The Wests Tigers have a tough challenge in Round 19, taking on the competition-leading South Sydney Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
Coming off a sublime win against the St. George-Illawarra Dragons in Round 18, the Wests Tigers will be eager to upset another premiership favourite. Sitting four points shy of the eighth-placed Brisbane Broncos, a victory on Saturday night would edge the Tigers closer to the finals and place extreme pressure on the teams at the bottom end of the top eight.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
South Sydney will be determined to extend their winning streak to 10 in 2018. With the potential to be four points clear of the second-placed Melbourne Storm – and closer to securing the minor premiership – the Rabbitohs will be determined to carry the impressive attacking and defensive structures they showed against the Canterbury Bulldogs in Round 18 to ANZ Stadium.
The injury sustained in Round 18 by second rower Chris Lawrence has prompted coach Ivan Cleary to elevate Michael Chee-Kam into the starting side, and recall Alex Twal to the interchange bench for the first time since Round 16.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
The South Sydney Rabbitohs have made just one change to their lineup for Saturday night’s clash against the Tigers, with Jason Clark returning from suspension to take Mark Nicholls’ place on the interchange bench.
The serious injuries sustained by five-eighth Josh Reynolds and second-rower Chris Lawrence will make the Tigers’ trip to ANZ Stadium a bit more difficult; it’s anticipated that the dynamic duo of Benji Marshall (five eighth) and Robbie Farah (hooker) will fill the leadership void left by Reynolds and Lawrence. For the Tigers to cause an upset, it’s imperative they continue their valiant defence and restrict the Rabbitohs’ scoring ability. The Tigers’ new look spine (Mbye, Brooks, Marshall, Farah) will be instrumental in orchestrating their attack and providing the speed and prowess they’ll need to expose the Rabbitohs’ defence.
Off the back of nine straight wins, the Rabbitohs will be determined to halt the Tigers’ bus. The Rabbitohs’ forward pack – as they have been for the majority of 2018 – will be instrumental in gaining metres down the middle of the field and tiring both the right and left edges of the Tigers’ defence. If the Burgess boys can start this game the way they finished against the Bulldogs, the young outside backs and hooker Damien Cook can devastate the Tigers.
With veteran John Sutton set to become the first Rabbitohs player to reach 300 games, centre Dane Gagai lining up for his 150thNRL match and the club chasing its 10thstraight win, Souths will be eager to secure victory.
Wests Tigers: 1 Moses Mbye, 2 David Nofoaluma, 3 Esan Marsters, 4 Kevin Naiqama, 5 Corey Thompson, 6 Benji Marshall, 7 Luke Brooks, 8 Russell Packer (c), 9 Robbie Farah, 10 Ben Matulino, 11 Michael Chee-Kam, 12 Josh Aloiai, 13 Elijah Taylor.
Interchange: 14 Alex Twal, 15 Sauaso Sue, 16 Luke Garner, 17 Matthew Eisenhuth.
Reserves: 18 Jacob Liddle, 19 Robbie Rochow, 20 Tim Grant, 21 Malakai Watene-Zelezniak.
South Sydney Rabbitohs: 1 Alex Johnston, 2 Campbell Graham, 3 Hymel Hunt, 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 Sam Burgess (c).
Interchange: 14 Adam Doueihi, 15 Cameron Murray, 16 Jason Clark, 17 Tevita Tatola.
Reserves: 18 Mark Nicholls, 19 Billy Brittan, 20 Dean Britt, 21 Braidon Burns.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Saturday, July 21 2018
Venue: ANZ Stadium
Kick-off: 5:30pm (AEST)
WHO WILL WIN?
Despite the Tigers’ exhilarating four-point victory over the Dragons last week, expect their newfound confidence to be stalled by a Rabbitohs side determined to keep winning and make Sutton’s 300-game milestone one to remember.
Rabbitohs by 12