On this day, the Tricolours register their first title triumph; the Saints go marching on and Johnathan Thurston gets the Cowboys home against Brisbane in a play-off classic.
Eastern Suburbs claim their first premiership title with an 11-8 victory over Glebe in a Grand Challenge final - effectively the game’s first grand final. A crowd of 20,000 turned out for the match at the Agricultural Ground. Easts five-eighth was Herbert Collins, later Australia’s Test cricket captain.
St George create history by becoming the first side to win six consecutive premierships. Their 22-0 defeat of Wests in the grand final is something of an anti-climax, however, after the Magpies prove worthy opponents during the regular season (one win apiece) and in a hard-fought semi-final (won 9-4 by St George).
The grand final, won 12-10 by Souths over Canterbury, is televised “live” for the first time. Under a unique arrangement, all four channels telecast the game.
Captained by international hooker Fred Jones, Manly break through for their first premiership title after 25 seasons in the competition. Putting to rest the disappointment of five unsuccessful grand final campaigns, the Sea Eagles account for Eastern Suburbs 19-14 in the decider at the SCG. Manly secretary Ken Arthurson says: “At long last we are through the grand final barrier. Those years of heartache have faded - gone for keeps.”
In one of sport’s great coincidences, the 1978 grand final ends with the same result as the previous season - a draw. At full-time, Manly and Cronulla are deadlocked 11-all. With no provision for extra time and the Kangaroos due to depart for England a week later, a midweek replay is hastily organised.
Canberra thrash Brisbane 32-4 to move into their third grand final in four seasons. Wally Lewis makes his long-awaited comeback.
Mitchell Moses was born in Sydney. The Lebanon international made his NRL debut for the Wests Tigers in 2014 before making a mid-season switch to the Eels in 2016.
The betting scandal continues with allegations that a former international placed bets of $20,000 on Wests to beat Souths in the allegedly “fixed” match on August 14. Souths players John Elias and Darrell Trindall are interviewed on television current affairs shows over rumours linking them to alleged match-fixing. Ben Elias, meanwhile, admits being offered money to “run dead” in a game in 1994.
The Sydney Bulldogs cause a major upset with a 25-6 defeat of hot favourites Canberra to advance to the grand final.
The Sharks advance to the preliminary final with a crushing 52-10 victory over the Bulldogs.
The NRL sacks the six match officials involved in the Sharks-Cowboys elimination final following the seventh-tackle try blunder. Referees Matt Cecchin and Henry Perenara, video referees Matt Rodwell and Jason Robinson and touch judges Jeff Younis and Michael Wise are all dumped for the remainder of the finals series.
The Cowboys and the Broncos turn on one of the greatest exhibitions of finals football ever witnessed before North Queensland emerge with a 26-20 victory following 10 minutes of extra time. Cowboys halfback Johnathan Thurston conjures the match-winning try for five-eighth Michael Morgan.
The Cowboys continue their fairytale run when they knock Parramatta out of the finals race with a 24-16 triumph at ANZ Stadium. Despite being without Johnathan Thurston due to a shoulder injury since round seven the Cowboys kept on finding a way as Michael Morgan, Jason Taumalolo and Gavin Cooper stood tall. They trailed the Eels 10-6 at half-time but second-half tries to Coen Hess, John Asiata and Morgan carried them to a preliminary final clash with the Roosters.
This article contains information from the official records of NRL historian David Middleton.