Mitch Dransfield previews the Saturday afternoon clash between the Rabbitohs and Sea Eagles at ANZ Stadium in Round 17.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
South Sydney Rabbitohs
South Sydney were treated to their bye round last week, and off the back of four straight defeats, a win in their next meeting will be highly sought after.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Manly have produced a string of victories during the Origin period with three on the trot and a bye in the last round. They will be looking to continue their winning streak.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Sam Burgess returns from a shoulder clean out which forces Ethan Lowe to revert back to the bench. Junior Tatola starts in place of the suspended George Burgess while Adam Doueihi is named at fullback. Jaydn Su’A is listed in the reserves with the possibility of making his club debut.
Squad: 1. Adam Doueihi 2. Dane Gagai 3. James Roberts 4. Braidon Burns 5. Campbell Graham 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Liam Knight 11. John Sutton 12. Sam Burgess 13. Cameron Murray 14. Ethan Lowe 15. Mark Nicholls 16. Dean Britt 17. Kyle Turner 18. Jaydn Su’a 19. Connor Tracey 20. Tom Amone 21. Corey Allan 22. Billy Brittain 23. Bayley Sironen.
Manly-Warringa Sea Eagles
The Sea Eagles have named the same 17 that have played over the past two rounds with Origin reps Tom Trbojevic, Jake Trbojevic and Daly Cherry-Evans are named to back up from Wednesday’s decider.
Squad: 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Dylan Walker 4. Moses Suli 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Cade Cust 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Manase Fainu 10. Martin Taupau 11. Joel Thompson 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Brendan Elliot 15. Corey Waddell 16. Morgan Boyle 17. Taniela Paseka 18. Lachlan Croker 19. Kane Elgey 20. Brad Parker 21. Haumole Olakau’atu 22. Lloyd Perrett.
HEAD TO HEAD
These two rivals last met in a thrilling match in round four at Lottoland where South Sydney were undefeated so far through the season and Manly were looking to post back-to-back wins for the first time. It was an epic matchup with both sides close to full strength and much drama with big hits, injuries and controversial calls, but at full time it couldn’t be split and went to Golden Point. After pair of attempts at the one point winner from both Adam Reynolds and Daly Cherry-Evans, DCE eventually had the home side through with his second attempt from 35 metres for Manly to win 13-12.
Travel in time to now in round 17 and the sides are close once again moving into this game with the Sea Eagles on the edge of slipping into the top four while the Rabbitohs are trying to re-capture their early season form after four straight defeats. They are trying to stay inside that elusive group running into the finals. This meeting will have great significance on the table with the back end of the season upon us.
This match features a mouthwatering battle between the chief playmakers Daly Cherry-Evans and Adam Reynolds. These two command the ball during the biggest of moments of the games with clutch plays which decide the outcome of their sides’ fortunes more often than not.
Reynolds will need to be pivotal in this outing with Souths now staring down the barrel of five straight losses. The number seven’s ability to create forced drop outs (with a tally of 17 this season), his crafty short kicking game, alongside his skill in turning field position for the team to get out of trouble with an average of 400+ kicking metres. Reynolds’ kicking game will be a crucial part in stopping Manly’s outside backs from helping their forwards while applying enough pressure for South Sydney to create chances to score.
The Queensland and Australian halfback, DCE will return to club level to captain Manly after an important Origin decider. The professionalism of Cherry-Evans in providing consistent performances across the season has helped the Sea Eagles stay in the mix for another finals berth. Manly’s main playmaker has aided his younger half Cade Cust to naturally come in and out of the match to assist him while leading himself with 7 try assists and 300+ kick metres providing an all round skill set that brings his other outside backs or forwards into the match. For the streak of wins to continue, the Manly halfback will need to be at the top of his game, taking control with possession in attacking opportunities but also when or if his side is in trouble.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Saturday, 13th July
Venue: ANZ Stadium
Referee: Grant Atkins
WHO WILL WIN?
This is the match of the round with the Rabbitohs hanging onto their top four position while the Sea Eagles are looking for a top four berth. The return of Sam Burgess for the Bunnies is enormous for their confidence as well as their Origin contingent playing after the decider. It will be up to those stars, alongside the halves of Souths, to turn around their recent dip in form. The Sea Eagles are out to show they are real contenders for the premiership and a top four finish in 2019. With all their star players now back firing after the representative period, the cohesion of Cherry-Evans and both Trbojevics will be paramount if they are to topple Souths. This will be a possession game and low scoring with both sides’ defence being some of the best in the NRL, but with the past performances of South Sydney starting to waiver, it will be close to a must-win to get their run home back on track.
Prediction: Rabbitohs by two.