Having won only three of eight at their regular home ground this year, the Rabbitohs will be pleased to see that this ‘home’ game is played away from ANZ Stadium and at the SCG.
It’ll be the third away home game for the Rabbits this season with their previous efforts resulting in a comfortable win over the Warriors in Perth, and a ten try romp over the hapless Newcastle Knights (50 – 10) last week in Cairns.
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The Rabbitohs scored at least one try every 15 minutes and led by halfback Adam Reynolds, dis-played just what potency they do possess when shifting the ball wide with eight of the ten tries being scored by their backs, including a treble to winger Alex Johnston, taking his season tally to 14 for the season from only ten appearances.
It was the Bunnies’ twelfth win for the season and their eleventh by a margin of 13+.
Sam Burgess and Ben T’eo have been named to return this week, fresh and ready to mix it with the Sea Eagles pack, with Ben Lowe and Joe Picker moving back to an extended bench.
The Sea Eagles enhanced their impressive home-ground record this year by defeating the Broncos 16 – 4 at Brookvale last week, their seventh win from their past five games.
It was a victory built on another display of impeccable defence. Since round 13 this year, the Sea Eagles have only conceded an average of 10.6 points per game, with only two teams during this period (Canterbury 26 and Roosters 16) being able to register more than 12 points.
The Bunnies have scored more points than other side this season though (26.25 per game) so this will be the ultimate test for the Sea Eagles.
Also testing them will be their record away from Brookvale this season. The Sea Eagles have posted four wins from eight matches on the road, with only one of those wins coming against a top eight side at the time – the Roosters (8 – 0) back in round 4.
As the Sea Eagles have showed over the past few weeks though, they are one of the most profes-sional sides in the competition and their performances on the field continue to defy the rumours surrounding the club that not all is well between several leading players and the board.
Despite leaving the field with a injury last week, Anthony Watmough has been named in the side of the clash with winger Jorge Taufua, Manly’s leading try-scorer for the season, returning to the side to make it a full strength outfit.
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HEAD TO HEAD
The Rabbitohs won both regular round games last year (by 8 and then 12 points) before the Sea Eagles had their revenge when it mattered most, in the preliminary final last year 30 – 20.
The Sea Eagles levelled the ledger earlier this year when recording a typically hard-fight 14 – 12 win back in round 2 at Gosford.
As the above games suggest, there’s been nothing between these two sides in the past two years and this match will be no different.
The Rabbitohs will come up against the best defensive unit in the competition, so they’ll have to patient in attack and grind out a win, something they haven’t had to do this year thus far but at better than even money, it may be worth suggesting they can.
Rabbitohs: Greg Inglis, Alex Johnston, Dylan Walker, Kirisome Auva’a, Lote Tuqiri, Luke Keary, Adam Reynolds, George Burgess, Issac Luke, David Tyrrell, Kyle Turner, Ben Te’o, Sam Burgess. Interchange: Jason Clark, Ben Lowe, Chris McQueen, Thomas Burgess, Luke Burgess, Bryson Goodwin, Joe Picker
Ins: Ben Te’o, Sam Burgess, Bryson Goodwin. Outs: None
Sea Eagles: Brett Stewart, Jorge Taufua, Jamie Lyon, Steve Matai, Peta Hiku, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Josh Starling, Matt Ballin, Brenton Lawrence, Anthony Watmough, Tom Symonds, Jamie Buhrer. Interchange: Jesse Sene-Lefao, Justin Horo, James Hasson, Jason King
Ins: Jorge Taufua, Justin Horo. Outs: Cheyse Blair, Tyson Andrews