2014 NRL season, round 21
Match preview coming soon
Sydney is in store for a big week of Rugby League action in the coming days, hopefully culminating in a long awaited State of Origin series win for New South Wales on Wednesday night. But before then there is plenty of NRL action over the weekend, and it all kicks off on Friday night at ANZ Stadium between South Sydney Rabbitohs and Wests Tigers.
With plenty at stake for both sides a repeat of the absorbing round three encounter between the two is on the cards. The Tigers took many by surprise that night – including the Rabbitohs – as they went toe to toe with Souths’ usually dominant forward pack.
Both sides are affected by the midweek Origin fixture. Greg Inglis, Ben Te’o and Chris McQueen are all absent for Souths, while the Tigers are without Aaron Woods and skipper Robbie Farah. In addition, Souths have also lost centre Dylan Walker for the next six weeks to injury.
Despite the absence of Woods and Farah, the Tigers will fancy their chances against a depleted Souths outfit. Having endured a recent sticky spell the Tigers have returned to the top eight, and a win on Friday night will set them up for a run to the finals.
As with all NRL games at ANZ Stadium this year, return rail travel is included for all members and with all tickets purchased in advanced. In addition, Wests Tigers members have been given reciprocal rights for this Souths home game and will gain free entry. Ticketed members from Parramatta Eels and Canterbury Bulldogs also have reciprocal rights to this game, likewise Souths and Tigers members gain entry to the game on Sunday between the Bulldogs and Eels.
Friday 13th June, ANZ Stadium Homebush 19:45
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Wests Tigers
Friday night sees the 600th first grade rugby league match held at the Sydney Football Stadium, now known as Allianz Stadium, as Sydney Roosters host Wests Tigers. With the Tigers showing improved form in 2014 and the Roosters as defending Premiers, this clash is perhaps the most eagerly anticipated between the two since their epic Qualifying Final in 2010.
The Roosters have named James Maloney in their squad despite him suffering from a shoulder injury. Maloney will be looking to cement his place as the NSW five eighth for the upcoming State of Origin series.
With two consecutive wins under their belts coming into this game the Roosters are looking strong again after suffering three consecutive defeats – albeit narrow ones. The ANZAC day victory over the Dragons contained flashes of the form that swept them to the Premiership in 2013.
With Braith Anasta absent, Blake Austin will join fellow rookie Luke Brooks in the halves for the Tigers. Anasta’s absence – along with regular skipper Robbie Farah – means that Liam Fulton will lead out the side at Allianz Stadium.
Farah had been rumoured to be making an early return from a dislocated elbow, but this has been dismissed by the Tigers. On top of their mounting injuries, the Tigers have also lost Tim Simona and Mitchell Moses through suspensions.
Friday 9th May, Allianz Stadium Moore Park 19:40
Wests Tigers return to Leichhardt Oval on Sunday afternoon as they host Gold Coast Titans, and they will look to build on their big win on Easter Monday against Parramatta. The momentum generated by snatching the points in front of 50,000 fans at ANZ Stadium will have the Tigers on a high as they come back to their intimate spiritual home, where the atmosphere will be equally electric.
2014 feels like a new era for the Tigers. Whereas 18 months ago you could not imagine them without Benji Marshall, now you will not find anyone suggesting that bringing him back would be anything other than a backward step. Mick Potter is putting together a good squad of young players – Curtis Sironen being the latest to commit his future to the club.
Potter is also getting more out of experienced players whom some had written off, with Adam Blair and Braith Anasta contributing more in 2014 than in previous campaigns. Even the loss of key players like fullback James Tedesco and skipper Robbie Farah has not derailed the Tigers’ charge.
The Titans relinquished top spot on the NRL ladder with a loss to Penrith on Monday. They somehow managed to won five of their opening six games despite leading the charts for missed tackles, errors and penalties conceded. They are also at the foot of the charts for line breaks.
These stats show that Jon Cartwright’s men are capable of grinding out a result, although on a bad day it can get the better of them – as evidenced by the Tigers handing them a 42-12 thrashing earlier in the season.
Sunday 27th April, Leichhardt Oval 15:00
Wests Tigers v Gold Coast Titans
Wests Tigers host their first home game as new tenants of ANZ Stadium on Friday night when they face fellow Homebush residents South Sydney Rabbitohs. Both sides have opened the NRL season with a win and a draw and will be looking to build upon a promising start.
The game will come as a welcome distraction for the Tigers with off field dramas this week affecting the Balmain side of the joint venture. On the pitch, the opening two rounds have shown how good and how bad the Tigers can be in 2014. In the opening game they were thumped by the Dragons, but bounced back in style against Gold Coast Titans on Sunday.
Luke Brooks was in superb form against the Titans and Souths will need to get to grips with the teenager. Players like Brooks and James Tedesco look like they can bring back the flair that the Tigers are known for, but has been missing for the past two seasons. With Aaron Woods and Keith Galloway returning from injury they are also looking much more solid in the front row.
Souths have emerged from opening fixtures with both of the 2013 grand finalists with a win and a narrow loss. Chris McQueen is back from injury, while Lote Tuqiri and Joel Reddy will line up against their former club.
The Rabbitohs may well benefit from having had a full week between each of their games so far this season. The Tigers have had two days less to recover from playing in the afternoon heat in Queensland, something that may prove decisive in the latter stages of this contest
South Sydney ticketed members have access to this game, and non-ticketed members can also get 30% off entry by pre-purchasing. All pre–purchased tickets – including ticketed memberships – include free rail travel to and from ANZ Stadium.
Friday 21st March, ANZ Stadium Homebush 19:40
Wests Tigers v South Sydney Rabbitohs