The South Sydney Rabbitohs will look to bounce back to winning ways when they take on a Canberra Raiders side on a four match winning streak, a matchup taking place at ANZ Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
LAST TIME OUT
The two sides are meeting for the first and only time in 2016 this week, with the Souths side looking to snap a seven match losing streak that has seen them fall out of finals contention. They played admirably against Manly on Monday night, with momentum taken controversially when Joe Burgess was ruled to have dropped the ball over the line. The Raiders, on the other hand, have a four match winning streak and now find themselves inside the top four of the competition, a position they won’t want to lose now it is coming towards the business end of the season. They found themselves convincingly outplaying the New Zealand Warriors for 70 minutes last week before letting in 18 points in 10 minutes to have to win again in extra time. They will be looking to turn their performances in to 80 minute efforts following a few weeks of switching off for portions of play.
Is there any stopping Jarrod Croker? The Canberra captain and centre has been a try scoring machine in 2016, and sits atop the point scoring tally for the year by a whopping 50 point margin (James Maloney is in second). Croker bagged a hat trick in the win over the Warriors last start, and has 14 tries for the season, the third highest try scoring record for 2016. He also has four tries to his name, alongside 11 line breaks. The job of stopping Croker from going over the stripe falls to Bryson Goodwin, who is an experienced centre, and will look to rise to that challenge. Goodwin has played less minutes than Croker, but himself has managed nine tries, however defensively has made 114 tackles and missed 18, as opposed to Croker’s 247 tackles and 22 missed. It could spell a dangerous corridor for the Rabbitohs, who will have to communicate clearly in defence to help Goodwin out.
To link with their centres effectively, the halves will play a key role, and Sezer and Reynolds is a particularly interesting contest. Reynolds has missed portions of the year through injury and the Rabbitohs have suffered as a result. He has a controlled kicking game that can ease pressure on the forwards by keeping the visiting side back in their own half. Sezer, on the other hand, has begun to gel in his new surroundings in Canberra, yet has also missed a few games through injury. Stats wise, the two players are quite similar, though with Reynolds having played less minutes, he can be considered the better half by a marginal piece. Both will be looking to pull away from the other this week and lead their team towards a victory.
The Rabbitohs will be desperate for a win for their fans, however lack a lot of motivation, with the game seemingly not giving them much to play for. The Raiders, on the other hand, face a couple of tough weeks following this clash, and will be desperate to remain in the top four. This hunger should prove too much for the Bunnies, whose forward back will struggle to contain the Raiders. Souths have the home advantage, but everything else points towards a Raiders win.
Canberra Raiders by 14.
Rabbitohs: 1 Cody Walker 2 Alexander Johnston 3 Bryson Goodwin 4 Aaron Gray 5 Michael Oldfield 6 Luke Keary 7 Adam Reynolds 8 George Burgess 9 Cameron McInnes 10 Zane Musgrove 11 John Sutton 12 Kyle Turner 13 Samuel Burgess. Interchange: 14 Jason Clark 15 Nathan Brown 16 Angus Crichton 17 Thomas Burgess 18 David Tyrrell 19 Damien Cook 20 Jack Gosiewski
Raiders: 1 Jack Wighton 2 Edrick Lee 3 Jarrod Croker 4 Joseph Leilua 5 Jordan Rapana 6 Blake Austin 7 Aidan Sezer 8 Junior Paulo 9 Josh Hodgson 10 Shannon Boyd 11 Josh Papalii 12 Elliot Whitehead 13 Shaun Fensom. Interchange: 14 Adam Clydesdale 15 Luke Bateman 16 Iosia Soliola 17 Joseph Tapine.