Sydney Roosters and South Sydney sent the Sydney Football Stadium out in style, with a gritty and physical contest, as the Tricolours triumphed 12-4, in front of a sold out SFS, which booked the second and final spot, in next Sunday's Grand Final.
The game didn't flow with points but there was an edge to the contest between two traditional rivals fought for a Grand Final spot. The Roosters were the Bondi wall, rock solid in defense, they repelled an erratic Rabbitohs attack before Roosters conjured up three tries to knock out their old foe, and make it first against second in the Grand Final.
It was such a huge occasion for both sides, so naturally, there were nerves. Both sides were guilty of some errant handling in the first half, once the game settled down, the Roosters were first to strike. Responding to Adam Reynold's 13th minute penalty goal, the Roosters spine combined for a sweeping move down the left, including a picture perfect James Tedesco pass that sent Daniel Tupou across for the only try of the half.
Going in locked at 4-4, it set the stage for a dramatic second half. Roosters had moments of class sprinkled into their defense. Joseph Manu, who did a stellar job keeping Greg Inglis quiet through the contest, somehow flung the ball into the unsuspecting path of Blake Ferguson to stretch their lead out to 8-4.
Much of the contest was spent on the Roosters tryline. At a point in the second half, they defended five straight sets of six, with talisman, Cooper Cronk, left as a one-armed man in an arse kicking contest. Despite this, the tri-colours defended stoutly, shown by again, Manu and co, taking Alex Johnston over the sideline from a scrum set play as the Rabbitohs started to get frustrated.
It was a strange evening from the Rabbitohs. Their attack never clicked into gear, there were brief moments where they pierced the Roosters defensive line, mostly through the superb work from the Burgess trio. Every time though, they were repelled by a dogged Roosters defense. Like last week, Adam Reynolds was responsible for all the Rabbitohs points but there was no heroics as they have the bitter taste of defeat against the noisy neighbours.
For the Roosters, it s going to a hectic week. All the usual Grand Final fanfare, combined with the duelling stories of Cooper Cronk's shoulder injury in his quest to line up against his former team mates Billy Slater and Cameron Smith.