Roosters v Rabbitohs
The rivalry re-ignites on Thursday night as the South Sydney Rabbitohs take on the Sydney Roosters in the final round of 2014’s Telstra Premiership at Allianz Stadium – the second and final instalment of the Ron Coote Cup for the season.
Both the Rabbitohs and the Roosters come into the match on an equal 34 competition points, with the men in red and green sitting in second spot with a slightly superior points differential (two points). Throw in a long and illustrious history stretching back to 1908 and the possibility that the match could be a clash for the minor premiership (should the ladder-leading Sea Eagles fall to the Cowboys on Saturday) and the stage is set for one mighty battle.
As if that weren’t enough though, the clash will also play host to some exciting matchups. Among the plethora of battles, Rabbitohs lock-forward Sam Burges will face of with Roosters enforcer, Sonny Bill Williams in what is sure to be a prime example of the physicality of the modern game. Burgess was excited this week by the myriad of matchups set to explode at Allianz Stadium come Thursday night.
“There’s our front rowers and their front-rowers,” said Burgess, referring to brothers George and Thomas, as well as Dave Tyrrell, who will come up against the likes of Jarred Waerea-Hargreaves.
“I think there’s a good match in the halves – young (Luke) Keary coming up against them (James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce) and Greggy (Greg Inglis and (Anthony) Minichiello.
“There are good matches all over the field – but we’ll just solely be focusing on our team performance. It’s going to be another big game.”
Halfback Adam Reynolds will miss the clash owing to a one match suspension, but with Issac Luke cleared to play earlier in the week after successfully challenging a dangerous contact charge at the league’s judiciary, a largely settled line-up will take the pitch for the Rabbitohs as they look to make it two wins from two games against their traditional rivals this season.
Luke Keary will don Reynolds’ number seven, while John Sutton has been named for the first time since injuring his knee against the Raiders in round 20. The returning skipper will partner Keary in what will be a formidable halves combo sure to ask plenty of questions of the Tricolours’ line. The Roosters will be without the services of Jake Friend.
Last Time They Met
The South Sydney Rabbitohs defeated defending Premiers the Sydney Roosters in round one of the Telstra Premiership in front of 27,282 Members and supporters at ANZ Stadium in the last time the two sides met.
A hat-trick to Greg Inglis, a try to Bryson Goodwin and a perfect night with the boot for Adam Reynolds was enough to sink the Roosters in the first hit-out of the season.
Despite a positive start for the red and greens, it was the Roosters who went in when they turned defence into attack on the back of a charge-down – Michael Jennings toeing through the batted down ball to score. James Maloney converted to make it 6-0 in favour of the visitors.
With Just under 20 minutes left in the first half, a penalty to the Rabbitohs put the side in good attacking position, and the breakthrough finally came – Greg Inglis powering over the line with brute strength out wide to open the Rabbitohs’ 2014 account. Adam Reynolds converted from out wide to level the scores up.
After a torrid period of play that saw a string of mistakes and penalties, the teams went to the sheds locked at six apiece.
On the resumption, a penalty to the Roosters within kicking distance allowed James Maloney to break the dead-lock from close range with a penalty-goal to make it 8-6 in favour of the Tricolours.
On the back of some brilliant defence from the Rabbitohs that forced the Roosters back in goal, the red and greens put themselves within striking distance and it was Greg Inglis who came away with a second try to take the lead – a brilliant movement from Luke Burgess and Dylan Walker opening a gaping hole for the fullback. Reynolds converted to make it 12-8 in the Rabbitohs’ favour with 27 minutes remaining.
A Sonny Bill Williams shoulder-charge attempt on Ben Lowe 29 metres out from the Rabbitohs’ try-line gave Adam Reynolds an opportunity to extend the lead shortly afterwards. The halfback made no mistake before another penalty shortly afterward – this time for holding down in the tackle – gifted Reynolds another two points from out wide.
With five minutes remaining, a Rabbitohs bomb toward the in-goal allowed Bryson Goodwin to swoop and take the ball right in front of the sticks to score. Reynolds made no mistake with the conversion attempt to make the score 22-8.
Greg Inglis wasn’t done yet though, with the Kangaroo representative grabbing another four-pointer with just under a minute of the match remaining. Reynolds converted to finish the night with six goals from six attempts, helping his side to the first two competition points of the year.
NYC – Roosters v Rabbitohs
It’s do or die for the South Sydney Rabbitohs’ NYC side this week, as they take on the third placed Roosters in a must-win match.
Currently sitting in ninth spot, the Rabbitohs sit on an equal 28 points with the eighth-placed Panthers, the seventh-placed Warriors and the tenth-placed Storm – all of whom are in the box-seat to claim a top-eight berth.
Should the Rabbitohs emerge victorious over the Roosters, losses to the Panthers against the Warriors and the Storm to the Broncos, should allow for the side to finish the regular season within the top-eight.
With two wins on the trot against both the Cowboys and Bulldogs, the Rabbitohs are building momentum, while the Roosters have won three of their last five, and drawn once.
With the ability to score points – 702 in 2014 compared to the Rabbitohs’ 550 – the Roosters will be a dangerous proposition, especially when considering that the Tricolours have conceded fewer points (521) than the Rabbitohs have scored all year.
Thursday night could be the end of the Rabbitohs’ NYC side’s season, but it also could be only the beginning of a late charge.