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Rabbitohs back-rower John Sutton.

It's been a case of run Rabbitohs run this year, with South Sydney's John Sutton saying that free-flowing feeling has been key to their success.

A hard pitch and moderate night-time temperatures on Saturday at Allianz Stadium for the preliminary final between South Sydney and the Sydney Roosters should bring an open game.

The last time the Rabbitohs got this close to an NRL grand final was 2014 and Sutton was the team's captain. He enjoyed watching forwards like Ben Te'o and backs like Lote Tuiqiri tuck the ball into the arm pit and head up-field unhindered.

Now in 2018, he looks across at Cameron Murray and Angus Crichton in the forwards and Robert Jennings out on the wing and can feel some of the old sensations of 2014 wafting through the squad.

The 2014 Rabbitohs under former coach Michael Maguire had a mixture of self-expression in speed built over the top of the foundation of hard-nosed defence from the three Burgess brothers in the main.

Tom, George and Sam Burgess are still there and incoming coach Anthony Seibold has maintained the high defensive standards, but encouraged greater ball movement in attack.

South Sydney leads all NRL clubs when it comes to try assists (79), with the Roosters and Sharks second on 77; and on line-break assists (92) with the Roosters fourth on 68.

Injury blow for Rabbitohs

Souths also head the NRL team stats on all running metres with 41,793 – the Roosters are fifth on 39,238.

"A lot of it comes down to confidence," Sutton told

"Seibs [Seibold] was able to instill a bit into us at the beginning of the year with a slightly new style of play.

"Everyone has bought into that style and the further down the track we got, you could feel the old confidence we felt in 2014 has come back.

"I realise it's a totally different squad this time, but I get a bit of that 2014 buzz."

Sutton said the Rabbitohs have been re-born under Seibold.

"I feel actually there's far less pressure on us this time," Sutton said.

"Very few at the start of the year said we could make the eight and here we are in the top four. I've always felt we had the side to push for the grand final.

"When you're enjoying your football, good things happen. I'm very happy and proud of this club for what we've achieved so far. Sure the job isn't done yet but we're concentrating hard on making sure we get it done."

Executing that assignment means giving the greatest respect to the speed in the Roosters side, even if they are without centre Latrell Mitchell.

Rabbitohs back-rower John Sutton.
Rabbitohs back-rower John Sutton. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

"The key for the Roosters is their back five. They have three in the top-10 for metres in the NRL," Sutton said referring to Blake Ferguson, James Tedesco and Daniel Tupou.

"So we've got to do a job early in their sets and cut down their metres. James Tedesco only needs half a gap, whereas the rest of us might need a slightly bigger gap.

"We need to be tight around the ruck.

"And for us, the key is our completions … we need to be completing at 90% or above – we didn't do that last week against the Dragons and just scraped home with a win [13-12].

"We definitely need to control the ball a bit better and get at them – pin them into the corners and go from there."

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