They may be playing for little more than pride in tonight’s showdown, but Throwback Thursday is celebrating 50 years since the clubs squared off in the classic 1967 grand final.
The Berries (as Canterbury was then nicknamed) had defeated St George in the preliminary final, ending the Dragons’ record run of 11 straight premierships. But Souths, who had downed the Saints in the major semi, proved too good for Canterbury in the decider, prevailing 12-10 in a dramatic contest at the SCG.
After Souths fullback Eric Simms and Canterbury forward George Taylforth traded penalty goals early on, front-row enforcer John ‘Lurch’ O’Neill barged over for the first try for the Rabbitohs.
But a stunning field goal from near halfway by Berries lock Ron Raper – brother of the Immortal Johnny – cut the deficit to one point, before Taylforth’s deadly long-range penalty kicking saw the blue-and-whites move out to an 8-5 lead.
The pivotal moment of the decider came just before halftime, when young Souths backrower Bob McCarthy snaffled a pass by Canterbury hooker Col Brown and raced 80 yards to score the most famous intercept try in Rugby League history.
Taylforth levelled the scores with his fourth penalty goal nine minutes after the break, but a scrum penalty allowed Simms to nudge the Rabbitohs in front with only five minutes remaining.
It was the club’s 17th premiership, and the first of five straight grand finals under the captaincy of legendary tough guy John Sattler and the coaching of the great Clive Churchill, of which they would win four.
Canterbury has featured in 13 deciders since then, winning six premierships, while Souths endured a 43-year absence from rugby league’s big dance before thumping the Bulldogs 30-6 in the 2014 grand final to win a long-awaited title.