NRL Round 25: Rabbitohs v Roosters Preview & Betting Tips
League’s oldest rivalry kicks off the final round, with the Bunnies needing a win to guarantee a top four finish against the Roosters
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Sydney Roosters – ANZ Stadium – 7:50pm
Spirits are high at Redfern with a Rabbitoh resurgence at the perfect time of year. Their 31-10 win against the Warriors gives Souths the chance to guarantee a top-four spot if they defeat the Roosters on Thursday night.
Wayne Bennett’s side made light work of their Tasman trip with Cameron Murray’s superb season getting even better. A genuine try-scoring threat, the NSW rep scored twice and running for 133 metres. Adam Reynolds is perhaps the Bunnies’ biggest September weapon considering how clutch his kicking game is and the sharpshooter was in fine form with a flawless night with the boot. The halfback nailed 4/4 conversions, 3/3 penalty goal attempts and made no mistake with his lone field goal attempt.
In finals matches where points are at a premium – such as the Bunnies’ memorable clash with the Dragons last September – Reynolds’ kicking accuracy is a matchwinner and his side will enjoy knowing they can rely on the former NSW halfback. Dane Gagai is in his best form since joining the Rabbitohs and scored another try while Alex Johnston’s return from long-term injury was a success with a try for the winger a promising sign the prolific try-scorer hasn’t missed a beat.
The Bunnies won’t face opposition as woeful as the Warriors again this season but their blueprint remains the same – high completions, dominant forwards and Reynolds’ finishing touches make South Sydney a Premiership threat when on song. The Bunnies have everything to play for this week and can potentially set up a mouth-watering rematch with the Roosters by defeating them. Regardless of who Souths face next week, it’s clear this is a vastly improving side coming out of a form slump and into dangerous form for September and potentially beyond.
The Roosters efficiently claimed second spot and two home finals in dispatching Penrith 22-6 at the SCG last Saturday. Missing Boyd Cordner, Jake Friend and Cooper Cronk caused no real problems for the Chooks, who were pushed by a desperate Panthers side without ever looking in danger. It helps when you have a fired-up Latrell Mitchell prowling down the left edge, Luke Keary running the show and James Tedesco providing his trademark excellence.
Yet it was two inexperienced players who performed impressively to showcase the Roosters’ depth heading into the finals. Hooker Sam Verrills is looking a better prospect with each game and provided quality ball plus attacking threat out of dummy-half, his smart dart single-handedly delivered his side’s opening try.
Halfback Drew Hutchison also had his best outing in a Rooster jersey, taking pressure off Keary in the halves primarily with a long kicking game and some heavy-hitting in defence. Despite the ease of their victory the Penrith game was their tightest win at the SCG since ANZAC Day and could tempt coach Trent Robinson into some last-minute selection tweaks this week to freshen his side up for their likely week one finals match at home to Canberra.
The challenge is the Chooks face their most hated rival and with these sides, every chance of meeting again in the coming weeks, will the Roosters push themselves with their strongest team and effort possible to gain a psychological edge? As we saw last week there is plenty of depth for the Premiers but Souths have the confidence of their round one victory over a full-strength Tricolours. It’s an intriguing contest on Thursday and how the Roosters respond to a five-day turnaround particularly with the finals on their mind and no ground to be made either way on the ladder.
• The last time Souths defeated the Roosters without exceeding 20 points was in 2007.
• These sides met in round one with the Bunnies storming home 26-16.
• Cameron Murray now has 10 tries this year, including that round one clash.
• Souths’ 15 wins in 2019 have come in bunches – their smallest win streak is 3 (Rounds 17-19), and they’re currently on 2 wins.
Best bet: Rabbitohs +4 - $1.90* (BetEasy)
Value bet: Cameron Murray anytime try scorer - $4.50* (Sportsbet)