In probably the most underwhelming match up of the weekend, it will all be about restoring pride this Saturday as the South Sydney Rabbitohs host an understrength Canberra Raiders side. If either side is to make any sort of run and stage an early Christmas miracle and make the playoffs, they must claim a victory over a fellow struggler.
Last Time Out
South Sydney fell to the high-flying Cronulla Sharks in a dull encounter at Southern Cross Group Stadium. The men in the red and green looked clueless in attack as they slumped to their third consecutive loss which all but ended their September aspirations. South Sydney were in the game for 60 minutes as they only trailed 14-12 but the Sharks just proved to have too much quality. South Sydney’s 1-5 will have to be a lot better this week out, as all five only ran for 313 metres combined. It goes from bad to worse for South Sydney as they sweat on the fitness of enforcer Sam Burgess who injured his ribs in the loss. Sam Burgess was the Rabbitohs best on the night running for 151 metres and making 22 tackles, if he is not playing this weekend then the Rabbits are little chance of winning.
The Canberra Raiders will be counting their losses as they slumped to a 20-14 loss against ladder leaders the Melbourne Storm. The match will be remembered for the moment Raiders lock Iosia Soliola was not sent off for a careless swinging arm on Storm fullback Billy Slater who was left unconscious for two minutes, Soliola will miss the next five matches through suspension. Jordan Rapana will also miss this weekend through suspension after shoulder charge late in the second half. The Raiders were in the match and were the better side in the first half but could not capitalise on opportunities. In the end Melbourne proved too good even without Slater and Cameron Smith who both went off injured. Raiders halfback Aidan Sezer was their best running for 100 metres and having a hand in all three tries including two which Sezer scored.
The back five for South Sydney against Cronulla were quite bad to be brutally honest, while Canberra have arguably the most potent back five in the competition on their day. South Sydney have completely reshuffled their back five with Alex Johnston moving to fullback, Cody Walker in the halves, Robert Jennings moves to other wing in place of Braydon Burns, Bryson Goodwin takes Johnston’s place on the wing and Tyler Fuimaono and Hymel Hunt both come into side taking both vacant centre roles. Canberra have been forced to make on change to back five through suspension with Michael Oldfield set to replace flying winger Jordan Rapana. The Rabbitohs will need to stop the Canberra back five from making easy yardage up the field if they are any chance of winning this match. The back five of the Rabbitohs must help their forwards out in the metre department and get more involved this week. Whichever Canberra backline shows up will be the deciding factor in this one. The Raiders backline with the likes of Jack Wighton, Joey Leilua, Jarrod Croker and Nick Cotric can be lethal on their day and they know how to find the stripe.
It’s do-or-die footy for both these teams now, either side can afford to lose another game. The Rabbitohs currently sit on 16 points and the Raiders on 18 points. Flashback to this time last year when Canberra flogged a helpless South Sydney side 54-4 with a pretty similar team. Canberra look like a shadow of what they were then and it shows where they sit on the competition table. South Sydney have potential to beat the Raiders this weekend but they need to be a lot more clinical if they are to avoid a four-match losing streak. Canberra should be too strong in this one and expect them to cruise to a comfortable victory.
Raiders by 18
Rabbitohs vs Raiders, Saturday 29 July, 5:30 at ANZ Stadium
Rabbitohs: 1. Alex Johnston 2. Bryson Goodwin 3. Hymel Hunt 4. Tyrell Fuimaono 5. Robert Jennings 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Thomas Burgess 9. Damien Cook 10. David Tyrrell 11. John Sutton 12. Angus Crichton 13. Sam Burgess 14. Robbie Farah 15. Cameron Murray 16. Kyle Turner 17. George Burgess 18. Jack Gosiewski 19. Zane Musgrove 20. Anthony Cherrington 21. Campbell Graham
Raiders: 1. Jack Wighton 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Joseph Leilua 5. Michael Oldfield 6. Blake Austin 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Junior Paulo 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Shannon Boyd 11. Joseph Tapine 12. Elliot Whitehead 13. Luke Bateman 14. Kurt Baptiste 15. Clay Priest 16. Dave Taylor 17. Jeff Lima 18. Erin Clark 19. Zachary Marsters 20. Royce Hunt 21. Scott Sorensen