Stat Attack: Where Souths hold slight advantage over Dragons

Stat Attack: Where Souths hold slight advantage over Dragons

There is little to separate the Dragons and Rabbitohs after two meetings this year - each team claimed one win apiece with both matches coming in the first half of the season.

There has been a lot of water under the bridge since the most-recent meeting in round 10.

The Dragons plunged down the Telstra Premiership ladder, from first to seventh, before roaring back to form with a huge 48-18 elimination final win over Brisbane (though it was a costly loss with skipper Gareth Widdop re-injuring his shoulder).

Souths kept consistent form through the season, edging up from fifth place in round 10 to finish third. A narrow 29-28 loss to the Storm in a high-scoring qualifying final in Melbourne carried plenty of positives.

Form-line narrow from two previous meetings

The combined stats from there two meetings reveal little to separate the sides, though it is worth mentioning both matches came before St George Illawarra's late-season form slide.

The Dragons won 16-12 in round five before Souths got revenge with a 24-10 win in round 10.

Across both games, Souths made seven line breaks to three, though that only translated to a six-tries-to-five advantage, according to NRL.com Stats.

Souths edged the tackle busts 63-61 and St George Illawarra the offloads by 23-21. Souths defended a little better (effective tackle rate 87.6% to 86.9%) although the Dragons had a significant advantage in metres gained per match by 1703 to 1567.

In both matches the team with the better completion rate emerged victorious so it's likely whichever team does a better job of controlling possession and maintaining momentum will have an advantage here.

In round five, the Dragons completed at 81% versus 76% with a 42.1 to 40.9-metre average set advantage, and won narrowly.

In round 10, Souths completed at 73% to 66% and although the Dragons ran for 45.2 metres per set against 43.1 for Souths and also held 53% of the ball, the Bunnies still won handily.

With one win apiece and little separating them in terms of overall stats, neither side will carry a psychological advantage heading into Saturday's semi-final.

History and home ground favours the Rabbitohs

While the previous meetings this year are close, records over a longer history certainly weight in the Bunnies' favour.

Souths have won seven of the past nine meetings overall. Aside from the fact they will be at home, they also have a much better recent record at ANZ than the Red V.

The Bunnies record there this year reads nine win and three losses. For the Dragons it is one win and two losses. Going back further they have won just three of their past 13 games there. Their last final there was an 11-10 elimination final loss to Canterbury in 2015.

We won't go so far as to call it a hoodoo, but recent history at ANZ does not count in the Dragons' favour.

First finals meeting since 1984

St George Illawarra have never played the Rabbitohs in a finals match and for the last finals meeting between Souths and either St George or Illawarra you have to go back to 1984, when the Saints beat the Rabbitohs 24-6 at the SCG in a grand final qualifier before going on to lose the grand final to the Eels.

St George won the previous finals meeting too, ending South Sydney's 1980 season. You have to go back to the previous post-season clash – a 16-10 win to Souths in the 1971 grand final – for any victory by St George or Illawarra over Souths in a finals match (the Steelers never met the Rabbitohs in a finals game). 

 

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