Rabbitohs players celebrate the title.

It had been 43 years in the making, but it was worth the wait for the Rabbitohs' faithful as Souths Sydney stormed home to claim the 2014 NRL premiership.

Sam Burgess' heroics echoed that of the great John Sattler as the Englishman played 80 minutes with a broken cheekbone. He was injured in the first tackle of the game after a head clash with fellow Englishman James Graham.

Despite having the better of the first half, South Sydney found themselves locked at 6-6 when Tony Williams pounced on a Josh Reynolds grubber to get the Bulldogs on the scoreboard.

That would be as close as the Bulldogs would get with South Sydney scoring four unanswered tries to secure a record 21st premiership.

Best player

The story started for Sam Burgess with the first tackle of the match. Not only did he stay on the field despite a facial fracture, he was deserving of the Clive Churchill Medal after accumulating 225 run metres and 36 tackles. 

The unsung hero

Always one for the big occasion, Greg Inglis injected himself into the contest in a way only he knows how in the 27th minute. The Souths fullback scorched seven defenders with a 50-metre run. 

Throughout the match he showed his strength and determination on kick-returns before crossing the line and showing off his trademark goanna try celebration.

The play of the day

George Burgess' try in the 55th minute was the epitome of power in the modern age from a front-rower. A huge right foot-step before he brushed off Tony Williams easily on his way to scoring under the posts which signaled the beginning of the end for the Bulldogs.

The what-if moment

Dale Finucane gave away a penalty to allow the Rabbitohs to go up 6-0 in the 26th minute. His blatant professional foul could have easily resulted in a sin-binning, possibly altering the course of the match.

The quote

"I'm lost for words. It was a cracking year I will never forget. It's something that can never be taken away from me. It will be in my heart forever," Sam Burgess after his heroic man-of-the-match performance.

Recollections of a champion

Souths winger Lote Tuqiri: "The main thing I remember from that game was Sam Burgess breaking his eye-socket in the first tackle of the game, we didn't how bad it was until half-time but when I saw him get up and play the ball and run to the back to the trainer I thought that it didn't look good.

Sam Burgess after the 2014 grand final.
Sam Burgess after the 2014 grand final. ©NRL Photos

"He's probably one of the toughest teammates I've ever played with and it wasn't a minor injury, he's needed major surgery to fix it since.

"But since that day, everywhere I go I get stopped because I played forSouths Sydney, it was only one year but it was a great year to be a part of. I just wanted to be some small cog in the wheel that helped get the club to the title."

Canterbury forward Tim Browne.
Canterbury forward Tim Browne. ©NRL Photos

Recollections of a runner-up

Canterbury forward Tim Browne: "It was about the 55th minute they scored a try under the sticks then two quick tries after that and it got away real quickly in the next 10 or 15 minutes. (George Burgess scored in 56th minute, it was 6-6 before that).

"It was a tight game, a great grand final. Everyone wants to win one but not everyone gets to play in one so it was a great honour. We came from outside the top four, from seventh.

"I remember watching most of it. I fractured my skull about round 14, watched a few of the semi-finals and made it back just in time for the Penrith game (the preliminary final) to make the grand final.

"It was hard, I hadn't played for about 10 weeks (until the prelim). I was fresh but the match fitness, I didn't have much in the lungs.

"My role was pretty simple really, come on and provide some impact and some energy for the guys that are tired. We did that the three weeks before the grand final but just couldn't get across the line.

The year after

Souths weren't able to replicate their heroics from the year before, finishing the regular season in seventh before being knocked out of the finals in the first round after going down to Cronulla 28-12. Canterbury just missed out on a home final after finishing fifth, before they edged out St George-Illawarra 11-10 in week one before being thumped by the Sydney Roosters 38-12 in the semi-finals.