Historic rugby league rivals face off for a spot in the NRL Grand Final as South Sydney Rabbitohs and Sydney Roosters meet at ANZ Stadium on Friday night. The Rabbitohs are aiming to reach the Grand Final for the first time since 1971, while the Roosters are looking to become the first team to secure back to back Premierships since the early 90’s.
Unbelievably for one of Australia’s most intense sporting rivalries this is the first time since 1938 that these two clubs have met in a finals game. Whatever the result, Friday nights match will also be a farewell for some of the biggest names at both clubs. Roosters captain Anthony Minichiello is retiring at seasons end, while code hopper Sonny Bill Williams will return to rugby. For South Sydney, star forward Sam Burgess is also due to defect to union and return to the UK, while Ben Te’o will play in French rugby in 2015.
Souths have lost in the preliminary final in each of the last two seasons. Against the Bulldogs in 2012 they were never really in a winning position, and an injury to Adam Reynolds shortly before half time left them deflated. However, last year they were 14-0 up at half time but still lost out to Manly.
The outcome of this game lies squarely on the shoulders of the Rabbitohs. The Roosters will turn up and play well, about that there is little doubt. However, the question on the minds of many is whether the Rabbitohs will be fired up by a desire to bury that 40 year hoodoo, or will the weight of history and the pressure from losing at this stage for the past two years take its toll?
The Roosters have had a rollercoaster ride in the finals series so far. They entered as the form team in the NRL, with a seasons best winning streak carrying them to the Minor Premiership in the final round. However, they were the beaten by a field goal late on against the Panthers, before an almighty scare last week against North Queensland.
They had the game against the Cowboys won inside the opening half hour, but took their foot of the pedal with almost fatal consequences. This time around the field goal came at the right end of the field to save them from a shock exit.
Public transport to and from ANZ Stadium is included with all pre-purchased tickets to both NRL finals this weekend, including Sydney Olympic Park Special Event buses operating on the usual routes.
Friday 26th September, ANZ Stadium Homebush 19:55
Click here for ticket details