The Canberra Raiders will be eager to extend their winning streak on Saturday afternoon at GIO Stadium when they take on a South Sydney Rabbitohs side down on confidence after two straight losses.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
Coming off the back of a tough, wholesome victory against the competition-leading Sydney Roosters, the Raiders will be looking to upset another premiership favourite in Saturday’s clash. Whilst the boys from Canberra remain out of finals contention, a victory on Saturday afternoon would put the Rabbitohs’ top four spot in doubt.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Following their valiant victory against the Melbourne Storm in Round 21, the Rabbitohs have lost two in a row against the Sydney Roosters (Round 22) and Brisbane Broncos (Round 23). Given the Raiders’ recent run of form, the Rabbitohs will need to re-focus on what made them so dominant during their mid-season run of wins if they are to come out on top.
With Michael Oldfield set to make his return at from a knee injury (centre), Elliott Whitehead has been shifted back to the second row to take the place of Joe Tapine (broken thumb).
South Sydney Rabbitohs
In a host of changes, Alex Johnston (fullback), Campbell Graham (winger) and Greg Inglis (centre) have all been named to make their return from injury. To accommodate, coach Anthony Siebold has elected to shift Dane Gagai back to the centres and recall Tyrell Fuimaono to the interchange bench.
For the Raiders to dominate the Rabbitohs, it is vital that they replicate the defensive effort that they displayed against the Sydney Roosters last week. Given the sheer size of the Rabbitohs’ forward pack, the Raiders’ forward pack must be prepared for a fierce, 80-minute battle. From an attacking perspective, capitalising on every opportunity that they are presented with will give them the best opportunity to mount pressure and challenge the Rabbitohs’ defensive line. If forwards Josh Papalii and Iosia Soliola can follow suit and replicate their respective 156m and 147m efforts from Round 23, their crafty backline will be given the best opportunity to create havoc and expose the Rabbitohs down the middle of the ruck.
This clash against the Raiders is vital in the context of the Rabbitohs’ season. With only two games remaining in the regular season, another loss would place the boys from South Sydney in serious danger of missing a spot in the coveted top four. When considering how quickly the boys from Canberra can score points, it is imperative that the Rabbitohs exhibit the relentless defence that made them unbeatable earlier this year. The performances of the Burgess brothers are vital in terms of their go-forward. Making it their intent to get their hands on the football and make valuable metres down the middle of the field will place them in good field position and give halves Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds the opportunity to utilise their speed. The return of Greg Inglis (thumb) from a long stint on the sideline will certainly instil a large amount of confidence into a side looking to avoid three straight losses.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs won their last clash (round seven) convincingly, trumping the boys from Canberra 42-22.
Canberra Raiders: 1 Brad Abbey, 2 Nick Cotric, 3 Michael Oldfield, 4 Joseph Leilua, 5 Jordan Rapana, 6 Blake Austin, 7 Sam Williams, 8 Dunamis Lui, 9 Josh Hodgson, 10 Shannon Boyd, 11 Iosia Soliola, 12 Elliott Whitehead, 13 Josh Papalii. Interchange: 14 Emre Guler, 15 Junior Paulo, 16 Siliva Havili, 17 Luke Bateman. Reserves: 18 Jack Murchie, 19 Liam Knight.
South Sydney Rabbitohs: 1 Alex Johnston, 2 Campbell Graham, 3 Greg Inglis, 4 Dane Gagai, 5 Hymel Hunt, 6 Cody Walker, 7 Adam Reynolds, 8 Thomas Burgess, 9 Damien Cook, 10 George Burgess, 11 John Sutton, 12 Angus Crichton, 13 Sam Burgess. Interchange: 15 Cameron Murray, 16 Jason Clark, 17 Tevita Tatola, 19 Tyrell Fuimaono. Reserves: 20 Dean Britt, 21 Mawene Hiroti.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Saturday, August 25 2018
Venue: GIO Stadium
Kick-off: 3:00pm (AEST)
WHO WILL WIN?
Whilst the Raiders are coming off a confidence-building victory, expect the Rabbitohs to bounce back and make a statement against the Green Machine.
Rabbitohs by 14