Rabbitohs (2nd) vs Storm (1st)

Saturday April 13, 7:30pm kickoff ANZ Stadium

Official Twitter hashtags - #NRLSouMel #gorabbitohs

Men of League Heritage Round. Junior appreciation Round.



What a clash this will be! First meets second and there are fascinating matchups galore in what should be a brilliant Heritage Round.


The Rabbitohs survived a big scare in a tough road trip to New Zealand in round five, securing their first win across the Tasman since 2009. Similarly, the Storm were pushed by the Tigers for the majority of their round five fixture before running out 14 point winners over a desperate Tigers outfit.


There is concern for the Storm that fullback Billy Slater will miss the game with a foot injury and if so, hes a big loss for Melbourne.


The Rabbitohs retain the same side that beat the Warriors with Michael Crocker still unable to force his way back into the 17.


Recent History


The Rabbitohs have a dismal record against the Storm, recording just three wins over their 20 match history, with all three wins coming at home (including the Perth fixture in 2010). In fact, the Rabbitohs 15% winning percentage is their worst against any side past or present, apart from the Adelaide Rams who recorded a 34-18 victory over South Sydney in their only encounter.


The Storm have won nine of the last ten meetings, mostly in emphatic fashion, outscoring the Rabbitohs 219 to 108. In that time, the Rabbitohs highest score is 22 with a meagre average of 10.8.


In the last meeting between the sides the Rabbitohs appeared in their first final since 2007, taking on the Storm in week one of the finals at AAMI Park, but celebrations were cut short when the Storm raced out to an 18-0 halftime lead. The Rabbitohs fought hard in the second half but were only able to score one try through Eddy Pettybourne and went down 24-6.


The Storms line defence was outstanding, led by Cameron Smiths 49 tackles. They conceded just the one try despite missing 31 tackles compared to the Rabbitohs 24, and conceding 12 offloads to three. Interestingly, halfback Cooper Cronk was kept fairly quiet with ball in hand although he absolutely dominated off the boot, kicking 19 times for an amazing 714 metres.


For the Rabbitohs, Greg Inglis was forced to work extremely hard with Cronk's kicks pinning him deep in the half but he still managed to run 18 times for 203 metres. Sam Burgess was also tireless running 150 metres and making 36 tackles in his seventy minutes.


Keys to Victory


How do you limit the influence of the big three, Slater, Cronk and Smith? Quite simply, if you give them room to move they will carve you up.


How do you do that? You beat them up forward.


The Tigers' forwards were excellent for most of the game and gave the big three little room to move but as soon as they took the foot off the gas they were soundly beaten.


The Tigers probably outplayed the Storm for 60 minutes on Monday night but the Storm did what all good sides do and hung in there. All they needed was a small sniff in the last 20 minutes and the Storm blew them away. The 14 point margin flattered Melbourne but thats what happens if you dont compete with them for 80 minutes.


Of concern to Michael Maguire will be that the Rabbitohs have probably put in two close to 80 minutes performances in their five games thus far. What may please him is that they were big games in front of big crowds (Bulldogs and Roosters) and games wont come much bigger than a top of the table clash against the Storm.


In saying that, the Rabbitohs will need to lift, and they certainly have the game-breakers to do so. With real grunt all over the park, Maguire will be hoping that his forwards especially will be able to dominate Melbourne and provide a good platform for his halves to create chances.


Issac Luke will be another beneficiary should his forwards get on top. Hes yet to dominate a side out of dummy half this year, playing a much more controlled style than in 2012. Hes yet to break 100 metres running from dummy half this season, averaging 66 metres per game. In 2012 he averaged 100 metres per game.


Key Matchups


Billy Slater vs Greg Inglis



Probably the most powerful fullback in history comes up against one of the most prolific try scorers. Slaters work off Smith and Cronk is exceptional and hes proven himself to be one of the games premiere players. Inglis is still improving as a fullback which is a scary prospect.

Greg Inglis

Billy Slater

195cm

Height

178cm

106kg

Weight

89kg

156

Career NRL Games

229

2013 Season

2

Tries

4

60

Runs

60

936

Run Metres

661

5

Line breaks

6

35

Tackle breaks

16

2

Errors

5




John Sutton vs Gareth Widdop


John Sutton has been in cracking form the Rabbitohs, both as a ball runner and ball player. He won the George Piggins Medal in 2012, but appears to be in better touch in 2013. Widdop has been solid as a rock for the Storm over the opening month of football. The battle of the five-eighths could be a decisive factor in this match up.

John Sutton

Gareth Widdop

190cm

Height

175cm

101kg

Weight

88kg

187

Career NRL Games

59

2013 Season

57

Runs

34

505

Run metres

329

1

Tries

1

1

Line breaks

1

16

Tackle breaks

8

8

Offloads

2

111

Tackles

100

10

Missed tackles

15

2

Errors

5




Adam Reynolds vs Cooper Cronk


The 2012 Rookie of the Year takes on the Halfback of the Year. Cronk is one of the true superstars of the competition and has taken his game to a new level in the last few years. Reynolds has shown no signs whatsoever of the dreaded second year syndrome and remains a vital cog in the Rabbitohs machine.

Adam Reynolds

Cooper Cronk

173cm

Height

178cm

85kg

Weight

88kg

32

Career NRL Games

215

2013 Season

0

Tries

3

5

Try Assists

5

1

Line Break Assists

5

0

Line breaks

2

17

Runs

32

116

Run Metres

228

101

Tackles

78

13

Missed Tackles

5

64

Kicks

55




Cameron Smith vs Issac Luke


Smith is the games consummate professional. Its very rare to see him make any sort of mistake and his leadership and organisation is second to none. Issac Luke is the Rabbitohs' livewire who can absolutely destroy teams from dummy half. Hes yet to match his 2012 impact but this may be the game.

Issac Luke

Cameron Smith

174cm

Height

185cm

85kg

Weight

92kg

129

Career NRL Games

243

2013 Season

59.8

Minutes per game

77

120

Tackles

201

24

Tackles per game

40.2

2.4

Missed tackles per game

0.8

50

Runs

34

10

Runs per game

6.8

393

Run metres

264

78.6

Runs metres per game

52.8





Holden Cup Match Preview


Rabbitohs (15th) vs Storm (2nd)

Saturday 13 April, 5:15pm kickoff ANZ Stadium

Official Twitter hashtags - #NRLSouMel #gorabbitohs

Men of League Heritage Round. Junior appreciation Round.


The Rabbitohs' ladder position could be very different had a couple of last second losses been reversed. They were beaten after the buzzer by the Roosters and then suffered a loss in the dying seconds of their match against the Bulldogs.


The Storm have started the season very strongly, suffering just the one loss to the Cowboys away from home. They currently sit in second spot after a couple of tight wins in the last few rounds.


South Sydney will be looking for an improved defensive performance after they were blown off the park by the big New Zealand Warriors side 46-14.


Theyll have their hands full with a classy Storm squad featuring Prop Matt Lodge who has been near unstoppable this year.


Backline utility Jaiden Hawkes will debut for the Rabbitohs after some strong training form and will hope to slot into what is a very good South Sydney backline.