|Match Date||5th Oct, 2014|
|Venue||Homebush (ANZ Stadium)|
It was the night eternity came to an end. For 15,724 days South Sydney have been waiting for premiership No.21.
Through five wooden spoons, two years in the wilderness and 10 failed finals attempts they waited.
From Coleman, to Fenech, to Inglis – they waited in hope that glory would return to Redfern.
And finally, after 43 years and 18 days, Redfern was rocking again.
The 30-6 victory was inspired by a performance for the ages by the rugby-bound man of the match Sam Burgess, playing 79 minutes and 53 seconds of the contest with a fractured cheekbone he suffered in a head clash with James Graham in the first tackle of the match.
In front of a crowd of 83,833, the Bunnies thwarted a rejuvenated Bulldogs to end their finals fightback in heartache and in the process avenged the heartache of their own from the past two preliminary final failures.
Three years ago they went in search of arguably the greatest coach of all time to help end the drought, but Wayne Bennett didn’t want a part of it. Enter Michael Maguire, who, after a three-year journey, finally led South Sydney to the Promised Land on Sunday night.
Rewind the clock four weeks and Canterbury were dead, just not buried. They had two feet in the grave when they went up to the Gold Coast in the last round and the Titans pushed them all the way into the hole they had dug themselves in despite a blistering start to the year.
But somehow, from seventh position, they clawed their way out and mustered the strength to produce one of the most incredible finals resurgences in recent memory.
They were never meant to be there. No team had won a grand final from outside the top four since the Bulldogs in 1995, but it wasn’t the omen they were hoping it would be.
With their skipper Michael Ennis on the sidelines with crutches after breaking his foot in the preliminary final, his teammates could do little to grant him the fairytale finish he was after.
All week the spotlight had been on the two Englishman, Sam Burgess and Graham, but no one could have anticipated the events that transpired the first time the pair went head-to-head.
A head clash from the kick-off took South Sydney on a walk down memory lane, with Burgess suffering a fractured cheekbone in a tackle from Graham.
Like John Sattler did in 1970 with a broken jaw, Burgess played on through the pain in what would be his final game in Souths colours.
In a drama-packed opening to the game, the Rabbitohs had a try to Lote Tuqiri denied after the video referee spotted a swinging arm from Adam Reynolds on Sam Perrett from the knock-on that led to the try.
But there was no denying rookie Alex Johnston on the other side of the field when Luke Keary created an overlap down a narrow blind side to give his side a 4-0 lead after 22 minutes.
Dale Finucane was lucky to remain on the field when he deliberately swiped at the ball in the ruck with his hands, providing the Rabbitohs with a gift two points from a penalty goal right in front of the posts.
The Bulldogs went into the sheds trailing by a converted try but they equalised in the 50th minute when Tony Williams latched on to a Josh Reynolds grubber to set up a mouth-watering finale.
George Burgess has played second fiddle to his big brother since bursting into first grade, but he took centre stage – albeit for a brief moment – when he pushed and stepped his way past four Bulldogs defenders to score under the posts.
Adam Reynolds had a chance to stretch the margin to eight points but he failed to convert a penalty goal from 40 metres out, but did not miss when he was gifted another shot a minute later from the almost identical position to take a 14-6 lead.
Tyrrell was then taken to hospital after a nasty head clash with Graham, but it little to derail the Bunnies. The floodgates opened as the emotions poured in the final 10 minutes when Kirisome Auva’a, Reynolds and Inglis put the icing on the cake with four pointers of their own to seal the historic victory.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald
|Josh Reynolds||Five Eighth||0||0||0||0|
|Trent Hodkinson||Half Back||0||1||0||2|
|Tony Williams||Second Row||1||0||0||4|
|Josh Jackson||Second Row||0||0||0||0|
|James Graham||Front Row||0||0||0||0|
|Aiden Tolman||Front Row||0||0||0||0|