South Sydney Rabbitohs 30
Tries: Alex Johnston, George Burgess, Kirisome Auva’a, Adam Reynolds, Greg Inglis
Goals: Adam Reynolds 5/8
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 6
Tries: Tony Williams
Goals: Trent Hodkinson 1/1
The South Sydney Rabbitohs have claimed their first premiership since 1971 with a comfortable 30-6 victory over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium tonight.
In front of a record crowd of 83,838, the Rabbitohs led 6-0 at half time and 14-6 mid way through the second half before a flurry of late points took the game beyond the Bulldogs who were brave, but ultimately outclassed.
Bith sides went into the match without their first choice hookers; Isaac Luke suspended, and Michael Ennis injured. Luke was replaced by Apisai Koroisau, and Ennis replaced by Moses Mbye.
In the first hit up of the match two English forwards, Sam Burgess and James Graham came together in a head clash that left Burgess with a broken cheekbone. But in scenes reminiscent of the 1971 Grand Final, Burgess bravely fought on and won the Clive Churchill medal for his efforts.
A high tackle in the lead-up by Adam Reynolds denied Rabbitohs winger Lote Tuqiri from scoring his second Grand Final try 14 years after his first and both sides fought for dominance in the opening 20 minutes of a grinding Grand Final with an emphasis on defence.
Quick hands by the Rabbitohs down their left side saw Alex Johnston dive over for the game’s opening points in the 20th minute. Reynolds missed the conversion attempt but his 27th-minute penalty goal saw the Rabbitohs lead 6-0.
In the 49th minute Tony Williams claimed the Bulldogs’ first try and Trent Hodkinson converted to square the match up at 6-all.
Just six minutes later, a barnstorming try to Rabbitohs prop George Burgess pushed his side out to a 12-6 lead and Adam Reynolds made it 14-6 with a 63rd-minute penalty goal.
A freakish try that involved two kicks in the lead up and ended with Rabbitohs centre Kirisome Auva’a touching down just inside the dead ball line extended the Rabbitohs lead before Reynolds’ sideline conversion made it 20-6 with just 7 minutes remaining.
In the 77th minute another bizarre try to the Rabbitohs all ended the Bulldogs’ chances; A kick was put through, but a Bulldogs player collided with the uprights, allowing Reynolds to score a fortunate try that sent the crowd wild. His conversion made it 26-6.
In the 80th minute and with the game already won, Greg Inglis streaked away to score out wide and the Rabbitohs secured their first premiership in 43 years.