Brendan Wood previews the Thursday night clash between the Wests Tigers and South Sydney Rabbitohs. This is what we have to look forward to.
The Tigers are coming off a miraculous comeback win last week against Manly 34-32, where they scored three tries in the final 10 minutes to steal a win and keep their season alive. In the week prior they were beaten comprehensively by Penrith 30-6. They remain in 9th position, four points behind Cronulla in 8th.
South Sydney are coming off a tough loss to the Storm 22-16 in a game they led for the majority. In their two games leading up to this loss they were in red-hot form, beating Manly 56-16 and the Eels 38-0 two weeks ago. They currently sit in 7th position, two points behind the Raiders in 5th spot.
1. Moses Mbye 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Joseph Leilua 4. Adam Doueihi 5. Asu Kepaoa 6. Benji Marshall 7. Luke Brooks 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Harry Grant 10. Thomas Mikaele 11. Luke Garner 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Alex Twal Bench: 14. Matt Eisenhuth 15. Elijah Taylor 16. Jacob Liddle 17. Sam McIntyre Reserves: 18. Chris Lawrence 19. Tommy Talau 20. Josh Reynolds 21. Russell Packer.
The Tigers are unchanged from the side that defeated Manly last week.
1. Corey Allan 2. Alex Johnston 3. Campbell Graham 4. Steven Marsters 5. Dane Gagai 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Liam Knight 9. Damien Cook 10. Thomas Burgess 11. Jaydn Su’A 12. Bayley Sironen 13. Cameron Murray Bench: 14. Mark Nicholls 15. Jed Cartwright 16. Patrick Mago 17. Keaon Koloamatangi Reserves: 18. Jaxson Paulo 19. Ky Rodwell 20. Troy Dargan 21. Cory Denniss.
Dane Gagai returns from a hamstring injury on the wing, with Jaxson Paulo dropping out. Junior Tatola is out and is replaced by Liam Knight, with Jed Cartwright coming onto the bench.
Since 1998 these two sides have met 35 times with South Sydney holding a slight advantage in head to head wins, 19 to the Tigers 16. These teams have played each other once already this season, with the Rabbitohs grabbing an 18-10 win over the Tigers in round nine.
This game features the league leader in tries and linebreaks (David Nofoaluma – 17 each) and the league leader in dummy-half runs (Damien Cook – 148).
BATTLE TO WATCH
Luke Brooks vs Adam Reynolds. The two halfbacks will have a big say in the outcome of this game. The finish to attacking sets could either mean building pressure and scoring points if done well or giving up seven tackle sets and turning the ball over if done poorly.
This is an area of the game Adam Reynolds has excelled at throughout his career. His short kicking game gives the Rabbitohs a chance to build pressure on teams to tire them out, allowing for free movement from Damien Cook and the forward pack around the ruck as the game wears on. Reynolds’ accurate goal kicking has also set the standard for the rest of the NRL in recent times and could be the difference if the game is closely contested.
With the knowledge Benji Marshall will no longer be at the Tigers in 2021, this is the chance for Luke Brooks to stamp his authority on a must-win game and prove to the club he can live up to his highly touted potential for next season. His kicking game was on point last week as he setup the match winning try for Adam Doueihi with a pin-point kick in the final minutes. He’ll need to be at that level again or better if the Tigers are to cause an upset.
The Tigers need to keep winning to keep their season alive, so don’t be surprised if they throw the ball around like they did in the late stages against Manly last week. They’ll need to be better if they are to knock off the Rabbitohs who are in great form despite a loss last week. If the Rabbitohs can keep their form rolling and Damien Cook can run from dummy-half freely, they should have too much firepower for a leaky Tigers defence.
Rabbitohs by eight.
Date: Thursday 10 September 2020
Venue: Bankwest Stadium, Sydney