Footy Flashbacks: South Sydney v Sydney Roosters (2012)

One of the fiercest rivalries in the NRL is between two Sydney-based clubs – South Sydney Rabbitohs and Sydney Roosters. 

Founded within days of each other in 1908, these historic clubs have had some outstanding clashes over the years and Love Rugby League is taking a look at when 2012 produced two such games. 

Ahead of the NRL resuming on May 28, Love Rugby League decided to look at some past matches between the third round match ups.

We now look at Sydney Roosters v South Sydney Rabbitohs in rounds one and 19 of the 2012 NRL season.


Sydney Roosters

Brian Smith’s side had endured a disappointing campaign in 2011 as they finished 11th, a far cry from the previous season which had see them lose to the Dragons in the Grand Final. 

Their season was summed up between rounds five and 17 where they won just two matches and failed to register more than 13 points in any match. 

They did at least the season well, with four successive wins including a final round 40-12 thrashing of minor premiers Melbourne. 

South Sydney 

The Rabbitohs came into the new season after a similarly underwhelming seasons where they ended just one place and two points ahead of their rivals. 

The campaign began with 40-29 humbling against the Roosters as they lost four of their first six matches. 

A late surge of four consecutive victories from round 21 – including impressively beating St George Illawarra – gave hope their season could be extended. 

However, defeats in their final two matches against Newcastle and Brisbane meant they missed out of the finals for a third consecutive time. 

South Sydney 20-24 Roosters 

They met each other in round one and it would be an early contender for match of the season. 

In an end-to-end match, the teams traded tries as the scores were level at 12-12 going into the break.

The second half saw Souths hit the front through John Sutton’s converted try and they remained eight points in front with just three minutes left.

Jared Warea-Hargreaves’ try set up a grandstand finish as he crossed, with Daniel Mortimer’s conversion bringing them to within two. 

With less than a minute remaining, Roosters put together a move which will be shown for years to come. 

Half-back Mitchell Pearce found Mitch Aubusson who offloaded to Boyd Cordner as they advanced into Roosters territory. 

The prop kicked downfield and 31-year-old full-back Anthony Minichello collected it and slid over to seal a remarkable comeback with Smith’s side winning 24-20.  

South Sydney: Farrell; M King, Corrigan, Inglis, McQueen; Sutton, Reynolds; S Burgess, Peats, Asotasi, Pettybourne, Taylor, Crocker. Subs: Tyrrell, Geddes, Clark, Talanoa.

Sydney Roosters: A Minichiello; Carney, Leilua, Aubusson, Perrett; Mortimer, Pearce; Waerea-Hargreaves, J Friend, Tasi, Guerra, Cordner, Nu’uausala. Subs: Arona, Masoe, Kennedy, Mitchell.

Roosters 22-24 South Sydney 

The reverse fixture took place in round 19 and saw a similarly dramatic finish, this time in favour of the Rabbitohs. 

They started strongly with Nathan Merritt, who would finish the season as the top scorer with 23 tries, crossing with Andrew Everingham adding another four-pointer either side of Cordner hitting back for the Roosters. 

Cordner saw his side turn the tables after the break with Tautau Moga, Joseph Leilua and Pearce all scoring as they led 22-12. 

The score remained the same as the game entered the final five minutes but Souths were dreaming of an improbable comeback as Merritt notched his second as they cut the deficit to just two. 

However, no-one could have predicted what was about to unfold. 

With the ball deep in Bunnies territory and less than a minute left on the clock, the game seemed up but Chris McQueen had other ideas.

He burst through a gap, fed the speedster Merritt who had hooker Issac Luke inside who looked set to finish a length of the field try.

Just as he was about to touch down, he threw a speculative pass which was picked up by Adam Reynolds to dive over and spark delirious scenes at ANZ. 

The half-back composed himself to slot over the conversion, giving Souths a 24-22 win and breaking Roosters’ hearts. 

Sydney Roosters: A Minichiello; Leilua, Aubusson, Kenny-Dowall, Moga; Anasta, Pearce; Masoe, J Friend, Kennedy, Guerra, Cordner, Nu’uausala. Subs: Arona, Tasi, Seluini, Takairangi.

South Sydney: Inglis; Merritt, M King, Farrell, Everingham; Sutton, Reynolds; L Burgess, Luke, S Burgess, McQueen, Taylor, Crocker. Subs: Clark, Peats, Pettybourne, G Burgess.

What happened next?

Sydney Roosters

Sydney fell to a comprehensive 28-0 defeat against Penrith in their following match as it was clear their remarkable win had taken a lot out of them. 

They had a mixed run of results until round 10 where a loss against the Warriors sent their season into free-fall.

They would only record three more wins in 2012, along with a draw at Cronulla in a run which included defeats to the three teams to finish below them – the Warriors, Panthers and Eels. 

South Sydney

South Sydney also lost their next game, at Melbourne, but their season picked up with a run of six wins in seven games from round five. 

A strong finish to the season, victorious in eight of their last ten matches, ensured a third-placed finish and a qualifying final against Melbourne. 

Michael Maguire’s side fell to a 24-6 defeat at the second-placed Storm but recovered to beat Canberra 38-16 in the semi-finals.

However, their run came to an end in the preliminary final, losing 32-8 to the Bulldogs.  

By Sam Harris

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