By Stephen Gallagher
MATCH OF THE ROUND: FINALS WEEK 3 – South Sydney Rabbitohs V Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles – Friday, ANZ Stadium. 19.45 local time, 21.45NZT.
LAST WEEK: A week off last week for South Sydney after winning in Finals Week 1.
Manly-Warringah get past Cronulla 24-18 in a tense, high pressure match.
THIS WEEK: Rabbitohs fans and players will think back to this match in 2012, where they were knocked out by the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and Adam Reynolds and the Rabbitohs limped out of the competition. I think this will be a highly motivating factor for the side who have been extremely talented all season on the verge of something good. Fresh from a week off, they have everything ahead of them to get up.
Sea Eagles are a class act, and know how to win big game matches when it truly counts. Premiers from 2011, they have been here countless times to advance to the big dance. Toovey will have a lot to prove, and it will be a full on week to prepare for what could be their ticket to the Grand Final.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Souths to come out all guns blazing. I think that there’s nothing between these teams, so who ever fires first will go far in to sealing victory in the match. There’s just so much talent throughout this South Sydney team that there’s so many players who will be willing to stand up and deliver. I think they won’t have to go far from their game plan this year which has proven successful. They’ve beaten Manly this year already and back on their home turf could be an important factor.
Manly will want their right-hand side to dominate. They have been dominant all season; the Lyon to Wolfman animal combination has given fans plenty to cheer about. Experience is their X-Factor as these tested players have given their all when it counts. Well, this game counts ten-fold, They know what’s exactly on the line.
THE BATTLE OF: Star Fullbacks. Greg Inglis is a freak. I don’t even really have to go in to detail why he will be so good in this one. When it counts, Inglis picks his team up and puts them on his shoulders. A run from his own line to start momentum, or leaping to score a freakish try on the last tackle. The full package.
Brett Stewart. A few questions over his fitness you could say, but Stewart is a fitting cog in this Sea Eagle backline that makes things tick that much better. He has been there for success many times, and will be doing his all to win Manly the game.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON: Adam Reynolds. I hope for his sake, there’s no hamstring injuries this time around. He’s really talented this kid. One of the coolest heads in the same. A real champion with a distinguished career already.
Justin Horo. I think Horo’s form this year has been phenomenal. A club change has done wonders for his skills on the field. He seems to be that versatile, back up player who doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty when things are on the line.
I feel like I can’t split this one. Always tough after a team has had the week off just to know how they will go. Sorry Sea Eagles fans, your season ends one week shorter than you’d like. Rabbitohs to prevail 20-10.
Follow Stephen Gallagher on Twitter