It’s do or die semi-finals time as the Rabbitohs take on the Dragons at ANZ Stadium.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
After a 51-10 thrashing of the Tigers in Round 25, the Bunnies faced an in form Storm. Looking to record their first ever win in Victoria, they came agonizingly close in a 28-29 loss.
The momentum swung back and forth throughout the match with both teams trading leads. Souths looked to have all the momentum in the 72nd minute after a strong solo run from Cam Murray gave them a six point lead. However the Storm immediately hit back to draw level and a Cam Munster field goal delivered Souths the narrowest of losses.
The Burgess boys had been a key feature of the team all year but they had a less than stellar night out. Sam had an atrocious night with the ball, making four errors, while George was sin-binned early in the second half, giving the Storm a crucial penalty goal shot.
The Dragons had been written off by nearly every league expert and fan around, including their own supporters. Nobody could have imagined the 48-18 scoreline that transpired.
After conceding the first try, the Dragons forwards woke up and dominated. Tariq Sims was a man possessed as he crossed for a first half hat-trick. The second half saw them continue to apply the pressure and add three more tries.
This all happened while they had lost James Graham to concussion, De Belin to an ankle injury and Gareth Widdop re-injured his shoulder.
Unchanged from 1-17. The Rabbitohs only used 15 players against the Storm with Hymel Hunt and Dean Britt sitting on their hands for the whole game. Coach Seibold might look to change things up in that regard.
Kurt Mann shifts to five-eighth in place of Widdop with Hame Sele named on the bench. Graham and De Belin are set to play while Euan Aitken may be a late inclusion. Although the form displayed by Zac Lomax against the Broncos along with his goal-kicking means coach Mary is in for a difficult decision this week.
Ben Hunt had his best game in months against the Broncos. After the avalanche of criticism he had been receiving, it was a welcome sight to see him back in top form.
He’ll need to back that up and go to an even higher level without the assistance of Widdop. The Cowboys’ finals run last year proved that even a forward pack running on fumes can win on determination along with a half in stellar form. Hunt can be that man for the Dragons.
It’ll be tough against a team that has a forward pack that’ll be eager to make up for last week, in particular Sam Burgess. He’ll be fired up and eager to atone for his performance against the Storm. If he holds onto the ball, the Dragons could be in for a world of hurt.
Talent vs Tenacity. It’s been seen throughout the years that teams with the superior side on paper don’t always come away with the win in finals football.
The Rabbitohs subjectively have a superior line-up in the key positions of 1, 6 & 9 and are close to full-strength minus Adam Doueihi. As the cliché goes: it’s all about who turns up on the day though.
Just like last week there are few who would give the Dragons a chance and they’ll welcome all the pressure to win being placed on their opponent’s shoulders.
1 Alex Johnston, 2 Campbell Graham, 3 Greg Inglis, 4 Dane Gagai, 5 Robert Jennings, 6 Cody Walker, 7 Adam Reynolds, 8 Tom Burgess, 9 Damien Cook, 10 George Burgess, 11 John Sutton, 12 Angus Crichton, 13 Sam Burgess (c)
Interchange: 14 Hymel Hunt, 15 Cameron Murray, 16 Jason Clark, 17 Dean Britt
Reserves: 18 Braidon Burns, 19 Matt Nicholls, 20 Tevita Tatola, 21 Connor Tracey
1 Matt Dufty, 2 Nene Macdonald, 3 Zac Lomax, 4 Tim Lafai, 5 Jordan Pereira, 6 Kurt Mann, 7 Ben Hunt, 8 James Graham, 9 Cameron McInnes, 10 Leeson Ah Mau, 11 Tyson Frizell, 12 Tariq Sims, 13 Jack de Belin
Interchange: 14 Jeremy Latimore, 15 Hame Sele, 16 Blake Lawrie, 17 Luciano Leilua
Reserves: 18 Jason Nightingale, 19 Jai Field, 20 Euan Aitken, 21 Jacob Host
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Saturday September 15th
Venue: ANZ Stadium
WHO WILL WIN?