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The Roosters celebrate the 1975 premiership.

Jack Gibson's powerhouse Eastern Suburbs team thumped St George by 38-0 in the 1975 NSWRL grand final; a match as much remembered for the white boots worn by an injured Graeme Langlands. has gone into the vault to find footage of the grand finals from the pre-NRL era dating back to 1966 and will be showcasing these games, including a full replay, match highlights and great moments from the encounters.

The 1975 decider - the first to be telecast in colour - finished with the biggest-ever grand final margin at the time (a record that stood until Manly defeated Melbourne 40-0 to win the 2008 NRL premiership) in an era where tries were worth three points.

But the contest was tight in the first half, though it was quickly apparent that something was amiss with Langlands, St George's champion fullback and captain-coach, who had a groin injury.

Sporting bright white Adidas boots at a time black footwear was customary - which prompted commentator Rex Mossop to quip that the future Immortal looked "ready to play cricket" - Langlands failed to find touch with a penalty kick in the opening minutes as the ball grubbered along the SCG turf and into Eastern Suburbs' arms.

It was later revealed that a pain-killing injection administered to Langlands had gone awry, rendering his leg numb.

Match Highlights: Dragons v Roosters

The Roosters, the defending premiers, had lost just two games in the regular season as they again finished first under Gibson's coaching. But the Dragons created an early chance when Ted Goodwin put a chip-kick over the defence from inside his own half.

The centre couldn't retrieve the ball as he clashed heads with teenage Eastern Suburbs fullback Ian Schubert. Goodwin played on but was dazed for the rest of the game while Schubert starred.

St George missed a penalty goal before the Roosters opened the scoring later in the half through halfback Johnny Mayes after a great run by winger Bruce Pickett as he returned a shallow Billy Smith kick.

Pickett beat several Dragons defenders and then offloaded to Mayes, who streaked away untouched to claim the try.

Langlands continued to struggle with his movement as Eastern Suburbs threatened to score again, but he almost helped St George get on the board by competing for a Smith bomb.

Schubert caught the ball in his own in-goal (before that was rewarded with a 20-metre restart) despite the attention of Langlands and his teammates, only to spill it when he was tackled.

Full Match Replay: Dragons v Roosters - Grand Final, 1975

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Dragons winger John Chapman swooped, but it was ruled that Schubert had already grounded the ball.

The second half was an Eastern Suburbs masterclass. After a strong Arthur Beetson charge, front-rower Ian Mackay ran from dummy-half to score. That triggered an onslaught of points.

Legendary prop Beetson grabbed the next try, slamming the ball down in front of referee Laurie Bruyeres.

Graeme Langlands during the 1975 grand final.
Graeme Langlands during the 1975 grand final. ©The Sydney Morning Herald

Beetson was also in the thick of things when the Roosters next crossed, turning a pass inside to a flying Ron Coote. He then offloaded to centre John Brass who finished well. 

Schubert conjured the following touchdown by brilliantly catching a bomb before bursting upfield and slipping the ball to Pickett, the winger doing the rest himself with a long-range run.

Mossop declared it a "sad sight" as Langlands was unable to make ground on Pickett in cover defence. 

Mayes then collected a double, and with the result beyond doubt, Langlands soon succumbed to his injury. As he was being replaced, a floating Smith pass was intercepted by Brass to extend the gap.

To complete the rout, Schubert zoomed up the touchline and added a well-deserved try to his performance.

Schubert seals Roosters domination of Dragons

Play of the day

Eastern Suburbs produced myriad fine attacking moments, but Schubert's try at the death capped off a splendid all-round effort.

Having started in first-grade that year initially as a winger before moving to fullback when Russell Fairfax broke his leg, the teenager from the NSW country town Wauchope ran into a hole off Mackay.

He quickly switched on the afterburners and easily fended off Billy Smith en route to the in-goal. "I hate to see a good footballer made to look ordinary," Rex Mossop said of Smith's failed cover tackle.

Best player

Unsurprisingly, Schubert was judged man of the match for his scintillating attacking exploits. When the Clive Churchill Medal for the game was awarded during the game's centenary year, Schubert was the pick.

However, upon Fairfax's return from injury the following season he shifted back to the wing where he played the majority of his career for Eastern Suburbs.

On the strength of his 1975 season and grand final dominance, Schubert - who later became the NRL's salary cap auditor - was selected in the Australian squad for that year's World Cup.

The quote

"It was an injection that went wrong. It wasn't the doctor's fault. The injection went in where the nerves shouldn't have been. They had moved because of all the injuries that I've had around the groin," Graeme Langlands wrote in his book Larrikin and Saint.

Extended Highlights: Dragons v Roosters

The what-if moment

Had St George been awarded a first-half try following Schubert's in-goal fumble, would they have found their mojo?

The scores could have been locked at 5-5 at half-time and the Dragons may have benefitted from the momentum.

Granted, the result might not have been affected given the ferocity of Eastern Suburbs' attack in the second term, but perhaps the match wouldn't have ended up so one-sided.

The unsung hero

He lacked the star power of his high-profile teammates but Roosters winger Bruce Pickett set the tone for a resounding win with his terrific break that led to Johnny Mayes's opening try.

Pickett helped put the cream on the cake by supporting Schubert to score a runaway touchdown in the second half.

The following year

Like their Roosters counterparts of 2020, Eastern Suburbs fell short of a premiership three-peat in 1976.

Though they won an unofficial World Club Challenge against St Helens in June, Gibson's side finished the NSWRL season fifth and were knocked out in a minor prelim semi-final against Canterbury.

St George finished third - also eliminated by Canterbury in the minor semi-final. Langlands, motivated by his grand final shocker, returned for one more season but only played four early-season games. 

He stayed on as coach before being replaced by Harry Bath the following year in which the Dragons won their 14th title.

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National Rugby League respects and honours 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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