SYDNEY ROOSTERS v SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Friday September 4, 7.45pm
Melbourne Storm did Sydney a solid last night by defeating Brisbane to give them a third Minor Premiership in a row, now it’s the Sydney Roosters time to return the favour and end South Sydney’s hope of a top-four berth currently held by the Victorians.
A 66-point loss to the Bunnies is the only thing preventing the JJ Giltinan Shield from heading to Bondi for the third straight year after Melbourne’s gritty 15-8 over Brisbane last night, a feat made even more unlikely with Greg Inglis still missing through injury.
The game is essentially a dead rubber for the chooks but plenty is still riding on this one for the reigning champs. A win could see them jump to fourth, providing the unlikely occurrence Warriors beat the Bulldogs, while a loss will see them stuck in their current spot of seven.
The loss of Inglis and a serious drop of form has seen South Sydney go from top-four contenders to being mired in the bottom of the eight in a matter of weeks. The loss of the skipper has been only compounded by hooker Issac Luke being hit with a two-game ban for a shoulder charge while John Sutton season is over with a broken leg.
Souths title defence only has a matter of weeks left unless the tide turns and they find their grove again, however it’s hard to see that happening this week.
Rooster themselves are hit with a horrid curse of injuries but are dealing with it a whole lot better than their main rivals. The loss of halfback Mitchell Pearce and gun forward Jared Waerea-Hargreaves had little effect on Sydney when they dismantled Manly 46-10 at Brookvale last week.
The departing James Maloney picked up the slack for his missing partner in crime and led the side around in outstanding fashion. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, another rooster set to fly the coop after this season continued his outstanding form against the Sea Eagles and looks to be the form player in the game heading into the play-offs.
A major drawcard for this game will be the match up between the games two hottest young players in Tuivasa-Sheck and Alex Johnston. Both men have proved to be their premier young fullbacks in Rugby League and with their power running and try-scoring ability, these two are set to light this game up.
With 211 games played between these two over 100 years there is plenty of history to draw upon when looking for a winner. Rabbitohs have the edge over time with 109 wins but also enjoy the better of recent history.
South Sydney have won four of the past five meetings between the foundation sides, including a 32-22 triumph in last year’s Grand Final qualifier on their way to a 21st premiership. Over the past two seasons this match-up has become the traditional end to the year with the Round 26 Friday night fixture giving us this clash, and each time Sydney have triumphed to sealing the Minor Premiership in the process.
Little surprise Sydney are favourites at 1.55 and have drifted after opening at 1.33. South Sydney opened at 4 and have come into 2.8 but have little love in the market with just 40% of back coin sitting with them.
Two sides filled with talent, its little surprise these clashes have given us plenty of points with the last five games totalling 60, 54, 40, 38, 36. All of South Sydney’s last three games in 2015 have totalled over 45.5 points, that happening again at 2.5 looks value.
Both sides have key outs but South Sydney’s are more drastic and harder to deal with. Sydney are in rare touch at the minute and look good for another tilt at a flag. They will no doubt be buoyed by the incoming JJ Giltinan Shield and a check for $100k and will be too good for their main rival.
Sydney by 18