NRL and Holden Cup Previews - Rabbitohs vs Warriors - Round Five, 2013
Sunday 7 April, 4pm kickoff (NZ time), 2pm (AEST) Mt Smart Stadium
Official Twitter hashtags - #NRLWarSou #gorabbitohs
The Rabbitohs will be looking to take the two points in New Zealand, a venue where they havent won since 2009. Should they do so, theyll remain in the top two and likely set up a top of the table showdown in round six with the reigning Premiers, the Melbourne Storm.
The Warriors scored their first win of the season against the surprisingly struggling Cowboys and theyll be looking to make it two in a row at Mt Smart Stadium. 2012 was a disappointing year for the 2011 Grand Finalists and 2013 didnt get off to the brightest of starts, but theyll be buoyed by the last round win.
Michael Maguire has named an interesting line-up with Captain Michael Crocker 18th man and Sam Burgess slotting in at lock. Dave Tyrrell has been named in the starting side after some good form and Ben Lowe will once again come off the bench. See the Rabbitohs line-up here.
There are injury concerns for the Warriors in Ben Henry, Dane Neilsen and Kevin Locke, none of whom finished the game against the Cowboys, although all three have been named. Manu Vatuvei has also been named on an extended bench.
Should the Rabbitohs beat the Warriors it would be only the eighth time from 27 encounters since they entered the competition in 1995. The Warriors won 12 straight against the Rabbitohs between 1999 and 2007, including South Sydneys biggest ever defeat, a 66-0 shellacking in 2006.
Over the last eight games the sides are tied at four wins each but the Warriors are currently on a three match winning streak.
The last meeting between the sides was at Mt Smart Stadium in round seven, 2012. The Warriors scored 22 points in each half to record a dominant 44-22 victory over a lacklustre South Sydney side.
The big performer for the Warriors was Simon Mannering who scored two tries and ran 101 metres, his biggest return of the year. He also added 26 tackles. Ben Matulino was also outstanding, running 17 times for 172 metres.
For the Rabbitohs, Michael Crocker worked hard all day with 48 tackles while Andrew Everingham and Dave Taylor both crossed for doubles.
Keys to Victory
Its fair to say the Warriors havent had the best start to the season. Quite simply, their attack has been ordinary. They have made just eight line breaks this season, last in the NRL, and combined for 77 tackle breaks, also last. The Warriors have also scored the equal least number of tries (9), made the fewest runs (558) and fewest metres (4676) in the competition.
The man who will be tasked with creating the bulk of the Warriors' scoring chances is Shaun Johnson. So far this season he has been up and down, with two average games and two superb displays, including a match winning performance last week against the Cowboys.
Johnson is the key man in attack and if the Rabbitohs cant shut down the New Zealand forwards and he is afforded space, look out.
South Sydney seemed to get their groove back in defence last week after a poor showing against the Panthers, and this must be a big concern for statistically the worst offense in the league. Of even more concern is the Rabbitohs' attack. The emergence of George Burgess, along with the powerful running of Jeff Lima, Ben Teo and Sam Burgess, will surely have Warriors coach Matthew Elliot worried. Add to that, interchange ball runners Ben Lowe and Dave Tyrrell, who are both in great form. Chris McQueen, the re-invented second rower, has played 80 minutes in each of the Rabbitohs games this year, averaging 27 tackles and ten runs per game. Round out that forward pack with the dummy half running of Issac Luke with the bench relief of the ultra-fit Nathan Peats and it takes on a pretty formidable look.
A real highlight of the Rabbitohs this year has been the ability to build pressure in attack. So far this year they have forced the opposition to drop out ten times, largely due to the clever boot of Adam Reynolds. His kicking has not only built pressure but created chances. Last season Reynolds had 17 try assists from 27 games, and so far in 2013 he has five from four games. Reynolds game sense is phenomenal, especially on the last tackle close to the line. He has the exceptional ability to plant pinpoint grubbers even under extreme pressure from rushing defences and if the Warriors are to win, theyll need to find a way to shut him down in this area.
Adam Reynolds vs Shaun Johnson
Two halves of differing styles. Adam Reynolds is the controlled type who can add some deft touches, whereas Shaun Johnson is a livewire who can create something from nothing.
Career NRL Games
Kicks in Play
Ben Teo vs Feleti Mateo
Two big strong ball runners who can create havoc in attack. Mateo hasnt had the best start to 2013 but when on song he can be one of the most lethal back-rowers in the comp, especially if he can get his arms free and offload. Ben Teo is settling in to a role with the Rabbitohs, looking as if hell play big minutes each week.
Career NRL Games
Minutes per Game
Holden Cup Preview
Rabbitohs (13th) vs Warriors (9th)
Sunday 7 April, 1:45pm kickoff (NZ time), 11:45am (AEST) Mt Smart Stadium
Official Twitter hashtags - #NYCWarSou #gorabbitohs
The Rabbitohs suffered another heartbreaking loss after coming from behind to nearly steal the win against the Bulldogs. Theyll have a very tough task against the most successful Under 20s side of the last few seasons. The Warriors won the Premiership in 2010 and 2011 and after finishing 2nd on the ladder in 2012, bowing out in straight sets in the finals.
The Warriors started the season with a shocking 46-8 loss to the Eels and followed it up with a tight 20-24 loss away from home against the Roosters. They then beat the Sharks 24-20 away and had their strongest performance of the year with a 25-6 win over the Cowboys at Mt Smart Stadium last weekend.
As with most years, the Warriors boast a very powerful squad and their outside backs especially are capable of breaking a game open.
The Rabbitohs will again be without Dylan Walker who looks like hell spend a fair bit of time in the NSW Cup this season. Christian Hazard stepped into his playmaker role last week and performed extremely well, setting up a try and scoring one himself.
To win this one the Rabbitohs will need plenty of go-forward, something they have lacked in the last few weeks. Englishman Daniel Smith has toiled hard each week but will require plenty of support against a formidable Warriors pack.