The stage is set at ANZ Stadium as fierce Sydney rivals the Canterbury Bulldogs and South Sydney Rabbitohs clash for the right to feature in the 2012 NRL grand final. Join us for NRL live scores and commentary from 7:30pm AEST.
An expected crowd of 70,000 will pack into ANZ stadium to witness what should be a tight and absorbing preliminary final between the Bulldogs and Rabbitohs.
Canterbury earned a week off following their strong victory over Manly in the first week of the playoffs and come into this clash with fresh legs.
South Sydney meanwhile bounced back from their loss to Melbourne a fortnight ago, cruising to a 38-16 victory over the inform Raiders last week.
Having secured their first finals win in over 20 years, the Rabbitohs will be desperate to go one step further and secure passage to their first grand final since 1971.
Expect plenty of niggle tonight between two sides blessed with strong mobile forwards capable of firing up their respective sides with a strong charge or big hit.
The battle between the hookers tonight should be intriguing, with Michael Ennis and Issac Luke expected to be at each other’s throats from the opening whistle.
Elsewhere, Sam Kasiano, James Graham and Frank Pritchard will line up against Rabbitohs forwards Sam Burgess, Dave Taylor and Michael Crocker.
The preceding forwards are all game breakers with each possessing the ability to offload in traffic or pass before the line.
If both sets of forwards play to their potential, the Rabbitohs and Bulldogs will fancy their chances of scoring tries given the wonderful attacking arsenal that both teams possess.
Bulldogs stars Krisnan Inu, Josh Morris and Ben Barba are all in terrific form and will burn South Sydney on the edges if the Bulldogs manage to kick start some second phase play.
The Rabbitohs however are also capable of inflicting just as much damage on the scoreboard, with Greg Inglis, Nathan Merritt and Andrew Everingham all deadly runners of the football when given the space to do so.
Although both teams are evenly matched in attack, the Bulldogs do possess an important advantage in defence, conceding 369 points this season in comparison to South Sydney’s 438.
Such statistics show that the Bulldogs are capable of withstanding pressure as evidenced by their strong defensive performance against Manly two weeks ago.
The Rabbitohs however remain an enigma in defence. They were never in the contest against Melbourne two weeks ago and it will be interesting to see how well they handle pressure when they face a Bulldogs side that plays with the same level of discipline and composure as their Storm counterparts.
If South Sydney can remain composed in defence, the Rabbitohs may just possess enough firepower to get over the Bulldogs tonight and secure a long awaited grand final birth.
If Canterbury though can score an early try and play the percentages well, South Sydney may get frustrated and produce the errors necessary that will allow the Bulldogs to pounce.
Overall, tonight’s contest should be a blockbuster between two teams capable of going on and winning the premiership. The Rabbitohs however have been building towards a big performance and may finally deliver on the big stage against Canterbury.
Rabbitohs by 6