You simply could not have scripted it any better, 2 fierce rivals battling it out in front of a massive crowd for the minor premiership. That is exactly the scene this past Friday night as a crowd of 59,708 witnessed the South Sydney Rabbitohs take on the Sydney Roosters.
The pre match build up was like nothing we’ve seen for a regular season game with many battles highlighted across the park, and also off it. Rabbits and Roosters fans took to social media to rally fellow fans to create as much noise as possible to cheer their side on. Both teams have a famous group of fans, the Roosters have the Chook Pen, and the Bunnies have The Burrow. Both were in full voice this past Friday Night adding to the already amazing atmosphere.
South Sydney’s Burrow has been around for many, many years but have shot to prominence on the back of their side’s amazing performances in 2013. The noise coming from the group who promotes “standing, singing, supporting” the famous South Sydney club has been nothing short of amazing in 2013.
The Brewery was always going to be the Burrow’s choice of venue to gather before the game given its proximity to ANZ Stadium. If you’ve never seen the Brewery then it’s very likely you’ve never been to the Olympic Stadium as it’s almost as well known as the stadium itself.
Arriving at 4:30, more than 3 hours before kick-off we were surprised to see a huge crowd already gathered both inside and around the famous pub. Although there was more than a
generous amount of Roosters fans, at least 80% of the patrons were sporting the red and green of the Bunnies.
Most seemed happy to enjoy a pre match beer but there was one table of younger Burrow members who almost looked too nervous to drink the XXXX Golds on their table. When we asked one youngster how the nerves were holding up, his response was simply: “Shot”
After a quick beer, a great rendition of Diesel’s “Tip of My Tongue” and watching some hilarious banter between opposing fans it was time to hit the stadium. Walking into the ground about 10 minutes into the under 20s clash the crowd already seems to be building and the Burrow seem to be setting up for something big.
After watching X Factor winner Samantha Jade perform the team line ups hit the giant screen whilst both sides warmed up on the bright green grass of ANZ Stadium. The Chook pen met the announcement of each of their player’s names with cheers, but were drowned out by boos as the name of Sonny Bill Williams was announced.
Each member of the South Sydney line up was then announced and met by huge cheers, with the loudest reserved for superstars Greg Inglis and Sam Burgess. Hearing the music blare and the fans cheer really set a semi-final atmosphere as both sides returned to the sheds and the pre match entertainment wrapped up.
Sitting just outside of the Burrow as not to occupy a seat of a South Sydney diehard, you could see that the Burrow was planning something for the arrival of their team. As the Roosters ran out to a less than welcoming reception the instructions were delivered and a magnificent South Sydney Rabbitoh logo was created by each member of the Burrow holding a pre organised piece of cardboard up over their heads. This amazing sight was met with a banner that really set the scene for the evening reading: “Scum, Always In Our Shadow”
As the whistle blew the noise got louder as a rousing rendition of “South Sydney Til I Die” hit the air. A few young members of the Burrow stood at the front of the group to lead the chants, and a cleverly placed microphone allowed the chants to be heard throughout the stadium for fans not in the Burrow to join in. Speaking to a few members of the Burrow they mentioned this seemed to engage fans from outside the core group of fans.
After a feeling out process the Burrow was in raptures as superstar Greg Inglis shrugged off a would be tackle to score under the posts. Adam Reynolds added the extras and the Bunnies fans started to believe this was their night. A little while earlier there seemed to be, what looked impossible just a few moments earlier, silence in the Burrow as the Roosters hit back through a smart run from NSW 5/8 James Maloney. The silence did not last long as all as the fans worked hard to rev up their side.
The Roosters scored in the next set of six and there seemed to be a few hands on head amongst the fans, but a Jason Clark try next to the posts just before home time meant the home side went to the break leading the absorbing contest.
Belief was high within the group as the feeling seemed to be that the Rabbits had yet to play overly well yet still led the match. As the teams ran back onto the field for the second half the crowd seemed to get louder knowing there was only 40 minutes between the sides and crowning a Minor Premier.
There looked to be absolutely nothing between the sides and the Roosters drew level through a 48th minute penalty goal. Momentum shifted in the 57th minute as Maloney again crossed the line after reaching out to slam the ball down after a clever movement. The Roosters again went back to back as Sonny Bill Williams broke the Bunnies line and put Mitchel Pearce over for what proved to be a game sealing try. Although a few murmurs indicated it would be hard to come back from there, you would not guess it by the level of volume emanating from the Burrow
Chants of “South Sydney” echoed as the Bunnies pressed on the Roosters line, but again came up empty handed. The Bunnies seemed to be back in with a shot after a brilliant kick and chase although the video referee returned a no try verdict after illegal contact in the contest, a decision not met with a great deal of support amongst Bunnies fans.
Once again Souths looked back in the contest as Nathan Merritt broke free down the side line, only to be thwarted by Roosters stalwart Anthony Minichello. From there although the singing did not stop, the match seemed gone. “it’s gone mate, see you next week yeah?” was the comment from a young member of the fan club who walked past as the final siren went and the Roosters were crowned Minor Premiers.
If the noise and friendliness provided by members of the Burrow is anything like it was on the night, we’ll be back for sure. Although the result did not go their way, the Burrow were loud and proud to the very end. Most seemed to head off toward their cars or the train station, but a fair few were
headed back to the Brewery to prepare for next week’s home final. We walked back to the Station with a few new mates and South Sydney Til I Die firmly in our heads.
To contact the Burrow follow their twitter handle @theburrow38 or like them on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/theburrow38 … We had an absolute ball and thank all of those who had a chat and those who helped create a fantastic atmosphere. Heading into the finals series I’m confident in saying the Burrow will be just as loud, if not louder next Friday Night.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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