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NRL Finals Match Preview: South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Sydney Roosters

Date:Friday, September 26 2014
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: 7:55pm

Rabbitohs: 1 Greg Inglis 2 Alex Johnston 3 Dylan Walker 4 Kirisome Auva’a 5 Lote Tuqiri
6 Luke Keary 7 Adam Reynolds 8 George Burgess 9 Issac Luke 10 Dave Tyrrell 11 Kyle Turner
12 John Sutton (c) 13 Sam Burgess Interchange 14 Jason Clark 15 Ben Te’o 16 Chris McQueen
17 Thomas Burgess 18 Ben Lowe 19 Luke Burgess 20 Bryson Goodwin

Last game result: Finals week 1 Sea Eagles W 40-24
2nd last game Round 26 Roosters (A) L 22-18
3rd last game Round 25 Bulldogs (A) W 21-14
4th last game Round 24 Cowboys (A) L 22-10
5th last game Round 23 Broncos (H) W 42-16

Roosters: 1 Anthony Minichiello (c) 2 Daniel Tupou 3 Michael Jennings 4 Shaun Kenny-Dowall
5 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 6 James Maloney 7 Mitchell Pearce (vc) 8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (vc)
9 Jake Friend (vc) 10 Sam Moa 11 Boyd Cordner (vc) 12 Sonny Bill Williams 13 Aidan Guerra
Interchange 14 Mitchell Aubusson 15 Frank-Paul Nuuausala 16 Isaac Liu 17 Dylan Napa 18 Remi Casty

Last game result Finals week 2 Cowboys W 31-30
2nd last game Finals week 1 Panthers L 19-18
3rd last game Round 26 Rabbitohs (H) W 22-18
4th last game Round 25 Storm (H) W 24-12
5th last game Round 24 Warriors (A) W 46-12

For the first time since 1938 the South Sydney Rabbitohs and Sydney Roosters, two of the oldest clubs in the NRL, are meeting in a finals match.

The two sides have advanced to the preliminary final at ANZ Stadium on Friday night in contrasting circumstances; the Rabbitohs cruised to a 40-24 victory over the Sea Eagles in week 1, while the Roosters have had to play two games in two weeks, both decided by a point. They were pipped 19-18 by the Panthers in week one before a memorable 31-30 victory over the Cowboys in week 2.

The two sides have met twice in 2014, with both sides coming away with a win. Way back in round one the Rabbitohs kicked off the season by beating the Roosters 28-8, but the Roosters got their revenge via a 22-18 triumph just 3 weeks ago in roiund 26. That result will have plenty of significance going into this sudden-death match.

Both teams welcome back players from suspension, Ben Teo for the Rabbitohs and Dylan Napa for the Roosters in otherwise unchanged line ups.

The Roosters halves have been in great form over the last month and probably have the edge over the Rabbitohs in this department. James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce were both overlooked for State of Origin duties and this seems to have freed them up and allowed them to find career-best form. For the Rabbitohs, the worry is the mental demons of 2012 and 2013. With two failures in two years this will surely be in the back of their mind. And the fact that they have not played in a Grand Final since 1971 will add even more pressure on their halves to deliver.

There are some great match ups in this one. Dylan Walker vs Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Mitchell Pearce vs Adam Reynolds, Jake Friend vs Isaac Luke, Jared Warea-Hargreaves vs George Burgess, Aidan Guerra vs Sam Burgess. Whoever wins their individual battle, particularly in the forwards will go a long way to deciding the match for their team. Warea-Hargreaves and Sam Burgess can often go overboard with their aggression and need to be smart about their play.

The Rabbitohs’ record in finals matches isn’t that great. Of their last 10 finals matches, which stretches from way back in 1987-2014, they have won just 4 games. Twice in two years now they have gotten to this stage and have not handled the pressure. The Roosters have been involved in two epic matches in two weeks and one wonders how they are holding up mentally and physically.

This will be another tight finals match, but on form, the Roosters have been getting the job done the last two weeks, albeit only just.

Roosters by 8.

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