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Forwards giving Souths finals edge

If forwards win finals, then South Sydney might already have one hand on the NRL premiership trophy.
Forwards giving Souths finals edge
by AAP

By Steve Jancetic and Rob Forsaith

SYDNEY, Sept 24 AAP - If forwards win finals, then South Sydney might already have one hand on the NRL premiership trophy.

While rival packs are quick to talk up the qualities of opposition forwards, statistics show the Rabbitohs big men have a distinct advantage over the other sides still left in the race for the title.

Their frontline forwards average more than 96 metres gained per match in 2013 - almost nine metres more per forward more than nearest rivals Manly (87.9), with the Sydney Roosters (80.9) and Newcastle (68.9) trailing the field.

In Burgess brothers Sam, George and Tom they have three forwards averaging more than 100 metres a match - a figure in stark contrast to the Knights who don't have one forward running for three figures a game.

The Rabbitohs' opponents on Friday night Manly are led by Anthony Watmough and Brenton Lawrence - the only Sea Eagles to crack the 100 metres a game mark.

Told by media representatives that Watmough had labelled the Sea Eagles the best pack in the competition, South Sydney prop Roy Asotasi was quick to hand out the plaudits - following the tried and test method of giving no ammunition.

"I'm pretty sure they do have the best pack in the comp," Asotasi said.

"They're tough.

"We've encountered them twice this year and both times it felt like State of Origin type of intensity games.

"A lot of people are talking about how battered and bruised they are - for us it's 80 minutes away from a grand final and regardless of how (you feel) that will get you through."

But while the Rabbitohs may have the best go-forward, the Roosters offer the most unpredictability with their ability to offload the ball.

Led by the athletic brilliance of Sonny Bill Williams, the Roosters have thrived off the back of the second phase football being generated by their pack - the 20.2 offloads per forward this season almost triple the threat offered by the Knights (7.6).

"Definitely they are the best forward pack in the league," Newcastle veteran Neville Costigan said of the Roosters.

"They've got some big tough forwards and plenty of skill as well, which is a danger for us."

The highlight will undoubtedly be the coming together of Williams and former Canterbury teammate Willie Mason - their last clash resulting in Williams being suspended for a shoulder charge.

There were suggestions it was a premeditated attack by Williams, which was denied by Roosters skipper Anthony Minichiello.

"I don't think he targeted him last time, they just came into contact with each other," Minichiello said.

"I'm sure they'll come into contact again on Saturday night."

Added Knights prop David Fa'alogo: "That's what big boys do. They collide big and it's part of the game."




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