03-10-2010 02:00PM at ANZ Stadium
Referee: Gavin Reynolds
Touch Judges: Jason Walsh and Richard Daizli
Video Referee: Steve Clark
The curtain-raising match for Sunday's NRL decider is sure to be a thriller - both the Rabbitohs and Warriors are no stranger to throwing the ball around.
In their 26 matches each to date, both sides have managed big scores through the year - the Warriors surpassing 40 points on eight separate occasions, while the Rabbitohs managed to cross the same mark six times during the season.
Interestingly, the two clashes these two teams have had through the season have resulted in wins to the Warriors - but in entirely different circumstances. The men from across the Tasman powered to a 41-18 victory in their round 11 clash, while just nine weeks later could only overcome the Rabbitohs by a solitary point at ANZ Stadium, victors by 19-18.
Perhaps of most concern, however, will be how each team found it's way through the Qualifiers to earn their berth. The Warriors struggled early against the crusading Bulldogs outfit last Friday night before powering home with a commanding second half performance to edge out the Bulldogs by seven.
In stark contrast, the Rabbitohs never looked challenged by Canberra at ANZ Stadium last Saturday, with an emphatic 64-18 victory. Their defence was notably strong despite the landslide of tries, and as a result Canberra never really looked like scoring.
Both sides have a range of star players who will almost definitely be pushing for NRL spots in the new year, Warriors' backs Siutonga Likiliki (bound for Newcastle in 2011) and Elijah Niko are already well known by the fans, and halfback Shaun Johnson's kicking game in last Friday's qualifier was second-to-none. The Rabbitohs have a backline that can score from anywhere on the park - and often - and they're bound to challenge a sore and tired Warriors side.
That all said, this is a tough one to tip. After watching both sides' performances in the Grand Final Qualifiers last weekend, I have to favour the Rabbitohs - they were just too hot against a Canberra side with no answers, while the Warriors took an age to put Canterbury away. My Tip: South Sydney Rabbitohs 36-26
|New Zealand Warriors South Sydney Rabbitohs|