PREVIEW: Rd 24, 2016
Rabbitohs vs. Sharks
Monday 22 August, 7:00pm
The South Sydney Rabbitohs will play their final home game of 2016 when they take on a strong Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks outfit in Round 24 of the Telstra Premiership at ANZ Stadium on Monday night.
Despite having vastly differing seasons to date, the fixture between the Rabbitohs and Sharks shapes up as a crucial encounter in the season of both teams.
Having claimed their first victory since Round 11 against the New Zealand Warriors last week, the Rabbitohs will be looking to capitalise on momentum and finish off their home schedule with a win.
The result against the Warriors is a step in the right direction for Michael Maguire’s side and is something that the Rabbitohs mentor hopes will motivate his team as they head into the final stages of the season.
“We’ve got to continually build on what we’ve done over the last two weeks,” said Maguire.
“I think our defence has been something that has definitely lifted over the past couple of weeks,
“They’ve been working hard for each other which is really pleasing to see.”
On the other side of the spectrum, the Sharks will be looking to bounce back from two straight losses and propel themselves back to the top of the ladder, regaining the strong form that saw the side go undefeated from Round 4 to Round 21.
With losses to the Canberra Raiders and St George Illawarra Dragons in recent weeks, Michael Maguire knows that the Sutherland Shire-based side will be ready to bounce back come Monday night.
“The consecutive games that they won for a long period of time has shown the type of team that they are,” said Maguire.
“We’re definitely going to have to be on our game, and once again our defence will have to be strong.
“They’re up the top of the ladder for a reason.”
The Rabbitohs will head into the match with one change to the side that took the field in Round 23, with Zane Musgrove missing the clash after taking an early guilty plea for a grade one shoulder charge. Nathan Brown comes into the side on the bench in place of the suspended front-rower.
Spotlight: The Wingers
With both sides possessing some dangerous strike weapons out wide, there is little doubt that there will be plenty of enterprising attack on Monday night.
The match against the Warriors highlighted the attacking prowess of Rabbitohs wingers, Alex Johnston and Joe Burgess who scored three tries between them.
In addition to their strong showing in Round 23, both wingers possess a strong try-scoring track record, with Johnston scoring 48 tries from 58 matches in the NRL and Burgess scoring 56 tries from 65 matches in the NRL and Super League.
The opposing wingers, Valentine Holmes and Sosaia Feki have also showcased their strong attacking play, scoring 17 tries and 13 tries respectively in 2016.
As both sides have a preference to score their points on the edges – especially on the left side – the wingers will be heavily involved, as has been the case throughout the season.
Rabbitohs vs. Sharks
Monday 22 August, 4:45pm
The South Sydney Rabbitohs NYC (Under 20’s) side will be looking for back to back victories when they take on the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in Round 24 of the Holden Cup at ANZ Stadium.
After a thrilling 30-20 comeback victory over the New Zealand Warriors, the Rabbitohs will be looking for a strong finish to their season as they seek to climb above 15th position on the ladder.
Similarly to the Rabbitohs, the Sharks claimed victory in Round 23 with a win over the St George Illawarra Dragons at UOW Jubilee Oval to maintain 6th position in the competition.
Look out for Rabbitohs forward, Brock Gray who has been a standout for David Penna’s side this season in both attack and defence.
Gray crossed for the opening try against the Warriors and ran for 180 metres with ball in hand whilst also completing 32 tackles in his 64 minute performance.