Forgotten rivalry classics: Eight amazing matches to whet your appetite for Week Two of the NRL Finals

BY CURTIS WOODWARD

@woodward_curtis

The Brisbane Broncos and Cronulla Sharks have joined the growing list of dismembered pretenders on the scrap heat as we surge into Week Two of the 2019 finals.

Trent Robinson’s Tricolours and Ricky Stuart’s Green Machine have earned a mini holiday and they’ll sit back and watch this weekend’s sides duke it out.

These four sides have history. South Sydney versus Manly goes way back while Melbourne Storm and Parramatta’s feud is as personal as it gets – if just a little more recent.

SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS VERSUS MANLY SEA EAGLES

ROUND 3, 1947

In a historic first encounter between these clubs, Souths hosted Manly at the Sydney Sports Ground on a Saturday afternoon in April 1947. The Rabbitohs were coming off a horrid, winless 1946 season while it was just Manly’s third top grade premiership game. Souths got home 15-13 on the back of tries to Les Cowie, Jack Lannon and Neville Smith.

ROUND 17, 1955

The legendary Clive Churchill inspired the Rabbitohs to an almighty victory in the second last round of the regular season in 1955 against Manly but it would also be his last game of the year. Churchill broke his wrist in the opening stages of their clash against the Sea Eagles but managed to play the entire game, setting up a late try to Les Cowie to equal the scores. The Little Master then kicked the match-winning goal from the sideline. Remarkably, Souths would go on without Churchill to win the grand final.

Image result for clive churchill
Clive Churchill – rabbitohs.com.au

1968 GRAND FINAL

Souths came into the decider gunning for back-to-back premierships while Manly had just beaten the Rabbitohs in the major semi-final. Kangaroos winger Mike Cleary ran 80 metres to score and hand Souths an 11-2 advantage at oranges. But the second half would see the Eagles surge. Manly captain Bob Fulton, just 20-years-old, led the resurgence but it wasn’t enough. Souths held on for their 18th premiership with a 13-9 win.

PRELIMINARY FINAL, 2013

The Rabbitohs looked destined for the 2013 grand final and a showdown with their oldest foes the Roosters until a mighty comeback from Geoff Toovey’s rugged Manly outfit. Souths jumped out to an early 14-0 lead in as minutes via tries to John Sutton and Nathan Merritt and a penalty goal from Adam Reynolds. The Sea Eagles however clawed and scratched and took the lead with twenty minutes to play. From there, David ‘Wolfman’ Williams and Tom Symonds scored tries to seal Manly’s place in the big dance.

MELBOURNE STORM VERSUS PARRAMATTA EELS

PRELIMINARY FINAL, 1999

Favourites Parramatta got off to the perfect start in their preliminary final at the SFS against the Storm leading 16-6 at half-time. But Melbourne held their nerve as the Eels faded in the second period. Tries to Aaron Moule and Richie Swain gave the Victorians an 18-16 lead as ghosts of the previous year’s loss to Canterbury came rushing back.

2009 GRAND FINAL

As we all know now, this grand final has a big fat asterisks next to it but it was still a cracking game of footy. The imperious Storm led 22-6 with just under thirty minutes to play before the fairy tale Eels came rocking back. A try to Joel Reddy gave Parramatta some hope before a runaway Fui Fui Moi Moi dragged it back to even further. A questionable refereeing decision game the Storm field position and Greg Inglis nailed the field goal to hand Melbourne the trophy.

ROUND 21, 2011

This was meant to be a big Storm win. The Eels sat 15th on the table while Melbourne were headed for the premiership. Surprisingly on this Monday night, the home team ran out to an 18-0 lead with tries to Reni Maitua and Taniela Lasalo and three penalty goals to club great Luke Burt. But the classy Storm found a way, with four second half tries to nail a 22-18 win.

SEMI-FINAL, 2017

Minor premiers and title favourites Melbourne hosted the underdog Eels at AAMI Park in Week Two of the 2017 finals. With Cameron Munster in the sin bin, Parramatta took a 10-4 lead into half-time. The Storm shot ahead with tries to Kenny Bromwich and Billy Slater before the Eels hit back with their greatest attacking weapon, Semi Radradra, to make it 18-16 to the home side. But that’s how it would stay, sending the Eels out of the competition.

@woodward_curtis

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