Round 11: Cowboys v Rabbitohs preview
One team were pre-season favourites the other outsiders, now after 10 rounds we're talking about that very fact just reversed.
The Cowboys are now outsiders of the NRL after their poor start to the season whilst the South Sydney Rabbitohs are showing they are contenders.
The North Queensland Cowboys have had a less than ideal season after being tipped for big things with the return of the great JT into a Cowboys side that made the grand final last season without Jonathan Thurston. The Cowboys form in recent weeks has been mixed with just one win in their last three games which came under controversial circumstances against the Panthers in Bathurst. The Cowboys attack has been a big issue with the free-flowing attack become predictable and ineffective.
The Cowboys in 2018 are averaging just 16.2 points per game, having scored 162 points across their 10 rounds this season in comparison to 20 points per game in the first 10 rounds of 2017. The Cowboys of 2018 are also conceding 22 points per game in 2018 as compared to their 20 per game in 2017. The Cowboys also have one of the slowest average play the ball speeds in the NRL which doesn't help the attack.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs showed their premiership credentials last week when they defeated the competition leaders the St George Illawarra Dragons 24-10 last weekend at ANZ Stadium. The Rabbitohs started their season poorly but have found form over recent weeks winning four of their past five with victories over the Roosters, Raiders, Knights and Dragons.
The Rabbitohs form in 2018 has been down to improved performances in attack since Damien Cook moved permanently into the number 9 role under Anthony Seibold. The Rabbitohs attack has been noticeably with a 66 point difference in the NRL, the Rabbitohs have scored 248 points in 2018 which is compared to just 152 points in 2017. The Rabbitohs defence has been an improvement on 2017 with a tackling efficiency rate of 87.5% in 2018.
Who to watch: Jake Granville - Since the shock retirement of Cameron Smith, the Cowboys hooker has been mentioned as a potential replacement for the Maroons. The Cowboys hooker has had a less than perfect start to the season and needs to improve if he wants to turn the Cowboys fortune around and play himself into the Maroons number 9 jersey.
Damien Cook - Like Granville, Cook's name has been bandied around as being the potential NSW hooker for State of Origin 1 and is one of the names on the top of Brad Fittler's list. The Rabbitohs hooker has been one of the sparks of the Rabbitohs attack in 2018, his running game has been one of the biggest assets to the Rabbitohs attack in 2018.
My tip: The Cowboys have won 8 of the past 9 clashes against the Cowboys since 2013, however the Cowboys form this season has been poor and the Rabbitohs will be sky-high in confidence following their win over the Dragons. The Rabbitohs should win it in a close run affair. Rabbitohs by 4.