This game shapes as a battle between two of the most underwhelming sides of 2017 but a vital two competition points against a fellow struggler may provide welcome relief to one of the two under pressure coaches.
The Bulldogs are desperately trying to offload a number of their higher paid, higher profile stars in a bid to be salary cap compliant for 2018. You could forgive the playing group for having other things on their mind, which certainly seems likely given their recent run of defeats, only punctuated by a narrow, and very late, win against the Knights at Belmore.
2017 hasn’t been quite as cruel for the Bunnies but they are also facing scrutiny for a season that has failed to live up to expectations. It has continued a downward trend since their 2014 Premiership triumph which came, ironically, against Newcastle.
Both sides have shelved any plans for finals footy this season but a last-gasp win over the Dragons last week has put some wind in the sails of the Bunnies. A strong finish to the season could see them leapfrog some teams struggling for consistency and climb up the table.
2017 – Rd 7 Canterbury-Bankstown 24 def. South Sydney 9 at ANZ Stadium
2016 – Rd 26 South Sydney 28 def. Canterbury-Bankstown 10 at ANZ Stadium
2016 – Rd 4 Canterbury-Bankstown 42 def. South Sydney 12 at ANZ Stadium
2015 – Rd 24 Canterbury-Bankstown32 def. South Sydney 18 at ANZ Stadium
2015 – Rd 5 South Sydney 18 def. Canterbury 17 at ANZ Stadium
These two combatants first met in April of 1935, with the more-established Rabbitohs claiming a commanding 37-9 win. It was the Bulldogs who ran out triumphant in this fixture back in round seven this season.
The Dogs claimed that one 24-9 and notched their third win in their past four clashes with the Bunnies. The Rabbitohs themselves had dominated the fixture prior to the current run by Canterbury, winning five of the six previous games.
|Alex Johnston||1||1||Will Hopoate|
|Bryson Goodwin||2||2||Brett Morris|
|Aaron Gray||3||3||Josh Morris|
|Tyrell Fuimaono||4||4||Brenko Lee|
|Campbell Graham||5||5||Marcelo Montoya|
|Cody Walker||6||6||Josh Reynolds|
|Adam Reynolds||7||7||Chase Stanley|
|Thomas Burgess||8||8||Aiden Tolman|
|Damien Cook||9||9||Moses Mbye|
|Zane Musgrove||10||10||James Graham|
|John Sutton||11||11||Josh Jackson|
|Angus Crichton||12||12||Adam Elliott|
|Sam Burgess||13||13||David Klemmer|
|Robbie Farah||14||14||Sam Kasiano|
|George Burgess||15||15||Raymond Faitala-Mariner|
|Kyle Turner||16||16||Danny Fualalo|
|Cameron Murray||17||17||Matt Frawley|
|Anthony Cherrington||18||21||Asipeli Fine|
|Jack Gosiewski||19||23||Michael Lichaa|
The Facts That Matter
South Sydney Rabbitohs
The Bunnies welcome back the enigmatic Aaron Gray, who slots in at centre in place of Hymel Hunt, in their only change.
In a side that has struggled to create enough opportunities and keep with opponents across the full 80 minutes this season, Adam Reynolds has displayed plenty of his abundant talent in directing traffic. His kicking game, in particular, remains a key weapon in the Bunnies’ attack and often looks like their best chance of cracking a defensive line and scoring points.
Coincidentally, the Bulldogs have conceded more tries from kicks than any other team in the competition this season, so their outside backs and Will Hopoate could face a barrage of high balls across the full 80 minutes tonight.
All signs point to a close, low-scoring affair with both sides certainly capable of getting stuck into a grinding, one-out contest through the middle. The class of the Bunnies’ half-back and their more potent back line should be a huge bonus.
By some way the worst attacking side in the competition, the Bulldogs have, simply put, not scored enough points to trouble their opponents consistently. They average just over four points in the first half of games this season.
That said, Des Hasler has named the same 17 that suffered a 20-4 defeat at the hands of the Parramatta Eels last week, with Josh Reynolds and Chase Stanley together in the halves while Moses Mbye continues at hooker and Matt Frawley comes off the bench. While it is little surprise to see no changes given the limited resources available to Hasler, there remains little hope that this arrangement will produce the opportunities to score some much-needed points.
The Dogs have proven they can match it in a forward battle with most teams and their defensive efforts have been the highlight of a dismal season. They will want to contain the clash to the middle-third of the park for as long as possible in order to slow the Rabbitohs down and starve their outside backs of chances.
It is absolutely impossible to tip the Bulldogs in their current form. It shouldn’t be a high-scoring affair, so 1-12 is the obvious margin bet. It’s hard to see the Bunnies losing this one.
Who do you think will come out on top between the Rabbitohs or the Bulldogs? Let us know in the comments and poll below.
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