Fans of both teams were buzzing with excitement, trading friendly taunts as to who was going to win. I went to ANZ Stadium with a small group of friends, four Souths fans and one Parramatta supporter. Thanks to Shannon for the tickets. We had a really awesome and late night!
The energy in the stadium was electrifying. Mums, dads and children all kitted out in supporter gear. Medieval-warrior Rabbitohs cheerleaders (male and female) posed for photos with fans.
The Under 20s game was a thriller, with Souths halfback Dean Hawkins a standout talent – certainly a player to watch in 2018.
As for the main game, it was played with plenty of vigour. A good, hard game, with the Rabbitohs’ defence looking tired towards the end. Parramatta prevailed 22-16.
“We’ll get there next year,” said one supporter. “The Rabbitohs left it too late to start playing well this season.” Several comments were made regarding the absence of star fullback Greg Inglis. Hopefully he’ll be on the field next year, fit and healthy.
In other news, it came as something of a shock to hear that Michael (Madge) Maguire would not be coaching in 2018. New coach Anthony Seibold has assumed duties as head coach, having been assistant coach all year. Seibold was formerly an assistant at Manly and Melbourne. Hailing from Rockhampton, he is highly regarded as assistant coach of the Queensland State of Origin side.
Fans expressed their appreciation for Maguire and for “mighty achievements”, as well as wishing the new coach every success:
“Thank you, Mr Maguire, for your unfailing courtesy and approachability during your time as our coach. And thank you for the premiership [in 2014] after 43 years of tears” (Sue Dahl, Erskineville).
“Well done, Madge! You got us to where we are. A lot of young players will benefit from the legacy of good leadership” (John Lanzky, Woolloomooloo).
“Great to see such a passionate sportsperson moved into the role of head coach! All the best for next year!” (Anonymous, Redfern).
“Please, Anthony, win more games!” (Debbie, Redfern).