MATCH PREVIEW | South Sydney Rabbitohs vs St George Illawarra Dragons

Craig Cauchi previews the Friday night contest between two teams with vastly different fortunes in the South Sydney Rabbitohs and St George Illawarra Dragons.

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South Sydney Rabbitohs

Origin hit South Sydney hard and coincided with their run of losses. Now the representative period is over, the team looks to be returning to somewhere near pre-origin, with back-to-back wins readying them for a crack at the finals. They followed up their 1-point victory over Manly with a fighting comeback victory over the Cowboys last week, scoring three tries in the final ten minutes of the game.

St George Illawarra Dragons

The Dragons last victory came nearly a month ago against the Cowboys. Since then it’s only gone from bad to worse. Without their representative players, they almost stole one against the Storm but followed up with two dismal displays against the Raiders and Panthers. A lot has been said about the Dragons in the past couple of days and rightly so, with their recent form just not up to scratch.

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South Sydney Rabbitohs

1-17 South Sydney haven’t made any changes. The changes come in their reserves with the inclusion of the Burgess brothers. Reports are that Sam might still be a week away but Thomas Burgess is every chance of being a late inclusion on Friday night.

South Sydney Rabbitohs 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. Dean Britt 11. John Sutton 12. Ethan Lowe 13. Cameron Murray INTERCHANGE: 14. Tom Amone 15. Mark Nicholls 16. Jaydn Su’A 17. Kyle Turner RESERVES: 18. Connor Tracey 19. Corey Allan 20. Sam Burgess 21. Thomas Burgess

St George Illawarra Dragons

Not for the first time this year, the Dragons have made a host of changes. At least some of these changes are due to players returning from injury. Gareth Widdop returns in the halves to partner Ben Hunt, returning after his week off, pushing Corey Norman out to fullback. Matt Dufty has been moved to the bench. The dropping of wingers Jonus Pearson and Mikaele Ravalawa allowing Zac Lomax to make his return from injury and teenager Jason Saab to make his debut on the wing.

St George Illawarra Dragons squad: 1. Corey Norman 2. Jason Saab 3. Euan Aitken 4. Timoteo Lafai 5. Zac Lomax 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Ben Hunt 8. Blake Lawrie 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Tariq Sims 13. James Graham INTERCHANGE: 14. Josh Kerr 15. Korbin Sims 16. Matthew Dufty 17. Luciano Leilua RESERVES: 18. Reece Robson 19. Jacob Host 20. Patrick Kaufusi 21. Mikaele Ravalawa

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It’s hard to believe that this is nearly the same St George team that almost knocked South Sydney out of the finals last year in what was a thrilling golden point encounter. A lot has changed for both teams since then but such is the difference in improvement from that clash that when these two teams met in Round 2, South Sydney ended that with an easy 34-18 victory. In what ended up being Greg Inglis’ final match, South Sydney ran rampant over St George after the break, highlighting a worrying fade out that has become common for the Dragon’s team this year.


The key for the Dragons will be how they respond to adversity. There have been stories all week attempting to dissect just what has gone wrong at the Dragons for 2019 and you can be sure, the players and coaching staff have taken this week to speak honestly and openly about their troubles. With their backs against the wall, it’s going to be about how this playing group can pick themselves back up. They need a fast start with some early points in this period to build confidence but it will all be for nothing if they aren’t committed for the full 80. Fixing their attitude will come down to fixing their defence. They have conceded 76 points in the last two weeks and have allowed- on average- 24-points per game and not to mention their struggles against sides inside the top 8. They have key players returning from injury but it will all be in vain if they can’t find that trust in defence.

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South Sydney will be able to match the Dragons forward pack and expect Damien Cook to explode in this match with some attacking runs up the middle. Cameron Murray was a big factor the last time these two teams met and he will need to be closely watched and marked heavily for the entire contest. Braidon Burns helped himself to a few tries against the Dragons and expect South Sydney to attempt to expose the Dragons out wide in a similar fashion to Penrith last week. South Sydney’s normal game plan is to get into the grind with their opponent and tire them down. This might play into the Dragons strength, where an open game plan, with plenty of shifts will certainly have the Dragons working hard. This style of play will bring the likes of Cody Walker and James Roberts into play, and as we saw last week, when Souths abandon their structure and focus on playing what they say, they can score points at will.



Date: 26th Friday
Venue: ANZ Stadium
Kick-off: 7:55pm
Referee: Gerard Sutton, Matt Noyen


The Dragons will be hoping to remove the spotlight that has been placed upon them for the past week. A win against their more fancied opponents will help but a positive performance is much more important to instil pride and confidence back into the group. Still, South Sydney appear to have moved on from their origin hangover, with two contrasting victories. They are finding a way to win and with Wayne Bennet at the helm he will have them ready to face whatever is thrown their way. SOUTHS BY 10.


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