34-year wait ready to ignite

It's been a long time since the South Sydney Rabbitohs took on the Red V in a finals series, but after a 34-year wait, one of Rugby League's oldest rivalries is set to ignite.

The Rabbitohs will take on the St George Illawarra Dragon in the semi-final next Saturday, after the Red V triumphed over the Brisbane Broncos 48-18 at Suncorp Stadium. 

Now after such a long wait, supporters of the famous clubs will be able to once again re-live the epic atmosphere, which has nearly a century of history. 

It's sure to be a grand occasion, as two of Rugby League's oldest clubs look set to battle it out again in a do or die Final. 

 

A Storied history

This will actually be the first time the Red and Green have met the St George Illawarra Dragons in the finals since the merger between St George and the Illawarra Steelers in 1998, but that doesn't mean the rivalry is any less fierce.

Whilst it's been some time since the old foes have come together in a finals series, back before the last time they met in 1984, the two had met 16 times in finals matches. 

Arguably South Sydney's biggest rivals after the Sydney Roosters, the Dragons and the Rabbitohs have enjoyed similar success, with both holding unrivalled Rugby League records. 

For South Sydney, it is their famously stocked trophy cabinet of 21 Premierships whilst St George boasts what would seem now an untouchable record of 11 straight Premiership winning seasons from 1956-1966. 

There was a time where both teams shared a duopoly over the game of Rugby League with an incredible 21 Premierships out of a possible 23 shared between them during the years 1949 and 1971.

Both teams also experienced similar title winning dry spells, with the Souths' drought-breaker coming after the famous 43-year wait, whilst the fans of the Red V had to wait 31 years before they conquered the Rugby League world again in 2010.

 

Head to Head

Since the merging of St George and Illawarra the head to head record between us and the Dragons couldn't be tighter.

45 matches (including Charity clashes) are divided up into 20 wins for Souths, 22 wins for the Dragons and three draws.

Souths won the first two meetings in 1999 including a famous one-point victory at the Sydney Cricket Ground that mirrored many famous finals encounters between the two sides.

However, the Rabbitohs would then go on a baron run against their old foe, picking up their first win in 2005, which was one of just three wins between 2002 and 2007.

Yet, recent history between the teams has really swung in the Rabbitohs favour.

In 2009 the Rabbitohs produced a masterful display as they demolished the Dragons 41-6, which demonstrated a shift in the powers of Rugby League.

Whilst the Red and Green didn't win another match against the Dragons until 2011, the Rabbitohs have since been the dominant force.

Starting from late 2012, the Rabbitohs have won 12 out of possible 16 clashes against the Red V including the strong Round 10 display this year.

 
 
 
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2018 form

Meetings during the regular season this year are split right down the middle with the Rabbitohs going down 16-12 in a close one in Kogarah in Round 5, before producing a masterful display during Indigenous Round five weeks later to take out a confident 24-10 win.

Both sides were dominant through the middle of the season and set the benchmark for the rest of the competition to catch up to. 

Whilst slipping up slightly towards the back end of the season, they both regrouped with Round 25 wins over the Newcastle Knights and the Wests Tigers respectively. 

Each team has been heralded in 2018 for their expansive style of play, which has seen them run over their opposition and put up big scores at the end of 80-minutes on multiple occasions.

 

Where the match will be won

Both teams set extremely similar trends this season with their form and their style of play, and it will be hard to determine who continues their journey towards Premiership glory come Saturday night. 

Obviously, the Rabbitohs main threat is through their set plays and the way they work their way around their opponents seamlessly.

The Rabbitohs ended up with the most tries (103), most points (610) and line breaks (129), which has made the most potent attacking team in the competition in 2018. 

While the Dragons will rely once again on their star-studded representative back row consisting of Tyson Frizell, Tariq Sims and Jack De Bellin. 

All three have been in career-best form and at the start of the season have been destructive in the way they outmuscled and out-enthused their opposite numbers, especially in their last match against the Brisbane Broncos where back rower Sims scored a hat-trick.   

 

Time to bounce back

Friday night's result was far from ideal for anyone who loves the Red and Green. 

Arguably a match could have gone either way, with the Red and Gree showing plenty of fight and continually challenging the opportunistic reigning Premiers. 

However, the Rabbitohs have made a habit of bouncing back from matches that were there for the taking, including a nine-match winning streak following a frustrating loss to the Broncos in Round 8.

It won't be easy though, up against the Red V side who seem to have found their groove once again after a demolition win in Week 1 on the Finals. 

However, if the match against the Storm is anything to go by, you can expect the Rabbitohs to be revved up for the encounter as they look to settle old scores against their friendly foe and set up a potential Preliminary Final with fierce rivals the Sydney Roosters. 

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