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2021 NRL Round 25 Preview, Rabbitohs Vs Dragons

Matt Pritchard previews the final round clash between the Rabbitohs and Dragons on the Sunshine Coast. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: Sunshine Coast Stadium, Date: 4/9, Time: 7:35pm

Rabbitohs Team

1. Blake Taaffe
2. Taane Milne
3. Braidon Burns
4. Campbell Graham
5. Jaxson Paulo
6. Benji Marshall
7. Lachlan Ilias
8. Tevita Tatola
9. Peter Mamouzelos
10. Patrick Mago
11. Jaydn Su’A
12. Jacob Host
13. Mark Nicholls
14. Dean Hawkins
15. Tautau Moga
16. Jed Cartwright
17. Davvy Moale
18. Jai Arrow
19. Cameron Murray
20. Alex Johnston
21. Cody Walker

Team Changes

IN: Braidon Burns, Davvy Moale, Dean Hawkins, Jed Cartwright, Lachlan Ilias, Patrick Mago, Peter Mamouzelos, Taane Milne, Tautau Moga.
OUT: Adam Reynolds, Damien Cook, Dane Gagai, Latrell Mitchell, Liam Knight, Thomas Burgess.

Dragons Team

1. Tyrell Sloan
2. Mathew Feagai
3. Jack Bird
4. Gerard Beale
5. Mikaele Ravalawa
6. Talatau Amone
7. Corey Norman
8. Blake Lawrie
9. Jayden Sullivan
10. Josh McGuire
11. Billy Burns
12. Tariq Sims
13. Jack De Belin
14. Freddy Lussick
15. Tyrell Fuimaono
16. Daniel Alvaro
17. Poasa Faamausili
18. Jackson Ford
19. Adam Clune
20. Cody Ramsey
21. Kaide Ellis

Team Changes

IN: Adam Clune, Cody Ramsey, Gerard Beale, Kaide Ellis.
OUT: Zac Lomax

Referee: Matt Cecchin

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Rabbitohs

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South Sydney Rabbitohs will finish either second of third and will earn the right to a second chance in the opening weeks of the NRL Finals series. They disposed of Sydney Roosters in emphatic fashion by 54-12 in their last start. The result was overshadowed by Latrell Mitchell’s tackle on Joseph Manu which effectively has ended both their seasons.

With 11 wins in their last 12 matches by an average of 28 points, the Rabbitohs can afford to rest players ahead of a likely week 1 encounter with Melbourne or Penrith.

South Sydney will rest their key players Adam Reynolds, Damien Cook, Dane Gagai and Thomas Burgess. Cameron Murray, Alex Johnston and Cody Walker are on the reserves bench and won’t play. Blake Taaffe auditions for the fullback role with Mitchell side-lined. Lachlan Ilias will make his NRL debut at halfback alongside veteran Benji Marshall. Peter Mamouzelos will play at hooker. Mark Nicholls is rewarded with the captaincy.

Dragons

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St George-Illawarra Dragons end their campaign on Saturday night and will be hoping to finally end their seven game losing streak against a depleted South Sydney side.

In their last seven games they’ve been outscored by more than 2 to 1, scoring 16 points per game but conceding 35. Last week’s loss against North Queensland Cowboys confirmed they wouldn’t play in the 2021 NRL Finals.

Zac Lomax broke his thumb last round and is replaced by Gerard Beale in the only change to the eighteen man squad. It’s Beale’s first appearance since their loss to the Panthers in round 23.

Adam Clune and Kaide Ellis are unlikely to get a swansong finish to their time at the Dragons after being named on the reserves bench. Matt Dufty and Cam McInness are among several other players departing the Red V after their final game of 2021. It could also be the end of Corey Norman in Dragons colours as he’s yet to be re-signed.

PREVIEW

With so many South Sydney stars missing from this contest, by all rights St George-Illawarra Dragons should get the two points on offer and salvage some sort of pride from a disastrous two months where they went from top 8 contenders, to exiting at the end of the regular season.

South Sydney shouldn’t be discounted though. What we’ve seen from Blake Taaffe in his four NRL appearances so far has been positive. The good news is we’ll see more of him in 2022 playing potentially in his preferred half position. Wingers Milne and Paulo have been outstanding when called on by Wayne Bennett. Their forward pack is still solid despite Murray and Cook missing. It will be Benji Marshall who will direct play and despite being at the backend of his career will steer around this young Rabbitohs side capably.

The concern for the Dragons will be their defence: they are 15th placed in missed tackles slightly behind the team who won last time out against them in the North Queensland Cowboys. They certainly won’t lack motivation in attack but it’s their defence which will let them down. The Dragons have conceded 30 points or more in six of their last seven matches.

We’ll get to see a little more of Talatau Amone at five-eighth. With 10 games under his belt, Amone is quickly becoming a long-term prospect to partner Ben Hunt in the halves, depending on how Anthony Griffin uses Moses Mbye in the Red V’s 2022 campaign.

Sunshine Coast Stadium will present plenty of points with an average of 53 points scored in seven matches this season. South Sydney put 60 on New Zealand Warriors recently at the venue and could rack up a score if they’re in the mood.

KEY STAT

South Sydney Rabbitohs have won their previous six matches against the Dragons. The difference this time will be a depleted Rabbitohs side, giving the Dragons some hope of ending that streak.

PREDICTION

South Sydney might just get the two points here despite their missing players regardless of Friday night’s resulting impacting the Panthers and Storm. Rabbitohs by 14.

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