A Fan's Perspective - Finals Week 2

A Fan's Perspective - Finals Week 2

This is a match I have been looking forward to since I was a kid.

It's been well documented that the South Sydney Rabbitohs and St. George Illawarra Dragons have yet to face each other in a finals match, and the last time Souths took on St. George in a finals game was 34 years ago back in 1984.

For two clubs with so much history and success, it's been far too long between drinks.

Since then, both clubs have gone on different routes to success – eventually.

The Dragons took out the 2010 premiership after a 31-year drought, and four years later the Rabbitohs won their first title in 43-years, but neither club has been dominant in the same period as one another.

I've seen Souths triumph over the Sea Eagles, barrel over the Bulldogs and topple the Roosters in the finals, but for many - myself included - this game has been a long time coming.

There's a captivating rivalry between these two traditional and storied clubs – one that has been going for nearly a century. 

With 37 premierships between South Sydney, St. George and St. George Illawarra and with both sets of clubs going through similar premiership droughts, there is an endearing story between the two.

From 1949-1971 both South Sydney and St. George took out a combined 21 of a possible 23 premierships, meeting in the Grand Final on four occasions and etching themselves into the Rugby League world as heavyweight clubs. 

It's no coincidence that the cardinal and myrtle hoops and the red v are two of the most famous jerseys in Australian sport.

John Sattler takes on the St. George defence in a relentless encounter
John Sattler takes on the St. George defence in a relentless encounter

Names like Churchill, Sattler, McCarthy, Coote, Provan, Raper, Langlands, and Gasnier are synonymous with Rugby League, all of which have played for either club and have inspired further generations of footballers with their tales of glory and triumph. 

A new chapter in history will be written this Saturday as the South Sydney Rabbitohs and St. George Illawarra Dragons meet in their first ever finals series at ANZ Stadium, and I cannot wait.

I've already organised my tickets, got my jersey ready and have sorted transport. I'll be going along with plenty of people to cheer on the mighty Red and Green (and a few who will be in a jersey with a red v, but we'll give them the benefit of the doubt). 

For anyone who loves the Rabbitohs or the Dragons – and the game of Rugby League – needs to get themselves to this game.

I still remember when Souths upset the ladder-leading Dragons 41-6 in late 2009, with Jason Clark making his NRL debut, and the sunny afternoon in 2012 when Adam Reynolds announced himself to first grade by kicking a match-winning field goal at Kogarah.

Who could forget the win at the SCG when John Sutton broke Bob McCarthy's all-time games record for the Club in 2014? Or the last minute win at the same venue when we made a late-game charge to sink the Saints 26-24 in 2017?  

Halfback Adam Reynolds celebrates his first match-winning field goal against the Dragons in Round 11, 2012.
Halfback Adam Reynolds celebrates his first match-winning field goal against the Dragons in Round 11, 2012.

Both sides have spent time at the top of the table during the season, and have already played in three enthralling and entertaining matches but this one is building up to be the best one yet.

And there are some great matchups to look forward to as well.

Fullbacks Alex Johnston and Matt Dufty have plenty of pace between them and continue to improve with each match.

Adam Reynolds and Ben Hunt have played in the State of Origin arena and in Grand Finals, so the battle between the experienced generals will go a long way to determine which team takes the spoils.

Cody Walker and his opposite Kurt Mann were former teammates at the Melbourne Storm and both provide an x-factor for their team at five-eighth.

Whenever there is a game where inspirational leaders Sam Burgess and James Graham are playing, you know there are going to be fireworks – there is plenty of history between these two mates, and you can guarantee neither will leave anything left in the tank after 80 minutes.

Hookers Damien Cook and Cameron McInnes have each spent time in both the Cardinal and Myrtle and red v, and both sets of supporters know the talent and threat they hold for their respective sides.

Damien Cook will take on his former club this Saturday night.
Damien Cook will take on his former club this Saturday night.

The back row battle is one of the more captivating match ups – Rabbitohs trio John Sutton, Angus Crichton and Burgess will be up against Dragons cartel, Tyson Frizell, Tariq Sims and Jack de Belin.

All have played representative footy, all are tough as nails and provide plenty of punch for their respective sides.

And those are just a few of the matchups to look forward to on Saturday night.

For the longest time, the Charity Shield was the biggest game between Souths and Saints, but this is possibly the Clubs' biggest match since the 2014 Grand Final.

If supporters are fair dinkum, there should be at least 50,000 people attending this match.

It will be the perfect opportunity to witness history, and as we've learned, we might not get to see a bigger clash between two clubs for a while, but hopefully, that isn't the case.

It's a do-or-die clash between two of the most famous clubs in Rugby League, the winner will live another day and the loser will be on the next plane to Bali. Everything is on the line.

I'm confident the boys can do the job, but it will be a tough task against a spirited Dragons outfit.

Whatever happens though, this one is bound to be a classic that should not be missed.

 

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