NRL 2014 CHAMPIONS DECIDED

Well it was South Sydney Rabbithos who would end up coming out on top with a comfortable 30-6 victory over the bulldogs at a packed ANZ Stadium.

NRL Final 2014

South Sydney Rabbithos and Cantebury Bulldogs set the stage for what was to be one of the best Telstra Premiership Finals to date. With plenty of action, heart, big hits and Tries it was watched by more people around the globe than any other final series decider, but who would come out on top of this must win match?

Well it was South Sydney Rabbithos who would end up coming out on top with a comfortable 30-6 victory over the bulldogs at a packed ANZ Stadium.

Some key highlights from the match that broke records was:

Key highlights include: • Last night’s match was the highest rating NRL match of all time across five city markets. • The Nine Network reports a massive national peak audience of 4.6 million. The Nine Network said the national average audience (3.951 million) surpassed the national audience for the AFL Grand Final (3.513 million). Rugby League now has the top three TV programs of the year with State of Origin 1 & 2 as well as the Grand Final across a national audience. • About 10 million people in the five city markets (and almost 16 million nationally) tuned into the finals series – up more than 3% from last year. • More than 320,000 people attended finals series matches – up 13% on 2013. • A ground record crowd of 83,833 – the biggest attendance for a sporting event at ANZ Stadium since it was reconfigured after the Sydney Olympics..

One player really stood out and sustained an injury in the first hit of the game and played on for the 80 minutes with a fractured Cheekbone that he would have to have surgery on after the Game.

SAM BURGESS

Sam Burgess, this year's Clive Churchill Medal Winner, is living proof the rugby league gods love nothing more than watching history repeat itself. Some 44 years after John Sattler played out 70 minutes of the 1970 decider with a broken jaw, leading the Rabbitohs to a famed victory over Manly, Sam produced the biggest performance of his career with a fractured cheekbone sustained in the very first hit-up of the game won 30-6 by the cardinal and myrtle. Belted in an accidental head clash with his great mate and famed sparring partner James Graham, which ensured one last 'Battle of the Brits' kicked off in explosive style, Burgess powered his way through 80 minutes despite looking like he'd gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson. With the Dogs and Graham throwing both the kitchen and bathroom sinks at the Rabbits, and the game in the balance up until the final 10 minutes, Burgess churned out 225 metres (second only to Greg Inglis) and 36 tackles, each one packed with dynamite. And for all his fire and brimstone, might and power, it was a play in the 54th minute, oh so subtle in its brilliance that summed up Burgess's contribution. A Josh Reynolds grubber destined for Canterbury hands was dabbed from the No. 6's boot with scores level at 6-apiece and the Dogs on the attack. Putting aside the fact half his face was shattered, the pressure of 83,833 screaming fans and the grandest stage of his life, Burgess reeled in the Steeden with a slips catch worthy of a baggy green and a start in Michael Clarke's cordon. In his last game of league before departing for the 15-man code, the 25-year-old bows out as the pre-eminent forward in the game, and with many proclaiming him the greatest British import the Australian game has seen. Sattler delivered the highest possible praise for the big Brit after the match, after Burgess admitted the former Souths captain and the last premiership winning side from 1971 were an "inspiration" to him. "It's just absolutely marvellous. His performance tonight and all throughout the season has just been one of unbelievable magnitude," Sattler told Channel Nine after the match. "He's what South Sydney is all about. He's the one who wrote the book, and Sam's name will be written in it." Humble to a tee, Burgess deflected praise to his teammates who had ended Souths' 43-year title drought in brutal circumstances over the Bulldogs. "I'm accepting this award on behalf of my team," Burgess said. "It's been a journey that we've been through all year, as a team of 30 players, one player probably doesn't deserve this, so I'm accepting on behalf of my team." The block-busting lock forward also reserved special mention for his family and in particular his mother Julie. Equally deserving of the fans' adulation were twin brothers George and Tom, who combined for a phenomenal 387 running metres as the trio powered through the Dogs' middle time and again. The three brothers ran for a total of 612 metres between them - more than half of the Bulldogs' entire 1085 metres.

 

Here is the breakdown on all the players as mentioned by NRL.com

SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITHOS

1. Greg Inglis – Waited 27 minutes to inject himself, and didn't he what. Swerving and bustling his way past seven defenders in a 50-metre gallop, he made plenty of yards on the kick return from there out. With the game on the line, produced the most important kick of his life for Auva'a's try, and then busted out the goanna for his own four-pointer. 8.5

2. Alex Johnston – Finished well for the opening try, his 21st of the year. Was peppered with kicks and made one error that could have cost the Rabbitohs, but otherwise faultless on the biggest stage of his 19 years. 7.5

3. Dylan Walker – Very dangerous early, and always a threat in that roving role. Strong with his up-and-in defence, but came up with a crucial error 10m out from his own line that led to the Bulldogs' sole try. 8

4. Kirisome Auva'a – Will never have to buy a beer in Redfern for the rest of his days. Scored the match winner, threw the last pass for Johnston's opener, looked more at home as game wore on, and waged an enthralling running battle with Tim Lafai all night. 8

5. Lote Tuqiri – Didn't get too many opportunities in a forwards' game so got himself involved in defence. Missed a critical take of a Hodkinson bomb. 6.5

6. Luke Keary – Always probing, produced the first try from nothing out of acting half, and was arguably the most dangerous Bunny on the park. Did give away two penalties but otherwise top notch. 8.5

7. Adam Reynolds – Found his kicking radar early and forced three repeat sets and kept the foot on the throat of the Dogs. Missed a few shots at goal but nailed the ones that mattered, and bagged a try to cap the biggest night of his life. 8

8. George Burgess – A red and green Mack truck. Broke the game open with an incredible try, following up a monumental first half where he racked up 120-plus metres either side of copping a whack on the melon. 9

21. Apisai Koroisau – Struggled early before finding his rhythm, the Bunnies looked clunky without him calling the shots from acting half but were right as rain when he came back on. Phenomenal given he hadn't played in three months. 8

10. Dave Tyrrell – Knocked into next week by James Graham, and received a standing ovation as he left the field. Played the same way he has his whole career before that – understated, with a minimal fuss, but getting the job done. 6.5

11. Ben Te'o – Whacked anything that moved in blue and white with 33 bruising tackles, and offered more in attack as the contest wore on. Fitting way to leave the game. 7.5

12. John Sutton (c) – Got through a mountain of work with the ball in hand early, and looked the most dangerous of Souths forwards. Great captain's knock, and none more deserving than the bloke who's been there through thick and thin. 7.5

13. Sam Burgess – Straight from the book of John Sattler. Could've gone another 80 minutes, and another 225 metres and 36 tackles, all with a suspected fractured cheekbone. Will go down as one of the best to don the red and green. Outstanding. 9.5

Interchange

14. Jason Clark – Gave away what could've been a crucial penalty on Morris, but otherwise slotted into the pack easily and powered through 26 tackles. 6.5

15. Kyle Turner – Solid in defence but few opportunities in attack, gets the chocolates in his first grand final at any level. 6

16. Chris McQueen – Made an immediate difference when he got his chance midway through the second half, and had that bat-down for Auva'a's try. Great impact from the pine. 7

17. Thomas Burgess – Took up where George left off, with his best game in the red and green. Packed the fire and brimstone, and ended up with 181 metres and 25 tackles. 8.5

CANTEBURY BULLDOGS

1. Sam Perrett – Safe as houses at the back, fielding the high ball with relative ease and cleaning up Adam Reynolds' stabbing grubbers into the in-goal. Fans groaned when he appeared to lose the ball running back a bomb off his line after just six minutes, with Lote Tuqiri crossing for a 'try' before replays showed Perrett was the victim of a swinging arm. Made three tackle breaks in the first half but was kept quiet in the second 40 as Souths gained the ascendancy. 7

2. Corey Thompson – Left his man when hoodwinked by Luke Keary in the 20th minute, leaving Alex Johnston open to score Souths' first try. But he supported well and made no errors under the high ball despite some repeated attention. 5.5

3. Josh Morris –Well contained by the Rabbitohs but was dangerous on occasion, narrowly missing a four-pointer when spilling a Tony Williams offload just a few metres out from Souths' line early in the first half as the Rabbitohs defence swarmed on him. Felled in the air and appeared injured but played the rest of the game without a problem. Made a couple of errors and like his teammates was mostly quiet in the second stanza. 6.5

4. Tim Lafai –Hardly sighted in attack and his side of the field was constantly targeted by the Rabbitohs' attack. Made more than a dozen tackles. 6

5. Mitch Brown – Made a turnover error early in the second half that set the team on the back foot. Made a couple of tackle busts but only posted 35 metres with the ball in hand. 5

6. Josh Reynolds –Kept his team in the contest with a masterful kicking game, with a towering 40/20 (more like a 35/15) on the half hour that caught even the refs by surprise before it was awarded. It was Reynolds' pinpoint grubber from 10m out that saw Tony Williams score for the Dogs to draw level at 6-all after 49 minutes. Failed to take on the line though, running just twice. Defended stoutly with 22 tackles. 7.5

7. Trent Hodkinson – Played linkman only, making just one run and leaving all the kicking duties to Reynolds bar two occasions. Made just 10 tackles. 5

8. Aiden Tolman – The Dogs' best forward, shading co-captain James Graham. Got through his usual mountain of defensive work with more than 30 tackles and made 15 hit-ups for almost 110 metres, throwing in a deft offload to boot. 8

19. Moses Mbye – Gave a good if not spectacular service from dummy-half. Piled on nearly 40 tackles. 6.5

10. James Graham (c) – Involved in nasty head clashes with Sam Burgess and Dave Tyrrell that injured both opposition players yet he played on without batting an eyelid. Was a workhorse in the centre of the field, making more than 100 metres from his determined runs and contributing 31 tackles. 8

11. Josh Jackson – Showed grit and determination, with 10 hit-ups and 35 crunching tackles. 7

12. Tony Williams –Trailed through to gather Josh Reynolds' grubber to score in the 49th minute to make up for three awful first-half errors. Was their most dangerous weapon with the ball in hand, making six tackle breaks and three offloads. 7.5

13. Greg Eastwood –Was an enforcer in defence, particularly in the first 40 minutes, constantly upending the opposition and landing them on their backs. Finished with 21 tackles. 7

Interchange

14. Tim Browne –An offload and plenty of defence. Raised eyebrows when he appeared to intentionally clash heads with injured Rabbitoh Sam Burgess packing into a scrum. 5.5

15. Dale Finucane –Was lucky not have been sent to the sin bin for a professional foul defending his line in the first half. Made some hard hits in defence, none better than his bell-ringer on George Burgess just before halftime. 6.5

16. David Klemmer – Tried to inject some momentum into the engine room but didn't have any time to settle into his rhythm. 5.5

17. Frank Pritchard –Tried hard to spark the Dogs late in the game but couldn't get his arms free to contribute any trademark offloads. Just six tackles. Honest effort in limited game time. 5.5

Here is the full match highlights to check out and see how good the game really was.

 

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