Finals football comes a week early with the Roosters in a sudden death battle with the Rabbitohs.
MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS
Rabbitohs: 1. Blake Taaffe 2. Alex Johnston 3. Isaiah Tass 4. Campbell Graham 5. Izaac Thompson 6. Cody Walker 7. Lachlan Ilias 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Shaq Mitchell 11. Keaon Koloamatangi 12. Michael Chee Kam 13. Cameron Murray 14. Jai Arrow 15. Tallis Duncan 16. Hame Sele 17. Davvy Moale 18. Taane Milne 19. Jed Cartwright 20. Peter Mamouzelos 21. Daniel Suluka-Fifita 22. Dean Hawkins
Roosters: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Billy Smith 4. Joseph Manu 5. Joseph Suaalii 6. Luke Keary 7. Sam Walker 8. Fletcher Baker 9. Brandon Smith 10. Lindsay Collins 11. Siua Wong 12. Nat Butcher 13. Victor Radley 14. Sandon Smith 15. Egan Butcher 16. Terrell May 17. Angus Crichton 18. Corey Allan 19. Naufahu Whyte 20. Drew Hutchison 21. Junior Pauga 22. Dylan Napa
Referee: Adam GeeEmbed from Getty Images
Ten years ago, on a Friday night in the final round of the season at Olympic Park, the Rabbitohs and the Roosters took the field for arguably the biggest regular season game in NRL history. The winner would win the minor premiership, holding the JJ Giltinan aloft while their traditional rivals watched on confined to second place.
The Sydney Roosters won that match 24-12, and of course went on to secure their first premiership since 2002 in the weeks that followed. South Sydney didn’t have too long to wait themselves, winning their first premiership since 1971 the following year.
Only two men who took the field in that game will do so again on Friday night. Roosters legend Daniel Tupou will run out in the exact same jersey, but that cannot be said for his teammate Luke Keary. At the time, the 21-year-old was playing the tenth game of his career and looked like a long-term half for South Sydney. 192 games and 3 premierships later, he’s a leader at the Roosters insisting that “It’s time to get the job done” against his former club.
A decade on, in the same timeslot at the same venue, these famous old rivals face a game that you could argue is even more important. Win – and you’ll probably make the finals, silencing critics and turning the year into a pass mark at worst. Lose – and you’ll face an entire offseason of people questioning what on earth went wrong at the club, and pointing fingers at who is to blame.
This has been the most spoken-about fixture for a couple of weeks now, and rightfully so. With both Latrell Mitchell and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves missing through suspension, an injury cloud over Joseph Manu, the immediate departure of icon Sam Burgess and simply what’s at stake – it’s easy to see why.
One side are coming into this fixture in-form, the other side couldn’t be further from it. Since Souths were in first place with three byes still to come in Round 11, they’ve won four of their twelve games. The Roosters meanwhile have won four on the trot and really seem to have clicked into gear at the right time. That being said – form tends to go out the window in clashes like this, it’ll simply come down to who wants it more.
The oldest rivalry in the game, going head-to-head for a spot in the finals. Winner takes all, what more could you want? Rabbitohs and Roosters fans will be dreading every moment from now until the final whistle. But to the neutral, enjoy your rugby league.
LAST TEN MATCHES
Rabbitohs 6, Roosters 4
Roosters by 6 points.
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