Bulldogs vs Rabbitohs Trial Preview 2014

Bulldogs v Rabbitohs
Belmore Sports Ground, Bankstown
NSW Cup Kick-off: 1.00pm
NYC Kick-off: 3.00pm
NRL Kick-off: 5.00pm

Rugby league starved fans will be treated to three games of football this Sunday 9th February, with the North Sydney Bears as well as the Rabbitohs’ NYC and NRL sides set to take on the Bulldogs at the blue and white’s spiritual home – Belmore Sports Ground.

In an annual match that will alternate between Redfern Oval and Belmore Sports Ground, fans will get an opportunity to experience the history associated with both venues as well as re-connecting with the rugby league fans indelible love for suburban grounds.

But while the setting may be unique for a range of reasons, for the players, this Sunday is about one thing; playing to impress. All positions across the Rabbitohs team are now officially up for grabs, and with a side that boasts both experience and youth, you can bet that each player will leave no stone unturned to ensure they have caught the eye of Coach Michael Maguire – and you.

Coach Maguire this week named a strong-outfit for the Belmore match including Queensland representatives Ben Te’o and Chris McQueen. The Rabbitohs’ starting side features just two players with no first grade experience in the form of winger Alex Johnston and Fijian World Cup hooker, Apisai Koroisau. Despite their lack of first grade experience though, both players have earned their spots over the off-season . Johnston performed strongly for the Rabbitohs’ NYC in 2013, while Koroisau enjoyed a memorable season with the Bears at both hooker and half before backing it up at the World Cup by playing an integral role for the Bati. Expect both players to genuinely push for a Rabbitohs spot in the long run.

To watch this week’s Maguire’s Line-up, please click here.

But it’s the Rabbitohs’ bench that will have Members intrigued. Only recent acquisition and dual-international Lote Tuqiri has top grade experience in the Rabbitohs’ interchange. But the promising players that surround him are equally capable and are likely to give Maguire a myriad of selection headaches in the long-run. Irae Simone, Kyle Turner, Matt Hyland, Nathaniel Neale, Tulsa Saumamao, Kirisome Auva’a and Cameron McInnes are all genuine contenders for a first grade call-up.

The match will also see new recruits Joel Reddy and Joe Picker pull on the red and green in anger for the very first time. Both bring a wealth of experience and by their own admission, are looking to make their move to South Sydney count.

The Bulldogs also named a strong squad for this week’s match, with five-eighth Josh Reynolds the most notable omission. However boom forwards such as James Graham, Frank Pritchard, Sam Kasiano and Tony Williams will all be thrown into the mix at some stage during proceedings.

Recent History:
The Rabbitohs defeated the Bulldogs on two occasions during the 2013 season, the first match being played in front of a crowd of over 50,000 at ANZ Stadium on Good Friday.

The most recent return leg saw an impressive crowd of nearly 30,000 witness the Rabbitohs grab their second victory of the year against the blue and whites on their way to the NRL finals.

Both teams looked determined in the opening exchanges with the sides trading opportunities close to the line, with John Sutton proving the difference – the five eighth timing his pass to perfection to a flying Dylan Farrell who crossed for the first points of the night out wide. Reynolds added the extras to give the men in red and green the early advantage.

Bryson Goodwin felt a little worse for wear after being hit by a sickening Frank Pritchard shoulder-charge, the Dogs forward placed on report for the indiscretion. But the incident seemed to fire up the Rabbitohs, who managed to go the length of the field off the ensuing set. Walker capped off the advantage by picking up a well-weighted Reynolds stab kick to cross for the Rabbitohs second try. Reynolds made no mistake to put Souths ahead by two converted tries.

The Bulldogs’ ill-discipline allowed the Rabbitohs to then go further ahead – a penalty to Souths after a high-tackle on Sutton from Tony Williams being the catalyst. Reynolds added another string to his bow with the 31 metre penalty kick – the Rabbitohs leading 14-0 three minutes from the break.

But the Bulldogs wouldn’t go to half-time empty-handed, with Sam Perrett crossing out wide to take the sides to the break at 14-6.

On the resumption, Mitch Brown capitalised on some great play from Josh Reynolds, narrowing the gap to four points.

The Rabbitohs hit right back with John Sutton putting Greg Inglis through a hole, who in turn drew the Bulldogs final line of defence and passing back on the inside to Luke who crossed for his third try of the year. Reynolds converted to push the Rabbitohs out to a 20-10 lead.

On the back of three repeat sets, the Bulldogs finally crossed the line through Dene Halatau who survived a valiant defensive effort from Greg Inglis to get the ball down, bringing the score to 20-16.

Just when it looked like the Bulldogs might have turned momentum in their favour, Nathan Merritt got the Rabbitohs back on the front foot with a break, culminating tackles later with a try to Bryson Goodwin out wide. Reynolds converted from the touch line to give Souths a 10 point buffer before
adding two more points to the score-card to round out the match 28-20.

 

Spotlight
The Halves:

 

 

Rabbitohs fans caught a glimpse of what could be this year’s halves-combination on a number of occasions during 2013 and this Sunday, the relationship between Adam Reynolds and Luke Keary could become permanent – only their performance together will tell.

After a solid first year in 2012, Adam Reynolds was rewarded for his brilliant start to season 2013 with a City jumper on the back of his deadly accurate general play kicking. The half regularly gifted the Rabbitohs repeat sets with his deft kicking ability into the in-goal and when it came to goal-kicking, the story got even better – astonishingly, the Rabbitohs halfback is the most accurate sharp-shooter in the game’s history.

The Rabbitoh topped the team for try assists with a whopping 23 to his name, well ahead of Issac Luke who notched up 11, while also racking up the most amount of points for the season with 218 – Nathan Merritt came in second with 60.

Meanwhile at number six, season 2014 could be Keary’s year. Rabbitohs fans caught a glimpse of the attacking prowess of the diminutive five-eighth on 10 occassions last season, with permanent five-eighth John Sutton shifting to lock on those occasions. The arrangement could become permanent in 2014.

With Keary at pivot, the Rabbitohs’ backline was electrified during his short stints on the pitch – amounting to an average of 34.9 minutes – a sight he and Coach Maguire will no doubt want to replicate and build upon.

Teams
Bulldogs (squad): Harlan Alaalatoa, Kayne Brennan, Mitch Brown, Tim Browne, Lachlan Burr, Brad Clarke, Damien Cook, Greg Eastwood, Michael Ennis, Dale Finucane, Jaline Graham, James Graham, Trent Hodkinson, Krisnan Inu, Josh Jackson, Sam Kasiano, Tim Lafai, Drury Low, Moses Mbye, Josh Morris, Ed Murphy, Tom Murphy, Pat O’Hanlon, Lloyd Perrett, Sam Perrett, Tyrone Phillips, Frank Pritchard, John Sila, Chase Stanley, Corey Thompson, Patrick Templeman, Aiden Tolman, Tony Williams.

Rabbitohs: Nathan Merritt, Joel Reddy, Beau Champion, Dylan Walker, Alex Johnston, Luke Keary, Adam Reynolds (c), Dave Tyrrell, Apisai Koroisau, Joe Picker, Chris McQueen, Ben Te’o, Ben Lowe. Interchange: Irae Simone, Kyle Turner, Lote Tuqiri, Matt Hyland, Nathaniel Neale, Tulsa Saumamao, Kirisome Auva’a, Cameron McInnes.

NYC
Bulldogs v Rabbitohs
Belmore Sports Ground, Bankstown
NYC Kick-off: 3.00pm

The next crop of Rabbitohs stars will be on display before the big game on Sunday, with the Rabbitohs NYC set to take on the Bulldogs. While first grade will be playing their very first game of 2014 this Sunday, the Rabbitohs’ NYC come into this weekend’s game, having already blown out some early cobwebs in a match against Cronulla last Friday.

Read the full match report by clicking here.

With conversion attempts shunned in favour of constant action, both sides fought out a hard-fought five-try apiece draw that had Coach Ben Gardiner optimistic about his team.

While the competition was riddled with the requisite drop balls expected during the early stages of the playing year, there were plenty of promising signs for the young Rabbits who not only showed aggression in abundance against a physically imposing Sharks outfit, but great fluidity in attack and steel in defence.

This week shapes as another opportunity for Gardiner’s side to show what they’ve got, as well as begin nurturing partnerships and combinations in a dress rehearsal for the opening rounds in front of a vocal group of Rabbitohs and Bulldogs fans.

Get out to the ground early and throw your support behind the Rabbitohs’ NYC side at 3pm!

NSW CUP
Bulldogs v Bears
Belmore Sports Ground, Bankstown
NSW Cup Kick-off: 1.00pm

Rugby league fans will have the chance to witness three games of rugby league on Sunday, with South Sydney’s feeder side the North Sydney Bears opening proceedings against the Bulldogs at Canterbury’s spiritual home – Belmore Sports Ground – at 1pm.

These players are just one step away from a first grade call up, so get to the ground early to cheer on the Rabbitohs’ stars of tomorrow playing for the Bear as they battle it out for positions and pride before the season proper gets underway.

How to purchase tickets
Online: Click here
Phone: 1300 12 10 12
In Person: Tickets will be available on game day at the Terry Lamb Reserve entry ticket booth to Belmore Sports Ground.