Neve O’Neill previews the Friday night showdown between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and Wests Tigers.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
In a strong win last week against the Canterbury Bulldogs, the Rabbitohs showed great promise and flair in both their attack and defence. Bar an 8 point loss to the Penrith Panthers in round 7, the Rabbitohs have been in red hot (and green) form since the resumption of the NRL season. Currently sitting 9th on the NRL ladder, a win would help them jump ahead of the Tigers and make their way into the top 8.
Coming off a narrow (and fiery!) loss in round 8 to their old foes, the Penrith Panthers, the Tigers will be looking to get back into the winners circle by playing with the same grit and determination they showed in their round 6 and 7 wins against the North Queensland Cowboys and Canterbury Bulldogs. As their spot in the top 8 is on the line in this clash, this Sydney battle is shaping up to be a cracker.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Second rower Bayley Sironen returns on the interchange bench in place of an injured Braidon Burns (knee – season). Backs Steven Masters and Corey Allan (reserves) may get a late call up to the interchange bench to fill the void left by Burns.
1 Latrell Mitchell, 2 Dane Gagai, 3 Campbell Graham, 4 James Roberts, 5 Alex Johnston, 6 Cody Walker, 7 Adam Reynolds, 8 Tevita Tatola, 9 Damien Cook, 10 Thomas Burgess, 11 Jaydn Su’A, 12 Ethan Lowe, 13 Cameron Murray. Interchange: 14 Liam Knight, 15 Bailey Sironen, 16 Patrick Mago, 17 Hame Sele. Reserves: 18 Mark Nicholls, 19 Steven Marsters, 20 Troy Dargan, 21 Corey Allan.
With Joey Leila suspended (four weeks) as a result of a swinging arm in last week’s clash against the Panthers, Michael Chee-Kam moves to centre. Chris Lawrence has been recalled to the interchange bench. Moses Mbye, Luciana Leila and Sam McIntyre are all expected to take the field. In a late change, coach Michael Maguire has promoted Benji Marshall from the reserves to the interchange bench for the first time since round 4. With halves Josh Reynolds and Luke Brooks retained, it is expected that the veteran will fill a utility role.
1 Adam Doueihi, 2 David Nofoaluma, 3 Michael Chee-Kam, 4 Moses Mbye, 5 Tommy Talau, 6 Josh Reynolds, 7 Luke Brooks, 8 Josh Aloiai, 9 Harry Grant, 10 Oliver Clark, 11 Luke Garner, 12 Luciano Leila, 13 Matthew Eisenhuth. Interchange: 14 Elijah Taylor, 15 Thomas Mikaele, 16 Sam McIntyre, 17 Chris Lawrence. Reserves: 18 Benji Marshall, 19 Reece Hoffman, 20 Billy Walters, 21 Russell Packer.
Since 1998, these two teams have faced each other 34 times. Of those games, the Rabbitohs have won 18 with the Tigers just behind on 16.
BATTLE TO WATCH
The key match-up of this clash is hookers Damien Cook (South Sydney Rabbitohs) and Harry Grant (Wests Tigers). Both electric runners of the ball with dazzling footwork, this battle will be exciting and may even be an Origin preview. With Cook the New South Wales incumbent and Grant tipped by many as Queensland’s future No.9, all eyes will be fixed on the dynamic duo.
Prediction: Both teams will be eager to clock another win and push themselves further up the NRL ladder. With plenty of points on show, I expect that the Tigers will bounce back from last week’s disappointment and sneak home in the final minutes.
Tigers by 6 points.
Date: Friday 10 July, 2020
Venue: Bankwest Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: 7:55pm (AEST)