After a demolition job on local rivals the Roosters, the South Sydney Rabbitohs will this week play host to the struggling Newcastle Knights in a Saturday evening match at ANZ stadium.

Despite an impressive first round win for South Sydney, they are counting the cost having lost both Adam Reynolds (6 weeks, broken jaw) and John Sutton (16 weeks, ruptured Pectoral muscle) both out for extended periods. The injury to Reynolds opens the door to out of favour half, Luke Keary, who returns from suspension just in the nick of time.

The injury set backs also open the door for Newcastle, who will need to bounce back quickly following their heavy first round loss to the Titans. Further in their favour is the health of their own troops, with the side managing to get through the round one game fairly unscathed.

LAST TIME OUT

The Bunnies were simply awesome in Round 1, jumping out of the blocks to blow the Roosters away within half an hour, and showing steel like defence every time the tri colours looked set to score, leading to an impressive 42-10 victory.

The Newcastle side, on the other hand, struggled against a Titans outfit in a match many tipped to already be the battle for the wooden spoon. Having ‘won’ the unwanted prize last year, Newcastle showed early signs that 2016 could also be a long season with a convincing 30-12 defeat against the Gold Coast outfit to start their campaign. New coach Nathan Brown has to make some large in roads if he is to avoid his side being down in the competition cellar once more.

KEY BATTLES

Newcastle’s halves Tyrone Roberts and Jarrod Mullen were out played by the Titans halves last week, despite having far more experience than the Gold Coast pair. This week they face up against a weakened South’s pairing, with impressive young gun Cody Walker playing just his second game of NRL football appearing alongside Reynold’s replacement in Luke Keary.  The Knight’s pair need to step up and show they are a strong combination, with an ability to lead the team around successfully.

In order to give their halves a solid platform to work with, Kade Snowden must control the rampaging Sam Burgess. It isn’t an enviable task, Burgess last week picking up just where he left off when he was last with the Rabbitohs in 2014. Snowden is certainly capable, with the former Origin forward showing glimpses of his skill as a man mountain last year, but he needs to be consistent and that must start this week.

PREDICTION

Even with their injury concerns, the Rabbitohs look to strong for the Knights. The positive for the Newcastle team this week is they can only improve and with their halves having played a game alongside each other now, they should be able to build that combination more successfully. It will still be a work in progress however, and will take more than just a week to perfect.

The Bunnies will be playing with their own new halves combination, but Cody Walker does look like he certainly belongs in the NRL, and with a dominant forward pack, the six and seven should be able to work with plenty of space, and feed Greg Inglis with plenty of ball. It should allow for a good flow of points for the red and green, and will prove too much for the visitors.

South Sydney by 20

SQUADS

Rabbitohs: 1 Greg Inglis 2 Alexander Johnston 3 Bryson Goodwin 4 Hymel Hunt 5 Aaron Gray 6 Cody Walker 7 Luke Keary 8 George Burgess 9 Cameron McInnes 10 David Tyrrell 11 Paul Carter 12 Kyle Turner 13 Samuel Burgess Interchange: 14 Damien Cook 15 Jason Clark 16 Nathan Brown 17 Chris Grevsmuhl 18 Kirisome Auva’a

Knights: 1 Jaelen Feeney 2 Nathan Ross 3 Dane Gagai 4 Pat Mata’utia 5 Akuila Uate 6 Jarrod Mullen 7 Trent Hodkinson 8 Sam Mataora 9 Tyler Randell 10 Korbin Sims 11 Jacob Safiti 12 Robert Rochow 13 Jeremy Smith Interchange: 14 Danny Levi 15 David Bhana 16 Lachlan Fitzgibbon 17 Daniel Safiti 18 Sione Mata’utia 21 Kade Snowden