There are few more rivalries steeped in tradition and fought out through the decades like that of the famous tri-colours from Bondi and the equally famous cardinal and myrtle green from Redfern and Round 18 treats us to the next installment of the Roosters vs Rabbitohs extravaganza at Allianz Stadium.
The Bunnies are buoyed on the back of a huge win over the Panthers while the previously high-flying Roosters were summarily slaughtered by the title-contending Cronulla Sharks last week meaning both sides come in to this clash with very different reasons for needing to register a win and hit the road with the two competition points.
State of Origin has also been far crueler to the Chooks than the Bunnies with Mitchell Pearce, Dylan Napa, Boyd Cordner and Blake Ferguson called upon by either the Blues or Maroons while the Rabbitohs will have their full complement of troops to call upon in the heat of battle.
The pair has clashed on 215 occasions previously, with the Rabbitohs holding a 112-98 win advantage (five draws), but the money is flowing toward the Bunnies who have been backed in to favouritism with the Roosters unable to call on so many of their stars.
2017 – Rd 4 Roosters 20 def. Rabbitohs 6 at ANZ Stadium
2016 – Rd 6 Roosters 17 def. Rabbitohs 10 at ANZ Stadium
2016 – Rd 1 Rabbitohs 42 def. Roosters 10 at Allianz Stadium
2015 – Rd 26 Roosters 30 def. Rabbitohs 0 at Allianz Stadium
2015 – Rd 2 Rabbitohs 34 def. Roosters 26 at ANZ Stadium
While the Roosters have notched wins in the last two clashes between the pair, the overall form is fairly middle of the road, with both sides managing their fair share of wins over their rivals over the last few years.
The big issue facing the Bunnies is the fact they have only won once in their last six trips to Allianz Stadium and while it is closer to their spiritual home geographically than ANZ Stadium is, the lack of form there will be a concern for Michael Maguire and the South Sydney faithful as they line up against the Roosters this weekend.
|Michael Gordon||1||1||Cody Walker|
|Daniel Tupou||2||2||Alex Johnston|
|Latrell Mitchell||3||3||Aaron Gray|
|Mitchell Aubusson||4||4||Bryson Goodwin|
|Joseph Manu||5||5||Braidon Burns|
|Connor Watson||6||6||John Sutton|
|Luke Keary||7||7||Adam Reynolds|
|Jared Waerea-Hargreaves||8||8||Thomas Burgess|
|Jake Friend||9||9||Robbie Farah|
|Zane Tetevano||10||10||David Tyrell|
|Ryan Matterson||11||11||Tyrell Fuimaono|
|Aidan Guerra||12||12||Angus Crichton|
|Isaac Liu||13||13||Sam Burgess|
|Kane Evans||14||14||Damien Cook|
|Sio Siua Taukeiaho||15||15||Jason Clark|
|Lindsay Collins||16||16||Zane Musgrove|
|Mitchell Cornish||17||17||George Burgess|
|Nat Butcher||18||18||Anthony Cherrington|
|Victor Radley||19||19||Kyle Turner|
|Chris Smith||20||20||Jack Gosiewski|
|Eloni Vunakece||21||21||Cameron Murray|
The Facts That Matter
The Roosters will be hoping that last week’s hammering at the hands of the Sharks is a mere aberration given they had won five of their previous six games heading in to the loss and they will be keen to maintain the rage and keep pace with the Storm and Sharks at the head of the NRL ladder.
Losing their Origin stars is likely to have an enormous impact on this clash, with Mitchell Pearce a huge hole to fill given his creativity and directional efforts each week while Boyd Cordner’s work ethic and yardage in the middle of the park will also be sorely missed, alongside that of Dylan Napa.
Plenty of pressure will fall on the shoulders of Luke Keary and Jake Friend to operate the attacking structures for the Roosters while Connor Watson, who comes in to the halves for Pearce will also have plenty of eyes on him and a fair few Bunnies defenders in his face for the duration of the 80 minutes.
One man who will need to step up as much, or more than anyone is front-row hard-man Jared Waerea-Hargreaves who has the ability to dominate a game through the middle of the ruck and he’ll be keen to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Sam Burgess and the in-form Angus Crichton to win the field game battle.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
For the Bunnies, and coach Michael Maguire, it will be a case of rinse and repeat as they will hope to roll up and put on the same sort of performance they did last week in putting Penrith to the sword and with the Origin-affected Roosters a potentially easy target, there is an air of excitement around the Bunnies at the moment.
2017 has been far from their year to this point, but a few wins on the trot from here could see them on the cusp of the top eight and pressing for some finals footy and on with a controlling half like Adam Reynolds running the show, there is every reason to think the good form can continue.
Second phase play has been a big part of the good things the Rabbitohs have done and they’ll want to keep offloading the footy and causing the Roosters some headaches around the middle of the ruck, with both their big men capable of getting their arms free and some speedy weapons on the lookout for line breaks and easy metres off the back of passes thrown around corners or popped around corners.
That said, the biggest weapon the Bunnies possess is the kicking game of Adam Reynolds so the more control he has over the game, the more likely they are to press their style of play on to the Chooks and come home with the two competition points.
I can’t go past the Bunnies here. They looked great last week and the Roosters have lost too many key players to Origin. South Sydney by a try.
Who do you think will win the latest installment of this blockbuster rivalry? Let us know in the comments and poll below.
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