After seven consecutive wins, the Rabbitohs had their streak halted by a desperate Eels last week.
The effort was there all night and they had Parramatta fans worried for the majority of the first half, but the absence of four Origin players was noticeable down the stretch when Adam Reynolds looked too tired to game-manage all by himself.
It turns out he was struggling with a back injury, with Reynolds ruled out on Thursday after initially being selected to play.
Cody Walker will also miss the match with Bennett choosing to rest the No.6 as he battles niggling injuries.
Souths' loss left the Knights all alone as the NRL's hottest team, with five straight wins heading into last week's bye.
Rabbitohs: Adam Reynolds (back) and Cody Walker (rested) are out, with Adam Doueihi and Connor Tracey to start in the halves. Damien Cook, Dane Gagai and Cameron Murray will back up from Origin I. In a late change an hour before kick-off Billy Brittain has come onto the bench at the expense of Mark Nicholls. James Roberts is back in Souths colours for the first time since 2011 and lines up in the centres and Ethan Lowe moves to the bench. Captain Sam Burgess will line up against the in-form Knights pack and then go under the knife for shoulder surgery which will see him miss two matches.
Knights: Scans on Friday revealed David Klemmer had fractured his wrist in Origin I and his absence sees James Gavet move into the starting side and Pasami Saulo join the bench. Kalyn Ponga won't back up from Origin and his place at fullback is taken by Kurt Mann, who was originally named at five-eighth. Mason Lino comes in at five-eighth. Connor Watson is back in the starting line-up at hooker for injured Danny Levi (ankle), while Jamie Buhrer is on the bench and should get some decent game time as a back-up dummy half. Josh King and Jacob Saifiti dropped off the reserves list on Thursday and Tautau Moga was the last man omitted an hour before kick-off.
Sam Burgess is putting off shoulder surgery to play this game so he obviously believes the Knights are the real deal. But that might leave the uncompromising hitman a little vulnerable if some of the Newcastle forwards make him a target. We all know about his high pain threshold (he played the entire 2014 grand final with a fractured eye-socket) and his inability to back down from a challenge, so look for Burgess to mix it up with Mitch Barnett and Lachlan Fitzgibbon.
For the Rabbitohs to win
It probably won't be known until an hour before kick-off exactly who will take the field for the Bunnies. That could be a potential distraction but Wayne Bennett won't let them use it as an excuse. John Sutton has a point to prove after an up and down performance against the Eels, while the outside backs need to fire after being nullified by Parra.
For the Knights to win
Confidence is soaring after five straight wins, which includes their round 11 thumping of the Roosters, and Nathan Brown will be crossing his fingers the bye didn't halt their momentum. If they can handle the Rabbitohs up front as well as they handled the Roosters, the Knights have the firepower in the backs to stretch the win streak to six games.
Brett Kimmorley says
Newcastle looked really good against the Roosters. They are absolutely flying. Now for another huge test. I was looking forward to Mitchell Pearce's clash with Adam Reynolds and it's disappointing that Reynolds is out with a back injury. Six weeks ago, there were questions asked about the Knights coach, now we are wondering if they can win the comp. Rabbitohs by 2
Wayne Bennett will be reminding his team about the importance of defence after last week's loss to the Eels. The Bunnies kept turning the home side away in the first 25 minutes but were gradually worn down. When the dust had settled the stats sheet showed 47 missed tackles and 21 ineffective tackles.
And another thing ...
The Rabbitohs and Knights met just once in 2018, with Souths prevailing 36-18. Scoring tries for the Bunnies were Robert Jennings, Greg Inglis, Damien Cook, Cody Walker, Dane Gagai and Campbell Graham. Newcastle's try-scorers were Shaun Kenny-Dowall (2) and Lachlan Fitzgibbon. Souths led 16-12 at half-time.