NRL & NYC Previews - Rd 8, 2014
Broncos v Rabbitohs
Just two competition points separate the Broncos and the Rabbitohs after seven games in 2014, but those two measly points are enough to be the difference between fifth and tenth – the Rabbitohs currently sitting in the latter position.
A victory last week against the Bulldogs would have completely changed the complexion of this week’s ANZAC Day match at Suncorp Stadium, with only a Trent Hodkinson field-goal being the miniscule – but oh so vital – difference.
With just one win separating the Rabbitohs and the Broncos on the table, both sides are yet to hit their straps in 2014. On paper, the Broncos are a team brimming with experience and talent that is always just one step away from recapturing the type of form that made them one of the glamour-clubs of the competition. But the Rabbitohs – despite having lost four games – have shown flashes of brilliance that is enough to warn any opposition of the side’s potential.
Whether it be the controlled attacking performances of rounds one and five, or the record-breaking defensive performance of round six, one thing is certain – when the two facets of the Rabbitohs’ game finally come together, the side on the receiving end will have their work cut out for them.
But until that happens, it’s the Rabbitohs that will have their work cut out for them this week as they face what is shaping up to be a huge and hostile ANZAC Day crowd in Brisbane. The modern embodiment of the Lang Park ‘Cauldron’ is as tough a road-trip as any in the NRL, particularly for the men in red and green, who have just four wins from 17 clashes at Suncorp Stadium to their name.
For Rabbitohs centre Dylan Walker though, a sense of excitement is all that the young Rabbitoh can feel ahead of the big clash in enemy territory.
"It's exciting – Suncorp's got such a rich history with football up there," said Walker.
"The Broncos are playing well. They've got good energy about themselves so it'll be a tough game out there."
To watch the full interview with Walker, please click here.
To watch Michael Maguire’s pre-game thoughts, please click here.
For all game-day information, please click here.
A sore but determined South Sydney side ran out 26-12 victors over the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium in round eight of 2013, overcoming a slow start to the match to record the sides seventh win of the season.
The Rabbitohs’ hangover from the preceding, bruising encounter with Manly was evident in the first half, as the red and greens struggled to gain momentum with a string of early knock-ons and penalties proving just how physical the Manly game was.
Souths posted first points via an Adam Reynolds penalty-goal, before forward Jason Clark crossed the line soon after with some great footwork on fullback Corey Norman, mere minutes after being disallowed a try.
The Broncos hit back though thanks to two converted tries to Scott Prince and Jack Reed, taking the lead 12-8 at half time.
On the resumption, three quick converted tries in a relentless eight-minute onslaught from the Rabbitohs saw the visitors all but seal the win.
Greg Inglis crashed over early in the second half from close range, while a huge break from centre Bryson Goodwin lead to Nathan Merritt outsmarting the Broncos blind-side defence, touching down next to the corner-post. Captain John Sutton closed out the scoring with his own four-pointer.
Adam Reynolds five goals from five attempts capped off another exemplar night for the halfback with the boot.
Despite the slow start, Coach Michael Maguire was pleased with the side's performance.
"First half we were a little bit scratchy with our drop ball," said Maguire.
"We put too much pressure on ourselves in the first half. We spoke about it at half time and I was really pleased with the way they came out and played the way theyre capable of playing and did the job."
To watch all the highlights, please click here.
Keys to Victory
If the Rabbitohs are to be any chance of victory this week, last week’s one-point loss to the Bulldogs will have to be well and truly put behind them. It’s a whole new ball game this week and the side will be looking to treat it as such.
But a sticking point in the Rabbitohs’ game still remains in the form of a poor completion rate. After seven games, the red and greens lead the competition in incomplete sets (98) – a statistic that Coach Michael Maguire and his men will want to put right immediately. Simple footy will be the name of the game as the side goes in search of an improved performance in this department. If they don’t hold the ball, Souths could very well beat themselves, but the challenges won’t simply be coming from within.
Brisbane have danger players across the park – particularly when it comes to the little men. Former Dally M Medallist Ben Barba is yet to re-capture the form that brought about his title, but oppositions doubt him at their-own risk. Expect Barba to be heavily involved from the back – if there’s a slither of a gap in the Rabbitohs defence, you can bet Barba will try and go through it.
Greg Inglis v Ben Barba
At their best, both Greg Inglis and Ben Barba have the ability to change a game – but in vastly different ways. Barba is the mercurial, evasive and fleet-footed fullback who confounds defences with his touch-football like running style, while Greg Inglis can do all that and more. The Test fullback’s frame and fend are enough to give him an advantage in this matchup against Barba, particularly when the game starts to get physical. Inglis’ consistent kick returns will surely get his team off on the right foot when starting their sets, it’s simply a matter of completing them from there on.
Sam Burgess v Matt Gillett
Matt Gillett has proven his worth as a player of considerable impact in recent times, but so too has Sam Burgess. Both are vicious runners of the football who make their presence felt when they’re on the field. But in the case of Burgess, the weight of his work-load – one that has seen him consistently top the stats so far in 2014 – gives him an edge in this battle. Expect Sam to chomp through a great deal of work come Friday night.
Broncos v Rabbitohs
A brief look at both the NRL and NYC competition ladders this week will have you doing a double-take. Both the Broncos’ and Rabbitohs’ NYC sides mirror their NRL team’s position on the ladder, with points differentials standing as the only real point of difference.
But unlike the Rabbitohs’ NRL side, the NYC comes into this week’s match against the fifth placed Broncos off the back of a win. The Ben Gardiner coached under 20’s showed incredible composure in their round seven Good Friday clash against the Bulldogs to eventually emerge 32-24 victors over a side that had led the match for much of the afternoon.
Despite being behind on the score-board until around the 65th minute of play, Gardiner’s team didn’t panic, eventually taking out the match late in the game through tries to Tom Hughes and Eden Syme.
However, the victory came over a side currently ranked 15th in the competition and the Broncos will be far less forgiving. The Rabbitohs will need to get on top early through big men such as Cheyne Whitelaw before the likes of Wallace Tangiiti and Irae Simone take advantage of space out wide.
The hostile Brisbane crowd will no doubt play its own small role in this match, although the side has prepared well after playing in front of a healthy Good Friday crowd just last week.
The Broncos’ under 20’s are a formidable attacking force, having scored 218 points and conceded 184. The Rabbitohs’ defence will need to deprive the Broncos of oxygen if they are to be a chance of victory – a huge challenge given the 196 points the Rabbitohs have leaked so far this season.
For all game-day information, please click here.