1981 Grand Final Re-imagined:
Newtown vs. Parramatta
Sunday 26th September, 3pm

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Newtown Jets centre Matt Evans makes an effective tackle on an Illawarra Cutters opponent in last night’s hard-fought ISP NSW Preliminary Final at Leichhardt Oval. Photo:
Gary Sutherland Photography
Newtown Jets centre Matt Evans makes an effective tackle on an Illawarra Cutters opponent in last night’s hard-fought ISP NSW Preliminary Final at Leichhardt Oval. Photo: Gary Sutherland Photography

Late surge by the Cutters denies the Jets a place in the Grand Final

Details of the ISP NSW Preliminary Final between Newtown and Illawarra Cutters, played at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday, 18th September 2016.

It was a titanic struggle between two fiercely-committed teams played in atrocious weather conditions, but the Illawarra Cutters’ two converted tries in the last six minutes have ended Newtown’s brave finals campaign for 2016. There were emotional scenes amongst the Jets players, officials and supporters after the game. This might not have been the best Newtown Jets team to have played in the NSW Rugby League’s top-tier competition in the past seventeen seasons (2000 to 2016 inclusive) but this particular group of men really developed an admirable esprit de corps and sense of mission. We wish all of the 2016 Newtown players, whether they are with the Jets again in 2017 or playing at another club, all the best for the future.

NSWRL Intrust Super Premiership NSW

Preliminary Final

Newtown v Illawarra Cutters

Leichhardt Oval

Sunday, 18th September 2016

Kick-Off: 5.15pm.

Illawarra Cutters 18:

Taane Milne, Jacob Host, Adam Quinlan tries;

Levi Dodd 2, Shaun Nona 1 goal


Newtown 10:

Kenny Niko, Jacob Gagan tries;

Fa’amanu Brown 1 goal.

Half-Time: 6-all.

Referee: Ryan Jackson. Touch Judges: John Woods and Mitchell Stone.

Playing surface: Excellent, although obviously slippery due to the prevailing weather conditions.

Weather: 14 degrees C, light breeze, showers early in the first half, then heavier rain well into the second half.

Newtown’s team:

Jaline Graham, Corin Smith, Kenny Niko, Matt Evans, Jacob Gagan, Josh Cleeland, Fa’amanu Brown, Kurt Kara, Malakai Houma, Anthony Moraitis, Junior Roqica, Matt McIlwrick (Capt), Jesse Sene-Lefao.

Interchange: Jason Schirnack, Kurt Dillon, Saulala Houma, Arana Taumata. Harrison Muller (18th), Brent Anderson (19th).

Coach: Greg Matterson.

Illawarra Cutters:

Adam Quinlan, Kurt Mann, Taane Milne, Levi Dodd, Kalifa Fai Fai Loa, Shaun Nona, Josh McCrone, Jacob Host, Tyrone McCarthy, Chris Lewis, Shannon Wakeman, Siliva Havili, Damien Sironen.

Interchange: Drew Hutchinson, Sam Coster, Jack Noble, Jay Gallagher.

Coach: Jason Demetriou.

Gary Sutherland’s photos from last night:

And here are Michael Magee’s photos from Leichhardt Oval:

How Matty Buxton from the NSWRL reported on the game:

Match timeline:

First Half:

Newtown kicked off to the Mary Street (Keith Barnes Grandstand) southern end of Leichhardt Oval.

A high swirling kick by Fa’amanu (Nu) Brown forces a mistake from the Cutters.

4th min: Nu Brown’s kick into the left side southern corner ricochets and Kenny Niko grabs the ball and forces his way over in the corner.

Not converted by Nu Brown.

Newtown 4-0.

7th min: Good touch finding kick by Nu Brown into the south-east corner.

Great kick return by Jacob Gagan – he picked up an awkwardly-bouncing Cutters kick in-goal and made 50 metres upfield

Cutters putting in some good kicks into Newtown’s in-goal or near the Jets’ tryline

16th min: Penalty to Cutters midfield

18th min: Illawarra score through Taane Milne 15m to the right of the northern end goal-posts

Converted by Nona

Cutters lead 6-4

Nu Brown’s grubber kick mishandled by Cutters then a penalty to Newtown

22nd min: Nu Brown’s penalty goal attempt hits the upright and bounces away

Then the Cutters get a relieving penalty

24th min: High kick at Newtown’s end not handled safely but Cutters ruled to have knocked on

Very good set from Newtown in 26th min as the rain starts to get heavier

28th min: Jets go close with a good kick into the Cutters in-goal

32nd min: Cutters go very close to scoring

36th min: Jets force an in-goal drop-out on the Cutters

38th min: Penalty to Newtown; Nu Brown kicks a penalty goal.

Half-Time: 6-all.

Coach Matterson urges a renewed effort from his players.

Everything rides on this half.

Be wary of conceding 7-tackle sets to the Cutters with kicks that run dead

The extra tackle sets will be deadly in these wet conditions

Fight this out set for set.

Second Half:

Illawarra kicking off to the southern end.

A succession of handling errors by both side attributable to the teeming rain

Neither side has presumably played in conditions like this all season

Jets get at the Cutters end and Jacob Gagan goes from dummy-half and scores in the northern right hand corner (49th min)

Not converted from wide out by Nu Brown

Newtown leads 10-6.

Jets line kick in the 52nd min ruled to have been out on the full (marginal!)

More handling errors in the rain and in the tense match atmosphere

Jets forced into a goal-line drop-out but the ruling is over-ruled by a touch judge’s report and it’s a penalty to the Cutters (55th min)

Jets forced into another goal-line drop-out

Their defence is under enormous pressure from the Cutters

More handling errors

Penalty to Newtown midfield in 60th min

Josh Cleeland nearly sneaks through but loses the ball (61st min)

Cutters get a relieving penalty on their 10 metre line in 61st min

Another penalty to Cutters with 15 mins left to play

And another Cutters penalty in 69th min

Newtown defenders desperately tired – its been a huge effort in strength-sapping conditions

Cutters force yet another goal-line drop-out with 7 mins to go

In the next set Cutters power over on the 4th tackle 5 m to the right of the southern goal-posts (Jacob Host the try-scorer)

Converted by Levi Dodd

Cutters lead 12-10 in 75th min

Quinlan scores off an inside pass from Hutchinson in the next set

Converted by Dodd

Cutters lead 18-10 with 2 mins to play.

Full-Time: Illawarra Cutters 18 defeated Newtown Jets 10.

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Chris Lane’s panoramic shot of ANZ Stadium after fulltime on the 6th October captures the unbridled elation of the Newtown Jets after their astounding last-minute victory.

Recalling the extraordinary events at ANZ Stadium on Sunday, 6th October 2019

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Tom Raudonikis celebrates after scoring a try in the 1981 NSWRL Grand Final (colourised by

Remembering forty years ago ….

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This week we gratefully acknowledge the staunch support of the Coverforce organisation, who have been sponsoring the Newtown RLFC since 2014

Newtown forever - The Class of 1981. Image: Newtown RLFC Archives

1981 Grand Final Re-imagined

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