The South Sydney Rabbitohs will be playing finals footy in 2018!
It's the first time the Red and Green have played September football since 2015, and after two tough seasons, the team is primed and ready to have a real crack at going all the way.
How we got here
It's been a strong season from the Red and Green as they marched up towards an impressive third-place finish after 25 rounds.
However, the road has had its bumps and potholes along the way, which has tested the South Sydney brand of footy.
After a slow start, with losses to the New Zealand Warriors and the Penrith Panthers in the opening matches, Souths finally clicked into gear with an electric 34-6 win against the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, followed by a last-gasp win over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.
Over the next four rounds (5-8), the Rabbitohs began to show their competition credentials with two impressive wins over bitter rivals the Sydney Roosters and the Canberra Raiders.
The victories were sandwiched between two narrow four-point losses to the high flying St George Illawarra Dragons and the Brisbane Broncos, but despite the defeats, Souths were well within striking distance of victory.
After the win against the Broncos escaped them, the boys then became an unstoppable force going on a memorable 9 match winning streak.
The attacking football flowed effortlessly as the Rabbitohs climbed to the top of the ladder.
However, the Cardinal and Myrtle were hit with a cruel blow as captain Greg Inglis was sidelined for 6 weeks with a broken thumb during a one-point win over the North Queensland Cowboys in Cairns.
The Rabbitohs powered on notching up another win over the Bulldogs to keep the winning streak going.
With eyes on a potential record-breaking winning streak, the Rabbitohs' run was ended by a resurgent Wests Tigers.
However, the loss didn't hamper the Rabbitohs spirit as they bounced right back with a win over the Parramatta Eels and a classic demolition job over the Melbourne Storm.
It was a difficult run of games which followed for the Cardinal and Myrtle as they slumped to a three-match losing run with tough defeats to the Roosters, Broncos and Raiders.
However, the Rabbitohs responded emphatically to their lethargic form patch with a humongous win over the Wests Tigers in the final game of the regular season, which saw them clock up 50 points for the first time this year.
Rabbitohs against the Top 8
After 25 rounds, we're left with eight teams all with a shot of taking home the glory after finishing unbelievably close to one another.
All top four teams finished on 34 points and the bottom four finished on 32 in one of the most incredible finishes to the regular season.
The Rabbitohs have tasted victory against six out seven finals opponents this season, with the Broncos the only team to complete the double of the Red and Green during the season.
With a chance of facing any of the top eight teams, we've previewed all the opponents and what the Rabbitohs will need to do to overcome them.
It's our first match of the finals series and what a blockbuster of a match it is.
After playing just once during the season, the Rabbitohs and the Storm come into the finals as heavy favourites to go all the way this year.
The last time Souths played the Storm it was a victory that resonated throughout the competition as the Red and Green powered to a 30-20 win at ANZ Stadium.
Notching up just their fifth-ever win against the Storm, the boys in Red and Green will be looking to go one better at AAMI Park by winning the Club's first ever game in Melbourne.
With so much talent across the park, it's difficult to see where this match can be won but there is no doubt the Rabbitohs will look to beat the Storm through the middle once again.
The last time these two met, the Rabbitohs motored their way through the heart of the Storm defence notching up an immense 428 post contact metres whilst also making nine line breaks.
As mentioned above, the Broncos got maximum points against the Red and Green this season with two wins both on Sydney soil and at Suncorp Stadium.
The two teams could meet in the next elimination final if the Rabbitohs fail to beat the Storm in week 1.
Under the charge of Wayne Bennett, the Broncos are well positioned heading into the finals and will be a difficult proposition for any team.
However, after falling twice to the Queensland outfit, the Rabbitohs would be fired up more than ever to make amends if they cross paths with the Broncos.
One of toughest most experienced sides in the final eight, the Sharks are a side that knows how to win.
With a forward pack that boasts numerous state and international representatives and a backline that matches it with the best, the Sharks weak points are few.
However, during the season the Rabbitohs found a way to dismantle a Sharks outfit who were on a seven-game winning run and they did it without their Origin stars.
Missing star centres Dane Gagai and Greg Inglis, Souths young backs had no qualms with handling the pressure of filling in big shoes in a 22-14 win.
Whilst, the outside men put on the finishing touches it was the quality in the halves that shone through, as halfback Adam Reynolds and five-eighth Cody Walker combined brilliantly to break down the Sharks' defence.
Souths won't meet the Sharks until at least week 3 of the finals but expect the Red and Green to go back to what worked best against the Shire side team.
It was expected that the mammoth clash between the game's oldest rivals would be heading for a week 1 collision course until the Panthers upset the apple cart.
Now like the Sharks, the Rabbitohs won't encounter their fiercest foe until at least week 3, however, a win in week 1 for both Sydney based teams will potentially set up a Grand Final spectacle between the two combatants.
It was 1-1 and the end of the year with the Rabbitohs pinching a win over at Allianz Stadium and the Roosters returning serve at ANZ in Round 22.
Both teams have gone about their year differently, with Souths surging through the middle of the season and finishing with the best attack in the division, whereas the Roosters finished strongly with the best defence.
Flying out the blocks at the start of the year the Dragons were the team to beat as their intense defence and free-flowing attack was too hot to handle.
Fast track to now and the Dragons finished a respectable seventh and still a big threat to the rest of the competition.
The Rabbitohs could face the Dragons for the third time this year if the Red V defeat the Broncos and Souths lose to the Storm.
Both claiming a win over each other during the regular season the Rabbitohs key to victory once again is attempting to neutralise the Dragon's State of Origin backrow.
Tariq Sims, Tyson Frizell and Jack De Belin have all hit career-best form this year and offer incredible amount in both defence and attack.
The Panthers and the Rabbitohs met way back in Round 2 in a nailbiter at the foot of the mountains.
Since then they've haven't met and won't unless both reach week 3.
If the scenario does eventuate, the Rabbitohs will take no chances against a Panthers side that became known as the comeback kings of the 2018 season.
Just like the team above, the Warriors and Rabbitohs can clash in week 3 if the Rabbitohs win in Melbourne.
Meeting twice throughout the year, once in Perth in Round 1 and in Round 12 in New Zealand, both were a high scoring affair with the Warriors grabbing the win in WA and the Red and Green taking home the choccies from across the ditch.
Out of all the teams that have made the finals the Warriors game model best resembles the Rabbitohs with fast attacking play and hard running through the middle.
A battle worth watching through the finals series is the race for the top tries scorers gong between Warriors winger David Fusitu'a and Rabbitohs point scorer Robert Jennings.
Before an injury lay-off, Jennings was sitting pretty at the top, allowing the Warriors' flyer to swoop in and gain a considerable advantage.
However, after making a try-scoring return, Jennings can make a charge once again.
Path to Glory
The Rabbitohs path to victory will start in Victoria, after the Storm surrender top spot to the Roosters in the final round of the regular season.
The trip down to AAMI Park is a daunting task but one the Rabbitohs are looking forward.
A win will send the Rabbitohs straight through to finals week 3, where they could face either the Roosters, Sharks, Panthers or Warriors.
A loss this weekend will see the Rabbitohs get a second chance next weekend, where they will face the winner of either the Dragons or the Broncos.
From there, the Rabbitohs must win to progress through to the next stage and will come up against either the Roosters or the Sharks in week 3.