The South Sydney Rabbitohs’ Harold Matthews and SG Ball teams have for the fourth year running progressed to the finals series of their respective competitions with mixed results coming from the first week of games.
The sides chalked up one win apiece in the opening week of the play-offs, with the Willie Peters coached Harold Matthews side defeating the Sydney Roosters in their qualifying final by 24-12 – Emre Guler bagging a try-scoring double in the process.
In the SG Ball, the Arthur Kitinas coached Rabbitohs went down to the Parramatta Eels by 36-18 in a tough encounter.
“We’ve had a bit of an up and down season, but we did manage to finish equal fourth,” said Kitinas.
“But the fact that both these teams (SG Ball and Harold Matthews) have made the finals again for the fourth year running says a lot about the program we have here at Souths.
“What’s even more pleasing is that the vast majority of players are from our junior league, and that really says a lot about what we’re trying to do here. We try to develop our own as much as we can before we go recruiting.”
The SG Ball will this weekend take on the Balmain Tigers in the semi-finals at St Mary’s Leagues Stadium at 11:30am this Saturday, while the Harold Matthews will take on Canberra at 1:15pm at the same venue.
Kitinas is confident of his team’s chances against the Tigers this week.
“I think we’re a good chance if we can be intense and be a little bit smarter,” said the former first grade mentor.
“Unlike some other teams, we have a mixture of 17 and 18 year olds so it can be a bit tough at stages, but the fact that this team has been able to create the kind of pressure they have is pretty pleasing.”
Souths Juniors President, Keith McCraw, has previously spruiked the importance of nurturing and developing local talent in the Souths Juniors area, pointing to current first graders who have previously gone through the program.
“You see Adam Reynolds, John Sutton, Jason Clark, and Nathan Merritt – they were all here (in the lower grades) not long ago,” said McCraw.
“This is the stepping-stone, and I think plenty of these kids will make the step. It’s particularly pleasing as well given that compared to some other programs, we’re actually quite small, so to have that kind of quality in our midst, it bodes well for the future."
Times – Semi Finals, Saturday 26th April 2014
SG Ball – South Sydney v Balmain – 11:30am, St Mary’s Leagues Stadium
Harold Matthews – Canberra v South Sydney – 1:15pm, St Mary’s Leagues Stadium