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Prime Minister Bob Hawke and the Eels after the 1983 grand final.

As part of a series of fresh looks at the grand finals of yesteryear, revisits the 1983 decider between the all-conquering Eels and the Silvertails from Manly. 

The Eels' third straight title - an accomplishment that hasn't been matched for almost 40 years - capped a golden period for arguably the best backline of the modern era. 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.

For the second straight year, a strong Manly side became the vanquished on grand final day. And let's not forget the greatest fashion choice a coach has ever made (watch for Jack Gibson at the start of the extended highlights video below).

Extended Highlights: Eels v Sea Eagles

After winning the club's first premiership in 1981 and mounting a successful title defence, Parramatta entered the '83 decider against a Manly side that had finished the home and away season as minor premiers in a most convincing fashion. 

Their 22-4 record was four wins clear of the second-placed Eels.

But once the action started at the Sydney Cricket Ground that counted for nothing.

Parramatta opened the scoring when Brett Kenny - who had scored two tries in each of the '81 and '82 deciders - snaffled up a loose pass before getting the ball back again from winger David Liddiard and crossing the line.

The Eels found themselves with some breathing room when a rampaging Eric Grothe crashed over just in the Paddington Hill corner.

Still in the first half, veteran Manly fullback Eadie produced a try-saver on Steve Ella. In the same set, Eels centre Mick Cronin kicked a penalty goal and the lead was 12-0 heading into the break.

Match Highlights: Sea Eagles v Eels

The tough task Manly were facing become near-on insurmountable when Kenny completed his hat-trick of grand final doubles once play resumed.

A perfectly placed bomb from the unlikely boot of prop Paul Mares was allowed to bounce and Kenny won the race to the ball.

Phil Sigsworth then burst through to score untouched and Eadie converted to get the score back to 18-6.

The Eels remained dangerous over the final stages, but no more points were scored. 

Not even a minor delay after a smoke bomb was thrown onto the field could disrupt the concentration.

Play of the day

This is a two-part effort. First, we have a play that included 11 passes including multiple touches for Cronin and Peter Sterling and ended with Kenny being tackled.

The Eels didn't score off that play but it did serve to getting the Manly defensive line out of sorts. On the next play Cronin, Edge, Kenny and Ella combined to send Grothe on a fearsome charge down the right wing.

Guru bulldozers his way down the sideline

"The Guru" bumped off Manly No.7 Phil Blake with ease before carrying Eadie over the line.

Tremendous rugby league.

Best player

When Clive Churchill Medals were retrospectively awarded, Kenny was given the nod. But on this day, the award could just as easily have been given to the great Cronin.

Cronin was superb in this match, with his passing game to the fore. The game seemed to slow down every time he had the ball in his hands, and smart teammates knew Gerringong's favourite son would find them open spaces to run into.

Cronin was 32 when this match was played and would go on to win a fourth title in his final outing for the Eels in 1986.

The quote

"I'm not confident where I'll be tonight ... so, you've jumped a few days." - Eels coach Jack Gibson when asked if he intended to return to the club in 1984.

The 1983 decider was another great day for Eels fans.
The 1983 decider was another great day for Eels fans. ©NRL Photos

The what-if moment

After Sigsworth had scored to reduce the margin to 12, Manly soon had the ball back inside the Eels' quarter. The Sea Eagles were desperately close to making the finale very interesting. 

Chris Close was dragged down within a few metres of the line. If he had have scored Manly would have had all the momentum and only been a converted try behind. It was not to be.

Full Match Replay: Sea Eagles v Eels - Grand Final, 1983

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Unsung hero

In a side packed with Test standard backs, the Eels machine needed the likes of Steve Sharp, Peter Wynn, Edge, Paul Mares and Stan Jurd to do all the hard work in the middle of the field. Matching it with the Manly pack was a necessity - and they did. 

The following year

The Warren Ryan-coached Bulldogs prevented the Eels from making it four titles in a row with a 6-4 win in a dour grand final. Parramatta had finished the regular season in third place, one spot ahead of Manly.

The Sea Eagles were eliminated in week one of the finals by a South Sydney team that had to win a midweek play-off to get into the top five.

Acknowledgement of Country

Parramatta Eels 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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