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Bulldogs, Rabbitohs & Eels ready for NRL classics

James Conway

RUGBY league returns to Thursday nights in 2013 with the first four rounds kicking-off with a live Thursday night fixture, highlighted by the Parramatta Eels taking their Round 2 clash against traditional rivals the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs to Stadium Australia on Thursday 14 March.

The South Sydney Rabbitohs play their much-anticipated first home game in Round 2 against the Cronulla Sharks on Monday 18 March.

The Eels will play three home games at Stadium Australia in 2013 – in addition to their Round 2 clash with the Bulldogs they will face South Sydney in a Round 15 classic on Sunday 23 June before they reprise memories of last year’s emotional farewell game when they take on the St George Illawarra Dragons in Round 25 (date and time TBC).

The Bulldogs and Rabbitohs will battle for home ground bragging rights in a Round 4, Friday 29 March Easter showdown at Stadium Australia. The reverse fixture will take place in Round 24 (date and time TBC).

When the Bulldogs poached Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler only days after their 2011 premiership triumph, one of the biggest modern-day rivalries was born. After three intense and at times spiteful clashes last year, this year’s Round 5 meeting promises to be one of jurassic proportions as Tony ‘T Rex’ Williams faces his former club for the first time in a Friday night (5 April) showdown at Stadium Australia.

It’s been five years coming but Sonny Bill Williams finally returns to rugby league at Stadium Australia in Round 15. This time, however, he will be wearing a Roosters jumper when he takes on his old side the Bulldogs in one of the biggest grudge matches of the season. Williams acrimoniously walked out on the Bulldogs in 2008 and everyone will be eager to see what kind of reception he receives from his once beloved Bulldogs supporters when the two sides face-off on Friday 21 June.

After producing two games last year that will go down in rugby league folklore, the game’s oldest rivalry reignites as the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Sydney Roosters look to add another chapter to The Book of Feuds when they meet in a final round, Round 26 (date and time TBC) blockbuster at Stadium Australia.

Round 20 Friday 26 July sees the Bulldogs and Eels continue a rivalry that dates back to the 1980s – a decade that saw both teams win four premierships each and unearth some of the game’s greatest names. New Eels coach Ricky Stuart will feel at home at Stadium Australia having many fond memories of the venue from his days as NSW Origin coach.

The 2013 NRL draw is out and the first 20 Rounds are set in stone, allowing all stakeholders to prepare for another enthralling season of rugby league – “the greatest game of all”.

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