Both the Rabbitohs and Titans come off disappointing losses from round 14, and sit solidly outside the top 8. The Rabbitohs were competitive against the Broncos, but failed to get ahead in the game away from home. The Titans we fairly outplayed at home against the Warriors, and will need to right some wrongs soon if they are to make a finals run.
Last Time Out:
The Rabbitohs travelled up to Brisbane to face the Broncos, who were coming of two straight losses. The Rabbits started well and were arguably the best team in the first 20 minutes. Hard running through the middle and great play from the halves almost saw them take an early lead with multiple opportunities. The Broncos however remained resilient and absorbed the pressure as they always do. By the 14 minute mark, the first try had finally been scored with Corey Oates going over in the corner. The Broncos scored again in the 19th minute with a great right edge attack, finished off by Matt Gillett. The Bunnies looked worn out and struggled to find any purpose in their attack. In terms of running metres, the Rabbitohs weren’t short of the pace, with 1381 metres compared to Brisbane’s 1518. Two tries within 20 mins saw the Rabbitohs level scores at 12-12 just after half time. The second half was far closer, which will please Michael Maguire, and the Broncos were held out form their line a lot of the time. Eventually class took over, and the Broncos scored twice to the Rabbitohs single try late in the game. As well as that, both the error count and penalty count stacked up evenly, showing the Rabbitohs professionalism in their play. Their backline lacks class, and that will continue to hurt the Bunnies until they get Inglis back from injury and Gagai into the team next season.
The Titans have achieved some great performances in 2017, but inconsistency has been their enemy. A game against the Warriors should surely give them a much needed win, but knowing their record against the Kiwi side, they had their work cut out. The Titans struck first through Kane Elgey, taking a 6-0 lead which was later matched with a Ryan Hoffman try to make it 6-6. The main point of turn was the final 10 minutes of the half, where the Warriors ran in 3 tries to take a surprising 24-4 lead. Regardless of the Titans early control of the ball, they struggled to convert any opportunity they found. The onslaught stemmed from a load of territory, and the Titans were unable to keep the ball towards the end of the first half. The second half saw the Titans look to inject some consistent play in their backline, but the likes of Ash Taylor and Jarryd Hayne could only give them one try, scored by Dale Copley 6 minutes from fulltime. The Warriors poor second halves were a possible hoodoo hanging over them coming into the game, but strong defence as well as two second half tries eased some fans nerves and showed the team’s ability to dominate on their day. The Warriors weight of possession and added attacking opportunities proved to be the main differences, while the Titans will need to find some game breakers to turn up this Friday.
With Jarryd Hayne out due to Origin duty, the Titans are thin on stars in their side. The halves for both teams then, logically, are the key areas for victory. Adam Reynolds made no problem of leading the Bunnies last season when they were down on form, but in 2017 it seems to be a tougher task. His kicking game remains one of the best in the game, and relatively good performances need to turn into game breaking performances. John Sutton at five-eight gives him a reliable option to lean on, and a variance in paly style could match up well against the Titans.
Chris McQueen is replacing Kane Elgey at five-eight, and like Sutton with Reynolds, it will give Ash Taylor a reliable, big body to boost him up. Taylor played beyond what anyone thought of him last season, but that forms needs to carry over into this year and years to come in the future. Thurston always managed to play well when the Cowboys were consistently low on the table (between 2008 and 2010), and Taylor must do the same. The kicking games for both halfbacks will be huge and whoever can gain an edge in the run game department overall will be primed for a victory.
Both sides have had glimpses of brilliance in 2017, but have failed to threaten the bigger teams and find consistency in their game. The Rabbitohs’ size in their forward pack will be a huge advantage, but as always they seem to struggle with both discipline and big-time plays. Ultimately too much firepower will see one side get to the finish line first. Rabbitohs by 6
Rabbitohs: Rabbitohs: 1. Cody Walker 2. Alex Johnston 3. Hymel Hunt 4. Bryson Goodwin 5. Aaron Gray 6. John Sutton 7. Adam Reynolds 8. George Burgess 9. Robbie Farah 10. Thomas Burgess 11. Tyrell Fuimaono 12. Angus Crichton 13. Sam Burgess 14. Damien Cook 15. Kyle Turner 16. Robbie Rochow 17. Zane Musgrove 18. Braidon Burns 19. Jason Clark 20. Anthony Cherrington 22. Cameron Murray
Titans: 1 William Zillman 2 Anthony Don 3 Dale Copley 4 Konrad Hurrell 5 John Olive 6 Chris McQueen 7 Ash Taylor 8 Nathaniel Peteru 9 Pat Politini 10 Ryan James © 11 Kevin Proctor 12 Joe Greenwood 13 Leivaha Pulu 15 Morgan Boyle 16 Eddy Pettybourne 17 Max King 18 Paterika Vaivai 18 Ben Nakubuwai 19 Phillip Sami 20 Keegan Hipgrave 21 Jamal Fogarty