Friday, September 26, 2014

South Sydney Marches On

South Sydney's celebrations at making a grand final for the first time since 1971 were tempered on Friday night after star hooker Issac Luke was placed on report for a dangerous throw that threatens his availability for the historic clash.

Luke, who is a key member of the Rabbitohs side, faces an anxious wait to learn if he must defend a charge from the NRL match-review committee after the 38th-minute tackle on his close friend Sonny Bill Williams, whose second NRL stint ended along with the record 302-game career of his Sydney Roosters captain Anthony Minichiello after the premiers conceded 32 unanswered points to surrender an early 12-0 lead.

Souths second-rower Ben Te'o, who made his return from a four-match suspension for a chicken wing, was also involved in the tackle but is likely to be free to make his farewell appearance in the grand final before joining Williams and Rabbitohs lock Sam Burgess in rugby union.

However, any charge would rule Luke out of the clash as a grade-one dangerous throw is worth 125 demerit points and he has 50 carry-over points from a dangerous-contact charge earlier in the season that also adds 20 per cent loading to the base penalty.

The Kiwi international successfully challenged a dangerous-contact charge after lashing out at Canterbury hooker Michael Ennis in their round-25 clash and may need to do so again to play in the Rabbitohs biggest match for 43 years.

He was a member of the teams that lost the last two preliminary finals to the Bulldogs in Manly and played a significant role in Friday night's win at ANZ Stadium with 11 darting runs out of dummy half in which he made 98 metres and drew a penalty for Frank-Paul Nuuausala being offside near the Rabbitohs' try line.

If Luke is suspended, Souths coach Michael Maguire may have to alter the make up of his interchange bench to accommodate two hookers as he did earlier in the year when Apisai Koroisau and Cameron McInness deputised after injuries.

However, he has Jason Clark on the interchange and the Rabbitohs junior, who marched with his dad to protest the club's expulsion from the NRL in 2000, is able to play hooker.

Roosters props Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Sam Moa also face judiciary charges after being placed on report for separate incidents in a disappointing end to their bid to become the first team to win back to back premierships in a united competition since Brisbane beat St George in the 1992 and 1993 grand finals.

After the Roosters scored two tries in the opening eight minutes, the Rabbitohs appeared destined to again fall short of a grand final appearance and a shot at the elusive 21st premiership but the game turned midway through the first half and it was their arch rivals who were left frustrated and disappointed.

"It hasn't happened for 20 years and it is disappointing," Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce said. "When we look back we will probably have a lot of regret but we just weren't good enough."
Waerea-Hargreaves was placed on report  for a shoulder charge on Te'o after a penalty had been awarded against the Roosters in the 23rd minute and he was again accused of leading with his head in a tackle on Souths centre Kirisome Auva'a in the dying moments.

Moa was also placed on report for a swinging arm in the same tackle that may rule him out of the Kiwis for the opening Four Nations match against Australia at Suncorp Stadium next month. Waerea Hargreaves has been charged twice this year.

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