Rabbitohs v Bulldogs preview

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South Sydney Rabbitohs v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Thursday 7:50pm at ANZ Stadium

South Sydney and Canterbury-Bankstown meet on Thursday Night in front of what will be a handful of people at ANZ Stadium, relative to the crowds this fixture would usually attract. That's 2020 for you.

The Rabbitohs head into this match having won 6 out of their last 7 games, with a gallant loss to the Melbourne Storm the only hiccup. Their latest victory had them cruise to an early 20-0 lead against Wests Tigers, before a spirited comeback attempt from the desperate Tigers fell just short. 

Dane Gagai will miss this week due to a 1 game suspension for striking Luke Brooks, with Jaxson Paulo coming into replace him. Hame Sele comes back into the team via the interchange bench.

The Bulldogs last won a game on the 26th of July, and will be looking to celebrate captain Josh Jackson's 200th game with their 3rd win of the season, in what will potentially be another opportunity for them to climb off the bottom of the NRL ladder.

They will be missing Matt Doorey and Ofahiki Ogden who have both been ruled out for the season, joining Kieran Foran on the sidelines. Tim Lafai comes back into the side, at the expense of one of the team's best performers in Nick Meaney who has been punished for being continually picked out of position. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has been shifted again, this time from the centres to the wing. Luke Thompson (10) and Chris Smith (13) return to the side.

Still in the hunt for a home semi-final, coach Wayne Bennett will be out to ensure they don't take their foot off the accelerator this week.

Canterbury-Bankstown have shown signs of life, however are simply unable to hold onto a lead, nor play out 80 minutes. 

The Bulldogs' attacking woes have been no secret to anyone watching the NRL this season, averaging 14.2 points per game vs the Rabbitohs' 24.7 points per game. Their defence fares no better, averaging 24.7 points against per game (yes, exactly what Souths are scoring per game!), vs the Rabbitohs' 17.6 points against per game.

Last meeting: Round 8 2020 - Bulldogs 10 Rabbitohs 26

Who to watch: Canterbury Bankstown's only shining light in an otherwise disappointing night last week was Jake Averillo's performance at Five-Eighth, in the absence of Kieran Foran.

Averillo has expressed his desire to incoming coach Trent Barrett to cement a spot in the halves, so he will be looking to put in another good showing, after putting on two try assists last week. He does have quite a bit of work to do on his defence, however, and against a free-scoring Rabbitohs outfit, may be caught out.

Alex Johnston re-signed with South Sydney during the week, after it seemed certain he was leaving the club. He will be looking to enjoy a field day against the brittle Canterbury defence to celebrate his new contract. 

With fullbacks on the wing, centres at fullback and wingers in the centres for the Bulldogs, expect to see Johnston build on his 14 tries and 14 line breaks in 2020.

The favourite: South Sydney are expected to get the win here, it is really a matter of how big a win it will be.

My tip: Souths playing for a potential home final, Canterbury playing for pride and positions in the new Trent Barrett world order. I expect Canterbury to be in the game for the first 20-30 minutes, before the class and superior coaching from Souths takes over.  Rabbitohs by 20.

1. Corey Allan 2. Alex Johnston 3. Campbell Graham 4. Steven Marsters 5. Jaxson Paulo 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Liam Knight 9. Damien Cook 10. Thomas Burgess 11. Jaydn Su'A 12. Bayley Sironen 13. Cameron Murray 14. Mark Nicholls 15. Jed Cartwright 16. Hame Sele 17. Keaon Koloamatangi

1. Will Hopoate 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Reimis Smith 4. Tim Lafai 5. Jayden Okunbor 6. Jake Averillo 7. Lachlan Lewis 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Luke Thompson 11. Josh Jackson 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 13. Chris Smith 14. Brandon Wakeham 15. Renouf To'omaga 16. Sione Katoa 17. Sauaso Sue

Referees: Ashley Klein; Sideline Officials: Chris Butler, Phil Henderson; Video Referees: Henry Perenara;

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