In 1971 the Sharks were granted their first ever Match of the Day against Sattler's Premiership winning side at the SCG. As the Sharks ran onto the hallowed turf for the first time in their club's history they were emboldened by the absence of Bob McCarthy from the Rabbitohs line-up. But Sattler proved that class is permanent as Souths weathered a storm to claim victory.
With McCarthy ruled out of the clash with a hamstring injury, Sattler's team failed to find their rhythm in attack and their defence looked suspect during the encounter. Eric Simms would prove the difference as the experienced kicker slotted five goals to claim victory 16-15 in a match where the Sharks scored more tries than the Rabbitohs.
"Plainly, there was something missing: It was the robust darting figure of second-rower Bobby McCarthy, who nowadays provides the spark to set the Red and Greens alight," wrote Tom Goodman in his Rugby League News match report in 1971.
"A McCarthy break-through was needed. Arthur Branighan, centre turned second-rower, worked hard. But there was none working quite so hard as the halfback, Bobby Grant, with the ball and in defence."
A "lion-hearted" defensive effort from Souths was to thank for sinking the Cronulla Sharks on our first clash at the SCG. It was our 9th win over them in our 10 encounters since their beginning in 1967, but it was a match where the Sharks proved they were getting a foot hole in the league. Indeed, this was the match that where the Sharks started to develop their bite.
While it wasn't a pretty win for the Rabbitohs, it was a match that highlighted the character of their champion team that would go on to claim Premiership glory that year as well.
South Sydney debuted an 18-year old centre named Claude Williams after his brilliant performance in the reserve grade match earlier that day. Williams, a South Sydney junior who played in the Jersey Flegg squad in 1970, scored all of his team's points in the 18-all reserve grade draw.
Cronulla's captain/coach Tommy Bishop led the bold Sharks team around the SCG on their maiden appearance and earned the respect of the defending Premiers and their master coach - Clive Churchill.
"When I asked Souths' coach Clive Churchill what he thought of Cronulla's effort, the "Little Master" of other days, momentarily shedding his smile of elation, said seriously: "WonderfuI!' He repeated: "Wonderful."," Goodman explained in his article.
It was this match, 47-years ago, that started the ebb and flow of our rivalry with the Cronulla Sharks.
Match report supplied by Michael Curin.
South Sydney Secretary Charlie Gibson had seen his side beat Cronulla by the odd point in a breathtaking finish and then heaped praise on the Sharks when he commented: "I just hope we don't meet them in them in the grand final". Souths gained the competition points, but the glory was all Tommy Bishop's at the SCG.
Cronulla had proved the more enterprising team and outscored the Rabbitohs by three tries to two. Only lion-hearted defence by the Rabbitohs had stopped them for crossing for further tries. Tommy Bishop, who took his team of youngsters for their first ever match-of-the-day at the SCG, triggered his team into a spectacular finish that took them to within a point of Souths, with two tries by winger Ray Corcoran in the last five minutes. Souths breathed a sigh of relief when two conversion attempts by George Taylforth sailed yards wide of the posts – and they won the thriller by 16 points to 15.
The Sharks were starved of the ball and threw everything in defence with forwards Allen, Cooper and Maguire more than holding their own against Sattler and company. They went into the break with a well-deserved 7-4 lead when Urquhart scored a try after receiving a lovely pass form Bishop and Taylforth converted it.
Bishop masterminded most of Cronulla's work, but he also showed he was human when he twice knocked-on less than 20 yards from the Souths' line. Souths hit the lead with two quick tries from Kerry Burke and Ray Branighan, both converted by golden boots Eric Simms, to give the Rabbitohs a match winning lead of 14-7. George Taylforth kicked a penalty goal in the 59th minute to cut the lead to 14-9, and Simms increased the lead back to 7 points again when he kicked his fifth goal from six attempts in the 71st minute.
And when the match seemed lost with only five minutes remaining, it was Bishop again, who fired a pass with the speed of a bullet that cut out two of his own team mates, and three South Sydney defenders and send Ray Gartner over for his first try. Three minutes later it was another long pass from Bishop that sent Corcoran on a great 80-yard run down the touchline that ended with the winger scoring his second try wide out. Taylforth had a wretched day with the boot, missing both conversions. He also missed a sitter from in front of the posts in the first half and Bishop had such a lack of confidence in him that he elected to take a tap instead of a shot at goal when the Sharks had a chance to snatch victory.
Ironically, Jack O'Brien, who judged the Sydney Morning Herald's Best and Fairest did not give any points to Bishop.
South Sydney 16 (K.Burke, R.Branighan tries; E.Simms 5 goals)
Cronulla‐Sutherland 15 (R.Corcoran 2, R.Urquhart tries; G.Taylforth 3 goals) at Sydney Cricket Ground, Monday, April 12, 1971 (2.30pm).
Crowd: 21,401. Referee: Les Samuelson. Touch Judges: George Benson, Frank Walsh. Halftime: Cronulla 7‐4. Scrums: Souths 13‐9. Penalties: Souths 13‐12. Goalkickers: Simms (Souths) 5/6, Taylforth (Cronulla) 3/8.
SOUTHS: Eric Simms; Keith Edwards, Phil Smith, Bob Honan, Ray Branighan; Kerry Burke, Bob Grant; Paul Sait, Gary Stevens, Arthur Branighan, John O'Neill, Elwyn Walters, John Sattler (c). Replacement: Claude Williams† (for Burke). Coach: Clive Churchill.
CRONULLA: Greg Pierce; Ray Corcoran, Paul Taylor, Bob Wear, Dave Cotter; Kevin Hogan, Tommy Bishop (c); Rod Urquhart, Dave Cooper, John Maguire, George Taylforth, Ron Turner, Greg Allen. Replacement: Barry Andrews (for Taylor). Coach: Tommy Bishop.
SMH points (Jack O'Brien): 3 ‐ Hogan (Cronulla), 2 ‐ Grant (Souths), 1 ‐ Turner (Cronulla).
10 min: South Sydney 2‐0 (Simms goal)
20 min: 2‐all (Taylforth goal)
28 min: Cronulla‐Sutherland 7‐2 (Urquhart try; Taylforth goal)
36 min: Cronulla‐Sutherland 7‐4 (Simms goal)
45 min: South Sydney 9‐7 (Burke try; Simms goal)
49 min: South Sydney 14‐7 (R.Branighan try; Simms goal)
59 min: South Sydney 14‐9 (Taylforth goal)
71 min: South Sydney 16‐9 (Simms goal)
75 min: South Sydney 16‐12 (Corcoran try)
78 min: South Sydney 16‐15 (Corcoran try)
† Indicates player making his first grade debut.