Suncorp Stadium, 7:30pm, Sunday October 3
The Rabbitohs have named the same 17 that defeated Penrith and Manly in their two finals game so far.
Prediction: 200. That's how many games it's taken us to get to this point of the season, the big dance. 200 games, all falling the way of Penrith and South Sydney, leading these two sides to the final hurdle.
They've clashed three times this season already, the Panthers spanking South Sydney 56-12 in Dubbo, as well as a convincing 25-12 win in Round 23. The Rabbitohs claimed the one that mattered though - a 16-10 thriller in the first week of the finals, filling this Bunnies side to the brim with confidence. And there's no man that oozes it more than Cody Walker right now.
The five-eighth has been at the peak of his powers in 2021, making the Dally M shortlist after registering over 30 try-assists, over 40 linebreak assists and 13 tries in the regular season. He holds the key to their premiership chances.
Their left side is the most dynamic in the competition, and arguably Penrith's weak spot, Walker and his supporting cast must hit the ground running if they're to lift the trophy.
There's two trains of thought for Penrith, whether their glass is half full or half empty. They've endured three absolute battles in a row, winning their last two despite scoring just one or two tries in each contest.
They're battle hardened, and know how to grind out a tough win. Half full. Those matches though must've drained some serious gas from the tank, and carrying a host of injuries and sore bodies into the game. Half empty. Neither prop has ran for over 105 metres in a game this finals series, in fact Fisher-Harris hasn't since Round 19.
People compare the halves pairings, the hookers, but the biggest battle across the park comes in the 13 jersey. The last time South Sydney made a Grand Final, they had a man by the name of Sam Burgess donning the number on his back, this time it's junior Cameron Murray.
Two very different players, both just as influential as the other. Isaah Yeo is the embodiment of work ethic, his ball playing is so underrated, always overshadowed by the tough stuff. The big tackles, the strong carries, he's their glue, whichever of the pair stand the tallest already have a hand on the premiership, and possibly a Clive Churchill.
The game will be won and lost in the first 20 minutes. If the Panthers can hold the Rabbitohs scoreless for that period, they'll slide into that defensive resolve, and turn it into a grind.
But if it swings, and the fresher South Sydney outfit catch Penrith tired early, their confidence will grow and so will Walker. It'll be a key period, and with both starting props for Penrith slightly underdone, the Bunnies should get a roll on early.
Wayne Bennett will have a calming effect on his squad, it's his tenth Grand Final appearance, and he's only dropped two in his career. All the pressure here is on the Panthers, which is exactly how Wayne will like it.
Provided Campbell Graham can do the defensive job he did in the Qualifying Final again, there's an upset on the cards here. Handling is vital as well, with no club winning a finals game this year despite a poorer completion rate. Hold the footy, win the game.
There's no doubt this will be tight, regardless of the winner. Penrith will be eager to erase the pain of last year's loss to Melbourne, they won't want the scars of successive Grand Final defeats.
The Rabbitohs are only playing in their second decider of the last half century, so much history on the line. The Bunnies are playing high tempo, high completion football with a lot of energy, especially in the way they're defending. They have the potential to ambush Penrith in the opening stanza and control the pace from there.
It's easy to change your mind in about ten seconds back and forth for this clash, but it'll be the Rabbitohs that win the moments that matter, and send off Adam Reynolds, Wayne Bennett and potentially Benji Marshall as premiership winners to finish their time at the club.
South Sydney defeat Penrith 20-18.