Rugby league top four to battle for NRL Grand Final berths
The ARL Commission’s finals wish has been granted with a pair of blockbuster clashes to decide who will fight it out for this year’s NRL premiership.
THE ARL Commission’s finals wish has been granted with a pair of blockbuster clashes to decide who will fight it out for this year’s NRL premiership.
The competition’s fiercest rivalry will continue when premiers Manly travel to Melbourne on Friday, while Saturday will be one for rugby league’s romantics when Canterbury take on South Sydney before an anticipated crowd of 70,000 at ANZ Stadium.
The Rabbitohs confirmed their place in the preliminary final with a 38-16 win over Canberra on Saturday night – and they are now just one win away from their first grand final in 41 years as they attempt to add to their NRL-best 20 premierships.
On the other side Bulldogs coach Des Hasler is attempting to become the first coach to steer two different clubs to premierships in consecutive seasons.
“I’m sure it’s going to be pretty big next weekend,” Souths prop Sam Burgess said.
“We’ll enjoy it but we’ve got to stay composed, not get overawed in that arena and just enjoy the occasion.”
In Melbourne on Friday night, the NRL’s most dominant clubs of recent years will go head-to head.
While the Storm have been stripped of the two premierships they won in 2007 and 2009 due to salary cap breaches, along with the Sea Eagles they have combined to win five of the last six grand finals.
With no AFL clash in town on the night, AAMI Park should be bursting at the seams with both teams expected to be at full strength for the match with Manly’s Steve Matai returning from
Meanwhile Roy Asotasi insists the current crop of Rabbitohs are not weighed down by South Sydney’s barren run between NRL premierships as they attempt to carve out their own piece of history.
The most storied club in the NRL is hoping to end a 41-year premiership drought – the longest active streak without a title save for Cronulla’s search for a maiden title.
Reaching the penultimate stage for the first time since 1989 – Asotasi says the Bunnies are determined to reach their first decider since 1971.
With each failed campaign the pressure has seemingly mounted on the club to add to a league-best 20 premierships, but the players say they are only concerned with what they can achieve.
“We don’t even talk about that,” veteran prop Asotasi said of the drought.
“It’s a new South Sydney, it’s 2012.
“(Coach) Michael Maguire’s got the squad and there’s 30 players there – to compare it to 40 years ago, that’s only stats, that’s something that we’re not overly focussed about.
“Since the start of November (Maguire) pretty much said `it’s a new start, all the stuff in the past, it’s gone.” – AAP
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