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NRL PREVIEW | ROUND 5 | St George-Illawarra Dragons vs South Sydney Rabbitohs

St George-Illawarra Dragons are looking to continue their perfect start to 2018 when they host South Sydney Rabbitohs at Jubilee Oval on Friday night.

TEAM FORM GUIDE

ST GEORGE-ILLAWARRA DRAGONS

It’s four from four for the Dragons with their latest victory coming on Easter Sunday against an improving Newcastle Knights.  New halves combination Ben Hunt and Gareth Widdop have clicked very well in the opening rounds, combined with the defence led by lock Jack de Belin.

SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS

Outside their first round effort against New Zealand Warriors, the Rabbitohs have improved week by week.  Their impressive win in the double-header at ANZ Stadium against Manly was followed up with a Good Friday come from behind win over Canterbury Bulldogs 20-16 thanks to Cam Murray’s 76th minute try.

SQUAD NEWS

ST GEORGE-ILLAWARRA DRAGONS

Coach Paul McGregor couldn’t have asked for a better start to having a healthy squad through the first month of competition.  The only change is on the bench where Jeremy Latimore has been replaced by Hame Sele.

SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS

The return of Adam Reynolds is a boost, but the suspension of Sam Burgess is a huge loss up front for the Rabbitohs.  Adam Doueihi is named on the bench after doing a good job at halfback in Reynolds’ absence.  A decision has yet to be made on who will fill Burgess’ shoes in the front row, but the hot tip is that Jason Clark is in the running.

PREVIEW

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This will be an excellent Friday night fixture between two traditional rivals.  When these sides met in the Charity Shield at Mudgee in February, the Rabbitohs just got the better of the Dragons by 22-18.  It’s likely to be another tight contest.

Defence will be a key to victory in this match.  The Dragons have shown so far this year the ability to apply pressure on the opposition when they try to get the ball out of their own twenty.  Last week they forced Newcastle into a couple of turnovers which led to points.  South Sydney might have conceded the opening two tries to Josh Morris last week but managed to keep the Bulldogs quiet for over an hour without any great damage to the scoreboard in what was at times an intense match.

We’ll get to learn a little more about South Sydney’s halves pairing of Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds with the benchmark well and truly set by Gareth Widdop and Ben Hunt.  It will be interesting to see how Anthony Seibold uses Adam Doueihi during the game given the rookies efforts.

St George-Illawarra’s forward pack has been intimidating which is part of the reason why they’ve had early season success.  Thomas Burgess, John Sutton and Angus Crichton will need to play out of their skins to win the battle up front.

The Dragons will be favoured to win this game and quite possibly win it comfortably.

KEY STAT

St George-Illawarra Dragons have an impressive record at Jubilee Oval having lost four matches in their last eighteen at the venue.  However when these two sides last met at the ground in 2012, the Rabbitohs came away with a 19-18 victory with the difference being Adam Reynolds’ field goal.

SQUADS

Dragons: 1 Matthew Dufty, 2 Nene Macdonald, 3 Euan Aitken, 4 Tim Lafai, 5 Jason Nightingale, 6 Gareth Widdop (c), 7 Ben Hunt, 8 James Graham, 9 Cameron McInnes, 10 Paul Vaughan, 11 Tyson Frizell, 12 Tariq Sims, 13 Jack De Belin. Interchange: 14 Luciano Leilua, 15 Kurt Mann, 16 Leeson Ah Mau, 17 Hame Sele

Rabbitohs: 1 Alex Johnston, 2 Dane Gagai, 3 Greg Inglis (c), 4 Hymel Hunt, 5 Robert Jennings, 6 Cody Walker, 7 Adam Reynolds, 8 Thomas Burgess, 9 Damien Cook, TBC, 11 John Sutton, 12 Angus Crichton, 13 Cameron Murray. Interchange: 14 Adam Doueihi, 15 Mark Nicholls, 16 George Burgess, 17 Tevita Tatola

THE IMPORTANT DETAILS

Date: Friday, April 6
Venue: Jubilee Oval
Kick-off: 7:50pm

WHO WILL WIN?

Who will win between Dragons and Rabbitohs?

Ben Hunt vs DCE – was the right choice made?

Editor of nothingbutleague since site inception in 2013. Massive Penrith Panthers fan (Member 13120). Email: mattpnbl@outlook.com

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