NRL & NYC Previews - Rd 10, 2014

AFEX presents                                                                                                                               
Rabbitohs v Storm
Friday 16 May 2014
Kick-off 7:40pm

Coming into round 10, the Rabbitohs and the Storm both sit on 10 competition points and will now face each other to break the deadlock. Since Melbourne came into the top grade, the Rabbitohs have endured what can only be described as slim pickings against the Storm. That changed in week one of the 2013 finals, but can it continue?

After a rough patch that saw the Rabbitohs lose three successive games after round one, the men in red and green have found their form on the back of some brilliant young guns, some freakish tries and the return of John Sutton to five eighth. In particular though, the Rabbitohs last match against the Gold Coast Titans represented what could be a marker for the season.

It was a case of ‘one or the other’ when it came to the Rabbitohs’ attack and defence during the opening rounds, but round nine finally saw the two come together. A defensive effort that rivalled the record-breaking defence against the Panthers in round six, coupled with some dazzling attack that saw Dylan Walker walk away with four tries, ended with Michael Maguire’s men running away with a 40-18 victory on the Gold Coast.

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

But despite two solid performances, and his team’s good standing, Coach Maguire isn’t peeking at the NRL Ladder, citing that there is much work left to be done.

"I don't really look at the ladder to be honest," said Madge.

"It's more about just performing each week. We've got plenty of footy that we've got to get through, an Origin series to get through - it's more about our performances.

"I'm pleased with where we are at the moment I guess with how we're playing but we need to keep improving like every other team."

To watch the full interview with the Rabbitohs Head Coach, please click here.

Both teams have named their best available sides, and for the Storm, that means the triumvirate of Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, and Billy Slater. The spine of the Storm, Maroons and Kangaroos team make for a lethal combination – accompanied by the likes of Kevin Proctor, Ryan Hoffman and Will Chambers (among others). The question is, with the confidence of the last two wins and with momentum building, do the Rabbitohs have what it takes to repeat last year’s finals result?

To purchase tickets to this blockbuster, please click here.

 

Last Time They Met

The South Sydney Rabbitohs recorded just their second finals victory since 1987 in week one of the 2013 finals, overcoming a woeful record against the Melbourne Storm in the process to book a place in the Preliminary Final the last time the two sides met.

Despite some strong play from the Storm, the Rabbitohs went into the sheds leading 14-0 before coming out to record their first win over Melbourne since 2010.

After enduring a barrage of Storm attack in the first eight minutes, remarkably, it was the Rabbitohs who managed to score first in their first real attacking opportunity when Dylan Farrell capitalised on a Storm loose ball. Adam Reynolds converted from the sideline to give the red and greens an early six points to nil lead.

With half of the first stanza gone, the Melbourne Storm’s ill-discipline began to piggy-back the Rabbitohs up-field, eventually culminating in Adam Reynolds being given the chance to extend the home-sides lead by two points.

Souths continued to look sharp from the ensuing set, while the Storm looked uncharacteristically flustered, the sentiment proven when Billy Slater lost the ball after taking a towering South Sydney bomb to give the Rabbitohs another throw of the dice.

Souths made the very most of it on the back of yet another penalty when Jeff Lima hit a short ball at speed to slam down adjacent to the posts for his first try in the red and green. Adam Reynolds converted to extend the lead to 14-0.

The Storm were given an opportunity with just under ten minutes remaining when Roy Asotasi was placed on report for a suspected crusher tackle. The Storm used up all their opportunities and came up short though despite a valiant effort from Sisa Waqa to ground the ball off the back of a Cooper Cronk kick – the video referee ruling against the try on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

Melbourne were unperturbed though, continuing to put the Rabbitohs under pressure with consecutive repeat sets, but the red and green wall of defence held strong, with some brilliant efforts across the park to amazingly take the Rabbitohs into the sheds leading 14-0.

It took 15 minutes for the teams to draw more points, and when they finally did come, it was through Billy Slater, Cameron Smith adding the extras to narrow the gap to eight points.

The Storm were denied a try despite building plenty of pressure, and the Rabbitohs capitalised at the other end of the field when Issac Luke took a Greg Inglis ball on the burst before stretching out as far as his arm would go to touch down next to the posts.

With ten minutes left, the Storm mounted a promising attacking raid down the touchline culminating in Sisa Waqa attempting to pluck a high ball from the air. With Waqa and Dylan Farrell both attempting to diffuse the situation, contact in the air resulted in Waqa landing on his head. Farrell was placed on report.

With a penalty from the Waqa incident in hand, the Storm capitalised with Will Chambers scoring out wide to make the score 20-10 with just under eight minutes remaining.

But the effort was enough for the Rabbitohs to book their way into week three of the 2013 NRL Finals Series.

To purchase tickets to this blockbuster, please click here.

 

Keys to Victory

There are three good reasons to be wary of the Storm – Smith, Cronk & Slater. It’s no accident that these three are the spine of three football teams, and while they themselves are humble enough to play down their impact, to underplay their influence would be a mistake punishable by points.

Pressure will be the name of the game when it comes to the Rabbitohs’ defence – pressure on Smith at dummy-half from the markers, pressure on Cronk in the back-end of the tackle count before his kicks, and pressure on Slater under the high ball. Manage to put enough pressure on, and the Storm could suffocate with so little room to move.

While both team’s won their respective round nine matches, the intensity of the Melbourne v Manly game – won in the dying minutes by the Storm – was a sight to behold. If the same intensity is brought into round 10, the Rabbitohs will need to be ready to burst out of the blocks and match a Storm side already primed for finals-like football.

 

Key Matchups

Greg Inglis v Billy Slater

Without doubt the two best fullbacks in the game today. Both Greg Inglis and Billy Slater can turn a game on its head with a single play, or come up with something that deserves to be replayed over and over again. But if Greg Inglis has any advantage over his opposite number, it’s in stature. GI uses his size to bump off players, regularly managing to use his vicious fend and upper-body strength to maximum effect. If the two do come together, expect dazzling results.

Adam Reynolds v Cooper Cronk

They may be little men, but their influence looms large when they’re on song. Both Adam Reynolds and Cooper Cronk steer their respective teams around the pitch with style and can cause plenty of problems with their boots. But when it comes to Reynolds’ boots, few come close. Despite an uncharacteristic showing against the Titans, Reynolds’ goal-kicking ability is rarely surpassed by anyone and can prove to be the vital difference between two teams – just ask the Broncos.

 

NYC

Rabbitohs v Storm
Friday 16 May 2014
Kick-off 5:20pm

The Rabbitohs’ NYC side got back in the winner’s circle in round nine against the Titans with a hard-fought 24-14 victory on the Gold Coast.

The Rabbitohs were on the front foot for much of the game courtesy of forwards Cheyne Whitelaw, PJ Los’e, Eden Syme, and 18-year-old Zane Musgrove. Straight, hard running hurt the Titans and gave the visitors great go-forward throughout the 80 minutes. The defence was also strong, forcing the Titans into error on numerous occasions.

But the side will now face an even bigger challenge against the seventh placed Storm. Just two points ahead of the Rabbitohs, Melbourne enjoy an only slightly better points differential to the Rabbitohs, although the Rabbitohs have conceded fewer points during the opening nine rounds.

Expect another big game from the aforementioned Rabbitohs forwards, who have made a habit of laying a decent platform for their smaller men out wide.

 

The South Sydney Rabbitohs will take on the Melbourne Storm in the Crown Resorts OCRF Charity Challenge this Friday night in aid of the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation. To find out more about the Crown Resorts OCRF Charity Challenge, please click here. For all match day information including how to purchase tickets, please click here.

With $49 General Admission Family passes for 2 adults & 2 kids it’s a perfect opportunity to make it a family affair. The Rabbitohs hope to see you there!  Don’t forget you save up to $10 per ticket across all categories when you pre-purchase your tickets to Friday’s clash against the Storm.Click here or call 132 849 to pre purchase your family pass now.