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The book of feuds resumes in Round 1, as the Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs clash at the Sydney Cricket Ground for the 40th time. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 7:55pm (AEDT).
Unlike in previous seasons when the SCG has been used for one-off games, it will host a majority of Roosters games in 2019 as the Sydney Football Stadium is demolished.
This is the 40th meeting between the sides at the venue, and while the Rabbitohs hold a slender advantage historically, there’s not much to split them tonight.
After the Roosters knocked the Rabbitohs out in the preliminary final last year, the Bunnies will have revenge on their minds, and with Wayne Bennett at the helm, they are going to be an intriguing side to follow all season.
South Sydney’s left-side attack is lethal. Cody Walker, Alex Johnston, Greg Inglis and Dane Gagai. The quartet will prove to be the key to South Sydney’s attack, and with Gagai playing in his more prefered wing position, it should allow him to find his touch.
They line up against a defensive combination of Mitchell Aubusson, Latrell Mitchell and Daniel Tupou on that side of the ground. Aubusson might be an elite defender, but Mitchell is error-prone and Tupou has never boasted an amazing defensive presence.
While Souths’ left edge takes all the limelight, it’s Sam Burgess moving into the second row, playing off Adam Reynolds, which makes them equally as dangerous on the right.
That’s not to say there aren’t issues in the Rabbitohs defence, but whether the Roosters can exploit them is another question.
Cooper Cronk is coming off a nasty shoulder injury, and will have to slot back in with Luke Keary in a combination which struggled early last year.
Their partnership is crucial, but Cronk needs to let Keary have equal footing after his grand final appearance.
James Tedesco needs to pick up where he left off in 2018, and their forwards need to be dominant. If they start 2019 like they started last season, they will struggle to match it with their opposition tonight.
The Chooks must be aggressive to shut down South Sydney, and Angus Crichton coming off the bench against his old club could provide some much-needed spark.
It’s also important to note the Roosters are returning from the World Club Challenge in England, which has often left defending premiers slow out of the blocks.
If the Rabbitohs left edge clicks with Walker leading the way, Souths will get the job done.
Rabbitohs by 2.
Be sure to join The Roar for live coverage of this huge Round 1 NRL clash from 7:55pm (AEDT) and don’t forget to add a comment in the section below.
Kick-off: 7:55pm (AEDT)
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
TV: Live, Fox League 502, Channel 9
Online: Live, Foxtel app, Foxtel now, Kayo Sports, NRL Digital Pass, 9Now
Betting: Roosters $1.60, Rabbitohs $2.38
Overall record: Played 219, Rabbitohs 113, Roosters 101, drawn 5
Last meeting: Preliminary finals, 2018 – Roosters 12 defeat Rabbitohs 4
Last five: Roosters 4, Rabbitohs 1
Record at venue: Played 39, Rabbitohs 20, Roosters 17, drawn 2
Referees: Grant Atkins, Gavin Badger
1. James Tedesco, 2. Daniel Tupou, 3. Latrell Mitchell, 4. Joseph Manu, 5. Brett Morris, 6. Luke Keary, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, 9. Jake Friend (c), 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho, 11. Boyd Cordner (c), 12. Mitchell Aubusson, 13. Victor Radley
Interchange: 14. Isaac Liu, 15. Zane Tetevano, 16. Lindsay Collins, 17. Angus Crichton, 18. Nat Butcher, 19. Matt Ikuvalu, 20. Lachlan Lam, 21. Poasa Faamausili
South Sydney Rabbitohs
1. Alex Johnston, 2. Dane Gagai, 3. Greg Inglis (c), 4. Braidon Burns, 5. Campbell Graham, 6. Cody Walker, 7. Adam Reynolds, 8. Junior Tatola, 9. Damien Cook, 10. Thomas Burgess, 11. John Sutton, 12. Sam Burgess, 13. Cameron Murray
Interchange: 14. Liam Knight, 15. Mark Nicholls, 16. Ethan Lowe, 17. Corey Allan, 18. Kyle Turner, 19. Connor Tracey, 20. Rhys Kennedy, 21. Mawene Hiroti