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PREVIEW: Rd 3, 2017

Words: Lachlan Stewart

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Newcastle Knights vs. South Sydney Rabbitohs
Saturday 18 March
McDonald Jones Stadium
Kick-off: 4:30pm

After opening their account for the 2017 season with a 38-18 victory over the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, the South Sydney Rabbitohs will venture north to take on the Newcastle Knights in round three of the NRL Telstra Premiership at McDonald Jones Stadium.

The Rabbitohs will be seeking to build on their performance against the Sea Eagles, however the Novocastrians will be up for the challenge after defeating the Gold Coast Titans to claim their first victory in 335 days.

Despite a poor showing in the opening round of the season, the Rabbitohs bounced back from the disappointing outing to display a number of positive signs in their clash against their northern beaches based opponents in round two.

Adam Reynolds successfully returned to the field after recovering from appendicitis, whilst Alex Johnson impressed in the custodian position in the place of the injured Greg Inglis.

Reynolds was solid on return, with the halfback kicking seven conversions, running for 82 metres with ball in hand and completing 17 tackles.

Similarly, Johnson was strong at the back for the Red and Greens, adding to his remarkable try scoring record with two tries, pushing his career tally to 51 tries.

Although significant improvements were made across the park by Michael Maguire’s side, the South Sydney mentor still believes that the playing group has plenty of work to do in order to reach their full potential.

“We’re well and truly aware of where we sit at the moment.

“There’s a lot that we are looking at in our game, our start and in the previous week there was a lot in our game that we needed to have a look at.

“There were a few areas there that we need to make sure that we’re really sharp at because we’ve got a team that’s going to be throwing a lot at us this week.”

Undoubtedly, Newcastle will enter the clash with their tails up after a thrilling victory which saw the side equal their victory tally from the previous season.

Provided with his second win at the helm, Knights Head Coach Nathan Brown has signalled his intent to ensure that his side replicate their form throughout the year.

“It’s important to continue to work hard for each other and continue to improve and get those wins on the board.

“We’re not going to be happy with that one win and taking a step back next week, we’re going to continue moving forward,” said Brown.

Spotlight: The Halves

Based off what the Rabbitohs and Knights have delivered so far in 2017, it is likely that this game will possess an abundance of attacking flair. Both sides have posted 56 points (10 tries and 8 goals) across their two outings, showing that neither side is shy to cross the try line.

The halves combinations for both sides shone in their respective games in Round 2, with Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker combining brilliantly for the first time this season and Trent Hodkinson and Brock Lamb looking lethal in the infancy of their partnership.

The way in which the halves combine together and with their outside backs will no doubt have a major influence on the outcome of the match.

NYC

Newcastle Knights vs. South Sydney Rabbitohs
Saturday 18 March
McDonald Jones Stadium
Kick-off: 12:15pm

The South Sydney Rabbitohs NYC (Under 20’s) side will be looking to find their way into the winners circle coming off the back of two straight losses to commence their season.

Despite showing great fight to almost overcome the Wests Tigers late in their opening match, the Rabbitohs were convincingly beaten by the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in Round 2.

On the other side of the equation, the Newcastle Knights have had a strong start to their season, winning in Round 1 against the New Zealand Warriors before narrowly missing out to the Gold Coast Titans in a high scoring affair.

Both sides will be looking for stronger defensive efforts when they clash in the first match of the day which also features the North Sydney Bears and the Newcastle Knights in the Intrust Super Cup as well as the NRL clash between the two senior sides.

Look out for the Rabbitohs forward pack, which features the likes of experienced NYC campaigners Gabe Hamlin and Josh Saunders, who will be looking to get through plenty of work in attack and defence throughout the match.