A lone Souths fan shows her support in among a sea of Raiders supporters at tonight's game. Photo: Colleen Petch
Full-time: Thank you for joining us for our live blog. What a wonderful win for South Sydney in front of 35,874 fans. They dominated probably for 60 minutes tonight and were deserved victors. The build-up to next Saturday's preliminary final against the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium will be massive and should just about attract a sellout crowd. Adam Reynolds and John Sutton steered Souths around the park beautifully tonight, while Issac Luke was electric from dummy-half, capitalising on his forwards' roll-on. Raiders players and fans would be gutted tonight. But don't forget this club could have been in Bali by now if they had turned it up halfway through the year when coming second last. They dug in and fought their way into the finals in a memorable end to the season without their skipper and chief playmaker Terry Campese. Sam Williams tried hard and was dangerous in the halves, while Jack Wighton's defence was outstanding in the centres. He will be a special, special player inthe coming years. Commiserations to the Raiders and good luck next week Souths. Should be an absolute cracker. Souths 38 - Raiders 16.
74th min: Another solid set and Josh Dugan forces a John Sutton grubber dead for another Souths dropout.
73rd min: Sandor Earl gets a hand to an Inglis pass to prevent a try. But the knock-on will give Souths a scrum feed 10m out.
71st min: Souths go the full 100m in that set easily but Nathan Peats' last play option to run from dummy-half is a poor one. Hand over.
68th min: TRY! Just another day at the office for big GI. Stops a Joel Thompson try with a great tackle. Scoops up the grubber on the last, runs 65 metres. Reynolds shows great vision and Everingham collects his grubber to score in the right corner. That's breathtaking stuff from the Bunnies. They are into the preliminary final now. Reynolds misses the conversion attempt from the right touchline. Souths 38 - Raiders 16.
64th min: PENALTY TRY! Big call but hard to argue. Inglis would almost certainly have scored but was denied by Ferguson's early tackle. Ferguson stays on the field. Reynolds converts from right in front and surely the mountain is too great for Canberra to climb now. Souths 34 - Raiders 16.
64th min: Big decision coming up here! Blake Ferguson tackles Inglis without the ball and the tryline looming. Could be a penalty try but will almost certainly be a sin bin for Ferguson.
63rd min: Shaun Berrigan knocks on from dummy-half to ease the pressure on Souths. Dave Furner's reaction on the big screen says it all.
61st min: PENALTY GOAL! Reynolds drills it and Souths have a 12-point buffer. Souths 28 - Raiders 16.
60th min: NO TRY! But the Rabbitohs get a penalty because Shaun Berrigan wasn't square at marker. Souths will take a kick at goal here and I think the Raiders will be happy about that again. Strange option from the Bunnies I reckon.
60th min: Massive call coming up here. I don't know if you can give it. Might have been short the first time and then Josh Dugan got his arm under it.
60th min: We're going to the video ref for a possible John Sutton try!
58th min: Wonderful grubber by Reynolds forces another line dropout for Souths. His kicking game has been superb so far and might be the difference in the end.
57th min: And a low-percentage charge down comes straight back to Inglis. The Raiders had defended well there but Souths go on the attack again.
57th min: But Williams can't squeeze his grubber through Souths' defence and the Rabbitohs are off the hook.
55th min: Raiders get a penalty for Souths holding on too long. Can they put another quick try on here?
53rd min: TRY! Great movement from the Raiders' backs out on the right side. Reece Robinson held up the last pass beautifully and Blake Ferguson scores out wide on the right. Josh Dugan would love to nail this kick. And he does, that's gone straight over the dot. Souths 26 - Raiders 16.
51st min: Another promising Raiders play comes undone on the last as Blake Ferguson's reverse flick-pass sails into touch. Canberra hasn't given up, though. It's looked strong in the last five minutes. And they force a turnover! What can they do here with a full set inside the Bunnies' half.
Uh-oh: Greg Inglis rubbing his leg, he's in a bit of discomfort after that Williams tackle.
49th min: The Raiders go 100 metres after a terrific set but Inglis wraps up Sam Williams easily in a one-on-one tackle close to the line.
44th min: TRY! And what a turning point. Josh Dugan completely muffs an Adam Reynolds grubber and Dylan Farrell pounces on the loose ball in-goal for an easy try. Gutting for the Raiders. Joel Thompson would like to rewind the last couple of minutes and hold onto that ball. Reynolds converts and that's 200 points in the season for him - he's only the second Rabbitoh to ever achieve that feat. What a debut year the kid has had. Long way back for Canberra now. Souths 26 - Raiders 10.
42nd min: Wow! Big call for the Raiders here. Greg Inglis drops a bomb straight into the arms of Joel Thompson who, with six again, throws the ball to Reece Robinson only for it to go straight into touch. Tony Archer says no advantage and a Raiders scrum! If Robinson gets the ball he might have scored! Justice was probably served as Mark Nicholls spills the pill after a few tackles. Souths deep on the attack.
Second-half: We're under way again. The Raiders have 40 minutes to save their season.
Something to whet the half-time appetite. Here's the last time these two sides met in the finals back in 1989. The Bunnies look good at the moment to get revenge for this one (if there is such a thing as revenge 23 years later).
Half-time: Catch your breath! What an action-packed half. Souths dominated for nearly all of it and are worth their 10-point buffer at least at half-time. David Furner will be glad to get his team back into the sheds. Michael McGuire's call to start Issac Luke at dummy-half has been a beauty. He's creating all sorts of havoc on the back of quick play-the-balls. The Raiders did enough to keep themselves in the game but they'll need to put a stop to Souths' go-forward to have any chance in the second half. John Sutton has also been dangerous for the Bunnies. For the Raiders, Jack Wighton has pulled off a couple of key tackles out wide on Dave Taylor and Greg Inglis. His defence for a rookie is superb. Souths 20 - Raiders 10.
37th min: TRY! Big Sam Burgess strolls in under the posts after Chris McQueen leaps seemingly metres into the air to reel in Adam Reynolds' bomb. It was easy for Burgess after that as he scored untouched near the posts. Reynolds converts and that has steadied the ship for the Bunnies. Souths 20 - Raiders 10.
36th min: Bit of feeling in the game now. Pushing and shoving between Sandor Earl and John Sutton.
32nd min: TRY! Incredible. From nothing the Raiders are back in it. A great Sam Williams bomb is spilled by Justin Hunt straight into the arms of Sandor Earl for an easy try out on the right edge. Blake Ferguson is unsurprisingly the first player there to give Sandor a cuddle. Dugan's conversion bounces back off the right upright. Souths 14 - Raiders 10.
34th min: Penalty to the Raiders on the first tackle. It's all rolling Canberra's way now. The Raiders have really been boosted by Shaun Berrigan's arrival a few minutes ago. It's like the teams have swapped jumpers.
29th min: TRY! I'll give the video ref a rap here. Dave Taylor made a poor read on Joel Thompson, there was no obstruction and the correct decision to award Williams the try was made. Dugan converts from in front but boy only just. We have a ball game again! Souths 14 - Raiders 6.
29th min: We're going to the video ref for a potential try to Sam Williams. It's for a potential shepherd. Roll the dice with these video refs.
29th min: Raiders deep on the attack after a penalty late in the tackle count. Can they put some points on? They have to be next to score.
28th min: Phew! Finally a bit of a lull in the game. It's been played at a million miles an hour so far.
25th min: TRY! Great effort from Jack Wighton on the wing but Everingham just does enough to ground the ball in the right-hand corner before going into touch. Great conversion from Reynolds fades from left to right and over the dot. Souths 14 - Raiders 0.
25th min: We're going to the video referee for a potential try to Andrew Everingham.
23rd min: NO TRY! Dugan spills the ball in-goal but McCrone grounds it before Crocker. Goal line dropout. Canberra under all sorts of pressure here. Their one-on-one defence is awful.
23rd min: We're going to the video ref for a possible try to Mick Crocker.
21st min: A Poor kick from Josh McCrone at the end of the set is too easy for Souths to handle. 20m tap.
20th min: Souths go 100m on that set again. They are tearing through Canberra with speedy play-the-balls. Josh Dugan catches a bomb at the end of the set.
18th min: Souths get a penalty and the happiest people at the ground will be the 13 Raiders on the field as Reynolds lines up a penalty goal. They could have kept the pressure on by kicking for touch. the visitors need this breather. Reynolds nails it from about 30m out and close to in front. Souths 8 - Raiders 0.
17th min: Again the Raiders can't complete a set, a poor Josh McCrone ball proving too tough for Blake Ferguson to handle.
16th min: And now Luke Burgess knocks on early in the tackle count. Big let-off for Canberra. They are hanging on grimly here. Souths need to convert these chances into points because the Raiders haven't been in the game yet.
15th min: And now Blake Ferguson has spilled the ball at the play-the-ball. Everything is going wrong for the Green Machine.
14th min: Pretty quick answer to that. Wighton spills the ball on the first tackle and Souths are again deep on the attack after rolling through the Raiders' defence. Sandor Earl diffuses the bomb at the end of the set.
13th min: The Raiders finally get a penalty for Souths staying in the tackle too long. Can they make Souths pay? That was a fourth tackle penalty on the halfway line. Raiders on the attack.
12th min: BOOM! Jack Wighton pulls off a bellringer on Dave Taylor to force a knock-on. Inspirational from the youngster. Boy the Raiders needed that with the Bunnies deep on the attack.
11th min: The Bunnies are on fire at the moment. Canberra has no answer and can't slow them down. They go 100 metres again and force a line dropout.
9th min: Dane Tilse won't want to see the replay of that try. Poor defence.
8th min: TRY! After a great kick from Josh McCrone looked to peg Souths deep in their end the Bunnies got on a roll with some quick play-the-balls. Some soft defence on Issac Luke and John Sutton eventually sees Souths halfback Adam Reynolds score under the posts! Reynolds converts his own try. Souths 6-0.
6th min: Souths looked dangerous there on the right edge but Dylan Farrell's foot was just into touch before passing theball back inside. Bunnies looking dangerous and making easy metres.
4th min: But the Raiders' defence holds up well in their first real test. Blake Ferguson collects the last tackle kick from the Bunnies. Jack Wighton pulled off a great tackle on Dave Taylor in that set.
3rd min: Souths get the first penalty for Josh Papalii grabbing John Sutton's leg in a tackle. Souths are deep on the attack.
2nd min: The Raiders get the ball back from a Josh McCrone bomb but Souths' defence is quick to wrap up Blake Ferguson. Hand over.
1st min: Solid first set from the Bunnies. A poor kick from John Sutton at the end after a great charge from Sam Burgess.
Kick-off: We're under way. Let's hope there's no repeat of last night's refereeing dramas and that the players decide this one.
7.53pm: 'We'll hit ya, hit ya, hit ya, til you see green!' Guess who's finally out on the field? Here comes Souths as well to a great ovation and the strains of 'glory, glory'.
7.50pm: Does anyone else get annoyed that the 7.45pm scheduled kick-off time for NRL finals always morphs into 'anywhere about 8pm or a bit after will do'? We want the footy! Not long now hopefully.
Unbelievable that the Raiders are paying over $3 with most betting agencies. They are great value at those odds.
Plenty of Raiders fans in the crowd tonight to go with the abundance of cardinal and myrtle jumpers. This is shaping up to be a cracking game with a great atmosphere.
Josh Dugan will be given first shot as the Raiders' goal-kicker tonight in the absence of Jarrod Croker.
Team changes - Souths: In a big blow for the Bunnies, electrifying winger Nathan Merritt is out, to be replaced by Andrew Everingham. As predicted all week Issac Luke will start at hooker, pushing Nathan Peats back to the bench. Sam Burgess starts, with Eddy Pettybourne on the bench alongside David Tyrell, Ben Lowe and Peats.
Team changes - Raiders: In a big call by Raiders coach David Furner, youngster Jack Wighton, named on the bench, will start in the centres for the injured Jarrod Croker. Joel Thompson moves back to the second row, with Joe Picker dropping to the bench. Wighton hasn't played first grade since round 10 and only made his return to the field in Toyota Cup last weekend following a trampoline accident.
The pressure is huge on the Rabbitohs tonight. Souths fans are desperate for success after last savouring a grand final win in 1971. The Storm taught the Rabbitohs a lesson in finals football last weekend and the prospect of wasting a great season looms for the Bunnies tonight if they don't improve.
On the other hand, most Raiders fans would concede the club has had a strong year regardless of tonight's result, after coming from second last at the midway point of the competition to play a part in September. If the Raiders can get off to a fast start tonight with a couple of early tries, the pressure only intensifies on South Sydney.
Tune back in after 7pm as we build up to what shapes as one of the most exciting games of the finals.
But we can't forget about the Souths fans. Most of them forgot the words to this one between 1990 and 2005 given how seldom it was belted out, but they'll be hoping to sing it with pride come about 9.30pm tonight.
Are we pumped for this one already? This is Souths' biggest game in over two decades, while if the Raiders can win, they'll move to within one game of a grand final appearance for the first time since 1994. Here's a little something to get Raiders fans in the mood. Surely some of the greatest lyrics ever penned.
Join us for all the action live as the Canberra Raiders take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium.