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NRL Finals Match Review: South Sydney 32 Sydney Roosters 22

Scoreboard

South Sydney 32
Tries: Greg Inglis 2, Lote Tiquiri, Alex Johnson, Ben Te’o
Goals: Adam Reynolds 6
Field Goals: nil

Sydney Roosters 22
Tries: Anthony Minichiello 2, Mitchell Pearce, Aidan Guerra
Goals: James Maloney 3
Field Goals: nil

Match Review

South Sydney’s broken a forty-three year drought by reaching the 2014 National Rugby League Grand Final after defeating Sydney Roosters 32-22 at Stadium Australia in front of 52,592 fans.

It was evident in the opening minutes that South Sydney were going to apply the pressure and try to dominate the Roosters up the middle.  However the defending Premiers were up to the task and put first points on the board after five minutes.  Mitchell Pearce just like he did a week earlier against the Cowboys scored first.  He got past Kyle Turner with ease and stepped back on the inside of Greg Inglis to score under the posts.  James Maloney adding the extras to put the Roosters up by six points.

From the restart the Roosters carted the ball into the opposition’s half.  Maloney’s last tackle towering kick was chased through by Anthony Minichiello who stole the ball at the last moment as Greg Inglis looked certain to diffuse the play.  Minichiello crossing for the Roosters second as they went out to a commanding twelve point lead after just eight minutes of play.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves got through the Rabbitohs defense a short time later as the Roosters threatened to break the game open within the first ten minutes.  It was evident the Rabbitohs were rattled with a rare set with the ball ending up in a messy final tackle play.  They continued to struggle at the back too with Inglis and Tiquiri unluckily penalised for an off-side play contesting a kick.

The turning point of the game for South Sydney was Waerea-Hargreaves losing possession underneath the Rabbitohs posts.  Replays suggest that George Burgess’ knees in making the tackle made contact with the Roosters prop.  The officials not taking any action.  The Roosters discipline dropped allowing the Rabbitohs a rare opportunity to apply pressure in their opponent’s half.  George Burgess going close to crossing for their first shortly after.

South Sydney lifted in defense and this was highlighted when Adam Reynolds jolted the ball out of Maloney’s possession.  On twenty-two minutes the Rabbtiohs were over.  Thirty-five year old Lote Tiquiri scoring in the corner with Dylan Walker drawing in Daniel Tupou in the lead-up to the try.

On the half-hour scores were level.  Alex Johnson continuing a sensational season as he crossed in the left hand corner after some nice lead-up work from Brett Keary.  South Sydney continued the momentum leading into half-time but almost surrendered the lead on the siren if it wasn’t for Sam Burgess’ tackle on Sam Moa as he was ready to put the ball over the line.

Four minutes into the second half a dubious penalty from Moa for a ‘high’ tackle on Keary gave South Sydney a fresh set of six on the Roosters line.  Ben Te’o took advantage in scoring in the next set.  Sam Burgess providing a smart offload with his back to the defense.

The Roosters showed signs of being out of the contest as they struggled with discipline and continued to be punished in attack by a fresh, well prepared South Sydney outfit.  Greg Inglis crossed to give the Rabbitohs a ten point lead after fifty-one minutes.  Te’o providing the inside ball after a scrappy play the ball by Isaac Luke.

With fifteen minutes remaining South Sydney all but secured their Grand Final appointment on Sunday week when Inglis crossed for his second.  Reynold’s kick had pin-point accuracy as it landed close to the left hand upright for the Rabbitohs fullback to gather and score.

The game looked set for an ugly finish with Kirisome Auva’a coming under some heavy contact from Frank-Paul Nuuausala with a forearm.  He was one of two Roosters placed on report.  Waerea-Hargreaves reported after twenty-two minutes for making contact with his head on Te’o after the Rabbitohs received a penalty.

The Roosters scored twice in the late stages of the game with Aidan Guerra (79th), and Anthony Minichiello (80th) scoring with his final play in rugby league in bowing out after fifteen years at the top level.

Isaac Luke will be sweating on the Match Review Committee’s decision after he was reported for a lifting tackle on Sonny Bill Williams in the thirty-eighth minute.  Williams injuring his shoulder in the process but continued to play the rest of the game.

Man of the Match

Sam Burgess tonight led from the front and not only took on a heavy workload in defense, but set up Ben Te’o for the try that sent South Sydney on their way to the Grand Final.  Also stopped Moa from giving the Roosters the lead at the break.  An inspiring performance for a man on a mission as he turns out for the red and green one final time before heading to English rugby.

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