Thursday night of the Anzac round will feature the in-form Rabbitohs playing host to an injury-hit Broncos outfit, who are experiencing a relatively inconsistent run of results. It will be a milestone match for the Bunnies’ star centre and skipper Greg Inglis, who will run out for his 250th match.
After some rather lean seasons, there weren’t too many tipsters who were prepared to give the Rabbitohs much of a chance this season. Yet some of their results have been nothing short of impressive, particularly their demolition jobs on the Sea Eagles and Raiders, as well as their toppling of bitter rivals, the Roosters. They go into this match on the back of two successive victories and are buzzing with confidence.
Conversely, the Broncos’ form is anything but consistent. This is best exemplified in their losses to the Dragons, Titans and Knights. Their defeat by the Storm saw them play well in patches, but poorly in others. They head into this match on the back of three victories and four losses, compounded by injuries to key players, halfback Kodi Nikorima, hooker and workhorse Andrew McCullough, and representative back-rower Matt Gillett.
There is minimal doubt that the Bunnies will be keen to deliver a victory for skipper Inglis’ milestone match, as well as consolidating on their impressive form. The Broncos will be keen to prove they can win without their key players, and to get their season back on track with a win.
2017 - Round 14 - Brisbane Broncos 24 def. South Sydney Rabbitohs 18 at Suncorp Stadium.
2017 - Round 8 - Brisbane Broncos 25 def. South Sydney Rabbitohs 24 at ANZ Stadium.
2016 - Round 19 - Brisbane Broncos 30 def. South Sydney Rabbitohs 10 at ANZ Stadium.
2016 - Round 8 - Brisbane Broncos 30 def. South Sydney Rabbitohs 8 at Suncorp Stadium.
2015 - Round 25 - Brisbane Broncos 47 def. South Sydney Rabbitohs 12 at ANZ Stadium.
As can be deduced from the aforementioned, the Broncos have dominated the five most recent meetings between the two sides. In fact, the Bronx have been overwhelmingly dominant over the Bunnies since their inception in 1988.
Exemplifying this is the overall head-to-head statistics, in that the Broncos have won 27 of their matches with the Rabbitohs, with the Bunnies claiming victory in 11 of these matches, followed by a solitary drawn match in 2004. In fact, the only period in which the Rabbitohs were able to experience consistent success over the men from Red Hill was between 2013 and 2015, where the Bunnies won four consecutive matches.
|South Sydney Rabbitohs||Brisbane Broncos|
|1||Alex Johnston||Darius Boyd|
|2||Richie Kennar||Corey Oates|
|3||Greg Inglis||James Roberts|
|4/18||Dane Gagai||Tom Opacic|
|5||Robert Jennings||Jamayne Isaako|
|6||Cody Walker||Anthony Milford|
|7||Adam Reynolds||Jack Bird|
|8||Thomas Burgess||< player name redacted >|
|9||Damien Cook||Josh McGuire|
|10||George Burgess||Sam Thaiday|
|11||John Sutton||Alex Glenn|
|12||Angus Crichton||Jaydn Su'A|
|13||Cameron Murray||Tevita Pangai Jnr|
|14||Adam Doueihi||Sam Tagataese|
|15||Mark Nicholls||Joe Ofahengaue|
|16||Jason Clark||Kodi Nikorima|
|17||Tevita Tatola||Korbin Sims|
|18||Robbie Farah||Jonus Pearson|
|19||Hymel Hunt||Todd Murphy|
|20||Campbell Graham||Patrick Mago|
|21||Kyle Turner||Payne Haas|
The facts that matter
After beginning their season with two consecutive losses to the Warriors and Panthers, the Rabbitohs exploded into form with a commanding victory over the Sea Eagles, a Good Friday win over the Bulldogs, an impressive triumph over old rivals the Roosters, and a big win over the Raiders. In fact, it could well have been five victories for the Bunnies, had they not have left their run too late against the Dragons. These victories have lifted the men from Redfern into sixth position.
Statistically, the Bunnies are ranked second in terms of points scored, with only the Dragons ranked above them. Some of the factors behind this impressive statistic is the fact that Cody Walker is doing plenty of damage at five-eighth, while representative backs, Inglis and Dane Gagai are demonstrating their prowess in attack. Moreover, their forwards are eating up the metres. However, the Rabbitohs will be hampered by the loss of key forward Sam Burgess, through a two week suspension.
Despite the obvious void in the Bunnies’ forward pack, they have enough quality in their engine room to cover for the loss of Burgess. They only need to take their current form into this match and consolidate on it, and their backs and halves can do the rest.
The Broncos find themselves sitting in 10th position, with their attack looking rather ordinary, and their defence a far cry from the Great Wall that coach Wayne Bennett has ingrained in them. In regards to their three victories this season, their victories against the Cowboys and Warriors have demonstrated what the Bronx are capable of. In fact, their victory over the previously undefeated Warriors showed that the Bronx can rally around each other to defy the odds and jag a win.
However, they were rather fortunate to escape with the points against the Tigers. Moreover, their losses to the Dragons, Titans, Knights and Storm have exposed some of the glaring weaknesses that the Broncos have, as well as the number of errors committed during those matches. Despite their defence not being as great as it normally is, the men from Red Hill have a tackle efficiency of 88%, which his slightly higher than their opponents. However, they will be really tested in defence, given the loss of tackling machine and workhorse Andrew McCullough through injury.
In attack, the Broncos forwards will need to contain the in-form Rabbitohs pack and lay the foundation for their backs, in order for halves pairing of Anthony Milford and Jack Bird to set up their crucial plays. Winger Corey Oates will relish playing the Bunnies, given he has scored seven tries in five matches against them.
Despite the dominance that the Broncos have had over the Rabbitohs, the form of both teams suggest that the Bunnies are in a better position to secure victory in this match. Their attack has proven to be difficult to contain, and if they play the way they have done against the Sea Eagles, Roosters and Raiders, it could be a long night for the Bronx to endure, especially with the absence of defensive workhorses, Andrew McCullough and Matt Gillett.
Whilst the Rabbitohs are without a key player of their own in Sam Burgess, there is enough quality within their ranks to cover for this loss. Conversely, I feel that the loss of their tackling machines, coupled by their inconsistent form will be too much of an obstacle to overcome for the Broncos. As such, I will tip the men from Redfern to snap their losing streak against the men from Red Hill, and send them back north of the border empty-handed. Rabbitohs by 8.
Can the Rabbitohs keep up their decent form, or will the Broncos bounce back from a last-start loss? Let us know in the comments below.