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Sutton 300 vs Churchill and Cowie Combine

A South Sydney modern-day legend reaches a monumental milestone up against a clutch combination involving a couple of Rabbitohs royalty, in the dying moments of a Grand Final! Only you can decide which moment moves on!

John Sutton First Rabbitoh to 300 games (2018)

Top Moments - John Sutton first Rabbitoh to 300

John Sutton; player number 1020. A Souths Junior from the Kensington United Club, John is a one-club man.

After passing Bob McCarthy in 2014 for the most games played for the Rabbitohs, Sutton captained South Sydney to their 21st premiership later that year. He was the first Rabbitohs player since John Sattler in 1971 to be presented with the Premiership trophy at season’s end.

Sutton became the first Rabbitoh to 300 games four years later, in Round 19 against the Wests Tigers.

An unveiling of a mural for John and presentation was made in the lead up to the match at his beloved Kensington United Clubhouse, commemorating this momentous occasion.

Sutton, who made his NRL debut against the Brisbane Broncos in 2004, is a three-time George Piggins Medallist as the best and fairest for the Rabbitohs in the NRL in a particular season, a winner of the Bob McCarthy Clubman of the Year award, Coaches award, Supporters’ Choice award and Rising Star award at South Sydney.

A naturally big-frame, Sutton started off his Career in the centres, before moving to lock, five-eighth and then finishing his career in the backrow; evolving his game from a silky playmaker to a damaging line-runner.

Cowie & Churchill Combine for two crucial tries to comeback and win the Grand Final (1954)

Top Moments - Cowie and Churchill combine for two tries in 1954

1954 season was the start of mandatory grand finals, where a grand final will always be played to determine the seasons winner regardless of how many points the minor premiers were ahead on the ladder.

Newtown were minor premiers with 32 points, having lost only one game all year and drawing two others. It was clear that Souths were their bogey team as their first draw was against Souths (20-all in Round 3), and their only loss was also against Souths (7-17 in Round 12). Souths were second on the ladder with 29 points, with St. George and Norths rounding off the semi-finalists.

St. George defeated Norths in the first semi-final by 15-14, and Souths defeated Newtown for the second time in their semi-final by 24-14, which meant that as winners of 1st v 2nd, Souths went straight to the grand final. Newtown defeated St. George in the preliminary final by 27-13, to have another crack at the Rabbitohs.

On an overcast day which had a few showers saw the season’s highest crowd of 45,759 spectators come to watch the two best teams in the premiership decider. In a dour first half which had plenty of solid tackling and kept the interest of the big crowd throughout the match.

Souths held a strong 12-4 lead at the break, after Ian Moir and Greg Hawick both scored converted tries. But three penalty goals by Newtown fullback Gordon Clifford in the second half cut their lead to just two points.

Souths were scoreless in the second half until the 70th minute, when they rallied and registered a try from its own side of halfway that would be worthy of any of their great sides from the past (and future).

Clive Churchill swept into the attack to make the extra man where the ball was tossed about as if it were a hot potato, until it came to Greg Hawick, at outside centre.

Hawick, who easily played his best game all season, ran strongly and moved out wide towards the left wing where he passed infield to a supporting Les Cowie on Newtown’s quarter-line. Cowie held the ball neatly and scored wide out after a desperate sprint to the line.

Two minutes later Churchill again came into the attack, where with dazzling footwork he beat Brian Clay, Peter Ryan and Gordon Clifford, then stumbled and fell, but managed to pass the ball out to Cowie, who scored near the posts. Bernie Purcell failed with both conversions and Souths stretched their lead to 18-10, with eight minutes left on the clock.

Newtown second rower Herb Narvo scored a good try, which Clifford converted to give them some hope with three minutes left to play and three points behind on the scoreboard.

But, it wasn’t to be as Johnny Dougherty, the Rabbitohs five-eighth, scored a late try which Purcell converted to give Souths a 23-15 victory and its second successive premiership, its fourth in the last five seasons – all under their captain-coach Jack Rayner. Legendary fullback Clive Churchill was simply outstanding setting up three of his side's five tries and was judged man of the match.

Les Cowie was the only Souths player to appear in every match, while their wingers, Les Brennan and Ian Moir, both provided many thrills with their speed and clever play. Brennan notched a club record 29 tries in 19 games, while Moir scored his 21 tries also in 19 games.

Bernie Purcell also broke the club scoring record with 174 points scored this season, beating Johnny Graves’ 1952 record of 168 points.


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South Sydney Rabbitohs respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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