South Sydney Rabbitohs vs St George-Illawarra Dragons
Last Five: Rabbitohs 3 wins, Dragons 2 wins
Having been one of the 47,500 that turned out to Suncorp Stadium on Sunday afternoon I understand that finals are a fresh start and anything is possible! This clash will be massive and a mammoth crowd is expected at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night when South Sydney and St George Illawarra, who have two of the biggest supporter bases in the NRL, face off in the Telstra Premiership finals.
The Rabbitohs are battered and bruised after their narrow loss to Melbourne to kick off their play-off campaign while the Dragons’ stunning win in Brisbane was soured by the loss of skipper Gareth Widdop with a dislocated shoulder.
For the Bunnies, their forward pack will be amped up to cancel out the Dragons with the Burgess brothers – Sam, George and Tom – in red-hot form this season.
I love the back-rowers lining up here! John Sutton and Angus Crichton are tough as nails, while NSW Blues pair Tariq Sims and Tyson Frizell blitzed the hyped Broncos pack last Sunday at Suncorp Stadium.
Key match-up: Damien Cook v Cameron McInnes. The respective dummy-halves have a history and a rivalry – Cook came through the juniors in the Illawarra before making a go of his NRL career at the Rabbitohs while McInnes is a Souths product who has hit his straps the past two years after switching to the Dragons.
For the Rabbitohs to win: They need to shrug off the disappointment of last Friday’s loss. If the Rabbitohs can’t get themselves back up for this game, they could be stung by the Dragons just like Brisbane were in the first round of the playoffs.
For the Dragons to win: They can’t listen to the outside noise – they were underdogs against Brisbane but played like raging hot favourites. They will be given little chance against Souths, particularly without Widdop, but Paul McGregor won’t care about the odds – he will be focused on instilling belief in his players that they can continue to silence their critics.
Rabbitohs Stat Attack: South Sydney love to score and do it often with the most points (610) and tries (103) in the competition in 2018.
Dragons Stat Attack: The Red V lead the competition when it comes to tackle busts (933).
PREDICTION: The Dragons to do it without Widdop again under pressure and expect Hunt and the Brittish Bulldog to stand up and lead. Bunnies pack is a little bruised after their loss against the Storm. I am going to tip the Red V in another HUGE upset by a couple of points in a high scoring affair.