SOUTH Sydney's hopes of capturing its first minor premiership in 44 years have received a double jolt with hooker Issac Luke and goal-kicking halfback Adam Reynolds set to miss Thursday night's crucial final round match against the Roosters.
The Rabbits joined Manly in top spot on 34 points with a hard fought 21-14 win over the Bulldogs to kick off round 25. But the win came at a cost, with Reynolds facing a grade one dangerous throw charge and Luke hit with a grade one dangerous contact charge which would rule the pair out of the Roosters clash unless they successfully challenged the charges.
With a loading due to a similar offence in the last two years, and 65 carryover points, Luke's actions in lashing out with his boots and hitting Bulldogs skipper Michael Ennis in the face early in the clash will cost him one game even with an early guilty plea.
It's the same scenario for Reynolds whose 58th minute lifting tackle on Bulldogs five-eighth Moses Mbye will still cost him one game with an early plea.
The losses would be tempered somewhat for coach Michael Maguire with captain and five-eighth John Sutton expected back from injury, resulting in a possible scrum base switch with young Luke Keary moving into the No.7 jersey.
PNG Test star Apisai Koroisau, who has impressed in a handful of NRL games, could be recalled to replace Luke.
The minor premiership, top four and final eight positions could all be decided by round 26 results.
South Sydney has not taken out the minor premiership since 1970 when it went on to win the grand final.