Souths NRL Grand Final Glory
October 29, 2014
Glory, Glory to South Sydney, Glory, Glory to South Sydney Glory, Glory to South Sydney South Sydney Marches On. In 2001 Rabbits fans marched down the streets of Redfern belting out those lyrics as they fought for their club to be reinstated into the national rugby league competition. Now some 13 years on those same fans have hit the streets of Redfern once more to sing that vey song but this time it’s to celebrate winning the premiership once again.
Players and fans alike are continuing a party that’s been 43 years in the making after Souths finally broke their drought with an emphatic 30 points to 6 grand final triumph over the Bulldogs. It was Australian rugby league’s most successful club’s 21st title and there first since 1971.
Brave Burgess Goes Down in Grand Final Folklore
Sam Burgess etched his name in rugby league folklore after playing the entire match with a fractured cheekbone. In a similar scenario to another to Souths’ great John Sattler who played the 1970 decider with a broken jaw, Burgess also soldiered on despite shattering the right side of his face in the first tackle of the game. The Englishman who barely managed to keep his eye open, played the full 80 minutes, delivering 35 tackles, 21 hit ups and a line break assist on his way to the Clive Churchill medal for the best player on the ground.
The 25 year old made good on his promise to Souths fans that he wouldn’t leave the club without a premiership, and although he waited until his final match in the red and green to deliver, it was well worth the wait. Souths Co-owner Russell Crowe was even in awe of one of the game’s true Gladiators, but he wasn’t the only one, with rugby league experts, fans and even opposing players amazed by Burgess’ brave effort. The only blotch on his scrap book was a missed conversion from the sideline after the full time siren and even that was close to sailing in. The lock leaving his legacy in league as he embarks on his next challenge in rugby union.
But the grand final provided many magical moments for multiple Souths players. Alex Johnston and Kirisome Auva’a scored a try each in the decider, having both made their NRL debuted this year. When Souths fans marched the streets of Redfern to fight to be reinstated, Adam Reynolds wanted to walk alongside his dad, but his father told him he was legs were too little to make the distance. On Sunday those same small legs sunk the Bulldogs, the Souths half back booted 5 goals and bagged an unforgettable try.
An unforgettable moment for Greg Inglis too, who scored the game’s final try. A genuine superstar of the sport, this was GI’s first official premiership after having 2 stripped due to Melbourne’s salary cap scandal. Lote Tuqiri secured his second ring 14 years after earning his first with Brisbane. The 36 year old former dual international was on the verge of retiring after losing his spot in the side earlier this year, but the evergreen winger won his position on the wing back in round 21 and remained in the team for the rest of the year. Then there’s the man that you could argue the premiership means the most to. South Junior John Sutton bleeds red and green and in 10 years at the club he’s had
plenty of painful experiences. But the Skipper has now followed the tradition of Souths greats after holding aloft the 2014 trophy.
How the Grand Final was won
Without their captain and influential leader the Bulldogs bark was minimal. But despite dominating the first half Souths only led 6 nil at the break thanks to Johnston’s try in the 20th minute and an Adam Reynolds penalty goal. True to form Canterbury kept fighting and after Tony Williams won the race to a Josh Reynolds grubber the grand final was level with half an hour to play. But the favourites didn’t panic and 6 minutes later they were back in front after George Burgess barnstormed his way the try line. The Bunnies booted another penalty to go 8 ahead before a deft Inglis kick and a lucky bounce for Auva’a saw Souths streak to a 12 point lead, Reynold’s sideline conversion killing off Canterbury. Then came the party tricks, John Sutton’s centre field kick bounced favourably for Reynolds who must have thought he’d scored Souths final points of the year, before Inglis ended the season in scintillating fashion, as the full time siren couldn’t come quick enough for the Bulldogs.
A ground record crowd of 83,833 fans made this one of the NRL’s most spectacular grand final events in recent years, but by the end it was Bunnies faithful buzzing while the Bulldogs supporters scattered with their tails between their legs. The green and red roared long into the night as emotions boiled over on the pitch and in the stands. A fascinating fairy-tale of agony, ecstasy and history was complete.