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It’s a script you could hardly have written; the 2013 NRL season kicked off with a blockbuster between the new look Roosters and the redemption seeking Rabbitohs. It was Burgess v Sonny-Bill, and now it’s Burgess, Burgess, Burgess and Burgess v Sonny-Bill - talk about an unfair fight!
In Round 26 the game’s two oldest rivals will battle it out for the minor premiership, adding another chapter to the famous ‘Book of Feuds’ South Sydney part-owner Russell Crowe created upon purchasing the club. The Roosters last minor premiership was in 2004, while Rabbitohs fans have to search back to 1989 for a time when they last lifted the J.J.Giltinan Shield.
It is approximately 105 years and one week since South Sydney met Eastern Suburbs in the first ever rugby league grand final in Australia, with the Rabbitohs running out victors 14-12 in front of approximately 4,000 spectators at the Royal Agricultural Society Showground (now redeveloped as the Entertainment Quarter and Fox Studios) at Moore Park - score one to the Rabbitohs.
It took another two years for the Roosters to gain revenge, that coming in Round 12 of 1910, but skip forward 92 years to 2002, where the Rabbitohs were playing their first game since re-admittance to the NRL. A 40-6 thrashing at the hands of the Tricolours ensued, a loss stuck in the middle of a 13 game stretch where ‘the pride of the league’ couldn’t get one over their local rivals.
100 plus years of history precedes what is without a doubt the game of the year, but that loss in 2002 still burns in the memories of modern Souths fans. The minor premiership is but a sideshow when these two sides meet, particularly since only three minor premiers have gone on to win the grand final in the past 10 seasons.
An opening round win to the Rabbitohs kicked off what was supposed to be their year of dominance, but as we enter the final week of the season some six months later, the Roosters are here to spoil the party. No matter which side of the fence you’re on, there is one belter of a game ahead on Friday night.
Jim Beam Smooth Move of the Week
A 50-16 victory kept the Warriors in the finals race, and it was in no small part thanks to halfback Shaun Johnson who recorded one of the fastest hat-tricks in rugby league history. The first of those was by far the best - after receiving a somewhat questionable pass from Sam Rapira, Johnson left Raider Jarrod Croker clutching at air with fantastic footwork, before turning on the four jets and rounding fullback Reece Robinson to score.