Date: Friday 8th August, 2014
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground
South Sydney Rabbitohs: Greg Inglis, Alex Johnston, Dylan Walker, Kirisome Auva’a, Lote Tuqiri, Luke Keary, Adam Reynolds, George Burgess, Issac Luke, David Tyrrell, Kyle Turner, Ben Te’o, Sam Burgess. Interchange: Jason Clark, Ben Lowe, Chris McQueen, Thomas Burgess, Luke Burgess, Bryson Goodwin, Joe Picker
Manly Sea Eagles: Brett Stewart, Jorge Taufua, Jamie Lyon, Steve Matai, Peta Hiku, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Josh Starling, Matt Ballin, Brenton Lawrence, Anthony Watmough, Tom Symonds, Jamie Buhrer. Interchange: Jesse Sene-Lefao, Justin Horo, James Hasson, Jason King
1st vs 2nd.
That is what this game is, and what a clash it is shaping to be. For Manly it is a chance to show what a lot of experts are thinking, that they are the superior team in this year’s NRL competition to date. For the Rabbitohs they want to prove they deserve their lofty place on the ladder, which has been questioned by some, including super coach Wayne Bennett earlier this week.
The Rabbitohs have blown their opposition off the park in recent weeks, albeit against cellar dweller opponents in Canberra Raiders and Newcastle Knights.
They play a simple game of using their big men to charge up the middle before shifting the point later in the set, a tactic that has worked for them from any part of the field. The advantage they have is the speed of their outside men such as Dylan Walker and Alex Johnston, who can work with just a fraction of space.
If the likes of the Burgess boys can drag in one or two extra defenders, the gaps in the defense is enough for the Souths to score.
It has worked a treat against the lesser teams in the competition, but now they face the cream of the crop.
Manly have been cruising along nicely all season, with hardly a weak link in their side. They are a side of capable footballers and more than capable footballers.
Daly Cherry Evans is quite simply a genius, while his halves partner in Kieron Foran is a tough nut, and one of the best defensive halves since their coach, Geoff Toovey played.
And while some say the pair have a fractious relationship off the field, they complement each other wonderfully on.
Add to that the toughness of the likes of Anthony Watmough and Jorge Taufua, the skills of Jamie Lyon and Brett Stewart, and the speed of Peta Hiku, and the Rabbitohs have their work cut out for them.
In what should be a great encounter, the cream will rise to the top.
At the moment, that is the Sea Eagles.
Manly by 6