The South Sydney Rabbitohs will host the Brisbane Broncos this Thursday night at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The Rabbitohs took on the Raiders last week in Gosford on the Central Coast, in what turned out to be their most dominant performance of 2018.
Weak defence by the Raiders in the third minute opened the door for an Alex Johnstone try, and it set the tone for the majority of the game. The Bunnies had 53 percent possession, as well as an impressive 85 percent completion rate for the game, highlighting a well-rounded performance in both halves.
Three more tries shared between both sides saw the half time scores at 24-12 to South Sydney. In the second half, a black mark on the game for the Bunnies came in the 59th minute, with a high tackle on Aidan Sezer leaving Sam Burgess on report, resulting in a two game suspension.
The Bunnies then unloaded three tries In 10 minutes to put themselves up 42-12, before a mini Raiders fight back made the scores more respectable.
A convincing win for South Sydney which gives them four wins in their past five games, and places them firmly within the top eight.
The Broncos hosted the Storm, in a contest that seemed an uphill battle for the homeside before kickoff.
A controversial tries for each side opened the game, before Melbourne kicked into gear and ran in two tries to lead 18-4 at the break. Their outside backs exposed the tight Brisbane defence, grabbing four linebreaks and three offloads en route to their strong lead. The second half momentum went with the Broncos they reduced the deficit to four points with two tries.
What became clear was how hard the Broncos had to work for their points, while it was the opposite for the Storm. Two more tries to the Storm steered them to a solids 34-20 win away from home.
Both sides were relatively even in their negative play, with the Broncos having 11 errors compared to the Storms nine, as well as Melbourne giving away more penalties. Another loss to the Storm at Suncorp Stadium sees Brisbane fall out of the top eight heading into this week.
Sam Burgess is suspended for two weeks, and is replaced by Cameron Murray at lock who returns from injury.
Adam Doueihi is called to the bench in place of Hymel Hunt who is dropped to the reserves.
Andrew McCullough is out with an elbow injury, with Josh McGuire starting at hooker, and Kodi Nikorima likely to share the workload with McGuire off the bench.
Jaydn Su’A starts in the second row with Tevita Pangai Jr. in at lock. Sam Tagataese joins the bench.
The Rabbitohs are finally starting to find their feet under new coach Anthony Seibold. After loses to the Warriors and Panthers, they have grabbed four wins in five games with a handy points differential.
For Brisbane, a loss to the Storm last week after a good win over the Warriors still leaves them in limbo. Depth means that regardless of their injuries there is quality to work with, but a patchy looking spine is a big worry for them at this stage.
The last time these sides met was at Suncorp Stadium in round 14 in 2017, with the Broncos narrowly winning 24-18.
The halfbacks for both sides, in Adam Reynolds and Anthony Milford are essential to a victory and make for a key battle.
Adam Reynolds has consistently been a huge part of South Sydney’s success over the last six years with his playmaking and kicking game making him a consistent option for the Blues in Origin. He was at his best once again last week against Canberra.
Anthony Milford has shown glimpses of brilliance in 2018, including his solo try against the Storm last week. He has huge duties in guiding the Broncos for the foreseeable future, and without a pure and reliable halves partner at the moment (no disrespect to Jack Bird or Kodi Nikorima), that will be a tough task.
Greg Inglis side he wants to mark his 250th game with a big win over the Broncos and all he wants “is a good team performance.” He added that retuning from his ACL injury takes its time and his form will continue to build slowly.
Broncos veteran Sam Thaiday said his team needs to step up this week, saying they need to improve in “the little areas”.
The Broncos have won the last five games against the Rabbitohs, including three straight away from home in Sydney.
Rabbitohs: 1 Alex Johnston, 2 Richie Kennar, 3 Greg Inglis (c), 4 Dane Gagai, 5 Robert Jennings, 6 Cody Walker, 7 Adam Reynolds, 8 Thomas Burgess, 9 Damien Cook, 10 George Burgess, 11 John Sutton, 12 Angus Crichton, 13 Cameron Murray Interchange: 14 Adam Doueihi, 15 Mark Nicholls, 16 Jason Clark, 17 Tevita Tatola Reserves: 18 Robbie Farah, 19 Hymel Hunt, 20 Campbell Graham, 21 Kyle Turner
Broncos: 1 Darius Boyd (c), 2 Corey Oates, 3 James Roberts, 18 Tom Opacic, 5 Jamayne Isaako, 6 Anthony Milford, 7 Jack Bird, 8 Matthew Lodge, 9 Josh McGuire, 10 Sam Thaiday, 11 Alex Glenn, 12 Jaydn Su’a, 13 Tevita Pangai Jr. Interchange: 14 Sam Tagataese, 15 Joe Ofahengaue, 16 Kodi Nikorima, 17 Korbin Sims Reserves: 18 Jonus Pearson, 19 Todd Murphy, 20 Patrick Mogo, 21 Payne Haas
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Thursday 26th April 2018
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Kickoff: 7:55 pm (AEDT)
Match Officials: Ben Cummins, Peter Gough (assistant)
WHO WILL WIN?
The Rabbitohs are in good form, while the Broncos seem to be in a rough patch with underwhelming results on top of injuries.
The Broncos strength, their depth, is being tested at the moment and will be in the near future.
A reliable halves pairing, a healthy Greg Inglis and a backline with no visible question makes means the Bunnies will be comfortable to grab a close victory, and at home makes it all the more likely. Prediction: Rabbitohs by 2.
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