The South Sydney Rabbitohs and Brisbane Broncos are two teams that are out of form and running out of time to find answers to their problems. They’ll both be looking to right their wrongs and notch up a vital win to get their season back on track and gain some much needed confidence and momentum while the loser will continue on with their downward spiral.

Last Time Out
The Souths took a home game against the Cowboys up to Cairns. They turned in a fairly average performance and fell to their 5th straight loss going down by 20 points to nil. To their credit they managed to defend their line pretty well as they endured repeat set after repeat set with an early try in the 43rd minute being the last try of the day. However while their defence held strong their execution in attack was lacking. Finishing the game with a 66% completion rate and not being able to force any dropouts to the Cowboys five meant the Bunnies gave themselves no chance to create opportunities and they never looked likely to trouble the Cowboys.

The Broncos fared even worse as they were systematically dismantled by the Storm and walloped 48-6. The tussle of titans between two top 4 teams turned out to be anything but. After a fairly even opening 15 minutes to the game the Storm ignited as they ran in 5 tries in an 18 minute period during the first half. They exploited poor edge defence as a result of Corey Oates leaving the field early and utility Kodi Nikorima was sent to the wing who was hopelessly out of his depth marking up against Suliasi Vunivalu who scored his 2nd career hat-trick. Cooper Cronk kept the game completely in Melbourne’s hands and racked up 5 try assists to go along with it. Broncos halves Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford had almost nothing to call upon from their bag of tricks to put much of a dent in Melbourne’s armour and their forward pack was completely dominated. Injuries have taken their toll on the Broncos like it would for any other team but it was a loss that would start some alarm bells ringing for their premiership chances.

Key Battle

The halves pairings of Luke Keary and Adam Reynolds vs Hunt and Milford. When your team’s forward pack is underperforming it’s hard to create something out of nothing like has been the case for both duos in recent times. However with the fortunes of their team relying on their ability to produce points it’ll be up to them to take their chances wherever and whenever they present themselves.

Keary had good impact playing off the bench but has been unable to have much of an effect on games when he’s started at 5/8. His running game and willingness to take on the line will need to be high so he can play a more active role in attack. Reynolds kicking game has been sub-par with a lot of his kicks in his last game landing straight on the chest of Lachlan Coote. He’ll need to fix that up because he certainly won’t find Darius Boyd out of position. If he can kick well and make the Broncos play to his terms then that’ll go a long way towards winning the game for his team.

Milford and Hunt have been down on form and confidence. Hunt in particular has dropped well below his standards unable to register a try assist in his last 3 games and missing an astounding 19 tackles over that same period. There’s no quick solution to regaining confidence but if he’s used the short break over the bye to address his problems and he can get back to his best than so will Milford and his team. They’re at their best when they play to each other instead of camping on one side of the field. If they can re-establish a link with each other in attack they can prove to be nightmares for their opposition within their 20m zone.

Prediction

With both teams travelling pretty poorly as of late it’s hard to predict what will happen in this game with any great certainty. The Broncos should get back to some good form soon but it was also widely tipped they’d bounce back against Melbourne and that didn’t really go to plan. With the return of valuable personnel like Jordan Kahu and their Origin stars backing up they’ll be looking to bring their form slump to a stop and fast.

Souths have come within an inch of victory a few times during their losing streak but haven’t been able to win a game since May. The potential suspension of captain Greg Inglis won’t do their strike power any favours but George Burgess returns after a 2 month injury layoff. He has been in below average form all year but if he can play to his potential he can make a huge difference. Coincidentally the last game he played for the Bunnies was the last game they won in Round 11.

I’ll tip the Broncos to win purely because even if they don’t play to their best then surely they can’t play much worse than they have been and they should have enough class in their team to see them get past a Souths team in shambles. Broncos by 8+

Squads

South Sydney Rabbitohs
1 Cody Walker
2 Alex Johnston
3 Greg Inglis © *
4 Aaron Gray
5 Joe Burgess
6 Luke Keary
7 Adam Reynolds
8 Tom Burgess
9 Cameron McInnes
10 Nathan Brown
11 John Sutton
12 Kyle Turner
13 Sam Burgess
Interchange:
14 Damien Cook
15 David Tyrell
16 Jason Clark
17 George Burgess
18 Angus Crichton
19 Jack Gosiewski
20 Ed Murphy

*Greg Inglis faces a four match ban for a shoulder charge in Origin III. He’ll miss 3 games with an early guilty plea

Brisbane Broncos
1 Darius Boyd
2 Corey Oates
3 Alex Glenn
4 James Roberts
5 Jordan Kahu
6 Anthony Milford
7 Ben Hunt
8 Josh McGuire
9 Andrew McCullough
10 Adam Blair
11 Sam Thaiday
12 Matt Gillett
13 Corey Parker ©*
Interchange:
14 Jarrod Wallace
15 Tevita Pangai
16 Joe Ofahengaue
17 Herman Ese’ese
18 Marion Seve
19 Joe Boyce

*Corey Parker is facing a one week ban for dangerous contact from Origin III.