Following their first loss of the season, the South Sydney Rabbitohs will be looking to bounce back this week as they host the Canterbury- Bankstown Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium on Good Friday afternoon. The Bulldogs also suffered their first defeat for the 2016 season in round three, going down to the Parramatta Eels 20-6.
For the Rabbitohs, they struggled to score points for the first time as they went down 8-6 to St. George Dragons in pouring conditions. With conditions expected to be fine for Friday, the South Sydney side should once again be at their attacking best, something the Dogs will have to do their best to blunt. The Dog’s will be helped by the absence of Sam Burgess from the South’s side, the Rabbitohs forward still recovering from a neck injury sustained in the second half against the Dragons.
LAST TIME OUT
Both teams had positive starts to the season, particularly the home side. South Sydney put arch rivals, the Roosters to the sword in round one, before smashing a hapless Knights side the following week. Those results made their loss to St George somewhat of a surprise. After a positive start last season, the red and green lost traction, and they will be very keen to make sure this doesn’t repeat in 2016.
The Bulldogs were impressive in demolishing Manly to start their season, before showing plenty of grit to overrun Penrith as the siren went the following week. It was the kind of intensity they couldn’t keep up, and looked well and truly out classed by Parramatta in their last start.
Greg Inglis is known for his amazing feats on the football field, however this week he has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons after attempting a late field goal with his side trailing by two points. This attention on Inglis should concern the Bulldogs, with the Rabbitohs custodian never down for long. Expect the Souths’ fullback to pop up everywhere as he looks to make amends and silence the critics. William Hopoate will be the last line of defence if Inglis does break the line, and this will be a great test for the Canterbury recruit. A rampaging Inglis is never easy to stop and Hopoate comes in 10kg lighter than his opposite number, so will have to make sure he is perfecting his tackling technique this week.
Moses Mbye is another key figure in this game. The Bulldog halfback was seen as the club’s long term number seven, seeing former half Trent Hodkinson shopped off to the Knights last year. Mbye has shown great composure in the start to the season, particularly playing a positive role in the win over Penrith. His opposite number, Luke Keary on the otherhand, finds himself on the outer at the Rabbitohs, but has another opportunity to impress through the long term injury to Adam Reynolds. Keary has a premiership to his name, but still has to prove himself due to the emergence of Cody Walker. Now is the time to raise his hand. Otherwise like Hodkinson last year, Keary may find himself in new colours.
South Sydney struggled to gain any sort of momentum in the torrential rain last week and will be looking forward to the predicted dry conditions on Good Friday. While they always tend to miss the organisation of Adam Reynolds when he is absent, they showed their ability without their half in their win over the Newcastle Knights. The positive from last week’s loss was once again they showed the steel in their defence, letting in just the one try. With the improved conditions, the Dog’s will need to be on high alert, because the game could open up for the Rabbitohs again.
For the Canterbury side, they will need to once again play to their strengths, and that is in their monstrous forward pack. They must dominate the middle and give Moses Mbye the space to weave his magic. If they can get close, Mbye can create, and they have a prime finisher in Curtis Rona out wide. The opening quarter of the game could be decisive, with Souths tending to explode out of the box, so if the Bulldogs can slow them down, they have a good chance of winning in a grinding affair.
Bulldogs by 7
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 Nathan Brown Interchange 14 Damien Cook 15 Jason Clark 16 Chris Grevsmuhl 17 Kirisome Auva’a 18 Jack Gosiewksi 19 Michael Oldfield
Bulldogs: William Hopoate 2 Curtis Rona 3 Josh Morris 4 Chase Stanley 5 Sam Perrett 6 Josh Reynolds 7 Moses Mbye 8 Aiden Tolman 9 Craig Garvey 10 James Graham 11 Joshua Jackson 12 Tony Williams 13 Greg Eastwood Interchange: 14 Sam Kasiano 15 Tim Browne 16 David Klemmer 17 Adam Elliott 19 Lloyd Perrett