantage putting up a towering bomb that bounced the way of the Cowboys.

Jacob Chambers then crashed his way over under the posts to put Dayboro back in the lead.

However, Brothers simply would not go away and Neave crossed for his hat-trick in the 60th minute after some good lead-up work by hooker Sam Turnbull.

With the scores locked at 24-24, Zalewski attempted a long-range field goal, but it bounced off the cross bar, before the Cowboys were gifted a penalty with a minute of play remaining.

Zalewski’s ice cool head saw the captain step up and land the tricky conversion in the gusty conditions, to see the Cowboys to sneak home in a thriller.

In the Open 2 North final, the experience of former Hostplus Cup point-scoring machine Liam Georgetown was the catalyst that saw the Burpengary Jets fight hard to a 22-16 victory over minor premiers Samford Stags.

Samford boasted none other than former Brisbane Bronco Sam Thaiday in their side, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a strong Jets team.

In the Open 3 Northside final, Albany Creeks Crushers showed why they were the benchmark side all season, coming away with a nail biting 28-26 win over North Lakes Kangaroos.

Dan Jones and fullback Chris Lauano were the Crushers' best on park in the two-point win.

In the Open 2 South final, Redlands Parakeets led by club warhorse Lukas McIntyre overcame a spirited Rochedale Tigers outfit to sneak home 12-4 at Pinklands Sporting Fields.

McIntyre and Mitch Askew were superb for the Baysiders, spurred on by a huge contingent of Parakeets supporters.

In the Open 3 South final, a Devin Tuisaau-Kerridge penalty goal got the Waterford Demons home in a 26-25 thriller against North Stradbroke Island Sharks.

Not even the experience of former Ipswich Jets legend Wes Conlon could spoil the party for the Demons - who were also crowned minor premiers - as they celebrated their first men’s senior premiership since 2000.

Main image: Kane Zalewski in action in the Open 1 grand final. Photos: Mike Simpson

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