The high-flying South Sydney Rabbitohs are on en route to the Gold Coast as the Glitter Strip plays host to an epic clash between the Bunnies and the battling Titans.
Greg Inglis laid down a marker as a dominant leader during Queensland’s humbling 22-12 defeat in Melbourne on Wednesday night and he’s expected to maintain that form as he leads the Bunnies into battle against a Titans side battling for consistency and coherency in possession of the football.
The Titans should be well rested after a Round 13 bye but will be hoping powerhouse forwards Jai Arrow and Jarrod Wallace can back up from their Origin exploits with the Maroons and lay down a solid platform.
Stopping a Bunnies side which is arguably the in-form team in the league will be a difficult task for a Titans side that has the raw bones of a decent outfit but lacks real strike weapons around the likes of Ash Taylor and the aforementioned Queensland forwards.
2017 – South Sydney Rabbitohs 36 def. Gold Coast Titans 20 at ANZ Stadium
2016 – Gold Coast Titans 29 def. South Sydney Rabbitohs 28 at nib Stadium, Perth
2015 – South Sydney Rabbitohs 22 def. Gold Coast Titans 16 at Cbus Super Stadium
2014 – Gold Coast Titans 14 def. South Sydney Rabbitohs 10 at ANZ Stadium
2014 – South Sydney Rabbitohs 40 def. Gold Coast Titans 18 at Cbus Super Stadium
The Rabbitohs have traditionally held the upper hand in clashes with the Titans and have won seven of the past nine games between the two sides.
South Sydney trounced the Gold Coast 36-20 at ANZ Stadium last year with Angus Crichton’s hat-trick of tries a highlight of a dominant performance.
|Gold Coast Titans||South Sydney Rabbitohs|
|1||Michael Gordon||Alex Johnston|
|2||Anthony Don||Campbell Graham|
|3||Dale Copley||Greg Inglis|
|4||Brenko Lee||Dane Gagai|
|5||Phillip Sami||Robert Jennings|
|6||AJ Brimson||Cody Walker|
|7||Ash Taylor||Adam Reynolds|
|8||Jarrod Wallace||Thomas Burgess|
|9||Nathan Peats||Damien Cook|
|10||Ryan James||George Burgess|
|11||Kevin Proctor||John Sutton|
|12||Will Matthews||Angus Crichton|
|13||Jai Arrow||Sam Burgess|
|14||Mitch Rein||Adam Doueihi|
|15||Max King||Cameron Murray|
|16||Moeaki Fotuaika||Jason Clark|
|17||Keegan Hipgrave||Junior Tatola|
|18||Jack Stockwell||Robbie Farah|
|19||Bryce Cartwright||Hymel Hunt|
|20||Kane Elgey||Mark Nicholls|
|21||Morgan Boyle||Tyrell Fuimaono|
* The Rabbitohs have received an 'additional player exemption' due to State of Origin commitments.
The facts that matter
Gold Coast Titans
The Titans remain of the biggest enigmas in the competition. There is a smattering of high-quality talent on the Gold Coast and the likes of Ashley Taylor look to be genuine superstars but there is a disturbing lack of firepower amongst the cattle around them and the wins have once again not come round with any genuine consistency in 2018.
Currently down in 12th position on the ladder, the Titans are six points outside the top eight and in desperate need of a win to try and keep touch with those bound for the finals.
Last week’s bye came at the perfect time to rest and recharge the batteries and the return of Arrow and Wallace will add some much-needed starch to a forward pack too often beaten through the middle third.
The Titan’s defensive frailties through the centre of the park could be further exposed by the fine form of a South Sydney pack led by the three Burgess brothers who have been at the very top of their game in recent weeks.
On the positive side of the ledger, the Titans do have a fully fit and healthy roster to call on with no injuries whatsoever.
With just four wins to their credit in 2018, the Titans have struggled to find the right combinations in a number of areas around the park. Young AJ Brimson remains in the halves alongside Ash Taylor this week while the criminally under-performing Bryce Cartwright only manages a spot amongst the extended reserves along with Kane Elgey who has had his own opportunities in the number six jersey.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
As previously mentioned, the Rabbitohs have been amongst the best teams in the competition over the last four or five weeks and, propelled by the Burgess brothers, Damien Cook, Adam Reynolds and others, they’ve become a genuine title contender under new head coach Anthony Seibold.
Damien Cook was amongst the Blues’ best in their 22-12 win over Queensland on Wednesday night and his darting work out of dummy-half and through the ruck has been a highlight of the campaign so far.
Now that he’s been rewarded with representative honours, I’d expect his game to go to the next level.
Evergreen veteran John Sutton has also wound the clock back and looks right at the peak of his powers in a back-row which is dominating the fringes and making metres at will. Sutton looked a shadow of his former self in recent seasons, but his return to form is yet another big seal of approval for Siebold and the work he’s done in turning around a side that had stagnated under Michael Maguire.
Young backs Richard Kennar (foot) and Braidon Burns (knee) remain out indefinitely, but other than that, the Bunnies are at pretty much full strength.Alex Johnston returns at fullback while the exciting Campbell Graham keeps his spot on the wing outside Greg Inglis, who put together a stunning individual performance for the Maroons on Wednesday night.
Dane Gagai is in doubt after the Origin clash, but Inglis, Angus Crichton and Cook are all expected to back up and play on Friday night.
It is almost impossible to overlook the Bunnies in their current form.South Sydney overcome a decent Sharks outfit without four of their biggest stars last week and Anthony Seibold looks to have a well-drilled, intense and effective football side right now.
The Titans have been too patchy and there’s plenty more Garth Brennan needs to do in terms of roster management before they’ll compete consistently.South Sydney by 13+ in this one.
Who wins this prime-time Friday night blockbuster, the Titans or the Bunnies? Let us know in the comments and poll below.