NRL FINALS- Rabbitohs v Raiders
Saturday 15 September 2012 6:31 PM
South Sydney will have to overcome history and self-doubt if it’s to beat Canberra tonight and stay alive in the NRL finals (9.45pm kick-off NZ time; live coverage on SKY Sport 2).
The Rabbitohs have had their best season in the competition in years, finishing third in the regular season.
Despite their achievement, though, they failed to handle the occasion in their week one finals contest against Melbourne last Saturday night, falling 0-24 behind before losing 6-24.
It meant the Bunnies still hadn’t been able to shake off their curse of going 25 years without a win in the finals.
Fortunately, by virtue of their top four finish, this year’s new format rewarded them with a second life in week two. That was the good news. The bad news is that the Rabbitohs are not only still haunted by their finals record but they also face the white-hot Raiders who have distinguished themselves with their late-season surge to sixth spot.
They proved far too strong for Cronulla last Sunday, winning 34-16 to advance to tonight’s semi-final. That extended their winning streak to six and enhanced their burgeoning reputation as one of the competition’s most dangerous strike forces.
South Sydney will be chastened after the nature of last week’s display against Melbourne; it was well below the standards seen through the latter part of the campaign.
Both sides have lost key personnel for tonight’s clash – and both of them centres.
The Raiders’ loss shapes as the most critical. They’ll not only be without a classy centre in Jarrod Croker but they’ll also be missing their specialist goal kicker; when he left the field last week, Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson missed four conversion attempts between them.
The Rabbitohs are without seasoned centre Matt King, Andrew Everingham moving in from the wing to take his spot.
The teams for tonight’s match are:
RABBITOHS: Greg Inglis, Nathan Merritt, Andrew Everingham, Dylan Farrell, Justin Hunt, John Sutton, Adam Reynolds, Sam Burgess, Nathan Peats, Roy Asotasi, Eddy Pettybourne, Dave Taylor, Michael Crocker. Interchange (from): Jason Clark, Luke Burgess, Chris McQueen, Issac Luke, Ben Lowe, Dave Tyrrell, Shaune Corrigan
RAIDERS: Josh Dugan, Sandor Earl, Joel Thompson, Blake Ferguson, Reece Robinson, Josh McCrone, Sam Williams, David Shillington, Glen Buttriss, Dane Tilse, Josh Papali’i, Joe Picker, Shaun Fensom. Interchange (from): Shaun Berrigan, Jack Wighton, Mark Nicholls, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Jarrad Kennedy, Travis Waddell, Dimitri Pelo
Referees: Matt Cecchin and Tony Archer