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Rabbitohs look to keep season alive against high-flying Cowboys
The Rabbitohs find themselves stranded six points outside the Top Eight and a loss on Sunday may just spell the end of any slim finals hopes that they have. After their 42-14 demolition job of Penrith, Michael Maguire's men failed to build any momentum, backing it up with a disappointing 14-12 loss to an undermanned Roosters outfit. It is an even tougher assignment this week against an in-form Cowboys side in what is practically their own backyard. There is just one change for the Rabbitohs this week with Robert Jennings named at centre in place of regular winger Braidon Burns, forcing Aaron Gray on to the wing to accommodate for the return of the former Panther.
The Cowboys face one of the easiest road trips on their calendar this week when they ‘travel' to Cairns to take on a desperate Rabbitohs side. Paul Green's side with be full of confidence having won 4 of their past 5 games and they have also proven themselves to be more than capable without influential halfback Jonathan Thurston. In their last outing against Canberra, new halves pairing Michael Morgan and Te Maire Martin starred, scoring four of their side's five tries. A similar performance will be needed on Sunday as the Cowboys attempt to consolidate their position within the Top Eight. Fortunately, Green has been able to name the exact 17 that took down the Raiders a fortnight ago, with Michael Morgan, Coen Hess and Gavin Cooper all set to back up from Wednesday night's Origin game.
Last meeting: Round 5 2017 - Cowboys 20 Rabbitohs 6
Who to watch: The battle of the halfbacks may just decide this one. Adam Reynolds was in fine touch a fortnight ago against Penrith, setting up two tries, making a line break and kicking seven goals in what was a complete performance from the halfback. His kicking game was particularly impressive on that night. Reynolds showed glimpses of this brilliance in last week's loss to the Roosters when he kicked a 40/20 in the second half and the Rabbitohs will be needing the best from him if they are to topple the Cowboys on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Michael Morgan has well and truly stepped up in the absence of ‘JT' and will look to guide his side to yet another important victory. Morgan was superb against the Raiders two weeks ago, scoring two tries, setting two up and making two line breaks in the process. In the past weeks Morgan has really matured into the leader that the Cowboys need in the halves without Thurston and he will look to take charge once more on Sunday.
The favourite: The Cowboys are backed to take the victory on Sunday afternoon.
My tip: I feel like the Rabbitohs could match the Cowboys up front in this one. However, even if they do, the Cowboys should have too much firepower in attack. Cowboys by 14.
1. Cody Walker 2. Alex Johnston 3. Bryson Goodwin 4. Robert Jennings 23. Braidon Burns 6. John Sutton 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Thomas Burgess 9. Robbie Farah 10. David Tyrrell 11. Tyrell Fuimaono 12. Angus Crichton 13. Sam Burgess 15. Jason Clark 16. Zane Musgrove 17. George Burgess 22. Cameron Murray
1. Lachlan Coote 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Justin O'Neill 4. Kane Linnett 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Te Maire Martin 7. Michael Morgan 8. John Asiata 9. Jake Granville 10. Scott Bolton 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Ethan Lowe 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Ben Hampton 15. Coen Hess 16. Shaun Fensom 17. Corey Jensen
Referees: Gavin Badger, Jon Stone; Sideline Officials: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski, Michael Wise; Video Referees: Luke Patten, Jared Maxwell;