Friday night football for round 22 wraps up with the undisputed match of the round, featuring the Rabbitohs tackling old rivals, the Roosters. It is unquestionably the match of the round, for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, both teams are firmly entrenched in the top 4, and are vying for the minor premiership by the end of the regular season. Secondly, this is the ultimate grudge match between the two bitter rivals, who are both among the remaining foundation clubs in the competition.
The Rabbitohs submitted on of their best performances of the season, as they nullified the might of the Storm, who were beginning to appear invincible with the finals approaching. In their upset victory over the reigning premiers, the Bunnies leapfrogged them into top position. Their 30-20 win over the Storm meant that the Bunnies scored a rare victory over them, and it was their first over the Victorians since 2013. As such, after that victory, the men from Redfern will be eager to claim the scalp of another fellow aspirant for the minor premiership.
The Roosters escaped with a narrow victory over the Cowboys in Sydney last week. After a relatively tight first half, the tricolours were able to muscle their way to a seemingly secure 26-8 lead midway through the 2nd half. However, they failed to count on a comeback by the Cowboys, who scored 2 quick tries to narrow the deficit to a converted try. However, the Chooks ensured their defence would see out the contest. Despite the victory, the Roosters will be eager to improve on that performance, as their opponents for this round are made of even sterner stuff.
With both teams entrenched in the top 4, and fighting for the minor premiership, it is safe to say there is a significant amount at stake, not least local pride. The Bunnies emerged triumphant in their meeting earlier this year, and its safe to say they will be eager to repeat the dose, in order to claim bragging rights for 2018. However, the Chooks have since added a considerable amount of firepower to their arsenal, as well as steel to their defence. As such, we can bet they are eager to exact revenge on their adversaries.
2018 - Round 6 - South Sydney Rabbitohs 26 def. Sydney Roosters 14 at Allianz Stadium.
2017 - Round 18 - Sydney Roosters 14 def. South Sydney Rabbitohs 12 at Allianz Stadium.
2017 - Round 4 - Sydney Roosters 20 def. South Sydney Rabbitohs 6 at ANZ Stadium.
2016 - Round 6 - Sydney Roosters 17 def. South Sydney Rabbitohs 10 at ANZ Stadium.
2016 - Round 1 - South Sydney Rabbitohs 42 def. Sydney Roosters 10 at Allianz Stadium.
In the most recent encounters between the two adversaries, the Roosters have won 3 out of the 5 matches. However, there is a long history between the two sides, dating back to 1908, given the foundation status of both sides. Of the 239 matches between the rivals, it is the Rabbitohs who have the better overall record, having won 124 of these matches. The Roosters have won 109 of these encounters, whereas there have been 6 drawn matches between the sides.
Given the history of enmity between the two adversaries, it would be of little surprise if there are fireworks on display here between the players of each side, as they rip into each other. Moreover, there will be no shortage of hostility between the supporters of each side, as they will be doing their absolute best to heckle the opposition, while inspiring their respective teams to victory.
|South Sydney Rabbitohs||Sydney Roosters|
|1||Alex Johnston||James Tedesco|
|2||Campbell Graham||Daniel Tupou|
|3||Hymel Hunt||Latrell Mitchell|
|4||Dane Gagai||Joseph Manu|
|5||Richard Kennar||Blake Ferguson|
|6||Cody Walker||Ryan Matterson|
|7||Adam Reynolds||Cooper Cronk|
|8||Thomas Burgess||Jared Waerea-Hargreaves|
|9||Damien Cook||Jake Friend|
|10||George Burgess||Sio Siua Taukeiaho|
|11||John Sutton||Boyd Cordner|
|12||Angus Crichton||Isaac Liu|
|13||Sam Burgess||Victor Radley|
|14||Braidon Burns||Dylan Napa|
|15||Cameron Murray||Zane Tetevano|
|16||Jason Clark||Mitchell Aubusson|
|17||Junior Tatola||Sean O'Sullivan|
|18||Billy Brittain||Nat Butcher|
|19||Kyle Turner||Kurt Baptiste|
|20||Dean Britt||Matt Ikuvalu|
|21||Tyrell Fuimaono||Lindsay Collins|
The facts that matter
The Rabbitohs made a massive statement to their rivals for the premiership with a very impressive 30-20 victory over the Storm at Homebush last week. After allowing the defending premiers to shoot out to a 16-6 lead, the Bunnies scored a try close to halftime to narrow the deficit. That try proved crucial, as the Bunnies scored a further 18 points, to setup a match-winning 30-16 lead. They would also restrict the premiers to one further try, which only came near the end of the match. The match itself had a finals like intensity about it.
As well as the statement they made with that highly impressive victory, it is of minimal surprise to see why the Rabbitohs are sitting at the summit of the NRL ladder. The Bunnies have scored more tries than any team (83), and are ranked 2nd in terms of overall points scored (487). Moreover, they have one of the best completion rates in the competition (78%), as well as making the most line breaks of any team (108).
The home record of the Rabbitohs stand at 8 wins and 2 losses. Both their losses came in the early rounds of the season, against the Warriors and Broncos. That loss to the Warriors was in Perth, meaning the Bunnies have only lost at ANZ Stadium once. This essentially means that ANZ Stadium has been a fortress for the Bunnies this season, as the defending premiers discovered last week.
Unlike their bitter rivals, the Roosters survived an almighty scare last week, to eventually see off the Cowboys’ challenge and take the points, 26-20. After the tricolours survived an arm wrestle with the Cowboys, the Chooks went into the sheds leading 16-8. They would then find themselves leading 26-8, and victory seemed a mere formality. However, no one envisioned that the Cowboys would come back in the manner that they did, as they reduced the deficit to a converted try. The tricolours would eventually repel the Cowboys and take the win.
The Roosters are a completely different team to the one that were beaten by the Rabbitohs in round 6. They started the season in stuttering form, and their attack subsequently suffered. However, the tricolours have come a long way since then, as the have scored 460 points for the season, to be ranked 5th in the NRL. In addition, the Chooks are statistically the best in the competition, conceding a miserly 301 points. If there is one area that the Roosters must work on, as they have the highest error and handling error count in the competition, with 230 and 92 respectively. Moreover, despite being the best defensive team in the NRL, the Roosters have the highest ineffective tackle count in the NRL, with 385.
The away record of the Roosters is a very impressive one, having won 6 matches and lost 3. Those 3 losses were to the Tigers, Dragons and Broncos. However, those losses came in the earlier parts of the season. That loss to the Broncos in round 11 was the tricolours’ last loss away, as they have won every away match since then. This match may be an away match, however they certainly know how to win at ANZ Stadium.
This ultimate grudge match between two old rivals is highly anticipated, given they are both firmly entrenched in the top 4 and are vying for the minor premiership. Both teams are coming off a win, however one win was against the defending premiers in a finals like atmosphere, whereas the other win was a narrow one against a team who are desperate to avoid the wooden spoon.
Given the incredibly long history between the two sides, it’s fair to say that they know each other very well. They have been eager to renew hostilities for the 2nd time this season, therefore it will be of no surprise to see the players absolutely rip into each other, and perhaps even cause a few bruises to be inflicted via the massive hits which are bound to be incorporated in this match.
The Rabbitohs won the earlier encounter and will be very eager to win this match, meaning they will do the double on their adversaries. As such, the Bunnies will claim bragging rights in the process, should they win here. Moreover, a win for the Bunnies will see them retain their place at the summit of the ladder. However, the Roosters are a completely different side to the one that lost their earlier encounter, and will be out to avenge that loss, and square the ledger for 2018. A win for the Chooks will not only see them solidify their top 4 spot, but ensure they remain in touch with top spot.
I expect this match to be a quintessentially bruising encounter between the two adversaries. However, the result will be a tough one to call, however I think the Roosters’ thirst for revenge should narrowly see them over the line in this ultimate grudge match, with Cooper Cronk to be the difference. Roosters by 1.
Who will snare the two points when competition heavyweights South Sydney and the Roosters square off on Friday night? Let us know in the comments below.