You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
John Sattler is chaired from the field by Bob McCarthy after his heroics in the 1970 grand final.

As part of a series of fresh looks at the grand finals of yesteryear, Martin Lenehan revisits the 1970 decider between the mighty South Sydney Rabbitohs, playing in their fourth grand final in a row, and the emerging Manly Sea Eagles.

NRL.com 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 these memorable encounters.

Coached by the incomparable Clive Churchill and captained by John Sattler, the Rabbitohs had established themselves as the new force in rugby league after St George's remarkable run of 11 premierships in a row from 1956-66.

After winning the title in 1967, Souths backed it up again in '68 and then lost to Balmain in a massive upset in the famous 1969 decider.

Come 1970 and the Pride of the League were ready to reclaim their mantle as top dogs, but standing in their way on grand final day was a Manly side featuring future Immortal Bob Fulton and coached by Ron Willey, back for a second stint as Sea Eagles coach after one season in the job in 1962.

The rival packs were loaded with hard men for a hard road and the traditional softening-up period was always going to be brutal ... but few imagined quite the lengths Manly's John Bucknall would go to in a bid to limit Sattler's influence on the game.

The decider was barely five minutes old when Bucknall elbowed Sattler in the face behind play, shattering the Souths skipper's jaw and sending a message to his mates that Manly meant business.

Presumably the plan was to force Sattler out of the game or at the very least render him a passenger, but few counted on the bravery of the Bunnies prop as he not only played on but inspired his troops to a memorable 23-12 win.

In the final analysis, Manly could not break Sattler's spirit and could not break the South Sydney line, having only four goals to fullback Bob Batty and two field goals to Bob Fulton to show for their toil.

Full Match Replay: Rabbitohs v Sea Eagles - Grand Final, 1970

Sign up for a free NRL Account to access this video and other exclusive content.

Sign Up

Already have an NRL Account? Log In

Not sure? Learn more about an NRL Account.

Play of the day

He may not have come away with the chocolates on this occasion but 22-year-old Bob Fulton's field goal out of dummy half in the 20th minute was the sort of play only very special players can produce.

With Manly trailing 5-2, Fulton grabbed the opportunity to close the gap to one point, jumping out of dummy half and dropping the ball onto his right foot from 25 metres out. The strike was sweet and sailed straight between the posts for two points.

Even the game's greatest ever field goal exponent Eric Simms, who was in the opposition side that day, would have marvelled at Fulton's skills. As was the fashion of the day, with field goals worth two points, there were shots galore, and even champion Rabbitohs second-rower Bob McCarthy tried his luck.

In the final wash-up, Simms potted four field goals and Fulton two.

Bob Grant scores a double in the decider

Best player

Rugged Souths halfback Bob Grant was voted man of the match for his two tries and tireless defence, cutting down bigger men all day long.

Grant showed great strength to get across for his first try after accepting a super inside pass from Bob McCarthy to put Souths ahead 3-0 and his second sealed the win when he darted out of dummy half from 20 metres and caught the defence napping.

"That's the sort of try that wins grand finals. Quick thinking by a brilliant little halfback," said the great Trevor Allan in commentary on the ABC. As well as scoring a double, Grant also set up winger Ray Branighan for a first-half try with a perfectly executed long pass.

The quote

"I have roughed it out with the best of them, I have stood toe to toe with Pommies I hated but I have never known a performance to rival Satts." - Legendary hardman Noel Kelly talking to Rugby League Week after the grand final.

John Sattler is chaired from the field by Bob McCarthy after his heroics in the 1970 grand final.
John Sattler is chaired from the field by Bob McCarthy after his heroics in the 1970 grand final.

The what-if moment

What if John Sattler had succumbed to the excruciating pain and left the field after 10 minutes rather than playing on? Would Souths still have been able to dominate with one of their forward leaders out of the game?

Given that their pack boasted Ron Coote, Bob McCarthy, Gary Stevens and John O'Neill, you'd have to think the Rabbitohs still would've won. But rugby league would have one less legendary tale of bravery to tell if Sattler had left the field as most mere mortals would have done.

Unsung hero

Sattler has certainly had his praises sung many times over in the ensuing four decades but on the day most people knew nothing of what he was going through.

Playing on with his jaw shattered, Sattler copped plenty of punishment from the Manly pack, but he refused to leave the field and leave his men in the lurch.

Extended Highlights: Rabbitohs v Sea Eagles

His teammates learned of their skipper's plight at half-time, when they led 12-6, and Sattler told them "the next bloke who tries to cut me out of the play is in trouble".

No short-cuts. No excuses.

74. Bob Fulton - Hall of Fame

The following year

More glory for Sattler and Churchill and the all-conquering Bunnies as they downed Manly in a major semi-final and went on to beat St George 16-10 in the big one. That made it four premierships in five years for Souths.

The Sea Eagles won 19 of their 22 games in the regular season to claim the club's first minor premiership but they bowed out in straight sets to Souths and St George in the finals.