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The Raiders have enjoyed an extra week's rest after progressing straight to week three of the finals with their upset of Melbourne in week one.

They also have the home ground advantage and should be high on emotion in front of a sell-out crowd.

Ricky Stuart will make sure his team understands the significance of the situation as the Raiders seek their first premiership in 25 years.

The Rabbitohs somehow found a way to get through last week's high-scoring shootout with the Sea Eagles to advance to the final four, but they'll have to raise the bar on Friday night if they're going to progress to their first decider since 2014.

The Rundown

Team news

Raiders: Canberra are 1-17 after Ryan Sutton and Siliva Havili were dropped from the match-day squad. Joey Leilua returns to the starting side after his pre-game fireworks drama forced him to the bench in the qualifying final in Melbourne. Bailey Simonsson goes back to the bench after ably filling in for Leilua at the last minute and scoring the first try. Nick Cotric is named to play despite suffering a gash to the face against the Storm. Josh Papalii has been confirmed to start after  swapping with Dunamis Lui on game day in Melbourne. Sam Williams and Sebastian Kris dropped off the reserves list 24 hours before kick-off.

Rabbitohs: A shock late change an hour before kick-off with George Burgess left out of the side and Dean Britt coming on to the bench. In other late moves Sam Burgess goes to prop and his brother Thomas is pushed back to the bench. Ethan Lowe moves from the bench into the second row. With centre James Roberts out of the Rabbitohs team with a thumb injury Corey Allan comes into the side on the wing with Campbell Graham moving to the centres. Adam Doueihi and Alex Johnston are good to go following head knocks last week. The Rabbitohs have won four of their past five games at GIO Stadium.

Key match-up

Josh Hodgson v Damien Cook. The Raiders' ability to get on a roll in the middle of the field revolves largely around what Hodgson brings to the table. He will push for quick play-the-balls as he constantly searches for chinks in the defensive armour. The same goes for Cook, who will look to create havoc with his darts from dummy-half. The battle of the No.9s could be decisive.

For the Raiders to win

Stuart will remind his players that they have built their 2019 campaign around defence and there's no reason to change the game plan now. The Raiders beat the Storm in week one of the finals by hanging tough for 78 minutes and stealing victory with a late try - which was the result of a big hit on Melbourne speedster Josh Addo-Carr. The Raiders have to stay focused on the 'D' and their confidence in attack will grow from the work they do without the ball.

For the Rabbitohs to win

After conceding 56 points in their past two games the Bunnies need to tidy up their defence in a big way or it could get ugly on Friday night. Luck might've been on their side last week against Manly, but they showed how much they wanted it by out-scoring the Sea Eagles 14-0 over the final 12 minutes. The Rabbitohs need to be armed with something other than just resilience against the hungry Raiders.

Brett Kimmorley says

It is going to be a cracking game. The Canberra Raiders should be able to ride the emotion of having a packed GIO Stadium. They've had a week to freshen up while South Sydney have had a tougher road. The Raiders will rely on the athleticism their forward pack has and Josh Hodgson will be their star. Raiders by 8

Stat Attack

Raiders fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad topped the NRL in kick return metres (1,637), while Canberra were first in dummy-half runs (413) in the teams category. The Rabbitohs were second in dummy-half runs (364) and equal first in supports (3,352) with Melbourne.

And another thing ...

The Raiders beat most teams this year but they failed to conquer the Rabbitohs when they squared off in Round 10 in Canberra. The home team scratched out a 6-4 half-time lead before the Bunnies pulled ahead with Mawene Hiroti's 70th-minute converted try and held on for a 16-12 victory. Souths scored two tries to the Raiders' one, while Adam Reynolds and Jarrod Croker kicked a collective five penalty goals.

 

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